Part 2: The Interface - ContinuedPart 2: The Interface - Continued
To the lower left of our character's portrait is the Coat of Arms for our primary title. We can click on it or press F1 to bring up the screen for our realm and titles. Generally, if you see the coat of arms for a title anywhere in the interface, hovering over it and clicking on it will provide the same information for that title. The only difference here is that the shield for our primary title is placed in a convenient and visible spot.
Hovering over it shows that the title is the Duchy of Munster and who its current holder is. Below that, the line of succession for the title is displayed. These are the first 3 people in line to inherit the title if we were to meet an untimely end. The first in line, Brian MacMurchad Ua Briain happens to be our character's son. Clicking on the shield will open the Realm screen:
The realm screen shows us some useful information about the Duchy of Munster. The Usurp button allows us to take a title if we have the majority of its de jure regions. I'll explain what that means later. The Claimants button links us to a character browser type window which shows every character who has a claim on the Duchy of Munster. Claimants have the potential to be dangerous if they are landed and unhappy or outside of your control. For example, if a claimant for the Duchy of Munster was in the court of another major power, his liege could rightfully declare war on us to try and install that person into power in our place! If you give a claimant some land and he dislikes you enough, he may revolt against your rule and attempt to claim your title in war. The History button simply shows all former holders of that title.
We also see a list that includes the Grand City of Ormond and the County of Thomond. Those are the two counties we have which makes up our de facto Duchy of Munster. Ormond is called a Grand City instead of a County because the vassal in control of that county is a mayor of a city rather than a lord of a castle. Below that list is a simple income statement showing our current yearly net income.
If we click the De Jure checkbox, we see two changes. First of all, above the History button a shield coat of arms appears for the Kingdom of Ireland. It doesn't currently exist, but the Duchy of Munster is a de jure part of the Kingdom of Ireland. This means that if one of the northern lords of our island were to somehow gather enough power to create the kingdom before us, it would be within their right to ask for our vassalage or even to attack us and force us into their service.
The second change that we see is that the County of Desmond appears in the list. Desmond is an independent realm ruled by a single count who serves no master, but his land is a de jure part of the Duchy of Munster. This means that it is a commonly accepted, historical, and nearly inseparable part of the duchy of Munster. It is within our right to claim that land, and we have a few options for how to go about it. We'll get to that when we actually start to play.
Next is our character portrait. Clicking on this, or pressing F2 will bring up our character screen:
There's a wealth of information on the character screen. The coat of arms for our primary title is to our left, and the heir to our primary title is easily seen just below our portrait, as is our wife (we don't currently have one). A small button with a pair of rings below our vacant wife portrait opens a character browser with eligible noble women from all across Europe who we can arrange to marry from the list. We have rows which display all of our titles and claims just below our portrait. Currently it just shows our titles for the County of Thomond and the Duchy of Munster. We have no claims to press. At the bottom we have easy access to the closest members of our family, such as our children, our siblings, and our parents. We can click them here to go to their character screens or right click them and open diplomacy with them from within this screen. There are also different tabs on the bottom to view our vassals and the members of our court. Our court includes all characters with no land who serve us, such as our unlanded sons and daughters, our wife or husband, our unlanded council members, and other minor nobles in our service.
We can see our dynasty's name near the top, and beneath that are 3 round buttons. The first opens our dynasty tree where we can view our entire extended family. The second is a more simple family tree which shows our family from great grandparents down to our children. The heir to our primary title is easily seen just below our portrait, as is our wife (we don't currently have one). The third button is the realm tree, and this is a useful tool that allows us to see how many troops we can raise compared to our vassals. You can also click on a potential enemy and view THEIR realm tree to see the total number of troops they would be able to raise, which is a good piece of information to know before going to war.
On the far right side of the character window are the same stats that are displayed in the top right of the main game window, such as your gold and prestige. To the left of that is a column which displays your character's primary stats. From top to bottom these are: Diplomacy, Martial, Stewardship, Intrigue, and Learning. The first number is your personal score, and the second number in parenthesis is your 'state value' for that stat, which is the total of your value in that stat, the value of the corresponding council member's stat, and half of your wife's stat. In general, diplomacy skill helps with your interpersonal relations, martial skill helps with military matters, stewardship helps with tax collection and demesne size, intrigue helps with plotting, and learning helps all tech growth.
Below your stats is a row of icons that show some personal traits for your character. These traits can influence your stats, influence your relations with other characters, and affect what kind of random events you may get. Every character always has one 'education trait', which provides a package of bonuses to a few traits and a large bonus to a single trait. There's one education trait geared towards each of the different 5 stats. The other traits are either congenital or personality based and can vary wildly between characters.
