2,000-Year-Old Mosaic from Caligula's ‘Orgy Ship’ Goes from Coffee Table to Returned Relic

2,000-Year-Old Mosaic from Caligula's ‘Orgy Ship’ Goes from Coffee Table to Returned Relic


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A valuable piece of mosaic flooring from one of Caligula’s ‘orgy ships’, so-called for the lavish sex parties he hosted on the boats, somehow found its way from the bottom of Lake Nemi to the Upper East Side in New York, and now it's finally returned home in Italy.

From Rome to New York and Back Again

The square slab of marble flooring, decorated with a floral motif made of pieces of green and red porphyry, serpentine, and molded glass, was discovered at an Italian collector's Park Avenue apartment in New York City. So how did it end up being used as a coffee table in a Manhattan's apartment? Well, there’s a logical explanation to the “mystery.” As NBC News reported in 2017, the precious artifact, stolen from Italy's Roman Ship Museum after World War II, was seized by the New York district attorney's office from the collection of Helen Fioratti.

She and husband, Italian journalist Nereo Fioratti, purchased the piece more than 45 years before from an aristocratic family that lived on the lake, “It was found in the waters of the lake in the 19th century,” Fioratti told NBC News in a phone interview . While it was unknown to the Fioratti couple how much the Italian family paid for the ancient artifact, they both assumed that it cost them thousands of dollars and was a completely innocent purchase. She explained that when they decided to buy the rare mosaic back in the 1960s, they never considered it was stolen, as they had no reason to question the ownership, “They thought they owned it. We thought they owned it. Everyone thought they owned it," she told NBC News .

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Mrs. Fioratti added that she didn’t know how the Italian police learned about the artifact and she speculates that they may have seen it in a magazine shoot of her apartment, “We had our apartment featured a long time ago in Architectural Digest and I’m sure there was a photograph of the table in front of the sofa,” she said .

The ancient marble mosaic, which has now been returned to the Italian government in New York. (Credit: Yana Paskova / The New York Times)

Now, after years of experts working to remove the tea and coffee stains from the ancient mosaic, it has finally been repatriated. Now, its gone from the privacy of a NYC apartment to being on display at the Museum of Roman Ships. Caligula’s mosaic overlooks the shore of Lake Nemi, the location where the emperor once walked on it himself.

After the mosaic was unveiled at the museum, Italy's Director General of National Museums, Massimo Osanna, told the Telegraph that it is “fundamental to bring archaeological artefacts like these back to their original contexts” and said “I’m very happy that it has finally been restored to where it came from.”

The Long History of the Roman Mosaic

The Roman artifact dates back to Caligula's reign, 37-41 AD and came from one of his three ships built at the volcanic Lake Nemi. The mosaic, as well as other ancient objects, including two vases, bronzes, coins and manuscripts, were recovered thanks to an investigation carried out by the special art unit of the Carabinieri police led by Fabrizio Parrulli and US authorities.

The 2000-year-old piece of Roman history is extremely significant as it was once dredged from the lake outside Rome after laying underwater for centuries and is one of the few pieces left of Caligula's ships. Described as “floating palaces” by the Museum of Roman Ships, which houses the remains of the ships, they were notable for their luxury and are thought to have been the site of Caligula’s flamboyant ceremonies that lasted for days.

Roman emperor Caligula. ( Bobbex/Adobe Stock)

The ships were over 70 meters long (229.66 ft.) and were richly decorated with marble, gold, and bronze friezes of animals. Alberto Bertucci, mayor of Nemi, said at the mosaic’s unveiling that the city is proud to welcome the artifact back home and explained,

“The mosaic testifies how important and luxurious these imperial ships were. These ships were like buildings: They were not supposed to sail and they confirm the greatness of this emperor who wanted to show the greatness of his rule of the Roman empire through these ships.”

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  • New Date for Chedworth Roman Villa Mosaic Changes English History

One of Caligula’s Ships is Still Missing!

After Caligula was killed, his ships were sunk and remained underwater for centuries, despite efforts since the 19th century to find the treasures. Benito Mussolini was the first to launch an organized exploration of the lake and two vessels were retrieved between 1928 and 1932. In 1936, the Italian government of Mussolini built a museum, the Museo delle Navi inaugurated in 1940, to display the artwork.

However, in 1944 an arson attack at the museum, which had been used as a bomb shelter, damaged many of the artifacts. Only a few decorations survived the fire, while other artifacts were taken away before the war, including the mosaic, according to NBC News .

Some of the decorations from Caligula’s Nemi ships: A bronze railing ( CC BY SA 2.0 ), a face (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/ CC BY SA 3.0 ), and brass rings recovered in 1895. These were fitted to the ends of cantilevered beams that supported each rowing position on the seconda nave. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

Two models representing the vessels are currently exhibited at the museum in Nemi. The third ship, which, according to Suetonius in the Lives of the Caesars , was the most luxurious of the three, was never retrieved. A recent sonar survey found no trace of the third ship, however, Nemi town council member Emiliano Belmonte told the Telegraph ,

“Centuries ago there was a rockslide on that side of the lake, which means that the legendary third ship could be underneath it. The sonar wouldn’t have been able to penetrate beneath the rock. There are clues that there is something there. It’s not over yet. These ships display the incredible engineering feats that the Romans were capable of. We’re considering different methods of exploring the lake. The mystery remains.”


By Liz Thomas
Updated: 09:21 BST, 27 August 2008

It was banned nearly 30 years ago for its graphic scenes of incest and real sex.

But the controversial Roman epic Caligula is set to be sold on the High Street after the British Board of Film Classification finally gave it the green light.

The original 1979 movie was scripted by the writer and historian Gore Vidal and featured a host of stars including Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and Sir John Gielgud.

Helen Mirren in a scene from Caligula. An uncut version of the 1970s film is set to make its way on to the High Street after censorship was lifted

It was meant to be an historical drama, detailing the excesses of the third Roman emperor Caligula, whose rule from 37-41AD was dominated by violence and debauchery.

But Bob Guccione, founder of pornographic magazine Penthouse, who produced and financed the film, felt it did not contain enough sex.

He secretly filmed graphic real sex scenes performed by porn stars and inserted them into the final edit.

Malcolm McDowell played Caligula in the film about the third Roman emperor

Although it was subsequently released in the U.S., officials here banned the film because of its gratuitous content. Vidal later asked for his name to be removed from the movie's credits, while actor Malcolm McDowell, who played Caligula, said: 'I'm proud of the work I did, there's no question about that.

'But there's all the raunchy stuff, the blatant, modern-day porn Bob introduced into the film. That to me was an absolutely outrageous betrayal and quite unprecedented.'

Although the film is available in this country on DVD, it is a heavily sanitised version and almost an hour shorter than the uncut Imperia edition.

Scenes taken from the British version of the 1979 film. But director Bob Guccione, who produced the film, filmed and added graphic sex scenes with porn actors which was subsequently released in the US, but banned in the UK

Sue Clark, spokesman for the BBFC, defended its decision to allow the uncut edition in the UK, saying that certificate 18 guidelines state 'adults should be free to choose their own entertainment within the law'.

She added that, despite the pornographic sequences, the film did not fall into the category of sex work, because its aim was not to arouse viewers. It is not the first time the BBFC has allowed movies featuring real-life sex to be released.

In 2004, Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs stunned critics with its graphic scenes.
The BBFC has also come under fire in recent months by giving certificates to films featuring graphic scenes of sex and violence.

Last month, it was heavily criticised for awarding Batman: The Dark Knight a 12A rating, despite concerns about the level of violence.

Last year, Tory MP Julian Brazier attacked its decision to pass for general release the film SS Experiment Camp, which was banned 20 years ago by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In one scene, prisoners are shown being boiled alive after failing to co-operate with Nazi troops.

Years on, Caligula's producer Bob Guccione and stars McDowell and Mirren

Although the BBFC insisted there was no evidence that the film caused harm to viewers, its decision prompted calls to make the body directly answerable to Parliament.


Roman's palace of deparavity

This was the original pleasure palace. In the sumptuous gardens, young men and women dressed as nubile nymphs and coquettish Pans openly prostituted themselves to guests in woodland 'lechery nooks' beneath the stars.

Inside the imperial cliff-top villa, fortified by the finest food and wines served by nude handmaidens, wanton licence took hold. Troupes of beautiful youths of both sexes, gathered from all corners of the Roman world and trained in unusual sexual practices, reclined in vast marble halls ready to excite the elderly Emperor's flagging libido.

Known as spintriae , their role was to perform erotic sexual practices in groups before the head of the empire - a man who was commonly known by his subjects as 'the old goat'.

Many of the lavish regal rooms were furnished with pornography and explicit sex manuals from Egypt - in case any of their number was unsure precisely what was expected of them.

In a private chamber, the Emperor indulged his most obscene desires to the full. He had little boys trained as minnows or 'tiddlers' to chase him when he went swimming in the imperial pool, nibbling between his legs.

This was the royal residence at Capri, where Tiberius the Tyrant lived a life of extraordinary debauchery. For more than a decade in the early part of the first century AD, this picturesque Italian island was the principal home of the Roman emperor.

Here, he practised lechery and bloodlust in equal measure, hosting endless summer orgies and watching his enemies being tortured before being thrown 300ft off the cliffs into the sea below.

Two thousand years later, Tiberius's villa could be about to fall into the hands of another famous Roman - the equally powerful but distinctly less deviant owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich. The Russian billionaire is said to have set his heart on buying a £21million cliff-top castle on Capri.

Known as Castello Castiglione, it is one of the most desirable properties in the world, with unrivalled views over the Mediterranean. With eight double bedrooms and five bathrooms fitted with the finest Italian marble and gold taps, it is now a haven of tranquillity - but it was not always so.

The estate stands on the grounds where 12 villas were built by Tiberius during his reign from AD14 to 37.

AT RISK of assassination, he chose the site chiefly because the remote location made it easy to defend - but also so that he could indulge his sordid predilections away from prying eyes.

Tiberius was born in 42BC, and torn from his natural father when his ambitious mother Livia cast her first husband aside to marry the Emperor Augustus.

The legendary Emperor adopted the infant as his son, and thus this unlikely ruler - who in his youth was 'grievously afflicted with pimples' - became the second Roman Emperor during his late 50s.

Unquestionably a great military general, Tiberius was a dark, reclusive and sombre leader - 'the gloomiest of men', by one account, who had never really desired to be emperor. Power was forced upon him, however,

events would transform him from a sullen recluse into a despotic and carnal fiend.

Indeed, it was during the brutal reign of Tiberius that Jesus was crucified, under the authority of the Roman governor of Judea at the time, Pontius Pilate.

The first of the tragedies which were to shape the tyrant was an enforced divorce from his wife and the love of his life, Vipsania Agrippina, whom he had married in his late 20s and with whom he had a son, Julius Caesar Drusus. At the time of their enforced split Vipsania was pregnant with their second child. Left alone and bereft, she miscarried the baby.

Tiberius's adoptive father, the Emperor Augustus, ordered him to marry instead Augustus's own recently widowed daughter, Julia the Elder, in order to secure the imperial succession.

Tiberius missed the discarded Vipsania terribly. In a society where marriage for the upper classes was primarily a tool for political advancement, this was seen as a weakness. He was eventually banned by the Emperor Augustus from setting eyes on his first wife again.

The spoilt and wilful Julia was hardly a model replacement for the demure and dutiful Vipsania.

Having previously been married in loveless diplomatic unions to her first cousin at 14 and then to an elderly friend of

her father's, the petulant Julia was pursuing a life of hedonistic abandon. Aged 27, she bore Tiberius a son, who died in infancy. Tiberius was sent to war, and Julia apparently took full advantage of his absence. A predatory, drunken

nymphomaniac, she once gave herself to a lover on the sacred speaker's rostrum of the forum.

She had a particular fetish for dwarfs, and one accompanied her wherever she went. When Tiberius returned from Gaul in 7BC, he found his wife's outrageous behaviour was the talk of Rome and his house was being used as a brothel.

Historians of the period note that Julia was extremely beautiful and graceful. Used to the imperial life, her extravagance knew no bounds.

SENECA records that she had 'covered the imperial home with scandal: lovers admitted in droves, nightly orgies throughout the city, daily meetings beside the statue of Marsyas, where, worse than an adulteress, a mere prostitute, she claimed her right to every shamelesness in the arms of the first passer-by.'

Eventually, her conduct could no longer be concealed from her hithand erto doting father. He wrote a bill of divorce for Tiberius and banished his daughter to a remote island.

Publicly humiliated by his wife's antics, Tiberius retired to Rhodes, not returning to Rome until AD2 when he was made Augustus's heir. It was at this point that his own excesses became public knowledge. Stories of his heavy drinking were already commonplace, as were tales of his brutality.

He eventually became Emperor in AD14 at the age of 56. Before the old Emperor's body was cold, Tiberius had ordered the execution of Augustus's young grandson and son of the disgraced Julia's first marriage to her cousin - presumably in case he became a rival.

A mathematician who displeased Tiberius was beaten to death and decapitated.

But Tiberius' real reign of terror began after his adored son Drusus was murdered in AD23. The killer was Sejanus, Tiberius's sycophantic adjunct and only trusted friend. Sejanus seemingly poisoned Drusus in desperation, having seduced his wife Livilla, believing he was about to be found out.

The vengeance of Tiberius was terrible. Sejanus was killed after being tortured and dragged through the streets of Rome.

Next, according to the historian Tacitus, writing some 70 years after Tiberius's reign, the Emperor ordered revenge against Sejanus's

young children, a boy and a girl. Tacitus quoted contemporary writers who reported that, because capital punishment of a virgin was unprecedented, the daughter was violated by the executioner. Then both children were strangled and their young bodies thrown on the Gemonian Steps.

Frenzied with bloodlust, the Emperor next ordered the execution of all those associated with Sejanus. Heaps of victims lay in the streets, with relatives forbidden to give the rotting bodies a proper burial.

In AD26, Tiberius retreated to the island of Capri, never to return to Rome - according to Tacitus, in order to indulge his carnal desire. There, he established a new office, master of the imperial pleasures, whose job was to gather the most beautiful youngsters in the land together, for the Emperor to defile.

While the Emperor indulged himself, the work of government back in Rome suffered. The Senate was unaccustomed to acting without the Emperor. Tiberius became increasingly withdrawn from public life and it was the machinery of Augustus's administration that kept the Empire running smoothly, rather than the Emperor himself.

His lusts reached ever lower depths and he preyed on the children who lived in and around his court. Tacitus tells us 'new names for types of perversions were invented', such was Tiberius's depravity. Tiberius hired slaves to find him children to satisfy his urges. These agents were entirely above the law and they kidnapped victims if parents or relations put up a fight. Some even violated the children before they reached their lustful master. It was, says Tacitus, 'like the sack of a captured city'.

His main villa occupied an extraordinary panoramic position over the Gulf of Naples, and was thronged with handmaidens and courtiers, all attendent to his every whim - however corrupt.

HIS gardens, where he arranged 'a number of nooks of venery where boys and girls solicited outside bowers and grottos', were called by locals 'the old goat's garden', punning on Capri's name, which translates as 'goat island'.

His particular fantasy, which small boys were taught to carry out, was to swim in the blue, lukewarm waters of the Capri grottos surrounded by lascivious

youngsters swimming like little fish alongside an old shark, licking and nibbling at his private parts.

He was also a sexual voyeur and enjoyed watching groups of youngsters copulate before him.

Once, at a religious sacrifice on Capri, driven to a frenzy by the

beauty of the priest's assistant, he lost control of himself in the temple and, hardly waiting for the ceremony to end, rushed him off and debauched him and his brother, the flute-player, too. Subsequently, when they complained of the assault, he had their legs broken.

