So there’s this game called Crusader Kings II, which is a strategy game in which you play a medieval European dynasty — yes, you read that right, a dynasty. At any given time your “character” is the king of that dynasty, but when he kicks the bucket you switch over to playing his heir and so on. (Or her. But getting female inheritance going is near impossible if you aren’t Basque, and playing as Basque is near impossible all on its own. So.)
It’s quite well-designed; the people behind it seem to have a decent grasp of how medieval politics actually worked. You can’t go to war unless you have a casus belli, so no invading your neighbor without at least a fig leaf of justification. You spend half your time marrying off your unattached relatives, so that you’ll have allies when you do fight a war and three generations down the road your heir might inherit the crowns of four kingdoms. Etc. And after a while they started releasing expansions for non-Christian or non-kingdom options: The Old Gods for European paganism, Sword of Islam for the Middle East, The Republic so you can play as Venice or some place like that, Sons of Abraham for Judaism, Rajas of India for the subcontinent, etc. I haven’t played those personally, nor do I know all of the cultures in question well enough to judge quality, but I get the impression they continue to do a decent job of modeling historical dynamics in a realistic fashion — within, of course, the abstracted framework of a political/military strategy game.
. . . a mostly realistic fashion, that is. Because one of the DLCs is Sunset Invasion, in which the Aztecs invade Europe during the 13th century. Y’know. Like they did.
I thought, okay. The people making this game are obviously geeks, and geeks come up with these wild, over-the-top ideas. They’ve gotten it out of their system now.
Friends, I was wrong.
You guys. I wrote a CKII fic for Yuletide this past year. I made it as crazy as I could, based on my experiences with the game and some advice from my husband, but I’m well aware that it fell short of the full craziness CKII can produce. But even had I hit my mark . . . it would have been nothing compared to that tale above. All hail Sebdann, spawn of Satan and Queen of Milesia!