A Crusader’s Handbook: Playing as Tribal in Crusader Kings 3

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Tribal rulers have a lot more freedom and options when conquering but they do have drawbacks.

Playing as a Tribal ruler in Crusader Kings 3 is almost similar to what you may have experienced in CK2. However, with the changes and additions to CK3, there are some concepts you may want to reorient and familiarize yourselves with. Even more so if this is your first time playing any Crusader Kings title. Anyway, here’s our Crusader’s Handbook a.k.a guide if you want to play as a Tribal Government in Crusader Kings 3.

Author’s Note: Some of the screenshots were taken before the 1.1 update, so the UI may look different in some of them. Although, the information included reflects the changes in the latest patch.

Pros and Cons of Playing Tribal

Right before we head on over to the nitty gritty parts of this guide, here’s a quick pro and con in playing a Tribal Government. Of course, if you wish to know more about why these are the reasons then read on.

ProsCons
Main resource is Prestige and lots of ways to earn itLocked at Confederate Partition Succession
Powerful Armies:
- Men at Arms bought and maintained by Prestige
- It's cheap to recruit Knights to your court
- Easier to buy Mercenaries since Prestige is main resource
Holdings and Buildings are weaker in terms of fort level
Conquest, Invasion, and Subjugation Casus Belli makes it easy to expand realmNew Holdings cannot be created
Tribal Authority is easier to upgrade than Crown AuthorityTribal Authority is weaker in terms of restrictions, actions, and management of your realm.
Development only affects supply limit and not taxes and levies

A tribe’s most important resource: Prestige and Fame

Prestige got a big bump in importance in Crusader Kings 3. It’s no longer just a means of announcing your ruler’s greatness to the world but also a currency. Especially for tribal lords as this will be their main resource for a lot of things even more than gold. Prestige for tribal governments affect the following:

  • Construction and upgrades of Buildings and Holdings
  • Creation and maintenance of Men at Arms
  • Using conquest Casus Belli against a ruler of a different faith
  • Increasing Tribal Authority

Then of course you have other actions that cost prestige which are universal to all government types. Anyway, this is why prestige is the most important resource for tribal governments as each move you make will probably cost prestige.

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Armies are also maintained by both prestige (Men at Arms) and gold (Levies). However, unlike other government types, you have a prestige penalty for unraised armies. So, raiding and waging war is highly recommended when you’re just starting out with a new ruler.

Level of Fame

As Prestige is your main resource so is your Level of Fame. Not only does it dictate your ability to conquer other realms but it also controls your Vassal’s Tax and Levy contributions. Each level of fame increases your tax and levy contribution by 10% and 20%, respectively. Meaning at the highest level (The Living Legend), Vassals are obliged to provide 50% of their income and 100% of their armies.

Earning Prestige

So if prestige is so important, how can we earn them as tribal rulers. Luckily, tribes have a special way of earning prestige as well as cheaper means of getting them.

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Raiding

As with CK2, tribal rulers have a unique military option — Raiding. Since prestige and gold gain are a little low for a tribal government, they are given the option to pillage and loot their neighbors. To raise your raiding party just head on over to the military tab (F3) then click “Raise all as Raiders”. Alternatively, you can toggle an already raised army to raid as long as they are in friendly areas. Sadly, your Marshal no longer has that special action of spawning raiding parties like in CK2. So, you have to solely rely on your levies and Men at Arms.

The exchange rate is a 1:1 affair, for each gold you take back home, you’ll earn the same amount of prestige. This is your quickest way of earning both resource as a tribal ruler. Take care though, if your army is attacked and defeated you’ll lose all your loot. So, make sure to double check whether the realm you’re raiding isn’t one that can hit back or just do a quick hit and run. Also make it a habit to check the holding you’re raiding if it’s still lootable. A recently raided place will have a notification once you select your army.

Joining Wars

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Another method is to join the wars of your allies. If you’re a participant in someone else’s war you’ll gain prestige base on your contributions. This is a nice way to help your friends and at the same time earn some sweet “P”. In single-player it’s even easier as AI’s always call on their allies when they are at war. Of course, make sure you are at a spot where you can help, financially, militarily, and location-wise.

Word of caution, declining your ally’s call to war has an impact on fame. The penalties are bigger if you refuse to join a defensive war. So, take it slow with the number of alliances if you don’t want to be plunged into multiple wars. After all, your Level of Fame is your most important resource, if you drop a level it can seriously impact your realm.

Creating and Usurping Titles

Another quick and easy way to earn huge amounts of prestige is by creating or usurping titles. Duchy titles grant 300 prestige, Kingdoms give 400, and Empire ones grant 500. If you start at the earliest point in the game, 867, then most of the lands are still fragmented. Meaning, you have a lot of opportunity to create titles once you start conquering lands. Plus creation costs a lot cheaper compared to other government types. However, do hold off on creating all the titles you can with one ruler.

