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Crusader Kings III is a Grand Strategy game developed and published by Paradox Interactive, and the third entry in the Crusader Kings series. The game was revealed at PDX Con 2019 in October, and released on September 1, 2020.

The game follows the mechanical structure of its predecessors, with changes and improvements. Character portraits are now rendered as 3D models that change depending on traits and conditions, and several core gameplay systems have been reworked to be more intuitive. The game also features a more detailed map, displaying holdings more clearly and expanding to Central Africa and more of South and Central Asia. However, there are only 2 starting dates (867 and 1066), and the start date is no longer adjustable.

Released in March 2021 (together with patch 1.3), the first non-cosmetic DLC, Northern Lords, is a relatively small content pack for Norse realms. An upcoming expansion pack, Royal Court, will add a fully 3D throne room for reigning monarchs, a massive overhaul of the royal court system, a new mechanic known as "grandeur", adorning your room with valuable weapons and artifacts and the ability to create hybrid cultures or diverging from the traditional one.

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The game will also receive console versions for the Xbox One and Playstation 5, a first in the Crusader Kings series.

For game mods, see the Fan Works page.


The game provides examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: A claimant faction's demands will allow a character the chance to abdicate peacefully rather than start a Civil War. Willingly abdicating your throne to a chosen heir, meanwhile, is not an option - other than by committing suicide.
  • Action Girl: Technically, any religion with gender equality or female domination can have its women as champions. But special mention goes to the Norse with Northern Lords installed. Any close female family member with high enough prowess can be made into a Shieldmaiden which gives both a bunch of bonuses to the character and an ability to make her your champion.
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  • Aerith and Bob: The game enables the naming of children after their father, their mother, their father's parents, their mother's parents, an even more distant ancestor, a name from their father's culture, a name from their mother's culture, or a name from their family's religion. And then there is the ability to write in a new or made-up name, which the game will then start suggesting for offspring of such character.
  • Albinos Are Freaks: Characters with the Albino trait get penalties to everyone's opinion of them, but get a bonus to their Dread.
  • The Alcoholic: the Drunkard trait, gained as part of the stress-coping mechanics. It's one of the worst existing traits, since it carries a random chance for drinking yourself to death during one of the binges. Your character simply dies out of the blue, regardless of age, health or any other factors and it's unrelated with any other event, either. And out of all substance abuse traits, drunkards are the furthest away from being Functional Addicts, with a slew of terrible events, including being wasted, hungover or doing something really stupid.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: The icon for the Desert Warrior trait shows a saguaro cactus, even though the game is entirely set in the Old World.
  • Altar Diplomacy: Unless one picks a Diplomacy lifestyle and get a certain perk from it, the only way to form alliances is via marriage of close kin with close kin of your ally, lasting for as long as either of the current rulers are alive. And there can be only one Diplomacy-provided alliance at once for any character, so you still have to look for marriage prospects if you need more allies.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Traits from the good physique line (Hale, Robust, Amazonian) come with a hefty Attraction Opinion, half of those that come from the good beauty line. And they can be combined, creating quite a powerful combo.
  • Anachronism Stew: Some of the pagan religions such as Asatru and Ukonusko are named after their neo-pagan revivals rather than what they would've been referred to contemporarily.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me:
    • It's perfectly possible to coerce a character into a marriage they wouldn't otherwise agree to if you have a sufficiently strong "hook" on them.
    • Like in Crusader Kings 2, religions with consorts/concubines can turn captured characters into the captor's consort or concubine regardless of their previous marital status. This includes an option to flat-out kidnap a specific person for this goal alone.
  • Animal Assassin:
    • The announcement trailer has an assassin attempt to kill a baby by placing a venomous snake in the target's cradle.
    • One possible assassination method is to have a deadly spider placed in the target's bed.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit:
    • There is a limit of 15 for 'legitimate' children per character, at which point the fertility of the character's marriage(s) and ongoing affairs is set to 0. Like in Crusader Kings 2, bastards are exempt from this.
    • No matter how large and prosperous your realm or your vassals are, you are limited to ten men-at-arms regiments maximum - translating to 17000 men at that maximum, but could be less, depending on regiment type. The rest of your army will be levies.
  • Arranged Marriage: Outside of the "Elopement" scheme (Exactly What It Says on the Tin), all marriages will be this by default.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The AI isn't too smart in general when it comes to understanding the rules of the game without any sort of cheats to overcome its own incompetence. This is made further complicated by the fact it is forced to make stupid choices when playing as stupid characters, to represent exactly that. But there is being unable to properly utilizeyour own advantages or roleplaying as an idiot... and then there is doing things like researching Armillary Sphere, a naval innovation, as land-locked steppe nomads.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The game uses a lot of Rule of Fun in its approach to genetics and pregnancy.
    • The children of two parents with a genetic trait will always pass on that trait (this includes known recessive traits like Albinism), and has a chance of upgrading it if it exists on a scale. In real life, even autosomal dominant traits are at best only passed on 75% of the time (there is a 25% chance that the recessive allele is passed on from both parents).
    • Medical dwarfism is a genetic trait that is passed down like any other: While dwarfism has multiple causes in real life, the by far the most common genetic reason is due to Achondroplasia, which is a dominant autosomal trait and is lethal when homozygous (in Layman's Terms: Dwarf + normal size = 50/50 dwarf/normal size, dwarf + dwarf = 25/50/25 normal/dwarf/stillbirth).
    • The 'Inbred' trait is an inheritable, genetic trait that covers all forms of congenital inbreeding and basically has two modes: Not Inbred and Charles II of Spain. It can also be inherited across generations, even when outbreeding. There is also a trait called 'Pure-Blooded' which can occur through inbreeding but prevents the birth of inbred children, which is also inheritable and has no real equivalent in real life.
    • Genetics aside, whenever you have a choice to lay with someone, it will always lead to a pregnancy. Apparently, every day is a fertile one. This even includes characters with extremely low (but still positive) fertility, because what fertility really governs is the random pregnancies simply happeing on their own, not the ones generated by events. However, this can be very helpful, if you either don't want to have kids (picking a deliberately low-fertility wife, then having with her just one kid) or when your ruler is near-infertile or simply gay.
    • There are no premature babies. In fact, all pregnancies last exactly 280 days. Always, with no variety. In the case of "lay with X" events, you can literally mark a day of birth of the child ahead of time, even if you are informed about the pregnancy itself at a random date during the third month of it.
    • Stillborns and Death by Childbirth are predefined at the time of conception. It's directly in the code of the game to lead to a stillborn and/or mother's death the moment conception happened. Unlike the outcome of the pregnancy itself (gender, traits, possible twins etc.), which is random, the death is fixed.
    • Twins are the maximum. Triplets or more simply aren't scripted. Sure, they are rare in real life, but in-game they simply don't exist, while a variety of genetic ailments that are even rarer than multiple births are present.
  • Artistic License – History: Largely averted for the most part. The game sticks closely to the real world history of the Middle Ages. However, there are a few slip-ups in regards to certain factions:
    • The Scottish are labelled a West Germanic culture, with the Gaels being a separate culture from them, with the event for the culture forming stating that they are Anglo-Saxons living in the Scottish lowlands. This is quite incorrect. While Anglo-Saxons living in the Scottish lowlands did eventually become part of the Scottish, the Scottish are a Celtic culture, formed by the Irish Gaels and the native Brittonic Picts, with their name coming from the Latin name for the Gaels of Ireland (Scoti). They seem to have mixed the Scottish up with the Scots language, a sister language of English, which is a part of the North Sea Germanic language familynote , which wouldn't eclipse Scottish Gaelic until the late Middle Ages, and it wasn't until the reign of David I in 1124 that the any of the nobility favored a foreign language, much less considering themselves a different culture. In fact, the English-speaking areas were more likely to be considered a separate cultural group from the Scottish, rather than the Gaelic areas.
    • Staying with Scots and Celts, the tanistry system is back and suffers from the same historical issue as in CK2. In the game, it's one of the most desired political systems, since compared with everything else accessible until the 13th century, it allows you to keep all the titles for your primary heir, as long as they are switched to this model of elections. In-game tanistry removes a whole lot of scheming and potential wars simply by picking a new ruler and securing the player's heir position. Which is the exact reverse how the system operated in real life, as tanistry was one of the weaknesses of the traditional Celtic clan organization, leading to countless wars and assassinations to eliminate counter-candidates, while also causing progressive partition and fragmentation of both realm and the clans themselves (each new election meant split of existing clans into sub-units). It was nothing like a modern democracy or the extremely simplified system presented in the game.
    • Oleg (Helgi) the Seer of Novgorod kingdom is a bastard of King Rurik in game. He was Rurik's right-hand man in real life. More precisely, his brother-in-law (Rurik's sister's husband). It may be a deliberate thought, as it would have been complicated to implement the fact that he was a de-facto ruler as Rurik's son regent.
    • On the topic of Rurik and his descendants, all post-melting-pot East Slavs are grouped together as the “Russian” culture. This term was not a common endonym until at least the 15th century, and identifies all East Slavs with modern Russian culture. A more period-accurate name is Rus' .
