Trinity: the rise and fall of the Monkey Phoenix

I play from time to time to Dominions 3 : The Awakening, the masterpiece turn-based fantasy strategy game by Illwinter Games, a Swedish two-man team. Below are excerpts of the messages sent and received by me during the course of Trinity, a recent multiplayer play by email game.
The settings are Middle Age, custom Parganos map with dead seas, and the CBM and EDM mods. My empire is Bandar Log, a civilization of sentient monkeys inspired by Indian myths, and my "pretender" (would-be supreme god) is a phoenix with very powerful fire magic: Marmaduke the Everburning One, Prince of Courage.

I begin the game on a coast in the South of the map. Northwest of my territory is Ulm, a classic medieval kingdom, and at my East lies Shinuyama, land of the bakemono and goblins.
Even though I rule the monkeys in a multiplayer game for the first time, I spend little time planning a strategy. But who needs strategy when you have elephants and hire mercenaries to complement them? I hope at first to transform my pretender into a flying maelstrom of fire - but I will fail to handle it properly.

* Conquest of the South *

In the beginning, I manage to leverage my elephants and mercenaries well enough to conquer the South of my continent and become the regional top dog. I negotiate borders with the powerful kingdom of Shinuyama, led by the sleeping entity Lord of Raggy. Shinuyama is poised to invade lands that I intend to take from Ulm. At this point, I am obviously a military power not to be trifled with. I decide to play the part of the bullish and arrogant neighbor.

1. Greetings from the awakening Lord of Raggy.

As you can see with me not knowing you were there I have already crossed. i am pinched from above, although you are doing very well sending moneys West.
I have a New summer home under construction on my side of the inlet, and intended to take the land i am in as well as Ecnaphale to support and feed this summer home.
I was also scouting Summerlands (to the north of my current spot (47) and Stone haven, although clearly my plans must be scaled back.
I really need Mark and Ecnaphale to feed my fort and as a buffer for it.
If you allow me to retain Mark and take Ecnaphale, with eventual expansion north to Summerlands (which will not block you from going north), I was scrub all other plans this direction. I will also remove all mobile forces as soon as possible. I assume a NAP3 would be part of any agreement.
As this may inconvenience you we will show our generosity by sending happy dreams, either one big dream of 5 Death gems or 4 smaller dreams of 2 gems each, 1 each month.
Can we have peaceful dreams?

Lord of Raggy, Sharer of Dreams, God of Plenty



2. O Lord of Raggy,

I am sorry but I cannot allow you to take Ecnaphale. This is ancestral monkey territory since, uh, last month.
However, I can agree not to build any fortress there if it can help; the province would become a no-man's land, only held by the invincible Ecnaphale chimp garrison.
I hope you will agree to this. I have yet to decide whether to send my elephant herds West or East.
Would you like a banana to seal our pact?

Marmaduke, The Holy Purveyor of Bananas, He Who Drinks The Papaya, God of Bandar Log



3. If I cannot have Ecnaphale, would you allow me Stone Haven instead? It would become a similar no man's land, only the spirits of Oni past will reside there...
By the way My Dreams tell me that happy daydreams see elephants moving West, Elephants moving East become a nightmare for all involved...



4. I agree to you message sent in game, that I should not attack your provinces, but to say I cannot negotiate with my new neighbor Ulm seems unseemly.
Ulm has graciously agreed to cede Stone Haven to me, and I intend to move forces into that territory and then move out, holding it as a buffer zone and part of my agreement not to interfere with Ulm northern issues. If you also with to pull back retaining Urd and Ecnaphale (grumble) we could avoid any unpleasantries.
By the way your discussion of elephants was so interesting I had to get my own group of them! They are indeed marvelous! I hope you allow me my little Stone Haven so that I can keep my elephants here with me and maybe show them to another neighbor.

Lord of Raggy, the not-dreaming-so-deeply-now Lord of Plenty and friend to banana lovers everywhere.

P.S. I await word so that I can direct my bakemono without fear of accidental monkey wrenches.



Shinuyama agrees not to push farther West, allowing me to direct my armies towards Ulm.


