How to achieve a stable realm. From starter to advanced. Part 2. Once you’re done with this guide you’ll know how to achieve and maintain a stable realm. Once you’re done with the entire series you’ll have an understanding of Crusader Kings 2.
Internal Stability: Succession, Law, Council and Titles
General rule: Always ensure internal stability before external expansion.
First check your succession laws and figure out which one you want. Go for any succession law that ensures your family and preferably you will get to keep as many titles as possible each succession. Primogeniture (your oldest inherits) and Ultimogeniture (your youngest inherits) are great for this. You’ll have to meet certain requirements to change the succession law, make these your goals. Any form of Gavelkind will split your realm up in one way or another.
To change a law you’ll need your council to vote your way unless you’re already an absolute ruler. Pick councilors that will vote for you (mainly loyal ones, these are indicated by a black heart on a green field). The first law to go for is title revocation. Secondly reduce the power of your council until you’re the absolute ruler and then pass whichever laws you want. Once you’ve become the absolute ruler of your realm you’re free to pass laws without a council. This is when you should select councilors based on their skill instead to advance your realm technologically and to be able to utilize each councilors abilities more efficiently. Over time you’ll have to pick councilors you don’t want, councilors that just suck and that will vote against you too avoid large factions or revolts. It’s generally better than outright war. Wars cost time and money and should you get caught up in a revolt your external enemies will use that chance to press claims. Therefore it’s important to always have a loyal vassal base. Balance handing out council positions, gifts and honorary titles to achieve one. This is done by making as many vassals as possible pass the 70 opinion mark. By that point they’ll usually avoid backstabbing you and joining factions. Usually. Some traits will have them doing that anyway (lustful, envious, ambitious, greedy and so on)
Now that you’ve got your stable base and your council you can start picking off your enemies. The number one enemy is any vassal with a title that could easily be yours. Anyone who’s title you can inherit if they should “accidentally” die and if you haven’t reached your demense capacity yet. Demense capacity is the maximum amount of counties your character can control. This is shown in the top right corner. Tiny realm stability is mostly down to you having more titles and thus more men than your other vassals. This changes as your realm grows in size and it becomes more about how many people like you. Despite the size however, you want as many titles as you can possibly have. They provide you with money, men and elector titles (votes). Having more than 2 duchies will give your vassals a slight negative opinion of you, -10 per duchy above 2. If you’ve got too many they’ll revolt (due to the low opinion). You can have as many kingdoms as you want if you’re an emperor but handing them out reduces the amount of enemies you have to deal with. They become the kings problem instead as they’re now his direct vassals instead of yours. If you’re not an emperor make sure that each kingdom you hold has the same succession laws otherwise you risk splitting your realm up when your character dies.
Internal Stability: Pruning the Realm with Arrests
The “discovered plots” section in intrigue is your main tool to cleaning your realm. Arrest everyone here that doesn’t have a county. Everyone with a county or higher that is your direct vassal, can revolt if you attempt to arrest them. When you’ve made your initial arrests check each vassal with a county and decide if he’s worth arresting or not and act accordingly. Here’s how to judge vassals:
- 1. Is the character a threat to you or your realm? Does he have too many titles or soldiers? Arrest and oubilette.
- 2. Does the character have a different religion or culture? Arrest and oubilette.
- 3. Do they have bad genetic traits? Every dynasty is to be pruned like a tree, a bad genetic trait is a branch that must be cut or your people will become genetically unhealthy and you risk having these traits make their way into your family. Arrest and oubilette.
- 4. Do they have sympathy towards any religion that is not your own, or possess traits such as deceitful, envious, possessed, ambitious, lunatic or similar? Characters with these are undermining the stability of your realm. They will plot and start any war they can to get more titles. This is determined by a hidden in-game variable directly affected by afore mentioned traits. Arrest and oubilette.
- 5. Are they lustful? Lustful characters spread disease and generate rivalries. Characters who are rivals will actively seek to kill eachother and eachothers family (these could be highly skilled characters you rely on). Arrest and oubilette.