    • Some House mottos are quite anachronistic, like the Habsburgs', whose earliest record of their motto is nearly 400 years after 1066 start (and referencing a land they don't own yet, given that they only owned Aargau in 1066 start).
    • Numerous counties are named after places that weren't established until the end of the game timeline, and some not even until the 19th century, in the process often ignoring places of historical importance during the medieval period. This is particularly present in Scandinavia and anywhere east of the Oder River. On the other hand, a map for certain regions of Sahara and Horn of Africa is choke-full of guessing where to put places known from sources, but not well enough to give them a definitive location.
    • Untrained and poorly armed levies will make up the bulk of any country's armies. While this was true for some medieval states, in many others, it was common for most military troops to have some training. Additionally, the game doesn't divide levies into different types (as CK2 did), which means there can be no levied archers, pikemen, cavalry, etc. This is the opposite of what was true in many countries, where pikes and (particularly in the case of England) bows were the weapons of choice for the common foot soldier. A later patch reluctantly acknowledged that levies also include soldiers beyond a general lumpen peasantry, at least.
    • The Northern Lords DLC adds in shieldmaidens. Shieldmaidens are a topic of quite a lot of historical debate regarding whether they were real or just legends, with the debate being largely unsettled as of the present time.
    • Contrary to what the game mechanics would like you to believe, medieval rulers everywhere did not, in fact, constantly have to deal with onslaughts of fanatical anarcho-nudists. The Adamites were a very minor movement, but because there is an option to convert to Adamite as part of a fairly common event chain, which the AI frequently takes, Adamites pop up in random places with alarming and highly ahistorical frequency.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • Qarmatian characters can take the Hajj, even though the Qarmatians were an Islamic sect that considered the Hajj to be based in superstition and even attacked the pilgrimage routes. This is fixed in 1.1 for both them and Alawites.
    • "Ash'arism" is the largest and most dominant Sunni Islam faith in-game. It exists in the 867 start date even though it was founded by Abu al-Hasan al-Ashʿari (which the school lends its name from) in the year 936.
      • Even worse, Muhammed and his sucessors (and his ancestors!) are all Ash'ari, way before such school existed.
    • Catholicism didn't begin actively persecuting witches until the end-date of the game: Official Catholic Canon between the 11th and 15th centuries was that there were no such things as 'witches' or 'magic' and anyone believing in either was a heretic, a pagan, or mentally ill.
    • Insular Christianity is depicted as a separate form of Christianity from Catholicism. While Insular Christianity certainly did have unique traditions and practices not present in the wider Christian world, most historians reject the idea that it was a distinct branch and consider it just a regional variant of Catholicism.
    • Advaita Vedanta is considered a separate Hindu religion from the others represented in the game. In real life, it is a different thing altogether. The Smarta/Shakist/Shaivite/Vaishnavite distinction is of which gods are the supreme gods, with Shaktists saying it is the mother goddess, Shaivas saying it is Shiva, Vaishnavas saying it is Vishnu, and Smartas saying it is all of them. The Advaita/Dvaita distinction is whether you believe that there is only one divine spirit that encompasses everything or two divine spirits, one of the celestials and one of the earthly beings. Indeed, Smartism and Shaktism are exclusively Advaita religions, meaning in order to be a Smarta or a Shaktist you must also believe in Advaita.
    • A number of medieval pagan faiths have the names of modern neopagan movements that are based on them but separated by over a thousand years of history and cultural change.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Faiths of a dualistic nature. This includes Zoroastrianism, which was a popular religious option in the previous game, but generally only played a role if players actively devoted themselves to restoring it, as well as a couple of minor, related Gnostic Christian heresies, of which similar things can be said for the most part. Come this game and, in addition to the aforementioned Christian dualists still existing, there is now a whole new Dualistic religious group with half a dozen separate, extremely obscure faiths — the "largest" (actually only followed by very few provinces) of which is Manichaeism, before only erroneously classified as a heresy of Zoroastrism — as well as another half-dozen new Zoroastrian heresies and an unexpectedly thorough amount of support for playing a Gnostic of any kind, even letting you add Gnosticism specifically as a feature when founding a new faith (used in some minor Christian and Muslim faiths with gnostic elements, like Catharism, Bogomilism, Paulicisnism and Druze). Note that most of these religions have been dead for centuries by the time frame of Crusader Kings 3 and that, unless you use the (non-default) very strict historical heresy setting, they can now randomly pop up anywhere.
    • The Yazidis were considered a Sunni heresy, despite being completely distinct and independent of Islam in real life. In CK3 they now have their own religious group formed by three separate faiths.
    • The amount of available heresies and minor faiths sharing a religious group with the big players in general has been greatly expanded, as has their prominence. In the previous game, without player intervention, it was rare to see any of them stick around for more than a few years, much less really take off and replace a country's state religion. In this game, because the Fervor mechanics heavily penalize large religions (such as, for example, Catholicism), it is now very common for heresy to thrive. Unless you do something to stop it, do not be surprised to see by the end of the game things like half of Europe converted to Lollardy, or a Middle East entirely dominated by the Armenian Apostolic Church.
  • Ascended Meme:
    • In Crusader Kings II's base game, the Munster 1066 start was called "Tutorial Island"note  by the fandom, as it was a small, mostly-contained space where players could get a grasp of the game with a somewhat advantageous start as Petty-King Murchadnote . For many players, it proved to be a much better tutorial for the game's mechanics than the official tutorial, which didn't go nearly into as much depth as Munster 1066 required. Come III, Munster 1066 is officially the game's tutorial level and covers all the bases rather than just a few basics.
    • In II, a ruler with the lunatic trait could appoint their horse Glitterhoof as chancellor. The event is missing in III, but a lunatic spouse can suggest some... ''interesting'' names for your newborn. Among them is, yes, "Glitterhoof."
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Indian cultures have access to War Elephants. They have 250 base attack and 50 base defence, counter both skirmishers and heavy infantry (two very common men-at-arms units) and will trample practically everything else in the game as long as you don't try to employ them in mountain warfare. On top of this they gain massive bonuses from the Elephantery buildings, which can be constructed in any Jungle holding. However, they also cost 400 gold for 25 of them, a frankly insane pricepoint (36 times an equal amount of Skirmishers), and since factions only check for your quantity of troops, not quality, it will inflate the potency of any faction opposing you. If you can afford a full stack of War Elephants, you're probably so rich you can hire mercenaries to fight all your wars for you anyway.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Many of the holy order and mercenary company names. Imagine being up against the Lords of the Sky, the Fire Walkers, the Guardians of the Lotus Ocean, or the Army of Light.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Not necessarily your character, but the characters marked as "knights" (or the cultural equivalent) in your court will rack up a lot more kills than any of your men-at-arms or levies, if they're competent.
    • This can also be Averted: this game actually decouples Martial stat from Prowess (which governs personal combat ability), so it's possible to have character with high Martial but very low prowess. These characters are better suited as commanders than as knights. However, when your marshal is training the knights, he's rising both stats indiscriminately, thus the end result is a high-Martial, high-Prowess Frontline General One-Man Army.
  • Baby Factory: Certain religions reduce the only role female characters can have to producing offspring. Goes Up to Eleven when combined with option to have concubines, as only the consort provides the ruler with bonuses, while the entire role of the harem is that of a breeding stock. With custom heresies and reformations, it can also be gender-flipped, with male characters having their role reduced to only their value as fathers and pawns in political marriages, and they may potentially also be forced into consortage or made into a harem of multiple husbands per woman.
  • Bastard Angst: Under religions with bastardry, bastards cannot inherit and are not considered viable members of their house or dynasty. They also gain a hefty opinion penalty from members of their known parents' dynasty (if any). Averted with religions without bastardry, who gain the (much less severe) 'Wild Oat' trait instead.
  • Bastard Bastard: Combine bastard child with ambitious and sadistic/callous or at least arrogant traits and you've got yourself a character that will act like the worst kind of prick and go after his father and family whenever allowed. If they happen to end up with an intrigue education, consider murdering them before your own family starts having those weird, often fatal "accidents".
  • Bastard Boyfriend: If your spouse has the sadistic trait then there may be an event where you realize they enjoy seeing you suffer.
  • Battle Strip: Characters of both sexes wear nothing from the waist up while fighting sword duels. This is actually a case where the developers have Shown Their Work. Many historical people really did duel this way, because while duels aren't necessarily meant to be fought to the death, before modern medicine having a bit of clothing shoved into your flesh by an enemy's blade would mean near-certain death by infection.
  • Bee Afraid: While bees themselves don't feature in the game, the trait "Irritable" which allows characters to vent their stress by lashing out at others has the symbol of a hornet's nest.
  • Being Good Sucks: Having kind traits, like honest and just, basically locks you out of hostile intrigue. You can still do it, but the stress gain will be very overwhelming. Being kind also prevents you from just executing prisoners willy-nilly, even if they are guilty, so you can't even eliminate those who want to do you harm. It's much safer to be a hated but feared ruler than it is to be a kind but weak one.
  • Big Fun: Gluttonous characters lose extra stress from throwing and attending feasts, and in religions with the hedonism tenant they gain piety. Deconstructed in that gluttonous characters usually become obese and suffer a major health penalty.
