I am growing somewhat impatient with the lack of progress on the institution the Senate has now had a year to begin. I have made the decision to remain in Rome at least until January; the roads are muddy this time of year and this land seems to be beset by bandits. If meaningful progress has been made by that time, I will consider staying longer. The new consul may seek me out if he wishes; I see no need to remind the Senate of their agreement with me. I believe that if they value my services they will act appropriately.
I appreciate your faithfulness to our agreement and your hospitality in this past year.
Magister Rogerius Placentianus
The University Project
I thought I’d clarify the status of the university OOC, and then answer LD’s questions.
Last season, Consul de Vinti approved 5 WP for the construction of the new university. Construction did not start, however, because some concerns arose about the vulnerability of the proposed site to flooding; de Vinti’s builders searched for a new site and ultimately settled on the Pincian Hill (not labeled on the map, but it’s the hill that forms the north border of Rome, running along the inside of the city wall). The construction is just on the cusp of starting, which is why the money hasn’t been deducted from the treasury. De Vinti stated earlier that the reason for this move was a fear of flooding and the availability of water, which presumably other hill locations lacked.
Now, to specific questions:
Could the University be placed next to the Baths of Trajan on the Esquiline Hill?
Presumably, yes, though there’s not much access to water, and that might be problematic from the perspective of establishing a more or less permanent community of students and scholars. Nobody really lives there except some goat-herders.
Alternatively, what's wrong with the Quirnial Hill?
De Vinti appears to have rejected it because his whole intent was to locate it along the newly functioning aqueduct, and the Quirinal Hill – as you have noted – is quite high, well above the Aqua Virgo to the point where it sort of defeats the purpose of being near it. The Aqua Virgo goes underground right at the Pincian Hill – it runs right into the southern slope of the hill and remains underground for the rest of its length. The new site seems to be located some distance above that.
Alternatively, Manzinni wishes to place the University in a generally sturdy area that may flood every 20 years, but he hopes to build a sturdy tower in which to host the books.
That’s a reasonable proposal, though building the structure up will probably increase the cost. Unfortunately, there isn’t really such a thing as fire-proofing in the 12th century. Even towers and palaces of stone have wooden floors and supports, and plenty of stone palaces, churches, and monasteries were gutted by fire in this day and age.
Also, would M know about the cost-increases that DaVinti's plan involves?
All Manzinni would know is that de Vinti authorized 5 WP from the treasury for the project. Presumably, that money is being spent on the construction; specific “cost increases” are unknown to you unless he’s informed you of them personally.
Essentially, M is hoping to see if he can do it for cheaper than the 5WP De Vinti outlaid for the purpose--and he thinks it's possible because he doesn't share DeVinti's cares about flooding-he's most concerned about fire.
The only way to build the university more cheaply is to build it on a substantial ruin that allows you to have some walls already existent; lots of structures in medieval Rome were built around ancient structures to utilize existing architecture. De Vinti’s original plan was to save money in this way by building it in some existing ruins just north of the endpoint of the Aqua Virgo (not shown on map), but this was evidently scrapped because of flooding concerns.
Sorry if I insinuated that you only focused on pure strategy or anything! I do completely agree with your definition of a meta motivation, I just thought it was a lot more verboten than some other players do.
Nah, I didn't interpret anything as an insinuation - I just wanted to make sure my description of pure strategy as divisible from roleplaying wasn't taken to mean that I endorse one over the other, or that I personally have been pursuing one to the exclusion of the other.
I don't find meta-motivations to be problematic in general, though they could be problematic in some situations - for instance, if another player was my friend and I decided that my goal in the game would be to help him achieve his goals, or if a player was someone I didn't like and I decided to remove him from the game posthaste. It's not always possible to totally dissociate how we feel about players from how our characters feel about their characters, of course, because we're human beings. I think the important thing is to try and differentiate between "benevolent" meta-motivations ("I want everyone to enjoy this game and have a good time") and more self-serving meta-motivations.
It's entirely reasonable to temper roleplaying with a desire to improve the experience generally, which is one reason I don't like using the term "metagaming" to describe this behavior - as I said in the earlier thread about metagaming, I prefer to keep the term limited to a purely negative connotation, like "cheating." That way, I can say in my game rules "no metagaming" and presumably we don't need to have a whole discussion about whether wanting to have fun counts as a prohibited activity.
I agree with most of what Polycarp said, though I do have a few disagreements. It might be because I approached the Underdeep game from the perspective that it wasn't just a wargame, but I assumed that every player would, to a certain extent, at "roleplay" their faction. Not to the extent that it totally violated strategy, of course, but enough that every decision wasn't based entirely on what would have the best chance of mechanical success.
Well, just because I admit that such a thing as pure strategy is possible without roleplaying doesn't mean I practice it in this game or believe that it is advisable; as Steerpike pointed out, it was, from the beginning, described as a roleplay game. I think the nature of the Glow's character is more conducive to pure strategy than, say, the nature of Lothe and his Dwerim - the Glow generally thinks in objective terms of threats and non-threats, rather than friends, enemies, honor, dishonor, and so on - but I don't pursue pure strategic aims independently of what I interpret the character's motivations to be.
I have placed some similar limits on myself - TMG pointed out in chat that I probably could have eliminated his faction by turn 2 or 3, and I don't doubt that this is true (it had occurred independently to me at the time). I didn't do this because it wasn't consistent with my character's motivations, as well as for the reason that I value the mutual experience of a game and don't want to eliminate people before they've really even started playing (that's a "meta" motivation, of course, but not metagaming strictly defined, which to me means using information that a character would not know to affect the player's actions).
The election of 1157 ended by consensus when senators supporting Senator Borsarius announced their support for the two lead candidates, Roberto Basile and Vittorio Manzinni. This holdout party appears to have split their votes, giving the slightest of advantages to Senator Basile, who carried the majority by a very narrow margin.
As the winner, Senator Basile is entitled to choose his portfolio. And while we're in the senate...
The Senate Floor
The Senate is abuzz with discussion of the banditry in the Alban Hills. There is broad, perhaps even overwhelming support for action; the more radical and populist senators have faulted the consuls and consiliarii for this, claiming that if Rome had taken a firmer hand against Tivoli’s reception of Pandolfo Cassi, for instance, nobody would have dared assault Roman merchants on the roads. The impetus for action, however, is not just by the lower-class radicals. Even the merchant equites, typically among the most dovish of senators, have conceded that Rome cannot simply stand by when its commerce is threatened.
There is a fierce debate between senators as to what action should be taken, and against whom. Predictably, the firebrands demand that Tusculum itself be sacked, but even more moderate senators have been debating some kind of armed venture. To the objection that the Treaty of Campus Neronius forbids Rome to “make war” on a Papal vassal, they counter that a measured armed response would not be war, but justice, fair and proportionate retribution for illegal acts upon Roman citizens. Surely, they say, the Pope would not retaliate against Rome defending its own citizens; having just lost a war with the Normans, the Pope surely does not wish to start a new war with the Romans.
