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Thread: Crusader Kings and Birthright
02-21-2009, 03:57 AM #1
Crusader Kings and Birthright
medieval problems. Mostly because only loyalty is considered for relations with your vassals, instead of a combination of loyalty, friendship, and events. So you do get the sense that big realms are hard to manage because of all the diverse people who need to be kept happy. But why would people with a friendship score of +200 (the maximum) break their vassalage and turn against you just because their loyalty slipped very low, because you are modest and they are proud, and you both are cowards?
Instead there should be two axises, for loyalty and friendship. Rebellion should require both are in the toilet.
Loyal vassals who don't necessarily like you should do what is required and nothing more (unless you are currently winning in a war, everyone likes a winner). When you muster them, you get the required minimum, not as much as they can recruit. They also cost more in coin.
Friendly but disloyal are similar, in that they want more coin for everything, but they are also going to raise more of their effective maximum of troops. But they are liable to become involved in schemes and are a real vulnerability in terms of enemy spymasters. They may not talk to your enemies (disloyal is not stupid or hateful) but they will tell things to neutrals that you wish they hadn't. If you enemy can get a third party who is neutral to you both to go to friendly and disloyal and pay him for information, he is too happy to spill the beans. And when things go south, they hate to leave you, but they do, whether its demobilizing their men, or swearing fealty to a neutral third party rather than get embroiled in your failed wars, they are out of there. But with a smile and an apology.
Best of all is loyal and friendly. Lots of troops, cheap, and they stick around when things get sticky.
But the game mostly ignores the friendship/relationship side of things, unless you want to contract a marriage or attract away a noble who is disloyal to someone else.
This brings me to a second criticism, the court. Its quite odd to see a royal court empty, offices vacant or staffed with poor officials, when your vassals have full courts and excellent officials. You should be able to recruit out of your vassal's court, for some coin. Offices are lucrative. Everybody wants them. Second, your vassals should not be content to see you staff your offices from your court. Senior ranking vassals regarded it as their right to occupy the best offices. Who ever controls the official should be making money as well.
Let's consider four situations, an official is my family member, an official is from my own court, an official is a vassal, and an official is from a vassal's court.
1) The lucrative income mostly goes to the crown, and the family member also gets some nice coin, especially for a non landed character. Nobles might not be thrilled that the office is not available to them, but its hard to argue with. For the vassals, the question is simply one of quality. Vassals with a character with better stats for the office want their guy in instead. How unhappy they are is measured by the distance between your NPC and their character. If your brother has a 13 Intrigue and their guy has a 14, when you refuse them, they take a very small hit in friendship and loyalty. If your brother has an 8 and their guy has a 12, they are mighty unhappy.
2) an official is from my court, but isn't part of my family. Nor is he part of another landed family (see case #3). Landed nobles inflate their own sense of themselves in comparison to minor NPC's without family. Counts might add 3, while dukes add 6. So if the Duke of Northumberland has a 6 Diplomacy and your guy has a 12, its even, and when you say no to the duke, his friendship and loyalty don't fall. But he'll ask every so often anyway. If your guy's stats are lower, the Duke gets more and more upset, again by the difference between the Duke's adjusted score and your guy's.
3) an official in my court is either a vassal or a duke, or one of their family member's. They are respected by other nobles, and get the bonus of rank (or perhaps half). The family who's character is a royal official is very happy, and making more money than any other character as an official. That family's friends and allies are also happy (perhaps half as happy) and their loyalty and friendship are boosted. They are also boosted when the king prefers their character to someone else's character.
4) Characters chosen from the court of a vassal, not named or married to a landed family, is just like having such a character from your own court, except, at least the vassal whose court he came from is happy (say half as happy as if it were kin, and no penalty for rank) and perhaps even their friends and allies are one quarter happy.
However, the game does a nice job with friends and rivals. So those could be used to reflect how officials mostly accumulate rivals until the king tosses them overboard. Characters with high diplomacy or high intrigue might tend to get more events which neutralize or remove rivalries, and characters with both a high diplomacy and a high intrigue might get enough that they can last their whole lives. Because a rival will estimate your skill at -3 (or his own at +3) so that even if the official has a 12 and the rival has a 10, the rival still sees things +1 in his favor. Obviously characters without land are going to
have opponents everywhere and no friend but the king. Kings like this, because it tends to make their officials both cheap and loyal. But eventually kings often decide to throw you overboard to make nobles happy.