  • Blackmail: Discovering another character's secrets (for example, if they're having a scandalous affair, or murdered their cousin to take the throne) can give your character a "hook" on them, which can be used to secure titles, marriages, or even assistance in your own nefarious schemes. The hook will be lost if it's exposed, however.
  • Blessed with Suck: If you are a tribal vassal, you can adopt a more advanced form of government from your liege. If said liege happens to have clan government, you join the club of Slave to PR. But hey, you can finally build proper holdings and get past Tribal Era innovations, so it's not all bad.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Invoked Trope. Faiths with the "Aniconism" tenet make it against the faith's teachings to build graven images, but in return, building temples and their upgrades become quicker and cheaper.
    • Your steward as a whole. His default job is to simply provide you with higher income and if your technology allows it, he can develop your land... to provide higher income.
    • Feudalism, when compared with other forms of government. It trades off all sort of gimmicks related with opinion, fame or piety and simply delivers a flat tax and flat levy, in form of negotiable and impossible to dodge contract. It might not be the best thing early on, but its boring reliability is far more practical than potential benefits of other governments.
    • Siege engines of any kind. They don't participate in battles, but even a token force of them can significantly speed up sieges, turning months into weeks. And war progress is decided predominately by controlled territory.
  • Burn the Witch!: Most organized religions in-game considers "witchcraft" to be a criminal act.
  • Bury Your Gays: As an actual, beneficial game mechanics. In religions that consider same-sex relationships as a crime, you can lawfully imprison both parties and then execute them for their crime. This means you potentially got rid of a dangerous vassal, didn't incure any tyranny penaltie and then generated Dread through said execution, intimidating rest of your subjects to stay in line, with option for additional pay-off with the right perks.
  • But Not Too Foreign: The game has a really... weird way of handling one looks when mixed ancestry gets involved. The main deciding factor isn't which genes were passed (the game does keep track of that, mind you), but what's the culture of the offspring, which in turn is related with the culture of the father. This means you can have, say, an Irish landed noble in Ghana, married to ethnic Sonike wife... and end up with white child with ginger hair and green eyes. Should the Irishman then decide into Going Native and the next child... will be born mocha black. This will also make that child part of Sonike culture group by default. But Wait, There's More! The first child, the ginger, if deciding into Going Native, too, and then returning to Ireland, will be considered a complete stranger with weird, exotic looks when in the Emerald Isle, despite, you know, being a pale-skinned ginger. His kids will be Ambiguously Brown, too. And the second kid, which was born and rised Sonike and black as coal, upon visiting Ireland and staying there, switches to Irish culture of his father. His children will all be pale-skinned gingers.
  • Cannon Fodder: Levies. Unlike previous game, they are undescriptive mass of levied peasants, rather than type of troops and their main role is to die in the battle, providing a body shield for men-at-arms. They are somewhat decent in Tribal Era, even allowing to Zerg Rush with sheer numbers, but as the technology progress, they start dying by the droves to professional soldiers.
  • Cast Full of Gay: One of the game rules can make the dominant sexuality of characters homosexual. There are also options to make bisexuality or asexuality the dominant sexualities, or to make heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality all equally common.
  • Celibate Hero: The Medicine branch of the Learning skill tree has an early perk that allows rulers to become Celibate, making them unable to sire children or have affairs, and in some religions granting a Piety bonus (religions with the 'Carnal Exaltation' tenet, meanwhile, makes Celibacy a sin). Religions with the 'Monasticism' tenet allows characters to enter a monastery, also turning them celibate.
  • Challenging the Chief: Tribals have access to a Hostile Scheme for claimants to challenge the current holder of a higher-tier title for it (a duke can challenge their king for kingship, but not vice versa). It results in an opposed Prowess challenge with the winner taking (or holding) the title in question.
  • Church Militant: Rulers can become patrons of holy orders. They have access to powerful men-at-arms and will serve their patron for free, but you can only hire them if you're at war with a heathen.
  • Civil War: What your realm will be perpetually stuck in without at least High Crown Authority Law (unlocked in Early Medieval Era). At any lower Crown Authority, vassals are allowed to fight each other and aside from asking them to stop (which they can refuse), there is nothing to prevent that. This is particularly dangerous when your heir is a landed character, since there is a risk of him getting tangled into one of such conflicts or outright targeted by your scheming vassals.
  • The Clan: Clan-based government is the dominant government form in the Middle East, especially in Muslim realms. Unlike Feudal rulers, Clan rulers provide levies and taxes based on their opinion of their ruler and not the Crown Authority. They cannot have modified feudal contracts (for good or ill), and will suffer a hefty opinion penalty with the ruler if they're not allied to said ruler: The massive extended families Muslims commonly accrue due to Polygamy means marriage alliances between overlord and vassal clans are vital to keep your realm stable.
  • Clucking Funny: The traits for stupidity (Slow, Stupid, and Imbecile) all use chickens in some form. Imbecile in particular has the chicken's face be especially doofy.
  • Combat Sadomasochist: When dueling, deviant characters may be able to select the "Fueled by Pain" combat move, which is moderately effective in boosting both odds of victory and not progressing towards a loss and gives duel edge (temporary prowess) equal to the prowess penalty from their current level of injury.
  • Comfort Food: A possible coping mechanism characters may develop is to overindulge in food when stressed. May also be Inverted by the inappetitic coping mechanism, in which the character loses their appetite from stress and tends to waste away.
  • The Confidant: Finding a trusted confidant is a rare but highly effective coping mechanism that reduces other vassals opinion of the player character. Presumably because they’re jealous.
  • Cool, but Inefficient:
    • On paper, the more counties you control directly, the better, as you get almost entire income they generate and gaining holding- and county-tier bonuses for yourself. However, this means that you have a large demesne, but only a single steward, marshal and chaplain to manage all of it, leaving said counties underdeveloped, while keeping county foreign cultures and/or religions for much longer and with slower gain of control post-conquest. Conversely, sharing the burden with your count vassals, while leaving them with some of the income, generates far more money in the long run, simply because they can develop their own fiefs, as each of them has their own councilors doing their jobs locally. On the flip side, this also means that you have to look out for powerful vassals, especially those who consolidate power via inheritance or intra-realm warfare.
    • The "Unite the Spanish Thrones" decision for Catholic kings in Spain instantly bumps Crown Authority one tier up, regardless of year or innovations. However, depending on your situation, you might be better off without it, as the final tier, Absolute Crown Authority, incurs heavy opinion penalties with your vassals and makes them unable to wage their own, private wars. Since those wars aren't technically yours, they can expand your realm on their own, while you keep your hands clean and without breaking or gaining truces. On top of it, the decision merges all the kingdom-tier titles you have under the primary one - which robs you from prestige gain you would have from said titles, for a measly, one-time payoff of 750 prestige. More importantly, once you manage to unite 80% of the Iberian Peninsula itself, rather than local Catholics, you can simply declare empire-tier title for Hispania, turning into "Spain" anyway, so unification of kingdom titles is counter-productive, if not outright moot.
    • Dynasty legacies in general can be best summed up as a gimmick, except for Blood and Kin lines. And post-1.3 rebalances made it far, far more prominent than previously. Each unlocked legacy increases the price of the next one, so otherwise handy low-tier legacies can become prohibitively expensive if not picked early on, significantly decreasing the value of the bonus they provide. And if picked early on, they will make other important legacies expensive. Any legacy after 11th will be ultimately more expensivenote  than picking two full lines of legacies in the old system and starting a 3rd onenote .
  • Country Matters: One of the possible randomly generated Danish dynasty names is "Kusse", which is Danish for "Cunt".
  • Crutch Character: Tribal rulers, bordering on Disc-One Nuke if played well. Tribes hire men-at-arms, buy new titles and build new buildings very cheaply (and using Prestige in place of Gold), have access to raiding (which gains you both Prestige and Gold), usually have unique tribal-era tech (like the Khazar/Turkic Horse Archer or the Norse longships) and incredibly cheap casus belli to expand rapidly, but lack access to all advances past the tribal era and therefore can't access advanced men-at-arms, advanced technologies and non-cultural, non-confederate partition succession laws. Whether they fall into the former or latter categories depends a lot upon whether you can snowball into a gigantic empire before your feudal neighbors can access (and afford) the higher-tier men-at-arms armies needed to repulse your overwhelming number of levies.
  • Cuckold Horns: The icon for the Adulterer trait is a Heart Symbol with horns.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The forthcoming Royal Court DLC allows the playable character to create hybrid cultures derived from the ruling class and the native population.
  • Cursed with Awesome:
    • Characters with the Possessed trait and high Learning can explain away their behaviour as signs from their faith's god(s). This can earn them piety and approval from clergy and courtiers of their faith.
    • Albinism, due to Albinos Are Freaks. Any albino character has a small opinion penalty... and +15 of Natural Dread, which not only outweighs the penalty, but translates into a variety of mechanics and comes without any additional penaltiesnote . Invoked in-game, since via dynastic legacies albinism can be made a common trait in people born within the same house.
    • Holdings build in hills, mountains and marshes, especially in the 1066 start, especially hills. Thanks to later-era economic buildings, they provide a variety of bonuses that are not only on par with more flat and logically useful areas, but their unique bonuses completely overcome their counterparts. Since the development of the whole county is based on its capital, the rest of the holdings can be built in the most harsh environments possible without any ill effects.