Yet if such action were to be taken, who would it fall upon? Many hold the Counts of Tusculum responsible, but no connection to the bandits has been proven. A few grumble (not very loudly) that the senators only call for their punishment because of residual hostility from the Basile incident, or just the traditional hostility of the Romans to the Tusculani. If someone is not made into an example, however, the senators fear that the next indignity against Roman liberty will not be long in coming.
Though the talk of trouble in the south dominates the senate floor, there is also the trouble in the north to consider. The war in Tuscany continues unabated, and many Romans have suffered indirectly from the predations of mercenaries and bandits on the Via Francigena. All agree that Rome ought to do whatever it can to either resolve the conflict or protect the road in the coming spring.
Some senators suggest that Rome might play a diplomatic role in ending the conflict; others dismiss this as ridiculous, and say that Rome should enter the war itself. Those pro-war senators, however, are divided on which side the city would support – some, particularly the wealthier merchants, are pro-Pisa; the populists and radicals denounce this proposal, saying that Rome – if it stands with anyone – ought to stand with the fellow communes of Florence, Prato, and Lucca, not the league led by Guido Guerra and his aristocratic friends.
Another group of senators believes that Rome should simply act to secure the road, and send a proper force to protect pilgrims. While this would cost money, they say, is not the protection of Roman prosperity a most worthwhile thing for the senate to spend money on? Others counter that Rome could not control enough of the road to be meaningful, and it might incur the suspicion and hostility of both sides.
Finally, there are some voices that call for the petitioning of the Pope for aid in this matter. Now that His Holiness has returned from Benevento, perhaps he would lend his considerable influence to stopping the war or at least requiring the observance of the Truce of God during this critical time [The Truce of God is a 150 year-old concept in the Church that warfare between Christians ought to be forbidden at certain religiously important times of the year]. The radicals mock this proposal, however, as unworthy of an independent senate, and some senators publicly doubt that any of the belligerents will listen to the Pope, let alone bandits who have already proven themselves willing to rob humble pilgrims.
The Senate looks to their leaders, particularly their new consuls, for a solution to these problems.
I chose Politics, Building Cities, and Roleplaying, which should not surprise anyone who's playing RR with me.
I do think the separation between politics and roleplay is a meaningful and significant one. Risk, for instance, is a game of politics, but not a game of roleplaying. I disagree, however, that "politics" in inherently non-roleplay, as Llum seems to suggest. Let me put it this way: seeking an alliance that fits with your "character" is roleplaying; seeking an alliance that is optimal in game terms regardless of your "character" is pure strategy; seeking an alliance at all is politics. "Politics" in game terms is the use of communications to further game ends, regardless of whether your ends are to conquer the world, defend a certain territory, or support a certain roleplay agenda. Politics, then, may involve roleplay, or even be intended to secure roleplaying goals, but it can also be utilized from the perspective of pure strategy, and in that sense it is a different kind of beast.
Thus, Humabout is correct in terms of what kinds of means compose politics (propaganda, psychology, etc.) but not, I think, in terms of roleplaying being a "restriction" on politics. Rather, roleplaying tends to be a restriction on pure strategy - though even this is too simplistic, as sometimes roleplaying itself can inform strategic thinking when you are reasonably certain that someone will act a certain way because of their commitment to roleplaying their character in a certain way. Since "game politics" is merely the use of communications to achieve ends, whether those ends are strategic or character-based, it doesn't make sense to say that politics are limited by either the presence of roleplaying or the lack thereof.
I disagree that politics without roleplaying is "metagaming," because metagaming is a term that only has meaning when you are already roleplaying; if you're not playing a character, you can't metagame. There's no such thing, for instance, as "metagaming" in Risk; you can cheat in Risk, but you can't metagame. You could, I suppose, say that everyone is roleplaying based on Steerpike's definition above, but I tend to disagree that in any situation in which there are user-defined goals there is roleplaying. Roleplaying, to me, requires characterization, because it's the presence of a character that separates the "game" from the "metagame." Just because I create an arbitrary goal for myself does not, in my opinion, mean that I am playing a character.
Election of 1157 Total votes: 27* Votes cast: 21 Votes remaining: 6
Senator Manzinni: 10 Senator Basile: 6 Senator Borsarius: 5
This is the current tally before bribery is applied. The deadline is Tuesday, March 19th. The election may also end earlier by consensus if there are only two candidates with votes after all votes have been cast.
*Fortis Calafatus is not present in Rome and thus does not contribute to the vote total.
Election of 1157 Total votes: 27* Votes cast: 10 Votes remaining: 17
Senator Manzinni: 10
This is the current tally before bribery is applied. The deadline is Tuesday, March 19th. The election may also end earlier by consensus if there are only two candidates with votes after all votes have been cast.
*Fortis Calafatus is not present in Rome and thus does not contribute to the vote total.
The Child opened her mind to the visions, and the alien magic revealed many things. Dwarves, elves, goblins… the distinctions between flesh had never been of much interest to her. Flesh was flesh; it was all born, it all died, it all decayed. Yet these little, seemingly meaningless things now divided them severely. They fought and bled. They would send their children to their deaths.
The Child was no pacifist; there were threats, and there were not-threats, and sometimes children must die to create the latter from the former. Yet as she watched this present death from afar, it seemed terribly wrong. The violence of the flesh was known; she could remember the sharpness that had killed… no, not her. That One. The other, she was dead, not the Child. But she recalled the sharpness, and now saw how quickly, how strangely the flesh would turn to it.
The visions faded, but uncertainty still lingered in her mind. Far below, beneath the waters of the Heart, the Dreamer echoed her thoughts, and dreamt darkly of flesh.
The puffball-child-thing draws near to the Mansion of the Dwer, rolling between the occasional pile of mutilated and charred bodies. Its innocently cheerful expression and lilting voice are unchanged by the grim scene before the walls.
We greet the flesh!
The Child of the Dream, who you call Rot-Queen, does not like these flesh-lines. She does not understand.
She will come here, flesh, at the mushrooms’ edge. She wishes the Lothe-flesh to speak to her. So too should come one who can speak for the Elf-flesh, if such a creature dwells here.
The Child will come alone, but we make no demands of the Lothe-flesh. If it wishes, it may bring what flesh it likes. We are the light that does not fade!
[OOC: Lothe, if present in the Mansion, is cordially invited to a parley this week on the border of M40 and M41. I don’t know if any Nocae commander/leader capable of parley-ing is there too, but if so, it is also invited. If you decide to accept, PM me or find me on chat to discuss a time.]
[There is a vision of a beautiful garden.
The garden is not a garden of plants, but colors. Sometimes their shapes take on indistinct forms reminiscent of mushroom-trees or other familiar underdeep vegetation, but they are blurry and indistinct at best. The colors are vivid and unreal, shades never glimpsed by the waking eye within the Underdeep. There is an intense feeling of peace and delight here.
