Video Game / Crusader Kings

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Many are Called, Few are Chosen.

"I thought I was a moral person. I was wrong."
Steam review of Crusader Kings II

"So, to summarize: We stole four counties out from under Ya'qub's successful subjugation war. Before he could even get his breath, we stomped across his borders, killed his armies, seized his homeland, stole his wives, and bopped him on the head for good measure.
Poor guy."
— Excerpt from a Crusader Kings II Let's Play

Crusader Kings is a historical grand Turn-Based Strategy / Real-Time Strategy 4X game produced and published by Paradox Interactive. It's set chronologically before its sister series, Europa Universalis, and uses a variant of the Europa Universalis II engine.

The game was originally developed by Snowball, who abandoned it in a very unfinished state, forcing Paradox to do some last-minute fixes before release, this makes the game exceedingly buggy and all but unplayable in its post-release state. Some furious activity both by the community (via modding) and Paradox Interactive itself (via both patching and the Deus Vult expansion) has rendered the game significantly more stable and fixed many of the gameplay mechanics.

The gameplay itself is somewhat original in concept: Rather than playing a particular nation you play as a dynasty (with direct control being vested in the head of said dynasty) in medieval Europe starting in 1066 and ending in the early 1400's. While you can raise armies, form alliances and so forth the most important aspect of the game is management of your family and estates: The amount of land you can directly control is limited by certain factors, and thus you have to parcel out land to your vassals. These vassals have their own personality traits and ideas (some of them which makes them butt heads with you... Or each other) The focus on individual characters and the dynamics within your dynasty gives the game a quality that is almost The Sims-like. It's also notable for being one of the first Paradox Interactive games to rely on Random Events with complicated triggers rather than chains of Scripted Events to drive the game, which would go on to become the staple of the company's later games.

A sequel, Crusader Kings II, was released on February 14th 2012, and a demo has also been released. Amongst other gameplay changes, the sequel introduces character ambitions, an expanded plotting and intrigue mechanic, a revamp of the holy order and mercenary system and the sub-division of provinces into baronies, bishoprics and cities, all ruled by vassals.

Paradox has released numerous expansion packs for CKII, each focusing on different aspects:

  • Sword of Islam, released in June 2012, expands the map, introduces new mechanics, and features playable Muslims, with different rules to reflect their different culture.
  • Legacy of Rome, released in October 2012, focuses on the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Orthodox church.
  • Sunset Invasion, released in November 2012, includes an Alternate History where the Aztec Empire invades Medieval Europe. Some see this as the Best Thing Ever, others as completely ahistorical and immersion-breaking.
  • The Republic, released in January 2013, makes merchant republics playable and adds mechanics to simulate patrician families and republican elections.
  • The Old Gods, released in May 2013, makes Pagans and Zoroastrians playable, gives them unique events and mechanics, and adds another start date in 867 AD.
  • Sons of Abraham, released in November 2013, which focuses on Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, most notably adding the Jewish Khazar dynasty into the campaign map and including the College of Cardinals for papal elections.
  • Rajas of India, released in March 2014, expands the map eastward to include India and much of Central Asia. It adds three new religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism), Jungle terrain, new events and mechanics to account for Indian cultural and religious beliefs, and war elephants. Some additional content for the East African Miaphysite kingdoms that was originally intended to be part of its own expansion are also included, added with the free update to the base game scheduled to come at the same time as the new DLC.
  • Charlemagne, released on October 14th 2014, which extends the start date back to 769 with a string of events following Charlemagne's rise to power. And that's just Western and Central Europe. In the Eastern Roman Empire, the Iconoclast controversy had been raging on for some time, and further east, the Abbasid Caliphate was at the zenith of its power. It also introduces a chronicle detailing a dynasty's conquests and actions in the style of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and more customization options for kingdom names and banners.
  • Way of Life, released on December 16th 2014, which gives the player more control over the roleplaying aspects of the game by adding the option to select a particular area of life for characters to focus on, as well as additional features such as duels and more player control over certain character interactions (such as seducing new lovers or spying on specific people).
  • Horse Lords, released on July 14th 2015, adds unique mechanics for nomadic steppe tribes such as a horde mechanic, clan politics, and the ability to gain income by taking landed nobles as tributaries and through controlling the ancient Silk Road.
  • Conclave, released February 2, 2016, adds additional court intrigue, legal, and diplomatic functionality, which ties with the new council mechanics and favors mechanics, expands education of children, and allows you to rent out your armies as mercenaries.

Crusader Kings provides examples of the following tropes:

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    Tropes Present in Both Games 
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Especially if the heir of the realm is under 16; Larger realms will feel the pressure especially for younger leaders, as they have low stats (which do grow as the ruler gets older).
    • Furthermore, being subject to an underage ruler is cause for yet another loyalty hit for one's vassals.
    • Not as bad in the sequel, where underage or otherwise incapable-to-rule leaders will be appointed a regent to rule in their stead. However, this introduces new problems.
    • Averted with the merchant republics and nomads in the second game. While children may become heads of their patrician houses or clans, a child can never be elected Doge or become Khagan.
    • A specific example from the second game would be the "Rise of The Shia" event, which triggers if the Shia Caliphate does not exist. It spawns a large doomstack of Shi'ite rebels against a random Sunni ruler, lead by a very young Sayyid who claims to be the Shi'ite Caliph.
  • Abusive Parents: If your character chooses to raise his heirs himself, he may be given the option to beat them in various character-defining events. Sometimes it's the best (or only) way to get rid of a potentially negative trait.
  • Aerith and Bob: A character's given name is determined by their culture, not that of their parents. A character usually inherits his father's culture, but has a small chance of either inheriting his mother's or identifying with that of the home province of the capital. This can lead to such oddities as a Christian crusader kingdom being led by a Catholic "King Muhammad."
  • Affably Evil: The game gives bonuses for virtuous traits, such as being kind, humble, or charitable. However, having these traits does nothing to stop you from ordering the murder of children or amassing territory through brutal conquest. The trait-modelling system itself can occasionally cough up a charitable, soft-spoken young man whose chief hobby is impaling people on stakes.
  • All National Origin Myths Are True: Just about every ruler of dubious historicity and every distant dynastic connection only attested in sources written centuries after the fact is given the benefit of the doubt and represented in the game.
    • For Example, ninth-century Lithuania is ruled by the Palemonids, most Irish counts are linked to Conn of the Hundred Battles, the future kings of Sweden are said to be descended from the legendary Viking Ragnar Lodbrok, and the Arpad kings of Hungary are presented as relatives of the Khans of Old Great Bulgaria. Justified by the fact that the lack of sources in most of these cases means that the alternative is just making people up entirely, and that in the eras covered, the people involved did take such claims seriously.
      • Following the Charlemagne DLC, Ragnarr Lodbrok is actually playable.
  • Altar Diplomacy: A huge part of the games is marrying off your children to the right people (while arranging a few deaths on the way) so that your heirs can inherit. A variety of systems of inheritance makes this a bit more complicated than it might seem.
    • The sequel formerly placed even more emphasis on making good marriages by folding the alliance system into the marriage system, though the 2.5.1 patch concurrent with Conclave altered this: marriage ties are now a bonus to your ability to negotiate with other rulers for an alliance rather than the sole raison d'etre.
  • Alternate History Wank: While the start scenarios are quite historically accurate, the AI characters don't care much about what their real-life counterparts did. The games are driven almost entirely by random events and dynastic politics which means that every game will quickly divert from real-world history, even in regions where the player isn't meddling at all. The one example that takes the cake, however, is the Aztec Empire of the Sunset Invasion DLC, which not only shows up centuries early but also conquers most of the Americas offscreen before suddenly invading the Atlantic coast of Western Europe in the thirteenth century (or thereabouts).
  • Altum Videtur: The decision seal reads Audaces Fortuna Juvat, or in English, "Fortune Favors the Bold". Which makes sense, especially with regards to declarations of war.
    • The concepts and distinctions between de facto Lat.  and de jure Lat.  is important for players to grasp. It is possible for a king who controls an area de jure to set laws which are different from the king who controls the area de facto.
  • Anachronism Stew: Mostly averted except for when game mechanics require the use of anachronistic terms. The most obvious example is the cultures mechanic, which, for example, differentiates between "Castillian" and "Portuguese" cultures. Such distinctions were not so obvious during the game's timeframe (even after the foundation of the Kingdom of Portugal as a separate entity from Spanish Castille and Leon) and cultural-linguistic similarities between the two cultures exist in Galicia until this very day. The fact that the game covers seven centuries, significant portions of three continents, and multiple culture groups means that many things are simplified out of necessity compared to how they worked in the real world.
    • In the second games, the images for holdings, such as castles and cities, varies only based on religion, not time period. So you have stone castles for Catholic rules in 867 and Norse rulers still using wooden forts in 1400.
    • There's an event for yourself as a child that depicts you reading the bible under a tree. Before the printing press was invented, bibles were extremely rare, and copies had to be made by hand. Usually, they were kept in monasteries, rarely translated into the vernacular language, and even if you were wealthy enough to buy a copy, having one could bring down the wrath of the clergy.
    • Also, Coats of Arms appeared among the noble families of Western Europe during the 12th century; seeing every noble houses in the game (even pagan ones) having their own in 1066 is a bit early, not to mention the Charlemagne (769) and Old Gods (867) bookmarks.
    • The Irish culture's unique unit, Gallowglass heavy infantry, are available from any start date as soon as an Irish tribal government converts to another government type. In real life the term Gallowglass (from Irish gall óglaigh, "foreign warriors") originally referred to Scots-Norse aristocrats who emigrated to Ireland after being unlanded for being on the losing side of the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 1200s, offering their services as mercenaries to local rulers.
    • The symbol representing Sunni Islam is the crescent moon and star, which was actually derived from the flag of the Ottoman Empire which didn't exist until the tail end of the game's timeline. However, this makes sense as an interface element as it is a symbol that most modern audiences would associate with Islam (more so than more traditional symbols based on Arabic calligraphy).
    • A good one are some of the mercenary companies available in the second game such as the Swiss Band or the Swiss Company; The region today contained in Switzerland wouldn't start exporting armed men as mercenaries until the late 15th century (i.e. the end of the covered timeline), and it would take another three or so centuries before the term "Swiss" would be officially adopted in any way.
    • It is apparently also possible to found settlements that wouldn't exist until the 20th century (f.e. Jewish Moshavim in the Holy Land, complete with Hebrew names).
  • Apocalyptic Log: The title history for unstable kingdoms can come off as this, with the title going from legitimate king to powerful duke to pretender and back again over the course of a few years.
    • The map itself can come across as this, depending on your point of view. It can be very unnerving to see religious enemies or the Mongol hordes painting the map as they advance towards you.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Conspire with your fellow lords to topple your rightful king! Wage Holy Wars on the infidels! Assassinate small children to inherit large duchies! Tell your wife she's silly for expecting you to spend your money to buy her poetry books!
  • Artistic License – Religion: Leaving aside the Alternate History Wank caused by the game's reliance on random events and gameplay options such pagan reformations and the Jews retaking the holy land, the game is overall pretty good at accurate portrayal of religion (aside from faiths where we have little data, such as Eastern European pagan beliefs). Still:
    • The game's portrayal of European Christianity in starts before 1066 is the source of arguments over whether it's appropriate to have Catholicism and Orthodoxy be separate denominations before the Great Schism (when the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicated each other in 1054). Truth is, it's hazy: while in the earliest starts particularly they were officially considered the same church, there were already differences in practice and doctrine such as autocephalous national Orthodox churchesnote  and giving services in the vernacularnote  Of particular note is Orthodox characters' ability to mend the Great Schismnote  at earlier dates than it actually took place.
    • Outside of Christianity, the game conflates Germanic paganism with Norse paganism (they were related but distinct, especially at the early start dates), and provides little flavor to distinguish Shi'a and Ibadi Islam compared to Sunni Islam.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Establishing a fief in the Holy land, even if it is the Kingdom of Jerusalem itself. Not only does it usually require a costly war several thousands of miles from your home province, but the area is throughout history the epicenter of attention of several political and military superpowers with different religions to your own (Egypt, the Byzantine Empire, the Seljuks, and, not least the Mongol Hordes to name a few), but the conquered provinces need to be converted religiously and defending yourself in case you're attacked is annoyingly difficult because the provinces are relatively sparsely inhabited and not particularly wealthy (which makes raising a sizable army next to impossible). This is even more pronounced in the first game where every province far and wide counts as Desert Terrain and makes establishing a solid infrastructure mechanically impossible unless it already exists.
  • Axe Crazy (potentially): Beware keeping "Schizophrenic" or "Crazed" characters in your court for very long. "Possessed" characters frequently plot assassinations that don't benefit them in any obvious way.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Not losing the game literally depends on your character procreating.
  • Baby Factory: Surprisingly subverted. Women don't normally get priority in inheritance or lead armies (though female rulers can).However, they can still be given certain titles, and it's particularly common for a ruler to name his wife the realm's spymaster. Naming one's wife as spymaster can be dangerous, usually only worth it if the wife has incredible intrigue and/or is in love, ensuring the loyalty needed in a spymaster. A ruler can also appoint his mother as the spymaster (Charlemagne himself does), and the huge mother-to-child relationship bonus is very beneficial here. Muslim rulers can appoint one of their secondary wives as well. Conclave takes it further by allowing you to enact laws granting expanded rights to women, including allowing them to take council posts other than spymaster.
  • Badass Grandpa: Any king who lives long enough is likely to become one of these because of how the aging mechanics work.
    • More specifically, because a successful martial education grants bonuses to a character's health score, it is more likely that Badasses will simply live longer.
  • Badass Moustache / Badass Beard: Depending on culture and traits, these can be grown by male characters. Whether or not the character lives up to their hair's reputation is another thing entirely...
  • Badass Preacher: Like other rulers, holders of religious holdings can lead troops into combat.
  • Bastard Bastard:
    • In the first game there's a sequence of events by which a bastard son of your ruler might try to take his revenge for not being part of the inheritance. This stands a good chance of killing or at least maiming the victim.
    • In the second game, bastards cannot inherit unless a parent legitimizes them (the AI rarely does this, as it makes legitimate children and spouses very angry), but do inherit claims to parents' titles (particularly if the father is known) which may lead them to try to overthrow ruling half-siblings by faction or adventure.
  • Bi the Way: An inversion from the typical presentation — Homosexual characters can and will still marry and have children. This is likely less an indicator of a character's bisexuality as it is an indicator of the stigma of homosexuality in medieval times. The homosexual character may have no attraction to the opposite sex, but they are still under tremendous pressure by a homophobic Church and relatives who want more heirs. In contrast, a combination of the "Homosexual" and "Lustful" traits results in a Fertility stat higher than that of a character with neither trait, and may in fact represent actual bisexuality.
    • Alternatively, a ruler without children is a bad ruler. Not because homosexuals are bad, but because no children will mean a Succession Crisis and that means war. So even if you were gay you had better close your eyes and think of England if you had any sense of responsibility. Same goes for dynastic marriages designed to unify or pacify to feuding families. If there are no children of mixed blood the feud might even become worse.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Due to the nature of the gameplay, you'll almost certainly end up like this.
    • The plot mechanic introduced in the sequel means everyone is plotting against everyone. That includes heirs, wives and brothers-in-law all attempting to stab you in the back simultaneously. If you're not the plotting type, your poor king can sometimes come across as the Only Sane Man in a cast of psychopaths.
    • The Sword of Islam expansion compounds on this by allowing up to four marriages for Muslim rulers (and punishing powerful rulers who have less than four marriages), all of which can produce legitimate children. This means a lot of plotting by wives trying to maneuver their own child into becoming heirs. Another notable addition is the decadence mechanic for Muslim dynasties, which can potentially cause problems for dynasties with unlanded males. The only things worse than plotting family members are plotting family members with land and armies...and family members who disgrace their family name by sitting around the palace drinking and chasing servant girls.
  • Black Comedy: Event and trait descriptions can be pretty tongue in cheek. Even without those, though, the sheer amount of backstabbing and craziness that your Big Screwed-Up Family will go through Crosses the Line Twice. In fact, many a After-Action Report uses this as a staple of humour.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The Kingdom of Nubia is playable in the first game, an Orthodox one-province kingdom on the borders of the Fatimid Caliphate. It is incredibly doomed. The sequel extends the map farther south and adds the Duchy of Axum and Kingdom of Abyssinia, which are only slightly less doomed: Axum/Semien has the added problem of being a Jewish state surrounded by heavily armed Christians.
  • Brother-Sister Incest:
    • The "You have fallen in love with X character" event does not check if said character is a family member...
    • A popular Game Mod adds a code that does, with the comment "Ick!"
    • As noted below, a patch for the sequel added the "Divine Blood" parameter specifically to model this for the benefit of modders and for characters worshipping Zoroastrianism.
    • The second game's DLC expansion Way of Life finally allows players of all faiths to pick the Seduction focus and try and woo any character they desire - including their siblings. Mind you, it's a lot harder to pull off, and your sibling *will* call you out on it if you fail. If you are succesful, though, you will be able to marry your sibling/lover and nobody will object. The Power of Love, maybe?
      • Unfortunately, this has been patched out. You can still seduce your sibling, but you can't marry him/her unless you're a Zoroastrian or a Messalian (a Nestorian heresy).
  • Buy Them Off: Sometimes, the Pope will offer forgiveness of certain sins in exchange for a substantial cash donation to the Catholic Church. In a more general sense, you can buy indulgences to provide small boosts to your character's piety. You can also do this if the Pope demands that you switch to Papal Investiture without angering him further.
  • Cain and Abel: Really, it's more a question of which brothers won't try to kill you for the inheritance.
  • The Caligula: It's perfectly possible to have one of these leading your dynasty, sometimes at your discretion and sometimes... not.
  • Celibate Hero: Possible. It will significantly increase your piety, but be careful if you're pressed for offspring. In the second game, if you were in love with your spouse and s/he dies, you may get an event allowing you to either swear off sex in her memory (granting the trait "Celibate"), or go out partying and try to forget her (granting the overall much better trait "Lustful").
  • Challenging the Chief: Attacking a coreligionist in either game most often requires some kind of claim on their title. In the second game, there's an alternative method in the factions system, which allows vassals to band together against their liege over all manner of grievances.
  • The Chessmaster: What truly good players need to be. Nudging a people or two the right way can result in a plan going flawlessly or not. Characters with high Intrigue are also implicitely this.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Any character who is twelve years old (four years before they count as adults) can fall in love, usually with another minor at the same court. Whether they end up as a Victorious Childhood Friend or not, is another question.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: In Crusader Kings, characters with the "Rebellious" trait. Possibly the player as well, whether it's to advance your power or just because this game provides fertile ground for such behavior. In Crusader Kings II, vassals with the "Ambitious" trait have distinct tendencies this way.
  • Church Militant: Crusader Kings has the crusading Holy Orders appear as states after Catholics take control of provinces in their particular areas of concern (they demand a province from whoever gets there first). Crusader Kings II has them appear as (effectively) mercenaries, whom you hire with Piety instead of Gold and who are only available when fighting infidels. They refuse to attack co-religionists.
    • With the new Sons of Abraham expansion for the sequel, they are once again independent states, and can be a lot more important. Donating money to them gives piety, but you can take a loan as well. Occasionally they make requests for courtiers to join their orders or the rights to build castles in your territory, and its hard to refuse if you haven't paid the debt. If they get too powerful, banishment is an option, but does NOT reflect well on your character's reputation.
  • Churchgoing Villain: Any character who has the Zealous trait on top of any number of interesting combinations of decidedly non-virtuous traits can be this, regardless of what faith they belong to.
  • Civil War: Get used to this happening.
  • The Clan: One key difference between these games and other grand strategy games is that, rather than managing a country or political faction, the player essentially manages a dynasty and its estates. You can lose almost everything you own and be forced to swear allegiance to another overlord, but as long as you have one county and a suitable heir to pass it along to, you're still in the game and still capable of recovering your lost realm — or forging a new one entirely — one way or another.
  • Corrupt Church: Potentially.
    • The "Black Bishop" achievement for the second game encourages players to install their own corrupt pope. This might not be the wisest course of action as far as moral authority is concerned.
  • The Coup: Unruly vassals can create or back factions to depose their current liege and install another.
  • Crippling Castration: Rulers who belong to the Byzantine culture group (including, naturally, the Byzantine emperors themselves) have the option of castrating rebels, traitors, and other prisoners held in their dungeons.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: Sixteen is the age at which characters become adults. This makes them available for marriage proposals, government positions, and (in the case of males) leadership of armies, as well as when rulers (are supposed to) begin to rule in their own right as opposed to through a regency council.
  • Dark Messiah: Schizophrenic characters can become convinced that they are Christ Returned, which leads to them getting labelled as heretics. Heretics tend to get excommunicated one way or another; if they happen to be rulers, this allows other rulers to claim their titles much easier. This (and the inevitable loyalty hit the vassals get) often develops into an ever-worsening cycle of civil war, violence and general mayhem that only ends with the death of the Messiah-King (sometimes).
  • Deadly Decadent Court: There are events for your courtiers, many of which tend to consist of them bickering about how one of them is more suited for some post than the current holder. You will also likely get complaints from untitled offspring and offers from your Spymaster to "remove" inconvenient bastards. And finally, there's the one courtier who inevitably goes off the deep end and starts either trying to rebuild the Tower of Babel or murdering the rest of your court.
    • One of the DLCs for the second game, Sword Of Islam, actually turns this trope into a game mechanic - each Muslim dynasty has a decadence score, and having males of your dynasty sitting in your palace being idle, boozing and whoring (and thus having the Decadent trait) makes your entire family look bad and invites more righteous dynasties to overthrow you.
  • Death by Childbirth: Can happen occasionally in the first game. The newborn usually dies along with her.
    • As of Sons of Abraham and Patch 2.0, the second game also has this.
  • Decapitated Army:
    • Played straight by peasant revolts and adventurer invasions; kill or capture the leader, it's curtains for the rebel scum. Also, in the second game capturing the enemy ruler automatically gives you 100% warscore, allowing you to demand he surrender and accede to your demands in exchange for his freedom.
    • Subverted with noble rebellions. If the faction leader or the claimant to the throne is killed, the rebellion indeed ends, but the situation returns to the status quo ante bellum, and the lords who joined the rebellion still have their armies and the ability to rebel again (which often takes less than a year). By contrast, if the rebellion is defeated or forced to white peace, the defeated lords are unlikely to try again (and can be freely imprisoned if they start forming factions again).
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In the first game, you can beat someone around, disable them permanently, kill off their family, and invade their country, yet they tend to agree to your offers to join your army after being defeated. Flipping vassals is one of the principle means of destroying a rival kingdom.
    • The second game kills "vassal flipping" stone dead; you can't seize a vassal's territory by force without defeating their liege. However, with the Old Gods DLC, if you play as a pagan, you can choose an ambition to become king of X. You can then use the subjugation casus belli to conquer Kingdom X without the time penalty. Every count you defeat gets a +75 opinion modifier for basically having the crap beaten out of them.
    • Also in the second game, crushing a major revolt against your rule gives a (brief) relationship boost to all of your vassals, as they are suitably impressed or cowed into submission.
  • Demonic Possession: Characters in both games can become demoniacally possessed, which isn't a very good thing if they happen to be in charge. Of course, it could be some form of mental illness that medieval science doesn't recognize yet. Probably.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Sultan" is both a Muslim ruler title and a possible first name for Magrebi Arabs, certain cultures restyle the title name to match the dynasty name under an Islamic ruler, and randomly-generated Muslim dynasties take the name of their founder... which can result in Sultan Sultan I leading the Sultan Sultanate.
  • Disney Death: A couple possible resolutions of plots to kill people have them to fall (or be pushed) off of tall places.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Did the next count over look at you funny during the last banquet? Claim his titles, go to war, and strip him of everything he loves!
  • Driven to Madness: As with "Driven to Suicide" below, stressed characters have a chance of thoroughly cracking, becoming either Schizophrenic or just plain Mad. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes it's tragic. And yes, it can happen to your ruler.
  • Driven to Suicide: Pushing your kids too hard can make them stressed. Which can often worsen into depression. Depression often leads to suicide.Note that there are situations where you might want your kids to die.
    • If you have the depressed trait, than you can invoke this and kill yourself.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Several of Europe's later historical dynasties are present in the 1066 start, but are unimportant to the point of irrelevance. For example the Habsburgs start out as Counts of a backwater Swiss province. Recreating their rise to power is... difficult.
    • The addition of baronies and several preset courtiers in the sequel introduces even more famous families: the Romanovs begin as High Chiefs of the Samoyeds, the Hohenzollerns begin as the barons of Zollern and the Trastamaras (one of the royal families of Spain before the Habsburgs inherited the lot) begin as lowly courtiers in Galicia. Heck, even the Pushkins appear with a child courtier in Rostov.
  • Early Game Hell: In terms of player skill. When you first boot up the game you will be utterly lost in terms of figuring out all the stuff that the game has to offer, and a lot of the difficulty curve is finding out certain actions even exist. CKII does, however, come with a decent tutorial to at least edge you into the game somewhat.
  • Easy Communication: Zig-Zagged. Characters in the original game had no problem communicating from two different sides of Europe, though the game did have a slight delay between the time certain messages were sent and the time they arrived to their destination. In the sequel, the developers added a distance penalty around the time the Rajas of India DLC came out to prevent characters from most of Europe from interacting directly with Africans or Indians. On the other hand, the king of Poland can still reign in Krakow, marry the Queen of France (residing in Paris) and impregnate her while he's technically leading a Crusade in Jerusalem.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted - Armies are EXPENSIVE, and you're strongly advised not to keep them mobilized when you're not at war. Large armies can also suffer attritional losses which can make entire stacks disappear if you don't manage them well.
    • Played straight by the Mongols, who never take attrition damage. This is a big part of why they're considered Demonic Spiders.
    • Crusader Kings II adds opinion penalties for having vassal levies raised too long.
    • With the 1.10 patch, low-tech pagan lands have very low supply. Therefore, a catholic army of 7000 can get reduced to 2000 or less in less than a year because the supply for the land is 800 with a castle garrison of 1200.
  • Elective Monarchy: Elective inheritance, along the lines of the Holy Roman Empire, is one option for succession in both games. In the sequel, it's a good way of keeping your vassals happy, but can be troublesome to have your chosen successor actually be the chosen successor. The 1.09 patch added Tanistry, an alternative style of elective inheritance for Celtic cultures which limits the candidates to the sovereign's dynasty, but greatly expands the criteria for who can vote.
  • Elite Army / Zerg Rush: Both and somewhere in between. The time frame covered means that your levies are all conscripts and not professional soldiers (that'd be the mercenaries you can hire). Also comes into play with the Hordes as they can show up with close to a quarter million soldiers (with reinforcements on their heels). The second game allows wealthier and more powerful rulers to create "retinues", professional standing army units.
  • The Empire: The Holy Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire already exist at the start of the game, though how much they truly live up to this trope can differ from game to game. It's not at all uncommon to see other realms rise to become The Empire over time, either.
    • There's also the Fatimid Caliphate and Seljuk Sultanate/Abbasid Caliphate which are comparable in power on the Muslim side.
    • With the release of Legacy of Rome, it's now possible for the Byzantine Empire to reform the original Roman Empire.
    • As of The Old Gods, you can now take direct control over the Mongols, whose leader on their historical appearance holds an Emperor-level title.
    • You can technically establish an empire at any time as long as you control a 80% of its de jure territories and have the money and piety to pay for the title. There are even some "hypothetical" empires like Carpathia (Hungary, Wallachia, & Bulgaria) and the Wendish Empire (Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Russia) that represent things that did not exist, but could, in theory, have.