Obviously the safest officials are dukes with high scores. They will also siphon off a nice chunk of the income in their department.
You can give land to officials, but both the act of giving someone land and giving them an office should independently create rivals.
Third their should be more events that force the king to make some people happy and other people unhappy. Presently the game works mostly on loyalty, as I mentioned, with bonuses for two characters having similar skills and friendships, and penalties for opposing skills (modest and proud) and rivalries. I would keep that, but make it only about a third of the impact in the game. The rest should come from events.
The first game Paradox put out using the proto-engine of the EU series and Crusader Kings was Two Thrones, about the Hundred Years War. It had all kinds of events that forced you to choose between nobles, clergy, towns, and peasants. Events might pit nobles against clergy, or nobles against serfs, or nobles against towns, or nobles and clergy against towns and serfs. And so on. CK has some of that, but its pretty minor, and mostly just operates on two rival centers: noble-peasant, and clergy-town.
Events should force kings to break a few eggs. One contrast that is missing here is royal-noble and royal-clergy. Instead of a zero sum arrangement (I made the nobles happy by 20% and the clergy unhappy by 20%) you can have trade offs between a king and his money on the one hand, and the happiness of his nobles and/or clergy on the other.
Keeping the clergy happy should produce extra money during crusades, extra money during other wars, and protection from ecclesiastical trouble. For instance you might get bad events between King and Pope, but if your local church loves you, the Pope won't be very dangerous. If your own Church is unhappy, you have to play nice with the Pope because you have no friends at home.
Happy towns and peasants means money, and the composition of your armies.
Number four, war. The game seems to prefer a kingdom at peace no matter what. Medieval conditions didn't work that way. Nobles wanted to be at war. It made them rich. If I were to rank how war effected noble satisfaction with the king in terms of both loyalty and friendship it would go, winning wars, they love you. Stalemate wars, they like you. Peace, they are mildly unhappy with you. And losing wars, they are very unhappy with you. The nobles in the game accumulate claims on other territory. They should be clamoring for war in which they can satisfy their claims. Being friends with everyone and being perpetually at peace denies nobles a source of their income (royal payments for their armies, sacking and pillaging the enemy) and denies them the chance to advance their claims.
War should make your country poor, it is generally expensive. So you want to find quick wars to keep your nobles happy and your coffers full, and find a balance between war and peace that keeps nobles happy without too much expense, because not every war is a quick one.
Finally, my fifth point, internal conflicts. Vassals only ever fight the king. That's generally suicide, unless the king is in really bad shape. Vassals should mostly fight one another, unless the king is in really bad shape. The king should be forced to try and mediate, resolve, or otherwise end these issues. These are great opportunities to satisfy nobody. The king has the opportunity of boldly taking sides. This is bad for reputation and prestige, but might settle the matter quickly and remove a troublesome vassal. The noble can favor the position of one noble over other without getting involved militarily. This will irritate the unfavored side, his allies, and friends, and more than it will win favor among the side you favor (ingratitude!) and their allies and friends. But sometimes you feel your brother the Duke is someone you want happy, when a poor minor count seems like someone you can make unhappy. You can mediate. This will tend to leave both sides unsatisfied, but it might end the fighting. You can ignore it. Less satisfying than mediation, but sometimes the stakes are low. You can throw money at the problem, basically satisfying the two families grievances out of your own pocket. It ends the dispute, but costs a lot. It would be cheaper to ignore them and then give them gifts afterward, but sometimes time is a factor.
The middle ages were a period of disorder. Wars should be endemic. The game is too tidy. counts and dukes with claims should fight, rivals should fight, random events might start a fight. What should not happen is that for no good reason, otherwise happy (+200 friendship) vassals declare war on you because of you are modest, cruel, and generous and this drove their loyalty down, the rebel, and you crush them without a second thought because they declared rebellion when you were not otherwise distracted.
So just simulating feudalism, Crusader Kings has a long way to go. Mostly you just play wack a mole for the sake of playing wack a mole. Not because you are responding to choices inherent in feudalism that pit rivals against one another.
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