But there are shadows in the garden... shadows that move amid the light, and where those shadows tread, everything seems paler and gloomier than it was before. The shadows, too, are indistinct, but still recognizable - they are rough silhouettes of goblins, dwarves, and elves, crude caricatures, as if imagined by someone who had never seen any of these creatures but just heard them described. The shadows tromp around the garden and soon start to struggle with one another. There is a great melee in the garden, of sharp-edged shadows shattering each other into wisps of darkness, and all the while the colors around them begin to flit away.
There are feelings of confusion, of loss, of sadness. But there is also a feeling of anger - an anger tempered with fear, with apprehension and uncertainty, but the anger begins to grow, and the fear begins to fade. The colors begin to liven again as the anger stirs, to pulse with new light, while the shadows fight on. The colors begin to stir, not with their usual chaotic flickering, but with a purpose, with a single will, and seem to close about the heedless shadows.
A single thought rips through the vision in a flash, and all that is left is a whisper in the darkness.]
We are the light that does not fade.
Llitul-flesh. We have seen the Lothe-flesh. He has stood before us. We have spoken to it, and to the elf-flesh.
The goblin-flesh no longer is within the Dream. I feel our gifts to them were mistaken. They are violent, and will soon be dead-flesh for their violence. We have told the Lothe-flesh this. It says they will be gone soon; this we believe.
We have spoken with the dwer-and-elf-flesh and our minds have met. The have offered us the western half of the forest, and said they will not defile their part. They have said they would not fight with the duergar-flesh against us if it comes to sharpness. They have said the elf-flesh will abandon the dwellings of the goblin-flesh and that the dwer-flesh shall take it. We… I find these things good. The Dreamer is uneasy still, but I will commune with the Dream and decide whether to give them my “word,” a thing that is not living and yet of much value to these flesh, in the manner of dead-gold.
We have heard you draw near our garden. You must come to us. You may return by the gate that you now build, when it is ready. We will know your flesh. I will see you, and hear you, and it will be good.
If you will come, I will send my children to the edge of the great forest near you [M38]. They will meet you there and guide you on. There will be war in our beautiful garden this week, between the goblins and dwer, but we will avoid them. My children will tell any who stand in our way that you are under our protection, and that they will suffer if they waylay you.
We have dreamt of your coming, Llitul. Come to us now.
We do not comprehend, dear flesh. Yet come you must. We will let no harm come to you here.
We go through the gate this week, to see what waits on the other side. Seven of our children will wait for you and guide you on; if you may move unseen, then do this once you have met them, that we will not be stopped by any; yet if any of the flesh stops us, we shall make them know that to stand in your way will mean sharpness with us. They will take you by the safest path. We think the flesh is consumed with this sharpness between them and will not be watching you. Once we have returned from the gate, we will await you in the south forest. No flesh will interfere with us. The light does not fade, Llitul-flesh. It cannot fade.
The Child focused. She was not a Ceremorph… but she knew the Dream, and had heard the whispers that they send from mind to mind. She had felt Llitul in her dreams, and had reached out to her then. In the Dreamer’s visions, she reached out the border of the unreality, the fringe between beauty and the deep unknown, and searched for a mind. She searched, and searched… and then she thought.
An alien mind, powerful but ill-trained in telepathy, thrust out through the ether with a psychic scream. The message that now assaulted the mind of the elf Saerid was probably not going to be very pleasant to receive.
Flesh. Elf-flesh. Trespasser.
We know what you seek, flesh.
The flesh seeks our Llitul. She knows you. The Litul-which-was-Llandri knows you. She has heard you. She speaks nonsense to us.
She says the presence of the flesh tears her apart. Your flesh. She fears. She is afraid. You do this to her, flesh. You harm her. You harm her. You harm the flesh we love.
Why do you come here, flesh? Why, trespasser?
You think your sharpness may perfect her?
You are mistaken. You are ignorant flesh.She is better than you, flesh.
She shares the Dream with us. She will be perfect with us. She will share our beauty. Our Dream is perfect, flesh. Not yours.We are the light that does not fade.
What are you to this, flesh?
We see what you have done, flesh. We are watching you. We have a sharpness too, flesh.
You will not have our Llitul.You will not harm her. We will keep her safe. You will leave, flesh, and return to your dwelling. You will vanish from her dreams.
We are the light that does not fade.
WE ARE THE LIGHT THAT DOES NOT FADE
The contact is made more easily this time; perhaps it is that the mind is more familiar. The Child touches the shadow of the unreality once more, and this time the message is more coherent, more focused, a chorus of sibilant whispers. It is less threatening, less hostile, but no less insistent than before.
We are the Dreamers. We grow from flesh to realize the Dream. We are the Light That Does Not Fade. We have a million children and a million more. We are perfectors of flesh. We are the keepers of beauty. Our colors grow, that the Dream will be made real.
We are the emissaries of the Dream. It shall be known to all that lives. The Dream is the destiny of life.
Llandri was. Llitul is. The flesh that was Llandri is the flesh that is Llitul. What was creates what is, as we grow in the dead-flesh and make it Beautiful.
Llitul is our creature, our love. We did not make her as she is; the flesh which is called Ceremorph has done that. We did not make her, but she has found us. She dwells near the Dream. We love all flesh, but we love her above all; we love her thoughts. She is more than elf-flesh. She is beautiful. She is our friend. Soon she will be as perfect as we are. We will be together, in flesh and in the Dream.
She tells us of you, flesh. You harm her, flesh. You are unwelcome in the mind that is Llitul. You tear her apart. Llitul fears you. We love our Llitul. If the flesh loves our creature, then they will heed us. You will heed us, flesh. You will leave and not darken the Dream. That which was has grown; what was can never be again. What has known the Dream cannot cease to know it. The light grows, and cannot fade.
We do not know you, flesh. Yet you seek what is ours. You seek what cannot be yours. If the flesh should come to us, the flesh will come in vain. You are a shadow upon the dream and nothing more.
The Child of the Glow increases the Health and Morale of any army she is leading by +1. If garrisoned in a Dungeon she increases the Health and Morale of garrisoned troops by +1. The Child of the Glow's poisonous attacks affect both melee and ranged damage; if her attack roll exceeds the target's Defence, units in the regiment become extremely drowsy for one round, suffering -4 to Defence.
The Clone of the Glow increases the Health and Morale of any army she is leading by +1. If garrisoned in a Dungeon she increases the Health and Morale of garrisoned troops by +1. The Clone of the Glow's poisonous attacks affect both melee and ranged damage; if her attack roll exceeds the target's Defence, units in the regiment become extremely drowsy for one round, suffering -4 to Defence.
*Granted or modified by inventory
The Florid Reveler
Once a fell warrior of Blackrot’s retinue, the Florid Reveler was given a new name and a new purpose by the resurrected Child. Its form has not been unchanged either, for it has been molded into something more pleasing to the Dream. Its cap bristles with vicious spikes that phosphoresce warmly, resembling a crown of flames. It constantly “sweats” a sticky, pestilential red fluid from its knobby hide, mottled with crimson and fluorescent violet.
