Crusader Kings II – Dark Ages Rules

This is the manual of the mod Dark Ages for Crusader Kings 2.

General Considerations

There are some basic definitions that concern this mod that need to be placed here.

1) Stats are defined between GOOD, AVERAGE AND BAD.

  • GOOD stats come in 4 levels: At 12, at 15, at 18 and at 21
  • AVERAGE stats stand between 8 and 12.
  • BAD stats come in 4 levels: Below 8, below 6, below 4 and below 2.

2) Realm stats are defined between GOOD, AVERAGE and BAD.

  • GOOD realm stats come in 3 levels: At 35, 40 and at 45
  • AVERAGE realm stats come between 30 and 35
  • BAD realm stats come in 3 levels: Less than 30, less than 25 and less than 20

3) Provinces can have 5 levels of Stability: Rebellious, Restless, Normal (no modifier), Peaceful and Serene

Stability System

The stability of each demesne province fluctuates between the levels with increments and decrements of a single level each time. There is one notable exception where the Stability returns to Normal when a special mission there is met with excellent results.

This variation is applied dependent on the Realm Diplomacy.

Character personality traits will influence the variation of Stability in the provinces with events specifically designed for each trait. The traits considered in the ruler are: Cruel, Arbitrary, Wroth, Greedy, Kind, Charitable, Diligent, Just, Deceitful, Gregarious, Brave, Paranoid, Honest and Proud.

Being at War gives the possibility of a Stability hit in the demesne provinces.

A province may become Volatile which means an increased natural chance of decreasing Stability and no chance of increasing it normally. Such condition can be solved naturally and better yet, by assigning the crown focus to the province. Also, the Demesne Overseer has a chance of removing the Volatility from a province, with better stewardship increasing his/her chances.

Once every few years (depending on the Realm Stewardship) a player can increase automatically the Stability of a province subject to crown focus by one level.

A player can also decide to appoint a character with the title Demesne Overseer that helps to reduce the instability of the demesne provinces. Such action success depends on the Overseer Stewardship score and on the relation between the Overseer and his Liege (the player). The rational for that is that his/her effort to please the Liege in a continual effort increases with the relation score.

The Demesne Overseer is picked from three courtiers chosen by the council and presented to the player. The player can refuse all if he thinks they lack the competence necessary to perform the job but can only pick from another three in five years.

The Demesne Overseer is a post for life but the player can fire him/her at any time. One can be recruited five years after the last one was recruited.

The Demesne Overseer can remove the Volatility of a province. Such action success depends on the Overseer Stewardship score and on the relation between the Overseer and his Liege (the player). The rational for that is that his/her effort to please the Liege in a continual effort increases with the relation score.

The Demesne Overseer can also perform missions that range from military, to diplomatic, to subterfuge to cultural/religious. These missions, performed only on Restless or Rebellious provinces, can also increase the level of Stability by one step if successful or returning the province to normal if totally successful.

The ability to perform missions is given by the stewardship of the Demesne Overseer, his competence (diligent/slothful) and his/her ambition (ambitious/content). If his/her profession matches the type of mission it will also gives a bonus to pick a mission of the same type and being Midas Touched (the top level of education in stewardship) also provides a bonus.

How efficient the Demesne Overseer is in performing the specific missions depend more on the specific stats associated with the mission (martial if it is a military mission, for instance) and excellence in the education trait in the area of expertise (for instance, being a Brilliant Strategist in a military mission provides a bonus). Also, competence (diligent/slothful) and to a lesser extent ambitiousness (ambitious/content) provide nice bonuses/penalties to the final result of a mission.

Missions can also have the harshest consequences. It doesn’t hurt the least the Demesne Overseer if he/she has good combat rating and if he/she is a duelist. Those are good skills/traits for survival.

Every five years, if the player has good Stewardship (12) and there are provinces with negative Stability, he can ask the Overseer to formulate a plan to increase Stability in a Restless or Rebellious province.

With a window of time depending on the realm martial, the Marshal can improve the Stability of a province if he is performing the Suppress Rebels job and is assigned to a Rebellious Province. This is the core of the Contest Rebels decision.


Piracy is a new decision that can be enacted as long as the player owns a coastal province in his/her demesne, is not of Nordic or Maghreb Arabic cultures, is not Just, is not Kind and has a Stewardship of at least 8. There is an upfront investment associated with this system that represents the value spent at organizing and building the pirate fleet.