The first blue button (F3) at the top of the screen opens the Council window. You appoint vassals or courtiers under your control to these council positions, and each one of them can carry out one of 3 different duties at a time. Furthermore, each councilor contributes their related stat as a component of the state values for your stats. So for example, the chancellor in this screenshot adds 13 to our state diplomacy score. You can go back to our character screen to see this, where our diplomacy score is 6 (19). Naturally, you want to appoint a person with a high value in the appropriate stat to each position. You also most likely want to appoint loyal subjects to these positions, or at least to the spymaster role.
Another thing I can point out on this screen is that character portraits provide a little visual information about what type of characters they are. Our chancellor has a blood drop in the top right of his portrait, which indicates that he's a member of our dynasty. Our spymaster has a large blood drop, indicating that he's a very close relation. Our marshal has a crown in the top corner, which shows that he's our heir. The steward and chaplain have copper rings around their portraits, which indicates that they are holders of baronies. The small numbers in the lower left of each portrait shows their opinion of our character. Positive numbers here are a good start.
Each duty that a councilor can carry out is targeted at a chosen county, and you assign them duties by clicking one of the duty icons and then left-clicking the county where you want them to operate. Note that each councilor can only carry out one order at a time. Also note that every duty has a chance to cause random events to trigger. For example, a marshal researching military technology may get wounded by siege machinery while testing it. Here is a brief explanation of each job that they can be assigned to:
- Improve Relations - Remains in the county of your choosing and attempts to improve your relations between you and the chosen county's titleholder.
- Fabricate Claims - Attempts to forge a claim for you in the chosen county. If he is successful, you'll need to pay a sum of money and prestige, but you gain the right to attack the holder of that county to take it for yourself.
- Sabotage Relations - Attempts to sabotage the relations between the chosen county's title holder and his liege. I've never done this and not had my chancellor got caught and imprisoned, so I don't even try anymore.
- Suppress Revolts - Reduces the revolt risk of the county that he is stationed in and increases your percent chance to successfully imprison characters who reside in that county.
- Train Troops - Increases the maximum amount of troops you can call up from the county where they are stationed by a percentage, and increases the rate at which that county's levies are replenished.
- Research Military Tech - The marshal will increase the technology research rate of military techs in the county where he's stationed.
- Collect Taxes - The steward increases the tax collection rate in the county where he is stationed.
- Oversee Construction - Reduces the build time of structures for holdings in the county where he is present.
- Research Economy Tech - Provides a bonus to the economy tech research rate in the county where the steward is present.
- Uncover Plots - The spymaster gains a bonus to his or her chance to detect any schemes being carried out in the chosen province. This is always best to be targeted on your capital.
- Establish Spy Network - Your chance to successfully assassinate characters in the chosen county is increased while the spymaster is there.
- Steal Technology - Gain a chance to steal progress towards the next level in a random technology from a technologically superior county.
- Head Local Inquisition - The court chaplain will attempt to root out heresy in a province and change the province's religion back to your religion. Has a chance to convert characters who reside in the province as well.
- Research Cultural Tech - Increases the cultural technology research rate in the chosen county.
- Improve Relations with Bishop - This function is used to increase your relations with a bishop and to reduce bishops' relations with their religious head. Since bishops who like their religious head more than you provide you with no tax and no troops, this can be used to net you some income and men that you otherwise wouldn't have. Especially valuable if you have a high ranked duke-level bishop overseeing several counties.
The Laws screen (F4) allows us to change the laws for taxation, levies, and succession. It also displays who the first 3 people in line for our title are, given current succession laws. If you have an elective succession, you also use this screen to nominate your candidate for the chosen title. Note that you'll have a coat of arms at the top of the law panel for every title you hold at the highest level. For example, if you own the titles to the kingdoms of France and Burgundy, there will be coats of arms for both kingdoms at the top and you'll be able to switch between each kingdom and administer each kingdom's laws separately. If they're both elective, you would need to to to the law screen for both kingdoms and nominate a candidate for both titles.
How your heir is determined is based on a combination of your gender law and your succession law. For gender laws, Agnatic means that only males inherit. Agnatic-Cognatic means that if there are no eligible male heirs, females inherit. Absolute Cognatic means that there is no differentiation between male or female for inheritance.
For succession laws, Gavelkind means that your titles are split between all eligible children, with your eldest eligible child always inheriting your primary title and capital county at the very least. Seniority means that the eldest living member of your dynasty inherits your titles. In Elective succession, you can nominate anyone you'd like to inherit the title. If you don't want the game to end for yourself, you'll make sure that you nominate someone from your dynasty. In Primogeniture, your eldest eligible child takes every title.
