Tobold's Blog
Saturday, May 25, 2024

I am 40 hours of real time into Crusader Kings III, or 170 years in-game time. And I am now on my 7th ruler, with a not unusual generation length of around 25 years. If I play the full six centuries from 867 to 1453, I'll have played over 20 different rulers. Succession, and the way the game handles inheritance, is a major shock to whatever domain you are trying to build.

In CK3, you can't choose freely who of your children in inheriting what. You are bound by succession laws, which at the start of the game means your domain is going to be more or less evenly divided between all of your sons. But you, as the player, obviously play only one of your sons. Which means that if you build up your first ruler from a single county to three counties over your lifetime, but you also have three sons, you are back to a single county on inheritance.

My plan in CK3 was to expand to the duchy level, and then play through the centuries with a single duchy. Succession makes that extremely difficult. Holding a duchy and just a single county in it means you are very weak, and a preferred target for outside aggression. But to give all the counties in your duchy to your heir, you need to play expansionist and conquer enough surrounding counties to give to your other sons. That is probably by design: The devs want to push you into expansionist wars, even if you just want to preserve the status quo, in order to make the game more lively and interesting.

Crusader Kings III also has other possible succession laws. These are gated behind cultural innovations, and those are linked to years. You can't get primogeniture before the late middle ages, after the year 1200, more than half way through the game. As a result, there are a lot of players who regularly engage in murder schemes against their own sons, in order to keep succession manageable. That is obviously neither nice, nor very historical.

Fortunately CK3 is also relatively easy to modify. I just used a "console command", aka cheat, to give my culture the innovation needed for "high partition", so while all sons still inherit, the main heir gets the lion's share. But I also noticed that there are a bunch of very popular mods in the Steam workshop that make different succession laws available a lot earlier than in the standard game. The standard succession laws force you into a certain playstyle, and while that style might be fun for many people, it isn't necessarily for everyone.

There is no need to kill your children. If your ruler is house head (and they usually are), you can just disinherit extra heirs. Of course, you should do this when current ruler is already of old age, so the possibility of sudden death of your designated heir is not as big.

Also, there is a succession law that keeps your realm undivided and is available from the very beginning: the "House Seniority", where the eldest member of your house inherits everything (typically it's your uncle or elder cousin). There are of course downsides: as the heir is the eldest, he typically doesn't have a long lifespan left, all of which probably will be spent with "short rule" penalty. Also makes it difficult to implement "eugenic program" to acquire and spead Genius/Beautiful/Herculean perks.
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