  • The Emperor: "Emperor" is the highest-level title possible in the second game and is able to hold "mere" kings as vassals. Most of the empires listed above are led by such a figure, including the co-Trope Naming Byzantines and Holy Romans. Exactly what flavour of Emperor a character is depends on their stats and traits.
  • Enemy Civil War: In addition to revolts potentially screwing with existing war efforts, one of the best times to declare war on somebody is when they're already at war with someone else. In fact, one possible condition under which a weak claim can be pressed (they normally can't be pressed at all) is if the title is already being contested in a claim or succession war. (The other conditions are if the claimant is second or third in line to the title, the title is in a regency, or if the current holder is female.)
  • Enemy Mine: Even if you aren't formally allied to another ruler, you can offer to join rulers of the same religion in most types of wars. They'll rarely refuse even if the two of you would otherwise be mortal enemies, though don't expect to become Fire-Forged Friends in the long run.
  • Enfant Terrible: A character is never too young to start gaining some very negative traits. The "Child of Satan" event chain takes the cake, though: they'll get huge stats, start murdering their way to the top, and get advice from three mythical witches.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Combined with Never Live It Down - a character with the Kinslayer trait will never be liked by anybody else ever.
  • Every Man Has His Price: You can send "gifts" of gold to other rulers (and, in the sequel, to any character) to temporarily boost your relationship with them. As the success or failure in certain interactions is heavily dependent on other characters' opinions of you, placing discreet gifts in the right hands (or failure to do so) can often make or break your latest scheme.
  • Evil Chancellor: A definite possibility, especially in the sequel, where they can easily be plotting to kill you and steal your title. If it's the Spymaster, who's responsible for finding out such plots, Heaven help you.
  • Evil Laugh: When a character goes insane, the confirm button on the pop-up reads "Muahahaha!"
  • Evil Old Folks: A common player tactic is to wait until the current character is quite old to take all kinds of tyrannical but useful actions. With any luck, the character will die and be replaced before the vassals can get up in arms.
  • The Evil Prince: Almost certainly the player. It's that kind of game, really.
    • This tends to happen a lot more often in the sequel - if your ruler gives his heir a title, the heir will occasionally attempt to quicken his ascension. If a ruler has two sons and only one can inherit, expect a lot of murders to happen as both princes try to out-evil each other.
    • This becomes an even bigger problem in Sword of Islam - Before the decadence mechanic was reworked later on, Muslim rulers need to make sure all their male relatives have lots of lands and armies or risk their dynasty appearing corrupt and decadent, which also means gives them much more ammunition for potential throne-stealing shenanigans. After the reworking, male relatives no longer automatically generate decadence (only doing so if they have the Decadent trait).
  • Explosive Breeder: Any character who practices polygamy. Also characters with the Lustful trait (especially if they're married to another character with the Lustful trait), but even a normal couple can under the right circumstances have from ten children upwards. And if you have the Way of Life addition in the second game, the master seducer lifestyle will give a dedicated philanderer a shot at topping Ramses II and his 156 children even with the soft cap that kicks in after the first 30 or so kids.
  • Family Values Villain: A given for many characters, considering that half of the villainous things you'll do in a game will be to ensure your family prospers and stays in power.
  • Feudal Overlord: You and most of the characters you interact with. How closely any given character adheres to the negative stereotype is up to your own actions and those of the game engine.
  • For Want of a Nail: Crusader Kings I was Paradox's first game to really embrace a Wide Open Sandbox approach, as opposed to the more deterministic design philosophy of their earlier games. Crusader Kings II is built on the Europa Universalis III engine, and thus has this design philosophy built into its foundations.
    • This becomes especially noticable the earlier you start a game. It's not uncommon to start the game in the Charlemagne date and reach 1453 and see the Abbasid empire ruling over the entire Middle East, Western Europe divided between West and East Francia and Russia ruled by Finns.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Some historical kingdoms (Portugal, Finland, Ireland and Rus, for example) start the game fragmented into several independent duchies and counties or occupied by foreigners. Liberating enough provinces lets a character found their own kingdom.
    • The new start date introduced by The Old Gods in 867 splits up England, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, among many others, and includes historical kingdom-founders Alfred The Great of England and Haraldr Fairhair of Norway.
    • The Charlemagne DLC for the second game allows both players and the computer to create custom kingdoms and empires by holding enough duchies or kingdoms and having enough money and prestige. So there's nothing stopping you from forming the Kingdom of Badassia by grabbing pieces of Germany, France and Lotharingia. In terms of historical founders, it also allows you to play as the title character and try to replicate his feat of founding what would eventually become the Holy Roman Empire.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: While challenging, you can choose to start (or, through unkind events, end up as) some nobody vassal sevring several tiers of surperior lords, and through clever politics and favors, work your way up to top dog.
  • Gambit Pileup: Taken to its logical extreme; everybody is plotting against everybody! Playing Xanatos Speed Chess against the entire world (or at least your corner of it) is one of the many artforms in this game.
  • Game Mod: Like most Paradox games, both games have active modding communities, and CKII even has Steam Workshop support. These range from tweaks to outright total conversions. Some of the more popular ones include:
  • Genghis Gambit: If a state is being attacked in a Holy War, Invasion, Crusade or Jihad, its ruler gets a +30 "defending against infidels" relation bonus to all their vassals. Sometimes a well-timed defensive war can really bring quarrelling subjects under a single banner. Also, if a foreign ruler starts a war to claim Vassal X's title to his own realm, Vassal X will get a +100 "defending my title" bonus to his own liege for as long as the war lasts, which more or less ensures they will forsake all their rebellious intentions for that period. This also applies to foreign rulers, who will take a prestige hit for declaring war on a ruler fending off infidels.
  • The Good King: Taking actions that generally give piety, being fair and just, etc.
  • Good Shepherd / Sinister Minister: Depending on appointment policies, your bishops can be either, or somewhere in between.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Spouses with "good" traits like each other and accordingly will produce more offspring.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: You get a lot of prestige for every Duchy, Kingdom, and Empire title created and inherited, so there's an incentive to collect as many as possible. However, your vassals start to hate you if you have too many high-tier titles, especially Duchy titles.
  • Handicapped Badass: Getting maimed only reduces a general's Martial stat by 2, meaning that your best general will still remain a great asskicker even if they lose a limb or two. This will affect his future health, though.
  • Heir Club for Men: Enforced in the original, but Crusader Kings II allows you to loosen the restriction a little and even (if your characters belong to the Basque culture or Cathar heresy) adopt full gender equality in the succession. Also, the addition of matrilineal marriages means that a woman can inherit a title and pass it on to her children which count as a part of her own dynasty rather then the father's. Enforced with the merchant republics, where women cannot become the Doge or heads of their houses. Conclave introduced new realm realm laws that allow you to change the status of the women, even to point where making them preferred heir.
  • Heroic Bastard: If a bastard son receives his own fiefdom and doesn't end up trying to kill his father, he may sometimes end up being legitimized on the strength of his rule. Crusader Kings II allows you to deliberately legitimize your bastards even if they aren't particularly noteworthy.
  • The Heretic:
    • Can crop up sometimes in the first game, although they don't really affect the game much.
    • The second vastly expands on it, allowing you to convert all of Europe to Catharism (or any heresy, really) if you're up to the task.
    • Sons of Abraham further expands on heresies, both by providing unique game-mechanics (for instance, Catharism can have female bishops, while a Fraticelli Pope is a less-powerful duke-tier ruler which means he can be more easily vassalized) and by allowing a heresy to become the mainstream (turning the old orthodoxy into a heresy) if it becomes dominant enough over the 'parent' — meaning that after a while the 'convert all of Europe to Catharism' game would turn from Cathar heresy spreading in the face of Catholic orthodoxy to Cathar orthodoxy spreading in the face of Catholic heresy...
    • There's even an option to reverse the Great Schism (the split between the Roman Catholic [Western] and Orthodox [Eastern] churches that ended with the Pope and the Byzantine Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicating each other) if you play as an Orthodox ruler and reconquer major holy sites including Rome. This makes all versions of Catholicism into Orthodox heresies.
  • Hilarity Ensues: The vast majority of event options that aren't either practical or malicious tend to be this. Sometimes, the game comes up with rather hilarious juxtapositions of the former, too (such as the "Ruler Commits an Act of Cruelty" event triggering at the same time that one of your provinces discovers a new weapon... or goats).
  • Historical-Domain Character: Many, obviously. In addition to the actual playable characters, random events include others such as Thomas the Rhymer and Robin Hood.
  • The Horde: The three Mongol hordes, plus the Seljuk Turks.
  • Hordes from the East: See also The Horde; all of these factions first appear at the eastern edge of the map.
  • Hot Consort: Your spouse can have the "attractive" trait. The actual appearance of the character can sometimes subvert this—they might appear to be very beautiful or handsome, but various traits they possess will make them repulsive to everyone.
  • I Am X, Son of Y: Several cultures in the game use patronymic names. For example, the son of an Irishman will likely be <given name> mac <father's name>, while an Anglo-Saxon will be <given name> <father's name>sson.
  • Idle Rich: Pretty much any courtier with no real duties qualifies. Muslims in the second game need to avoid this so that their family doesn't look corrupt and decadent. If you don't have enough duties for all your relatives, there are other options.
  • Incest Is Relative: Only Brother-Sister Incest and Parental Incest are explicitly forbidden by the game mechanics, and then only for marriage; the falling in love event doesn't check to see if the lover is a family member. Also, only blood relations are forbidden; a stepson can marry his mother. The "Inbred" trait that sometimes results from these unions is a large drop to all that character's stats, including fertility and health, so they're not likely to breed any further.
    • Some of the mechanics can still imply, for example, that your wife is having an affair with your son.
    • Justified to a degree; the middle ages wasn't as bothered by anything beyond incest between direct family members. Marriage within royal houses was a common tactic to consolidate feudal land.
    • The Zoroastrian rulers, enabled in "The Old Gods", are allowed to marry sisters, daughters, mothers and such, and in fact get a relation bonus to all their Zoroastrian vassals and 100 piety if they do so. Thankfully, they are allowed to keep concubines, to produce non-inbred inheritors.
  • Infant Immortality: Completely averted. A child has a disproportionately higher chance of coming to death (one way or another), because they do not have yet the developed health or intrigue score to ward off illnesses or assassinations respectively. No doubt Truth in Television.
  • In the Blood: Characters will pass onto their offspring a tendency to have similar stats. This was strong enough in earlier versions that a form of Darwinian evolution could be observed, where since characters with higher stats were more likely to survive and to succeed as rulers and pass their traits on, everyone in the late game had insanely high stats.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Schizophrenic and crazed characters are... really dangerous.
  • Inter Service Rivalry:
    • If one of your idle courtiers has better stats than one of your councillors expect him/her to come forth and demand to be given the position in question. This will happen on a regular basis as young courtiers tend to have all-around better stats than characters of the previous generation.
    • Also a good way (arguably the only one) to keep landed vassals in check. Players have tried various ways of facilitating dealing with disloyal vassals including, but not limited to not having any vassals and holding all counties themselves (despite the penalties this gives), keeping all vassals imprisoned at all time, or ensuring that all vassals are minors. The best way is arguably still giving out holdings cleverly in a way that they will desire each others' titles and not cooperate with each other while keeping Crown authority high enough that they can't wage war to acquire them.
  • It's Been Done: Bad luck could result in a province making a discovery, while the rest of the world has already moved on to better things.
  • Just Friends:
    • Averted in the first game. The game assumes that any two characters of the opposite sex who are friends are actually lovers.
    • Crusader Kings II replaces friends and the loyalty meter with an unilateral (you can like someone who hates the very soil on which you stand) relationship meter. Romantic love remains as a separate modifier applied to the relationship.
  • Karma Houdini: A successful (villainous) player character will often be this, especially from a modern perspective. You can smother infants in their cribs to steal their titles, force female prisoners to be your concubines (if you are a pagan, tribal chief or Hindu ruler), murder trusting friends for power and land, have children with a wife who hates you to the core because you killed her father for the throne and still die peacefully in your bed, wealthy, powerful and esteemed by your peers.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The most reliable way to win a war is to Zerg Rush the enemy while it is weak (ruled by an underage child/tied down in another war or in a rebellion (preferably with their armies far away). Of course, your realm will experience periods of weakness, too, so be careful.
  • Knight Templar: Anyone with the "Zealous" trait. The trope namers also make an appearance.
  • Lamarck Was Right: See also "In the Blood" above. In the original game, characters inherited a small portion of their parents' base stat scores, meaning that the children of parents who excelled in a given area (Intrigue, Diplomacy, etc.) tended to have good stats in those areas themselves.
    • This was nerfed in the sequel; a genetic system still exists but there's a greater element of randomisation with regards to congenital/inheritable traits. Still, a eugenics-minded player can implement large-scale extensive breeding projects to produce the perfect heir.
    • Until the 2.5.2 patch, educating children in the Conclave DLC could lead to them developing positive traits like 'strong' or 'genius', or negative ones like'slow' or 'imbecile', which are inheritable. The patch added a set of non-inheritable equivalent traits to stand in for the congenital ones.
  • Life Will Kill You: Even the most skilled and beloved of characters can drop dead at literally any time for almost any reason; not everyone gets a glorious death in battle or poisoned by a rival to advance some plot. Given the scope of the game, it's almost certain that your first character and everyone in his generation will be dead by the game's end.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are literally thousands of characters alive at any given moment, most of them are randomly generated, many of them are historical. But every single one of them is an AI actor who actively pursues individual personal objectives and has an opinion about every single other character.
  • Taking the Veil: Played straight for the first game; absent in the second until the 'Sons Of Abraham' expansion.
  • Locked in the Dungeon: The fate of prisoners of war, unsuccessful rebels, and miscellaneous miscreants. Sufficiently noble prisoners may petition your ruler to be transferred to a Luxury Prison Suite or be put under house arrest; you can grant their request, ignore them, or lock them in the oubliette for their insolence.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: Practically enforced. Spouses are nice and all (and necessary if you want to survive to the next generation), but there's a limit to which you'll let them interfere with family politics.
  • Loyal to the Position: Even if they got their title by literally stabbing the guy in the back, your character usually inherits their benefactor's court along with their fiefdom.
  • The Many Deaths of You: There are many, many ways your characters can die. One of the more recent patches introduced a "cause of death" mechanic, and these tend to be strangely generic. Suicide is "Death by Depression", heart attacks are "Death by Stress", Death by Sex is "Died in an Accident", and so on. Deaths caused by plotting can be anything from simple poisoning to driving carriages over cliffs to vorpal pillows to something that can only be described as "death by exploding manure pile."
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Male rulers can choose to disavow any knowledge of their bastards, which effectively leaves said bastard fatherless (and possibly resentful).
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Enforced; continuing the game means that someone has to bear your ruler's children, whether they want to or not.
  • Marriage Before Romance: As most marriages are for political convenience rather than love, it's fairly common for couples to fall in love with one another only after they've been married for some time.
  • Marital Rape License: No, marital rape was not recognized as rape until the 20th century, and yes, you can father heirs on a woman who hates your guts.
  • Massively Numbered Siblings: It's quite possible for a fertile ruler to end up with upwards of ten children, legitimate or not. It can be a pretty great asset in that it gives you lots of sons and daughters to marry for political gain, and little chance to run out of heirs in case of accident, but it you happen to be one amongst these children... Well, things can get nasty.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: A number of events in both games are seen by the characters as explicitly supernatural or miraculous, but could have more plausible explanations.
  • Meddling Parents: Chances are that you will sooner or later play as one of these yourself, because children are amongst the most easily controllable characters in the game and also of paramount importance for your family's survival. Children that are left to themselves (especially if you give them land to rule) have an annoying tendency to marry spouses that are statistically awful, hostile to you or worse, infertile or murder their siblings. While you do lose prestige over time if you don't grant your adult sons any land, it is still better to keep them under check at your court.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Multiple wars for the same realm can occur, and nations with conflicting casus belli automatically become hostile to one another. This can sometimes result in a continent-spanning morass of fighting. Even stranger things can sometimes happen: if multiple wars are being waged against a single kingdom but the casus belli don't conflict, all the wars may end up becoming completely gridlocked for years because nobody can gain enough warscore (the measurement of who's winning a given war) to bring an end to it.
  • The Middle Ages: Covers almost all of the three major divisions all the way up to the generally-accepted end date of 1453. Only the fifth through the middle eighth centuries AD aren't represented at present.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: The game mechanics practically encourage this. Keeping your vassals' troops on the field starts to accumulate relationship penalties with them, while getting their armies slaughtered has no negative effects other than having to wait for more troops to be conscripted. Thus, once you get a big enough army to storm castles rather than waiting outside besieging them, you'll want to throw away a few thousand lives to save time.
  • The Missionary: Court chaplains can minister to heathen or heretic provinces within your realm, as well as to pagan courts in far lands, with a small chance of converting them to the faithful.
  • The Mistress: While love affairs are possible for Christians, concubines are common and expected among pagan, tribal, and Zoroastrian rulers.
  • Moral Myopia: In order to attack a coreligionist, even if you're a king and he's a count, you need to have a claim on at least one of his titles. There's no such limitations for attacking heathens, though.
  • Mother Makes You King: Even with male-only inheritance laws, daughters get a claim on their father's titles, which they can pass on to their sons to press.
  • Never Live It Down: Invoked, but Subverted most of the time. Even acquiring thousands of points of tyranny gets forgotten after ten years or so. There are a few exceptions: Blinding, Castrating, Kinslaying and revoking titles.
  • Nintendo Hard: Playing certain factions or families with the highest difficulty penalties count as this by default. Though even running the most powerful realm in the Old World can prove a daunting task if you're not paying attention.
  • Non-Entity General: Sort of. You play as the current head of the Dynasty. If your King is overthrown and killed, you may get booted to your very distant cousin, who is a count of a backwater province, but your game WILL continue. The only way for the game to end is to have your dynasty die out in the male line.
    • In the sequel, you can have female heirs as a non-Muslim dynasty (the current head is not-Muslim) - if no males are eligible as heirs. You can, if you wish, choose to exclude females from being heirs, which may or may not be handy. But you can also give females equal rights to being heirs (only for Basques or Cathars by default, though the Conclave DLC allows you to grant inheritance rights to women). With this option, as long as any one in your dynasty is alive, you can continue... though on the flip side, due to this being an era of Arranged Marriages, keeping females in the family without losing prestige can be... challenging.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Every patch seems to alter gameplay in the direction posters on the Paradox Forums complain the most about. Such changes include having smaller peasant revolts, making it harder for counts to marry into ducal titles and Nerfing the Byzantines.
  • Occupiers out of Our Country: Failing to convert/assimilate a newly conquered foreign land or cozy up with the local nobles fast enough is a guaranteed way of creating incessant independence movements and a throng of bitter rivals.
  • Old Save Bonus:
    • For CKI, the conversion allows the save to be carried over to EU III, then Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun, and thereafter Hearts Of Iron III.
    • For CKII, currently the converter only allows for CKII save games to be ported forward to Europa Universalis IV. However, considering the expanded gameplay of CKII and the earlier bookmark starts in The Old Gods and Charlemagne DLCs, this leads to over 1,000 years worth of gameplay, edging out over the above by about 50 years or so.
  • Offing the Offspring: If your heir is an Inadequate Inheritor, or has failed to produce a son with the ageing Duke of Norfolk's daughter and only child, or just isn't in line for all the nifty titles your second son by another wife is, this is always an option.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Due to Contrived Coincidence, most long-time plots tend to be less successful than one might wish for. The best way to increase your share of the cake really is to just go along with any good opportunity that presents itself.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: As a counterpart to the above, if you don't keep at least some of your heirs alive, the game ends when your dynasty is extinguished. Watching one of the offspring you want to keep alive get killed through disease, accidental injury, malice, or simply a sudden, unexplained death can hurt like a punch in the gut.
  • Outside-Context Villain: Traditionally, the Mongol Golden Horde and Ilkhanate have always filled this role, steam-rolling most of the Eastern Europe and Persia after they show up before they lose momentum. Just in case, Western European players thought world conquest and dynastic dominance was too easy without the incentive of imminent invasion, the minor DLC Sunset Invasion for the second game adds a hypothetical super-powerful Aztec Empire to the mix as well.
  • Out with a Bang: Possible with ageing characters.
  • Parental Favoritism: Practically a necessity for anyone other than merchant republics, up to and including murdering The Unfavorite.
  • The Patriarch: Kings of large realms who have ruled their kingdom for a long time usually become this eventually. They usually have so much prestige, money in their pockets and loyal vassals that they can claim entire kingdom titles and decide wars simply by virtue of siding with one or another faction.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: In both games, it is possible for a husband and wife to fall in love with each other despite the fact they married for politics.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Despite the title, it's entirely possible to play the entire game without participating in a single Crusade. In fact, it is even possible to nominally join a Crusade but never launch a single ship towards Jerusalem. It's also possible for your character to be considered a "Crusader" without ever fighting a single proper battle, as you get credit for simply leading an army that is standing in the target kingdom of the crusade — ain't no rule that says you have to stay.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The concept of "feudalism" as depicted in the game is a simplified version of the pyramid model taught in schools. In Real Life, not only did the system of governance differ from region to region (even among peoples who nominally follow the same religion), it may even differ depending on the era you're looking at. The various systems of governance in the game are a compromise at best.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The key to succeeding at this game. For varying values of "winning."
  • Pretext for War: Like other Paradox games you're not allowed to just invade for no clear reason if you're Christian, but fortunately finding or creating casus belli isn't hard: Either via fabricated documents or actual de jure territorial disputes. Succession disputes can also occur. Muslims and pagans aren't restricted in this manner, though Muslims lose piety if fighting someone of the same denomination.
  • Princeling Rivalry: When a king passes on, the new king's brothers usually inherit some sort of claim of their own on the throne, guaranteeing there will be strife if the eldest isn't really cut out for the job. Even princes who are fairly far down in the line of succession may petition their ruler to grant them holdings of their own from time to time, so that they'll at least get something to leave to their own children.
  • Properly Paranoid: The Paranoid trait grants a bonus to the Intrigue stat, meaning Paranoid characters are that much harder to assassinate if you actually are out to get them. This intrigue bonus is greater than the diplomacy penalty the trait gives, meaning that Paranoid is overall a beneficial trait.
  • Puppet King: Rulers who have powerful vassals under them may find themselves becoming this. Generally, if the player is the ruler, the goal is to avoid becoming the trope; if as the vassal, to encourage and exploit the trope.
  • Puppet State: Very strong element. The player is able to create vassals by giving the aristocrats in his court titles. Assuming relations are good enough he can force these vassals to raise troops for him and even force to them to surrender their title and land (though this is very likely to result in rebellion instead.)
    • It's also possible to press the claim of a dynasty member on a neighbouring country, since it takes several years to pacify the conquered regions the family member will then be almost completely dependent on you for support and the +100 relationship bonus means that the ruler will usually be an ally for life.
  • Put On An Ox Cart: Characters will sometimes retire or join a monastery; the game treats them for all purposes as though they'd died.
    • Crusader Kings II averts this; if the game says someone's dead, they are pushing up daisies.
  • Raising Sim: Both games give you the option of tutoring your heirs directly (or entrusting them to others, but doing it yourself is a somewhat more reliable way to mold them into the sort of character you want). The second game extends this to cover any children, meaning that you can become the mentor and guardian of characters outside your own family as well.