Unless, that’s what you want and you really need all the prestige you can get. Having duchy and kingdom titles certainly make it easier for you to control your realm, vassal-wise. Although, it may leave your next ruler dry from this bonus. Usurping a title, on the other hand, just transfers its ownership to you if you control most of its De Jure lands. It costs a bit more than creating but is yet another way of earning extra prestige during realm expansions.

Romancing your Spouse

If you need a one time big time Prestige gain then you may want to check if you can Romance your spouse. A successful romancing of your spouse can net you a huge amount of Prestige, the lowest we ever got was 350 and the highest we’ve ever earned was 1,500. This is not just a good way to earn fame but also locks in your spouse as your soulmate. Declaring your undying love, in a court-approved manner, throughout the realm. Not to mention, this is also a great way to advance your Level of Fame quickly.

Holding Feasts and Calling Hunts

The minor decisions of holding feasts and calling hunts are not just a good way of lowering stress but also a source of prestige. Then of course, you have random events during the hunt, which may grant prestige. There’s also a guaranteed 150 prestige at the end of both of these events. Although, these decisions are only available every 5 years, so use them wisely.

Lifestyle Perks and Focus

There are a few Lifestyle Perks that grant passive extra Prestige gain and there are also a few that grant them actively. Here are the perks you can grab along with their bonuses.

Diplomacy

For Diplomacy, the August skill tree gives the most number of prestige percent bonuses as well as the only perk that let’s you exchange Gold for Prestige and Renown. Here are the bonuses to prestige you can get from this skill tree:

  • Majesty Focus — Grants +1 Diplomacy and +1 Monthly Prestige
  • Inspiring Rule — Grants+5% Monthly Prestige per Powerful Vassal on the Council.
  • Firm Hand — Grants +1% Monthly Prestige per Dread.
  • Praetorian Guard — Grants +2% Monthly Prestige per Knight.
  • Writing History — Can use the Commission Epic Decision (Grants Prestige, Renown, Piety, and extra passive Prestige gain depending on your choice)
  • August Trait — Grants +2 Diplomacy, +1 Martial, and +1 Monthly Prestige.
Martial

Sadly, there is only one Martial perk that grants bonus to prestige and it’s the trait on the Gallant tree. It grants +2 Martial +4 Prowess +20% Monthly Prestige, and +20 Attraction Opinion.

Random Events

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Then you have the most unreliable source of prestige, and quite frankly any other resource — Random Events. These events pop-up every now and then, from your lifestyle choices to councilors and spouses doing well in court and other factors. Sometimes you may get lucky and nab a few prestige here and there from these events. There are however, lifestyle focuses that trigger events that grant higher prestige more than others. Again these events are unreliable, so if you badly need prestige then check on the other options above.

Tribal Authority and its implications

Now let’s talk about a Ruler’s “Authority” over their subjects and realm. In this case Tribal Authority as we are a tribal government. At the start you’ll have a fragmented realm where you have no authority whatsoever. Basically, you’re just a leader of the land. At the lowest Tribal Authority the only bonus you get is positive opinion from your Direct Vassals. You can’t even imprison characters, which is a crucial game element. Although, as you gradually increase your Authority it opens up a lot more options.

Sadly Tribal Authority, even at its peak, only grants Title Revocation, Vassal Retraction, and Imprisonment. Making it a far weaker tool than the Feudal or Clan’s Crown Authority. As it doesn’t prevent you from losing land when vassals die and someone outside the realm inherits and it also doesn’t prevent vassals from fighting each other. So, there will be a lot of in fighting which can severely lower your military power as vassals in wars will most likely use their levies rather than provide them to you.

However, even though Tribal Authority is weaker than Crown Authority, it’s way easier to upgrade. All you need is Prestige and you’re golden. You don’t even need any specific Cultural Innovation, unlike Crown Authority. Do take note though, it may be better to increase Tribal Authority when your ruler is still of a lower rank. Since upgrade costs are higher for Kings and Emperors.

Having an ever expanding and powerful Army thanks to Men at Arms, Cheap Knights, and Mercenaries

One of the biggest advantages of playing as a Tribal ruler is your ability to create Men at Arms with the use of Prestige. Since you have several ways to earn heaps of Prestige in one go, buying and increasing a Men at Arms regiment is quick and easy. Even more so with the 1.1 update that reduced Men at Arms costs. This means, most of the time, you’ll have a quality army. Couple that with the low price of inviting characters, such as knights, to your court and your army is guaranteed to be a powerhouse or a flexible fighting machine.

Not to mention, since you can expand quickly, you can increase your realm’s levy size rapidly. There’s also the fact that buildings and holdings are rather cheap and title creation is also on the affordable-side. So, you have a lot more leeway with your gold spending. Thanks to prestige being your main resource. So, if managed correctly, you’ll have a lot of dough to hire Mercenaries during wars. Further bolstering your already powerful armies or in some cases tipping the scales.