Women were also of interest to him - no matter how unwilling they were. One historian,

Suetonius, says: 'How grossly he was in the habit of abusing women even of high birth is very clearly shown by the death of a certain Mallonia.

'When she was brought to his bed and refused most vigorously to submit to his lust, he turned her over to the informers, and even when she was on trial he did not cease to call out and ask her "whether she was sorry" so that finally she left the court and went home, where she stabbed herself, openly upbraiding the ugly old man for his obscenity.'

Increasingly ravaged by the years and his vile excesses, Tiberius had certainly become the most unattractive of men. His oncehandsome face was disfigured by a form of eczema and covered with blotches, scars and the unguents prescribed by his physicians.

Brutality, too, marked his years in exile. When his litter was struck by a bush, he had the centurion who had been sent ahead to clear the way stretched out and flogged half to death before him. Facing the

Emperor's apartments was a precipice called Tiberius Fall, because from it, he would dispense with unwelcome visitors or disobedient servants. Tiberius would watch as they fell towards the sparking water, and their bodies were mutilated at the bottom of the cliff by armed soldiers.

Suetonius says: 'Among various forms of torture he had devised this one: he would trick men into loading themselves with copious draughts of wine, and then on a sudden tying up their private parts, would torment them at the same time by the torture of the cords and of the stoppage of their water.'

Tiberius died at the age of 78, during the 23rd year of his reign. It is said that he was eventually smothered beneath a pile of mattresses, although there are other accounts that he was poisoned by his heir, Caligula.

Tiberius's demise was met with widespread celebration in Rome.

According to Suetonius: 'The people were so glad of his death, that at the first news of it some ran about shouting "To the Tiber with Tiberius!" referring to a form of punishment reserved only for common criminals - that their corpses would be thrown straight into the River Tiber, without the dignity of a resting place.

'Others prayed to Mother Earth to "allow the dead man no abode except among the damned".'


This video game provides examples of:

  • 419 Scam: You can be contacted by someone claiming to represent an Abyssinian prince. If you have the "Scholar" trait, you can reply by pointing out that the names in the message aren't Abyssinian.
  • Abduction Is Love: Subverted. Pagans and tribal Christians may abduct female courtiers when they sack settlements, and the rulers have the option of taking them on as concubines &mdash even if they're already married to someone else. However, this carries hefty opinion penalty, ensuring she will hate her abductor. It's possible for the "Fell in Love" event to happen between a ruler and their stolen concubine, but the event is bugged, and treats that concubine as an illegitimate mistress in related sub-events.
  • Abusive Parents: If your character chooses to raise his heirs himself, he may be given the option to beat them in various character-defining events. Sometimes it's the best (or only) way to get rid of a potentially negative trait.
  • Action Girl: While it's perfectly possible for women to have high Martial skill and traits of good generals such as "Skilled Tactician", most of the time they're not permitted to command. However, female rulers (that is, queen regnant, not queen consort) can take the field with their troops, as can the character from the Jeanne d'Archétype event. Cathar realms and realms with Conclave's full rights of women law can also freely have female commanders. As of the patch accompanying Reaper's Due, Germanic Pagans can create shieldmaidens, who can also command in battle. As well, Holy Fury lets you make pagan religions gender-equal (the Equality doctrine immediately enacts Full Status of Women) or even matriarchal when you reform them.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: invoked One possible event while conducting the Summer Fair event as a Christian ruler is for a jester at the fair to accidentally hit you in the face with one of his baubles to much hilarity from onlookers. From the button text it seems your character thought it was funny, too.
  • Adipose Rex: Your ruler can gain the Fat trait if they lead a sedentary lifestyle. You can choose to shape up by going on a diet or continue stuffing your face if you got the trait by throwing frequent parties and feasts through the Carousing focus, you can choose to embrace it, and get a special “Munificent” bonus to vassal opinion that comes from being a Big Fun.
  • Adult Fear: With The Reaper's Due DLC, your infant child can develop cancer.
  • Aerith and Bob: Expanded upon from the original game significantly:
    • The second game lets players choose the name of his/her character's newborn children, so one can either avoid this trope or intentionally cause it.
    • In addition, there is a random chance for the child to be named for a parent or grandparent from both sides of the family. This means that if you give a character a silly name, chances are it will spread.
    • Some cultures follow a given name plus fathers name with adjective for their full name (with their dynasty name being left out but considered a part of their longer name). Combined this with the parental name sharing aspect mentioned before and this can result in such things as Bob Johnson with a son named John Bobson or even Bob Bobson. Not that this is unusual in, for instance, Iceland.
    • Before the 2.5.1 patch concurrent with Conclave marriages were required for alliances, the patch altered this: marriage ties are now a bonus to your ability to negotiate with other rulers for an alliance rather than the sole raison d'etre.
    • The "Cadaver Synod" global event that pops up whenever a Pope with the "Wicked Priest" trait dies, in which his successor digs up his corpse and puts him on trial for his crimes posthumously, is sometimes assumed to be yet another of Paradox's tongue-in-cheek gags by new players &mdash but the inspiration is entirely historical.
    • Characters taking the Learning ambition may receive events about trying to fly by building wings and then jumping off a tower. Players were surprised to discover that not one, but two medieval scholars tried just that! (7th Century Abbas ibn Firnas and 11th Century Eilmer of Malmesbury)
    • The images for holdings, such as castles and cities, varies only based on culture, not time period or geography. So you have stone castles for Italian rulers in 769 and Norse and Russian rulers still using wooden forts in 1400, as well as Persian castles on desert in the plains of England, Malian castles in a jungle in the Central Asian steppes, and Tibetan mountain castles in the middle of the Sahara if the right culture flips happen.
    • There's an event for yourself as a child that depicts you reading the Bible under a tree. Before the printing press was invented, bibles were extremely rare, and copies had to be made by hand. Usually, they were kept in monasteries, rarely translated into the vernacular language, and even if you were wealthy enough to buy a copy, having one could bring down the wrath of the clergy.
    • Also, Coats of Arms appeared among the noble families of Western Europe during the 12th century seeing every noble houses in the game (even pagan ones) having their own in 1066 is a bit early, not to mention the Charlemagne (769) and Old Gods (867) bookmarks. There are specific questionable examples here, too:
      • The symbol representing Sunni Islam is the crescent moon and star, which was actually derived from the flag of the Ottoman Empire which didn't exist until the tail end of the game's timeline. However, this makes sense as an interface element as it is a symbol that most modern audiences would associate with Islam (more so than more traditional symbols based on Arabic calligraphy).
      • The coat of arms for the Kingdom of England, three lions rampant, is actually the heraldry of The House of Plantagenet, which didn't take over England until 1154 (over halfway through the playable timeline). Conventionally the symbol of England is St. George's Cross, although that didn't really come into use until Edward I (three generations, four kings, and one century later).
      • Some mods do a arguably more accurate version of this: While they have the two Churches start out as a unified Chalcedonian Christianity, each priest of the religion automatically gets a trait indicating which branch (Latin or Greek) they belong to, simulating the fact that they were officially the same church, but that the two branches were already significantly different.
      • In Reaper's Due the game hedges its bets by modelling both theories of syphilis's origins, using two syphilis traits in the game's files, European Great Pox, and the more serious epidemic of Aztec Disease, which occurs if Sunset Invasion is active.
      • "Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment." (Diplomacy level 2 - The Godfather Part III, 1990)
      • "Speak softly and carry a big stick." (Diplomacy level 3 - Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919)
      • "The best way to keep one's word is not to give it." (Diplomacy level 4 - Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821)
      • "Learning never exhausts the mind." (Learning level 3 - Leonardo Da Vinci, 1452-1519)
      • "Events which cannot be prevented must be directed." (Intrigue level 4 - Klemens von Metternich, 1773-1859)
      • "War is a continuation of politics." (Martial level 4 - Carl von Clausewitz, 1780-1831)
      • Villainous Lineage: If your son has the demon spawn trait, then he will grow up to be evil. Even if you educate him to be good, his sixteenth birthday will see him lose all his good traits and replace them with evil traits. If you play as the demon child you can try to play himas though he were a good person, possibly subverting his satanic lineage.
      • The map itself can come across as this, depending on your point of view. It can be very unnerving to see religious enemies or the Mongol hordes painting the map as they advance towards you.
      • Before the system was reworked, the AI had no clue how to deal with the Decadence system for Muslim rulers in Crusader Kings II. As such, most of the larger Muslim dynasties had a nasty tendency to implode if left in the hands of the AI for too long. After the reworking, male relatives no longer automatically generate decadence (only doing so if they have the Decadent trait), making it much easier for the AI to handle the system. Unfortunately this also makes certain large Muslim realms (e.g. the Umayyads in the Charlemagne 769 AD bookmark) annoyingly hard to eliminate without player intervention. 2.6 managed to find a reasonable middle-ground and the Muslims will now sometimes collapse due to decadence and sometimes not.
      • Because of its Back from the Brink nature, there are very few Zoroastrian nobles in the game. Nobles marrying courtiers get huge hits to Prestige, and the AI tries its best to avoid such marriages. In addition, the Zoroastrian AI prefers to set up marriages to close relatives for the boost to vassal relations. The result: it's difficult to ignore the incest when your landed son constantly asks for betrothals to his eight-year-old sisters (who he may or may not be educating).
      • Similarly, some cultures (most notably the Basques and some of the Celtic and Baltic tribes) only have a few provinces at game start and are usually steamrolled by their more formidable neighbors. In particular the game simply doesn't model the logistical issues that made Asturias not worth the Moors' trouble to conquer, so Al-Andalus usually overruns it in early starts unless West Francia and/or Lombardy (or an interested Player Character) are able to intervene.
      • Generally, if you're playing as a vassal of a realm bordering religious enemies or as a patrician of a merchant republic who cannot hold onto the title of Doge, you need to pray that this trope does not happen.
      • AI armies are known to frequently run off to completely unimportant objectives rather than attaching themselves to allied player forces. Or march all the way around the Mediterranean to get to Africa and lose hundreds or thousands of troops to attrition instead of using their ships.
      • AI rulers are hilariously bad at accounting for potential war targets' allies, particularly in the case of the defensive pacts added in 2.5.
      • In Conclave, the AI has no idea how to use the Heritage and Faith focuses properly, and often educates heirs with event-generated courtiers of different cultures or religions. This can have bizarre results such as random Jewish or pagan kingdoms popping up in the middle of Western Europe.
      • In fact, this game is notable for making Artificial Stupidity an individual character trait. Each NPC has a hidden Rationality stat which influences their decisions. Very rational rulers will try to avoid wars they can't win or murder plots they don't benefit from. Rationality is influenced positively by traits like ''Just'',''Patient'', ''Cynical'' and Genius, and decreased by traits like Arbitrary, ''Wroth'', ''Zealous'', Imbecile and especially Lunatic. This for example means that while on paper the historical Charlemagne's stats are very good, his AI isn't very smart, as he always starts with the Zealous trait and no positive Rationality modifiers to compensate, and he will often fail to create his empire because he prematurely starts a war with the Umayyads he can't win.
      • The 'Open' succession rule (which is the only one available to Muslims in the second game) is based entirely on a succession law employed by the Ottoman Empire in the 14th to 16th centuries (mostly outside the game's timeframe), and has no bearing on any historical succession practices by any other major Muslim realm. Historically speaking, the Caliphate practiced Elective Monarchy for much of its early existence (this is one of the main splits between Sunni and Shia Islam), and independent realms usually practised primogeniture or seniority succession (as did the Ottomans, once the repeated Succession Crisis of Open succession had caused too many civil wars).
      • The Byzantine Empire is depicted as being reliant on feudal levies like the rest of Medieval Europe. In reality, the Byzantine Empire was such an economic powerhouse that they could afford to maintain a huge professional standing army (they did use levies, but to a much lesser extent). Justinian I was in fact able to reconquer most of the Western Roman Empire's lost territories, but the expense made it impossible for his successors to hold them.
      • The game's portrayal of European Christianity in starts before 1066 is the source of arguments over whether it's appropriate to have Catholicism and Orthodoxy be separate denominations before the Great Schism (when the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicated each other in 1054). Truth is, it's hazy: while in the earliest starts particularly they were officially considered the same church, there were already differences in practice and doctrine such as autocephalous national Orthodox churches note Essentially each nation's highest cleric pays homage to the Ecumenical Patriarch but in practice governs his own independent hierarchy. This contrasts with the more centralized Catholic church where everybody obeys the Pope. and giving services in the vernacular note The Catholics insisted on Latin well into the Renaissance when nobody but educated people spoke it, while the Orthodox church was already teaching in the local tongues. Of particular note is Orthodox characters' ability to mend the Great Schism note making Catholicism into a heresy of Orthodoxy at earlier dates than it actually took place.
      • Outside of Christianity, the game conflates Germanic paganism with Norse paganism (they were related but distinct, especially at the early start dates), and provides little flavor to distinguish Shi'a and Ibadi Islam compared to Sunni Islam.
      • The Yazidis are considered a Sunni heresy in game, despite being completely distinct and independent of Islam in real life. The same issue is present for Manichaeism, which is implemented as a heresy of Zoroastrianism rather than a separate faith. To mitigate this somewhat, Yazidism gets its own set of holy sites and unique creation conditions for its equivalent to the caliph. Jade Dragon likewise gives Manichaeism and other Zoroastrian heresies its own mechanics.
      • On the flip side, Bön is implemented as an organized, pagan religion distinct from the Dharmic/eastern religious branch and counts Buddhists as heathens. While real-life Bön do claim the religion is older than Buddhism's arrival in Tibet, in practice there is no evidence of its existence prior to the 11th century and its current-day incarnation is so intertwined with Buddhist rituals and thought so as to make it more of a Buddhist sect than a distinct religion.
      • With Jade Dragon, the absence of Confucianism/Neo-Confucianism is somewhat noticeable, especially as the entire system of Chinese Meritocracy (which is present in-game) is based on its precepts. All Chinese characters are instead Taoist. This is most likely because creating two new religions entirely for the purpose of an off-screen faction (neither really caught on outside China) would be excessive.
      • The portrayal of the Messalians as not only allowing, but encouraging incest, and having Lucifer listed as one of their Good gods. These are based on claims made by people who were denouncing the sect, who also claimed that they would then take any child born of incest and offer it to Satan, after which they would eat it. Modern scholars agree that these accusations are false.
      • African Paganism is the in-game representation of the paganistic native beliefs of several ethnic groups living in modern-day Niger and Chad, including the Mandé, Hausa and Songhai people. Its selection of deities as of Holy Fury includes Anansi and Vodun patrons, which are features of native religions from the Gulf of Guinea some ways away. This geographical distance applied to Europe would mean the Bolghars (early-game Tengri pagans in modern-day Romania and Bulgaria) would be able to worship Odin and Ukko.
      • Conclave modifies the preexisting Caligula's Horse event with Lunatic rulers to make the horse an actual Non-Player Character with "Horse" culture. Though Glitterhoof's "Horse" trait is supposed to both make him/her infertile and prevent him/her from being granted titles, players quickly discovered exploits to switch their dynasty to Horse culture (along with a whole lot of other nonsensical-in-context oddities, such as Glitterhoof plotting a murder or being made a concubine, that usually end up in the forum's Strange Screenshots thread). Upon realizing how funny the players thought the whole thing was, Paradox first announced they would not patch the bugs around Glitterhoof, then in Reaper's Due they added an additional horse and an event chain where you could make either of them immortal (which may lead to you being attacked by an immortal stallion named Incitatus after Caligula's actual horse). Jade Dragon added cat and bear NPCs with whom you can do many of the same things. Holy Fury has an "Animal Kingdoms" option for random world generation, which prepopulates the world with entire playable realms of horses, cats, dogs, elephants, ducks, bears, hedgehogs, red pandas and even dragons alongside human realms. And in the 3.1 "Great Works" update, one of the ways to unlock the ability to build a statue of a horse as a great work is to be of Horse culture (the others being either Nomadic government, or a Lunatic).
      • Holy Fury's new duel system allowed characters to escape an incoming Curb-Stomp Battle by dropping an artifact from their inventory and making a run for it while the opponent got the artifact. This system forgot to make exceptions for armour. Paradox quickly took note, but instead of fixing it added a unique event text if your opponent decided to strip naked to escape you.
      • A longtime bug with an event where a Mook Commander is killed in battle by another commander when no opposing commander existed led to the game recording the character as having died in battle against himself. Rather than fix it, PDX eventually added an event pop-up that the character mistakenly fell on his own sword.
      • Sunset Invasion's ahistorical Aztec invasion note The Aztec Empire didn't exist until the very end of the game's timeline and no First Peoples cultures had shipbuilding technology sufficient to cross the Atlantic. led to wisecracks that the next DLC should include undead Vikings. Come The Old Gods and the Flavor Text for the "Viking" trait (gained by raiding as a Germanic pagan) includes a comment that tales are told of Player Character and his undead warriors.
      • The "secret bears" meme originated as a joke by Paradox's Darkrenown. Jade Dragon added an actual event where a courtier turns out to have been a bear all along, somehow.
      • Differs from the first game significantly the "Invasion" casus belli works like this. Essentially, you petition the Pope/Ecumenical Patriarch/Caliph/other relevant religious authority to sanction an ass-kicking to steal someone else's title. If succeeded you will get a strong claim on the target, this is exceptionally powerful because the claim can be a regal or even imperial one and typically you only get a ducal claim at best This however only works if you're smaller than the target, or you have a corresponding weak claim already. If the invasion is successful you even get a nickname for it!
      • The Adventurer system and Peasant Rebellions also allows for unlanded title claimants to amass their personal army to invade you for land.
      • Pagan rulers from The Old Gods or Holy Fury DLC can invade any single province that borders their lands and claim it without giving a hoot for any of this "legal basis" business. The Norse can do this to any non-Pagan coastal province.
      • This trope can be seen from a different point: when a ruler crushed a rebellion against his rule by a pretender or some disloyal vassals, the other vassals' opinion of him increases significantly. Therefore, these vassals will less likely join factions or rebel against their suzerain. In fact, it's a recurring scenario throughout the game (and real life, occasionally): the old wise king dies after a long reign of prosperity and peace, and his young son faces an obvious choice: show his vassals who is the boss by vehemently crushing any opposition to his rule, or see his kingdom fall into chaos of internal conflicts, being overthrown by his relative or have his land fall apart as the 'Independence' faction win war against him.
      • If a ruler is sufficiently more powerful than their vassals, the vassals will not join a faction against their ruler, even if they dislike their ruler and aren't barred by council laws from joining factions, as they know who is the boss and that revolt against their liege would be a Hopeless War.
      • A powerful vassal can use their asskicking capability to demand that they be installed as liege, even if they don't have a claim, and if the liege doesn't step down, said powerful vassal and anyone who backs them may attempt to seize authority via kicking the ass of the person who currently holds nominal authority.
      • The concept of "Crown Authority" measures how much power a king holds over the nobility - A king with little or no crown authority can't even revoke vassal titles or prevent nobles from waging independent wars.
      • Conclave replaces Crown Authority with a set of discrete Council Power laws which determine whether the ruler can take certain actions (declaring wars, handing out titles, executing or releasing prisoners, etc.) without submitting them before the Council for a vote. Trying to rule the realm with an uncooperative council that vetoes everything you want to do is a challenge in and of itself, and while they can be overridden, this incurs a tyranny penalty and makes the council non-content, which allows council members to join factions.
      • Independent dukes and counts can disregard the crown laws of their de jure kingdom if the king of said kingdom is of another religion.
      • In the second game, creating an empire as a feudal king is surprisingly this. II features a mechanic knows as "de jure shift", which when successful increases the amount of levies you can raise from a vassal whose capital lies in the region which your primary title has just assimilated. However, a kingdom may only assimlate duchies, while an empire may only assimilate kingdoms. Since kingdoms are often larger than duchies, you have to spend more effort conquering in order to secure a kingdom vs a duchy. Also, the bonus from being in the same de jure empire (which assimilated kingdoms count as) is smaller than the bonus from being in the same kingdom (which assimilated duchies count as).