  • Cute Kitten/Precious Puppy: It's possible through a few events for a character to get a pet cat or dog to whom the player can give a custom name. Having either one gives the character a decision to pet it to lose stress, and sometimes the pet will bring its owner coins, a parchment containing someone's blackmail secret, or even an unpressed claim on a random title.
  • Cycle of Hurting: Being a backwater, especially as a tribal or a nomad. The biggest impact on "research" comes from average development of all provinces within given culture. Development runs on Diminishing Returns for Balance, on top of which being tech-locked at certain max levels. To get technologies, you need to develop your land. To develop your land, you have to unlock technologies. And you suck at both, since you lack development and technologies. Tribals can't even build new holding in their land, so they can't benefit from cities bonus to development. This goes Up to Eleven is you are playing as some big culture group, because the sheer number of provinces with that culture requiring developing will keep you down for ages.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: It takes a while for players of II to remember that in III, only clan vassals and realm priests (for faiths with the Theocracy clerical tradition doctrine) provide taxes and levies based on opinion. Cue puzzlement when tribal or theocratic vassals who like their liege having low contributions due to low levels of fame or devotion respectively.
  • Darker and Edgier: CK3 is the first Paradox game to be rated M for "Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Sexual Themes, Use of Drugs and Violence". However, it's not because the game is more brutal than its predecessors, but more because of the inclusion of "nudist" religions that leads to full-frontal nudity for your characters, which lead to re-evaluate other gameplay elements and ultimately slap "M" on it.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Unlike the horrifying Hollywood Satanists of the previous game, witches in Crusader Kings III are generally harmless eccentrics with no real magical powers.note  Doesn't stop many faiths from taking them dead serious, though.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The infant prince William is given a grand speech about the power and responsibility he'll have as king, before being assassinated via snake in the announcement trailer. His unnamed brother is next in the line of succession and takes over as ruler in the story trailer. Thanks to increased guard presence, the brother actually manages to survive to adulthood and become king... but in the release trailer, the king is shot full of arrows and killed in his reckless front-line charge against an enemy castle, and his wife takes over as both the trailer's narrator and the ruler who is holding the realm together.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Merchant Republics are the only government types that were playable in CK2 that are no longer playable, due to Paradox being unsatisfied with their mechanics. Paradox has said that they may make them playable once more through DLC.
      • Nomads are also unpresent in the base game, being portrayed as tribal government instead of their own government type.
    • There are no Zunist or Yazidi rulers or counties, or Taoist counties note  in either start date, although these faiths can be revived at a very steep piety cost.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • Like in CK2, the Prophet Muhammed has a character profile, but does not have a character model.
    • The list of faiths includes completely dead religions like Hellenism and Zunism.
  • Diary: One of the healthiest coping mechanisms a character may develop is keeping a journal or diary. Unlike most coping mechanisms, this has no direct negative effects.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Equal gender rights, coming either from culture or religion. Before single-heir inheritance becomes a thing, this can be a complete disaster, since children of both genders inherit and thus split your realm like crazy - doubly so if this gets combined with concubines. And it can turn into a complete nightmare in 867 start, where the only form of inheritance is Confederate Partition, with each children potentially starting their own independent realm. All of this obviously makes it also impossible to save-scum gender of your offspring to avoid partiations, since they all inherit anyway. On the flip-side, you have always twice as many people to fill various spots and thus even better specialists as your counciliors, easier way to gain quality knights or never worry about marriages and their outcomes. And once you have single-heir inheritance (either via House Seniority, Elective Monarchy or simple Primogeniture), the main weakness of such arrangement cease to exist, leaving only benefits. It's surviving until that point that's tough.
  • Diminishing Returns for Balance: Development, especially when actively pursued by your steward. When calculating progress, the game always compares current value with both existing development and your tech-locked limit. The higher you go and the closer you get to the tech limit, the bigger the push-back - potentially bigger than your steward's impact, rendering his effort moot.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: The main advantage of playing as a female character is how much you can get away with when you have a pretty face. Given that grand majority of your vassals and foreign rulers will be male and heterosexual, they will all fall under Attraction opinion. Have a female ruler that's either beautiful, strong or outright vamp(and even all three) and you can get away with all sort of things, because your looks are going to easily distract the attention elsewhere thanks to high attraction.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Characters may turn to alcoholism as a method of coping with stress, which carries significant statistical penalties and minor health penalties.
  • Dump Stat: With entire "research" being reworked from previous game, the Learning stat is now virtually superfluous for anyone who isn't either a realm priest or Culture Head (upon whose Learning depends the rate of innovation acquisition). And due to changes in priest-related mechanics, you don't need more than 15 to have a really successful chaplain. Despite the limited value of the stat, the perks from the Learning lifestyles are generally considered to be at least above-average, from the always-useful Medicine to the ability to buy claims — any claim — with Piety from Scholar.
  • Easter Egg: If a stat is raised to a value of 69, not typically possible during standard play, instead of being classified as "Excellent", it will instead be classified as "Nice".
  • Elective Monarchy: Certain cultures and religions have access to various modes of electing new rulers. They suffer from great lengths of Artistic License – History (or Rule of Fun), being presented as very simplistic voting system, along with being flat-out superior to any other political system prior to primogeniture (and can even render primogeniture itself pointless in certain cases).
  • Elites Are More Glamorous:
    • Once a dynasty clears the entire Warfare line, it gains access to House Guards men-at-arms. Compared with regular Armored Footmen, they have better stats all over the board (and gain additional, high Screen value regular footmen lack). Only a single regiment of those can be maintained.
    • Cultural retinues are this, being a regional flavour of the regular unit type, with improved stats and/or terrain specialities related with their place of origin. To get them, your culture must either have access to them by default or you have to control sufficient number of counties in the region.
  • Elopement: Exists in-game as a personal scheme that can target your Soulmate, provided you're not already married to each other. Success in the scheme will lead to the happy couple running away to the landed party's court and getting married, to the consternation of the church, their parents, and their respective spouse(s) if any.
  • Emasculated Cuckold: Any situation where adultery is revealed makes the cuckolded party take an opinion hit toward their spouse and lover. This even includes religions and sects that consider adultery perfectly acceptable, suggesting that the cuckold simply feels emasculated by the betrayal, even in a society that sees nothing wrong with infidelity.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Could be argued to be the whole point of the game, as whatever you will do, will be done ultimately for your own, personal benefit, or at least that of your heir.
    • Claimant wars, especially if the claimant is just some random person, rather than a distant relative, that just happen to be visiting your court. You can go up as far as install a puppet emperor, married to your 5th daughter matrilineally, so your dynasty gains first renown through that marriage and then the heir will count as independent ruler of your dynasty.
    • Due to rework of how structures operate and limited number of slots for them, it's your best interest as a liege to invest into land of your vassals first, your own later. The reason is very simple: holdings can be build only once, so it is in your interest that they are temples or at least cities, instead of utterly useless n-th castle. Meanwhile structures within holdings you don't directly control can't be switched to something elsenote , so again, it's your best interest to build there fields and pastures, rather than useless levy-generating buildingsnote . Until all slots within given county and all its holdings are "properly" filled in, you should be pumping money into your vassals. It is probably the most important in coastal areas, where AI routinely ignores the option to build ports.
      • Even if extensive micromanagement is ignored, there is still the factor of building new temples. There is just one vassal controlling those - your court chaplain. As long as local religion match, you gain profit from every single temple holding within your realm, while cities and castles benefit predominately direct controller of a county. It is telling that in your income report, church holdings are listed as third, separate entity, and tend to be around half of your direct taxes from your own domain.
  • Eurabia: While not as common as it was in the previous game as a natural occurence in AI hands, CK3 instead makes it far easier to achieve for a human player, along with bunch of special decisions making it even easier, like "Avenge the Battle of Tours"explanation  or "Dismantle the Papacy"explanation . Andalusian AARs are virtually all about people sharing their experience with pulling this off.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The main menu will display the models of your current character, spouse, and heir.
  • Everyone Is Related: Encouraged in Clan-based realms, where Altar Diplomacy is a vital part of keeping the various Clans of the realm in good standing with each other. There is a -20 opinion penalty for not marrying into a Clan.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Which is reflected in game mechanics. Being one-eyed makes a character more intimidating.
  • Explosive Breeder:
    • Fecund trait, which is genetic and inheritable, providing with +50% increase of fertility, the most one can get from a single trait. It is aptly represented by a rabbit icon. And it goes Up to Eleven if your ruler happens to be Muslim, having a royal harem. Filling up the soft cap of 15 legitimate children per father is a matter of less than a decade.
    • A combination of certain traits and perks, like Lustful, Seducer or even unrelated with sex itself Whole of Body (which comes about knowing your own limitations) massively increase fertility when stacked with each other.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: Religions are far more customisable in Crusader Kings 3 than previous games, with tenets and doctrines being alterable. This can lead to some wild interpretations of virtuous behaviour: you can make a religion in which lying and scheming is seen as a virtue, cannibalism is a sacred ritual, and marriage between close relatives is acceptable. Downplayed in that you can't just create a new religion overnight; you need a lot of piety and clout to make it stick, and the more you deviate from your parent faith's core beliefs the harder it will be to sell it to your subjects and the world at large. Also downplayed in that you can't just attach any tenet to any faith as some require the new faith either be part of or not be part of certain other religions or religion groups - for example, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths can never practice human sacrifice, while pagan and eastern faiths can't embrace iconoclasm like Abrahamic faiths can.
