Duchies and Kingdoms
- Don't create additional duchies or kingdoms. While they give a temporary prestige bonus and casus bellis for quicker expansion, in the long run they cause more instability within your kingdom, as vassals will attempt to acquire these titles via rebellion or some other means. Additionally, if you own any provinces within a duchy, the duke or duchess of the region may be upset by this fact. Do not usurp titles if you don't have to, for the same reasons as above. Also, don't create duchies in regions that you plan on being a part of your demesne. This may cause you to hold too many duchies.
-when your empire has become a giant sprawling blob and you have a couple hundred vassals, you may want to start creating duchies and handing them out if you have gotten crown authority to absolute (free revocations), in order to better rally your entire empire's troops during war.
Handing out titles
-try to find relatively young characters of your religion and culture who have the content trait.
- Be very careful if you give out county titles to your dynasty members. Even distant relatives have the potential to claim your throne. To be safer, only give your dynasty members bishoprics, baronies and cities. This will get your dynasty a little less prestige but greatly reduces the chance of them revolting.- When handing out land titles, keep them down to one title only, unless if it is your heir. Hand out multiple titles to your heir as this will help him accumulate prestige, which will make succession easier. But beware when landing your sons, heir, or any dynasty member, the AI tends to get assassiny and stupid.
- Be careful giving holdings to ambitious charcters, they will get a -50 opinion modifier of you if you have something they want.
- Avoid Envious courtiers.
- When conquering infidel territory, giving all vassal titles under the count level title to a new vassal will make him like you for granting baronies as well. Only create new vassals on baronie level holdings if you plan to keep the county for yourself.
- Do not allow vassals to accumulate territory. Revoke titles when the opportunity arises.
- Get matrilineal marriages for your female courtiers as much as possible, especially dynasty members with good traits.
Wards and Educate Child
- Avoid bad heirs (this is obvious). Try to educate your heir yourself and make sure he does not get traits that decrease vassal opinion, these traits are: slothful, cruel, arbitrary, craven. Instead try to get: kind, diligent, just, gregarious, and brave. The other seven deadly sins and some traits like cynical may piss off the clergy but can be otheriwse ignored, prince bishops often have higher opinion by default anyway due to other factors like investiture and never really get strong enough to become a threat since the AI for them aren't as aggressive for nobles and they cannot acquire lands through marriage.
- choose your heir's education depending on what you need, grey eminence get slightly better opinion boosts due to increased diplomacy, midas touch allows you to have a slightly bigger demesne, brilliant strategists allow them to live longer due to the health increase, and elusive shadow allows your heir to avoid assassinations and plots better, as well as carry them out better.
- Do not allow your wards to acquire the ambition trait unless if they are the heir. Sometimes you may even want your heir to not have this trait unless your current ruler is better off dead anyway, ambitious heirs, landed or not, tend to get assassiny and plotty.
- Send your daughters to Dukes and Counts for a +20 opinion bonus.
- Become ward to the heir of a duchy or county for a +20 opinion bonus.
- Keep them in your court as much as possible. This gives you control over their lives, who they marry, etc.
- Keep them in reserve and hand them out to those who are plotting to rebel. You get the title back if they rebel.
- Try to place your capital at a costal province with at least 5 holding slots total. This is very important because you need to be able to build ships, and building tech levels only count the tech level of your capital (this means your other counties will be very weak in tech, or at least lower in tech). Also try to keep your other counties and the holdings in them adjacent to your capital (preferably all of these are in the same duchy) so when tech spreads out from your capital, you are the one that reaps the benefits. They don't need to be in the same duchy but if there are de jure duchies around the area, some of your vassals may want those duchies or your county holdings, this doesn't happen if you hold the duchy and all holdings in it yourself.
- Generally the higher the crown authority the better, as at max you will always get 80% of your vassal's levies even if they hate your guts. At absolute authority vassals also cannot wage war at all unless to rebel, they cannot acquire any new lands except from marriage and direct inheritance (they cannot even press claims anymore). Absolute crown authority also allows complete free revocation of any titles without incurring tyranny (can someone confirm this? i've only seen this in the crown laws txt file settings and have not really tested it in game), thus allowing you to individually pick off dukes that get too large through marriage every few centuries or so.
Taxes and Levies
- Tax your vassals at your discretion if you think you can handle the opinion hit. A few hundred direct vassals during a late game can give you significant income even if the tax is only 10%. Do note that only your direct vassals give you any tax, thus taxing works better with an empire full of hundreds of mad but powerless counts than an empire of a dozen relatively content, but powerful kings and dukes.
- levies are quite broken in this game: you can only get as much as your vassals can give you and only normally if they like you. This means if your vassals wage war on their own and deplete their levies, you are getting zip from them. The opposite is not true, when you raise your vassal's levies, you'll notice the levies bar on their holdings are not empty, but rather red in color; they do not actually lose any levies from you raising it, though they do have to pay some upkeep. This is why absolute or at least medium crown authority is needed to keep vassals in check. Laws don't change (easily) and last indefinitely, opinions go out the window anyway during most successions. Keeping a high crown law means you will be able to reliably field more levies, and have higher relative power after succession. This will allow you to put down most rebellions unless the entire empire rebels, which is unlikely if you have been handing out titles to content characters of your culture and religion, and educating the heirs of large duchies and kingdoms to be content (vassal husbandry).
- Don't slay close relatives and don't expose plots of murder by your relatives unless if you don't mind the -25 opinion penalty.
- Hold tournaments as soon as possible.
- Assassinate vassals who are likely to revolt later on. Try to find some way to revoke their title if they and their heir are not of your culture/religion anyway (there's a plot for this sometimes).
- Focus on researching noble customs. Legalism is also nice as it decreases the severity of short reign opinion hit and gives you a larger demesne.
- Use vassals' troops at your discretion, it might be worth it to raise their levies in a shot-gun order for some of the smaller scale wars so all of them are constantly recovering from the raised levies opinion hit, but no opinion hits are too severe.
- Only use your own troops from demesne, retinues, and mercenaries as a last resort, these are indefinitely loyal to you.
-your vassals will not get angry from raised levies during a defensive war. Feel free to raise all the levies of the entire empire to defend against the mongol hordes.
- Do not keep vassal ships around as this will also anger your vassals.
- Send people you don't like off to war. Death is obviously not guaranteed.
- Grow your dungeon.
- Hold a reserve of prisoners and release them to boost vassal opinion when necessary.
- Revoke, revoke, revoke.
-beware that prisoners add to your court character count, so your courtiers may not be able to reproduce if you have too many prisoners (needs confirmation).
- Overall, I believe that having a kingdom involves balancing expansion versus stability. For example: 1. You can expand faster by creating duchies as this gives you ducal claims. In the long run, this may create more instability. 2. Having a matrilineal marriage with a title claimant can be useful. However, any dynasty members with land titles are potential pretenders to your crown. Keep this at a minimum. 3. Looking for claimants to duchies can add a lot of territory to your kingdom. However, this causes a shift in power, as dukes can wage war against you using all of his vassals.
- Basically, don't surround yourself with vassals who have vasts amounts of power. Keep your vassals in check.
Contributed by djCynic