5. Dear friend, Lord of Raggy and King of Shinuyama,

My people tell me that you have sent a couple of letters but I am afraid I did not have the time to read them before GooGoo, my pet gibbon, ate them. It looked like my Minister of Good Manners did not impress enough on him the necessity to keep his hands out of my correspondence. Isn't GooGoo an amusing fellow!
What can I tell you about the life in Palace Bandar Log? The weather has been really good lately. It looks like it might be a very good year for pineapples, too. You should experience the riot of smells in the gardens! As soon as I finish dictating this letter, I will send a full cargo hold to your palace out there over the island.
Let's talk about important, diplomatic, stuff now, or my First Minister will hassle me again.
These last few weeks, I have had many meetings with my Chief Genealogist. You would not believe what he taught me: it appears that, due to a string of untimely deaths, I have inherited some real estate! It looks like my old, almost forgotten uncle from Stone Haven passed away some time ago. I will be moving soon to reclaim the place. My friendly messengers are so happy with their new mission to tell the good news to the people of Stone Haven.
Oh by the way, if you ever receive news from the Mayor of Ulm about Stone Haven and other places, be informed that his heavy-accented small police force of volunteers are helping me with directions inside Stone Haven, as well as the other places, since they are all leaving the South anyway because they just don't like the heat. Be aware that the Mayor of Ulm may have a few outstanding debts here and there and that he might be tempted to sell or offer you stuff that he does not own yet or will not own come next month. Do not fall prey to some easy con job!
I hope our alliance will last forever and wish you plenty of good fruits, roots and vegetables,

Marmaduke, the Pineapple Moghul, GooGoo's Best Friend.



6. Those fruits were delicious! I would send you some goblins in return, honestly they are fairly useless, but perhaps they could sweep up after the elephants?
I know see what you mean with Mayor Ulms agreements, apparently there was something about fine print, that of course he could nto promise me that Stone haven would be mine per se but that he would have no objections if i took over occupancy from the current possessor of said territory!
So how did you long dead Uncle leave the place? Will it require redecorating?
In any case my new elephants are upset that then don't get to play there after all, and the handler suggested we all go north to Summerland, which, despite the name, seems to be filled with mountains!
We are taking a picnic basket with some of the fruits you sent, and if we see the mayor Ulm mean to discuss with him certain liberties he took with your uncles home, do you have anything you would like us to add from you?

Lord of Raggy, God of Waking Dreams, Noble Patron of Useless Goblins

P.S The goblin carrying this message is somewhat dull, but maybe the monkeys could use him as a pet? Or a chew toy? In any case I hopefully will not be seeing him again. I don't want to have to tell yo what he was doing in my temple.



* The War Against Men *

A messenger of Ulm reaches me with inquiries about my intentions... I declare them while sending my armies into provinces freshly conquered by the men of Ulm.


7. Hello,

I am Ulm in the game Trinity, and you are if I'm not mistaken Bandar Log.
We seem to be neighbours and I hope we can coexist peacefully for the time being. In the interest of all, I would like to inform you that I intend to attack the independent province of Stone Heavens (36) on the next turn. I'm not entirely sure of the situation in the vicinity just now, especially as Shinuyama has recently entered the area as well. I would hate to see any unintended clash.
I would also very much like to hear what you think in general of the Shinuyaman incursion into our continent.

-Ulm



8. Dear Lord of Ulm,

I am indeed Marmaduke, He Who Eats The Bananas In The Night, King of Monkeys, Prince of Bandar Log.

Regarding Stone Haven, my genealogists tell me that I have inherited the place some time ago and, given a couple of months, I hope my friendly messengers will begin to tell the peasants out there about me and my new banana tax.
I really appreciate the hard work your police force did to stop the local bandits to misbehave. I think your peace mission there is over, and you can safely come home.
By the way, a few other rich uncles have died here and there and my friendly messengers will move soon to reclaim my ancestral territories. Thanks again for helping them with the transition.
About Shinuyama, I am proud to announce that they are no threat to you, since I will from now on protect your Eastern border against them. In fact, I have an agreement with the Lord of Raggy, Chief Honcho of Shinuyama. The only way he could threaten your dominance over the world would be by expanding North and then West. Given that he already owns the Southeast of the world, it might in fact be the direction he will send his armies towards, since of course the West is barred to them due to the protection of my armies.
You can sleep without fear, Lord of Ulm! I will convince Shinuyama to be peaceful and nice and we will all eat bananas like brothers.
Yours truly,

Marmaduke, the Peace Boy, the Great Diplomat.