  • Random Event: Unlike most other Paradox Interactive games, this game relies almost entirely on random events, with only a few historical occurrences (the arrival of the Mongols, plagues, founding of Holy Orders) having scripted events. This design philosophy would later influence the next generation of Paradox games (EU3, HoI3, V2) and would carry over with a vengeance in the sequel.
  • Real Time with Pause
  • Realpolitik: This is Realpolitik: The Video Game, even though the term wouldn't be invented for another thousand years from the earliest start date. Every nation, every dynasty, every character is constantly looking to gain an advantage over everyone else, and you can be simultaneously in a marriage alliance with a neighboring realm while trying to assassinate its rightful king so that your grandson from the daughter you married into it will inherit the throne.
  • Relationship Values: A significant part of the gameplay, especially in the sequel. The first game had diplomatic relation scores between rulers, as well as a loyalty score between vassals and their lieges, the latter being essentially binary in practice. In Crusader Kings II, these were scrapped, and now every single character has a relationship value with every other character that is affected by a bewildering array of factors. Managing those scores is vital to both victory and survival.
    • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: If your vassals like you a lot, they'll provide you with far more troops and pay you far more in taxes than they're legally required to, be more likely to approve any legal reforms you want to push, and can even occasionally be persuaded to give up some of their lands to the crown, or even convert to your religion.
    • You Lose at Zero Trust: If your vassals hate you, on the other hand, you're one conspiracy away from the collapse of everything you've worked for. Especially bad if it's a family member or your spy master.
  • May-December Romance: Incredibly common. Most of the time, it's a ruler in his forties or so deciding he could use some more heirs (or hoping that he could get a son finally) and marries that sixteen-year-old daughter of his neighbor.
    • In the sequel, "May" Muslim rulers (always male) can reap considerable benefits by having such relationships. By having 1 or 2 wives (out of 4) in the "December" age group, young Muslim rulers can reduce the number of sons they have, which help with issues of succession and rivalries come the next generation.
    • Also in the sequel, characters with the Seduction focus can attempt to seduce other characters who are significantly older or younger than themselves. Getting caught in the act gives a slightly greater general opinion hit than other forms of adultery, as the age gap makes the relationship extra-scandalous (though not quite as much as that from seducing a close family member).
  • Removing the Rival: Really, this is the central trope to understanding how the game works. Every single character has his or her own agenda, and plans clash more often than not. You likely have to flatter, bribe, threaten, or murder an awful lot of people in order to get what you want and keep others from getting their hands on your stuff.
  • Repressive but Efficient: Ruling anything bigger than character's own demesne requires some truly draconian measures and constant, agressive plotting to just stay afloat. It's also the only way to make your holdings rich and prosperous in early stages of the game.
  • The Resenter: Bastards tend to end up like this.
  • Revolving Door Revolution: Since new rulers always get a relationship penalty with their vassals (that gradually wears off as they maintain their hold on the throne), turnover time between rulers can be quite short indeed in kingdoms where no one ruler has enough power to hold out against a large enough faction (until someone eventually does or the kingdom itself splinters).
  • Rightful King Returns: Deposed rulers typically retain claims on their former thrones, which means that, just like any other claim holder, they can usurp it right back if they beat the current holder in a war.
    • Alternately, if your kingdom gets invaded and you get killed, your dynasty may fall to an heir who just happens to be out of the kingdom at the moment (probably leading an army somewhere), or even a remote relative on the other side of the continent. In either case, they'll hold a claim for the recently-seized throne, and may not have the political or military clout to take it back right away - resulting in this trope when they (or their descendants) finally DO return to claim the ancestral lands...
  • "Risk"-Style Map: It's a Paradox Interactive game.
  • Risking The King: Your ruler is also the commander of his personal levy. While risky by default, it may turn into even bigger liability when he's also inept with martial skills.
  • The Rival: Via random events characters may acquire rivals, with appropriate relationship penalties depending on your political relationship to each other. If one of your vassals is a rival of you, always be prepared for them turning on you, whatever their other traits or their loyalty. (They also get a nasty -3 to loyalty per month, meaning even quite loyal vassals can start sliding towards rebelllion.)
    • In the second game, merchant republics are this to each other by default, their leaders having a hefty opinion penalty to each other.
  • Royal Brat: Negative character traits tend to first show up during childhood.
  • Royal Inbreeding: Many players practice this as an eugenics program, to get positive genetic traits into their dynasty. In the second game, Zoroastrians and Messalians have all restrictions to marriage with close kin wiped away, and get bonuses to vassal relations and piety for incestuous marriages. To keep Zoroastrian families from descending into inbred messes, their men are allowed to keep three concubines for non-inbred but legitimate children, and the game code discreetly cheats by making inbred traits 75% less likely for children of Zoroastrian marriages (at the cost of making lunacy more likely for incestuous Zoroastrian marriages).
  • Royally Screwed Up: This can happen, and when it does things get very interesting. And by interesting, we mean civil wars and the attention of opportunistic neighbours.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most rulers generally lead, or at least fight with, their own armies. It's especially important for Muslim rulers to actually do something, or else they risk looking weak and decadent.
  • Ruling Couple: Can happen when one character has a spouse who is also a ruler in their own right.
  • Running Gag: One of the events that a character trying to improve his learning might get involves sighting a comet. "So it's not an ill omen."
  • Sanity Slippage: If a character stays Stressed for too long, watch out...
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: Even if you're the most powerful ruler in Europe in theory, the power that you actually wield pretty much correlates to how much your vassals like and respect you. A massive, map-spanning empire can crumble away in less than a decade when the underlings decide to take the throne for themselves or jump ship altogether.
  • Schrödinger's Question: Basically any event in the first game where different traits can be gained qualifies: The reason for you taking a certain action is determined correlated to your response to it and ultimately decided by the RNG. Thus you refusing to start a rivalry with a neighboring ruler could be because you're very forgiving of insults towards your person... or it could be because you're a spineless coward. The second game features this to a lesser, but still existing extent.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: The "attractive" trait gives a pretty big opinion bonus for any character who's sexually attracted to your gender. A beautiful queen can get away with a surprising amount of shit.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Kind of a given since the game is a Wide Open Sandbox with no set victory conditions. Among them is trying to recreate certain actual historical occurrences, trying to convert all of Europe to some minor spin-off of Catholicism such as Catharism, and simply choosing to play as a very weak country.
  • Settling the Frontier: The Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar will ask for permission to found a couple of Cult Colonies in the Levant, if the area is owned by a catholic ruler. Do not discount them, they will be invaluable in defending the area from Muslim counterattacks. The Teutonic Knights will also do something similar in the Baltic.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: They have traits for all of them, as well as for the Seven Heavenly Virtues, and characters with these opposing traits will have negative opinions of each other. But the effects in CKII tend to make about half the sins into Cursed with Awesome (though this is arguably balanced out by the fact that (except Lustful) the corresponding virtues are still better traits to have than them):
    • Lust: Overall good. The trait "Lustful" gives +1 Intrigue and a 20% Fertility bonus, in exchange for minor penalties to piety per month and the opinion of Christian clergy.
    • Gluttony: Bad. "Gluttonous" gives -2 Stewardship, -10 clergy opinion.
    • Greed: Good. "Greedy" costs -1 Diplomacy, a very unimportant stat, in exchange for a 10% bonus to tax income across your realm (without the increase in revolt risk you'd think would result from this).
    • Sloth: Very bad. "Slothful" gives -1 to all stats and -10 vassal opinion, which is much more important than general church opinion.
    • Wroth: Decent. "Wroth" costs -1 to Diplomacy and Intrigue but grants +3 Martial and, if possessed by a Mook Commander, allows an all-or-nothing charge tactic in battle.
    • Envy: Situational. "Envious" gives -1 Diplomacy, +2 Intrigue, but if held by a vassal they have a -15 opinion of their liege.
    • Pride: Good. "Proud" gives half a point of free Prestige per month with no downsides. Players have also discovered that AI characters with the Proud trait tend to make excellent tutors for children, much better ones than humble characters (which makes sense, from a certain perspective).
    • Crusader Kings II explicitly flags the deadly sins and heavenly virtues with numbered icons in red and green respectively. With the reworking of the Decadence mechanic, Muslim males having any of the deadly sins has an increased chance of getting the Decadent trait.
  • She Is the King: While a secular female noble will have normal feminine titles, a female who is both a religious head and a countess/duchess (must receive the religious title first and requires Absolute Cognatic succession) will have the title of Prince-Bishop/Prince-Archbishop. If you then make her an Antipope, she'll become King-Bishop.
  • Shout-Out(subpage)
  • Simulation Game: The focus on dynastic politics means that you'll spend a lot of time tracking personal relationships and trying to groom your heirs to be good leaders.
  • Sketchy Successor: Another big threat. Having a poor leader who nonetheless can keep things stable isn't a big deal. Having a great king who was able to keep everyone in line, and then having him suddenly replaced by some blithering moron who seems to go out of his way to piss off his vassals and neighbors, can swiftly reduce a great empire to a series of warring duchies.
  • Spare to the Throne: A valid choice for those who don't wish to place all of their eggs in one heir-shaped basket, considering both games' high mortality rates. If the spare does not inherit, you can probably expect them to turn into The Evil Prince if their older brother does inherit, and possibly into an Evil Uncle as they see the throne get further and further away from their own branch of the family.
  • The Spymaster: You can appoint a vassal or courtier to serve as one, and a skilled one is an asset. You had better make damned sure they stay loyal to you, though, or they might become...
  • The Starscream: As mentioned below, disloyal vassals (particularly those with the Ambitious trait) are a bigger threat than almost anything outside your kingdom. Also, if the player character is anything less than a king, chances are the player themselves will be this. Characters with the "Realm Duress" trait will have all their vassals turn into The Starscream. Hilarity inevitably ensues.
    • Legacy Of Rome in the sequel makes it more severe: disloyal vassals will now form massive alliance chains with the sole objective of deposing you.
  • Storming the Beaches: Amphibious assaults, whether from boats or across straits, are possible but extremely risky: Your troops will take serious terrain penalties in battle if enemy troops are present when they land, compounded in the second game by the Morale Mechanic (the morale of each flank is capped at 50% during sea voyages). However, the terrain penalty doesn't apply to troops landed in a friendly or occupied harbor, making it one of the more effective ways to deal with Viking raiders (who have a tendency to run for the longships if approached overland).
  • Storming the Castle: An extremely deadly strategy once you gained a numerical advantage (generally around 10-15 times greater than the garrison) which can melt down the garrison in days. Not so much if you do not have said advantage.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Male characters in both games have a tendency to bear more than a passing resemblance to their father while females look suspiciously like their mothers. Characters will (almost) never look exactly like their parent, but the similarity is always there.
  • Succession Crisis: This and disloyal vassals are probably your greatest threats. Other kingdoms are a distant second, unless you're in the path of the Mongols...
    • Speaking of the Mongols, this is how they're kept in check. Mongols have all sorts of bonuses such as no demesne limit, no attrition, and the incredibly powerful horse archer unit, which allow them to rampage through Europe with impunity. The only thing stopping them is that when the Khan kicks the bucket, his enormous realm is divided among his male children (which tend to be a lot), who promptly start fighting amongst themselves, making them much more manageable. There's a much-hated random event that forces the player to institute a similar system of succession or take severe penalties. (And don't think you can cheat and immediately change it back; you can only change your succession laws every 25 years...)
    • The Imperial and Succession Laws of each Kingdom you rule in the sequel are tracked separately, leading to much potential succession trouble if you don't make their laws similar. There's also the Elective, Gavelkind, and Open succession laws, which are just asking for future wars.
    • Played straight in the sequel, where heirs that are second and third in line gain claims on the throne and become pretenders. If these pretenders are powerful and well-connected landholders, the realm can quickly dissolve into civil war. The myriad of alliances created through marriages can even drag powerful foreign realms into the crisis, creating a full-scale succession war, the likes of which become the stuff of history textbooks.
    • If nothing else, your vassals will often decide to revolt as soon as the new king is crowned, mostly because of the "short reign" relationship penalty, particularly if said ruler is a child/woman/both.
  • Stupid Evil: You can raise your children to be cruel, slothful, envious, wrothful, greedy sons-of-bitches, but your vassals will dislike such a ruler and several of the 'sinful' traits are rather bad stats-wise as compared to their virtuous counterparts.note  Also, there are several events where you can, for example, choose to torture some of your prisoners, but there's no actual benefit to that (unless you want someone dead or maimed) except For the Evulz.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: There is an event that causes characters to fall in love with members of the same sex, with the accompanying option to tolerate it or have the character banished.
    • In Crusader Kings II, even happily married 40-year-olds with children can discover strange urges when attending a tournament.
      • There's even an event in Crusader Kings II where a demonic creature (implied to be the Devil) can appear in the night and turn you gay.
  • Surprise Incest: You've denounced the girl your mistress gave birth to because you don't want the stigma of having a bastard. Fast forward sixteen years, long after you've forgotten the incident, and your son married one of the courtiers. He's only a third son so you're not too upset ... at least not until the son he fathers has the "inbred" trait.
  • Shoot the Dog: The Duke of Wessex may be a charitable churchgoing eighteen year old with a happy marriage and a heart of gold, but there will be times when assassinating him is the only way to prevent that dangerously powerful faction from declaring a civil war to install him as the new king. If killing one person prevents a civil war (which would result in the death of tens or even hundreds of thousands), then it doesn't make you a monster.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: The AI tends to more or less automatically have someone declare independence and war on a liege if the loyalty score of a vassal falls below 5%, even if said liege can afford armies about ten times their own size.
  • Take a Third Option: A character with sufficiently high stats or the right traits may have a choice during a random event that wouldn't be available otherwise. Usually these are ways out of events that would otherwise hit you with a penalty no matter what you choose.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Any dynasty that doesn't ruthlessly purge its heirs can start looking like this, as the sons and daughters start their own families that link with other families, creating webs of family connections. And that's just for Christians; Muslims add polygamy into the mix, pagans can take concubines whose children may be heirs to titles from anywhere at all, and Zoroastrians can not only take concubines, but there's that whole incest thing to mix everything up.
  • The Theocracy: Any holding administrated by a bishop or other religious figure counts on the small scale, though they're often vassals to another, higher-ranked secular ruler. Popes, caliphs, ecumenical patriarchs, and religious leaders of the reformed pagan faiths are the more obvious high-ranking ones, and are often (but not always) independent. The Norse Fylkir is notable for also being the head of state of the founding nation as well as the head of religion, making that state a good example of this trope and closer to the Islamic caliph than the Catholic pope (unless he decides that he wants more than Rome), whereas the high priests of other reformed pagan faiths are distinct from the state.
  • Thicker Than Water: Rulers who are members of the same dynasty are automatically allies (until CKII's 2.5 patch), and they will frequently come to one another's aid when circumstances allow. Of course, this won't always stop them from trying to kill one another when one stands a chance of inheriting the other's titles, but then no family can be perfect.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: You can murder your spouse (or imprison and execute them on trumped-up charges) if you so choose, usually to ensure a beneficial inheritance or open the way for a (hopefully) more fertile pairing.
  • Treacherous Advisor: If someone both holds a court position under you and doesn't like you very much, that's an almost-guaranteed recipe for trouble, as they'll be much more willing to join Plots against you and have quite a bit of Plot Power. If one of them is your Spymaster, you're basically just hanging a "Please Kill Me Quickly" sign around your neck.
  • Turbulent Priest: See The Missionary; this is what those characters become if you're one of the pagan rulers in question and you decide you're not going to tolerate them spreading their venomous lies. Within your own realm, Priests can be generally Turbulent in much the same way your secular vassals are.
    • In the second game, Catholic bishops are Turbulent as long as they like the Pope more than their secular liege. This, by paying taxes to the Pope and withholding levies from their liege.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Especially in the case of traits like "Possessed", which might just as well describe an entirely mundane character trait or condition in modern times.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Because of the way alliance and marriage mechanics work, it's entirely possible to end up with a spouse who, while not exactly unwanted, doesn't really bring much to the table as a person. Fortunately, there are ways to terminate the marriage contract once the desired alliance stops being beneficial - if you feel so inclined, of course.
    • If you don't quickly marry off your children or others in your court, they can marry people on their own initiative. These do not come with alliances, and the woman in question may be a dribbling retard or a raving lunatic with many undesirable traits.
  • Uriah Gambit: A perfectly valid (if unreliable) way of getting rid of uppity vassals, possible claimants to your titles and love rivals is to send them in battles where they may be wounded, slain or taken as prisoners. If they get captured by the enemy side, you can refuse to pay the ransom for their release, since they are unable to plan against you while imprisoned. There are no diplomatic penalties for doing these things, except the prestige malus you get if you actually lose battles in the attempt.
  • The Usurper: Usurping titles by pressing claims on them (typically forged by your chancellor) is the single most common way you will expand your realm. Titles of duke tier or above can also be usurped peacefully as long as you control at least 51% of their de jure territory. In the second game, toppling your liege in this manner (or having your claim pressed by your liege) will even trigger an event where you become known as "Player Character the Usurper" for the rest of your life.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • Say goodbye to the Empire of Byzantium note  (Unless it stops being vestigial.)
    • To a lesser extent, the Holy Roman Empire Kingdom of Germany as well.
    • Tends to be averted (for both Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire) in the sequel. A large part of this in the case of the HRE is the abolition of the Realm Duress mechanic (which used to result in the Kingdom of Germany routinely suffering complete implosion in the 1080s).
    • More generally, you don't lose a title until it's taken by a rival claimant, usurped by whoever already holds most of its de jure lands, or you lose all of your lands. Even if the Byzantine Empire is reduced to Constantinople and surrounded by hostile Turks, so long as no one else has enough Byzantine land to declare itself Basileus, then Byzantium will remain an empire.
  • Vicariously Ambitious: An important part of the game is setting up plots and plans that may not directly benefit your characters in the short term but can be exploited easily by their heirs.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Much, much more difficult than the alternative.
    • Rebellious vassals mean that you are forced either to tyrannically crush dissidents or face part of your realm breaking away, and opportunistic states are a constant danger, meaning keeping the peace while maintaining order is on its own difficult. However, it is there.
    • Keeping low taxes on your peasants and burghers, stubbornly sticking through thick and thin to popular law, gifting your vassals the money they need to develop their lands, (and even giving money to nobles outside your kingdom if you have provided all that your developing kingdom needs) caring and nurturing your offspring and ensuring they are provided for, and even vassalising a state which has been attacked by a larger one and paying for its preservation via tribute to the attacker, it's possible to be nice. It's just not easy.
    • Entirely possible. Marry your daughter to the poor courtier whom she fell in love with instead of the sixty-year old duke who has been widowed twice, show compassion to your underlings, etc. You will usually see whether you wound up living up to your environment's expectations if you gain the Canonized trait upon passing on.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Pretty intensive. You start playing and then after a few hours of gameplay you realize you've been spending most of your time and effort assassinating six-year-olds so that your literally idiotic inbred nephew can inherit the throne of Bavaria, among other things. This game is essentially to 4X games what Dwarf Fortress is to city management sims, both in complexity and cruelty potential.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
    • Going overboard with said cruelty, however, can result in serious setbacks, either by directly provoking a revolt against you, by giving your character certain traits that grant significant relationship penalties to all characters (like Kinslayer), or by applying a "Tyranny" vassal relationship penalty.
    • Sacking temples of your religion while raiding will lower your religion's moral authority. While not a direct punishment to the ruler, this can have negative consequences: lower moral authority means religious conversion of provinces and characters is harder, and with particularly with the Abrahamic faiths increases the odds of heresies appearing. A province converting to a heresy ups its revolt risk by 23% initially, though it will reduce if you can survive long enough without one happening. (Of non-Abrahamic faiths, only Zoroastrianism has heresies, barring pagan reformation.)
  • Video Game Historical Revisionism: Inevitable, and as usual for Paradox the extent to which it applies is a topic of debate. One major deviation, however, falls under Acceptable Breaks from Reality since it would be something of a Game Breaker. When a Mongol Great Khan died, all other Mongol military activity was to cease and the leaders were obliged to return with their armies to Mongolia to see the "election" of the successor. Historically, this was the only thing saving Western Europe from annihilation when Ogedei Khan died in 1241. This rule does not apply to the Mongols in either Crusader Kings.
    • In particular, the fact that some of Yemen's rulers in earlier start dates are completely fictional has attracted controversy.
  • Villain Protagonist: We call them "successful rulers."
  • Voluntary Vassal: It's possible for a holder of a lower-tier title (i.e. Count or Duke) to swear fealty to a holder of a higher-tier title (i.e. Duke or King, respectively) without outside prompting. The opposite is also possible: a higher-tier ruler can offer to peacefully vassalize lower-level rulers who are de jure part of his realm. It's rare for it to happen outside of player control, however.
  • Warrior Prince: See Royals Who Actually Do Something above. Those with high Martial scores and the right set of traits or acquired skills tend to be particularly good at it, though. The Way of Life DLC in the sequel additionally allows your character to pick the War focus, which basically means that your character orients his (or, rarely, her) lifestyle around becoming one.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Vassals can band together in an alliance against their liege for various petty reasons. However, vassals will do this even if they are being invaded by a larger outside threat, such as the Mongols.
    • In Crusader Kings II, vassals can now found factions, demanding stuff like independence, lower Crown Authority, Elective Succession or something similar. It is not uncommon for a large realm to have a dozen different factions, which, however, only have one or two members each and thus do not revolt yet.
  • We Have Reserves: The AI for some reason thinks its funny to send soldiers that just spent a month marching and retreating back into battle, no matter how many times they have already been smacked down.
    • It does this because there is always a chance that if you are besieging a province, an attacking army will manage to interrupt the siege and set it right back to square one. If you're defending or have beaten off an invading AI opponent they will hang back and let mounting debt and attrition, the first of which they don't suffer from, weaken the player instead.
    • The Mongols in the sequel both subvert this trope and force the player to use it: Mongols do not suffer attrition, but can't reinforce their units. Therefore, the only way to beat them is to basically send every soldier you have against them until there aren't any Mongols left.
  • The Wise Prince: Entirely possible. Make sure to train you heirs with enough positive virtues and choose the relatively non-evil options and you're set. Choosing the "Rulership" focus in the sequel (with Way of Life active) also helps if you're out to craft your character into a wise and well-respected ruler.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Out of the four eras covered by Paradox (this game, Europa Universalis, Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun and Hearts of Iron) the first game is the easiest game for conquering the entire map; with a decent start (England, say) you can do it in two generations. It is also the game where revolutions are the most dangerous; you can easily lose the entire thing as vassals rebel against you in vast quantities during a Succession Crisis or realm duress event. Even if you have claimed the entire map, holding it and trying to build a stable, united super-kingdom is a game in and of itself. Equally, in the second game you can easily win a war, ignoring some small civil disturbance down south, and then march back home to deal with it only to gaze in horror as that tiny rebellion has flourished into a multi-duke plot against your throne, and your exhausted army has no means of dealing with it...
  • Zerg Rush: The AI's method of fighting a war is basically "mobilize every last soldier available and send them against the enemy until there isn't anybody left".