Piracy will give yearly revenue that can range from hefty profits to worrying losses. This yearly revenue already includes normal maintenance of the fleet.

There are several instances where the Realm scores of the character will play a role in what is experienced in this system. Also important are personal stats for some events. The tooltip in the events explain what is influencing the flow of the game.

Players may at any time elect to quit the pirate activity through a decision.

With luck and continual support for piracy players might be offered the chance to become a Pirate Lord, a new lifestyle trait that represents the mastermind behind the common pirate captains that organize everything.


Migrants can now appear in the demesne of a character and he/she must decide what to do about the situation. Migrants can prove to be a hindrance to the demesne management but can also provide good help in certain circumstances. All in all, migrants will serve as new content to be dealt with from time to time – they are a rare occurrence as they happen on average once every 200 years.

Migrants will cause several conflicts with the original dwellers of the province where they appear. The player is invited to deal with these consequences through event choices and policy definitions towards the migrant group.

Migrants can also provide help in technology or even troops in case of war. Again, this depends on choices taken and policies adopted.

The migrant size will decrease over time and the rate of decrease depends on the relevant stat of the ruler indexed to the policy being chosen. There are policies that are inherently faster to decrease the size of the migrant group.

The ruler has the choice, through decision, to review the policy adopted as long as he has not taken the path of extermination. In this case he will need to wait for the results of the policy, before adopting a new policy again.

Framing Characters

When the player frames a character – by using the RMB on the portrait of the target and picking the option – he will be immediately given the chance of picking a strategy to go on with the framing. He can be aggressive or discreet. If he is aggressive he will have a better chance of engaging with different groups of people and making his/her case to frame the target. On the other hand, an aggressive stance might signal to the target who is behind the framing, thus leading to failure and possible reprisal.

When framing a target, your diplomacy and intrigue, your target having as many of the seven sins as possible, you being a Genius, being Shrewd, being Quick, being Arbitrary, being Socializer, being Gregarious, being Silver Tongue, being a Schemer, being Deceitful and having taken opportunities to speak bad of your target recently with success, all contribute to the success of the framing.

Conversely, your opponent’s diplomacy, intrigue, having as many as the seven virtues traits as possible, being a Genius, being Shrewd, being Quick and you being Dull, all contribute to the failure of the attempt.

While the framing is taking progress – it can take between 3 and 6 months to be decided – you may be presented with opportunities to speak badly of your target, thus increasing your chances of success. You can approach generals, diplomats, secret agents and religious entities to smear and frame your target. The governing stat deciding if you are successful or not is the one related to the profession of your audience. Also the traits related to the audience profession play a role. You can find details of this in the tooltip, when these events happen.

The more opportunities you have of approaching these groups of people, the better your chances of success are. If you decide on an aggressive strategy to frame your target, you’ll have more chances on average of meeting these groups, thus indirectly raising your chances of success for the framing.


Players can now personally murder victims, using a complex system that translates very simply at game level. To murder a character, use the character menu (right click on a character) and pick the option “Commit Murder”.

After deciding to commit a murder, what does this comprise? It means a random setting is created, the target will have opportunity to get suspicious about the assassin, or even alerted, that in turn conditions the action of murdering the target… which in itself can be “clean” (meaning it was absolutely successful) or “dirty” (meaning the assassination was successful but the target got aware of the assassin doing the deed and raised the alarm). Finally, if the victim survives and is aware of the attempt – there is also the chance that the unsuccessful attempt goes undetected by the victim – an immediate attempt on the murderer’s life can be done, depending on the traits of the victim.

So, what stats, traits and focus give you a nice bonus to go unnoticed in your attempt? Basically, the stakes are favouring you from the start. You plan the occasion of the murder, so you make sure the victim is not aware of the murder attempt. But if the victim is Trustful or she/he has low or very low levels of Intrigue (less than 8, 6, 4 and 2) you’ll get a bonus.

Now, what influences the probability the victim getting suspicious? In the positives, if the victim is an Assassin (a new lifestyle trait partially based on the successful attempts you did with this targeted decision), a Master Schemer, if the victim is focusing on Intrigue, if the victim is Paranoid, if the victim is Cynical, if he/she has an Intrigue Education Trait, if she/he is a Genius, Quick, Shrewd, if he/she has high levels in Intrigue, Diplomacy, Martial and Learning – from the mod rules, remember that high level in Dark Ages means a score of 12 – if he has very high levels – 15, 18 and 21 – in Intrigue and if the murderer is Honest. On the other hand, what reduces the chances of the victim getting suspicious is for the murderer to have the Deceitful trait.