At some point, almost every province South of the Ulmish capital city is mine. Unfortunately, Ulm does not want to go down without a fight. At that point, I know that winning the war would require the conquest of the Ulmish capital and that I would be unable to accomplish that quickly or even easily. I begin to probe for a diplomatic solution to this crisis.


9. Dear neighbor, Prince of Ulm, my old friend,

It is with great sadness that I must inform you that some men carrying Ulmish weapons seem to have rebelled against your authority and are currently rampaging in my ancestral lands of Validor and Saeborea.
I believe they might be escapees from your work prisons out there in Silbermark.
But do not be worried, for I am coming to the rescue! My monkey paratroopers will help you quell the prison riots in no time.
Do you have anything else to propose or to add?
Best regards,

Marmaduke the Overmonkey



10. Dear Fruit King,

My heart is filled with great joy, but also great sadness.

Joy at our friends, the monkeys, finding their way ever closer to their ancestors and protecting us from the evil usurpations of our other neighbours, such as the lecherous lizards and the ghastly goblins.

Sadness at the news of the deaths of many brave ape militiamen in the hands of my more unruly subjects.

I will do what I can, but I must confess that I greatly fear that many more brave men, monkeys and pachyderms may yet see their quest to meet the ancestors come to fulfillment sooner than they perhaps anticipated.

Yours truly,

The Overseer of Ulm


* The Turning Point *


Then I receive a strange request from Shinuyama...

11. I had noticed a large group of the little monkey playing with some friends in your Stone haven house, looked like quite the party!

My feeble-minded little prophet wanted to join, and was very upset that you all moved on, can I send him after you so he can say hi? As feeble-minded as he is i was thinking you might have some bored PD that could play with him?

Perhaps if you took his head off and looked at his brain you could tell me why he was so feeble-minded, if not, maybe the monkeys could use him as a chew toy. I assume that I will never see him again, but as the Lord of Plenty and Genreousity, I think it is time i had a new prophet in any case. If you would rather he visits Urd instead please let me know before he leaves.

By the way, the people up North seem to have a Thing about Elephants, so I am bringing mine back to the Mark for a month. I am going to send in the elephants with LOTS of friend next time so that they don't hurt the elephants feelings. They will all leave the Mark next month.



12. O Powerful Lord of Waking Dreams, Master's Friend,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am GooGoo, the new Secretary of the State Department of Bandar Log.
My master is unavailable but I am happy to say that your prophet, if he happens to cross the borders of Stone Heavens, will be greeted by a specialized team of brain surgeons who will do their very best to fix what's wrong with him.
Be assured that we in Bandar Log stand ready to help our neighbors with our unparalleled medical technology.

Best regards,

GooGoo the Humble



My main mistake, at this point, is to forget to reinforce the provincial defense in Stone Heavens. Bandar Log's garrisons are notorious for their inefficiency, with puny monkeys dying to any foe and also to friendly arrow fire.
So, what happens when a demon from Japanese folklore, feebleminded but awesome and deadly, meets a handful of chimps with bones and sticks?


13. O Lord of Raggy, My Master's Friend,

I have something of a confession to make to you. When you offered to send your prophet in Stone Heavens for medical purpose, I happened to remember that my father-in-law, Adura Smallnose, was the sheriff of the place.
His unfortunate demise at the hands of your insane prophet makes my wife the inheritor to a large collection of branded coconuts. I am so happy!
Would you send your prophet to Urd now please? My cousin Nego is serving time in the garrison there. I will give you one third of all of Nego's necklaces. No one will ever know.
Respectfully,

GooGoo, Secretary of State of Bandar Log



I lose my province to this one feebleminded prophet and Shinuyama, sensing weakness, decides to push the advantage. His armies begin to conquer my lands. They first need to siege a fortress I have erected in a mountain pass, which prevents them from grabbing much of my empire - Ulm does. The smiths of Ulm have mastered the "blade wind" spell and slaughter the unarmored monkeys that make up the most of my armies...


