Beginner information on how to make gold in Crusader Kings 3.
Making Gold Guide
Think of yourself as an eventual emperor. It's not about the physical land that's under your direct control. Its about the number of people giving you money so that your army can - expand - and - defend - the lands and keeping those people happy so that they don't revolt. Of course you want some land for yourself, as your land can generate money and prestige. But as an emperor, the empire and its resources are it's own reward.
Basically, you get the vast majority of your money from vassals.
What You Might Not Know
You only control the castles for the land in your personal domain. The cities and temples are (nearly exclusively) ran by vassals.
You can go far into debt without everything falling apart. Especially if your gold per turn is still positive.
When your character dies, their wealth is inherited by the heir who already has their own personal wealth before hand. So your gold on hand can change dramatically on character death.
The wars of your allies will pay out in cash sometimes.
Crusades always reward large amounts of money. Participate whenever you can.
What This Means for You the Player
Cities belong to the mayor. Temples belong to the priests. That's their land. They upkeep it. They pay you taxes.
If you 'want' to invest in the infrastructure of their land, they will gladly let you. But you are better off investing in *your* land, which is the Castles that occupy your counties.
It is usually the castle that "rules" the county, and that castle is either your's or its another vassal's who will pay you taxes. When it's your's you get 100% of the income it generates. But you have to pay the upkeep and building costs to improve those baronies over time. When it's a vassal's, they pay you a tax based on a bunch of factors that are beyond the scope of this guide.
For baronies, there are a number of improvements that generate a direct income improvement. In national economies there are two numbers that matter. Gold on hand, gold per turn.
Gold on hand is how you build new things or invest. You can go far into debt with minimal consequences as long as your gold per turn is positive.
Gold per turn is how you pay your armies who consume gold every turn that they are active and even more if they need to repopulate with new troops.
Those improvements for your baronies increase your gold per turn. Meaning you can handle larger armies on a turn by turn basis, and can afford to keep those armies populated. It also means you'll get out of debt faster. Debt causes negative events that reduce your populations happiness and tax incomes.
If your castles are in a good place, then consider building a city in the empty spaces of your counties. When they are finished, give them to an unlanded person in your family or a friend. Or build another castle to increase your levies.
Prisoners and Weak Hooks
Ransom your prisoners. Think of the ransom as a 'fine' for their crime. Those fines help fill the coffers when they get low.
Under the second tier of Stewardship lifestyle, there's a skill for demanding payment for weak hooks. You can combine that with "negotiate for release" options for your prisoners if no one is willing to pay for their release. Then you might get some cash from them at some point. This will also work for the other weak hooks you get, but if the target is a direct vassal of yours, you'll be better off using that hook to modify their contract and increase their tax obligations to "high" than an instant payout.
The better your relationship with your vassals and clergy, the more tax they pay and the less likely they are to revolt.
If you have good relations with your vassals, and your funds get low, they will gift you money to help you out.
If your piety is high enough and you're in good graces with the pope, they will gladly give you cash on a regular basis. That amount will increase considerably for kings and emperors. I highly recommend swaying the popes whenever you're catholic.
There are some ways to increase the tax income that comes from vassals. If you "modify their contract", you'll see options for "title revocation" and "Fortress building". If you helped the vassal and have a hook on them, you'll see an option for "use hook" in the preview window.
I always allow them Fortress Building, this just means that they will build castle of their own in their counties if they want to, and raise their levy tax. Then use the "weak hook" or "title revocation" (But only for family members) to raise their tax income. They will lose some opinion, but if its already high that decrease won't matter. Keep in mind that higher taxes can increase the chance of peasant revolts or independence factions.
There will also be occasional events where your steward discovers that a vassal has your land, or that a vassal owes you more money. Let them keep the lands, let them pay you more, and use the hooks to raise their taxes if possible.
Not everyone can raid, but if you can it can be a quick way to steal a couple hundred gold from your neighbors. Just be sure to be prepared for any counter attacks and the possibility that you'll lose troops.
It's all about that gold per turn. Small increases add up, gold on hand is significantly less important. When you have excess, use at least some of it to increase your gold per turn by improving relationships or your territory.
The greater your gold per turn, the larger your army can reasonably be.