And what influences the probability the victim getting alerted (a higher state than being suspicious and as suspicious, also influent later on)? It’s not very different from the suspicious level of alertness but let’s enumerate the positives in the knowledge this alert state has the lowest base probabilities of happening (5%): Victim being Genius, Quick, Shrewd, Assassin, Master Schemer, focus in Intrigue, Paranoid, Cynical, Elusive Shadow, high levels of Intrigue, Learning, Martial and Diplomacy, very high levels of Intrigue, the murderer being Honest. If the murder is Deceitful the chances of the victim getting alerted are reduced.

What I am not going to write are the different weights are attributed to different variables. As an example and for the safety of the victim, it’s much more important being Paranoid or Genius than being Cynical, for instance.

At this point, we know if the victim is unaware, suspicious or alerted. The last two of these conditions will impose a penalty on the actual murder attempt.

So, what influences the success of the murder? For a successful murder, being an Assassin, a Master Schemer, Cruel, Elusive Shadow and high and very high levels of intrigue all play a role. If the victim is Dull the assassin also gets an advantage.

And what influences the failure of the murder? The assassin being known as a murderer or a failed murderer is a great liability – ah, the inconveniences of fame! – low values of Intrigue for the murderer, the victim suspecting or alerted to the act, the victim being Shrewd, Elusive Shadow, having Intrigue focus, having high and very high levels of Intrigue and high and very high levels of Realm Intrigue ( at scores 30, 35, 40 and 45).

Now that the algorithm knows if the murder was successful or not, the only part that remains to be calculated is if the assassination was clean or dirty, dirty meaning the character was discovered even if successful. I am not going to post here what influences but it’s not much different from the variables considered earlier.

Is it the end? No it is not. After all, you may end up in the receiving end of a murder attempt… and, to make things interesting and tickling your paranoia, it may be a fake murder attempt, a normal situation that has the same description as the first event of a murder attempt on you. Contrary to the AI, the player has always the chance to call the guards at the onset of the assassination. Calling the guards has a great effect: it nullifies the murder attempt! However, not knowing if the attempt was a real or a fake one, the player never knows what to expect…and if the character is humiliated for nothing, consequences to the player character will be significant (Paranoid trait, Craven Trait, significant loss of prestige, opinion hit with the person wrongly accused of attempted murder, etc…).

When you read the text of a murder attempt your decision to call the guards should be considered using your stats and traits as a victim, as well as studying the personality of the (possible) murderer to understand if the personality fits a murderer. You will also get to know if you are alerted or suspicious of the attempt to help in your decision as being alerted or suspicious will increase your chances of surviving.

Political Debates

A player might enact a decision or be presented with an event to debate with another member of the council. There are five areas of discussion (Diplomatic, Military, Management, Intrigue and Religion), each one with different stats and traits influencing the outcome of the discussion. There is also a stance, where the player picks what his/her strategy will be for the debate. This will interact with the traits the player and the opponent have, to give a final chance of success.
Notice the debate can end up as a draw. If both opponents are Content, for instance, the chance for a draw increases dramatically.

In the end, the player has to decide what strategy to pursue, two of them are more suited to win or lose the debate while a third one is more suited to draw it. Draw can be important if one feels the other two options favour the opponent more, based on his/her traits.

Homage System

The game will check for vassals that have not payed homage around once per year. If it finds one, it will fire an event to give homage to the liege.

  • Right now it’s dependant on having holy fury and the ruler being crowned. We will remove that later, maybe.
  • It’s a 1 time thing for vassals. If he pays homage, loses his land and comes back, he doesn’t have to pay homage anymore. Homage was a binding contract between vassal and ruler. Ruler confirmed vassal’s right to his lands and his own personal rights as well as obligations that were typical for vassals. It was something that was above the king itself, it was some kind of feudal right. Once a king confirmed a vassal’s right, it remained permanent until his death no matter how many ruler changes there were (unless special circumstances, like treason).
  • To avoid spamming, King can’t, in average, get more than 1 homage request or denial per year. At the start of every game, since no vassal payed homage, if you start as a King or above of a big realm, you can get quite a bit fast.. but then it will slow down and and you will get homages once in a while only.
  • Kings that are in command can’t give homage. Neither incapable vassals.
  • King has to be christian (we will work on vassal-king ceremonies for muslims and zoroastrians in the future). Vassals of any religion can give homage, but, since there is no historical info about any vassal ever giving homage of wrong religion, there is a huge penalty for vassals of wrong religion.. they will probably deny it. If they still accept to give homage, liege gets 100% a chance to try to force convert him or just let it be. Of course, as always, if you fail to force convert him, he will be pretty upset. So you have to chose between a big chance of bad opinion modifier or just let it go, keep having an infidel or heretic vassal, and try to improve opinions via the standard homage ceremony (which can still go wrong, but it’s less riskier).
  • Just for clarification, all player mechanics and events are also AI, so everything you can do AI can do it, being a vassal or a King. This is not just player experience.
  • There are few things that are permanent, like some traits or some diplomacy gain or lose. Most modifiers (opinion or whatever modifiers) are temporary. This is to try to avoid unbalancing the game. (well, death is would be funny if you can trigger that chain of events, there are like 12 different).