      • Coronation is an important part of every Catholic and Fraticelli king and emperor's reign with Holy Fury enabled. If the king or emperor has not yet been crowned, they get a stacking opinion penalty with all of their Catholic vassals and don't get a crown on their portrait or to equip any crown artifact they may possess. While a ruler can be crowned by a low or high ranking Catholic or Fraticelli bishop for relatively small demands and to quickly remove the uncrowned penalty, to truly have an Awesome Moment of Crowning, getting crowned by the Pope (or Fraticelli Pope) himself is clearly the only way to go, though the Pope may make significant demands of a ruler before deciding that personally crowning them is worthy of the Vicar of Christ's time. The awesomeness of the coronation has long-term effects, as the higher the rank of the priest doing the crowning, the more monthly piety and prestige the ruler gets and the larger the opinion boost they get with their clergy, and potentially even their vassals.
      • There is also an alternate method of crowning that is arguably more awesome, not for how pious or proper it is, but rather, for its brazen defiance of the Pope's divine right to determine rightful rule - with the right traits (possessed, lunatic, ambitious while ruling with imperial authority, or as a member of a satanist cult), it is possible for an emperor to steal their crown from the Pope and crown themself, declaring that they give themselves the right to rule, rather than the Church. This is worth twice as much prestige as a Papal coronation and a significant opinion boost with feudal vassals, but pisses off the Clergy and both the current Pope and future Popes and is the only coronation trait that loses piety.
      • Having a "Become King of [Kingdom]" Ambition, taking control of enough territories to create said kingdom, then doing so, makes you "King by your own hand" as it were, and are your ruler's first steps towards carving their name into the history books.
      • Surprisingly subverted. Women don't normally get priority in inheritance or lead armies (though female rulers can). However, they can still be given certain titles, and it's particularly common for a ruler to name his wife the realm's spymaster. Naming one's wife as spymaster can be dangerous, usually only worth it if the wife has incredible intrigue and/or is in love, ensuring the loyalty needed in a spymaster. A ruler can also appoint his mother as the spymaster (Charlemagne himself does), and the huge mother-to-child relationship bonus is very beneficial here. Muslim rulers can appoint one of their secondary wives as well. Conclave takes it further by allowing you to enact laws granting expanded rights to women, including allowing them to take council posts other than spymaster.
      • Inverted for any Pagan faith with the Enatic Clans doctrine, which limits inheritance to female-only or female-preference, bans men from the council, disallows granting landed titles to men who don't already hold land, restricts most gender-limited minor titles, such as commanders to women, and allows ruling women to take men as consorts, similar to the concubinage practiced by most Pagan faiths and tribal and nomadic realms. At this point, men have little role in society other than providing genetic material to produce offspring and giving a small stat boost to their wives.
      • Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Zunism all start the game with a very small selection of independent rulers surrounded on all sides by aggressive religious enemies. Restoring the Kingdom of Israel, becoming the Saoshyant (which involves restoring the Persian Empire to its traditional borders as a Zoroastrian), and reforming the Zunist faith and ruling an "Empire of the Sun," respectively, are considered significant achievements.
      • Depending on your starting date, you can get to play as some of the last Pagan rulers, who are already in the process of losing their last lands to the Christian lords, and depending on your choices, you may be able to restore and reform their respective religions. For example, in the default 1066 start date, Slavic Paganism has been reduced to a pair of independent dukes in Pomerania, Bön is down to a small handful of counties left, and there are no independent Germanic pagans above count rank. One of the most extreme possible cases, however, is the Fourth Crusade start (1204), at which time, there is a single Germanic pagan ruler left in the world, and his (dirt poor) county has been converted to Catholicism.
      • The goal of the "Heathenous Ways" achievement - as Jarl Erik 'the Heathen' af Munso in the Stamford Bridge start (the highest ranking Germanic pagan left at that time), become king of Sweden (overthrowing the Catholic Stenkiling family) and reform the Germanic faith.
      • The release trailer for The Old Gods makes this trope a literal selling point.
      • With Jade Dragon, having extremely high favour with the Chinese emperor allows you to ask them to invade a realm of your choice. They will do so with the "Shatter Realm" CB, which on victory destroys ALL Empire and Kingdom level titles in the realm, potentially reducing a continent-spanning Holy Roman Empire into dozens of independent duchies.
      • Also with Jade Dragon, it is possible to declare war on the emperor of China (only when China is stable or better), and if you lose, your realm gets shattered in addition to the other effects of losing.
      • Winning a dynamic Crusade for Thrace against the Byzantine Empire (modeling the Fourth Crusade) destroys the Byzantine Empire, reducing the Byzantine Emperor to their next-highest title, freeing most of their vassals, and creating an independent kingdom of Trebizond, while the victorious Catholics establish the Latin Empire.
      • The Old Gods introduces adventurers, who can be both significant threats and potential allies.
      • The Horse Lords expansion added deeper mechanics for steppe hordes (nomads), including a unique mechanic where sons are sent to become wondering mercenaries.
      • Being Buddhist by default increases Learning stat of all characters by a hefty +4. To put that into perspective, Scholar, a life defining trait gained after decade or so of studying, is +3 and that's already a lot. When this gets paired with Tibetan culture, it offers additional bonus in form of ability to build Gompa Monasteries, directly furthering tech spread and cultural research. Buddhist have far easier time to write books, too, since that action requires by default 8 learning - it's near impossible to be below that value as a Buddhist.
      • A focus on theology increases your Learning stat. The one place where this trope does apply is when you're building an observatory to study astronomy, which is likely to lead to you finding answers about the heavens that don't align with official doctrine.
      • The only situation when this is played straight is AI point of view. Zealous trait is one of the biggest tankers of Rationality rating, making AI characters with it doing 'really stupid things. We are talking about declaring a holy war against continent-spanning empire due to different religions, while being a dirty poor speck on the map.
      • There is one event chain that starts with a neighbour complaining, potentially followed by you sending roses, potentially followed by romance.
      • Additionally the attraction opinion modifiers always have effect. So if you are playing as a male (or a homosexual female) then your opinion of a woman whose traits include strong, brawny, attractive, seductress, gregarious, and socializer will be 110 points higher due to sexual attraction. If said woman is your rival (which gives a -100 opinion malus) then your combined opinion of her will be a net positive 10.
      • If you have a rival is the correct sexual orientation, and you raise their opinion of you, then you can seduce him or her. If you choose to have them as a regular lover then they'll still be your rival at the same time.
      • Patricians in The Republic get a family palace that is treated as a completely separate holding from those that are on the map. Like any other holding, it can be upgraded to provide bonuses to income, levies, and other areas. It also has unique structures that improve character attributes and, in one case, fertility as well.
      • Since patch 3.1, one of the buildings available to an independent ruler of any government is the Royal Palace. It's highly expensive to build, but it can provide many bonuses to it's owner.
      • The plot mechanic introduced in the sequel means everyone is plotting against everyone. That includes heirs, wives and brothers-in-law all attempting to stab you in the back simultaneously. If you're not the plotting type, your poor king can sometimes come across as the Only Sane Man in a cast of psychopaths.
      • The Sword of Islam expansion compounds on this by allowing up to four marriages for Muslim rulers (and punishing powerful rulers who have less than four marriages), all of which can produce legitimate children. This means a lot of plotting by wives trying to maneuver their own child into becoming heirs. Another notable addition is the decadence mechanic for Muslim dynasties, which can potentially cause problems for dynasties with unlanded males. The only things worse than plotting family members are plotting family members with land and armies. and family members who disgrace their family name by sitting around the palace drinking and chasing servant girls.
      • The Old Gods expansion makes Zoroastrians playable - not only are sibling and parent-child marriages among them permitted, but arehighly encouraged, netting a nice piety and vassal opinion boost if your ruler enters such a marriage. Unlike other faiths, children of incestuous Zoroastrian unions are five times less likely to have the "Inbred" trait, but five times more likely to have the "Lunatic" trait.
      • The strictest interpretation is technicallypossible as of The Old Gods. Even in the base game, though, it's possible for a character to inherit his name, culture, and religion from his native-born father but his looks from his exotic-born mother. Displaced courtiers will also try to find a court that's most similar to their own culture and religion, which is usually fairly nearby but can end up being quite far afield indeed. For instance, Abyssinian Miaphysites ending up in Greece or Asia Minor after the Fatimids steamroll their corner of the world. There's also an event in the Republic DLC that has a Merchant Prince acquire an African wife, which can breed black people into Europe, otherwise the game uses Turkic Portraits to portray people of Mixed Ancestry.
      • The game considers all pagan religions to be a part of the same "religious group" for marriage purposes, so it is possible to wed your Norse prince to a Tengri princess end up with a Turkish-looking Swede leading Viking raids. This used to allow true Black Vikings as well, although the diplomatic range added later makes it harder.
      • The Family focus has no active actions you can take or ongoing event chains, and the events in it mostly give small relationship bonuses with close family and do not fire often. However, staying on the path gives you 20% fertility, +2 diplomacy and +1 health, a close to 100% chance you'll fall in love with your spouse (+50% fertility) and the ability to become The Patriarch or The Matriarch for your dynasty, which gives you an additional +1 diplomacy and +20% fertility, making it the perfect option for rulers who want to live long and leave a healthily growing (and landed) dynasty behind. Unlike Rulership and Theology it also has no downsides the worst Family focus will do to you is cause you to become Proud.
      • Extracting tribute from neighbours. The attacker is spared the trouble of actually managing the defender as a vassal or his lands (if the war was over territory), and strengthens himself at the expense of the defender.
      • There's an event chain which begins with a neighbour boring you and sending envoys asking for money, and you can nail the envoy's hat on his head or send roses to him. If you nail the hat, you become animpaler and makes everyone around mad at you, with an option at the end of the chain saying something along the lines of "Perhaps I should begin planting roses?"
      • In one of the Improve Intrigue event chains, you can frame a nobody for jewellery theft. Thirty years of in-game time later, your ruler will suddenly wake up in the night and realize the man is still in the dungeons for a crime he didn't commit, and will rush to the dungeons to let him out after a nightmare, while your character takes a hit to their piety. After seeing what a foul condition he is in, you tell the guard to close the door.
      • The "You have fallen in love with X character" event does not check if said character is a family member.
      • A popular Game Mod adds a code that does, with the comment "Ick!"
      • As noted below, a patch for the sequel added the "Divine Blood" parameter specifically to model this for the benefit of modders and for characters worshipping Zoroastrianism.
      • The second game's DLC expansion Way of Life finally allows players of all faiths to pick the Seduction focus and try and woo any character they desire - including their siblings (and marry them if you're a Zoroastrian). Mind you, it's a lot harder to pull off, and your sibling *will* call you out on it if you fail. If you are successful, though, you will be able to marry your sibling/lover and nobody will object. The Power of Love, maybe?
      • With Sons of Abraham, Messalianism, an obscure Gnostic Christian heresy, gets the same Divine Blood mechanic that Zoroastrians get, but they don't get concubines unless they're tribal, meaning even higher odds of inbred heirs.
      • With Holy Fury, any Pagan faith can gain the Divine Blood mechanics on reformation, and Zunism gets a special version that combines it with polygamy.
      • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: You can recruit landless foreign noblemen and use them as Mook Commanders. They usually have to be in your own religious group (otherwise the fact that you're infidels relative to each other tends to put the noble's Relationship Values below the required threshold), and it helps if they have a claim on a title that they think you might help them win, but it's completely possible to be an Irish Catholic duke with a Greek or African general leading your army.
        • Byzantine rulers can create the Varangian guard as a vassalized mercenary company. If you're a Norse ruler, your unlanded sons may ask to serve there, and refusing them causes you to take a prestige penalty.
        • In a nod to the historical Caligula, rulers with the "Lunatic" trait in the sequel can, among other things, appoint their horse to important council positions.
        • Taken even further with a particularly rare event chain added in Reaper's Due, which allows you to end up meeting Caligula's actual horse, Incitatus (and yes, that would make him extremely old he is immortal )
        • Furthermore, being subject to an underage ruler is cause for yet another loyalty hit for one's vassals.
        • Not as bad in the sequel, where underage or otherwise incapable-to-rule leaders will be appointed a regent to rule in their stead. However, this introducesnew problems.
        • Averted with the merchant republics and nomads in the second game. While children may become heads of their patrician houses or clans, a child can never be elected Doge or become Khagan.
        • A specific example from the second game would be the "Rise of The Shia" event, which triggers if the Shia Caliphate does not exist. It spawns a large doomstack of Shi'ite rebels against a random Sunni ruler, lead by a very young Sayyid who claims to be the Shi'ite Caliph.
        • Patches of no-man's-land are sometimes used to represent impassable peaks on the map, with gaps between them for mountain passes. This is especially evident in the Alps.
        • At a tactical level, commanders may be able to find a chokepoint in battle, limiting how many troops on can face each other on a given flank, helping offset a numerical disadvantage.
        • With the Sons of Abraham expansion, they are once again independent states, and can be a lot more important. Donating money to them gives piety, but you can take a loan as well. Occasionally they make requests for courtiers to join their orders or the rights to build castles in your territory, and it's hard to refuse if you haven't paid the debt. If they get too powerful, banishment is an option, but does NOT reflect well on your character's reputation.
        • Crusader Kings II uses different hues of the same colour to indicate similarity in its various map modes. On the political map mode, the Iberian Christian kingdoms for example share similar shades of yellow and red, while their Muslim neighbors are green. Similarly in De Jure Duchies mode, all English, French and German duchies are coloured in different shades of red, blue and white, respectively. The Kingdom of Burgundy is . well, guess.
        • For the Religion map mode, Shi'a and Sunni Muslim are represented by similar but distinct shades of green, while Orthodox Christianity is purple and Catholicism is in white. Heresies have differing shades from their mother religions (e.g. Fraticelli is light brown, while Cathar is light blue). Realms with different religions from their liege have strips across them.
        • Crusades and Jihads can trigger early if core Christian or Islamic lands are threatened, and if this happens, reformed Pagans with religious heads gain their Great Holy War casus belli shortly after in retaliation, and to enforce their use as a Comeback Mechanic, Crusades, Jihads, and Great Holy Wars can be used if their religion has even a paltry 5% Moral Authority and have very high weights for lands that the faith would likely already control if they weren't under threat.
        • Furthermore, when the Crusades begin early, Catholics gain two to four holy orders immediately to help them push back, and the formation of holy orders gives a temporary boost to the religion's Moral Authority. Similarly, when Jihads begin early, Sunni and Ibadi Islam may get their holy orders early depending on which sites were lost to non-Muslims (The Shi'ite holy order, however, only forms after 1089), and if core Indian lands are taken by non-Dharmic faiths, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism can all get their holy orders without a single ruler controlling all five of their faith's holy sites.
        • Similarly, if one Pagan faith reforms, all Pagan faiths get +5% Moral Authority for several years to encourage a broader Pagan revival and a rallying of all Pagan faiths against the various Abrahamic and Dharmic faiths.
        • A random event involves your character selling out someone close to them (permanently denting their relationship) at the behest of one of that character's rivals, in return for a portion of said rival's wealth. If the rival (picked at random) is a courtier with no personal wealth, your character will then sell out their close friend/wife/family member for as much as that courtier can offer. A whole shiny gold piece. And no, you have no option to refuse.
        • Normally, a gift of wealth is scaled to the target's annual income (minimum of 20 ducats). In some versions of the game, giving a gift to someone who newly enters a position is treated as having minimal monthly income and may therefore be subject to a comically small gift that improved relations.
        • The Mongols have giant armies that completely ignore supply limits, thus allowing them to concentrate in unbeatable numbers, while the player cannot counter this due to still being limited by supplies. Ditto the Aztecs in Sunset Invasion, though as their troops are mostly infantry, cavalry-rich realms have an easier time.
        • During peasant/religious/liberator uprisings, the AI is regularly able to levy armies ten to twenty times larger than the player is allowed to get out of those same territories.
        • Possible to outright enable as a game rule - provincial can be boosted to as much as six times their normal strength (or disabled), at which point a peasant revolt in Kola or Targhaza may muster more troops than the entire Byzantine Empire.
        • With Monks and Mystics, rulers can have crown jewels smithed, which include a crown or circlet for all Christian, Jewish, Zoroastrian, and all Pagans except African Pagans (who get bracelets like Muslim rulers do). Even as other faiths, it's possible to inherit or steal a crown from someone who owns one.
        • With Holy Fury, Catholic and Fraticelli kings and emperors aren't allowed to wear their crowns until they've been coronated by a religious official.
        • With Holy Fury, reforming a Pagan faith (except for Bön and Hellenic, which get a scepter instead) with Temporal leadership, the reformer gets a special fancy crown, which is even reflected in the wearer's portrait when equipped.
        • Also with Holy Fury, various unique crowns can be acquired by forming certain titles, such as restoring the Persian Empire as a Zoroastrian.
        • The "Black Bishop" achievement for the second game encourages players to install their own corrupt pope. This might not be the wisest course of action as far as moral authority is concerned.
        • Sword of Islam, as Muslims have their own mechanics, such as decadence and polygamy
        • Legacy of Rome, which made the game slightly different for Greek and Orthodox characters
        • The Republic, which adds special mechanics for Patrician families in merchant republics
        • The Old Gods, which adds new mechanics for the now playable pagan nations, including raiding
        • Sons Of Abraham , adding new features to all of the Abrahamic religions and adding Judaism to the mix
        • Rajas of India, which lets you play as Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains in India, with their own mechanics.
        • Charlemagne, which introduces tribal rulers (as opposed to feudal lords).
        • Horse Lords introduces nomad mechanics for rulers of the steppes, such as clan management, lack of holdings, manpower, etc. (Games without the DLC will have nomad rulers behave like tribal ones instead.)
        • Different culture groups and religions also get different features, such as each culture or culture group having its own unique retinue and certain cultures (mainly Norse and Altaic) having the permanent ability to raid.
        • Certain historical rulers have high predefined stats and positive traits, which makes playing as them easy. However, their ahistorical descendants have their stats and traits determined by the player and Random Number God, which means that the player has to start relying on their own skill at the game after one generation.
        • King Karl of West Francia (the historical Charlemagne) in the 769 start is the most extreme example of this. Not only does he have decent stats and traits, he also has several scripted events that make it easy for him to form the Holy Roman Empire and conquer most of western Europe. However, his descendants don't have this luxury, which means that the player has to rely on their own skill to prevent their massive, culturally diverse empire from disintegrating after Karl dies.