    Crusader Kings I 
  • Artificial Stupidity: The game has no clue how to deal with the movement paths of armies, which make for some interesting detours.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Some inheritance rules (based on either Salic or Semi-Salic Consanguinity) favour the son with the highest martial score rather then the eldest (Primogeniture).
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Uses hues of the same colour to indicate ownership of different realms.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Computer factions never go into debt, so they're able to keep their armies fully mobilised at all times, and are always able to pay the transport fee over bodies of water, leading to interesting things like the Sultanate of Oslo and the Emirate of Wessex.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Played straight. Even when Muslims were made playable with the Deus Vult expansion, there wasn't really much difference between them and the Christians, mechanically speaking.
  • Disability Superpower: While carrying hefty martial and lesser stewardship and health penalties, blind characters get a bonus to their diplomacy and intrigue.
  • Game-Favored Gender: Only men can ever inherit — women can only gain titles by being directly granted them, and are primarily useful for marrying off or supporting your rulers. This actually isn't Truth in Television for the period, but most people probably think it is.
  • In Spite of a Nail: There aren't many fixed historical events, but those that are tend to happen no matter what else occurs. For instance, The Teutonic Knights will be eventually formed even if the Crusades fail and the Baltic is already converted.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Stewardship. Martial skill is only useful if you like fighting wars (which are long and tedious and tend to bleed out your country economically), Diplomacy only matters if you have lots of vassals and Intrigue is virtually useless because the only NPC's who ever plot assassinations (unless it's out of revenge for a murder plot you ordered yourself) are Bastards and having somebody assassinated on your own behalf is always a coin's flip of a chance of succeeding or lose a large amount of prestige and piety and losing a huge pile of gold either way. Gold and land on the other hand is something everybody can use at any time.
  • The Pennyfarthing Effect: While the game was well regarded in its time, it tried to shoehorn in a number of character interactions into traits and random events that proved to work out much better as their own mechanics in the sequel. The most obvious example would be the child education system; rather than allowing you to assign specific wards to look after them, the game fired an event to let you choose whether to educate them yourself or to choose a selection of "generic" educators that were marked as a trait on their character portrait.
  • You ALL Look Familiar: Played straight in that there are only so many individual portraits for each culture.