Mental Condition Traits (Possessed, Lunatic and Paranoid)

These traits have event pools assigned to flesh out the experience of playing with mentally unstable characters.

Regarding the Possessed trait, when a character has this trait now a pool of events might happen to her/him. These events are not nice and reflect the unstable mental condition of the character. Nevertheless, the events of the possessed event pool tend to be lighter than those from the lunatic event pool.

Regarding the Lunatic trait, lunacy now means a mental condition with effects given along gameplay. The player can suffer from mild or serious mental conditions that affect the effects created and their frequency. A player will have phases of better judgement (only the lunatic trait will apply) and phases of total insanity (where a new trait will make its debut). During the phases of total insanity many new events might happen. For instance, given the seriousness of the situation and the right – or wrong – personality traits, one can spread the terror among the court.

Regarding the Paranoid trait, it will be developed an event pool in the future to flesh out this trait.


Once a player gets the Stressed trait, he can chose to retire to the countryside and rest. After some random time he will return without the Stressed trait.

While the player is resting he will suffer -5 at all his/her scores and will be incapacitated. A Regent will be appointed.

While resting, some personal traits modify the amount of rest needed to get rid of the Stressed trait. The country being at war is the worst that can happen as the ruler can’t escape the stress. Being Diligent, Envious, Lustful, Wroth or Duelist is bad, being Slothful, Patient, Hunter, Falconer, Poet or Mystic, is better. But nothing beats being a Gardener or being naturally Content! Some of these traits stack, others are taken as a group.

A player may elect to stop resting at any time. In that case he will re assume the leadership of the country still Stressed.

Easter Celebration

Christians now can celebrate Easter and gain interesting bonus along the way: more opinion with the clergy, particularly touching a powerful noble or improving the mood of the lesser vassals.

Tutor System

There is a new lifestyle trait that is the Tutor.

This trait enables an event where the player (or an NPC) may offer to teach the liege a subject of his/her interest. The student needs to have at least 5 in learning to be able to improve his/her stats. The Student can’t be Slow, Imbecile, Incapable, Slothful or Drunk. The Tutor needs to have at least 10 Learning to teach the Liege and needs to avoid the same traits mentioned before for the student. The realm must be at peace.

While Learning the stats of the character are reduced by 2 and in the end there is no certainty that the player increased his/her stat in the field picked. It all depends on luck and on the learning of the character.

The player can also teach himself by picking his/her subjects of interest. He/she needs to have Learning 15 to do so.

Having a scholarship focus, theology focus, having the scholar or tutor trait, and the learning stat all influence the success of the endeavour.

Finally, a character with the Tutor trait may increase the stats of his/her wards. The Stat affected in this case is preferentially the stat related to the education of the Tutor. A savvy player will try to find a tutor of the same education level he wants to choose for his child when the kid is 6yo, that is the earliest occasion when the tutors start to make an impact.

Finally the chance of the tutor to impart knowledge on the ward depends on his Learning skill, which means all things being equal, a Tutor with a high level of Learning will improve his ward more times.

Personality Traits

Two new personality traits are available in Dark Ages with events to flesh them out. They are the Cheerful and Dour personality traits and might appear either randomly or through a proper education: Playful characters might become Cheerful and Brooding characters might become Dour.


Fleets are at the mercy of storms at sea. Leaders embarked there run the risk of drowning. Men embarked can suffer as little as 6% casualties up to being entirely wiped out. The months of December, January and February pose the most serious risks of storms. Also it is advisable to be near the coast while navigating around the world.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13363 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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