        • Also potentially inverted when stronger player-ruled realms (especially Catholic realms) end up propping up weaker countries across half of Europe against rapacious Norse and Muslim conquistadors.
        • Pagan realms are powerful early game, but weaken as time goes on (or more accurately, everyone else surpasses them and they become comparatively weaker). In addition, several early-game advantages eventually get cancelled out: Pagans can become very wealthy early on with their ability to raid provinces, especially Germanic Pagans given their free ships, ability to navigate rivers, and strategic location, but eventually targets will consolidate and fortify to the point where raiding is no longer practical and rivers are locked off. Passive defensive attrition is brutal for enemies wanting to invade Pagan realms to the point where it's often better to assault Pagan holdings than siege them, but this only applies to a Pagan's homeland territory (on top of the fact that converting provinces to extend their homeland is difficult because of the Pagan religions' low Moral Authority rating) and is eventually negated by technological progress. In addition, Pagans have access to special casus belli (officials reasons to go to war) that allow for fast expansion, but their realms are unstable to due being locked into succession types that split territory among their children, meaning holding a powerful realm together for long periods of time is difficult at best. In addition, Tribalism (the starting government type of most Pagans) is powerful early on because of rulers' large demesne limits and abilities to call vassals to war rather than getting smaller levies, but large tribal realms hit a peak as tribal rulers do not get troops from vassals of vassals unlike feudal rulers.
        • With The Old Gods (but NOT Holy Fury), these reforms are predefined and most pagans adopt a Catholic-like structure with a single strictly spiritual religious head who can call Great Holy Wars. Germanic pagans, however become much more like Muslims: the reformer becomes the head of the religion in a manner similar to the Islamic caliphs and holds both spiritual and temporal power.
        • With Holy Fury, the reforms are much more flexible and can range from very closely following Christianity (Hierocratic leadership for Catholic-like or Autocephalous leadership for Orthodox-like, Proselytizing nature, and Monasticism and Ancestor Veneration doctrines), Islam (Temporal leadership, Dogmatic nature, and any combination of Religious Tax, Polygamy, and Agnatic/Enatic Clans doctrines), or Dharmic faiths (Autonomous leadership, Peaceful (specifically Jain-like) or Cosmopolitan nature (more Hindu/Buddhist/Taoist-like), and any combination of Meritocracy, Stability, and/or Monasticism doctrines), to completely averting the trope and doubling down on their old ways or even becoming something entirely different.
        • If you end up playing as demon spawn, mercenary companies following the same religion as you will still fight for you against the inevitable rebellion if you can afford to hire them. They're willingly helping the literal Son of Satan in exchange for a stack of gold.
        • Joining Lucifer's Own in Monks and Mystics involves a lot of these pretty much the only ways to gain favor and Dark Power involve bloodshed in Satan's name. The other 'Devil-Worshipper' societies are pretty much the same, just with the dark forces you (think you) make deals with tailored to the faith in question instead of being the Devil.
        • The DLCSword Of Islam, actually turns this trope into a game mechanic - each Muslim dynasty has a decadence score, and having males of your dynasty sitting in your palace being idle, boozing and whoring (and thus having the Decadent trait) makes your entire family look bad and invites more righteous dynasties to overthrow you.
        • Played straight by peasant revolts and adventurer invasions kill or capture the leader, it's curtains for the rebel scum.
        • Capturing the enemy ruler automatically gives you 100% warscore, allowing you to demand he surrender and accede to your demands in exchange for his freedom. However if you killed him instead of capturing a new ruler might arise and continue the war.
        • Subverted with noble rebellions. If the faction leader or the claimant to the throne is killed, the rebellion indeed ends, but the situation returns to the status quo ante bellum, and the lords who joined the rebellion still have their armies and the ability to rebel again (which often takes less than a year). By contrast, if the rebellion is defeated or forced to white peace, the defeated lords are unlikely to try again (and can be freely imprisoned if they start forming factions again).
        • It's also possible for the Children's Crusade to actually reach the Holy Land and have their battle for Jerusalem end in a victory&mdashmost likely thanks to the help of sympathetic rulers.
        • The second game kills the first game's "vassal flipping" stone dead you can't seize a vassal's territory by force without defeating their liege. However, with the Old Gods DLC, if you play as a pagan, you can choose an ambition to become king of X. You can then use the subjugation casus belli to conquer Kingdom X without the time penalty. Every count you defeat gets a +75 opinion modifier for basically having the crap beaten out of them.
        • Crushing a major revolt against your rule gives a (brief) relationship boost to all of your vassals, as they are suitably impressed or cowed into submission.
        • In "Holy Fury", one outcome of a duel is the participants being impressed with one another's skill and becoming close friends.
        • Female rulers suffer from opinion penalties with most characters, unless they're part of certain cultures or follow certain religions.
        • Homosexuality is frowned upon, even if the homosexual in question does their dynastic duty.
        • The introduction of artifacts in the second game swings it towards the Magic side, as owning the Seal of Solomon will prevent a character from becoming possessed. Of course, that could just be the placebo effect.
        • Mechanics existed for immortal characters, even before immortality was added to the game.
        • Since the historical archives go back so far, The Prophet Muhammad is listed in the database. If you look at his character sheet, however, his portrait is blocked out, the only portrait in the game to have this property.
        • If you only read the drop down when using the Liege Creator DLC, you would think that being openly (well, as openly as medieval times allow for) homosexual is purely a penalty to the diplomacy stat. Well, it does more than just that. Most people will dislike you for being homosexual. except other homosexuals who will like you better. This opinion bonus also stacks with attractive.
        • The act of offering up Native Americans as human sacrifice during a blót has its own special flavor text, even though it is a rather unlikely event.
        • Also, in the unlikely event that a Norse pagan worms his way into India, some of the rivers there are navigable by longboat.
        • After the release of the Horse Lords DLC, players can now find Marco Polo hanging around Kublai Khan's court if they choose to start at the appropriate date. His father and uncle are also there, and all three are friends with the Khan!
        • The Conclave DLC added different names and graphics for different government types in the kingdom rules tab. Most of these are mundane names like "Noble Republic" or "Elective Aristocratic Empire", but if your ruler has the relatively rare "Spawn of Satan" trait - welcome to the "Kingdom of Terror" (or the Empire of Terror - the first part is based on the primary title's rank).
        • Discovering and publicizing the heliocentric model of the solar system hundreds of years ahead of its time by studying the stars will expose your ruler to ridicule and religious sanctions (unless the religious head is you) &mdash except among Zunist pagans, who worship the sun in the guise of Zun, the Bringer of Justice.
        • By default, Islam is the only polygamous faith in the game, and doesn't allow matrilineal marriage or female inheritance, so normally you cannot enter a polygamous marriage as a female - but flavor text and event data still exists in the game files for a female player character in a polygamous union, including rivalries with your husband's other wives, and attempting to get your son named as your husband's heir.
        • If you export a CK2 game to Europa Universalis IV and had "Sunset Invasion" turned on, you'll find that the cultures of the New World are considerably more advanced technologically than they normally are. Furthermore, if your ruler has become immortal in Crusader Kings II, this will be retained in Europa Universalis IV.
        • The game has text for duels won while wielding every type of weapon&mdashand that includes the one-of-a-kind Hermetic handgun. (The results are predictable.)
        • Subverted. The Hermetic Society and various monastic orders get relics that could well be pure psychological in benefit, and Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane scrying and attempts to communicate with Divine Beings in trances. Lucifer's Own can conjure demons to possess targets and cast curses that give a very-likely lethal disease to the victim. However, there are also two holy relics with effects that are definitely magical: the first is the Seal of Solomon, which renders you immune to possession, and the second is the Holy Grail note The holy_grail, not the holy_chalice. The game has two, the chalice is less impressive in terms of health benefits , which gives a +4 to health, which is a massive bonus, while all other holy artifacts that give bonuses to health give +1 at most, with many only giving 0.25-0.75, meaning it is most definitely not psychological. Further Examples A +4 is enough to cancel out almost any disease, with the only diseases that have a higher health reduction being the bubonic plague and rabies (both at -7). The Holy Grail can allow you to easily shrug off cancer(-3 health) . Then there's the Holy Prepuce note Jesus' foreskin , which provides 15% fertility increase. There's also Cthulhu.
        • Also, several Holy Relic weapons give bizarrely high bonuses to the wielder's Personal Combat Skill, usually significantly higher than the 14 given by Tier 4 forged weapons. While one could argue that things like the Lance of Longinus or Axe of Perkunas are simply normal but really well made weapons, and the further increase in skill is psychological, it's a bit hard to argue that there's nothing special about the Staff of Moses, which appears to just be a really fancy staff, but is a more effective weapon than the most expensive craftable weapons in the game, and the Babr-e-Bayan, which appears to be a regular leopard pelt, but is better than any armour in the game, even the Hermetic's Plate Armour. And Mjolnir offers a +20, which is ridiculously high just for someone having psychological benefits, and the second highest bonus to Personal Combat Skill of any in the game, after the Prosthetic Leg note And that's only that high because it's to partially offset the -30 penalty given by the one-legged trait and the handgun, both of which have a +25. Add onto all of this the fact that they only work for the followers of certain religions, even though some of them are still really nice swords or axes that a non-believer should be able to use without the prestige or piety bonuses. There's several cursed artifacts, some of which can't be destroyed.
        • The Rulership focus leaves you entirely at the mercy of the RNG and will either give you an Ambitious, Diligent and Just ruler with +6 stewardship and a +10 to vassal opinions, or a depressed, stressed-out wreck that burns out and dies mere months later.
        • Succeeding as the Byzantine Empire (see Nintendo Hard below). It's hard to play it well, but once you do, not only can you avert the tragic fate of the eastern half of Rome, but you can also turn the table and restore the Roman Empire not only as it once was but stronger than ever.
        • In the Cthulhu Mythos event string, you can choose to ram your ship into the awakening Deep One to stop it from rising again in reference to how "The Call of Cthulhu" ended.
        • One of the possible outcome of the The Masque of the Red Death event string is Death himself gets set aflame on spot.
        • In one event where a traveling pilgrim came to you asking for a place to stay, they reveal themselves later as Death. You can attack them first and may win the fight, or you can stall and defeat them in a game of chess. It's easier to just attack Death than play chess, as Death always come with Game Master trait.
        • "Bonus" cosmetic additions that add extra portraits, historical dynasty flags, unit sprites and music.
        • . And mini-expansions like Sword of Islam and Legacy of Rome which make Muslim rulers playable and add new gameplay mechanics for Orthodox rulers, respectively. Paradox kept its promise to add new features to the basic game so players won't be forced to buy the expansions, but this hasn't stopped some fansfrom accusing Paradox of money-grubbing. The game plus all current DLC can run in excess of two hundred dollars, which is a bit pricey, especially for an older game.
        • As of a recent patch, committing suicide will incur an opinion penalty that will be immediately inherited by your next character, so you'll have to deal with that if you use this strategy
        • With the War focus from Way of Life, you can challenge rival characters to duels. It's mostly Awesome, but Impractical: even if you win, if you give a Coup de Grâce to your opponent you'll get a permanent "Merciless" opinion malus (however, this is not incurred if you finish off a defeated opponent in a battlefield duel), whereas otherwise your opponent is likely to just be wounded or maimed, which doesn't help a lot unless you were trying to reduce their health or Martial score so they'd be more likely to die of natural causes.
        • As of version 3.0, there are "Strong Claim Duels" that can only be waged by tribal rulers when one has a strong claim on the other's title(s) and if the claimant wins, they get to take those titles. While normal duels are rarely fatal, Strong Claim Duels are almost always to the death.
        • Learning does almost nothing that couldn't be handily compensated for through other means, and even the things it does are of questionable importance at best (small monthly boost to piety and technology growth, as well as being some help in religion-related events). This is somewhat lessened in Monks and Mystics, should you become a Hermetic: they can use Learning for a lot of good things.
        • Certain technologies, such as Religious Customs or Trading Practices if you're inland and not on the Silk Road are very low priority to boost and by having at least one low tech level, you can keep your Spymaster studying technology somewhere, which periodically yields an extra 50 tech points in one category at random, even if you lead in all techs in that category.
        • The addition of baronies and several preset courtiers in the sequel introduces even more famous families: the Romanovs begin as High Chiefs of the Samoyeds, the Hohenzollerns begin as the barons of Zollern and the Trastamaras (one of the royal families of Spain before the Habsburgs inherited the lot) begin as lowly courtiers in Galicia. Heck, even the Pushkins appear with a child courtier in Rostov.
        • This can hold true for a lot of games, especially if you're playing as a kingdom with few provinces (like vulnerable Navarre or Georgia) or a ruler with powerful rivals or nearby religious enemies. But it's especially true if you're starting out as a Zoroastrian ruler (and you're determined not to convert). Basically you start out with no advantages except a large starting army (if you're playing the satrap of Karen) that cannot be replenished, virtually no one to make alliances with because of religious differences, and completely surrounded by hostile pagan and Islamic rulers who can gang up against you and will sooner or later, and probably sooner, attack you - and even if you do survive for a couple of centuries you'll probably be right where you'll have to deal with swarms of Seljuk Turks. Even strategies posted online by veteran players can only recommend the "gamey" strategy of pledging allegiance to a neighboring Muslim monarch and exploiting the game's mechanics to try to seize their territory from within, or at least play aggressively and rely on luck, or just pick a stronger and more secure pagan ruler and convert to Zoroastrianism (which is itself tricky, since it usually means you'll have to capture a Zoroastrian woman and make her a concubine).
        • Most realms in the earlier bookmarks start out with Gavelkind Inheritance. This means that when the ruler dies his realm is divided among his sons. Most players attempt to switch to a less-crippling inheritance system as soon as they can. Pagan realms are stuck with the even-harder-to-control elective gavelkind note successor to primary title is elected by vassals from among dynasty members, while any available titles are created for junior heirs, who get the option to go independent unless they convert to a non-pagan faith or reform their own.
        • Playing as the Byzantine Empire. Where to even begin with them? First of, it's impossible to have any inheritance law other than the elective imperial autocracy system. This means that the emperor title will go to someone else upon your death unless you can get your heir elected. You are always under extra pressure not to let your ruler die early and to make sure that your heir is at least presentable to your vassals. However, even if your heir is perfect, that's still no guarantee that they will be supported and may end up losing to some talentless hack with good connections. Second of all, it's very easy to rack up a lot of relation maluses with your vassals simply by breathing around them. You get -10 relation simply by being emperor, and that's not going into the maluses you get from your policies. Be ready to fight civil war after civil war as discontent vassals plot to overthrow you at the drop of a hat. Your council is empowered by default, which makes it hard for you to push your policies. Revoking that power is a surefire way to add even more fuel to the civil war dumpster fire. Now, civil wars aren't terribly hard to put down, but they will happen in the most inconvenient of times and mess up your carefully constructed plan. The real kicker is that civil wars don't stop happening even if the empire is in the middle of a foreign invasion, so be ready to lose the game because your vassals have the foresight of a blind frog. Speaking of foreign powers, the Catholics and the Muslims are always at your throats and a few crusades/jihads away from completely destroying you. Mustering an effective defense is usually an exercise in futility as your realm is probably too busy fighting each other to fight the invaders. Retaking your lost territories is equally hopeless as civil wars can occur halfway through or the council will block you from even starting the war in the first place. Unless you are an experienced player, playing as the Byzantine Empire is an endless loop of internal conflicts while external enemies tear the empire apart. Survive long enough though, and you will begin to have enough prestige to create enough kingdom-level titles to consolidate power in the hands of a few loyal viceroys. After this, you can begin to build up an effective defense and eventually a fearsome invasion force.
        • Paradox Development Studio's main staff are in-game as landless Swedish courtiers in the Stamford Bridge start.
        • The code for The Reaper's Due includes commented-out code for death by platypus, apparently meant as a template for creating new methods of execution. (The studio's logo is a platypus skeleton.)
        • It's a lot easier for a Christian to convert counties to his faith than it is for members of other religions. Unlike other examples of this trope this is less of an Author Tract and more of a way of representing Christianity's evangelical nature and encouraging the game to simulate the historical conversion of Europe to Christianity. That said, "easier" is a relative term. It can take years to convert one of your own provinces even if you are a Christian, and pagan rulers are likely as not to throw out your missionary the first time one of his courtiers is converted. By contrast, religious conversion to unreformed pagan faiths is next to impossible.
        • Inverted by the Romuva faith practiced by Baltic pagans. Romuvan provinces are much more resistant to conversion, and Romuvan characters require +50 positive opinion to accept a conversion request as opposed to the standard +30. This is meant to model the Baltics as being the last, most robust holdout of paganism in Europe.
        • With Holy Fury, Pagans can accept "Mass Conversions", wherein the liege and most or all of their non-zealous vassals will all adopt an organized faith at once.
        • Also with Holy Fury, on reformation, Pagans can take the Proselytizing nature, which puts them fully on par with Christians for conversion power (otherwise, reformed Pagans are much better than unreformed Pagans at proselytizing, but not as good as Christians) and abilities, including proselytizing in other realms, as well as becoming more interested in sponsoring Mass Conversions.
        • Played straight by the Mongols, who never take attrition damage. This is a big part of why they're considered Demonic Spiders.
        • Crusader Kings II adds opinion penalties for having vassal levies raised too long.
        • With the 1.10 patch, low-tech pagan lands have very low supply. Therefore, a catholic army of 7000 can get reduced to 2000 or less in less than a year because the supply for the land is 800 with a castle garrison of 1200.
        • There's also the Fatimid Caliphate and Seljuk Sultanate/Abbasid Caliphate which are comparable in power on the Muslim side.
        • With the release of Legacy of Rome, it's now possible for the Byzantine Empire to reform the original Roman Empire.
        • As of The Old Gods, you can now take direct control over the Mongols, whose leader on their historical appearance holds an Emperor-level title.
        • You can technically establish an empire at any time as long as you control a 80% of its de jure territories and have the money and piety to pay for the title. There are even some "hypothetical" empires like Carpathia (Hungary, Wallachia, & Bulgaria) and the Wendish Empire (Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, parts of Russia) that represent things that did not exist, but could, in theory, have.