    Crusader Kings II 
  • Abduction Is Love: Subverted. Pagans and tribal Christians may abduct female courtiers when they sack settlements, and the rulers have the option of taking them on as concubines — even if they're already married to someone else. However, this carries hefty opinion penalty, ensuring she will hate her abductor. It's possible for the "Fell in Love" event to happen between a ruler and their stolen concubine, but the event is bugged, and treats that concubine as an illegitimate mistress in related sub-events.
  • Action Girl: While it's perfectly possible for women to have high Martial skill and traits of good generals such as "Skilled Tactician", most of the time they're not permitted to command. However, female rulers (that is, queen regnant, not queen consort) can take the field with their troops, as can the character from the Jeanne d'Archétype event. Cathar realms and realms with Conclave's full rights of women law can also freely have female commanders.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: invoked One possible event while conducting the Summer Fair event as a Christian ruler is for a jester at the fair to accidentally hit you in the face with one of his baubles to much hilarity from onlookers. From the button text it seems your character thought it was funny, too.
  • Aerith and Bob: Expanded upon from the original game significantly:
    • The second game lets players choose the name of his/her character's newborn children, so one can either avoid this trope or intentionally cause it.
    • In addition, there is a random chance for the child to be named for a parent or grandparent from both sides of the family. This means that if you give a character a silly name, chances are it will spread.
    • Some cultures follow a given name plus fathers name with adjective for their full name (with their dynasty name being left out but considered a part of their longer name). Combined this with the parental name sharing aspect mentioned before and this can result in such things as Bob Johnson with a son named John Bobson or even Bob Bobson. Not that this is unusual in, for instance, Iceland.
  • The Alcoholic: Some characters may become Drunkards, which negatively impacts their Stewardship skills since they spend so much of their waking life under the influence. It also affects their personal combat skills for battles and duels.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: No matter how carefully you choose your plotters, there's always going to be that one plotter who blabs the whole thing while he's in his cups...
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Even though the Jews are introduced in Sons of Abraham, this trope is averted when you account for the Khan of Khazaria in 867 or the Duke of Khazars under the Tengri Cumanians in 1066 - both, naturally, have Turkic cultures. Rajas Of India, which expanded East Africa, introduces the very Ethopian Duke of Axum in 867 and the Duke of Axum in 1066 for more variety. Furthermore, Jewish courtiers also come with Sephardim cultures.
  • Alien Space Bats: The 'Sunset Invasion' DLC for Crusader Kings 2 involves the Aztecs invading Europe in the 13th century. Yes, really. Although reaction has been mixed since it goes well beyond the usual alternative history of the games, from a gameplay standpoint, it balances out the fact that Western Europe rarely has to worry about the arrival of the various Hordes in the east which can decimate eastern nations.
  • All There in the Manual: Of a sort - if a character has a basis in historical records and has a Wikipedia entry, the game usually allows you to click an external link to go to that entry (some articles use differing names, which breaks this). Which wiki it points to is moddable, so total conversions and Game Mods can have links to the relevant wiki.
  • Allowed Internal War: Implemented differently depending on whether Conclave is turned on.
    • Without Conclave, the Crown Authority law for your empire or kingdom dictates this. Under Minimum or Low Crown Authority, your vassals can fight each other freely, though technically this is only "allowed" in the sense that your king is too weak to do anything about it. At Medium or above, the only wars they can pursue are either against foreign realms (i.e. a vassal develops a claim on and conquers a county belonging to another nation using their own troops), or against their liege (whether that's yourself or a higher-tier vassal).
    • With Conclave, Crown Authority is broken into several sub-laws and the ability to entirely prevent inter-vassal wars is removed. Instead, you can use your royal council to "enforce realm peace" within certain limitations, forcing a halt to such wars.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Downplayed. The "Ambitious" trait provides boosts to several stats, but causes the character to -25 dislike anybody getting in the way of said ambition (typically the liege, especially if they control a title you want); you also get a mutual -5 with anybody else who has the trait. Ambitious vassals are therefore more prone to revolt. It's not so much ambition making you evil as it is ambition making you a jerkass.
  • The Antichrist: There's an event chain in Sons of Abraham recreating The Omen which may end up in you playing as the spawn of Satan himself and ruling a dark, unholy kingdom, backed up by the forces of The Hecate Sisters of Circe, Morganna and Jezebel.
    • Inthe Blood: If your son has the demon spawn trait, then he will grow up to be evil. Even if you educate him to be good, his sixteenth birthday will see him lose all his good traits and replace them with evil traits. If you play as the demon child you can try to play him as though he were a good person, possibly subverting his satanic lineage.
  • Appeal to Force: The Faction system allows angry vassals to gang up on their ruler and force him to change "The Rules" to their liking if they can beat their liege in a rebellion (or if the ruler is weak enough he'll accept their ultimatum). Usually, the demands will be about either a change in Succession Law or Lower Crown Authority, though some wish to replace the ruler with a claimant.
  • Arch-Enemy: Characters can gain rivals, either through random events or after getting caught trying to screw them over in some way. Rivals get a massive mutual opinion malus, making it unlikely they'll ever see one another in a positive light, and are more likely to plot against one another.
  • Artifact of Doom: An event chain for Indian rulers in Rajas of India has you create one, in the form of a Hope Diamond expy.
  • Artifact Title: Zig-zagged. The DLCs for the second game allow you to play as a heathen or a plutocrat, and even the original game allowed you to play as a non-royal noble, a non-Crusading Orthodox ruler, or a woman. However, there's plenty of kings going on crusades throughout most of the game, even if you're not one of them. Furthermore, non-Catholic religions get their own means of waging holy war on unbelievers. Finally, said heathens and plutocrats are only available to the player if they decided to spring for the DLC; those who choose only to play the base game only have access to Christian feudal lords, as was the case in the original game.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Before the system was reworked, the AI had no clue how to deal with the Decadence system for Muslim rulers in Crusader Kings II. As such, most of the larger Muslim dynasties had a nasty tendency to implode if left in the hands of the AI for too long. After the reworking, male relatives no longer automatically generate decadence (only doing so if they have the Decadent trait), making it much easier for the AI to handle the system. Unfortunately this also makes certain large Muslim realms (e.g. the Umayyads in the Charlemagne 769 AD bookmark) annoyingly hard to eliminate without player intervention.
    • Because of its Back from the Brink nature, there are very few Zoroastrian nobles in the game. Nobles marrying courtiers get huge hits to Prestige, and the AI tries its best to avoid such marriages. In addition, the Zoroastrian AI prefers to set up marriages to close relatives for the boost to vassal relations. The result: it's difficult to ignore the incest when your landed son constantly asks for betrothals to his eight-year-old sisters (who he may or may not be educating).
    • Similarly, some cultures (most notably the Basques and some of the Celtic and Baltic tribes) only have a few provinces at game start and are usually steamrolled by their more formidable neighbors.
    • Generally, if you're playing as a vassal of a realm bordering religious enemies or as a patrician of a merchant republic who cannot hold onto the title of Doge, you need to pray that this trope does not happen.
    • Allied AI armies are known to sometimes run off to completely unimportant objectives rather than attaching themselves to your forces.
  • Ascended Fanon: In Conclave, Crown Authority is broken down into a series of laws, each dealing with one aspect of authority. This splitting was previously done in a Game Mod.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Differs from the first game significantly; the "Invasion" casus belli works like this. Essentially, you petition the Pope/Ecumenical Patriarch/Caliph/other relevant religious authority to sanction an ass-kicking to steal someone else's title. If succeeded you will get a strong claim on the target, this is exceptionally powerful because the claim can be a regal or even imperial one and typically you only get a ducal claim at best; This however only works if you're smaller than the target, or you have a corresponding weak claim already. If the invasion is successful you even get a nickname for it!
    • The Adventurer system and Peasant Rebellions also allows for unlanded title claimants to amass their personal army to invade you for land.
    • And Pagan rulers from The Old Gods DLC can invade any single province that borders their lands and claim it without giving a hoot for any of this "legal basis" business. The Norse can do this to any non-Pagan coastal province.
    • This trope can be seen from a different point: when a ruler crushed a rebellion against his rule by a pretender or some disloyal vassals, the other vassals' opinion of him increases significantly. Therefore, these vassals will less likely join factions or rebel against their suzerain. In fact, it's a recurring scenario throughout the game (and real life, occasionally): the old wise king dies after a long reign of prosperity and peace, and his young son faces an obvious choice: show his vassals who is the boss by vehemently crushing any opposition to his rule, or see his kingdom fall into chaos of internal conflicts, being overthrown by his relative or have his land fall apart as the 'Independence' faction win war against him.
  • Authority in Name Only:
    • The concept of "Crown Authority" measures how much power a king holds over the nobility - A king with little or no crown authority can't even revoke vassal titles or prevent nobles from waging independent wars.
    • Conclave replaces Crown Authority with a set of discrete Council Power laws which determine whether the ruler can take certain actions (declaring wars, handing out titles, executing or releasing prisoners, etc.) without submitting them before the Council for a vote. Trying to rule the realm with an uncooperative council that vetoes everything you want to do is a challenge in and of itself, and while they can be overridden, this incurs a tyranny penalty.
    • Independent dukes and counts can disregard the crown laws of their de jure kingdom if the king of said kingdom is of another religion.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Crown Authority mechanic encapsulates this trope. The higher it is, the better a ruler is able to keep his vassals in line, preventing them from launching independent wars, attacking one another (overtly), or passing their titles to another ruler's vassal by inheritance when they die.
  • Back from the Brink: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Zunism all start the game with a very small selection of independent rulers surrounded on all sides by aggressive religious enemies. Restoring the Kingdom of Israel, becoming the Saoshyant (which involves restoring the Persian Empire to its traditional borders as a Zoroastrian), and reforming the Zunist faith and ruling an "Empire of the Sun," respectively, are considered significant achievements.
    • Depending on your starting date, you can get to play as some of the last Pagan rulers, who are already in the process of losing their last lands to the Christian lords, and depending on your choices, you may be able to restore and reform their respective religions.
  • Bad Bad Acting: The last of the Seven Deadly Sins trailers, intentionally so.
  • Barbarian Hero: The Old Gods introduces adventurers, who can be both significant threats and potential allies.
    • The Horse Lords expansion added deeper mechanics for steppe hordes (nomads), including a unique mechanic where sons are sent to become wondering mercenaries.
  • Bastard Bastard: If you knock up your courtier, then the resulting bastard could become this. Even if you legitimize him, there is still the chance he will be evil. If you don't, he may want revenge.
  • Battle Couple: As a female ruler, part of a Cathar realm, or by passing the equal rights for women law in Conclave, women can lead troops in battle. It's also possible to make her husband another Mook Commander and put them on the same battlefield.
  • The Beard: An event chain deals with rumors about your character being a closet homosexual. You can then choose to embrace them and become a homosexual, or prove them wrong by visiting several brothels and becoming a "whoremaster".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Crusader Kings II has an event chain that starts with a neighbour complaining, potentially followed by you sending roses, potentially followed by romance.
  • The Berserker: If your character is a Viking, he can become one in battle and gain a trait for it. This gives his martial skill a substantial boost.
  • Big Fancy House: Patricians in The Republic get a family palace that is treated as a completely separate holding from those that are on the map. Like any other holding, it can be upgraded to provide bonuses to income, levies, and other areas. It also has unique structures that improve character attributes and, in one case, fertility as well.
  • Big Friendly Dog: If you get the hunting dog from the Hunting focus and then switch to the Family focus, one possible event has the dog becoming best buddies with children in your court.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Played with in the "Sloth" live action trailer for Crusader Kings II.
  • Black Vikings:
    • The strictest interpretation is technically possible as of The Old Gods. Even in the base game, though, it's possible for a character to inherit his name, culture, and religion from his native-born father but his looks from his exotic-born mother. Displaced courtiers will also try to find a court that's most similar to their own culture and religion, which is usually fairly nearby but can end up being quite far afield indeed. For instance, Abyssinian Miaphysites ending up in Greece or Asia Minor after the Fatimids steamroll their corner of the world.
    • The game considers all pagan religions to be a part of the same "religious group" for marriage purposes, so it is possible to wed your Norse prince to a Tengri princess end up with a Turkish-looking Swede leading Viking raids. This used to allow true Black Vikings as well, although the diplomatic range added later makes it harder.
  • The Bluebeard/Black Widow: One of the people whose death you can consistently plan is that of your spouse. There's even an achievement for doing so named “Till death does us part."
  • Bodyguard Crush: With the Seduction focus, a female (or gay male) character can win over a bodyguard, who can either be promoted to The Squire (and thus a named character) or kept on the side as a bodyguard lover (providing a bonus to the character's Martial skill and ability to uncover plots).
  • Bond One-Liner: The button text for most successful murder plots consists of your character making a snarky remark regarding the target's fate.
    blown up in manure explosion: [target] went out with a bang.
    poisoned wine: I think I shall celebrate with... beer.
  • Boring but Practical: The Family focus has no active actions you can take or ongoing event chains, and the events in it mostly give small relationship bonuses with close family and do not fire often. However, staying on the path gives you 20% fertility, +2 diplomacy and +1 health, a close to 100% chance you'll fall in love with your spouse (+50% fertility) and the ability to become The Patriarch or The Matriarch for your dynasty, which gives you an additional +1 diplomacy and +20% fertility, making it the perfect option for rulers who want to live long and leave a healthily growing (and landed) dynasty behind. Unlike Rulership and Theology it also has no downsides; the worst Family focus will do to you is cause you to become Proud.
    • Extracting tribute from neighbours. The attacker is spared the trouble of actually managing the defender as a vassal or his lands (if the war was over territory), and strengthens himself at the expense of the defender.
  • Born in the Saddle: Horse Lords adds a Nomadic form of government for steppe tribes to reflect their more fluid and less settled way of life. Nomad armies are heavily structured around cavalry (including the infamous Horse Archer), and horses feature prominently in their special mechanics and event chains.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: There is nothing stopping the player from playing odd religion-government type combinations. Muslim merchant republics? No problem. Buddhist nomads? Possible. However, for them to be playable, you would require the corresponding expansions.
  • Brick Joke:
    • There's an event chain which begins with a neighbour boring you and sending envoys asking for money, and you can nail the envoy's hat on his head or send roses to him. If you nail the hat, you become an impaler and makes everyone around mad at you, with an option at the end of the chain saying something along the lines of "Perhaps I should begin planting roses?"
    • In one of the Improve Intrigue event chains, you can frame a nobody for jewellery theft. Thirty years of in-game time later, your ruler will suddenly wake up in the night and realize the man is still in the dungeons for a crime he didn't commit, and will rush to the dungeons to let him out after a nightmare, while your character takes a hit to their piety.
  • Career-Ending Injury: There's a chance that a character leading troops into battle may suffer a particularly bad blow to the head that renders them incapable, meaning they'll need a regent if they happen to be the ruler.
  • The Casanova: The Way of Life DLC gives us the Seduction focus, which allows rulers to actively target other characters in order to seduce and sleep with them, and (sometimes) take them on as lovers.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Due to a more random generation system, characters in CKII are more individualised as compared to the first game. Furthermore, portraits change in relation to traits (battle scars, boils) or when characters are assigned jobs. Marshals and army leaders wear helmets and armor, dukes wear golden tiaras outside of battle, spymasters wear hoods, blinded characters have dark, ugly voids where their eyes once sat, and so on. DLC content packs expand this further.
  • Catchphrase: Characters with the family focus get "Family first!" as a personal motto.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: Due to an Unwinnable by Mistake bug in Conclave, player characters ruling nomadic realms sometimes end up in a bind where the members of their realm council dislike them because they want more land, then disagree with granting vassal khans (including themselves) more land, because they dislike the PC due to wanting more land. The only solution currently is to fire the council altogether.
  • Category Traitor: Zealous characters take a dim view of their co-religionists having sympathy for other faiths.
  • Chaotic Stupid: The Arbitrary trait is described as a character that cares little for right and wrong, and choosing things almost at random (it is represented by a six sided die). It also comes with a decent drop in vassal's opinions and stewardship. A lunatic, on the other hand, will do extremely random things (or nods to historical deranged monarchs, such as assigning their horse to the council) and your vassals will LOATHE you for it.
  • Character Customization: One of the lesser DLCs for the game is a ruler designer that allows you to create and customize your own rulers to replace any of the default ones. Another DLC, released later, allows you to change existing characters names, portraits and dynasty names mid-game.
  • The Clan: Happens more or less by default if a family has upwards from 5 or so members who hold a title (i.e. Gavelkind inheritance will sooner or later result this). All of these family members are automatically allies who will rally to each other's help if threatened by an outsider, but they also tend to have a design on each other's titles (especially if they're closely related since they'll have claims on their relatives' titles) and frequently send assassins after each other. Some (in)famous historical examples are the Rurikids who collectively rule most or all of Russia divided into half a dozen Grand Duchies and the Karlings who hold most of Central Europe during the 867 start.
  • Chokepoint Geography: Patches of no-man's-land are sometimes used to represent impassable peaks on the map, with gaps between them for mountain passes. This is especially evident in the Alps.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Lunatic characters appear to live in their own little bubble of reality, one they share with talking smoked fish and murderous gopher maids. They're also prone to passing laws to ban things like violence and pants for "the salvation of the realm."
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The law of anti-violence is actually how our modern human rights pretty much work. Alas, the game occurs in the era where people go to war and plunder cities for prestige.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Crusader Kings II uses different hues of the same colour to indicate similarity in its various map modes. On the political map mode, the Iberian Christian kingdoms for example share similar shades of yellow and red, while their Muslim neighbors are green. Similarly in De Jure Duchies mode, all English, French and German duchies are coloured in different shades of red, blue and white, respectively. The Kingdom of Burgundy is ... well, guess.
    • For the Religion map mode, Shi'a and Sunni Muslim are represented by similar but distinct shades of green, while Orthodox Christianity is purple and Catholicism is in white. Heresies have differing shades from their mother religions.(Fractelli is light brown, while Cathar is light blue). Realms with different religions from their liege have strips across them.
  • Comically Small Bribe:
    • A random event involves your character selling out someone close to them (permanently denting their relationship) at the behest of one of that character's rivals, in return for a portion of said rival's wealth. If the rival (picked at random) is a courtier with no personal wealth, your character will then sell out their close friend/wife/family member for as much as that courtier can offer... A whole shiny gold piece. And no, you have no option to refuse.
    • Normally, a gift of wealth is scaled to the target's annual income (minimum of 20 ducats). In some versions of the game, giving a gift to someone who newly enters a position is treated as having minimal monthly income and may therefore be subject to a comically small gift that improved relations.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • The Mongols have giant armies that completely ignore supply limits, thus allowing them to concentrate in unbeatable numbers, while the player cannot counter this due to still being limited by supplies. Ditto the Aztecs in Sunset Invasion, though as their troops are mostly infantry, cavalry-rich realms have an easier time.
    • During native uprisings, the AI is regularly able to levy armies ten to twenty times larger than the player is allowed to get out of their own territories.
    • During battles, overwhelming advantages in manpower and commander skill guarantee nothing...unless it's the computer that has either, in which case it will go through you like a sledgehammer through paper.
  • The Computer Is A Lying Bastard:
    • Due to the relatively simple algorithm the game uses to determine the advertised difficulty levels of various starting options, and factors it doesn't consider, what it says is the easiest possible start to the game... isn't. It calculates it as such because you start with a large empire with a strong power base... but neglects to factor in that you're playing an elderly, weak ruler with loyalty issues among his vassals, and at least one costly civil war is effectively inevitable shortly after starting.
    • Tooltips say that if you start as a pagan you have to reform the faith before you can go feudal. However, it's also possible to become feudal as an unreformed pagan simply by conquering a feudal area and making it your primary title.
  • The Conqueror: Any character who presses an Invasion claim can receive this nickname if he wins (and he'll deserve it, since winning an invasion involves conquering an entire kingdom in one go). They may also be a Young Conqueror, depending on their age.
  • Cool Horse: Nomad khagans can buy and name their very own sturdy war horses, which provide a small prestige boost to the character that owns them.
  • Cosmetically Different Sides: Averted as of the DLCs in the second game:
    • Sword of Islam, as Muslims have their own mechanics, such as decadence and polygamy;
    • Legacy of Rome, which made the game slightly different for Greek and Orthodox characters;
    • The Republic, which adds special mechanics for Patrician families in merchant republics;
    • The Old Gods, which adds new mechanics for the now playable pagan nations, including raiding;
    • Sons Of Abraham , adding new features to all of the Abrahamic religions and adding Judaism to the mix;
    • Rajas of India, which lets you play as Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains in India, with their own mechanics.
    • Charlemagne, which introduces tribal rulers (as opposed to feudal lords).
    • Horse Lords introduces nomad mechanics for rulers of the steppes, such as clan management, lack of holdings, manpower, etc. (Games without the DLC will have nomad rulers behave like tribal ones instead.)
  • Crutch Character:
    • Certain historical rulers have high predefined stats and positive traits, which makes playing as them easy. However, their ahistorical descendants have their stats and traits determined by the player and Random Number God, which means that the player has to start relying on their own skill at the game after one generation.
    • King Karl of West Francia (the historical Charlemagne) in the 769 start is the most extreme example of this. Not only does he have decent stats and traits, he also has several scripted events that make it easy for him to form the Holy Roman Empire and conquer most of western Europe. However, his descendants don't have this luxury, which means that the player has to rely on their own skill to prevent their massive, culturally diverse empire from disintegrating after Karl dies.
    • Also potentially inverted when stronger player-ruled realms (especially Catholic realms) end up propping up weaker countries across half of Europe against rapacious Norse and Muslim conquistadors.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Sufficiently strong pagan rulers can, under the right circumstances, reform their respective faiths, creating an organized religion with a formal priestly hierarchy and written holy texts. It's implied that these reforms are inspired by contact with and directly patterned after the Christian and Islamic religious bodies.
  • Dare to Be Badass: A tagline from the "Seven Deadly Sins" promotional shorts reads: "Many are called; few are chosen."
  • Deal with the Devil: If you end up playing as demon spawn, mercenarie companies following the same religion as you will still fight for you against the inevitable rebellion if you can afford to hire them. They're willingly helping the literal Son of Satan in exchange for a stack of gold.
  • Defensive Feint Trap: This is the Altaic cultures' signature tactic, "Retreat and Ambush." It's widely considered one of the most powerful tactics in the game. You can also do this on a tabletop in the "war games" event chain, slowly withdrawing troops from the center of your formation to trap your opponent between your flanks and encircle them.
  • Defiled Forever: A subtle example — married courtiers are not exempt from pagan concubinage, and being taken as a concubine cancels the marriage automatically.
  • Dark Horse Victory: There's an achievement for conquering England as Svend II of Denmark, a somewhat more obscure monarch who also had a claim on the throne, rather than William of Normandy or Harald of Norway.