  • Fat Bastard: In religions which see gluttony as a vice, this trait causes a character to lose one piety every month. While a character can technically be gluttonous without becoming fat, the glutton trait is the single largest contributor to weight gain and tends to lead to coping mechanisms and lifestyle traits that further increase a character's weight.
  • Free-Love Future: 'Polyamory' is a tenet available for faiths you've reformed or created yourself, which removes all penalties for extramarital affairs (even their spouses won't mind). In-game, no religion features it by default, though it can be added to any religion where extramarital affairs are already accepted by its religious heads (bizarrely, it is cheapest to add to Hindu religions, even though none of them accepts extramarital affairs as-is). Polygamy essentially removes all penalties associated with sleeping with someone who isn't your spouse from all adherents of the religion. When combined with the Carnal Exaltation tenet and the Unrestricted Marriage doctrine, the result is a religion that promotes sleeping around with anyone and everyone.
  • Freudian Excuse: When being a guardian to a child, the guard will pass their own, or closely related traits on the kid. If you start with a screw-up, this can lead to generations following suit, continuing the family tradition of being a no-good. Abbasid in the 867 start are probably the best example, since Al-Mu'tazz is a horrible caliph (most famous for putting an abrupt stop to the Abbasid golden age) and all his sons grow up to be just as incompetent - eventually becoming powerless lackeys in their own empire.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: If two characters are in a same-sex relationship and their religion doesn't accept homosexuality then that counts as a secret which can be either be used as a blackmail hook or exposed to the public to hurt their reputations. This can also happen to a player character in a same-sex relationship if the player refuses to be blackmailed.
  • Functional Addict: One of the many coping mechanisms characters may develop over a lifetime of stress is the consumption of hashish, which while carrying significant statistical penalties, isn't particularly more disadvantageous than other coping mechanisms.
  • Gender Is No Object:
    • As far as the game mechanics are concerned, there is no difference what gender your councilor or knight is. All they need to do their job is a high value of the related stat, which is unrelated to gender.
    • Religions with equal views on gender offer this for followers by default. This is a double-edged sword, since depending on your situation, it can either save your skin or lead to extra partitions and claimant wars.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: When you pull a seduction or romance scheme, one of the events that might unfold is your lover being attacked by a giant wolf while out on a hunting trip. Should the scheme be successful, your character will slay the wolf and the two will enthusiastically, ahem, celebrate on the spot.
  • Going Native: Three distinctive strains of it
    • The generic "adopt local culture" decision is simply the character deciding to fit better into their realm (capital county culture), using the local language and following local fashion. Depending how far away from home they are, this might be a cosmetic change or result in Black Viking.
    • When characters from certain cultures rule over a specific region, a slow-going process of switching local culture will happen. This is most prominent in case of any historical invasion, leading to things like Norman, Andalusian or Outremernote  cultures. Notably, that new culture will be still foreign to the ruling class, which might try to either stick to their own way or adopt to the new, emerging culture.
    • As part of the Royal Court DLC, characters can now 'hybridize' their culture with one in the lands they rule- similar to how Norman and Anglo-Saxon become English. Players can choose how intermingled they are- naming schemes, what CoA style gets used, even how they dress, and most prominently, which language they speak. The dev diary featuring this showed things like Anglo-Norse, and Mashriqi-Swedish (caused by Swedish rulers ruling Jerusalem for a few generations.)
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Stress may cause a character to become perpetually irritable. Especially for an already impatient and wrathful character, this can make them a ticking time bomb of violence waiting to be unleashed on friends, family, courtiers, guests, vassals, and anyone else unfortunate enough to be nearby.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: The deviant trait represents when a character has a kink. While the game never gives specific details as to what it might be, there are some examples in-game like a father having a threesome with their son and granddaughter (who is the son's daughter), while their son and granddaughter are already in a romantic relationship.
  • The Hedonist: You can have religions with this hat. "Hedonism" can be a religious tenant, it makes Gluttony a virtue and gives piety for holding feasts, while the "Carnal Exaltation" tenet makes sexual pleasure divinely inspired and Lustful a virtue. The only religions that follow those tenets are Cainitism (an extinct Dualist sect, which can be revived) and Messalianism (a Christian heresy).
  • Heroic Lineage:
    • Dynasties run on a resource called Renown, which indicates how well-known and appreciated a character's lineage will be to the world. As Renown increases the dynasty unlocks dynasty perks, which automatically benefit all members of their dynasty. Some historically famous lineages (like the Karlings, Abbasids and the Sons of Ragnar Lothbrok in the 867 start, and the Capets, Salians and Jimenez in 1066) start out with bonus levels of Renown.
    • Like in the second game, patrilinear descendants of the Prophet Muhammad's family have the "Sayyid" trait, which grants a small opinion bonus with Muslims.
    • The Saoshyant trait will create a lineage trait called "Saoshyant Descendant", which functions in the same way as "Sayyid" for Zoroastrians.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Very distant relatives can serve this role, when your dynasty is facing extinction. Usually such person will be a lowly, unlanded courtier, too.
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: In religions that shun same-sex relationships, couples who are Forced Out of the Closet face harassment from their peers and diminished social status. In religions where it is criminal, those couples can be imprisoned by their liege.
  • Horny Vikings: They are playable in the 867 start date. The Northern Lords DLC adds new mechanics and features for Viking factions such as the inclusion of shieldmaidens.
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: If you have a well-running court with good relationships with your councilors and spouse, along with direct vassals, you are better off never setting your spymaster to search for schemes within your court. You are going to find out insignificant-in-the-big-picture "crimes" like an affair or finding someone is a bastard or how your chaplain is in fact non-believer. Worse, you can end up with random event chains, like learning The Secret of Long Pork Pies served by your court cook. Secrets like that don't affect the game until they are found out, and in the process can easily ruin your perfect court for zero gain. Sometimes knowing less is better.
  • In-Universe Catharsis: A character with a coping mechanism may indulge one or more of their coping mechanisms every few years to reduce their stress at the cost of some penalty (eg. Self-flagellating wounds you and aggravates your injuries further if you're already wounded and if you're already at the highest-level wounded trait, kills you. Engaging in sex for solace at the local brothel can be expensive and is a good way to pick up venereal diseases. Going on a big exercise binge leaves you sweaty and smelly enough that you get a general opinion debuff). In general, indulging coping mechanisms with greater penalties to yourself, such as whipping yourself bloody, burns off more stress than those with smaller penalties like going on a shopping spree, which is just a monetary cost.
  • Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: As a rule of thumb, commander traits that provide utility bonuses are strictly superior to the ones related with combat advantage and the Aggressive Attacker trait (+25% fatal casualties) is the most useless of them all.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Due to the way how the game handles feudal hierarchy, wars usually aren't against the top liege, but one of his sub-vassals and for the titles they hold, simply dragging the rest of the realm into the conflict when an independent landed character is attacking. Can easily lead to a situation where you are fighting with a vassal that is your personal rival but declared war on your best friend, the top liege of said vassal.
  • Just Following Orders: Since most vassal types don't pay taxes or contribute levies based on their opinion of you, it is very likely that vassals who still dutifully cough up their contributions hate your guts personally; the most extreme example are republican rulers (who contribute a fixed amount no matter what). Vassals who contribute based on their opinion of you include clan vassals and (for faiths with the Theocracy clerical tradition doctrine) your realm priest.
  • Leonine Contract: It's quite possible to gain one of these by taking prisoners in war and then releasing them in exchange for a "hook" you can use to manipulate the released prisoner later. Likewise, if you're captured in war or rebellion, this can happen to you too.
  • Let No Crisis Go to Waste: Pay attention to what's going around - because AI sure will. Neighbouring country in a state of war(s) and having troops away from your target? Good time to press your own claim. Your unruly, but powerful vassal getting mobbed by other vassals in a civil war? Demand he surrenders to their demands before he can fight them back. Your terrible heir being sick? Fire the court medic and let him die without treatment, so the more competent Spare to the Throne can pick up.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune:
    • If you gain any sort of health state and consult your court doctor for treatment, there is a good chance to gain a massive health bonus for few years, up to a decade. Once the original problem is gone (which the treatment might even remove instantly), you keep the health modifier, along with its duration. This becomes handy for old characters (health declines with age, eventually leading to death), artificially extending their life.
    • Depending on your situation and inheritance law, it might be a good thing for your heir (or even heirs) to die to diseases, in combat or by any other means. In fact, it might even save your realm from a civil war.
  • Locked Away in a Monastery: The "take the vows" decision, as long as affected character follows a religion that has indeed monasteries. This instantly disinherits such character and might be either a very good or an utterly horrible thing to happen.
  • LOL, 69: If a character has a stat at 69, the corresponding description of skill level will say "Nice", instead of "Excellent" which is normally the description given for high values — should the stat go up to 70, the description will revert back to "Excellent".