In its past life, the Reveler was a frenzied killer, ever consumed by the rending of dwarf-flesh in Blackrot’s service. It is consumed by something else now – for when the Reveler wades into battle, lashing violently at everything in reach with half a dozen vicious forked tentacles like the tongues of serpents, its foes see only a blissful and eerie serenity upon its mouthless visage.
Troops garrisoned with the Florid Reveler have their morale increased by +1.
The Lurker in the Reverie
The Lurker, too, was once of Blackrot, but it is now bound to a new master. Its head is a cluster of polypore-like growths, each overlapping another, with oddly-shaped eyes peeking between them at irregular intervals, looking in every direction at once. At first, one might think the Lurker in the Reverie to be black and colorless, antithetical to the usual aesthetic of the Glow, but a closer look reveals that it not black at all, but a symphony of dark blues and purples that iridesce and flash with brighter hues when the half-light of the phosphorescent fungi of the Lowerdeep plays across its surface. It stands stock-still, ever watching, stirring only when called upon by its masters – and then the Lurker’s limbs of hardened, blade-like chitin go to work.
Sporemothers can plant spores in Bodies that mature into Fungoid Warriors or Fungoid Puffball Mines. If garrisoned in Dungeons with certain rooms, she can implant spores to generate other units as well.
Sporemothers can plant spores in Bodies that mature into Fungoid Warriors or Fungoid Puffball Mines. If garrisoned in Dungeons with certain rooms, she can implant spores to generate other units as well.
Scry Middledeep 40 once the Clone enters the Tower of Screams (see below).
The Glow will take no part in the remainder of the war between the Goblins and the Dwerim. Any Goblin, Nocae, or Dwer armies encountered by any of our units will be treated as neutral and not engaged.
We are expecting Llitul, the Ceremorph, to arrive at the Tower of Screams/Thorn of Visions this week. She will be welcomed as an ally and allowed to garrison with us, along with any other units accompanying her.
Keepers of Fulgoria
1 Speed: The Keepers of Fulgoria will de-garrison and scout L34.
1 Speed: If no hostile creatures are found, the Warriors and the Sporemother will move to L34, and the Sporemother will found a new colony called Glimmerwall.
1 Speed: The warriors will garrison if it is possible to do so at a colony under construction; if not, they will entrench instead.
1 Speed: Garrison at the Tower of Screams. We will now claim this ruin, and it will be renamed the Thorn of Visions.
The Sporemother in the unit will be promoted to Commander of this colony and renamed The Caretaker.
The Clone of the Glow will use the scrying chamber (orders posted this turn).
The whole force, minus seven of the newest Warriors (there are 57 units in the Host in total), will enter the teleportation circle. The Caretaker will join us for this brief jaunt; we must establish what is on the other side if the Horn is to be secure.
We suspect, based on correspondence with Llitul, that the circle may lead to the Dark Elf ruin near the Kirr. If we find that Kirr forces are present there, we will make contact and declare our non-hostile intentions; explain that we went through the portal blind. Do not start a war with the Kirr under any circumstances. We will withdraw back through the teleporter once contact has been made.
If we are wrong about the destination, or if for some reason the Kirr have abandoned it, drive off any monstrous inhabitants, loot the ruin, and then retreat back through the portal. Up to 10 Puffball Mines will stay behind to use demolitions to destroy any structures which are by their nature unusable to us (e.g. non-fungoid troop-producing buildings).
Either way, we will return to the Thorn of Visions.
1 Speed: The Crawling Cap, near its expiration date and with 2 speed left, will de-garrison and scout M40; yes, we've already scried it, but it will hopefully give us some information about the battle we expect to occur there this week.
7 Speed: 19 Warriors (with 13 and 7 weeks left) and all Puffball Mines (assuming they still exist) will de-garrison and move towards L34. The Warriors will actually reach it with forced march; the mines cannot force march and will have to stop at L32. If the Keepers of Fulgoria detected hostile creatures (see above), the Warriors will only go as far as L33.
Keepers of the Heart
2 Speed: The 50 thralls will de-garrison and forage for 50 food, and then re-garrison.
2 Speed: The 15 thralls with 4 weeks left will de-garrison and move to L29.
4 Speed: Assuming that Glimmerwall was successfully founded, the two Sporemothers will move to L34. If not, they will move to L33 and garrison at Fulgoria instead.
1 Speed: Move to L21.
3 Speed: Scout L22 and L14, then move back to L23.
Remain infiltrated at all times. Observe, but do not attack anything that wanders through. If attacked, the unit should break off combat and retreat towards Sanguine Maw.
Our Beautiful Tower The Tower of Screams is dark and gloomy and vicious-looking - but the Thorn of Visions will not be. The Glow will begin radically converting this structure. We want to totally overgrow it - to turn it into a great fungal spire, covered in mycelia and spongy antler-like growths and hanging, moss-like mould so that it does not resemble its former condition at all. We will make it a spire of resplendent color, suffused with a ghostly glow of every hue. We want - and this is important - the Dwerim to see it at all times from the walls of the mansion. We want the whole Forest Cavern to see its radiance, like a never-ending aurora borealis on the horizon. This is going to be our second capitol, the heart of the Glow's power and beauty in the Forest.
I've started building some walls, because that seems like the best mechanical way to start this; you can leave it wholly to my future flavor text, or we could make it some special project if you feel like it. I'm willing to devote some bodies to it, even if it's merely cosmetic.
Alright! As usual, tell me if there's anything that needs correcting, or if I owe you any letters.
The unit library has been expanded with the addition of Norman Knights and the Saracen Guard.
Expect a presentation of an upgrade to our economic system this turn, probably after elections. Some players have already seen what's coming, but we'll have a chance this turn to talk about it before implementation.
Senators, it is time to decide who will lead our glorious city in the coming year!
All PCs are eligible for Consular status, though a character who wins an election may choose not to accept the position if he so desires. All PCs are eligible to cast a ballot, though casting a ballot is not mandatory.
Each character has a number of votes equal to his Influence score. When you cast a ballot, you must choose how these votes are allotted. You may spend all your votes on one candidate or split votes between candidates however you wish. A ballot should be in a red OOC box like this one, and be in this format:
Election of 1156
Your Senator’s Name
4 votes to Senator X 2 votes to Senator Y
The ballot is not secret. Who voted for whom is in-character information known by all. The whole Senate, all 100 members, takes part in this vote; our game simulates this using Influence, meaning that when you “cast a ballot” it actually represents your character and his friends and/or family actively cajoling and convincing NPC senators to vote your way. This is a tedious process of pandering speeches, cloying flattery, empty promises, and boring dinner parties, and is by definition not a private matter.
Bribery, specifically the expenditure of Wealth to buy votes, is permitted. Bribery will alter the final count of votes, depending on how much Wealth was spent. Bribery works by “stealing” one vote from a candidate of your choice and giving it to another candidate of your choice. Stealing a vote in this way costs 2 WP. It may be obvious that people were bribed if the final result doesn’t match who players actually voted for, but there will be no direct indication of who bribed them unless the bribery is discovered.