        • As of Charlemagne, players with enough holdings can create a custom empire from scratch.
        • Although many Empires may rise and fall over the course of a playthrough, which of them are really The Empire trope with its evil connotations to the player entirely depends on their situation. An Iberian Catholic in an early start might fear the seemingly unstoppable Umayyads, for example, despite the fact that in our history they quickly splintered in the face of the Reconquista.
        • In a more abstract sense, certain religions can start gaining steam and end up completely dominating the map, leading to a hegemonic spiritual authority, even if they aren't necessarily politically united. This most often happens with Catholicism, which already dominates almost all of Europe and has the opportunity to grab tons of land from the Muslims in Crusades.
        • Unless, of course, the Pope offers to absolve him for an exorbitant amount of gold.
        • This tends to happen a lot more often in the sequel - if your ruler gives his heir a title, the heir will occasionally attempt to quicken his ascension. If a ruler has two sons and only one can inherit, expect a lot of murders to happen as both princes try to out-evil each other.
        • This becomes an even bigger problem in Sword of Islam - Before the decadence mechanic was reworked later on, Muslim rulers need to make sure all their male relatives have lots of lands and armies or risk their dynasty appearing corrupt and decadent, which also means gives them much more ammunition for potential throne-stealing shenanigans. After the reworking, male relatives no longer automatically generate decadence (only doing so if they have the Decadent trait).
        • Legacy of Rome gives Byzantine emperors the option of putting out the eyes of captured pretenders. This feature also gets extended to all leaders with Greek culture.
        • Holy Fury and Reaper's Due give plenty of other ways to lose one or both eyes, such as in duels, as sacrifices to the gods, and as a potential experimental medical treatment.
        • Facial Horror: One of the possible consequences of a severe injury is disfigurement, which forces the victim to wear a mask due to the extent of the damage. The icon for the trait depicts a man who has had his lower jaw torn off.
        • Family Extermination: Possible to accomplish by assassinations. In a meta-example for the second game, the Karlings (the family of Charlemagne, who exists in the 769 start) are so hated by players that Paradox Interactive used to sell a promotional t-shirt depicting a player wiping out their family tree.
        • Family Values Villain: A given for many characters, considering that half of the villainous things you'll do in a game will be to ensure your family prospers and stays in power.
        • Fantastic Rank System: The game has a dynamic rank system that generates titles based on combinations of characters' rank, culture, religion, and style of government. Some are historical (prince-bishop note Christian bishop who is also a secular count , lord mayor note count-level mayor ), while others are fictional (wali-emir note Muslim Merchant Prince, i.e. duke-level mayor , witch-king note Slavic or Suomenusko pagan priest who is also a secular king ).
        • Femme Fatale: As a ruling queen, seducing your most powerful and potentially troublesome vassals in order to keep them under your thumb is a perfectly legitimate tactic.
        • Feudal Overlord: You and most of the characters you interact with. How closely any given character adheres to the negative stereotype is up to your own actions and those of the game engine.
        • Feuding Families:
          • Patrician families in The Republic can start long-running vendettas, complete with Star-Crossed Lovers.
          • Steppe nomad clans in "Horse Lords" can start blood feuds, which can only end when one clan pays a blood price in gold to the other or when one of the clans is wiped out.
          • The 867 start date introduced by The Old Gods splits up England, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, among many others, and includes historical kingdom-founders Alfred the Great of England and Haraldr Fairhair of Norway.
          • The Charlemagne DLC for the second game allows both players and the computer to create custom kingdoms and empires by holding enough duchies or kingdoms and having enough money and prestige. So there's nothing stopping you from forming the Kingdom of Badassia by grabbing pieces of Germany, France and Lotharingia. In terms of historical founders, it also allows you to play as the title character and try to replicate his feat of founding what would eventually become the Holy Roman Empire.
          • Eventually, Holy Fury introduced this as a semi-hidden rule in random world generation. Said horses, cats, dogs, polar bears, hedgehogs, ducks, elephants, red pandas, and dragons all become fully playable.
          • At one point a King-Bishop was allowed to become the predicted next Cardinal, but not allowed to become a Cardinal. Thus, if a King-Bishop became the predicted next cardinal (which was highly likely due to the "secular power" modifier) he would prevent others from becoming Cardinals while himself never becoming a Cardinal, inevitably reducing the College to a tiny number.
          • Rajas of India adds temporary titles for revolts. If you manage to inherit one but not the revolt somehow (for example, a Duchy-level revolt in your Kingdom takes land and all of the eligible heirs die), you will be unable to arrange marriages, give out titles, create retinues, or do countless other very important things.
          • The Ecumenical Patriarch of the Orthodox Church frequently inherits control of the Byzantine Empire, which converts the government to a theocracy with open elective succession (picks basically at random from courtiers) and makes it extremely difficult for secular rulers to regain control.
          • In keeping with the values of the time, men tend to be have the advantage. CKII allows a male-biased inheritance law that allows women to inherit if no males are available for all non-Muslim religions (agnatic-cognatic), and full female inheritance rights for the Basque culture and Cathar and Messalian heresies (absolute cognatic). Even then, though, female rulers and/or heirs result in opinion penalties without the "full status of women" law enacted, which doesn't affect male rulers and/or heirs, and any males with weak claims on their titles can press them at any time simply because of their gender. Paradox did add female-preference inheritance in a later patch, but only for modders until the Holy Fury DLC added ways for religions to enable it outside of modding. What is not moddable is that the default marriage is patrilineal (the children is of the father's dynasty), with a marriage being matrilineal having to be specifically chosen (and the AI prefers not to accept such marriage offers unless it directly benefits them). Played straight with the merchant republics and Muslim realms. Women from patrician houses can never be elected Doge or become head of their houses. They cannot be married off matrilineally either, nor can they inherit titles.
          • Some of the expansions downplay it, however: in Rajas of India, there is no opinion penalty for having a female heir or being a female ruler as a Dharmic ruler, and with Sons of Abraham, Cathars, Messalians, and Bogomilists similarly have no such penalties, nor do the Bön or African Pagans (though they're only playable with The Old Gods or Holy Fury for both, while Jade Dragon unlocks Bön, but not other Pagans), Conclave adds various options to expand the rights of women by passing laws and at full status of women, nearly all gender bias is removed note At full status of women, women can hold all council positions regardless of personal relationship to the ruler, opinion penalties for female rulers and heirs are removed, and even Muslims can enact agnatic-cognatic and absolute cognatic succession. What isn't negated is that this still allows male only or male-preference succession, but doesn't enable female only or female-preference, still leaves patrilinneal marriage as the default, and that merchant republics are still strictly agnatic only and still cannot carry out matrilinneal marriages), and Holy Fury allows any Pagan faith to avert it with the Equality doctrine, which also locks in Absolute Cognatic succession.
          • The favored gender can be inverted by the Enatic Clans doctrine in Holy Fury, which blocks Agnatic, Agnatic-Cognatic, and Absolute Cognatic succession, only allowing Enatic and Enatic-Cognatic succession (female-only and female-preference) and barring men from leading armies or holding council titles or receiving landed titles (unless they are already landed). When combined with the Warmongering nature, it also enables the Matriarchal Deposition casus belli, giving a realm with Enatic Clans casus belli on any neighboring realm ruled by a man, with the goal of overthrowing the ruler and installing a woman on the throne (of the same dynasty as the defender if possible, skipping over any women whose religion has the Agnatic Clans doctrine or are incapable, and favoring close relatives of the defender and women of the same religion as the attacker, and generating a new female character to rule if no valid candidates of the defender's dynasty exist) as well as enforcing full status of women and enatic succession (unless the new ruler is of a religion with the Equality doctrine, which enforces absolute cognatic inheritance) and making the realm a tributary of the attacker and counting as a holy war for moral authority purposes[[note]]Combining the Agnatic Clans doctrine and Warmongering nature gives the similar, but gender reversed and understandably less target-rich Patriarchal Deposition CB. Unfortunately, the AI isn't fully aware that Enatic Clans makes women the Game-Favored Gender for the faith and has a bad habit of engaging in dynasty-ending patrilineal marriages.
          • Ensuring that there are enough suitable heirs is also much, much harder for female rulers. Muslim men can have up to four wives, while men of Pagan, Mazdan, and Dharman faiths can have three concubines in addition to their wife (whose children are considered legitimate, and they can be dismissed and replaced at will), so there is basically no way they can ever not have an heir. Women, however, can only ever have one husband to father their heirs - and there is always the off chance that a female ruler, even if she is the player character, will die in childbirth. Even with the addition of male consorts for female rulers of the Bön and African pagan faiths in 3.0, as well as any Pagan faiths that take the Equality or Enatic Clans doctrines, ruling women are still limited by their ability to only carry one (or maybe two, in the very rare event of twins) child at a time, while male rulers can father up to four children with their wives/concubines all at the same time.
          • In Crusader Kings III, every faith that exists at the start of the game is either male-dominated or has gender equality, with male-dominated being far more common. In a male-dominated faith, the most woman-friendly succession law allowed is agnatic-cognatic/male preference (women can only inherit in the absence of a male heir), women cannot be granted land, and knighthood and most council positions can only be held by men and women facing an opinion penalty when ruling. When founding a new faith or reforming a pagan faith, the dominant gender of the new faith may be changed between male dominance, equality, and female dominance, and the clerical gender may be set independently with the options of all-male priesthood, gender-neutral priesthood, and all-female priesthood. A game rule can fully avert this by making all religions have the equality doctrine or may be set to flip the game-favored gender such that all starting religions that would normally be male dominated instead female dominated.
          • After the End, a mod set long enough After the End in North America that society has rebuilt to a roughly medieval level.
            • New Era - Old World, an After the End fanon spinoff centered around Europe instead of North America.
            • Adventurers need a year to gather armies and ships, after they started their conquest goals. Only afterwards can they launch the attack, so a smart ruler will try to assassinate them before they can do so.
            • Similarly to adventurers, Viking invaders can state a conquest goal. Afterwards, soldiers and Viking heroes will join their cause over the next two years. They can attack at any time they want, but since their main targets are powerful Christian and Muslim kingdoms, they should better wait the full two years.
            • The army size of nomads is dependent on their clan's population, which in turn is depending on the size of their territory. So a clan that just conquered a large kingdom will have to wait a couple of years so their population can grow so they can make use of their new land.
            • In some way this applies to all conquests in the game. Getting a full duchy through a holy war is nice, but it will be utterly useless for the first few years, as the peasants will simply refuse to pay taxes or train as soldiers.
            • When an enemy ruler raids your lands he becomes hostile to you for a year, so if you can catch the raiders before they escape you can put all of them to the sword. If you are feeling really vengeful, you can sail back to the raiders home and siege down their settlements to take their gold and imprison their courtiers.
            • When nomads pillage settlements in conquered lands, the revolt risk in those settlements greatly increases. On ground level, this translates to people tired of watching their families being butchered and rising up to fight for their survival or at the very least to take as many death squads down as possible.
            • If a peasant/heretic rebellion kills all but one member of your house, then the Sole Survivor can torture the Rebel Leader to death and spend the rest of his life squeezing money out of the peasants.
            • If you're playing as a man, have an affair with another man, and the affair is exposed: You lose 500 Prestige and 250 Piety, and get a twenty year -10 opinion penalty with everyone, as well as a further -10 to relations with church officials. Your affair partner also gets the relations penalty. But if you're playing as a woman and your lesbian affair gets exposed, you lose only 100 Prestige and 50 Piety, you don't get the opinion penalty, and your affair partner receives no penalty whatsoever.
            • The Scholarship focus allows you to research the Cthulhu Mythos. Insanity is a common side-effect.
            • A very rare event can return an Incapable ruler back to life, at the cost of making him/her permanently insane. Depending on the quality of said ruler this is either a small trade-off or a massive annoyance.
            • Downplayed with the "Greed" trait. While characters with the trait may love gold more, it rarely reaches the levels commonly associated with the tropes.
            • Meta-wise, the Horse Lords expansion allows the waging of war to extract tribute (gold) from neighbours, the Silk Road adding the opportunity for rulers to earn even more gold. Combined with the accompanying patch loosening the requirements for raiding, and the advantages of having lots of cash, it's not surprising for players to develop a love for the yellow metal.
            • The decision seal reads Audaces Fortuna Juvat, or in English, "Fortune Favors the Bold".
            • The concepts and distinctions between de facto Lat. literally, "from fact" and de jure Lat. literally, "from law" is important for players to grasp. It is possible for a king who controls an area de jure to set laws which are different from the king who controls the area de facto.
            • Getting maimed only reduces a general's Martial stat by 2, meaning that your best general will still remain a great asskicker even if they lose a limb or two. This will affect his future health, though.
            • In addition, while losing a limb gives a severe penalty to personal combat skill, a character with many traits that boost personal combat skill won't be too badly affected by this loss, and the penalties for losing an arm or leg can be offset by acquiring a prosthesis like a peg leg or iron hand.
            • Averted in the case of blindness. Characters hoping to be a Blind Weaponmaster will have to contend with a devastating -100 personal combat skill. While it's possible to be a competent fighter with such a penalty with everything else going your way, being a master duelist is pretty much out of the question.
            • Enforced in the original, but Crusader Kings II allows you to loosen the restriction a little and even (if your characters belong to the Basque, Sumpa, or Zhangzhung cultures or Cathar, Messalian, or Mazdaki heresies) adopt full gender equality in the succession. Also, the addition of matrilineal marriages means that a woman can inherit a title and pass it on to her children which count as a part of her own dynasty rather then the father's.
            • Even Crusader Kings II, it remains strictly enforced for merchant republics and nomads, which can only ever have strictly agnatic (male-only) succession for both the realm as a whole, and the heads of the houses/clans, no matter what their religion, laws, or bloodline would make possible for realms with other governments.
            • Conclave introduced new realm realm laws that allow you to defy this trope by increasing the legal status of the women, up to point where agnatic-cognatic (male-preference, rather than male-only) and absolute cognatic (no gender preference) succession can be instituted in realms that would not normally be allowed to institute those laws for religious or cultural reasons, and passing these laws allows even religions that cannot normally have matrilineal marriages, such as Islam, to form them. Alternatively, the laws can be lowered to enforce the Heir Club for Men or as close to it as the culture and religion of the realm allow.
            • Holy Fury introduces bloodlines, one of which, the 'Blood of Bayajidda and Magajiva' (carried by the Hausa rulers of central Africa), allows enatic-cognatic (female-preference) succession to be instituted, thus inverting the trope.
            • Defied by the Equality and Harmonious (Bön only) Pagan reformation doctrines, which strictly enforces absolute cognatic succession and a maximized legal status of women.
            • Inverted by the Enatic Clans reformation doctrine, which enforces either female-only or female-preference succession.
            • You can convert all of Europe to Catharism (or any heresy, really) if you're up to the task.
            • Sons of Abraham further expands on heresies, both by providing unique game-mechanics (for instance, Catharism can have female bishops, while a Fraticelli Pope is a less-powerful duke-tier ruler which means he can be more easily vassalized) and by allowing a heresy to become the mainstream (turning the old orthodoxy into a heresy) if it becomes dominant enough over the 'parent' &mdash meaning that after a while the 'convert all of Europe to Catharism' game would turn from Cathar heresy spreading in the face of Catholic orthodoxy to Cathar orthodoxy spreading in the face of Catholic heresy.
            • There's even an option to reverse the Great Schism (the split between the Roman Catholic [Western] and Orthodox [Eastern] churches that ended with the Pope and the Byzantine Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicating each other) if you play as an Orthodox ruler and reconquer major holy sites including Rome. This makes all versions of Catholicism into Orthodox heresies.
            • The Way of Life DLC made it easier to target people for seduction, and if the target was a woman, said woman could easily get pregnant. even if the seducer was female. Obviously a bug, and eventually fixed.
            • Before this, it was possible for a while for men to impregnate their lovers - gender was irrelevant. This bug was fixed.
            • It remains mechanically possible for events or console commands to create children with two mothers, though for mechanical reasons, one of them has to be the "father", though there are no longer any events in the un-modified game that display this behavior.
            • This is what Harold Godwinson's defense of England is set up to look like during the conquest. He faces not only the larger army of William the Conqueror, but also Harald "Hardruler" of Norway. Luckily, Harold has some very loyal vassals and a superb-rated spymaster. The sanest way to keep the throne as Harold is to assassinate William the Bastard, since his claim on the English throne dies with him.
            • Subverted in the early releases of Crusader Kings II, as the AI for Harald Hardruler tended to be overly cautious when it could grind Harold Godwinson's army into the ground. In later releases, the AI becomes much better at fighting this war and is more willing to assault holdings and attack Harold's army directly.
            • The three Mongol hordes, plus the Seljuk Turks, first appear at the eastern edge of the map. With The Horse Lords DLC they're playable.
            • Inverted with the Aztecs, who come from the west specifically the New World (i.e. Mesoamerica).
            • Rulers with the Game Master or Hunter traits might execute their prisoners in elaborate hunts.
            • As a warrior lodge interaction in Holy Fury, it's possible to engage in a human sacrifice carried out as a hunt that ends with the sacrifice being brutally torn apart.
            • Additionally, with high enough Crown Authority, a ruler can force a vassal to convert or revoke his title without any opinion penalty from other vassals.
            • Any character caught worshipping Satan (or his religion's equivalent) can be burned at the stake by his king with no penalty (in fact said liege even gets a small piety boost). If the satanist is independent, then others can wage holy wars against him.
            • Some of the mechanics can still imply, for example, that your wife is having an affair with your son.
            • Justified to a degree the middle ages wasn't as bothered by anything beyond incest between direct family members. Marriage within royal houses was a common tactic to consolidate feudal land.
            • The Zoroastrian rulers, enabled in "The Old Gods", are allowed to marry sisters, daughters, mothers and such, and in fact get a relation bonus to all their Zoroastrian vassals and 100 piety if they do so. Thankfully, they are allowed to keep concubines, to produce non-inbred inheritors.