  • Long Game: Any given plan is usually stretched for three generations, rarely wrapping up in just two. That's about five hours of gameplay at max speed or a day at normal. And certain aspects of CK3 are deliberately something to keep track of for the whole duration of it, making dynastic management the longest master plan you can have.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong: Played With: the Dread mechanic allows you to pull this off note . However, when they die and their heir takes over, most of the negative opinion of their prior ruler will be applied to the heir, and since Dread is not inherited, those people might use that as an excuse to topple the heir instead.
  • Magikarp Power:
    • Feudal government. It starts as the weakest government form and is outright detrimental to your performance during tribal tech era, but as you advance down the technology tree, it slowly but surely turns into the best government form. Unlike Tribals, they can easily research and maintain large empires. Unlike Clans, they aren't Slave to PR. And their feudal contract mechanic can eventually be abused for obscene income. It's just getting there that takes anywhere between 150 to 300 years.
    • Warfare dynasty legacy. Even after it was significantly buffed with 1.3 patch, it's still four tiers of pure crap... and then, on final tier, it gives +1 men-at-arms regiment. To each dynasty member, regardless of other factors.
  • Make an Example of Them: With the Dread mechanic, you can do this by executing prisoners or choosing actions in events that increase your dread. This can be especially useful for newly ascended heirs (especially those where their prior ruler has a lot of vassals with negative opinion of them) who, as their first act on the throne, executes several prisoners as a declaration of intent will quickly gain enough dread to forestall rebellion. Preferably if they're characters who've been exposed as criminals, lest the new heir be seen as too tyrannical, but their predecessor might have the foresight to keep people locked up for the purpose of their heir securing their legacy.
  • Marriage Before Romance: It is perfectly possible for a character to seduce or romance their own spouse, which increases the marriage's fertility and the opinion of the spouse (usually to the maximum of +100). It is even possible for a married couple to become soulmates this way, though unlike in Crusader Kings 2 it does not automatically lead to a Seduction-Proof Marriage.
  • Master of None: Thanks to changes in legacy mechanics from patch 1.3 onward, it is paramount to focus on important things or just sticking to a single tree. Price of new legacies is steadily increasing with each unlocked one. As a result, lack of focus can completely block a dynasty from getting high-tier legacies, as they will cost absurd amount of Renown.
  • Medieval Morons: It can be either played straight or subverted for the characters we see (mostly noble), but it's not for lack of educational options.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: As a Compassionate character, you can face Stress penalties for executing, torturing or imprisoning game-named characters. You'll face no penalties whatsoever if that same Compassionate character is a warmonger whose conquests cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Upon reforming their government, AI-controlled tribal rulers automatically generate holdings - and buildings - within their domain, so they have at least one of each type of holding and the castle comes with some basic infrastructure. Upon reforming their government, human-controlled tribal rulers get squat - their new castle holding is bare and remaining slots are empty. Unless you saved massive treasure before reforming, this can send newly minted feudal rules pathetically weak.
  • Naked People Are Funny: There are many events which involve naked people, most of them are Played for Laughs. The Adamite Christians are usually seen as slightly silly and wacky.
  • Nepotism: The game as a whole is about running a dynasty, so it's a given. And it's actually beneficial to keep important jobs (and titles) within the family, as that allows better loyalty and in the case of councilors, you can carefully groom them into specific roles if you plan to use children of your current ruler for those jobs, rather than hoping for the best when using outsiders. And sufficiently "famous" dynasties will offer superior choices of candidates for various jobs anyway.
  • Nasty Party: Sometimes, if a ruler's rival is invited to their feast, they may choose to burn the place down, killing everyone they did not warn.
  • Never Live It Down: In-universe, being a bastard in religions that allow for bastardry, especially in Catholic realms, is something that will stick with a character for their entire life. You got accepted by your ruler? Too bad; you're still marked for life as "legitimised". Managed to get a landed title, even rise up the ranks and going as far as dying an emperor? Still marked as "bastard founder". All of those traits incur opinion and diplomacy penalties and there is just no way to remove them.
  • No Nudity Taboo: Adamite Christians and Yapanyia Jains, as well as any other faith with the Natural Primitivism tenet practice universal nudism, if you did not disable the option to show it. Additionally, Digambara Jains (the most mainstream Jain faith) have the special Naked Priests doctrine, in which nudism isn't expected of all practitioners, but priests and zealous characters reject clothing. The character model will be naked if you did not disable the Show Nudity game rule.
  • Not Completely Useless: Becoming a Lunatic is terrible news. However, it's the only way to build a greenhouse, or "glass monument", a special building providing substantial income and benefits. So if your ruler happens to be in his 70s and goes wacko or simply dementive via old age events, you can still benefit from it in the long run, while his insanity won't hurt the realm that hard due to said age.
  • Oh, Crap!: After a successful battle or a siege, you might capture prisoners. Prisoners are always treated as part of your court, even if they are rotting in a dungeon. And there is nothing preventing you from capturing prisoners that happen to, say, carry the bulbonic plague...
    • Given the overall complexity of the game, there are dozens of situations that might lead to this for the player. Examples include a neighboring superpower declaring war while your troops are away, a newborn heir completely screwing succession plans, your character blabbing about committing murder at a feast, and of course, the Mongols.
  • The Old Gods: The majority of the early-game map starts with a whole lot of religions that went extinct under the pressure of either Christianity or Islam, many during the period covered by the game. This is especially pronounced in the 867 start, since everything east of the Elbe River is various pagan religions, while Islam didn't reach the Asian steppes yet and holdouts of Zoroastrianism and Bön are present in Persia and Tibet, respectively.
  • Old Master: Characters whose dynasty has completed the Kin legacy no longer suffer a penalty to their combat prowess with old age, meaning that they'll be every bit as deadly a knight at age 70 as they were at 20.
  • One-Man Army: Skilled knights can individually kill dozens of enemies every battle. It's possible for ten good knights to rack up kills in the hundreds as long as they're supported by levies who can die in their stead. This can be taken to a parodic excess by certain cultures (primarily Indian ones), by stacking buildings that improve your knights' Prowess stats, leading to characters with close to 100 Prowess who will, literally, kill entire armies on their own. Eventually it was pointed out how laughably absurd and ahistorical it was to have single knights/champions mowing down thousands of soldiers by themselves and their description was updated to note that each knight actually includes a group of retainers, bodyguards, etc. that fight alongside him on the battlefield.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: It's perfectly possible and normal for a child to die before their parent, but it gets to near-Game Over territory if your octogenarian ruler outlives his 50-something heir who only managed to sire daughters. Spare to the Throne is especially necessary for Muslims, who completely exclude females from inheritance.
  • Patient Childhood Love Interest: Child characters sometimes get an event where they develop a crush on another child. If the player gets this event as a child, and they have compatible orientations, then it's possible to romance the childhood crush once both characters are adults.
  • Path of Inspiration: With the adjustable system for religions, reforms and sects, it's perfectly possible to intentionally craft a religious system that would serve the ruler or a specific goal, often in a very blatant way. Doubly so when reforming an unorganised pagan faith, because that's the whole point of doing it In-Universe, even if not altering any of its tenets or doctrines.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: While marriages are usually arranged long before the participants reach the age of majority, it is possible for the parties involved to have very compatible personalities and skills due to their education, leading to the pair having a very good opinion of each other from the get-go. It is even possible (but vanishingly rare) for a pair of childhood crushes to be paired up in marriage. On top of that, love can blossom even between two complete strangers that got wedded for political reasons, either naturally or thanks to either side of such marriage spending extra time with their spouse.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: What matters in your power projection is number and size of men-at-arms regiments. Those are completely divorced from the size of your realm or your rank, only tied with innovations known to your culture. Few thousands of levies will melt when facing a small, but professional and full-time army. Just keep in mind that AI doesn't understand that nor takes it into account in diplomacy, always checking the size of levies, rather than their quality.
  • Player-Exclusive Mechanic: Inverted by knighthood. Human-controlled characters can never be knights, either in their own army or their liege's army. While this is likely a matter of shielding the player from the potentially un-fun scenario of randomly getting slaughtered in a battle, which is an all-too-common fate for knights in battle, it also greatly reduces the value of the prowess stat for player characters. note 
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: If you are trying to sway or befriend someone while you have someone they're connected to prisoner, then your target may ask you to release the prisoner. Agreeing to do this adds progress to the personal plot.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: A recurring situation with all twins. First of all, despite being twins, they don't share any congenital traits. Then, each of them rolls a separate childhood trait, which affects their upbring and thus traits gained during it. The end result is two characters that short for "Twin" trait and day of birth have nothing in common and might very likely end up as direct opposites.
  • The Power of Friendship: Having friends, especially with perks from the Family tree, has many benefits. Among the perk benefits are additional stat points for each friend (up to five) and reduced stress gain. A character with enough friends can become impervious to stress.
  • Princeling Rivalry: A common result of partiation upon death of a ruler is a war between his heirs, since they all have claims to the same territories. In particularly nasty situation, the siblings won't go to war... but a generation later, the resulting nephews will, since that's the last moment to press their waning claims.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Tribal government runs on prestige and level of fame the ruler has. Economy is very rudimentary, making gold nearly useless. You pay for almost everything with prestige. And the main source of gaining more of it is organising raids and waging wars, with heavy undertones of Bling of War.