If the bribery is discovered, there will be a scandal resulting in a loss of Influence. The chances of a bribe becoming a scandal are 10% for each vote bought. Note that a scandal does not mean the bribe was unsuccessful – it is still possible to win an election by bribery despite a scandal, but the loss of Influence may make it difficult to hold on to power.
If you choose to bribe, it should ONLY be done by sending me a PM indicating how much you are spending and who the bribed Senators are supposed to vote for. If you post a bribe in this thread, it will not be accepted, and I will laugh at you. Bribes are non-refundable!
The two players with the most votes (after Bribery) are elected Consuls. The Consul who receives the most votes has the privilege of deciding which Consul, external or internal, he wishes to be. Ties will be resolved in favor of who has the most Influence or, failing that, a coin flip.
Anno Domini MCLVII Summer has passed into Autumn… In autumn, laborers take to the farmlands to plow the fields and sow the winter wheat, while in the hills grapes and olives must be picked and pressed. This is a busy time in Rome, for much work needs to be done between the withering summer and the onset of winter. The wealthy return to the city from their country estates this season, and the Church prepares for the celebration of All Saints’ Day. On the water, merchants hurry to complete their routes before the winter storms make the sea treacherous, and citizens watch the Tiber warily, for floods come most often in autumn
Our Consuls: Roberto Basile and Vittorio Manzinni Our Pope: Adrian IV Our Prefect: Pietro II Colonna Our Rage: Simmering 
This Season’s Top 5 Popular Issues
1. "We won’t stand for another tyrannical Prefect!" 2. "The roads must be safe for Roman citizens!" 3. "It is time to restore justice in Rome." 4. "The war in Tuscany is crippling us." 5. "Hurrah for Arnold! Drive out Boso and the Papists!"
News from Abroad
The Emperor Friedrich “Barbarossa” von Hohenstaufen has invaded Poland. The Empire has long considered Poland to be a vassal state – a status which the Poles have never happily accepted – but this latest expedition may be due to the machinations of Wladyslaw II, former High Duke of Poland who was overthrown and exiled by his half-brothers in 1146. Wladyslaw has been attempting to gain support for an expedition to depose his half-brother Boleslaw IV and reclaim the crown for himself ever since – and he seems to have finally succeeded.
Alfonso VII “The Emperor,” King of Castille, Leon, and Galicia, has died. Alfonso was an immeasurably powerful monarch, ruling all of Christian Iberia save Portugal, Barcelona, and Navarre. Alfonso had himself crowned “Emperor of All Spain” in 1137 and led several crusades against the infidels, conquering Almeria from the Almoravids in 1147, but the invading Almohads retook the city and forced the Spanish kingdoms back on the defensive. His empire has been split between his two surviving sons, Sancho III of Castille and Ferdinand II of Leon; many fear that the division of the realm will only encourage the warlike Almohads.
A joint Catalan-Arborean naval force under Hugh de Cervera, Viscount of Bas and brother-in-law of Guidice Barisone II of Arborea, has raided the isle of Mallorca. They are said to have driven off the ships of the island’s emir, Ishaq ibn Muhammad, and returned with a great sum of booty.
It has been reported that an Almohad army has attacked the city of Mahdia, one of the last major African ports under Sicilian control. The situation there is yet unclear.
News of Italy
In late June, the Battle of Galluccio was fought between the Greek and rebel army of protostratorAlexios Axouch and the royalist Sicilian army of King William de Hauteville. The result of the battle was not immediately certain; there were some travelers who claimed that the Sicilians won, while others insisted it was a resounding Greek victory. It seems clear, however, that the Sicilians – if they did win – were unable to make much of their advantage. Though Capua fell to the Sicilians before the battle, the town of San Germano and most of the royalist-held castles in the vicinity (which William had been marching to protect) surrendered to the Greeks by the end of July. The revolt continues elsewhere in the Sicilian kingdom, and it is rumored that the forces of Kosmas Bariotes have succeeded in breaking out of Bari and causing more trouble in Apulia.
The battle has been tentatively named after the town of Galluccio less than two miles away, but the name has an ironic angle as well – in 1139, Duke Roger III of Apulia, William’s older brother (who died in 1148), ambushed Pope Innocent II and his forces near Galluccio, taking the Pope prisoner and forcing him to recognize their father’s kingship over Sicily. The obvious implication that William is not equal to the deeds of his predecessors has given anti-Normans no small amount of delight.
Though the war in Tuscany continues to be an interminable struggle of raid and counter-raid, a major engagement did occur between the armies of Pisa and Lucca in early July. The Pisans reportedly won a signal victory, chased the Lucchese militia back to their city walls, and burned acres of cropland in the Lucchese contado right around harvest time. The Pisans are surely celebrating their victory.
News of Latium
In August, Pope Adrian IV and the Curia moved from Benevento, where they have resided since the outbreak of the Sicilian war, to Anagni in Latium. They were joined there in August by the Pope’s nephew and chamberlain, Boso Breaskspeare, who was made Cardinal-Deacon of SS. Cosma e Damiano by His Holiness.
Later that month, two Roman citizens - merchants on their way to the city of Ninfa to sell oil and cloth - were ambushed, beaten, and robbed by bandits on the Via Appia not far south of Velletri. Having survived their ordeal, they petitioned the Roman Senate for redress of their grievances; they do not know the names of their assailants, but claim they were mounted and armed as knights. A number in the Senate blame the Count(s) of Tusculum, for the Tusculani control Velletri and thus – they claim – should be responsible for the security of public roads nearby.
News of Rome
Rome was swept by a terrible epidemic in July. The ague swept through the city like wildfire. Hundreds have died, particularly in the poor riverside districts; in some neighborhoods the toll has been so great that bodies were simply burned instead of buried. Great crowds have congregated at churches and reliquaries to petition the saints to save themselves and their families. More sporadic cases continued through August. Though as usual, the poor were affected most by this epidemic, the great men of Rome have not been spared either – most notably, the Roman Prefect, Pietro Colonna, has taken gravely ill. There is some ill luck indeed in the fact that the Roman Fever this summer has stricken a man who spent every summer outside Rome, without fail, until this very year.
The Roman Senate has voted to reject the proposals to exile the radical preacher Wetzel and to issue an ultimatum to Tivoli over the traitor Pandolfo Cassi who now resides there. Cassi has been stripped of his lands and titles, as have the lesser conspirators, who were exiled from the city; it was proposed in the Senate that they be eligible to ask for consideration of their re-admission in ten years, which had fairly broad agreement, but no formal vote was made. [2W] in seized goods and properties was liquidated and added to the Roman treasury.
Shabbathai ben Moses, leader of the ebreo of Rome, is reported to have died this season, possibly as a result of the epidemic – though he was also very advanced in years. The Jews have elected Nathan ben Mordechai as the rabbi and leader of their community.
Senators that requested information or launched endeavors have the results of their efforts listed here. This information is private, but you may certainly choose to share it with the Senate.
