Deus Vult: Why I'm Excited for the Future of Crusader Kings II

By Craig Robinson 01 Jun 2018 0

For the past four years, I have been studying for my History degree, with special attention going to medieval and crusading history. The recent announcement of Crusader Kings 2’s next update, Holy Fury, as well as the free patch content has me very excited, and I wanted to explain why you should be too.

As a quick recap - the free patch that will accompany Holy Fury is going to overhaul the crusading mechanics, featuring complete overhauls of the preparation phase, war phase, contributions, and the rewards for succeeding in a Crusade.

The Preparation Phase

Previously, the crusading system was just an excuse to go gallivanting in the Levant for a few months until the Muslim death-stacks wiped out you and every other Latin lord that hoped to achieve anything. Either that or you took one step off the boat, earned your trait, and sailed off to whence you came. This is no longer the case.

When the Pope calls for a crusade, there is a timer to when it officially begins. This allows time for the armies of christendom to make peace with each other, cooperate, fund their armies, and to prepare for the campaign. Historically speaking, this is a similar thing to what happened with the Anglo-Norman and French rulers competing in the 100-Year War in the time of the Third Crusade. For me, this is a nice addition to authenticity and immersion, something that I feel Crusader Kings II has been continuously been getting better at by emulating a living and breathing medieval world.

As for the content side of things, this is Paradox’s way of saying “get involved, you Crusader trait hoarders”. Depending on the character's decision when prompted by the crusade call, the Pope will have a higher opinion of your character or be reduced if you do not want to get involved. As the preparation phase ends, the pledged military candidates receive their share of the 20% distributed booty in the war chest to fund their troops and fleets. This allows for a range of smaller and bigger characters to receive a boost to their campaign goals. For the player, it offers a nice incentive to take part in the crusade no matter the playstyle.

Other mechanics to the new preparation stage allow us to choose a dynasty member to receive any titles from a successful crusade, with the option to switch characters to play as the head of the new Crusader Kingdom (much like how you can switch to play as a colonial nation in EUIV).

CrusadeDerp

Rejoice to those that have thought “Why are we crusading here?” If you have some left-over piety, you can persuade the Pope to change the crusades destination. This sort-of happened in history, like in the Second Crusade when the preacher Bernard of Clairvaux toured the Saxon lands and was convinced of the holy fight between the Danes, Saxons, and other Germanic peoples against the Pagan Wends on the southern Baltic Coast. This feature is great as it allows each playthrough to deal with different Pagan threats surrounding christendom.

In addition to all these wonderful features to prepare for, I think the new condition of military contributors joining the war on day 1 will fix the issue of AI armies randomly turning up whenever they please. When all the christians raise their levies and set sail to the crusade target, they will have all done it at a similar time and may even enter on the same province.

This is something I look forward to experimenting with when it releases, as it gives me hope that trying to win a crusade with AI is more achievable than before. Not to mention this is how historical crusading figures took part in their endeavours, such as some of the English, Rhinelander, and Flemish contingents that sailed from Dartmouth in 1147 for the Second Crusade, and Richard the Lionheart of England and Philip II of France met in Vezelay in 1190 for the Third Crusade. I want to be able to tell that story of who I went on crusade with, and how it went, and this, I believe, offers exactly that.

CK2CrusadeHead

Successful Crusade

If a crusade is successful, each character involved with the crusade’s military front will receive 3 stances to choose from:

  1. The ‘Selfish’ stance - The top contributor to the crusade will take the lands for themselves. This action results in the crusade ending the same way that the old system did, but with impious penalties from the Pope.
  2. The ‘For my Beneficiary’ stance - Your beneficiary will become the King/Queen of the new Crusader Kingdom. The Pope will not approve of this decision, but you will not receive negative penalties and can still receive parts of the war chest, up to a max of 20% of the contents.
  3. The ‘Comply with Papal Demands’ - This action allows the Pope to choose who receives titles. You will also be entitled to your deserved portion of the war chest.

For me, these three options are a perfect blend of historical role play, giving the player the opportunity to play the save they want. Modern understanding of the crusades is that people on the campaign will have been super pious whilst aiming for any secular and earthly desires must have been considered unjust. The 3 options available in a successful campaign allows us to follow the Pope like a good little catholic, or just take the lands as you see fit (Marxist historians cheer).

Disallowing external inheritance

By making Crusader States their own separate entity, they are removed from the inheritance strife and petty struggles of feudal Europe. It makes these entities interesting and also more historically accurate. This means no more French Levant or HRE Levant; instead, welcome to your isolated kingdom surrounded by scheming latin settlers and angry hordes of pagans that want their land back. Do I smell a pre-Third Crusade scenario brewing with the death of the leper king and schemes?

Other such mechanics I would like to see in the expansion is more roleplay effects. If you ever read a successful crusading primary source, the writer tends to view the world through the lens of divine benevolence for successful crusades, or divine punishment if they fail. In some of the extracts from historical sources like the Lisbon Letter and The Conquest of Lisbon, the writers see that white clouds coming in from the Atlantic vs the dark clouds above Moorish Lisbon was a positive Omen by God for the crusaders, whilst other stories write about miraculous cures of leprosy in people.

CK2Holy Fury

On the other hand, Byzantine sources referring to the sacking of Constantinople try to write about how impious Greeks and other sins were responsible in God favouring the Latins to sack the queen of cities. These effects combined with the storytelling that crusader kings and the character traits could really spice up the adventure of going on crusade in the upcoming expansion.

Overall, I feel like the current content proposed for the free patch is an amazing update to the current crusading system. The patch promises to make the mechanic much more immersive and historically connected. The way they have set up the gameplay mechanics gives me hope that participating in a crusade means we will now have a great military campaign with ups and downs along the way. With all of these features, I believe this patch will put the crusader back into Crusader Kings II, and I look forward to more news in the coming dev diaries.

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