            • Outright encouraged by the "Family First" achievement, which is earned by, as any religion with the Divine Marriage mechanic (Zoroastrianism, Messalianism, or any reformed Pagan faith with the Divine Blood or Dawnbreakers doctrine), having your sibling, parent, and child all as spouses or consorts.
            • An entire event chain is added with Seducer focuses, both for targeting and being the target of a close relative's seduction. You can be disgusted by it, unimpressed but not repulsed, or weirdly into it because it's taboo.
            • If one of your idle courtiers has better stats than one of your councilors expect him/her to come forth and demand to be given the position in question. This will happen on a regular basis as young courtiers tend to have all-around better stats than characters of the previous generation.
            • Also a good way (arguably the only one) to keep landed vassals in check. Players have tried various ways of facilitating dealing with disloyal vassals including, but not limited to not having any vassals and holding all counties themselves (despite the penalties this gives), keeping all vassals imprisoned at all time, or ensuring that all vassals are minors. The best way is arguably still giving out holdings cleverly in a way that they will desire each others' titles and not cooperate with each other while keeping Crown authority high enough that they can't wage war to acquire them.
            • Individual cities and domains can also be renamed by the player who owns them, who can then invoke this trope, as well as Egopolis.
            • There's also an achievement called "Nobody's Business But the Turks" where you take over Constantinople as the Turks, meaning you can indeed rename it to Istanbul around 500 years earlier than it happened in real life.
            • Jeanne d'Archétype: An event chain in Sons of Abraham can put one in your court, provided that you're a Christian of any denomination except Cathar or Messalian and don't have Full Status of Women (as these allow women to be commanders anyway, and thus make a martially-inclined woman like Jeanne d'Archétype rather less noteworthy). They even get a special exemption to the prohibition of women being marshals and leading troops.
            • Just Friends: Crusader Kings II replaces friends and the loyalty meter with an unilateral (you can like someone who hates the very soil on which you stand) relationship meter. Romantic love remains as a separate modifier applied to the relationship.
            • Karma Houdini:
              • A successful (villainous) player character will often be this, especially from a modern perspective. You can smother infants in their cribs to steal their titles, force female prisoners to be your concubines (if you are a pagan, tribal chief or Hindu ruler), murder trusting friends for power and land, have children with a wife who hates you to the corebecause you killed her father for the throne and still die peacefully in your bed, wealthy, powerful and esteemed by your peers.
              • In particular, the second game has a short eulogy dialogue displayed at succession. It's based on traits and stats, especially the Seven Deadly Sins/Seven Heavenly Virtues traits, rather than the actions you took as ruler, so you can be a total bastard and still be made out to be a saint. Or, you could have been the nicest guy imaginable but be derided as a wicked monster who will pay for his sins in the afterlife because you were Lustful.
              • Prior to version 2.5 of Crusader Kings II, the Depressed trait allowed any character to easily become a Karma Houdini - simply engage in a massive spree of tyranny, then kill yourself, and your heir inherits all the benefits of your tyranny without any of the blame.
              • After version 2.5 of Crusader Kings II, there is now an "opinion of predecessor" modifier that makes suicide after engaging in tyranny less trivial, as your vassals will still be mad at you, with careful manipulation of Elective succession can still avoid the penalty, as the "opinion of predecessor" modifier is not inherited under Elective succession. If you're the only valid elector or one of two, then there's no risk of losing your titles.
              • For many patches, any given Crusade acted as one of these. Many Catholic realms band together to capture the Holy Land or drive the pagans out of Hungary or whatever, but technically, all of those realms are in the war as allies of the Pope, who actually declares the war. The Pope is politically very powerful, but he typically only controls one or two counties in his own right. As such, if the defenders could capture Rome, the Crusade would fall apart immediately. However, it was eventually required that to reach 100% warscore, one side had to fully siege down all enemies, win a major battle in the field in addition to siege warscore, or the war had to have gone on for at least five years.
              • While killing a warleader won't win any wars, capturing them generates 100% warscore in nearly all cases, making it pretty much a guaranteed victory.
              • This is the only possible way to get rid of an unwanted regent. Since only courtiers or direct vessels can be regents, you can give your current unwanted regent a small land title and transfer his vassalage to someone else.
              • A genetic system still exists but there's a greater element of randomisation with regards to congenital/inheritable traits. Still, a eugenics-minded player can implement large-scale extensive breeding projects to produce the perfect heir.
              • Until the 2.5.2 patch, educating children in the Conclave DLC could lead to them developing positive traits like 'strong' or 'genius', or negative ones like 'slow' or 'imbecile', which are inheritable. The patch added a set of non-inheritable equivalent traits to stand in for the congenital ones.
              • Still possible. The new traits are just different levels on the Stupid to Intelligent scale. The event can, based on the intelligence of the educator, potentially raise or lower the ward's innate intelligence, developing Quick or even Genius if they've already got some int boosting traits (like Shrewd or Erudite), though typically only by 1 step. So nothing to Quick, or Quick to Genius. Or getting rid of negative intelligence traits like dull. Of course if the educator has a low intelligence is also possible to downgrade the ward's intelligence.
              • There are many, many ways your characters can die. One of the more recent patches introduced a "cause of death" mechanic, and these tend to be strangely generic. Suicide is "Death by Depression", heart attacks are "Death by Stress", Death by Sex is "Died in an Accident", and so on. Deaths caused by plotting can be anything from simple poisoning to driving carriages over cliffs to vorpal pillows to something that can only be described as "death by exploding manure pile."
              • The Reaper's Due adds a little bit of flavor to executions, with the method varying according to culture and circumstances for instance, Indian rulers can sentence their victims to be crushed to death by elephants and Norse rulers can have their victims made into a blood eagle. The public patch that was released alongside it also overhauls the succession screen to include a small epitaph for your late ruler based on their traits and achievements.
              • A later patch for the second game added new "death screams" and other sound effects that play when a character dies, tailored to fit their specific end.
              • Incredibly common. Most of the time, it's a ruler in his forties or so deciding he could use some more heirs (or hoping that he could get a son finally) and marries that sixteen-year-old daughter of his neighbor.
              • In the sequel, "May" Muslim rulers (always male) can reap considerable benefits by having such relationships. By having 1 or 2 wives (out of 4) in the "December" age group, young Muslim rulers can reduce the number of sons they have, which help with issues of succession and rivalries come the next generation.
              • Also in the sequel, characters with the Seduction focus can attempt to seduce other characters who are significantly older or younger than themselves. Getting caught in the act gives a slightly greater general opinion hit than other forms of adultery, as the age gap makes the relationship extra-scandalous (though not quite as much as that from seducing a close family member).
              • Merchant republics. Unlike the feudal states that (at game start) make up the majority of the game's playable options, they rely mainly on coastal trade posts rather than landed holdings as a source for their wealth and power. They also have a special form of elective inheritance, with control of the republic itself passing to one of five heads of patrician families based on seniority, prestige, and the amount of money they're willing to spend on bribing voters. It's also possible to create a vassal republic under a feudal king by granting a duchy to the mayor of a town within it, a move that will typically provide a nice boost in your tax income.
              • Tribal rulers count as well. Personal valor counts for a lot more than it does in feudal or republican realms, to the point that tribal holdings are typically upgraded with Prestige points rather than gold as is the standard elsewhere. Tribal vassals also don't contribute levies directly to their liege but rather must be called into war as allies. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that tribal powers typically have more options on hand for fighting and raiding than their feudal counterparts, including the fact that all tribals have access to raiding mechanics (whereas normally these are restricted to non-Abrahamic religions).
              • Nomads, introduced in the Horse Lords DLC. They are unusual in the sense that games without House Lords will depict all nomadic rulers as tribal rulers instead. Previous government/religion types locked by DLC will allow the AI to use said government/religion types.
              • Muslims' Iqta government is designed to encourage a far more aggressive playstyle than Christianity, between its increased conquest focus, polygamy ensuring large numbers of children, a "to-the-strongest" succession system, and the Decadence mechanic that's supposed to put a Muslim realm on a constant treadmill to expand or die. It also allows secular temples.
              • Prestige is a borderline useless currency for feudal rulers, unlike in Europa Universalis. It provides a small opinion bonus with other rulers and unlocks certain nicknames, but that's it. The unreleased 2.8 DLC has been announced to include additional casus belli that are paid for with Prestige. It's much more important for tribal rulers, who pay for most improvements to their holdings with Prestige.
              • Piety as well, except for Muslims: you use it to pay for several religious casus belli (with the "Invasion" CB costing a whopping 1000 piety) and will need it to order dynasty members to "straighten up" if they become decadent.
              • Alternately, they could serve in your court as one of your advisors, and you can marry them to your sons or daughters (matrilineally) have have their children in your dynasty inherit their claims.
              • In the sequel, you can have female heirs as a non-Muslim dynasty (the current head is not-Muslim) - if no males are eligible as heirs. You can, if you wish, choose to exclude females from being heirs, which may or may not be handy. But you can also give females equal rights to being heirs (only for Basques or Cathars by default, though the Conclave DLC allows you to grant inheritance rights to women). With this option, as long as any one in your dynasty is alive, you can continue. though on the flip side, due to this being an era of Arranged Marriages, keeping females in the family without losing prestige can be. challenging.
              • It's also a fairly good place for those learning to play as Tribal in the earlier start dates, since they're Catholic, and don't border any non-Tribals, so they don't have to worry about groups of angry, well-armed Franks, Germans, Russians, Muslims, or Steppe nomads deciding they want their land, unlike the pagan and Miaphysite tribals. It also helps that the nearest feudal states, England and Wales, are divided into several bickering duchies and counties in the Charlemagne start, or divided into several duchies getting invaded by a horde of Vikings in the Viking Age start, so you don't have to worry all that much about them. It's especially better than the Baltic pagan tribals in the later start dates, since they don't have to deal with a Catholic holy order formed for the specific purpose of invading them.
              • In the Charlemagne start, Karl of West Francia gets a number of scripted events to allow a player to play as him and follow more or less what historically happened. However, if Karl dies unexpectedly, the Carolingian Empire invariably blows apart in spectacular fashion and the French will spend the next few centuries fighting over the pieces. There's also an achievement for creating the Holy Roman Empire as his younger brother Carloman (who is strongly implied to be assassinated by their mother when playing from Karl's perspective).
              • You can play as King Harold and defeat William The Conqueror's invasion (that it happens is scripted, whether it succeeds is up to the player), or play as either of the two other historical claimants (Harald Hardrade of Norway, who is allied to William, and the little-known Svend II of Denmark), and there are achievements for ruling England as any of the three potential invaders.
              • Also, publishing your heliocentric research (Way of Life scholarship focus) invokes a permanent -10 penalty to relations with clergy. The church never forgets.
              • Played straight with nicknames though. While a character can lose bad traits or replace them with good traits, nicknames can almost never be lost (founding a bloodline, restoring the Roman or Persian Empire, and winning a war you started with the 'Invasion' casus belli are some of the very few actions that can change a nickname). This means that a character who becomes known as "the Cruel" will be known by that name forever, even after pulling a Heel–Face Turn.
              • Panthera Awesome: Indian rulers can organize tiger hunts. Killing one yourself gives your ruler a nice amount of prestige (and an achievement in Ironman), but beware its claws.
              • Parental Favoritism: Practically a necessity for anyone other than merchant republics, up to and including murdering The Unfavorite.
              • Passed-Over Inheritance: The second and third in line for a title get strong claims on that title when the heir inherits. Even if they aren't particularly ambitious themselves, other nobles may start factions on their behalf to put them on the throne, even without their express consent. They can even end up backing a different claimant, meaning these factions are occasionaly in spite of their express wishes.
              • The Patriarch: Kings of large realms who have ruled their kingdom for a long time usually become this eventually. They usually have so much prestige, money in their pockets and loyal vassals that they can claim entire kingdom titles and decide wars simply by virtue of siding with one or another faction.
              • Pay Evil unto Evil: When you only execute prisoners with the "cruel" and "impaler" traits.
              • Permanent Elected Official: Doges under the new mechanics for Republics are elected for life, not any set term like in modern representative republics. Ditto elective monarchies.
              • Perpetual Beta: The patches accompanying the various expansions often change the game at a fundamental level. In addition, Paradox opens up more areas of the code for modding with each major patch, allowing mods to change the game in greater ways.
              • Persecution Flip:
                • It's possible for a heresy to gain enough moral authority to supplant the religion it spun off from, at which point adherents to the original religion are considered heretics and subject to persecution.
                • Sunset Invasion has Native Americans (more specifically, the Aztec Empire) invade the Old World with intent to conquer it.
                • This applies even more to feudal government (including Iqta). Originally desirable for everybody for its defensive advantages and offering the only chance of a self-sustaining economy, recent updates have buffed Tribalism and Nomadic Government (in terms of military might in particular) to the point that they're actually arguably stronger than plain old feudalism.
                • The "Pregnant" trait surprisingly has no effect on Mook Commander's abilities, so assuming you have access to female commanders (or are female yourself), you can certainly have one of these.
                • Downplayed after the dueling overhaul in 3.0, wherein being pregnant carries significant penalties to personal combat skill and prevents engaging in duels, though the penalty is small enough that a badass woman can still kick most people's asses, even while pregnant. Difficult and troubled pregnancies, however, can be downright debilititating and carry large enough penalties that it's very unlikely that anyone would be capable of badassery during them, and unless pregnancy events are completely off, they're not likely to be in any condition to be leading armies.
                • Like other Paradox games you're not allowed to just invade for no clear reason if you're Christian, but fortunately finding or creating casus belli isn't hard: Either via fabricated documents or actual de jure territorial disputes. Succession disputes can also occur. Muslims and pagans aren't restricted in this manner, though Muslims lose piety if fighting someone of the same denomination. However, with the exception of the Invasion casus belli, unlike other Paradox games, wars are actually fought exclusively over the wargoal, and the aggressor is at no direct territorial risk (though they bare the indirect risk of becoming more vulnerable to retaliatory or third-party wars).
                • Averted by Pagans and Muslims, who may wage wars for single bordering counties (and any coastal county in diplomatic range for Germanic Pagans once the Viking Age has begun) without any sort of formal casus belli and with only minimal restrictions (Muslims must pay a small amount of piety to use their county conquest, while Pagans cannot use county conquest against co-religionists).
                • With Jade Dragon, rulers who cannot wage a county conquest war against a target can also avert this with the 'Border Dispute' "casus belli", which is an unjust conquest of a single county, which costs prestige for Pagans and money and piety for everyone else.
                • There's also the Seal of Solomon, which does work, preventing the owner from being possessed.
                • Unreformed Norse and Tengri pagan rulers are required to fight wars regularly in order to maintain their stability. The latter group includes the much-feared Mongol hordes (as if they needed incentive enough).
                • Members of the Altaic culture group (including the infamous Mongols) have access to a Tribal Invasion casus belli which allows them to essentially launch wars for entire kingdoms whenever they want to, though they lose access to it if they become Christians.
                • Muslims also fit. They have an Invasion casus belli of their own, and one of the best ways to reduce decadence is to fight and conquer. The original idea for the religion was that it'd be immensely powerful when expanding but quickly weaken and fragment in times of peace this isn't quite how it worked out.
                • Very strong element. The player is able to create vassals by giving the aristocrats in his court titles. Assuming relations are good enough he can force these vassals to raise troops for him and even force to them to surrender their title and land (though this is very likely to result in rebellion instead).
                • It's also possible to press the claim of a dynasty member on a neighbouring country, since it takes several years to pacify the conquered regions the family member will then be almost completely dependent on you for support and the +100 relationship bonus means that the ruler will usually be an ally for life.
                • It is also possible to establish more conventional, if less formal puppet states as tributaries, which are not bound by their overlord's laws like vassals and are not called to arms or inherited upon the death of either ruler, but have to pay high tax rates and receive protection.
                • Defeat a peasant revolt, release the Rebel Leader from prison, marry him to your daughter, and die. Someone who has a trait describing him as "a jumped up peasant who revolted against his betters" is now royal consort to an Empress and father to her heir.
                • Conversely, if a peasant revolt is sucessful and captures enough land, the leader can potentially declare himself a King.
                • In a new update, there will be a chance for the peasant's crusade to break out. If this happens, there is a slim chance it will succeed and the peasant leader of it will become King of Jerusalem.
                • As of The Old Gods, random peasant uprisings are now led by named characters (typically Lowborn) with whom you can interact. If said rebel is a co-religionist in a province led by a heathen, he can become your best friend. He even comes with a trait called "Peasant Leader", which literally reads: "This man is a jumped up peasant who revolted against his betters".
                • Also in The Old Gods, random heretic uprisings are led by named characters, also Lowborn, who can be interacted with. Unlike their peasant counterparts, they get the "Heresiarch" trait.
                • Legacy of Rome introduced a Factions mechanic, allowing vassals to unite against their liege over some common grievance. When the faction finally makes its bid for power, the leader of the faction also leads the rebellion. Rajas of India further refines the Faction system by granting the Rebel Leader a temporary title of equal rank to his liege's, with the other faction members serving as his vassals for the duration of the conflict.
                • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: If your vassals like you a lot, they'll provide you with far more troops and pay you far more in taxes than they're legally required to, be more likely to approve any legal reforms you want to push, and can even occasionally be persuaded to give up some of their lands to the crown, or even convert to your religion.
                • You Lose at Zero Trust: If your vassals hate you, on the other hand, you're one conspiracy away from the collapse of everything you've worked for. Especially bad if it's a family member or your spy master.
                • Aztec Paganism and Germanic Paganism allow such things as human sacrifice and murder.