Vicariate Your diplomatic approaches to Cardinal Gualterius yielded mixed results. His Eminence seemed surprised that you would be the person the Senate put forward – he had expected a nobleman, not a wine merchant. Initially, the cardinal demurred, insisting that such an appointment would lack credibility, and furthermore that giving the position to a sitting senator would create a conflict of interest. Further discussions seemed to soften his position somewhat; it was pointed out that you had supported the monks of Tre Fontane against the more radical Arnoldists, and in general were on the more moderate side of the senate. The most recent communication from the cardinal indicated that he would consider the appointment in exchange for a fee. He has studiously avoided telling you yet how much this fee would actually amount to, but has invited you to Anagni to discuss the matter with him personally.
Your own advisors have expressed some misgivings about the plan. While the consiliarii have approved it, the Senate has not, and many senators and Romans – particularly more anti-clerical ones – will probably not find the idea of a senator and consiliarii swearing an oath of allegiance to a cardinal to be very desirable. They worry that this will only provide more ammunition to the same people who accused you of being too pro-Papal after the earlier debacle with the Tre Fontane treaty.
Pisa Your men have returned from Pisa, where they seem to have stirred up a bit of local discord. The Pisan consuls themselves were a bit hesitant to allow the recruiting of weavers for work in Rome; they prefer to keep their “allies” as raw material exporters, and centralize all the manufacturing here in Pisa. After lengthy negotiations and some silver passed around, they seemed willing to accept limited cooperation with the understanding that these weavers would only be exporting to Pisa as per the earlier agreement.
At this point, however, the Arte della Lana – the Pisan weaving guild – began throwing a fit. Evidently the content of the negotiations had leaked to them; they accused the consuls of taking bribes to undermine Pisan industry. Your officials opened discussions with prominent weavers as well, but they were rejected on the basis that the kind of people you would undoubtedly be “recruiting” were non-Arte weavers in Pisa; the Arte had no interest in sending these men off to Rome, out of their reach, to become potential competition. They pointed out that while Rome might promise to export all its woolens to Pisa, those were still woolens not made in Pisa, and thus a source of competition to the individual craftsmen of the Arte. The city’s dyers, though less organized and influential, actually threatened a riot unless guarantees were made to them that all Roman wool would be undyed. Faced with a much stronger reaction than they anticipated, the consuls shut down negotiations.
Just as your delegates were preparing to leave, however, the consuls and the Arte came to a tentative agreement – the Romans could be allowed to hire non-Arte weavers and rural weavers from the Pisan contado, on the conditions that they would weave only local wool (that is, rougher-quality wool not imported from Sardinia or elsewhere), and that the alum trade in Rome not be expanded any more than its current status.
This is the proposal your men returned with. It seems to work well with the status quo; you import no significant wool, and they are willing to accept the current situation regarding alum and dyes. It does, however, restrict Roman industry in the long term, as better wool – chiefly foreign wool – is important to truly compete in world markets, and you would not be able to expand your dying interests much further. Additionally, the restrictions the Pisans put forward are not just on you, but on all Roman weaving – and there are a number of schola weavers who use some imported wool. Granted, most of that wool comes through Pisan-held Civitavecchia, so the Pisans could stop most of the flow themselves, but other purchases and smuggling might continue, and the restriction might not exactly help your relations with the schola.
The Pisans await your decision, or further proposals you may have.
You spent 4 WP and saved 1 WP this season.
Troubadouring Your agents were unable to find any “troubadours” as far north as Pisa, for it remains a specifically Occitan (that is, southern French) phenomenon. You could certainly try to attract musicians and poets from there, though knowledge of the Occitan language is limited to the most privileged of Rome’s nobility and upper classes. Of course, Rome sees its fare share of Occitans during the spring, for Occitania is one of the major sources of pilgrims to Rome, though not all pilgrims have the status or education to appreciate good poetry.
The real invention of the troubadours is that they compose in the vernacular. While there are certainly musicians native to Rome and Italy, the only real “professional” music is religious chant in Latin (or, in southern Italy, Greek).
Your agents did note that in Pisa, as well as some other Tuscan and northern Italian cities, they occasionally put on religious plays or “miracle plays,” public events of religious drama. Traditionally, these plays simply present Latin scripture, but increasingly they branch out into original treatments of Bible stories or the lives of saints, sometimes partially or mostly in the vernacular rather than Latin. In contrast to the troubadours, who are most popular among the upper classes, these religious plays enjoy popularity chiefly among the urban middle class and are often sponsored and put on by craft guilds during important feast days and religious holidays. Such an event might be more attractive to pilgrims than an Occitan poet.
The instruments of the common folk – flutes, drums, horns, and so on – are easily made and very widespread. The canon or psaltery – a harp with a back-board, essentially – is the most prominent instrument of upper class entertainment. To the south, Greek and Saracen influences in music are more evident, with the Arabic oud and Greek lyra popular in Sicily and Apulia, respectively. While these latter instruments are made by specialized artisans who are well respected for their work, they are largely unknown in Rome, and it is uncertain if there could exist the demand to make a “monopoly” of instruments worthwhile. One potential problem is that a nobleman can simply hire a harpist or other musician from elsewhere in Italy, who will then bring his own instrument with him; it would be impossible to make sure all instruments being used in Rome were actually Roman-made.
You spent 6 WP this season.
The Aqueduct Unfortunately, the Aqua Virgo is known for being very, very flat – it is really a marvel of engineering how slight its gradient is. That means, however, that the ground it stands on remains fairly flat all the way until it disappears into the side of the Pincian Hill on the north side of the city. The slopes of the Quirinal are too steep, and the top of it too far from the aqueduct.
Your builders next considered placing the structure on the Pincian Hill itself. The “Pincio” was in ancient times the site of many beautiful gardens, and now is used only by shepherds and dotted with a few olive groves. Because there were trees here rather than monuments, there is little construction material to be had, though the area is well-known to statue hunters (for the ancients seemed to have liked to accent their gardens with statues just like today’s Romans). The top of the hill would be quite flood-proof, but the aqueduct delves into the ground in the side of the hill. While prospecting in the area, however, an interesting discovery was made.
The shepherds warned the builders to watch out for holes in the ground. When questioned, they explained that there were a handful of very deep holes in the area, which they (and their fathers, and so on) had largely filled in with dirt to keep the sheep from falling in them. Your men eventually realized that these were, in fact, vertical shafts down to the underground aqueduct. Not only did this offer a partial explanation for why the aqueduct seems rather week – Roman shepherds have been piling dirt into it – but if cleared, one of these shafts could potentially be used as a well to supply a hilltop building with water without having to locate it next to the aqueduct in the flood plain.
Your builders believe this clearing can be done, making the site viable as well as potentially increasing the volume of the aqueduct, but it will add to the cost of the project to the tune of 3 WP. The Pincio is not exactly close to the city center, but perhaps ease of access is not as important for a school as it is for a marketplace. (Your expenditure on this project has been delayed pending your approval.)