- 6. Is the character your rival? Arrest and oubilette.
- 7. Are you in desperate need of money? Check if anyone you’ve arrested has a lot of gold and can be banished, you’ll get his gold. You can also arrest someone and ransom him back to himself. If you’re not desperate for money this is a waste of time as vassals can revolt if they evade the arrest and that could cost you even more money and manpower.
In short the only people you want to keep are healthy characters with your culture and religion that like you. All others can be arrested (unless you’re short on people, then you’ll have to make do).
Early on it doesn’t matter who is in your realm or what religion and culture they have. You only need a lot of highly skilled people. When you’ve got a big realm you want to get rid of all who are not of your religion and everyone who is not of your culture, otherwise they will form secret societies and gather followers to eventually attempt a takeover and they’ll always dislike you for not having their culture/religion. You can clean your court by using the “purge” filter outlined in the previous guide and asking everyone who doesn’t fit those 2 criteria to leave your court.
Internal Stability: Pruning the Realm with Plots
Plots allow you to neutralize enemies. Enemies that are both inside and outside your realm. A neutralized character is either in your prison or dead. Each plot requires plot power. The more you have the better but don’t waste gold on convincing more people to back you if you already have enough. Enough is 80% for fabrications and 150%+ for assassinations. You can choose to get higher in assassinations if you want or have to speed up the process and if you’ve got money to spare.
If you’ve got a vassal with too many titles that has a smaller army than you make a plot that fabricates a claim on one of them and station your troops inside his county before revoking it. You can choose to revoke the title inside the intrigue menu under Decisions once you have enough plot power.
If you’ve got a rival or a large threat inside or outside your realm, plot to murder them. The larger the threat the faster it should be killed.
Fabrications and killings can also be used to prune the realm from people with a culture and religion different than yours or with unhealthy genetic traits. This is a last resort though as revoking their titles and asking them to leave your court is often faster. If for whatever reason you can’t revoke their title this is the way to go.
Internal Stability: Pruning the family
You family is your lifeline. The more healthy family members the better. You don’t have to be afraid of family members that spread claims to your titles or prepare invasions against you. It’s better to have 300 extra lives and lose a few provinces (although you never will if you work on your realm) than to have your dynasty die out and your game end. If you’re able get matrilineal marriages for your women to further your dynasty. The alliance part of the game is weak and alliances rarely matter except in a few cases. The AI doesn’t know how to make useful alliances so you’ll only have to when you’re in real trouble.
If you’ve got a character that’d just suck as an heir or that’s got an unhealthy genetic trait and you are a christian you can order the person to take vows making them less likely to bear children and disinheriting them. You can also order them to join a holy order to the same effect.
Don’t be afraid to murder a family member if that person or a faction has started a large revolt against you in said family members name. Killing them will end the war immediately. Worst case scenario you’ll be known as a kinslayer and get a negative modifier with all your vassals. The kinslayer trait can be removed if you pay the pope to forgive your sins. This can be an alternative if you think the revolt will cost you more time and money than kinslaying. And who knows, maybe you’ll get away with it? If you’re playing as a muslim you can just go ahead and kill, they can’t get the kinslayer trait.
If you’ve got a family member with an unhealthy genetic trait and you can’t order them to take the vows, killing them usually isn’t worth it. Just make sure they like you so they’ll stay in your court and never marry them off.
This is easily achieved by having more soldiers than all neighboring countries or by having enough strong and loyal allies that any neighbor doesn’t want to touch you. At most you might have to murder a kinsman that’s planning an invasion against you or another kingdoms leader that has too good stats but if you do you’ve already failed at maintaining internal stability. There are cases where you can use an incoming planned invasion to your benefit. If you’re being invaded all your vassals get a +25 opinion of you because you’re defending the realm against invaders. This can be used to revoke a title and keep the invasion war going for a while. I’d only do this if that revokation really mattered to internal stability (perhaps a festering culture that is not your own).