As far as tax and levy laws are concerned, the most popular strategy seems to be to steadily increase town and church tax rates since they pay well and they can't really put up a fight as single baronies. On the other hand, noble taxes would be kept at none in order to keep your more dangerous vassals happy.
This is the technology screen. As complex as this screen looks, I'd have to say that technology has a really hands-off approach in Crusader Kings 2. The little spyglass icon to the right side of a tech shows which tech in each of the 3 categories is your focus in that category. You can probably do just fine in the game by setting your focuses to Tactics, Farming, and Noble Customs and then never opening this screen again. Maybe someone can offer a different opinion on this, but I I think that making sure your ruler and councilors have good stats will play a more important role over the course of the game than coming to this screen to switch your chosen focus techs.
The military tab shows you how many levies you have raised, how many you have available, and what your maximum levies are. The way troops are handled in Crusader Kings is different than you may expect. You don't purchase, hire, or build military units that you store for later use. You don't have a standing army. Rather, the amount of development that you pour into your castles, cities, and churches determines how many people you can levy into service at a moment's notice. When the time for war comes around, you simply put out the call to arms and raise as many troops from your population as it can handle, as determined by the buildings you've built. To supplement your levied troops, you can hire mercenaries with your personal funds or hire holy orders with piety by switching between the Vassals, Mercenaries, and Holy Orders tabs, but note that holy orders will not fight against anyone of the same faith.
The list at the bottom consists of every single holding in your realm, and you can see exactly how many troops of what types they will provide when called up. The categories above let you choose to raise or disband all of the troops from your own demesne, or to raise or disband your vassal or realm levies. The difference between vassal and realm levies is that raising vassal levies only calls up the troops of your direct vassals, while realm levies will also call up the troops of every vassal of every vassal in your realm. This puts a strain on your vassal's pocketbooks, and will slowly degrade relations over time until they're disbanded, after which the bad opinion will gradually fade away completely.
The intrigue screen has many different uses. At the top we can see the option to choose a personal ambition or plot. An ambition is generally something along the lines of "Become Wealthy" or "Become exalted among men", while plots are generally something like the murder of a particular character or the revocation of one of your vassal's titles. Ambitions are something you achieve on your own, and are often long term. Plots are generally short-term, and will likely require you to enlist conspirators to help you. Every backer you get to support your plot will increase the Plot Power, and once your have enough Plot Power you'll see a decision in the Decisions section to throw the plot into action. There are other more mundane decisions which are always available, like inviting a minor noble to your court or holding a grand hunt.
The bottom tabs will allow us to see prisoners that we've captured, view the plotters and targets behind plots that our spymaster discovers, and recognize whether we have rebellious vassals. For example, we can see here that the Lord Mayor of our other province, Ormond, has a very low opinion of us and this leads to him having a significant chance to rebel against our rule. This is something that we'll have to sort out quickly once we begin playing.
The religion tab only serves a few specialized purposes, and in many cases its likely that you won't need to use this screen very often. There is a portrait of the head of your religion here which you can use to quickly visit his character page, as well as your religion's listed Moral Authority. As I said earlier, moral authority determines the likelihood and intensity of heresy outbreaks. If moral authority is low, you'll see things like many provinces switching to heretic sects of Christianity with characters following. Characters with different religions get sizable opinion penalties with each other, and this could be bad if it happens to a powerful vassal whom you already have shaky relations with.
The rest of the panel displays any bishops who are vassals to your character. Our capital province contains a church holding which is administered by Bishop Blathmac, who we can see here. When a bishop likes the head of his religion more than he likes you, he will pay his taxes to the religious head instead of you. On this screen we can see that he likes the pope (57) more than he likes us (19). This effects of this can be confirmed by going back up to our Title screen which shows our income summary. Our listed income from church taxes is 0. We could do things like give him gifts or honorary titles to increase his opinion of us, but the returns would probably not be worth the effort. Its likely that over time, he'll come to like us more anyway and begin paying to us.
Since our ducal title allows free investiture, we have the capability to appoint successors to our bishopric holdings. Our appointees will have higher relations with us once they take over due to the favor we've showed them. The head of our religion doesn't enjoy this, and it hurts our relations with him. Once we become a kingdom and we gain the ability to change the crown law that allows or disallows investiture, its possible that we may get a request from the pope to change to papal investiture, where the church itself gets to handle bishopric succession.
