Zoroastrianism is an ancient Iranian religion and a religious philosophy. It was once the state religion of the Achaemenid Empire and Sassanid Empire. In the eastern part of ancient Persia over a thousand years BC a religious philosopher called Zoroaster simplified the pantheon of early Iranian gods into two opposing forces: Ahura Mazda (Illuminating Wisdom) and Angra Mainyu (Destructive Spirit) which were in conflict. Zoroaster's ideas led to a formal religion bearing his name by about the 6th century BCE.
In Crusader Kings II Zoroastrianism is a minor religion whose adherents mostly live east of the Caspian Sea. There is only one main branch of Zoroastrianism, plus a couple of heresies. Zoroastrian characters require The Old Gods DLC to play.
Head - Moabadan-Moabad
Holy sites - Jajarm, Nok, Kakhesasan, Takht-e Soleyman, Takht-i-Sangin
Zoroastrians worship Ahura Mazda, the uncreated God, as proclaimed by the ancient Iranian prophet Zoroaster. It was the official religion of all Persian empires (except the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire) until the Muslim conquest of the Sassanid Empire in 651. The ancient form of the religion involved great sacred hill top fires, the exposure of dead bodies to scavenger birds for cleansing, and religious close-kin marriages in imitation of Ahura Mazda and Zoroaster. Defining features in-game:
- Rulers can marry close kin to improve vassal opinions.
- Can have a religious head (the Moabadan-Moabad) if the Persian Empire is retaken.
The only two playable independant zoroastrian characters in 867 are the Satrap Vandad of Karen Satrapy, and count of something bordering with Abbasids, so he's as good as dead, sometimes getting holy-warred by 3 muslim powers at once. Needless to say, you will choose Karen Satrapy (or you don't have to if feeling very brave). Now, to have some more land and army you should expand. Remember, everyone can declare a holy war on you, but you can do the same to them. Most of your neighbours to south and east are strong sunni powers. In west side there's a weak shia ruler, but sunnis mostly wipe him out immediately. To the north are number of pagan states. The state you want to expand on are the Yagbuids, who usually get invaded by Cumans, and if you have a bit of skill, and good timing it should be a walk in the park, especially with your starting event troops and mercenaries you'll hire along the way. However, try to save as many of these event troops as possible. After you're done with Yagbuids, prepare to war with sunni powers. They're stronger than you but you can blitzkrieg them into oblivion. Personally, I invaded Samanids who were busy with another war, and took rich Duchy of Khiva. Next, without disbanding the mercs I turned on the Saffarids, rulers of Persian Kingdom, who were also in some another war. You should be powerful enough by now, and AI shouldn't consume you at this point. Make economy improvements in capital and recruit some retinues. You can also expand in the north, just don't go to far, the further you go the more the provinces are poor. And you couldn't handle attrition penalty in defensive pagan religions. Now that you've build up economy and your army, attack some sunni sultan, you should be strong as him, and also make sure he has trouble with sunni neighbours before attacking, otherwise Abbasids might join their war. Try to time this around the time shias raise their caliphate, so sunnis will be distracted. Try to holy war for holy sites of zoroastrianism. The only thing that can destroy you is Abbasid empire, and only if they conquered the whole Arabian peninsula. Also try avoiding sunni holy sites (Baghdad), so they don't unlock Jihads earlier than they should. If they do, its likely that they will Jihad you. When you have enough money for more mercs, aim for the Persian empire title, once you get it, you get your holy order, and a religious head. Vassalize them both, so you can raise the Immortals at reduced cost, and pay no upkeep for them. From this point on, you can conquer whatever you want.
There are other strategies to form Persian empire (creating the empire should be your goal). You can swear fealty to some sunni sultans, and with good intrigue, good spymaster, and high-intrigue wife start factions, make assassination, plots, and everything you need to depose the sunni ruler and instantly become a king.
You could also play as Magyars, expand all the way down to Caspian sea, take a zoroastrian wife/concubine and convert to her religion. But if you can't find one, this strategy falls apart (because you want to be zoroastrian, and you can't). If this however happens, try to find a zoroastrian guard for your heir.
There is also another way. Each time someone declares holy war on you, convert to his religion, and convert later to your original religion, and that way you can "hide" from muslim powers until you become strong enough.
Close-kin marriage - Zoroastrian rulers are not subject to the normal marriage restrictions between brothers and sisters, and parents and children. Such close-kin marriages are considered sacred in Zoroastrian custom and such marriages are looked upon favourably by vassal Zoroastrian rulers.
Restoring the High Priesthood - If Zoroastrianism becomes the state religion of Persia, i.e. the ruler of the Empire of Persia is Zoroastrian, it is possible to reinstate the ancient office of Moabadan-Moabad - the Priest of Priests and head of the Zoroastrian faith. In addition to holding the Empire of Persia, restoring the High Priesthood requires 300 piety.
Saoshyant - The Saoshyant is a figure prophesied by Zoroaster, founder of the Zoroastrian religion, to be the chosen saviour of the world. A Zoroastrian ruler can declare himself the Saoshyant if he holds the Empire of Persia and all duchies in the de jure empire. 1500 piety is also required. The Saoshyant gains a unique trait which gives a relations boost with all Zoroastrian rulers. Similarly, all descendents of the Saoshyant gain a trait which gives a relations boost with all Zoroastrian rulers.