14. O Lord of Raggy, Guardian of the Bridge, my friend.

I was quite dismayed to learn about the corruption that you uncovered among my staff of genealogists. I will not be able to ever repay you properly for the inquisitiveness of your investigation force. You have my eternal thanks.
I have ordered my tax people to withdraw from all provinces where it appeared that property titles might be dubious.
I am happy to inform you that it does not include the province of Urd. We have double checked the titles and there is no doubt in my mind that this place is within the frontiers of Bandar Log.
Now let me tell you more about Ulm. I keep thinking you should not trust these people. They are, well, human. I can provide ample documentation about so-called "medical testing" inflicted to monkeys. And you know the kind of pain human adventurers have inflicted to goblins and bakemono over the years, don't you?
If you wish to go on a campaign of justice against the ravenous humans of Ulm, tell me and I will not need to send troops to Stone Heavens, your property, on my way to the West, to redress the wrongs done to monkeys and birds by the villainous people of Ulm.
Friendly yours,

Marmaduke the Phoenix With The Golden Egg




15. O Prince of Ulm, My Master's Friend,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is GooGoo and I have been for a few weeks the Secretary of State of the Kingdom of Bandar Log. I speak here on the behalf of Marmaduke, my dear master, who is busy doing tourism.

I am trying to make sense of the mess on my predecessor's desk but, to be honest, the official papers seem to have been kind of destroyed, like. Would you be so nice as to tell me what was our official diplomatic stance regarding your civilization until then? Do we have commercial and cultural exchange treaties? Students exchange programs, perhaps?

I have found a map of the world. I believe your people is located in the North of the world, in those edges of the map where it is written "here be dragons". Don't you think it would be a good idea to compare our maps? According to mine, the banana tax can be enforced up to the provinces of Saetica and Saeborea. Regarding Saeborea, it might seem that your police force is currently stationed there to fight against grand theft, but I believe you should order them to leave and, this way, we can send our taxmen there.

If you agree to let the tax-monkey into Saeborea and do not cross into our ancestral land of Saetica, be assured that we in Bandar Log are more than willing to keep the state of peace between our nations, as it always has been (it has, hasn't it?), for a duration of six months, renewable by common agreement.

As a token of good faith, I send you a basket of bananas and a military report about Shinayuma, the human-eating goblin empire.

I am waiting eagerly for your answer.

Best regards,

GooGoo



16. Dear Secretary GooGoo,

Congratulations on your new appointment. I only wish, as undoubtedly do you, that your term would have commenced at a more peaceful and civilized time.

It is unfortunate that your lord and master Marmaduke the Great Phoenix is away on personal matters, as seeing him might have helped you understand the situation better. I'm sorry to say that when he was in charge of the matters of your state, he must have been suffering from a mild form of Post-Reincarnatal Syndrome; I cannot otherwise explain his somewhat bizarre communications.

Your master appeared to be under the impression that our lands are some sort of ancestral domains of your people. I played along into his folly, hoping that he would gain his senses soon enough. Alas, this was not to happen. I'm sad to tell you that the reason that one of your powerful armies has failed to report back to you, is that the Fiery Bird sent it to attack us and thus it was unfortunately but unavoidably destroyed.

Your maps thus seem to be somewhat in error, undoubtedly the mapmakers who drafted them were trying to please your master as well. The provinces you name are rightfully part of the nation of Ulm, having been conquered from independents by our troops long before banana tax gatherers arrived for the first time. Our forces will remain to secure them as long as necessary. I sincerely hope that redrawing the maps will not be too much trouble. I can send you ink and quills, if you happen to run out.

Yours,

The Ulminator


* Helped By The Serpent-Men *

At this point, I am contacted by the representative of C'tis, an empire located somewhere in the North of the Eastern continent. Apparently, C'tis is an enemy of Shinuyama and decides to send words and good thoughts in Bandar Log's general direction. Ulm is already more of a concern to me, but I decide to play along.

17. Hello O mighty Lord of C'tis,

I know nothing about your people, so I will just assume monkey rights and chimp manners apply to you.
Your messenger did not bring offerings of fruits, I was quite upset. These last few weeks, it appears that deliveries of bananas from some of the provinces of my empire (huge one, for your information, my advisers tell me it is in fact the biggest in the world) have kind of stopped for some reason, and when your delegate showed himself at the gate of the city I was really hoping he would bring some fresh food.
Anyway, he told me all about Shinuyama and the evils perpetrated by this tribe of baby monkey-clubbing goblins. You have my full support in your war against them. If you can spare some apples, pears, peaches, pieces of gold, berries, roots and juicy worms to me, I will even send you some gems.
Best regards,

Marmaduke, Bane of Worms



18. C'tis is in dire need of astral pearls, but is rich in gold. A messenger is on the way with money to to bolster your valiant defence.