                • Likewise Satan Worshippers can perform human sacrifice, use black magic, and torture people to death for fun.
                • With Holy Fury, any Pagan faith, even the normally relatively peaceful Bön faith, can be turned into a violent faith with human sacrifice (eg. Bloodthirsty Gods and to a lesser extent, Haruspicy doctrines), a culture of glorified raiding and foreign conquest (Germanic or any other Pagan faith with both Sea-Bound and Daring), and/or glorified incest (Divine Marriage and Dawnbreakers doctrines).
                • Bastards tend to end up like this if not legitimized, though your legitimate offspring may become this if you legitimize a lot of bastards.
                • Anyone who loses their place in the line of succession is likely to become a resenter when you change your succession law.
                • Firstborn children tend to be resentful of succession laws that don't give them the highest priority in succession and all of your children will dislike you for instituting seniority or tanistry.
                • Every male character who joins a Catholic Holy Order, whether by choice or by force, gains the celibate trait. In other words, no matter how cynical or lustful a character is he will still honor his Templar Vow of Chastity.
                • It's possible to get a "True Christian Knight" modifier, the text of which has the character proclaiming his embodiment of chivalry and declaring, "I am Galahad!" Only fairly strong Christian men with the Brave, Diligent, and Humble traits and no personality flaws can get it, though, which means they're basically just stating a fact.
                • In the second game, merchant republics are this to each other by default, their leaders having a hefty opinion penalty to each other.
                • Muslim rulers get multiple marriages, while Zoroastrians, Pagans (except Hellenics), tribal Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Taoists get concubines to go along with their one legal wife. All children from a Muslim father are considered legitimate, unlike those produced by mistresses in Christian nations. Children of concubines are equivalent to legitimized bastards, save for not incurring a relations penalty with legitimate children or costing prestige. With Holy Fury, Pagans can take the Polygamy doctrine and have multiple actual wives like Muslims can.
                • Gender-flipped by Bön and African Pagans, as well as any Pagans who take the Equality or Enatic Clans doctrines on reformation, which allows female rulers of the faith to take up to three men as "consorts" in addition to their one legal husband.
                • Any of the hardest starts in the game (Generally considered to be, in order: Satrap Vandad of the Karen Satrapy in the Old Gods start, Isaac, Duke of Khazars, a Jewish vassal to the Tengri Cumanians, and the Khan of Khazaria in the Old Gods start, who is also Jewish, but even harder to play as due to a lack of a liege to protect him).
                • Also playing as the Jewish Duke of Semien/Axum in Ethiopia and trying to reestablish the Kingdom of Israel, because you're surrounded by heavily armed Christians and have no ability to create marriage alliances with any realm (unless you manage to convert them to Judaism by proselytizing). If you survive long enough as a Jew to break out of Ethiopia, you then have to contend with the Muslims and Christians vying for control of the Holy Land.
                • Upon the release of the Charlemagne DLC, playing as the only Zunist character in the world became another self-imposed challenge for many.
                • Jade Dragon derived an achievement, "The Conqueror", from one player-imposed challenge, the establishment of English culture from a Norse ruler. This requires a Norse ruler to rule a French, Occitan, or Breton province to unlock Norman culture, then the conquest of an Anglo-Saxon province (most of England in Charlemagne and The Old Gods) to unlock English culture. Oh, and to get the achievement you have to also be Christian and hold the Kingdom of England. Oh, and those culture flip events don't happen until roughly the 900s and 1100s, respectively, so prepare for a long game.
                • With "Sons of Abraham" the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar will ask for permission to found a couple of Cult Colonies in the Levant, if the area is owned by a Catholic ruler. Do not discount them, they will be invaluable in defending the area from Muslim counterattacks. The Teutonic Knights will also do something similar in the Baltic.
                • Some of the earliest starts can allow you to conquer Iceland before it was technically inhabited. Though it's treated as inhabited due to the game mechanics.
                • Lust: Overall good. The trait "Lustful" gives +1 Intrigue and a 20% Fertility bonus, in exchange for minor penalties to piety per month and the opinion of Christian clergy.
                • Gluttony: Bad. "Gluttonous" gives -2 Stewardship, -10 clergy opinion.
                • Greed: Good. "Greedy" costs -1 Diplomacy, a minor penalty, in exchange for a 10% bonus to tax income across your realm (without the increase in revolt risk you'd think would result from this).
                • Sloth: Very bad. "Slothful" gives -1 to all stats, -5 to personal combat skill, and -10 vassal opinion, which is much more important than general church opinion. It does make a character less likely to become Stressed however.
                • Wroth: Decent. "Wroth" costs -1 to Diplomacy and Intrigue but grants +3 Martial, +3 to personal combat skill, and, if possessed by a Mook Commander, allows an all-or-nothing charge tactic in battle.
                • Envy: Situational. "Envious" gives -1 Diplomacy, +2 Intrigue, and +3 to personal combat skill, but if held by a vassal they have a -15 opinion of their liege.
                • Pride: Good. "Proud" gives half a point of free Prestige per month with no downsides. Players have also discovered that AI characters with the Proud trait tend to make excellent tutors for children, much better ones than humble characters (which makes sense, from a certain perspective).
                • Crusader Kings II explicitly flags the deadly sins and heavenly virtues with numbered icons in red and green respectively. With the reworking of the Decadence mechanic, Muslim males having any of the deadly sins has an increased chance of getting the Decadent trait.
                • Chastity: Situational. -15% fertility is a problem, +1 learning is meh, but bonus piety is very useful to Muslims (who have enough wives to make up the difference and need piety to expand and control their dynasty) and a chaste spouse gives you a Seduction-Proof Marriage.
                • Temperate: Good. +2 Stewardship and +5 religious vassal opinion. Its only downside is that it prevents you from splurging at feasts, which may make your guests complain about the food.
                • Charitable: Good. +3 Diplomacy and +5 religious vassal opinion is a solid bonus for the small downside of -3 personal combat skill, and it's almost as good as Content in a vassal.
                • Diligent: Very good. +1 to all stats and a +5 vassal opinion makes this hands-down one of the best traits in the game.
                • Patient: Very good. +1 to all stats except Martial, +20% defence bonus when leading troops, and +5 to personal combat skill. Ironically, much better trait for a general or duelist than its opposing sin.
                • Kind: Decent. +2 Diplomacy and +5 vassal opinion bonus in return for -2 intrigue and -5 personal combat skill. Also one of the easiest trait in the game to lose.
                • Humble: Good. Where "Proud" gives free Prestige, "Humble" gives free Piety. Again, very useful for Muslims who need every point they can get. Also useful in vassals, as long as you don't make them raise your children.
                • Pagan (except Hellenic), Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain rulers, as well as all nomadic and tribal rulers, can take captive women as concubines and breed heirs upon them.
                • Women of the Bön and African Pagan faiths, as well any form of Paganism that take the Equality or Enatic Clans doctrines on reformation, can do the same to men, taking up to three as consorts in addition to their lawfully-wedded husband, and much like taking women as concubines, prisoners can be forced to become consorts, and their opinion of the woman who forced them into consortage is not particularly relevant to their ability to (be made to) father children with them.
                • While a secular female noble will have normal feminine titles, a female who holds a county or duchy while having the theocratic government (must receive the religious title first and requires Absolute Cognatic succession) will have the title of Prince-Bishop/Prince-Archbishop. If you then make her an Antipope or she otherwise gains a kingdom or even somehow becomes the Pope for real, she'll become King-Bishop. If she makes it all the way to the empire tier, she'll hold the title Emperor-Bishop.
                • If a female Pagan with a theocratic government ever holds an empire-tier title, she will use the title of Emperor.
                • The amount of research put into history and genealogy is incredible. One can find lists of Byzantine/Roman, Russian or German rulers dating back centuries to Augustus, Rurik and Charlemagne, including character traits and family relations. Even minor Irish counts can trace their family line all the way back to the fourth century, and the Papacy goes back to St. Peter the Apostle.
                • Sword of Islam expands on this, giving Muslim characters the ability to observe Ramadan and go on pilgrimages to Mecca. Its main feature, the dynastic decadence system, is based on medieval Muslim historiography, especially as described in the Muqaddimah.
                • The Umayyad rulers always have Bedouin culture to begin with, which makes them somewhat unpopular with their vassals in Iberia. Why? Historically, they were always known for strictly observing the etiquette they had in Mecca rather than the local customs, which did indeed make them unpopular.
                • Sunset Invasion, where Aztecs invade Europe.
                • To a lesser extent, playing as a Lunatic unlocks unique events to reflect the way the world looks from their quite off-kilter perspective.
                • As of the Holy Fury patch, a rule has been added to allow for absurd events to be turned on or off before starting a new game.
                • Holy Fury also allows for silly results in random world generation, such as realms ruled by sapient animals.
                • Most realms rely on levies of warriors for their armies, which are typically dismissed once no longer needed. Tribal governments can also call up large numbers of warriors or raiders with councilor missions or by decision. With the Legacy of Rome DLC, richer, typically kingdom- or empire-tier, realms can afford to create retinues, professional standing army units which are more expensive to create and maintain than levies, but also have higher stats.
                • Also seen in the distinction between "offensive" pagan realms (Germanic, Tengri, and Aztec) and "defensive" pagans (Slavic, Suomenusko, Romuva, and African). Offensive pagans get bonuses to levy size and pay no opinion penalty for raising vassals' levies, but if you're not at war, raiding, or bound by a truce, you lose a considerable amount of prestige each month. Defensive pagans get larger garrisons and a large buff to attrition losses suffered by (non-unreformed pagan) invaders.
                • Upon reforming the Bön or Hellenic faiths with temporal authority, the reformer receives a special scepter as a badge of their office.
                • Characters who follow an Abrahamic faith (any denomination of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam) can find the Staff of Moses. Unlike most other staves and scepters, it can be used as a highly effective weapon as well.
                • Christian and Jewish characters who have crown jewels smithed receive a scepter as part of the set, and Zoroastrians and Zunists receive a staff. Characters of other faiths can use them, but they'll have to either steal them or receive them as a gift.
                • Characters who follow Dharmic faiths may find and use a scepter called the Jeweled Danda.
                • Disloyal vassals (particularly those with the Ambitious trait) are a bigger threat than almost anything outside your kingdom. Also, if the player character is anything less than a king, chances are the player themselves will be this. Characters with the "Realm Duress" trait will have all their vassals turn into The Starscream. Hilarity inevitably ensues.
                • Legacy Of Rome makes it more severe: disloyal vassals will now form massive alliance chains with the sole objective of deposing you.
                • The Way of Life DLC permits rulers using the Business focus to lead a state visit to another capital to set up a trade relationship.
                • The Jade Dragon expansion allows rulers within diplomacy range of China to make a state visit to kowtow to the Emperor.
                • The Holy Fury expansion has an event where a pagan ruler neighboring one with an organized religion asks for their neighbor's help converting to their religion. You can later make a state visit to their capital to see how things are going.
                • Speaking of the Mongols, this is how they're kept in check. Mongols have all sorts of bonuses such as no demesne limit, no attrition, and the incredibly powerful horse archer unit, which allow them to rampage through Europe with impunity. The only thing stopping them is that when the Khan kicks the bucket, his enormous realm is divided among his male children (which tend to be a lot), who promptly start fighting amongst themselves, making them much more manageable. There's a much-hated random event that forces the player to institute a similar system of succession or take severe penalties. (And don't think you can cheat and immediately change it back you can only change your succession laws every 25 years. )
                • The Imperial and Succession Laws of each Kingdom you rule in the sequel are tracked separately, leading to much potential succession trouble if you don't make their laws similar. There's also the Elective, Gavelkind, and Open succession laws, which are just asking for future wars.
                • Played straight in the sequel, where heirs that are second and third in line gain claims on the throne and become pretenders. If these pretenders are powerful and well-connected landholders, the realm can quickly dissolve into civil war. The myriad of alliances created through marriages can even drag powerful foreign realms into the crisis, creating a full-scale succession war, the likes of which become the stuff of history textbooks.
                • If nothing else, your vassals will often decide to revolt as soon as the new king is crowned, mostly because of the "short reign" relationship penalty, particularly if said ruler is a child/woman/both.
                • Take a Third Option: A character with sufficiently high stats or the right traits may have a choice during a random event that wouldn't be available otherwise. Usually these are ways out of events that would otherwise hit you with a penalty no matter what you choose.
                • Talking Down the Suicidal: There is an event chain which can improve your diplomacy. A suicidal man is about to jump off a building, and you can either try to talk him down or just pull him back from the edge by force. Talking him down will result in the man jumping off to his death. You still get more diplomacy for it.
                • Tangled Family Tree: Any dynasty that doesn't ruthlessly purge its heirs can start looking like this, as the sons and daughters start their own families that link with other families, creating webs of family connections. And that's just for Christians Muslims add polygamy into the mix, pagans can take concubines whose children may be heirs to titles from anywhere at all, and Zoroastrians can not only take concubines, but there's that whole incest thing to mix everything up.
                • Testosterone Poisoning: The EXTREME release trailer for The Old Gods practically runs on this. Witness it yourself here.
                • The Theocracy:
                  • Any holding administrated by a bishop or other religious figure counts on the small scale, though they're often vassals to another, higher-ranked secular ruler. Popes, caliphs, ecumenical patriarchs, and religious leaders of the reformed pagan faiths are the more obvious high-ranking ones, and are often (but not always) independent. The Norse Fylkir is notable for also being the head of state of the founding nation as well as the head of religion, making that state a good example of this trope and closer to the Islamic caliph than the Catholic pope (unless he decides that he wants more than Rome), whereas the high priests of other reformed pagan faiths are distinct from the state.
                  • Averted by Muslims with the Iqta government (all non-republic, non-tribal, non-nomadic Muslims) and Tibetan Buddhists and Bön Pagans who adopt the Monastic Feudal form of government, which blends secular and spiritual power such that there is no distinct theocratic rule and allows holding both castle and temple holdings without penalty and is playable even if the character only holds temples.
                  • If you can't afford to pay a mercenary company then it might defect to the enemy's side . even if it is in the midst of your much larger and better equipped army of demesne and vassal soldiers.
                  • Faction Power is based on the amount and type of soldiers present, with money being unaccounted for. This means a vassal with 1000 soldiers might press a faction demand against you when you can only raise 500 soldiers . even if you have 8000 gold and can hire enough mercenaries to wipe him out several times over.
                  • When your kingdom is fighting for its very survival against a rampaging mongol horde, your vassals should put their differences aside and band behind you if for no other reason than that a defeat will mean their heads too. Yet instead Vassals use this distraction to make unreasonable faction demands.
                  • There's a possible random event during the summer fair intrigue event where a wandering band of minstrels are playing in your fair. Your options to respond include requesting that they perform the play "The Crusader Kings".
                  • There is also a pop-up that shown before the standard crusade pop-up if no earlier crusades have been triggered titled "Crusader Kings"
                  • See The Missionary this is what those characters become if you're one of the pagan rulers in question and you decide you're not going to tolerate them spreading their venomous lies.
                  • Catholic bishops are Turbulent as long as they like the Pope more than their secular liege. This, by paying taxes to the Pope and withholding levies from their liege.
                  • Religious Moral Authority tends to work like this. If Moral Authority is high, there will be few heretic revolts and generally greater internal realm peace and higher conversion power, allowing the faith to spread. Meanwhile, if Moral Authority is low, heretic revolts start happening, and if they win, they further lower Moral Authority, prompting even more heretic revolts. Furthermore, the internal chaos makes realms following religions with low Moral Authority easier targets and even if the realm can hold together, it will have a hard time consolidating its gains due to low moral authority.
                  • The big reason why Ending Fatigue happens is how once the ball starts rolling for your holdings, there is very little that can stop it, eventually making things trivial and simply boring. Becoming an "unified" kingdom or setting up even a minor empire means the player has nothing to fear and nobody to really stop or oppose him in any goals, removing any sort of challenge from the game.
                  • If you land your children or others in your court, they can marry people on their own initiative. These do not come with alliances, and the woman in question may be a dribbling idiot or a raving lunatic with many undesirable traits.
                  • Tends to be averted (for both Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire) in the sequel. A large part of this in the case of the HRE is the abolition of the Realm Duress mechanic (which used to result in the Kingdom of Germany routinely suffering complete implosion in the 1080s).
                  • More generally, you don't lose a title until it's taken by a rival claimant, usurped by whoever already holds most of its de jure lands, or you lose all of your lands. Even if the Byzantine Empire is reduced to Constantinople and surrounded by hostile Turks, so long as no one else has enough Byzantine land to declare itself Basileus, then Byzantium will remain an empire.
                  • Rebellious vassals mean that you are forced either to tyrannically crush dissidents or face part of your realm breaking away, and opportunistic states are a constant danger, meaning keeping the peace while maintaining order is on its own difficult. However, it is there.
                  • Keeping low taxes on your peasants and burghers, stubbornly sticking through thick and thin to popular law, gifting your vassals the money they need to develop their lands, establish high-level hospitals, even at great personal expense, (and even giving money to nobles outside your kingdom if you have provided all that your developing kingdom needs) caring and nurturing your offspring and ensuring they are provided for, and even vassalising a state which has been attacked by a larger one and paying for its preservation via tribute to the attacker, it's possible to be nice. It's just not easy.
                  • Entirely possible. Marry your daughter to the poor courtier whom she fell in love with instead of the sixty-year old duke who has been widowed twice, show compassion to your underlings, etc. You will usually see whether you wound up living up to your environment's expectations if you gain the Canonized trait upon passing on.
                  • It is absolutely amazing how much murder, imprisonment, and disinheriting one can find themselves doing in the sequel when trying to get a female successor.
                  • The Legacy Of Rome expansion allows Byzantine nobles to have their opponents blinded and castrated in order to remove them from the succession.
                    • In the case of castration, there is even a separate message,if the player's victim is a child:

                    Watch the video: Ready, Fight! - Clip from Caligula and Messalina English with Japanese Subtitles by Filmu0026Clips