  • Death of the Old Gods: Unreformed pagans are more easily converted by Abrahamic, Zoroastrian, and Dharmic missionaries, have a harder time of winning converts of their own from those religions, and are very prone to splintering amongst themselves. If no single leader arises to reform a given pagan faith into an organized religion, it's quite likely that that faith will wither away under the pressure of holy wars and missionaries.
  • Delivery Stork: Used as a short-hand to indicate that a particular character is pregnant.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Mechanics also exist for immortal characters.
    • Since the historical archives go back so far, The Prophet Muhammad is listed in the database. If you look at his character sheet, however, his portrait is blocked out, the only portrait in the game to have this property.
    • If you only read the drop down when using the Liege Creator DLC, you would think that being openly (well, as openly as medieval times allow for) homosexual is purely a penalty to the diplomacy stat. Well, it does more than just that. Most people will dislike you for being homosexual... except other homosexuals who will like you better. This opinion bonus also stacks with attractive...
    • The act of offering up Native Americans as human sacrifice during a blót has its own special flavor text, even though it is a rather unlikely event.
    • Also, in the unlikely event that a Norse pagan worms his way into India, some of the rivers there are navigable by longboat.
    • After the release of the Horse Lords DLC, players can now find Marco Polo hanging around Kublai Khan's court if they choose to start at the appropriate date. His father and uncle are also there, and all three are friends with the Khan!
    • The Conclave DLC added different names and graphics for different government types in the kingdom rules tab. Most of these are mundane names like "Noble Republic" or "Elective Aristocratic Empire", but if your ruler has the relatively rare "Spawn of Satan" trait - welcome to the "Kingdom of Terror".
  • Difficult but Awesome: The Rulership focus leaves you entirely at the mercy of the RNG and will either give you an Ambitious, Diligent and Just ruler with +6 stewardship and a +10 to vassal opinions, or a depressed, stressed-out wreck that burns out and dies mere months later.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: This trailer puts Piracy in the Seven Deadly Sins and mentions that pirates don't get the full functionality of the game (multiplayer and DLC). Not quite parodied, but definitely joked about.
  • Dirty Old Man: It is common for a duke in his late fifties to be married to a woman half his age, and to be cheating in her with three teenage courtiers.
  • Disability Superpower: Averted so very hard; where negative congenital character traits, such as being inbred or having dwarfism, generally lack a positive bonus. The same goes for negative Health traits, which will affect either your fertility (ability to make heirs) or stats.
  • Downloadable Content: Crusader Kings II has two types of DLCs:
    • "Bonus" cosmetic additions that add extra portraits, historical dynasty flags, unit sprites and music...
    • ... And mini-expansions like Sword of Islam and Legacy of Rome which make Muslim rulers playable and add new gameplay mechanics for Orthodox rulers, respectively. Paradox kept its promise to add new features to the basic game so players won't be forced to buy the expansions, but this hasn't stopped some fans from accusing Paradox of money-grubbing.
  • Driven to Suicide: If you have depression, you can actually invoke this and end it all. It costs 200 prestige. Which is a surprisingly useful option, as the game lacks any abdication mechanics, so this is the only truly reliable way to choose exactly when you want your heir to take over.
    • As of a recent patch, committing suicide will incur an opinion penalty that will be immediately inherited by your next character, so you'll have to deal with that if you use this strategy
  • Dueling Scar: It's possible to receive one in battle or a duel. It's shown on the character portrait and adds a small monthly prestige bonus.
  • Dump Stat: Learning has a certain... reputation for this. It does absolutely nothing that couldn't be handily compensated for through other means, and even the things it does are of questionable importance at best (small monthly boost to piety and technology growth).
  • Early Game Hell:
    • This can hold true for a lot of games, especially if you're playing as a kingdom with few provinces (like vulnerable Navarre or Georgia) or a ruler with powerful rivals or nearby religious enemies. But it's especially true if you're starting out as a Zoroastrian ruler (and you're determined not to convert). Basically you start out with no advantages except a large starting army (if you're playing the satrap of Karen) that cannot be replenished, virtually no one to make alliances with because of religious differences, and completely surrounded by hostile pagan and Islamic rulers who can gang up against you and will sooner or later, and probably sooner, attack you - and even if you do survive for a couple of centuries you'll probably be right where you'll have to deal with swarms of Seljuk Turks. Even strategies posted online by veteran players can only recommend the "gamey" strategy of pledging allegiance to a neighboring Muslim monarch and exploiting the game's mechanics to try to seize their territory from within, or at least play aggressively and rely on luck, or just pick a stronger and more secure pagan ruler and convert to Zoroastrianism (which is itself tricky, since it usually means you'll have to capture a Zoroastrian woman and make her a concubine).
    • Most realms in the earlier bookmarks start out with Gavelkind Inheritance. This means that when the ruler dies his realm is divided among his sons. Most players attempt to switch to a less-crippling inheritance system as soon as they can. Pagan realms are stuck with the even-harder-to-control elective gavelkindnote  unless they convert to a non-pagan faith or reform their own.
  • Easter Egg: Paradox Development Studio's main staff are in-game as landless Swedish courtiers.
  • Easy Evangelism: It's a lot easier for a Christian to convert counties to his faith than it is for members of other religions. Unlike other examples of this trope this is less of an Author Tract and more of a way of representing Christianity's evangelical nature and encouraging the game to simulate the historical conversion of Europe to Christianity. That said, "easier" is a relative term. It can take years to convert one of your own provinces even if you are a Christian, and pagan rulers are likely as not to throw out your missionary the first time one of his courtiers is converted. By contrast, religious conversion to unreformed pagan faiths is next to impossible.
  • Emperor Scientist: One possible result of taking on and putting a lot of money and effort into the Learning focus. However, the religious authorities being what they are, the "scientist" part could well lead to the "emperor" part being violently revoked.
  • Empty Shell: Characters with the "Incapable" trait are locked in a permanent state of catatonia and unable to function on their own. Incapable rulers get a regent who rules the kingdom on their behalf.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: If a nobleman whose liege is greek decides to rebel and gets imprisoned, then he can find himself castrated. This will make him hate his liege even more, so he is even more likely to do things like rebel or plot to kill the king.
  • Evil Chancellor: Duke Hunoald Loping of Aquitaine is this to Charlamange. He starts out as your chancellor, and whether or not you replace him it is almost guarinteed that he will join or lead a faction to severely limit your power, break away from your kingdom, or outright usurp your throne.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: Muslims can have a maximum of four wives. Pagans, Zoroastrians, tribal Christians, and members of the three Indian religions get one wife and the option of multiple concubines, all of whose children are considered legitimate.
  • Expansion Pack World: The patch that comes with Rajas of India extends the game map well to the East, including the entire Indian subcontinent and more of Siberia and the Central Asian steppes. Earlier expansions already extended the map southward into Africa, though on a much smaller scale. Horse Lords has additionally opened up new tracts of the Central Asian steppe, though the map boundaries remain the same.
  • Eye Scream: Legacy of Rome gives Byzantine emperors the option of putting out the eyes of captured pretenders. This feature also gets extended to all leaders with Greek culture.
  • Fantastic Rank System: The game has a dynamic rank system that generates titles based on combinations of characters' rank, culture, religion, and style of government. Some are historical (prince-bishopnote , lord mayornote ), while others are fictional (wali-emirnote , witch-kingnote ).
  • Femme Fatale: As a ruling queen, seducing your most powerful and potentially troublesome vassals in order to keep them under your thumb is a perfectly legitimate tactic.
  • Feuding Families:
    • Patrician families in The Republic can start long-running vendettas, complete with Star-Crossed Lovers.
    • Steppe nomad clans in "Horse Lords" can start blood feuds, which can only end when one clan pays a blood price in gold to the other or when one of the clans is wiped out.
  • For Science!: Invoked with the "studying stellar movement" event chain branch from the "building an observatory" decision (requires the Scholarship focus). The chain allows the player character to eventually figure out heliocentrism if pursued to its end. During the discovery phase, you can choose to rebuff your religious head (assuming you're not said head yourself) when he asks you to stop. At the very end, you can choose to publish the results of your research, further snubbing the clergy, but earning considerable prestige at the same time.
  • 419 Scam: You can be contacted by someone claiming to represent an Abyssinian prince. If you have the "Scholar" trait, you can reply by pointing out that the names in the message aren't Abyssinian.
  • Friend or Foe: Due to a long-running bug it's possible, though rare, that your troops may accidentally kill their own commander in battle.
  • Friends with Benefits: The friend mechanic allows you to become friends with characters in your court, including friends of the opposite sex. If you end up seducing and/or marrying your friend, then it is this trope.
  • Full-Boar Action: One of the potential encounters while out on a hunt is a wild boar. It has a small chance of killing or injuring you if you choose to dispatch it yourself, but bringing it down also gives you a fair bit of prestige.
  • Funny Schizophrenia: Insane characters. Between chasing imaginary gophers, trying to seduce rose bushes and occasionally banning ethnic and religious discrimination in their realm, Insanity is mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Gambit Pileup: Crusader Kings II introduced the ability for characters to form secret conspiracies to achieve some goal or another, called "Plots." It's pretty much inevitable that at least two are going to crash into each other sooner or later.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • A King-Bishop is allowed to become the predicted next Cardinal, but is not allowed to become a Cardinal. Thus, if a King-Bishop becomes the predicted next cardinal (which is a distinct possibility due to the "secular power" modifier) he will prevent others from becoming Cardinals while himself never becoming a Cardinal, inevitably reducing the College to a tiny number.
    • Rajas of India adds temporary titles for revolts. If you manage to inherit one but not the revolt somehow (for example, a Duchy-level revolt in your Kingdom takes land and all of the eligible heirs die), you will be unable to arrange marriages, give out titles, create retinues, or do countless other very important things.
    • The Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church frequently inherits control of the Byzantine Empire, which converts the government to a theocracy with open elective succession (picks basically at random from courtiers) and makes it extremely difficult for secular rulers to regain control.
  • Game-Favored Gender: In keeping with the values of the time, men tend to be have the advantage. CKII allows a male-biased inheritance law that allows women to inherit if no males are available for all non-Muslim cultures (agnatic-cognatic), and full female inheritance rights for the Basque culture and Cathar and Messalian heresies (absolute cognatic). Even then, though, female rulers and/or heirs result in opinion penalties, which doesn't affect male rulers and/or heirs, and any males with weak claims on their titles can press them at any time simply because of their gender. Paradox did add female-preference inheritance in a later patch, but only for modders (by default, no realm starts with it and there's no way to switch to it). What is not moddable is that the default marriage is patrilineal (the children is of the father's dynasty), with a marriage being matrilineal having to be specifically chosen (and the AI prefers not to accept such marriage offers unless it directly benefits them). Played straight with the merchant republics and Muslim realms. Women from patrician houses can never be elected Doge or become head of their houses. They cannot be married off matrilineally either, nor can they inherit titles. Some of the expansions downplay it, however:
    • In Rajas of India, there is no opinion penalty for having a female heir or being a female ruler.
    • Conclave adds various options to expand the rights of women by passing laws.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Scholarship focus allows you to research the H.P. Lovecraft mythos. Insanity is a common side-effect.
    • A very rare event can return an Incapable ruler back to life, at the cost of making him/her permanently insane. Depending on the quality of said ruler this is either a small trade-off or a massive annoyance.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Naturally, a female ruler of kingdoms or empires would invoke this trope if she acts tyrannically. Human players would likely exercise more caution while playing as a female ruler due to lower opinion from male vassals due to her gender.
  • Going Native: Highly recommended, if you conquer a large realm with a foreign culture. Bringing them all to speak your language is borderline impossible, so you may as well assimilate yourself to reduce the likeliness of revolts. Otherwise expect to routinely have to deal with the Occupiers out of Our Country movements.
  • Gold Fever:
    • Downplayed with the "Greed" trait. While characters with the trait may love gold more, it rarely reaches the levels commonly associated with the tropes.
    • Meta-wise, the Horse Lords expansion allows the waging of war to extract tribute (gold) from neighbours, the Silk Road adding the opportunity for rulers to earn even more gold. Combined with the accompanying patch loosening the requirements for raiding, and the advantages of having lots of cash as noted under the Every Man Has His Price entry above, it's not surprising for players to develop a love for the yellow metal.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Implied by the fact that the "attractive" trait doesn't go away with age, nor do seduction attempts get harder.
  • Great White Hunter: Taking the Hunting focus of Way of Life represents your character aspiring to be this, with multiple event chains representing what can happen to them in their pursuit of worthy prey.
  • Groin Attack: As of Legacy of Rome, castration is an option for Byzantine emperors to inflict on their captured foes.
  • Hearing Voices: This is the chief symptom of Possessed characters. While characters in-universe interpret it as demonic (or, sometimes, angelic) possession, it's entirely possible they're merely mentally ill.
  • Hell Gate: One chain of events has an actual Gate to Hell open as a result of an earthquake, complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Fortunately, it's not too hard to close. Although it's not made entirely clear whether it's a genuine gate to Hell or just a sinkhole seen through the lens of medieval superstition.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: You can name all your children in Crusader Kings II. Since the AI often names children after their parents or grandparents, it is entirely possible to accidentally introduce a branch of the family who all name their children "Poo Pants McTwat".
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Mostly averted: rulers and courtiers assigned to lead troops or as a realm's marshal will don armor in their portraits, helmets included. However, this doesn't include priests: their vestments apparently override this.
  • Hereditary Republic: While all merchant Republics in The Republic DLC are elective, if you're good (and rich) enough, your family can just keep winning election after election with sufficient funding.
  • Hermit Guru: Indian princes can seek these out and try to lure them to their court to serve as advisors. It's often worth it, since said gurus often have very good stats. Take care, not every guru is genuine.
  • Heroic Bastard: You might end up having one if you cheat on your wife with the courtier, or if your wife cheats on you. The heroic part will be if the child grows up to have enough positive traits, and if he doesn't murder his brother.
  • A Homeowner Is You: Each great house in a merchant republic has its own mansion. The patrician of that family can spend money to build upgrades that provide special bonuses to their house.
  • Homosexual Reproduction:
    • The Way of Life DLC made it easier to target people for seduction, and if the target was a woman, said woman could easily get pregnant... even if the seducer was female. Obviously a bug, and will probably be fixed soon.
    • Before this, it was possible for a while for men to impregnate their lovers - gender was irrelevant. This bug was fixed.
  • Hopeless War:
    • This is what Harold Godwinson's defence of England is set up to look like during the conquest. He faces not only the larger army of William the Conqueror, but also Harald "Hardruler" of Norway. Luckily, Harold has some very loyal vassals and a superb-rated spymaster. The sanest way to keep the throne as Harold is to assassinate William the Bastard, since his claim on the English throne dies with him.
    • Subverted in the early releases of Crusader Kings II, as the AI for Harald Hardruler tended to be overly cautious when it could grind Harold Godwinson's army into the ground. In later releases the AI becomes much better at fighting this war and is more willing to assault holdings and attack Harold's army directly.
  • Horny Vikings: The Old Gods lets you take control of a selection of Norse warlords during the height of the Viking invasions of Western Europe. They don't, however, have horns on their helmets.
  • Hot Consort: Your spouse can have the "attractive" trait. The actual appearance of the character can sometimes subvert this—they might appear to be very beautiful or handsome, but various traits they possess will make them repulsive to everyone.
  • Human Sacrifice: Employed by the Norse, Aztecs, and patrons of Kali.
  • Hunting Accident: One of the potential assassination plots involves arranging one to happen to the victim, in good old medieval tradition.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: With the Family Focus, you will eventually make your spouse fall in love with you. Even if that spouse is homosexual.
  • Illegal Religion: Heresies are religious sects that pop up when religious authority is too low, and are usually immediately stamped out by the province's ruler. However, if a heresy gains enough power it can eventually displace the orthodox faith, turning into the legal religion and turning the old orthodoxy into a heresy.
    • Additionally, with high enough Crown Authority, a ruler can force a vassal to convert or revoke his title without any opinion penalty from other vassals.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Way of Life introduces an event chain that can end with you accidentally (or "accidentally") eating one of your friends during a party.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Can happen if you run afoul of a character with the "impaler" trait.
  • Informed Attractiveness: The "Ugly" and "Attractive" character traits in CKII have no effect on the character's portrait, so these tropes can sometimes happen.
  • Intrepid Merchant: The Way of Life DLC allows characters with the Business focus to send caravans to distant lands in order to make a profit.
  • Inverted Trope: The achievement "The British Raj" is awarded for controlling Britannia as a Hindu, Buddhist or Jain (the real one was the other way around).
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: Patch 1.09 for the sequel introduces this system, with certain provinces and titles being renamed depending on the culture of their ruler. "Suomi" will become "Finland" under Norse or Swedish rule, for example.
    • Individual cities and domains can also be renamed by the player who owns them, who can then invoke this trope, as well as Egopolis.
  • It Will Never Catch On: An event from Sunset Invasion has the player's ruler informed that the Aztecs has brought many strange and new but edible crops with them, such as tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and cocoa, which are becoming delicacies all over Europe. In response, the ruler will scuff at it and call it "a passing fad".
  • Jeanne d'Archétype: An event chain in Sons of Abraham can put one in your court. They even get a special exemption to the prohibition of women being marshals and leading troops.
  • Keystone Army: A Crusade is one of these. Many Catholic realms band together to capture the Holy Land or drive the pagans out of Hungary or whatever, but technically, all of those realms are in the war as allies of the Pope, who actually declares the war. The Pope is politically very powerful, but he typically only controls one or two counties in his own right. As such, if the defenders can capture Rome, the Crusade falls apart immediately.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Most honorary titles can be used to invoke this trope somewhat, as you can give them to a potential troublemaker to grant them an "office of state" for an opinion boost without actually making them more powerful by giving away land or promoting them further up the feudal hierarchy.
    • This is the only possible way to get rid of an unwanted regent. Since only courtiers or direct vessels can be regents, you can give your current unwanted regent a small land title and transfer his vassalage to someone else.
  • King Bob the Nth: The game keeps track of all past rulers of any title that's Duchy-level or higher. If a ruler shares a name with a past ruler, he'll end up with a number next to his name.
  • Kingmaker Scenario: Rival claimants to a contested throne don't always have their own landed titles, so they'll often depend on the backing of a powerful noble within the realm to lead Factions to enforce their claims. These nobles frequently end up being Kingmakers both figuratively and literally, at least when their faction wins.
  • King on His Deathbed: Rulers who are rendered Incapable get a regent appointed on their behalf, with all the court intrigues and power plays that that implies. They also usually don't last very long.
  • La Résistance: Peasant revolts can occur in areas of high revolt risk, particularly if the nominal ruler is of a different culture or religion than the ruler.
  • Love Potion: They do exist, apparently, but it's likely you'll be on the receiving end of it, after a "witch" doles it out to a would-be hunter ruler. Fortunately, she's so interested in you in return that she'll come back to your court, with great stats! Unfortunately, she's also evil. Should have seen that coming when her full name ends with "Of the Wild".
  • Love Triangle: If you're married and have another lover on the side, an event can fire where your lover and your wife both want to you to spend time with them for a special occasion. You can choose whether to spend time with one and ignore the other, or arrange a ball and try to discreetly spend time with both there.
  • The Magnificent: Characters can gain monikers based on their traits and actions. These range from "The Great" and "The Holy" to "The Cruel" and "The Drunkard".
  • The Maiden Name Debate: In very rare cases, characters can arrange matrilineal marriages, whereby the groom and any children the union may produce are adopted into the bride's dynasty instead of belonging to his own.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: The goal of any "Murder Character X" plot.
  • Marry Them All: If you are playing as a Muslim ruler, then it is possible to marry upwards of four wives. This means that if you are caught in a love triangle, then it is not so much choosing between which to marry as which is the main wife. (Mind you, wives have been known to murder each other over who gets to be the main wife.) However, this is subverted if you happen to be in love with more than four women. Pagans, Zoroastrians, Indians and non-Muslim tribal chiefs can have up to three legal concubines, who have no legal rights, but their children are still considered legitimate.
  • The Marvelous Deer: Your character states his goal to find the fabled White Stag whenever you choose to go on a hunt. There's a small chance of actually encountering one as well, which gives a prestige boost if you manage to bring it down.
  • Mechanically Unusual Class:
    • Merchant republics. Unlike the feudal states that (at game start) make up the majority of the game's playable options, they rely mainly on coastal trade posts rather than landed holdings as a source for their wealth and power. They also have a special form of elective inheritance, with control of the republic itself passing to one of five heads of patrician families based on seniority, prestige, and the amount of money they're willing to spend on bribing voters. It's also possible to create a vassal republic under a feudal king by granting a duchy to the mayor of a town within it, a move that will typically provide a nice boost in your tax income.
    • Tribal rulers count as well. Personal valor counts for a lot more than it does in feudal or republican realms, to the point that tribal holdings are typically upgraded with Prestige points rather than gold as is the standard elsewhere. Tribal vassals also don't contribute levies directly to their liege but rather must be called into war as allies. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that tribal powers typically have more options on hand for fighting and raiding than their feudal counterparts, including the fact that all tribals have access to raiding mechanics (whereas normally these are restricted to non-Abrahamic religions).
    • Nomads, introduced in the Horse Lords DLC. They are unusual in the sense that games without House Lords will depict all nomadic rulers as tribal rulers instead. Previous government/religion types locked by DLC will allow the AI to use said government/religion types.
  • Mentor Archetype: You can choose wards to educate your children once they reach six years of age. Depending on the mentor's personality, they can run the whole gamut of mentor tropes.
  • Merchant City: The Republic DLC makes merchant republics a playable government type, including making the Player Character a Merchant Prince. Several, including a number of Italian city-states and the Hanseatic League, exist from the beginning, and it is possible to convert a tribal county to a merchant republic by decision.
  • Messianic Archetype: If you reforge the Persian Empire as a Zoroastrian ruler in "The Old Gods", you can declare yourself Saoshyant, the Messiah foretold by Zoroaster himself, who will put the world to order before it ends. This will give you a huge relations bonus with Zoroastrian vassals, and a smaller one to your descendants (similar to how Muhammad's descendants get a bonus with Muslims). Actual messianic character may vary.
  • Military Coup: Fail to pay hired mercenaries and they may declare war on you and try t seize some of your territory to become an independent realm. This can have interesting results if successful.
  • Mischief Making Monkey: A pack of 'em can sometimes show up during the Diwali festival and cause all sorts of mayhem among the guests.
  • Mook Commander: The traits of your army's commanders positively or negatively influence the effectiveness of any flank they're placed in command of. For example, a commander with Holy Warrior will give your soldiers a 30 percent boost against religious enemies, while a commander with Craven gives penalties to army morale.
  • My Beloved Smother: In the second game, all female characters automatically get a huge relationship bonus with any of their children that will not diminish over time, which makes mothers some of the most loyal courtiers available in the game. They will even occasionally hatch plots which benefit one of their children rather than themselves.
  • Mystical Pregnancy: The Lunatic event where your character has sex with a rosebush (ouch) can actually produce a child.
