Essential Crusader Kings 2 Mods

By Edward Mass 19 Mar 2019 0

With over two thousand mods on Steam Workshop alone, the Crusader Kings II modding community have recently passed a milestone in user-generated content. This impressive feat is a blessing for players but also a cause for paralysis: Which of these mods should one choose?

After all, even if one focuses on just the popular choices, so many other excellent mods might be overlooked.

Similar to our approach with EU4's & Stellaris' mod libraries, let's break down the available add-ons into key categories to find some amazing mods to customize your CKII campaign!

HOW TO MOD

For first timers wanting to modify their game, Steam Workshop has thankfully made the whole process as easy as clicking the subscribe button on the mod you want and Crusader Kings II will automatically download it and add it to its launcher. From there, the player can choose to enable or disable any mod of their choice.

As outlined in our EUIV Modding Guide, here are some essential tips for modding a Paradox title via Steam for the first time:

  • Check if the mod is up to date with the most recent patch for Crusader Kings II. Once a new expansion comes out you may have to wait a few days, weeks, or even months for bigger mods, until the mod is updated. Thankfully, CKII will give you a warning if you're about to load a mod that isn't up to date. Also, each mod will tell you on the side menu if it requires certain DLC.
  • Hey, still want to play that favourite mod of yours but CKII's latest update ruins your save game? You can always roll back your CKII version to continue your campaign. Check the mod pages on Steam or the Paradox forums on how to do this since it might be different for each mod and version of the game. If all else fails, ask in the comments threads for instructions!
  • Check if the mods you've selected are compatible with the other mods you've downloaded. This information is usually found on each mod's page as they usually list which mods they are able to run with.
  • Remember that most mods are Ironman incompatible as they necessarily change balance. If you're achievement hunting, you'll need to find those mods that will tell you on their descriptions that they're Ironman compatible.
  • Finally, sometimes it takes a while for the CKII interface to properly load the mod's latest version. Check if you have auto-updates enabled for mods and then, if you're unsure, simply relaunch the CKII launcher to check if all of the mods are present and up to date.

For mods too large for Steam, you can usually hunt for their pages on the Paradox Forums and find the instructions on how to install from there. You can also google search large mod Wikipedia’s in order to find instructions for installation.

Again, there are so many mods available that it's impossible to include all of the greats so this list ought to serve as an example of how to get mods rather than strictly which mods to get. Let's dive right into four major categories to start off your modding crusade!

Total Conversion Mods

Mods that change almost everything with a singular guiding hand. A total suite is presented to the player to try. Thankfully, CKII has some of the best Total Conversion Mods in the Paradox Stable.

CK2+ by Wiz, Vukica and the CK2+ Team (Link)

One example of a mod not on the Steam Workshop, CK2+ is a massive overhaul that changes every aspect of the game from the map to core mechanics to events. Aimed at giving more content for the player to explore whether it's new provinces, new interactions with other characters, or new mechanics such as a factions overhaul, there is a reason it is titled CK2+.

ck2+ mod

This mod is so venerable and respectable as a total upgrade for the game that individual mods on the Steam Workshop make CK2+ compatible versions of their mods specifically to be included in this grander Crusader Kings II experience.

Follow the link above and follow the instructions on the forum to find how to install this amazing piece of work! If you like this mod, also check out the Historical Immersion Project located in the same modding sub-forum as CK2+.

A Game of Thrones Mod by knuckey, Cabezaestufa, and team (Link)

Crusader Kings II is probably the best game in all of PC gaming to represent the intense political action of George R.R. Martin's world. This mod seeks to do the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire justice with its impressively researched bookmarks and hefty focus on character interactions. It is not only a complete overhaul of the game mechanics to match the books, but the addition of other interactions such as magic and a complex system to handle massive civil wars with multiple claimants expands the CKII experience to new heights.

gameofthrones mod ck2

When The World Stopped Making Sense by Enlil and Team (Link)

Delve into the “dark” ages of late antiquity and the Early Middle Ages when the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West brought about a chaos that shook the very core of European Civilization. Pushing back the start date to 476, a whole new world of content is available to the player and a rich time extension is populated by meticulously researched settings, bookmarks, and historical persons. New decisions and mechanics bring this unique part of world history to life in stunning detail.

whentheworldstoppedmakingsense ck2 mod

Elder Kings by Etienne and Team (Link)

Not to be outdone, the Elder Scrolls fandom has its own gorgeous and deeply detailed mod. Replete with custom events and custom mechanics, this puts the TOTAL in Total Conversion. You don't even need to be a fan of the Elder Scrolls to appreciate a dive into this dense and fully fleshed out world.

One of their most clever converted mechanics is the transformation of the Chinese Empire console from the base game into whole realms you can interact with ruled by their respective diety. One of the most polished mods out there.

4 elderkings

Character Mods

CKII is the Paradox game that focuses on characters and historical figures more than simply abstract nations or empires. A whole treatment of mods just for this central focus is a big part of modding CKII.

