Continuing from my most recent ‘The Other Save Slot‘ post, I’m going to try to tell a bit more about Crusader Kings III with a little more game play detail.

When you first start a new game you are presented with the option to choose from a selection of ‘interesting’ rulers from two different dates, 1066 and 867. Each of the suggested rulers has a rating, Easy to Hard. For my initial post I opted to play Petty King Murchad in 1066 – the game version of the tutorial. There is one final option when selecting who to play as – you can click on a button in the bottom left of the screen to play as any ruler. That’s what I am currently trying out. I chose the year 867 and then selected the Earldom of Thomond – effectively the ancestor of Petty King Murchad 🙂 The game then proceeds until either the last member of your dynasty dies or you reach the year 1453 (that can be changed in the background mechanics).

With a degree of symmetry, this is me in 870 and at the age of 70……Chieftain of the highlighted area on the map which is my realm. In 867 I had no Wife but I did have a Son and Heir. With the tribes constantly raiding and warring with each other, having only 1 heir is not a good thing. This is an age when Earls lead their armies into battle with their Sons (and sometimes Wives and Daughters) at their side. The risk of my heir being killed is high. So the first thing I did (after raising some troops) was to find a young Wife – that’s Chieftess Constance on my right – and she presented me with a second Son. It proved to be a most wise decision. We fought a local war against the Ossary tribe and defeated them, taking their lands to be our own. Then 7 years later we responded to a call for help from an ally and became embroiled in an unfortunate war against a Viking warlord. My heir was killed in battle and our cities were sacked by the foe. A year later I died of madness and grief at the loss of my eldest Son.

At this point the game offers you the choice to continue as the heir to your dynasty. It might be your eldest son or it could be a cousin depending on who of your family is still alive and what the rules of inheritance are within the territory, be it an Earldom, Duchy, Kingdom or Empire. Normally in this period the realm goes to the eldest male heir, so I’m now playing as the Son born of the marriage to Constance. There are circumstances where a female might inherit the realm. Meet Cristina……She is my Niece – the daughter of my elder brother. We’re the same age and grew up playing together. She is a very good friend. In the event that I had no male children, she would be heir to the realm. Back when we were around the marrying age I considered her as a possible wife. The game warns about the risks of in-family marriage and in-breeding (charactistics are inherited in the game and players have shared some extreme inbred examples on line). Instead I looked outside the family and found a very pretty young lady who was born out of wedlock. This is my Chieftess Mathilde……By 892, when these family portraits were captured, she had given birth to 2 Sons. But getting her into the bedchamber initially required a bit of extra effort from me to capture her heart.    Given the nature of our medieval court I won’t be surprised if she and Cristina have an affair at some point – Cristina is bi-sexual. In that event I will probably turn a blind eye 😉 Unless the Church forces me to do something about it.

Which brings us to a sad tale. When my Father died, my Mother was still a young woman and very attractive. I guess it was only natural that she would have an affair with someone and she chose one of my knights who was also my Chancellor. That’s fine as long as it stays secret. Unfortunately, it became public knowledge. I pondered what to do? 😦 With the Bishop frowning at this sin and the loss of his endorsement looming, I decided that if they wanted to fornicate then they should perhaps be doing it within wedlock so I arranged for them to get married. Their opinion of me went up, the bishop stopped frowning and his approval also rose. Great result all round, or so I thought. Just a couple of years later and my Mother is having an affair outside of her marriage with another of my knights! She’s now a Fornicator and an Adulterer. That was a step too far, I had to put her in gaol. In a world where the endorsement of the church holds significant importance – they won’t pay taxes or supply levies if my bishop doesn’t endorse me – I have to protect my standing as a pious ruler (even if I do sometimes think about an extra-marital affair with Cristina!). My mother’s actions are actually serious crimes in medieval terms and in 890 I took the difficult decision to release her and banish her from the realm. Banishment was an extreme punishment at the time and could result in the ruler being considered a tyrant. But, because of the seriousness of my mother’s repeat indiscretions, I have not been labelled as such and my mother accepted my decision without lowering her opinion of me. In 892 here she is……In gaol again but this time she’s the guest of a neighbouring lord. I haven’t been approached for ransom, nor can I ask for her to be released. So she’s not a political prisoner – I bet she’s been at it again 😦

Here is a final family snapshot of myself in 892 with my Wife and Eldest Son……I don’t know how far into this game-save I will go before starting a new one. I’m still getting an understanding of the game mechanics and what matters to be a successful ruler and expand my realm. As illustrated above, there are lots of things that happen within the court that provide distraction from the bigger picture although, how you deal with them can affect your standing with the other game characters in a positive or negative way. One thing to be aware of – the developers tell us that every character in game has an opinion of every other character so it’s important to keep your friends on-side and, if possible, your enemies too! 🙂