Expanding your realm through the beauty of Conquests, Invasion, and Subjugation

Apart from having strong and expansive military prowess thanks to using what we mentioned above, Tribal Governments have access to some special Casus Bellis. Unlike Feudal governments that require a proper claim to wage war against their neighbors, tribes can simply conquer land. Depending on their level of fame, a Tribal ruler may invade a Kingdom (once per lifetime only), conquer a Duchy, or conquer a County.

Additionally, they may Subjugate another Ruler (once per lifetime) forcing them to be your vassal, as well as taking their primary title. This makes it easy for a Tribal ruler to quickly expand their realm, even achieving the status of “Emperor” in just one lifetime. Be wary though, some of these actions cost tons of Prestige, especially the Invade and Subjugate Casus Bellis. So, be sure to manage your prestige accordingly.

Succession Law: Getting around Confederate Partition

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Not everything about being a tribal ruler is great. The biggest downside, aside from low income and weak holdings, is that you’re stuck at the worst succession law possible — Confederate Partition. This succession law not only divides your titles equally among your eligible heirs, it also create ones for your younger children. Meaning as long as you hold enough of a title’s De Jure land they will automatically be created upon your death. So, it won’t matter if you don’t create a title to prevent your realm from splitting.

What’s worse is the automatic creation will prioritize the title that’s at the same rank as your primary heir. For example, if you’re a King and you can create another kingdom but choose not to, that one will be inherited by one of your younger heirs. Effectively splitting your realm upon succession since the younger won’t be a vassal of your primary heir as they will both be Kings. So what are your options to avoid this? Here are a few.

Controlling childbirth

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

The safest way of avoiding the terror that is Confederate Partition is to control your number of children/heirs. You can do this by taking on the Learning Lifestyle and working towards the “Restraint” perk. Allowing you to embrace or abandon Celibacy. Effectively, giving you the reigns of your ruler’s reproductive capabilities. However, this is done best if you’re playing with a ruler who has no children yet or you’ve just switched to your heir. Oh and whatever you do, don’t grab a Reveler trait as it blocks Celibacy. So, either embrace it first before going to feasts or forgo Reveler entirely.

Since Restraint requires only two perk points to achieve, it’s better to get it early on then switch to the lifestyle you want afterwards. Another thing to do is to keep your primary heir unmarried until such time as he/she succeeds. That way, you’re still in control of childbirth and spouse choice. Don’t forget to also be wary of having your primary heir inherit land. Once they become an independent ruler you will no longer have any control over their choices.

If in the event your spouse died and you do not have the ability to become celibate but have already chosen an heir. Then your next best bet would be to marry a 45 year old female as this is the age of menopause in the game. This way you can still make use of their bonus stats as a spouse while keeping your number of children in check. Of course, this won’t work if you’re a female ruler as men never go senile in the game.

Disinheritance

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

Another easy yet expensive way of getting past partition is through disinheritance. A new feature available in CK3 but only accessible to Dynasty Heads. This is a legal way to remove title succession from your children. They still remain in your house but they will no longer inherit any title. While really easy to do, it costs 300 prestige and 150 renown. Prestige is not the problem, Renown is since its mainly gained passively. With the exception of the “Commission Epic” perk that grants 50-75 renown. So, if you’re starting out as a House with just a few members, earning it can be quite hard.

Asking Heirs to join a Holy Order

crusader kings 3 tribal guide

If you have heirs that have a Martial education then you can ask or force them to join Holy Orders. If they do, this will disqualify them from the line of succession as well as remove their ability to have children. It’s even easier if you’re the house head as you’ll have weak hooks on them. Increasing the chance of them accepting your command.

Killing off your heirs

The hardest and most depressing way to avoiding Confederate Partition is to kill off your other heirs. If ever you were unsuccessful in controlling your number of children this may be your last resort. This is easier if your current ruler is Sadistic, since you can undertake murder schemes against your children. If not, your best bet is to plunge them into battle when they become adults. Luckily, as tribal you won’t need to be in wars to engage in combat you can just raid to become hostile to another realm.

Now, if you wish for your other heirs to perish under the blades of your enemies, create a small raiding party and make them the commander. Then make them raid realms with stronger military prowess, or those currently at war. After becoming hostile with another realm just continuously engage their armies with your small party. If you’re lucky your heirs may die during combat or at least get wounded. Then you can just rinse and repeat until only your desired heir remains. A brutal and evil but effective way of trimming down the competition.

Changing to Feudal or Clan

You’re not limited to being a tribal ruler for the rest of your gameplay. If you so wish, you have a choice of adopting Feudalism or the Clan structure. This opens a whole lot of options for you and your realm but you’ll also lose some of the benefits of a tribal government. Either way, if you do decide to change to Feudal or Clan you’ll need a few things:

  • Absolute Tribal Authority
  • An Organized Faith
  • Unlocked all Tribal Era Innovations
  • Have at least 5 development in your capital
  • Distinguished Level of Fame

And that’s it! If you have any more questions don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below. If we got any information wrong then don’t do hit us up too. Goodluck and enjoy your sessions as a Tribal ruler!