Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crusader Kings II Tutorial Part 3: People and Traits

Let's take a closer look at our character profile now. (Just click on your character portrait at any time in the top left menu bar.)
Character Browser - Duke Morcar
We've covered the system of lieges, heirs, titles, etc. on the left side last time, so let's turn our attention to the right side of this window. (I told you that this screen was going to start looking very familiar.) You can see we have:

  1. Our dynasty name and shield, "of Hwicce". More than a single character, in Crusader Kings II you are really playing a dynasty. Your goal is to guide the clan of Hwicce to glory - you earn points not only for your personal achievements, but for anyone in your dynasty, so it's very advantageous to marry your family into positions of power.
  2. 3 buttons, for a dynasty tree, family tree, and realm tree. These show our position in the Hwicce dynasty, our immediate family, and our position within the larger realm. Let's break them down individually: 
    1. Generally, you will never use the family tree, since that info is available below anyway.
    2. You'll only use the dynasty tree when you've conquered some land you don't want (say, you won a crusade for Jerusalem, but you don't actually want to fight the caliph for the rest of your life) and you'd like someone distantly related to have it.
    3. The realm tree is organized by number of troops, so it's super useful just to expand the first level below the king and read the tooltip on the king saying how many troops he has. This lets you figure out very quickly whether your army has a chance against his in the field, and the portraits one level below will show the most important people under him. For example, the king of France is usually less powerful than the duke of Aquitaine (because the duke controls a lot of good land in southern France, while the king basically just has his castle in Orleans), so with some careful intrigue, you might be able to break France apart in a bloody civil war.
  3. Our culture, religion, and current location. We're an Anglo-Saxon Catholic - not a Norman Catholic, like King William - and we're currently at home, not on a mission or a pilgrimage or fighting somewhere.
  4. Our five stats, with their attendant icons. These are very important, so let's break them down:
    1. Diplomacy: How much people like you
    2. Military: How many troops you can raise, and how good you are at commanding them
    3. Stewardship: How many holdings you can own personally, and how good you are at earning taxes from them
    4. Intrigue: How good you are at plotting, spying and counterspying
    5. Learning: How quickly you can research new technology
  5. Each stat has our own personal number, and our state number in parentheses (State = Personal + Councillor + 1/2 of Wife's score). Generally, your personal scores affect your own territory, while your state scores affect other realms. For instance, King William's opinion of you will be raised by your personal Diplomacy score, but the French king's opinion of you will be raised by your state Diplomacy score.
  6. To the right of the stats, you can see your current resources: gold, prestige, piety, and something else I can't remember. These are generally not as useful to remember, because they're repeated in the top menu bar. They're also pretty self-explanatory:
    1. Gold: Used for a variety of purposes: construction, mercenaries, wages for your troops, bribes, assassinations, crowning yourself something important, etc. You'll always want more gold, but there are also a lot of ways to earn gold.
    2. Prestige: General "impressiveness" rating. The first 2000 points of prestige act as an opinion boost, so you'll want to earn those as fast as possible. Past that, you can spend prestige to avoid certain bad events, or to forge a claim on someone else's land.
    3. Piety: General "holiness" rating. For Catholics, piety is mainly there to impress your bishops and the Pope; achieving higher titles also costs some piety. You can earn lots of piety by fighting holy wars, or by giving land to religious figures, but that's generally not necessary. It's way more important for Muslims, who spend piety to fight wars and also need it to improve others' opinion of them.
  7. Finally, at the bottom, you can see a list of your personal traits. There are a ton of these, each with their own informative tooltip. Generally, they're color-coded like this:
    1. Green: Virtues, or good genetic traits
    2. Red: Deadly Sins, or bad genetic traits, or diseases
    3. Purple: Education
    4. Brown: Neutral traits (trade-offs, like being Ambitious or Content)
    5. Blue: Life events (like going on a pilgrimage)
  8. Traits are important when you're looking for a wife or husband, or training your children. Depending on your traits, you may also see a lot of special events happen to you - for example, a Lustful character will be more likely to sleep around, while a Content character will be limited in the number of nasty plots they can concoct.
  9. Finally, below the traits, there are any combat modifiers or temporary modifiers affecting you. This helps you sort out the mass of traits into just "How good at fighting am I?" which is usually the question you need to answer the fastest.
These can seem overwhelming, but they really help give each person a unique character. For example, Duke Morcar is ambitious and proud and brave, but also rather arbitrary. He was trained as a soldier, but not particularly well; he is terrible with money and not particularly smart, but he's decent to good at everything else. Basically, he has a giant chip on his shoulder and won't take no for an answer. This may not endear him to his future wife, but it bodes well for our attempt to throw off the Norman yoke.