  • Quantity vs. Quality:
    • The game rules are heavily on quality side of things: better development, controlling key counties, advanced technologies and infrastructure, along with small, but professional, standing army. Meanwhile AI scripts and behaviour are all about quantity: more untrained peasant levies, more castles within single county, taking over random counties, zero synergy of buildings and always gauging own safety by comparing size of those levies.
    • By late game, due to combination of infrastructure, innovations and development, a tiny duchy can provide more income than an early game empire, particularly one from the 867 start.
  • Religion of Evil: The religion system allows you to found custom faiths that view scheming and cannibalism as virtuous.
  • Repressive, but Efficient: Dread mechanics allow you to have far better control over your realm and vassals, including keeping them in check by simply terrifying them. And there are perks that make it an even more powerful political tool. The majority of dread is gained via being oppressive and brutal (up to a point), but you can make it cheaper this way to keep your men-at-arms, force vassals to contribute more money and troops or prevent factions from forming against you. The trick is to never go into openly tyrannical rule.
  • Rescue Romance: One possible event when trying to romance somebody is saving them from a knife-wielding intruder. Needless to say, the character you saved will be extremely grateful. May double as an example of Rescue Sex if you choose to lay with them.
  • Retail Therapy: Among the coping mechanisms a character may adopt is consuming goods beyond their means and compulsively spending.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: A possible coping mechanism characters may develop is compulsive donation to charities far beyond what is financially sound. This is even more financially deleterious than taking up compulsive shopping.
  • Robbing the Dead: Implied result of the Pillage legacy line. One of its perks grants (scalable) 5 gold per each 100 fatal casualties in battle. That's 0.1 for each 2 random soldiers slain. The very same perk offers 10% increase of fatal casualties.
  • Royal Bastard: Bastardy is governed by a religious doctrine rule: a faith may automatically consider children born outside wedlock as legitimate as any other child (such children gain the "Wild Oat" trait), allow legitimization, or outlaw it. Illegitimate bastards are disliked by their dynasty and, as in II, found a new one if they gain a title, and cannot inherit but get claims on their parents' titles.
  • Sabotutor:
    • Promise to raise the heir of another ruler. Proceed to deliberately give him or her the wrong traits in education events and pick a completely unfitting education focus. My, my, what a disaster to watch once they inherit!
    • Your daughter was born with some genetic defect. No sweat, mistreat her for her entire childhood over it, making sure she grows up rotten and unloved. Even better, get some incompetent idiot from your court to look after her. The moment she's of legal age, marry her to a foreign court. Watch as she raises the heir of the other dynasty into a dysfunctional wreck, while in the same time passing down her own mutation.
  • Sanity Meter: The Stress meter, which is primarily affected by how well your character's behaviour fits with their personality note . Taking decisions that give you lots of benefits is great, but your character may disagree with the action and become stressed from having to take it (for example: executing your treacherous cousin plotting to take your throne makes perfect sense, but a kind-hearted character will still be broken up inside by having to do such a thing.) Too much stress can lead to a mental breakdown, with effects such as drunkenness, gluttony, sexual deviancy and depression. note 
  • Save Scumming: Every time you reload an autosave, the outcomes of events will be different, even if they will happen on the exact same date. This makes copious reloading the best way of dealing with the "wrong" outcome of pregnancy prior to primogeniture. Another boy? Reload. Princess without any congenital traits? Reload. Inbred pair of male twins? Reload. An Amazonian Genius princess to keep your dynastic eugenics going? How marvelous! Note that this only covers autosaves. If you reload a manual save, things will repeat themselves time and again.
  • Scars Are Forever: Whether as a result of participating in battle or other causes, characters who gain large scars keep them for the rest of their life. This can be limited to some superficial scars that don't have any impact beyond cosmetic "showing of character", all the way to a person who's lost An Arm and a Leg or even more serious and debilitating maiming.
  • Screw Your Ultimatum!: When another character tries to blackmail the player character for a hook, the player can just refuse to be hooked at the cost of the secret being exposed.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies:
    • There is one possible event where your character, after some snooping in the kitchen, discovers that their chef is feeding them children. You can choose either to punish the chef, or to let it go since it was just so delicious, netting you a slight health boost and the "cannibal" secret.
    • A rare event during a feast if the host is both a lunatic and a cannibal involves them serving part of themselves as a meal, with another character either growing suspicious or enjoying the food.
  • Self-Harm: A coping mechanism characters may adopt is self-flagellation, which carries a significant health penalty and actively indulging it inflicts the Wounded trait on the character or advances it to the next level of injury if they're already injured or maimed.
  • Serial Escalation: The original game was somewhat jokingly referred as "Eugenics Simulator" - the game script simply slightly increased stats of children from where average of parents were. By the point of CK3, literal eugenics with LEGO Genetics are half of the gameplay, with actual rules and mechanics for it. And the majority of forum discussions feel more like talking about animal husbandry than anything even remotely related with playing a game about medieval kingdoms.
  • Sex for Solace: Among the many coping mechanisms a character may develop is frequent sexual intercourse, especially at brothels.
  • The Shut-In: Characters may come to cope with their stress by routinely locking themselves in their room, often to the neglect of their duties.
  • Silver Fox: In full force for men and downplayed for women with positive attractiveness traits under normal circumstances - positive sex appeal modifiers stop applying after a certain age (50 for womennote , 65 for men), which allows characters to remain attractive to others into middle age, and even old age for men. However, the Dynastic Bloodline legacy and Fecund trait can reinforce this, as the Fecund trait and the final perk in the bloodline legacy each extend a character's life expectancy by five years, which also extends how long they're fertile, how rapidly their portrait visibly ages, and how long sexual attractiveness traits apply for them, extending to as old as 60 for women and 75 for men.
  • Sketchy Successor: If your well-groomed successor suddenly dies, you might end up with an inferior replacement. And if you happen to have a particularly good ruler with a combination of rare and hard-to-obtain traits, any successor will be inferior due to how high the bar is set.
    • This becomes particularly bad if the previous ruler kept vassals in check predominately by fear and terror. Without cheesing the situation, the heir won't have the advantage of high Dread, so on top of possible worse stats and traits, he will also have unruly vassals and smaller income, along with bigger expenditures due to nobody being intimidated by him.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: It is possible to Seduce your Rival, which leads to a lovemaking scene involving this (following a courtship presumably full of Belligerent Sexual Tension).
  • Slave to PR:
    • Rulers in a Clan government must maintain good relationship with their subjects. While feudal liege can simply impose a contract on his vassals, clan vassals provide their taxes and levies based solely on how much they like their liege.
    • To much lesser degree is your relationship with your court chaplain. First, they only work for you if they endorse you - which requires a positive opinion of at least 1. Second, the percentage of their tax and levies is tied with their opinion. However, it's just a single person to placate and you need only 50 opition to max-out profits, which is a value very easy to achieve.
  • So Last Season:
    • Tribals start significantly stronger than feudal or clan rulers, particularly in the earlier start dates. However, neither tribals nor nomads can research technology beyond the tribal era - not a big deal at the game start, serious problem around 1000 and a deathwish at any date past 1050.
    • Due to the way how eras and related innovations work, everything from previous era is always overshadowed by the new stuff. You will always get better military, more efficient governance and significantly improved infrastructure by focusing on the new tech, often providing substantial edge. Even more so if there is a region- or culture-specific military unit-unlocking innovation in an early era and a similar generic unit unlocks in a later era, such as standard High Medieval era crossbowmen having a much better statblock than Chinese Tribal era Chu-Ko-Nu repeating crossbowmen.
    • Variety of cultures and religions come with special inheritance rules, that are strictly superior to the generic partiations, either due to having access to High Patriationnote , House Senioritynote  or specific rules for electing title holdersnote . That superiority lasts until Late Medieval, when simple primogeniture rule can be enforced, making the primary heir the sole inheritor and thus rendering the previously rules obsolete.
  • Space-Filling Empire: The Holy Roman Empire of 1066, an even more annoying entity than it was in the previous installments. Unlike previous installments, it quickly starts spreading out, so by the 1100's, it's very easy to add all of the southern Baltic shore, Poland, Bohemia, all of Italy and half of France to it. Notably, HRE is for the most part pathetically weak and dysfunctional, but it's still a huge alliance to face, making any wars against its members instantly a war against everyone inside of it. note 
  • Spare to the Throne: This is first and foremost a dynastic game. You are better off having a "spare" heir just in case than risking a situation where the primary heir dies prematurely or for any given reason there are no males left in the dynasty. Of course, the game balances this precaution of having partition inheritance law for the majority of the game, meaning your "spare" will cause division of titles if he won't be needed, unless disinherited (which is rarely good) or in the case of Christians, asking him to become a priest or a monk (which can and often is refused).
