Anthony "Tony" Magestro--or known on the field of battle as Metzge--is an avid writer, gamer, and entrepreneur. When he's not writing, gaming, or entrepreneuring, he enjoys cooking, trippy movies, and trying to be awesome to varying degrees of success. Feel free to check out his LinkedIn page, especially if you need freelance help with content writing or digital marketing. Or just like to network, that's fine too.
Prior to my (almost shameful) accumulation of 340+ hours playing everyone’s favorite brethren-killing simulator, understanding the ins and outs of wise stewardship and kingdom building was far out of reach. Before I could wield divine power, however, I had to understand the limits of my mortality, preserving my monarch for as long as possible and preparing for a smooth transition when their successor ascends.
Let me tell you, I’ve seen some things: civil war; fratricide; religious revolts, witches, and demonic possessions; Mongolian (and even Aztec) invasions; and succumbing to disease, wounds, or just plain boredom with life. And that’s just a handful of ways you can shuffle off into the abyss.
But you needn’t worry, friend, for not all is lost. While all men die (*cough*), a lot of these scenarios are largely preventable so long as you know how to appease your court and rule your domain. Regardless if you’re playing vanilla Crusader Kings II or rewriting the history of the Seven Kingdoms with the fantastic Game of Thrones mod, the five reasons herein might be why you keep finding your rulers left decomposing in a shallow ditch outside the castle walls:
1. You didn’t manage your house properly
How does one expect to rule a kingdom when they cannot rein in their own household? In order to inspire your vassals to stay in line, you must first ensure your family makes a good example for your people. After all, one of your kin will rule in your stead some day; cementing you and your house’s legacy should be top priority (especially if you’re one of those nerds who actually remembers to keep score during a playthrough).
Each monarch in your lineage accrues prestige over their lifetime; after they die, those points are then added to your dynasty’s overall score. If a monarch passes into the great beyond with negative prestige after an unpopular reign, however, it’ll detract from your score. If you don’t have any successors or a title to pass on, it’s curtains for you and the family name. Naturally, you’re gonna need a kid or twelve to help keep you in the game.
Grooming your own offspring to rule and play nicely together is definitely a priority. While European feudalism often favors male claimants (in what’s called agnatic succession; agnatic-cognatic refers to female succession only if no male heirs are found), all members of your family have important roles to play:
- Your heir (usually the first-born) should be groomed to lead in your stead, either preparing for conquest (Martial) or consolidation (Stewardship). Assuming you have a second child, have them be tutored by the same courtesan as the first which should strengthen the relationships between all three and lessening the chances of civil war in the future over succession. Be wary if immediate successors have the “Ambitious” trait as they’ll look to build a name for themselves by any means — including claiming your rightful titles.
- Any younger sons may be granted lesser holdings or used as councilors — if they behave. If not, force them to join a monastery so they give up their claims without bloodshed.
- Some daughters make can make for good spymasters and (in some non-Christian religions) clergy, making your own machinations within foreign realms easier.
- Marrying your children to local lords can be used to form strong alliances and even stronger ties to your house if their children carry your name. Not to mention the prestige boost if you manage to secure unions with greater houses.
- Your spouse can tutor your children and, in turn, the older siblings can tutor younger ones (if you have both adult and young children). Like before, this’ll strengthen the relationships between them over time.
While some families are harder to appease than others, keeping everyone cordial is always preferable to civil war and your line’s spilled blood. By keeping your kin happy and using their skills as councilors or landed vassals, your dynasty will last for centuries to come.
But family isn’t the only important thing when it comes to survival.