The final blue button is the character browser. We can see any character that is alive in the game on this screen. There are many different ways to sort and filter the list and it has many uses. To give a couple examples, you could filter for your vassals and My Religion = No to see if there are any heretics in your service who you need to demand conversion from. Before they allowed the easy arrangement of matrilineal marriages, I used this panel to sort for male adults who aren't in prison, aren't married, and aren't rulers. Then I'd pick through the list slowly and look for good candidates who might have claims on titles and accept an invitation to my court.
Finally, if you click on a county, you'll find yourself looking at this window. The county window has a ton of information on it and has a lot of utility. I've selected the county of Thomond in this screenshot. In the top left you'll see the coat of arms for the county itself, Thomond, and in the top right you'll see the coat of arms for our duchy of Munster. The duchy displayed in the top right of a county window is the county's de facto duchy. That is, Thomond is a de jure part of the duchy of Munster, but if the duke of Connacht above us were to seize Thomond, it would show the coat of arms for the duchy of Connacht in the top right instead. As a side note, it looks like the CoA for the county of Thomond and the duchy of Connacht are the same, which is slightly confusing. It you look in the top left part of the parchment area however, you'll see the CoAs for the Kingdom of Ireland and duchy of Munster again. This section of the window shows the duchy and kingdom which the county is a de jure part of. So even if Connacht did have control of Thomond, it would still show Ireland and Munster in that area.
You have the county capital holding in the upper section next to the portrait of the county's title holder. There's also a small scroll icon just to the left of the portrait which is a shortcut to opening diplomacy with the county's ruler. The middle section provides some general information about the county such as its culture and religion, its supply limit, which dictates the maximum number of troops which can be in the province before they start to suffer attrition, and revolt risk, which indicates the chance that a rebel uprising may occur. On the right side, we see the total amount of taxation that we receive from the county as well as the total amount that it produces. So out of the 24 yearly tax collected in the county, 7 comes to us. We get the full amount of tax that our castle produces, a certain percentage of taxes from the city based on our laws, and we're currently getting 0 from the church since that bishop is paying it all to the pope. Below that, we see the total number of levies that we can call up from the county out of the total number of levies actually in the province. Once again, we can call up all of our own levies, and a percentage from the other holdings based on laws and opinions. There are buttons here to raise troops or ships from the selected county, as well as indicators of the technological progress of the county.
Here are some of the map modes you can use to view the world. You can toggle between different map modes by using the small buttons next to the minimap, or by using their hotkeys (Q through P, A through D) This is the Independent Ruler map mode (hotkey W). This is *probably* the map mode that most people spend the majority of their time in, but that's just my guess, because that's what I do. This map mode groups counties together under the highest ranking independent title in their realm, and is the same as the independent ruler map mode on the character selection map.
Diplomatic map mode color shows our personal demesne in the lightest green, our direct vassals (like the count of Ormond) in darker green, and the vassals of our vassals in even darker green. This is a good "I need to see exactly what I control" map mode. Other rulers whom we have a valid reason for war against are highlighted in yellow. The county of Desmond is a de jure part of the duchy of Munster, so we have a valid claim to go to war against him. Allies are shown in blue, and powers who we are at war with in red.
Religious map mode color codes provinces by their religion. Currently, all of the counties in the British Isles are solid Catholic. This map mode is useful to see where heresies are so you can decide where to send your chaplain for conversions.
The 'Direct Vassals' map mode will show how the highest level vassals of independent realms are divided up. For example, on the independent ruler map mode, all of England is a solid entity. On the direct vassals map mode, we can see that the dukes of Lancaster and Northumberland are enormous duchies within that kingdom. We can also see how the count of Ormond is a vassal on this map mode in Munster.
The ' De Jure Duchy' map mode shows the de jure borders of every potential duchy on the map, whether or not they currently exists and excluding any de facto territory that they hold outside of their de jure regions. On this map mode we can see that Ireland is comprised of 5 duchies of various sizes, and we can see that southernmost county of Desmond belong as a part of our duchy.
The 'De Jure Kingdoms' map mode works the same way. This map mode shows the de jure borders of all kingdom titles, whether or not they exist. Its important to keep de jure borders in mind when assigning land to yourself or your vassals. Lower ranked vassals dislike being ruled by a liege who is not their de jure lord, and characters also dislike it when de jure parts of their titles are owned by other people. For example, if an Irish count were to swear fealty to the ruler of Scotland, he would have perpetually lessened relations with the Scottish king due to being outside of the kingdom of Scotland's de jure borders.
This is the 'De Jure Empire' map mode, but it's blank!
This is because there are only 2 empire level titles in vanilla, and their de jure borders are far from us.
This update was much longer than I expected and may seem a little overwhelming, but don't worry. In the next update we'll begin to play, and we'll be able to look at things at a slower pace and with a bit more focus and context.