  • Staged Shooting: A random event generates a completely innocent person that the crowd declared "witch" and demands blood. That character is usually carrying traits like Genius, Herbalist or at the very least Mystic and have pretty high stats. One of the options in the event, if you have enough Intrigue, is to stage the whole execution to placate the gathering, then gain a new courtier under different name. For obvious reasons, they will be very grateful for being saved.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: 'Male Dominated' religions take this stance, blocking women from succession by default, giving opinion penalties to female rulers, and barring female characters from polyandy even if the religion permits male rulers to practice polygyny. Due to the time period the game is set in, this kind of attitude is quite common among in-game characters under the default religion and succession game rules.
  • STD Immunity: Generally averted; sleep with anyone who has Lover's Pox or Great Pox (Herpes and Syphilis, respectively) and you stand a good chance of catching the disease yourself. There are no asymptomatic carriers in the game however, meaning anyone who does not have either trait cannot pass on the disease and making sleeping around relatively safe.
  • The Stoner: Using hashish is a coping mechanism. As one may expect, in addition to making a character less stressed, it has the side effects of reducing one's vengefulness and energy, along with lowering the Stewardship and Learning stats.
  • Stronger with Age: Completing the Kin Dynastic Legacy tree can allows you to become this, since the last perk allows you to gain stats via aging after 30. It also allows you to become an effective Old Soldier since the perk stops prowess loss from aging.
  • Stubborn Mule: The "Stubborn" trait is represented by a picture of a donkey.
  • Take That, Us: One of the loading screen tips is "If you find the game too difficult, try the Total War series."
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Averted in duels. Several combat moves like Mocking Boast, Disheartening Speech, and In Command use a full turn to berate your enemy and generate no likelihood of success and still potentially have some risk of injury.
  • Technology Levels: The technologies are grouped into four "eras": tribal, early medieval, high medieval and late medieval. This is a big deal for tribals and nomads, because they are level-locked at tribal era, unless they reform their government.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: What feudal contract is in practice. The higher the obligations the bigger negative impact on opinion... but feudal vassals still provide full values, even if as a result of their contract they hate their liege. This is a good thing and the main reason why eventually Feudal government gain substantial edge over Clans and Tribals.
  • Troll: A perfectly valid gameplay strategy is to first park your spymaster in some court, then start revealing instantly whatever secrets he will manage to find out. This can disrupt affected characters and related realms harder than a badly going war - or even cause one.
  • True Love: The Romance scheme can be used to make a character your soulmate, an even stronger variant of lover. Unlike with lovers, you can only ever have one soulmate and trying to romance another character will fail unless you break up with your existing one first.
  • Turbulent Priest: Downplayed as compared to II. Faiths with the Theocracy doctrine will have a Realm Priest which leases all temples in their liege's demesne; the worst that can happen is them not paying taxes or providing levies. However, at 50 opinion, they'll provide 50% taxes and all eligible levies to their liege.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If one knows what to do (and isn't shy about the occasional murder of a random stranger), it's perfectly possible to start gaining dynasty renown at pace of between 10 to 15 per month and then for the short overlap of generations, up to 22-30 for about a decade or so. The game is balanced around the gain of 5, maybe 6 as maximum. This allows to quickly fill up dynasty legacies one after another, despite the game assuming you only ever manage to get one if starting in 1066. And once cadet branches of your dynasty get established, this goes into an overdrive. The trick is to do what the game at first glance discourages - get as many children as only feasible.
  • Unwanted Harem:
    • Any faith with the 'Polygamy' tenet requires you to have at least one spouse per rank, starting from king, or suffer a Piety debuff for "insufficient wives". On the flip side, having a "sufficient" number means you have to deal with your ruler turning into an Explosive Breeder, leaving you with a lot of claimants and potential splitting of your domain. Much like historical Muslims, marrying infertile women (i.e. old widows) is a good way to circumvent this for male characters.
    • Any faith with the 'Consorts and Concubines' tenet requires you to have at least one consort or suffer a Prestige debuff for being insufficiently virile (on the flipside, having additional ones grants you a Prestige buff). Unlike with Polygamy, these must be fertile (if you are a man).
  • Unwitting Pawn:
    • At lower authority levels, vassals can fight their own wars, both offensive and within the realm. With the right pre-set and properly arranged marriages for your subjects, this allows to significantly expand the borders, without getting into a fight yourself. Or to take powerful and unruly vassals down a peg by simply letting other vassals fight them off for their own petty squabbles, looking the other way. There are also characters that pick Skullduggery lifestyle and start revealing secrets left and right, along with fabricating fake ones, which as long as it doesn't involve your current character and heir, is usually beneficial (especially if your religion considers related secret a crime), saving you the job of your own spymaster.
    • Claimants, especially unlanded ones. Since all they have to their name is their claim, they will agree to anything you offer them, including a cross-religion matrilineal marriage, regardless of what their claim is for. Then you press their claim. As a result, you can go as far as install new emperor to a throne, while the new heir to it will be of your dynasty. The poor schmuck you used is left with nothing beyond a short while of splendor, but once he dies, your dynasty takes over.
  • Uriah Gambit: The best way to get rid of a specific man from your court without outright murder is to make them a knight. The worse their Prowess stat, the better. You don't even have to be subtle. Just make an "army" consisting of the one guy and send him charging alone into an enemy army. Even Prowess of 20 won't protect them. If they somehow make it out, just rinse and repeat. And the best part is the game doesn't account for this strategy, meaning nobody calls the ruler out on this.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • Few of Tribal and Early Medieval Era innovations exist solely to gate-lock you from advancing to the next era. Tribal ones in particular tend to "unlock" things you can already do without them, like wars for counties or partiation of the realm. If you are playing as particularly unlucky culture, you might have already unlocked useless innovations, while having to spend considerable time to get the important stuff.
    • When your goal is to intentionally play as a duchy or a very small kingdom (or simply keep your domain small and restrained to handful of cherry-picked counties), the variety of innovations increasing your domain limit is pretty much useless. They only start to be important if you absolutely must hold more than 10 counties. And even if you need those, each innovation is a measly +1, totalling at +4.
    • If your religion allows human sacrifices, few of the perks from Torturer line become useless, as you aren't penalised for harming your prisoners and there is no fear of Dread decaying, either. You still need to unlock those perks to clear the whole tree.
  • Vestigial Empire: Let's just say the AI has no clue how to handle partiations nor titles above count, leading to few distinctive flavours of this trope:
    • Any given empire-tier realm that isn't well-entrenched at the game start will collapse within the death of its current ruler. Sometimes even earlier if said ruler controls too many titles and starts handling them out randomly.
      • Special mention about above should be given to Umayyads in 867 start. Under human control, it's just a matter of properly handling ducal titles and continously pushing north to fully conquer the Iberian Peninsula. Under AI, this is a Feet of Clay scenario, where the whole "empire" will collapse into itself within the first decade, going down through a combination of random partiation and civil wars, without even looking toward Visigothic north.
    • Any empire build via conquest within a lifetime of a single ruler, especially by tribals and nomads, will survive until the death of the conqueror. Then it's the endless cycle of partiations, since AI has no clue how to handle it, followed generation later by claimant wars. Extra points of vestigialness if the conqueror follows a religion with concubines, because there will be 20+ kids to split the realm for.
    • AI sees nothing wrong with Princeling Rivalry, in the most counter-productive way imaginable. Having a claim for a single county of Bumfuck, Nowhere, currently held by a brother? You can bet AI will fight a bloody war over it. A one that will drag entire kingdom into it, potentially split the whole realm, kill bunch of people and generally achieve nothing in particular.
  • The Vamp: Seduction lifestyle culminates with Seductor/Seductress trait, providing a huge +40 attraction opinion modifiernote . The opinion is near-useless for males... but reaches game-breaking potential for female rulers. By just existing, a Seductress can easily do whatever she wants, since nobody will mind - the bonus alone can negate unlawful revocation of two titles as if nothing happend. And that's without the fact that she's irresistible in-game, as perks needed to reach Seductress trait make seduction scheme near-impossible to fail and allow to ensnare everyone, even if they happen to be homosexual. Oh, and the trait itself offers a nice +3 to Intrigue, so all sort of backstabbing and scheming is even easier.
  • Violation of Common Sense: The easiest way to avoid the consequences of partition mechanics is to divide your realm between heirs with your current ruler in your early 70s, awaiting incoming death.
  • We Will Have Euthanasia in the Future: The 'Ritual Suicide' tenet allows followers of that religion to commit suicide with no penalty or intervention. In-game it is most commonly seen in the Cathar heresy of Catholicism (the only other faith to feature it by default is the Kushite remnants of old Egyptian mythology), where it is called 'Consolamentum'.
  • Working Out Their Emotions: One of the rare coping mechanisms with purely positive effects is for a character to channel their stress into exercise.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Callous, sadistic, cruel and few more negative traits make characters either eager to hurt children or at least have no objections against doing so, making them significantly easier to bring to a scheme against an underage.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Most characters will be more reluctant to join a scheme against a child than they would otherwise. By default, you can't target your own children at all, unless your character has particularly nasty personality.
  • Zerg Rush: Downplayed from previous entries; while it is still possible to overwhelm your opponent with a massive doomstack, far more emphasis is placed on the composition of your armies, the skill of your commander, prowess of your knights and the suitability of your men-at-arms to the terrain. A high quality but small army can easily curb-stomp a huge army consisting of nothing but levies (who are basically peasants given a sword and told to fight.)

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