Ruler Designer Unlocked by kadet4 (Link)

Finally, creating your perfect starting character has never been easier. The mod's title is self explanatory as traits are available for your custom character without any restrictions (unless you yourself place those restrictions!). Unique playthroughs and unique dynasties are finally available to the player. A simple yet incredibly rewarding mod, this is a must for anyone who wants full control over the progenitor of their dynasty.

rulerdesignerunlocked ck2 mod

Rich Childhood by Slothinator (Link)

Rich is the right word for it. This mod brings to life the interim years of a young man or woman's rise to adulthood. Instead of a tiny whelp that eventually becomes a “real” character, this mod seeks to make the experience of growing up as exciting as adult life. There is no downside to this mod. The events offer a playful and intriguing encounter for the player for those (hopefully) rare times where regencies must be in charge of a young prince or princess.

richchildhood ck2 mod

Sketchy Traits by Sketchy (Link)

Another simple mod that adds a plethora of interesting and necessary traits available for characters to have. Physical traits such as fluency and fertility as well as personality traits such as psychopathy and creativity are some of the additions that puts another dimension to the already character-oriented nature of CKII. Whether it's seeking extra bonuses or looking to generate a compelling narrative, this mod helps to add texture to the character trait system.

sketchytraits ck2 mod

Trait Softcap Exterminated by Xdbored (Link)

All that hard work making all the “right” decisions to develop the character and personality you've always wanted is now finally preserved! CKII intrinsically has a hidden limit for character traits and this mod simply eliminates this cap. With this mod, a player's actions finally stick and personalities culminate in grandiose and memorable characters.

Mechanical Mods

Modding can be as simple as changing game mechanics to suit one's needs or elevate gameplay. Here are some of the best in the genre.

Your Personal Castle by =F4D=Nuubialainen and dangitsdaaaaang (Link)

Isn't it strange that your capital holding is almost completely indistinguishable from anyone else's? 'Your Personal Castle' addresses this issue by allowing the player to build bonus-creating additions to their home holding. Whether it's secret passages or studious libraries, not only are these great for customizing one's capital experience, but the mod also provides associated events to each addition to the castle that immerses the player in what it means to build a grand stronghold. By far one of the most popular mods out there!

yourpersonalcastle ck2 mod

No Inter-religious Defensive Pacts by Dratoran (Link)

A lesser known and small mod, but one I believe that truly makes sense. This mod disallows defensive pacts to form between different religions. There has been plenty of discussion about the game-mechanic known as defensive pacts while some saying it artificially hampers gameplay by gaming the system to resist the player. While other mods do away with defensive pacts in totality, I believe this small mod finds the better middle ground. Defensive pacts will form, but at least you won't have to worry about Richard the Lionheart and Saladin somehow joining forces to stop you. While some players might want that challenge, this mod is for those who want a slightly more historical treatment of expansion.

Improved Genetics by Crimson9 (Link)

Using scientific data to bring more realism to CKII's genetics is the stated purpose of this mod and while it's a subtle change (since CKII's genetics system is not that far from 'reality'), this mod actually helps to make heredity in the game more reliable, stable, and predictable (thank you, science). The creator is not just versed in Mendelian genetics, but has factored in polygene inheritance for a truly fascinating if not invisible experience of heredity.

Cosmetic Mods

What would be a mod list without some gorgeous aesthetic options to choose from? Here are some of the most pleasing offerings available.

Patrum Scuta by Solo (Link)

What would the Middle Ages be without the glorious beauty of heraldry? This mod takes this basic premise and turns it into a rich aesthetic experience. This is not simply a graphic pack that adds hundreds of new heraldic styles as well as enriching the present options, but this mod also implements them in a historically researched way.

patrumscuta ck2 mods

True to history coats of arms are restored as well as dynamically generated crests are in line with researched records. This also presents a plethora of different options for custom dynasties that the only drawback is that it makes the selection menu for a heraldic shield over a thousand clicks long!

In heavens Cartographic Map by In heaven (Link)

While Paradox's choice to present an abstracted three dimensional contour map is beautiful enough as it is, this mod brings the player back to a cartographical setting. It is as if the player is pulled into a map room with his or her closest advisers reviewing the state of the world on a map worthy of the timeframe. Let this graphical upgrade help to immerse you into the world of CKII!

91 inheavenscartographicmap Ck2 mod

Anime Portraits by Art and Seiji (Link)

I was surprised to discover it years ago and I was ashamed to admit that I loved it. Who knew that Crusader Kings II could be a unique anime experience? Oddly perfect portraits for every type of character and character condition make this mod both dazzling and frightening. Even if one is not a fan of the style, it stands as a testament to an impressive graphical upgrade. While not everyone's cup of tea, it also serves as an indication that there are plenty of mods out there that modify and improve character portraits to suit the player.

92 animeportraits ck2 mod

Medieval Music Complete by [LVG]Caesar (Link)

We can never overlook the rich musical history of the Middle Ages. From chants to poetry, this mod is one example of the plethora of auditory enhancements that reintroduces a bit of history to the game. While Paradox provides impressive music for its games, it commits a crime by not including period songs like it used to do for games like Europa Universalis II. Mods like this fix this disparity.

What are your favourite CK2 Mods? Let us know in the comments!

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