Rogerius The magister continues his work; his contract expires at the end of September. He does not express much in the way of his personal satisfaction, but is not complaining any more than usual. In August, however, he did speak with you over dinner and offer you a warning – while he was making great progress in spreading the knowledge of the law and proper legal techniques here in Rome, his students were, nearly to a man, members of the clergy. This was not a problem in and of itself, but given the Senate’s rocky relationship with the Church, dependence on Church officials for the Senate’s legal functions might turn out to be problematic at some future point. There was little he could do about this, he said, because there were simply no laymen with the interest – and more importantly, the education – to take part in his lessons, but recommended that in the long run Rome should cultivate secular clerks, periti legume (legal experts), who could read and understand the law without having loyalties to the Curia as well.
Rogerius also recommended that Rome seek to create its own code of positive laws (that is, man-made laws, as opposed to divine law) in order to preemptively resolve conflicts between local law and Roman law present in the Digests. His native city of Piacenza had created their own statutes in 1135; Genoa produced its own code in 1143.
Finally, Rogerius hinted that he might be willing to stay past his original contract if he felt the development of the school was moving in a positive direction. While he gave a number of different reasons for this, a discussion of his own past revealed a selfish motive as well – apparently Rogerius was not very popular in Bologna (he insists it is because the followers of Bulgarus are in power there, though you suspect his personality may be to blame as well), and thus he was continually denied a doctorate – essentially, membership in Bologna’s guild of professors. That was Bologna however, not Rome, and if Rome can establish a credible school, he could not only establish himself as a doctor but possibly have the distinction of being the founding doctor of the school as well.
Labarum The situation in Labarum has essentially been frozen all this year. Signore Luidolf controls the region now. Chamberlain Breakspeare has claimed his possession of the land to be illegal, and has insisted that Cencio Pierleone remains the interim vicarius, but this is roundly ignored. The existing vicarius is, as far as anyone knows, still Luidolf’s prisoner. You have heard that the Chamberlain has been nagging the Prefect to do something about the situation, but Colonna has been quite busy in Rome and doesn’t seem terribly interested in the matter. Luidolf assured you last year that the agreed upon lands would be transferred to you as soon as the controversy “died down,” but was not very clear on when, exactly, that would be, and has not contacted you in some time. You are starting to get the impression that he is stalling you – though he may be right that if you did take the land now, Breakspeare’s anger would focus on you instead. The Chamberlain does not seem like much of a threat to anyone, but now that his uncle the Pope has returned to Latium, he might have some additional leverage to enforce his decrees.
Porta Asinaria The repair project on the burned-out Porta Asinaria is now fully funded, and is scheduled to be completed in late Autumn.
You spent 3 WP and saved 1 WP this season.
Orange Oil Sometimes tragedy can have unexpected benefits. Though many people suffered terribly this summer from the Roman Fever, you achieved a marvelous breakthrough as a result of it.
Your efforts to popularize the orange essence as a fine scent achieved little; in time, this might bear fruit (so to speak), but in the summer many of Rome’s noblemen and wealthy merchants retire to the countryside. This pestilential summer was certainly no exception, and social gatherings were few and far between.
Your efforts to market it as medicinal, however, were an entirely different story. It is well known that the Roman Fever is caused by foul air, and Rome’s apothecaries and physicians were quick to jump upon anything that they could sell as a defense against the evil vapors. Orange oil was hardly the only thing Romans tried in their desperation, but anyone with money tried whatever they could, and sales shot up along with the death toll. Macabre, perhaps, but a stroke of luck for your business.
Did the stuff actually work? The good doctor was skeptical – he agreed that the disease was clearly caused by humours, citing the work of Avicenna, but was unsure that masking the ill vapors with scent of orange would actually do anything. He did say that he’d heard of a decoction of lemon being used for the ague before, so perhaps citrus in general had some passing efficacy.
You spent 2 WP and saved 2 WP this season. You gained 4 IP.
Informants You have spent the summer cultivating relationships and contacts with those close to your fellow senators (clergy of importance are harder to come by, given that the Curia is still not in Rome; the highest-level clerics in the city are the archpriests that manage Rome’s basilicas in the absence of their cardinals). Creating this kind of network takes time – moving cautiously is imperative as to not arouse suspicion or scare away potential contacts.
In the future, you may request information on specific persons or topics; this may or may not yield results. Chasing after particularly secret information or dangerous people may risk exposing a contact, possibly to your detriment.
Lending Rome’s elite, as it turns out, are not doing too badly, though some of those with interests in hospitality have been badly hurt by recent pilgrimage seasons that were partially or wholly ruined by the unstable situation in Tuscany. You were able to secure agreements on 3 WP worth of loans to several citizen-entrepreneurs, including two senators and an eques, to see them through to next spring on the hopes that next year’s pilgrimage will be more profitable. As they are not interest-paying loans, you won’t gain any profit from this, but hopefully that money will be repaid on schedule.
The ebreo were difficult to negotiate with, for their community is very insular and not particularly open to Christians coming in and making them offers. One man, however, did approach you about an agreement. The Roman Jew Alessandro (in their tongue, Alechsandri ben Yehiel) was a fairly prosperous moneylender in Rome until five years ago, when Tolomeo, the Count of Tusculum, went bankrupt. Tolomeo had borrowed heavily from Alessandro, among many others. When he died in 1153, his sons refused to honor the debt their father had incurred to Alessandro, claiming the loans were usurious and illegal (Alessandro insists that this was not so, that his terms were entirely standard and that Gionata and Raino were simply making this charge to avoid paying). Alessandro lost almost everything. He is eager to gain some capital to reestablish his business, and would consider a business partnership if you could supply that capital. While you don’t exactly have a long history of trust with him (or any ebreo), the fact that he would be dependent on your investment is at least some small guarantee of reliability.
Preaching As it turns out, it’s rather hard to find a public sermon in Rome that isn’t Arnoldist – Arnoldism is quite popular among the lower-level clergy, and their higher-ups generally avoid making public speeches (in part because they fear anticlerical mobs). You have tried to select some of the more moderate of these men, those who merely decry poverty and worldliness generically instead of referring to the Pope as the Antichrist. It has not escaped your notice that, despite your efforts to avoid radical preachers, “radicals” tend to be present at your events anyway – any large congregation of the poor is bound to include some denouncers of the Curia, a few groups of “confessionalists” confessing their sins to one another, and so on. At the most recent event, there was even a nun (or at least a woman in a habit) loudly prophesizing God’s impending judgment upon the Curia.
Though you have expressed serious misgivings regarding Arnold and his teachings, it cannot be denied that his message has serious resonance with Rome’s lower classes even now. On the one hand, they see men like Arnold and Rome’s lower clergy, simply dressed, simply spoken, feeding the poor and tending to the sick; on the other, they hear of the richly dressed princes of the Church traveling from city to city, holding grand court and receiving gold and silver from dutiful foreign monarchs. While the poor, being the poor, can certainly be ignored, the sentiment is much deeper than the demagoguery of one man – were Arnold to vanish tomorrow, his words would still remain deeply ingrained in Rome.