  • Nature Adoresa Virgin: Well, the Pope does. If a Catholic noblemen the celibate trait, then the Pope will sometimes send them a letter applauding their virtue. Even if a celibate lord is non-Catholic, the trait will still give a nice piety boost. Inverted with certain pagan religions (like Germanic), where Chaste rulers can get an event where your prudishness causes your court to lose respect for you.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Conclave adds an event for Lunatic rulers where they appoint their horse as realm chancellor, in imitation of Caesar Caligula.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Patricians and other members of merchant republics can marry into noble families, but doing so requires paying a significant dowry to their new noble in-laws. It's still worth it if the marriage brings a significant prestige boost or a good alliance to the table.
  • Noble Fugitive: You can invite claimants to other titles to your court. If they accept, you then have the option of fighting on their behalf, whether their claim is rightful or otherwise. Succeed, and you've won an ally for life.
    • Alternately, they could serve in your court as one of your advisors, and you can marry them to your sons or daughters (matrilineally) have have their children in your dynasty inherit their claims.
  • Nom de Mom: Children from a matrilineal marriage are considered part of their mother's dynasty rather than their father's.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: Appears as a crest for many Indian titles in Rajas of India.
  • Not What It Looks Like: If you are warding a child, you will get an event where you catch said child emerging from the dungeon with a bloody knife. Obviously your child has been torturing prisoners, right? Not exactly; if you are playing as a child, you get the same event from the other perspective. The child just wandered into the dungeon and picked up a knife.
  • Obligatory Swearing: A probably unintended example happens if you're playing a Finnish pagan. Since all references to divine figures in event flavour texts are replaced by pagan gods, one event has the possible response: "Thank Perkele [my child] isn't shy." Perkele was an alternate name for high god Ukko in pagan Finland, but in modern Finnish it's a swear word, equivalent to the English "fuck". The response becomes very humorous with this added context.
  • Offing the Offspring: Usually averted (characters are blocked from plotting to kill their own children, which forces them to imprison and execute unwanted kids and usually gain the very nasty Kinslayer trait). However, when playing as Charlemagne, your mother will eventually ask you to let her meet with your brother-turned-rival Carloman to end the feud between the two of you in a rather ominous tone. If you let her go, then a few months later Carloman will suddenly die a natural death and you'll inherit all his entire demense even if you aren't his direct heir.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The game's theme tune consists of a men's choir singing to an orchestral march. There is some actual Latin in there but most of it is Canis Latinicus.
  • Only in It for the Money: Mercenaries. If you can't pay them anymore, dismiss them immediately. At best, they'll stop fighting for you, at worst, they'll change sides or declare war on you to conquer your territory for themselves, sometimes in the middle of a battle!
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: In years where no other significant events will occur, the chronicle of your dynasty will automatically invent something. Such as a giant appearing and trampling villages. It's left as an exercise for the player whether this actually happened, or if it was just peasants telling tall tales.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Sometimes characters can become them. Again, the text leaves it ambiguous as to whether you actually transform or just go berserk on the full moon.
  • Panthera Awesome: Indian rulers can organize tiger hunts. Killing one yourself gives your ruler a nice amount of prestige (and an achievement in Ironman), but beware its claws...
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: The second and third in line for a title get strong claims on that title when the heir inherits. Even if they aren't particularly ambitious themselves, other nobles may start factions on their behalf to put them on the throne, even without their express consent. They can even end up backing a different claimant, meaning these factions are occasionaly in spite of their express wishes.
  • Patronymic: Characters from certain cultures (Scottish, Norse, etc.) gain their father's name after their own.
  • Permanent Elected Official: Doges under the new mechanics for Republics are elected for life, not any set term like in modern representative republics.
  • Perpetual Beta: The patches accompanying the various expansions often change the game at a fundamental level. In addition, Paradox opens up more areas of the code for modding with each major patch, allowing mods to change the game in greater ways.
  • Point Build System: Used by the Ruler Designer DLC, after a fashion. Different traits either add or subtract years to your characters age, meaning that having only good traits will make the character too old to last long. However, it is possible to create one using a mod which changes the character creator.
  • Praetorian Guard: Certain Mercenary groups start the game at certain dates as the vassals of a king or emperor level ruler, and essentially serve as that particular realm's trump card, given that this makes them unavailable for other realms to hire. Most notable are the Varangian Guard (who can only be hired by the Byzantine Emperor) and the Mamluks who will only fight for the Sultan of Egypt (at least until they take over the country).
  • Pregnant Badass: Women are normally not allowed to lead troops. However, while playing as a female tribal ruler (ex. Dobrava Turov of Kiev in the 769 start), you can raise a tribal army by desicion or recieve troops in an event from a councilor mission, and your character will automatically be leading it. Whether or not she's pregnant is irrelevant.
  • Press X to Die: Depressed characters can commit suicide from the Intrigue menu. This can actually be useful if your current character is iffy but your heir is good. You can also perform any number of tyrannical acts before offing yourself, allowing your heir, who remains blameless, to reap the benefits without the (very severe) penalties that normally follow.
  • Private Military Contractors: You can hire bands of mercenaries to assist you in your wars, though as this costs money up front plus a monthly salary it can be too expensive for smaller realms. Horse Lords expands the mechanics by making them generated dynamically and increase in size as they earn money, while Conclave allows the Player Character to create a mercenary band of their own from their demesne levies, offering them as hirelings to AI rulers. Holy orders operate similarly to mercenary bands, except the initial down payment is made in Piety instead of Wealth. This makes them marginally cheaper at the cost of only being able to use them against religious enemies.
  • The Promised Land: As of Sons of Abraham, it's possible for Jewish kingdoms to return to and restore the Kingdom of Israel.
  • Properly Paranoid: Downplayed. Rulers with the Paranoid trait have a tendency to see plots against them and their loved ones everywhere, and frequently suspect, rightly or wrongly, that they weren't responsible for their wife's pregnancy. People do sometimes plot to kill them, and some of their children might not actually be theirs, but most of these plots aren't real. A good rule of thumb for the player is, if you think there's a plot, there probably isn't one, but if your spymaster thinks there's a plot, it's real.
  • Protective Charm: In Sons of Abraham, you can buy a holy relic, which gives a major boost to your piety, can be paraded around to help pacify the peasants, and gets passed down to all future rulers. Of course, whether it actually is a relic (or at least whether you're willing to knowingly forge one) depends on how cynical you are.
  • Proud Warrior Race:
    • Unreformed Norse and Tengri pagan rulers are required to fight wars regularly in order to maintain their stability. The latter group includes the much-feared Mongol hordes (as if they needed incentive enough).
    • Members of the Altaic culture group (including the infamous Mongols) have access to a Tribal Invasion casus belli which allows them to essentially launch wars for entire kingdoms whenever they want to, though they lose access to it if they become Christians.
    • Muslims also fit. They have an Invasion casus belli of their own, and one of the best ways to reduce decadence is to fight and conquer. The original idea for the religion was that it'd be immensely powerful when expanding but quickly weaken and fragment in times of peace; this isn't quite how it worked out.
  • Rags to Royalty: Defeat a peasant revolt, release the Rebel Leader from prison, marry him to your daughter, and die. Someone who has a trait describing him as "a jumped up peasant who revolted against his betters" is now royal consort to an Empress.
  • Rasputinian Death: It's been patched for a while now, but in early versions of the game, assassinations could become these if you had multiple plots succeed against the same target simultaneously.
    Popup 1: Our squad bowmen hid in the shadows and pelted (Targeted Character) with dozens of arrows as he/she rode by, killing him/her instantly! They all escaped without a trace, and we've even been spreading a rumor of "A Lone Bowman" to cover our tracks.
    Popup 2: With a little bribery and good timing, we managed to send (Targeted Character)'s carriage sailing over a cliff, with them in it! We also killed the driver, to get rid of a potential witness.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Pagan rulers can launch raids against religious enemies for Plunder without explicitly declaring war first. This can net them an awful lot of gold in one go, as well as a female captive or two who can later be forced to become your ruler's concubine and bear him heirs.
    • As of Charlemagne, all tribal rulers can do this—even Christians. However, Christian tribals cannot raid fellow Christians, so the only lucrative option for them, usually, is to raid Muslim realms.
    • Later updates loosened the raiding rules: As long as one of your three character properties (religion, government or culture) allows you to raid, you can raid ANYONE as long as your target is not your liege, your vassal or your tribute/suzerain. This takes raiding Up to Eleven as you can have the usual pagan/tribal rulers running amok in Europe, the nomads terrorizing the steppes and the Near East AND Hindus burning down cities in the Indian sub-continent.
  • Rebel Leader:
    • As of The Old Gods, even random peasant uprisings are now led by named characters (typically Lowborn) with whom you can interact. If said rebel is a co-religionist in a province led by a heathen, he can become your best friend.
      • He even comes with a trait called "Peasant Leader", which literally reads: "This man is a jumped up peasant who revolted against his betters".
    • Earlier, Legacy of Rome introduced a Factions mechanic, allowing vassals to unite against their liege over some common grievance. When the faction finally makes its bid for power, the leader of the faction also leads the rebellion.
    • Rajas of India further refines the Faction system by granting the Rebel Leader a temporary title of equal rank to his liege's, with the other faction members serving as his vassals for the duration of the conflict.
  • Robin Hood: A secret event chain in the sequel deals with this famous brigand and you have a chance of playing the legend straight or trying to subvert it.
  • Regent for Life: Underage rulers have regents, and sometimes regents won't give up on their power so easily.
  • Regime Change: You can press the claims of anyone in your court against any other title. If it's a lower-tier title, the claimant is landed, and you win the claim war, the new holder becomes your vassal; if it's the same level as yours or higher and independent / under the same liege, it translates to an automatic alliance.
  • Religion Is Magic: Averted so hard that in most cases praying for something has a higher chance of having no effect, unless you're looking to score some cheap piety points.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Several versions of assassination note that your character has the assassins themselves killed to eliminate potential witnesses.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In The Old Gods bookmark, there is not one but two of these. Ivar the Boneless and his brother Halfdan Whiteshirt are both Viking warlords invading the lands of King Ella of Northumbria. If you click on either of the brothers, you can see that King Ella executed their father Ragnar Lodbrok.
  • Royal Harem: Muslim rulers get multiple marriages, while Zoroastrians, pagans, tribal Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains get concubines to go along with their one legal wife. All children from a Muslim father are considered legitimate, unlike those produced by mistresses in Christian nations. Children of concubines are equivalent to legitimized bastards.
  • Royal Inbreeding: Both Zoroastrianism and Messalianism allow (and encourage) full-on Brother-Sister Incest and / or Parental Incest. Even in other religions, however, Kissing Cousins are hardly unusual, and consistent intermarriage between dynastic lines is one of only two ways to establish an alliance with a kingdom that lasts more than a generation or two (the other way being to ensure the ruler himself is of your dynasty).
  • Rugged Scar: Battle wounds can heal into scars, providing the character with a small monthly Prestige bonus.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Normally when an enemy army captures a holding, any characters inside are taken prisoner. If your holding is captured by a Peasant rebellion, any characters inside are murdered.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: If a peasant rebellion somehow succeeds, the leader of the rebellion gains the title "the liberator".
  • Save-Game Limits: Ironman Mode, which is the only way to earn achievements, only allows you one save per session and periodically overwrites the save file to prevent Save Scumming.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Having a large pile of gold lets you easily shift people's opinions of you around, wrap your religious leader around your finger, hire huge armies of mercenaries to easily win wars against opponents who should otherwise crush you, enact most of the decisions you'd want, and build all those nice shiny holdings you want. And unlike Prestige and Piety, you don't lose your gold when your current character dies. Being rich can be an outright Game Breaker.
  • Scullery Maid: With the Seduction focus, a male (or lesbian female) character can win over a maid, who can either be promoted to The Mistress (and thus a named character) or kept on the side as a maidservant lover (providing a bonus to the character's Intrigue skill and ability to uncover plots).
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The game's sandbox nature and lack of a game over condition other than "every inheritable member of your dynasty dies/becomes unlanded" leads to a lot of this.
    • Any of the hardest starts in the game (Generally considered to be, in order: Satrap Vandad of the Karen Satrapy in the Old Gods start, Isaac, Duke of Khazars, a Jewish vassal to the Tengri Cumanians, and the Khan of Khazaria in the Old Gods start, who is also Jewish, but even harder to play as due to a lack of a liege to protect him).
    • Also playing as the Jewish Duke of Semien/Axum in Ethiopia and trying to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, because you're surrounded by heavily armed Christians and have no ability to create marriage alliances with any realm (unless you manage to convert them to Judaism by proselytizing). If you survive long enough as a Jew to break out of Ethiopia, you then have to contend with the Muslims and Christians vying for control of the Holy Land.
    • Upon the release of the Charlemagne DLC, playing as the only Zunist character in the world became another self-imposed challenge for many.
  • Sex Slave: Pagan, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain rulers can take captive women as concubines and breed heirs upon them. As of Charlemagne, Christians can do this as well if they're a tribal ruler (such as the Picts and Irish during the new start date).
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The amount of research put into history and genealogy is incredible. One can find lists of Byzantine/Roman, Russian or German rulers dating back centuries to Augustus, Rurik and Charlemagne, including character traits and family relations. Even minor Irish counts can trace their family line all the way back to the fourth century, and the Papacy goes back to the third Pope, Anacletus, in AD 79! Later updates extended this back to Petrus, a.k.a. St. Peter the Apostle.
    • Sword of Islam expands on this, giving Muslim characters the ability to observe Ramadan and go on pilgrimages to Mecca. Its main feature, the dynastic decadence system, is based on medieval Muslim historiography, especially as described in the Muqaddimah.
    • The Umayyad rulers always have Bedouin culture to begin with, which makes them somewhat unpopular with their vassals in Iberia. Why? Historically, they were always known for strictly observing the etiquette they had in Mecca rather than the local customs, which did indeed make them unpopular.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Characters of different ranks and cultures wear different clothing in their portraits, and will change clothes accordingly if these change. For example, a Celtic duke wears drab clothing and a brown leather circlet with gold studs, but a Celtic king has brightly colored clothing and a gold circlet. Council members and commanders will also change clothes on duty, such as donning armor and a helmet if acting as marshal or leading troops. Game mods like Better Looking Garbs can add to this, such as making Catholic bishops shift to the famous red robes upon elevation to cardinal.
  • Silliness Switch:
    • Sunset Invasion, where Aztecs invade Europe.
    • To a lesser extent, playing as a Lunatic unlocks unique events to reflect the way the world looks from their quite off-kilter perspective.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior:
    • Most realms rely on levies of warriors for their armies, which are typically dismissed once no longer needed. Tribal governments can also call up large numbers of warriors or raiders with councilor missions or by decision. With the Legacy of Rome DLC, richer, typically kingdom- or empire-tier, realms can afford to create retinues, professional standing army units which are more expensive to create and maintain than levies, but also have higher stats.
    • Also seen in the distinction between "offensive" Pagan realms (Germanic, Tengri, and Aztec) and everyone else. Offensive pagans get bonuses to levy size and pay no opinion penalty for raising vassals' levies, but if you're not at war, raiding, or bound by a truce, you lose a considerable amount of prestige each month.
  • Something Completely Different: The first two major DLC packs were Sword of Islam, which made Muslims officially playable, and Legacy of Rome, which expanded the Byzantine Empire. The third was Sunset Invasion, or the Aztec Invasion of Europe DLC. Much confusion ensued.
  • Spiteful A.I.: Let it be known that the AI of the second game has not only read Machiavelli, but rather swallowed it whole and probably took lessons from Ivan the Terrible and Otto von Bismarck on top that. It has no qualms whatsoever about executing their siblings, murdering their spouses, rob their vassals and militarily inferior neighbors of their land and money, or other things that are best left to the reader's imagination to increase their share of the cake, unless it has traits that specifically prevent such behavior. Spiteful doesn't even begin to describe it. It's SO spiteful that it mostly turns these tendencies against itself, unless YOU happen to be a family member. It's not certain whether it's due to a specific programming influence or a natural occurrence of priorities, but AI characters are either incredibly protective or vindictively aggressive towards blood relatives.
  • Start My Own: As of Sons of Abraham, if a Fraticelli ruler captures Rome, they can install their own Fraticelli Pope as a religious head totally separate from the Catholic Pope. Likewise with Iconoclasts who hold Constantinople, for an Iconoclast Patriarch.
  • STD Immunity: Very averted. Extended use of the Seduction focus almost invariably causes a character to contract "Lover's Pox" (herpes), or more rarely "Great Pox" (syphilis). Great pox can even be passed from parent to child.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: One of these can feature on a runestone raised by a Norse character who killed their own parent. "This stone was raised by Hrolfr in memory of Arni, Hrolfr's father and Ragnar's son. He lived a good life and died peacefully in bed. His death was not the result of foul-play, and Hrolfr certainly had nothing to do with it. Ever will stand this memorial."
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: There is an event chain which can improve your diplomacy. A suicidal man is about to jump off a building, and you can either try to talk him down or just pull him back from the edge by force.
    • Oddly enough, talking him down will result in the man jumping off to his death. You still get more diplomacy for it.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The EXTREME release trailer for The Old Gods practically runs on this. Witness it yourself here.
  • Thrown Down a Well: You can throw prisoners into an oubliette if you want them to hurry up and die but can't or won't execute them yourself for whatever reason (for example, to avoid getting the very nasty Kinslayer trait for killing a close relative, which only applies if you ordered their execution).
  • Title Drop: There's a possible random event during the summer fair intrigue event where a wandering band of minstrels are playing in your fair. Your options to respond include requesting that they perform the play "The Crusader Kings".
    • There is also a pop-up that shown before the standard crusade pop-up if no earlier crusades have been triggered titled "Crusader Kings"
  • Token Yuri Girls: In CKII, there's a specific event where two wives in a Muslim ruler's harem end up falling in love. You can choose to accept it, banish them, or execute them. In the later cases, there is the possibility they end up driving over a cliff on a carriage together.
  • Torture for Fun and Information: While you mechanically cannot torture prisoners for playable information, random events of torturing prisoners (which doesn't require you to actually have any who exist as separate characters) can give you the very useful "Impaler" trait, representing a horrific reputation that grants bonuses to Intrigue and Learning and increases your troops' damage to enemy morale.
  • Troubled Abuser: Possible with some characters due to the implications of event-driven trait acquisition. Characters can potentially receive negative traits from abusive actions taken by their parents, and these traits may make them more likely to be abusive themselves (at least in AI hands).
  • Vow of Celibacy:
    • Roman Catholic bishops (including cardinals and the Pope) are supposed to be celibate, though Catholic court chaplains are not. It is possible to appoint a married man to a bishopric, in which case he'll divorce his wife. (It's not possible to play as a Catholic religious ruler without mods, due to the object of the game being to ensure the continuance of your genetic dynasty.) If playing as a Catholic ruler, you can also order courtiers to take the vows, which disqualifies them from succession. Of course, just because they've taken the vows doesn't mean the character will necessarily abide by them: with the Seduction focus from the Way of Life DLC, it's not unheard-of for Catholic clergy up to and including the Pope to end up with mistresses and bastard children.
    • Orthodox clergy cannot marry, but they will stay married if they had a wife before their investiture.
    • The Chaste and Celibate traits increase piety and grant opinion bonuses from Christian clergy, at the cost of decreasing fertility. Good for Catholic bishops you hope to turn into cardinals, not so much for rulers who need heirs. They also can cause pagan rulers to lose respect from their subjects.
  • We Have Become Complacent: The decadence mechanic for Muslim dynasties. Unfortunately it doesn't always work.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Parodied. The Flavor Text for one version of the "assassination" plot, which comments that the victim was killed with an arrow between a "scrolls obituary" (i.e. library) and a grassy knoll. It goes on to say that your co-conspirators are spreading rumors of a "lone bowman" (unless your character was the victim, in which case the button text says "This was no lone bowman!").
  • Why Won't You Die?: If you are playing an infant ruler who is unfortunate enough to have a regent who hates you, he may make an attempt on your life. You have a small to decent chance of surviving each assassination attempt as your regent encourages you to go for a stroll in the deep forest, chase pigeons off the roof, etc. and if you are so lucky, the final attempt on your life has your regent fail to cut your throat in the dead of night before being dragged away by your guards screaming "WHY WON'T YOU DIE?!"
  • Wine Is Classy: One of the upgrades for the Patrician's palace in The Republic is the Wine Cellar, which provides a boost to your characters' fertility.
  • World of Ham: The 867 start date from The Old Gods, being from a time Shrouded in Myth, inevitably seems like one to modern ears. Try saying "The Sons of Ragnar" in a non-melodramatic fashion. Go on, just try it.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Especially if you are behind said child in the line of succession. A plot to assassinate a child may get special text involving hiring a maid to suffocate the child in their bed.
    • You can execute children captured during sieges. Usually there is no benefit for this other than For the Evulz.
  • Wretched Hive: Any court of a ruler with low authority and/or stats, but the Byzantine Empire is probably a standout with an average of three murder plots per province per month.
  • You Killed My Father: Characters whose parents are murdered become rivals to the murderer and are likely to plot against them.
  • You Owe Me: Conclave introduces a favor mechanic. Picking certain options in events or performing other actions on a character's behalf can give you the option of calling in a favor at a later date, which you can call in to, for instance, force your liege to press claims that you hold, or to override the character's opinion preferences when requesting them to end a plot or join a faction. Favors can even be used to circumvent otherwise-ironclad limitations, such as arranging marriages across religion group boundaries.
  • Your Cheating Heart: It is possible for you to cheat on your wife if a female courtier likes you enough, and it can be to your advantage if you want an extra child or two. In fact, many characters in the game have lovers. That said, it's also possible for your spouse to discover your amorous affairs and demand that you break them off or resort to other measures.
    • Deliberately used as a strategy by some players, who will marry old, infertile, or celibate women for stat bonuses and/or alliances, while having many bastards with courtiers. Since bastards cannot inherit unless legitimized, a player can simply choose to legitimize whichever bastard they want to be their heir (usually the one with the best stats or traits), giving them a great deal of control over the inheritance.

Some of the more popular Game Mods for the second game include (non-exhaustive list):note 
  • After the End: A total conversion that moves the setting to post-apocalyptic North America.
  • CK2 Plus: A content mod that seeks to add greater depth for character interactions and political factions.
  • Crisis of the Confederation: A total conversion that turns the game into a space opera, centred around a Terran Confederation facing a crisis that may end with its transformation into a neo-feudal interstellar empire.
  • Elder Kings: A total conversion set in the world of The Elder Scrolls.
  • A Game of Thrones: A total conversion set in the world of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series.
  • Historical Immersion Project: As its name might imply, a mod which seeks to increase both historical plausibility and depth of immersion for roleplaying to the game. Actually a modpack featuring eight separate, distinct modules, including an expanded map and graphical overhauls.
  • Lux Invicta: An Alternate History mod set in a world where more classical cultures and religions survived into the medieval era and the spread of Christianity and Islam were both less successful (though still quite significant).
  • Nova Monumenta Iaponiae Historica: A setting shift from Medieval Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to Feudal Japan. Includes a few sub mods, one being an invasion by Manchu tribes.


Alternative Title(s): Crusader Kings II

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Videogame/CrusaderKings