Bubbar - first of the marshmasters



The money sent by Bubbar allows Marmaduke to reinforce useless provincial defenses in his rapidly shrinking empire.


* The Ostrich Technique Of Negotiation *

19. O Lord of Ulm,

My Secretary of State Dr. GooGoo and my advisers just told me that Ulmish soldiers, servants of you, my friend, of all people, are at war with my empire and that they are preventing my tax people from harvesting the bananas. This is simply unacceptable and I will not stand by while your underlings are running amok in my territory. You need to issue strong orders to your generals. I demand for you to fire at least one or two and provide me with a formal apology.
Look, I can give you a few tips about how to manage your ministers if you wish, but you really need to get a hold on your people. This kind of unlawful disorder would be unthinkable in Bandar Log.
I trust you to add no less than eight baskets of fruits to your formal apology letter. I expect the road to my countryside villa to be cleared by your soldiers within two days.
Get a grip on your armies, please! You would not want me to unleash the power of my police force on them.
Yours truly,

Marmaduke, The Banana Czar




20. Dear Banana God,

I'm most pleased to find that you are alive and well. I had feared that your tour of the countryside had come to an unpleasant end, but it appears the rumors of your death have - once again - been greatly exaggerated.

However I must regretfully enlighten you about something. Some time ago my scouts sent back information about a province far to the south. For some reason, the Mapmaker's Guild of Ulm concluded that this province was called "The Promised Land". It is hard to say, but they may have been influenced by your own constant references to "ancestral lands". Who can tell.

In any case, our people got themselves quite worked up about this. I have had no choice but to set about to add this "promised land" to our domains. Unfortunately many, actually all, of your lands lie in between. Thus I have had no choice but to annex those as well.

I have been told that in their fervor, our soldiers have even begun gently knocking on the doors of your capital city. I am very sorry about all this. On a more positive note, it seems that your erstwhile lands include much fertile farmland and many interesting magic sites, both of which are in short supply in the north. You can perhaps glean some comfort from the fact that our people will undoubtedly find great use for these.

Yours for a while still,

-The Ulm


* Planning An Unlikely Comeback *

So, my phoenix does not reincarnate anymore, my capital is not mine anymore, and I am about to lose my last land provinces. Is there any hope left? Of course! I hire Gladd Yogg, sole surviving member of a band of ichtyid mercenaries. Gladd Yogg attacks the dead (no population, no income) sea province of Andoria, which belongs to Shinuyama. Shinuyama is a land empire and cannot fortify Andoria. The amphibious kappa they summoned in order to conquer this empty space are probably busy fighting something important... My plan B: 1) to conquer the worthless sea provinces with Gladd Yogg, 2) to have other empires forget I exist, 3) to take profit of some opportunity to grab some land again, call my god from the dead and have him become the new god of gods.

21. To all lesser beings of Parganos,

Let it be known that Marmaduke, He Who Eats Bananas In The Dark Of Night, Bird God of Bandar Log, Friend of All, has ascended to another state of consciousness. Freed from the cycle of reincarnation, Marmaduke has found a way to escape the burdensome duties of kingship.
Until the end of time*, Bandar Log's elite government will reign over the holiest of seas, dispensing enlightenment and military advice to wisdom-seekers.
Embrace the Truth.

Gladd Yogg, Emperor of Andoria, Progenitor of the future sea chimp civilization, Official Spokesichtyid For All Things Monkey, Secretary of State of Bandar Log


* Statement not contractual.

Ulm replies.

22. I'm sure Gladd Yogg and The Sea Monkeys will remain a thorn on the side of Ulm for all eternity. Children of Ulmish fishermen will be taught the abyssal horrors of Gladd Yogg for generations to come.

Should Gladd Yogg for some reason not succeed in the complete annihilation of Ulm though, I would like to thank you for the spirited fight. It's too bad our diplomats could not agree on the whole ancestral lands issue.



Unfortunately, my grand plan never comes to fruition. Shinuyama has a few kappa left and sends them back to the seas, killing Gladd Yogg. After a few skirmishes, my last land provinces fall to overwhelming forces. The Age of Chimp has come to an end.

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