You spent 4WP this season, and loaned 4WP out without interest.
The Campaign In June, as rumors came that the Sicilian army was moving westward from Benevento, the rebel Prince of Capua, Robert Drengot, arrived in the Greek camp at San Germano with a small force. He urged Alexios Axouch to quickly move to aid him and protect his newly won lands from the King, but Alexios refused him; he was convinced it would be better to await the Norman advance near his present location than rush to defend Capua. Prince Robert was furious, but with only a few hundred men at his command, he was not capable of fighting William on his own, and eventually fell into line with Alexios’s wishes; it may have helped that Alexios offered him yet more Greek gold to “compensate” him for his losses. The protostrator seems to be very generous with that gold, and clearly has an awful lot of it.
On June 15th, a council of war was held, and the protostrator outlined his plan. Six miles southeast of San Germano was the River Verde. As a native Roman, this river is well known to you – in 915, the Christian princes of Italy, Greek and Lombard alike, joined forces and smashed the invading Saracens on the banks of the Verde, ending forever their attempts to conquer Italy. Alexios observed that the Sicilians would have to cross it to reach San Germano, and pass either north or south of the Monte Camino. To the north was the Gap of Mignano, a mile-wide valley with hills on both sides that held the remnants of the old Via Latina; to the south was the coastal plain and the Via Appia.
The army moved to the Rocca d’Evandro, a strong castle on the western slopes of the Monte Camino, whose baron had been recently bribed. From there, Alexios sent out his barbarian cavalry, who unleashed a storm of destruction for miles between the Verde and Teano; the intent was to deny the Sicilians any supplies or shelter as they marched towards the Verde. Villages and fields were burned, crops were destroyed, granaries ruined, wells collapsed, livestock killed – it was a brutal campaign, and many of the Italians under Greek command complained bitterly. They were spared from having to do it themselves, however, for the Greeks performed this raiding entirely with their cavalry, and kept all their “native” troops close at hand.
The first skirmishes of the battle began on the morning of the 23rd, as the royal army entered Teano, twelve miles from Rocca d’Evandro. The Pechenegs, in small detachments, harassed the Sicilian foragers and scouts. They also reported the rough size of the royal army – it seemed to be smaller than the Greek force, but was of a very high quality. In addition to many Norman and Lombard knights, the king had brought his elite infantry, his guard of Saracen troops, who are said to be the best archers in Italy. William remained there for several days; he seemed reluctant to march into the Greek army that was obviously somewhere nearby. Delegations were sent back and forth over the next few weeks to discuss a peace, but William was unwilling to consider any treaty which ceded territory in Apulia to the Greeks.
Eventually William resolved to advance, and it was clear he had to do so quickly, for there was little forage left in the land after the Pecheneg savagery. The Sicilians moved northwest, and then swung west, south of the Monte Camino; they had gotten an earlier start than expected, and the Greeks and allies had to scramble to intercept them. After two days of light raiding and maneuver, the armies met in a field just south of the mountain, with the north flank protected by a thickly wooded creek valley between the field and the mountainside.
The Battle King William fought aggressively, attacking with his knights early in the morning. The latinikon and allied cavalry met the charge, and a massive cavalry melee ensued. The Greeks got the worst of the engagement; the Anconese cavalry broke first, and soon the whole Greek cavalry center was in retreat.
At first, the Norman knights pursued them, led by King William himself, but soon William broke off the pursuit to reform his own cavalry formation. This may have been a reasonable precaution to prevent his cavalry from too far outpacing his infantry, but it also gave the Greek cavalry the time it needed to retreat behind their allied infantry in the center; the Anconese never returned to the battle in force, but most of the Latin knights regrouped.
The Normans charged a second time, breaking into smaller conroi formations that hit all along the Greek line, including your flank. This was the first time you had ever been on the receiving end of a Norman charge, and it was clear that its effects were not exaggerated – the horsemen smashed into the line, and splinters of broken lances and shields flew everywhere. The line collapsed. A desperate fight ensued; you killed one horseman, only to be hit by another, whose lance struck you so hard in the side that you were unhorsed. Your recollection after this point is a bit hazy, but you are certainly still alive. The impact was tremendous, but the lance head failed to penetrate your mail and “only” broke half a dozen ribs.
With their formation shattered, your men pulled back into the wooded ravine, dragging you with them. The fighting continued for a few minutes until the Normans unexpectedly broke off the attack. Evidently, when they had charged, Axouch had sent a corps of his Pechenegs around the right flank, who fired arrows into the sides of the charging Normans and disrupted their formations; on the right, then, the Norman attack had failed. The woods on your flank, the left flank, prevented any such maneuver, and here the Norman attack had succeeded. Despite their success at breaking your flank, the failure of the right and the threatened encirclement by the Pechenegs caused the Normans to order a general withdrawal.
The battle continued for some time after this, but your men did not engage any further. As afternoon came, both sides were bloodied and tired. The Greek army, having suffered much more than the Sicilians, withdrew from the field. Though he had a tactical victory, William was in a bad position; their horses were likely far too tired to mount a pursuit after the grueling battle, and the Pechenegs continued to harass them at the flanks even as the main body of the Greek army fell back. The Normans pulled back to regroup.
The retreat of twelve miles to the fortress of Vairano, which the Sicilians had captured on their way, turned out to be worse for them than the battle. The devastation of the countryside meant there was little food or water to be found, and no safe places to camp. Reportedly, the Pechenegs continued skirmishing along the entire retreat, picking off stragglers and the wounded. The Saracen infantry, who had gotten off quite lightly in the battle, had the worst of this. Capocci’s riders, scouting over the next few days, reported seeing the Via Latina dotted with bodies for miles on end.
On the 28th, three days after the battle, Alexios Axouch took the army back up the Via Appia and over the Verde, returning to San Germano, which subsequently surrendered. You were too injured to go with them, and remained with most of your remaining forces at the Rocca d’Evandro, where Demetrios Makrembolites had left his private surgeon to oversee your recovery (as well as that of a number of other Greek and Latin noblemen and officers). You were able to return to the army camp in July; by the end of the summer, all the castles in the region that had held out against the Greeks had been reduced.
Though the Normans claimed they had “won” the battle, the Greeks had been successful in preventing them from crossing the Verde and relieving San Germano. Capua had fallen into their hands, to Prince Robert’s chagrin, but elsewhere there was troublesome news for William – Kosmas Bariotes’ forces were reputed to have broken out of Bari and were stirring up more trouble in Apulia along with Robert of Bassonville, who has reportedly taken back Conversano. There are rumors that King William has re-opened negotiations with the Greeks.
You remain with the army, but you are still too injured to fight, and your men are battered as well – more than half your palatini are out of action, with 38 of them killed in the battle or succumbing to their wounds not long after.
Yes, I forgot to add that to our earlier list of issues to vote on. The update is still in progress and won't be done today, so please make your character's opinion known on this if you have one. Please make a new post rather than adding it to your orders, as the OOC orders posts have already been copied down.