Crusader Kings III will feature wandering characters who will roam across the world according to their own agendas, stirring up more of the Medieval drama for which the series has become so known. They may show up at your court looking for employment, or perhaps even your help to press an enticing claim.
Speaking with us at PDX Con this year, game director Henrik Fåhraeus and designer Alexander Oltner shared a few more details of the character-centric design that has been a key message since the CK3 reveal on Saturday.
“One of the design pillars was characters first,” Fåhraeus says. “They need to shine, so if a mechanic or gameplay system doesn’t feature characters prominetly we wanted to put them in there. We’re not gonna talk about the tech system much just yet, but there is a character there now, and warfare features characters in combat more prominently.”
That’ll be an allusion to knights, which Fåhraeus enigmatically assured us are “important” in combat at a press briefing. Oltner elaborates that knights can be “chosen from your vassals or members of your court, and you can recruit wandering knights that may come by and offer their services. Usually you might not have a full roster of knights, because you can have quite a few, but you can always have your own family members as knights, your sons or brothers, or land some more vassals.”
And so to wandering characters. “That’s actually one of the differences in CK3 that we haven’t talked about yet,” Fåhraeus says. “There will be wandering characters that wander around the map and show up at different courts.” There may be any number of reasons why a character could do this: perhaps they’ve been exiled, or might be former royalty in countries that have been dissolved by war, or just bored siblings of a ruler that have nothing to do – they will often have family connections elsewhere.
“We think it’s cool for the emergent stories that the game is known for that these chars are kept in circulation and don’t disappear,” Fåhraeus adds. “They will often have a specific talent, if you will – some will have high learning, and may be useful as court chaplains or physicians.”
But the most interesting characters, with the most exciting potential for you as a ruler, are probably the wandering claimants. “Like an ambitious brother who isn’t getting any land, they might just wander off and appear in your court,” Oltner says, “and say hey, do you want to press my claim? I will become your vassal.”
Fåhraeus adds that Paradox wants to keep building on this system and have historical figures showing up that may not necessarily be nobility, but influential people who’d have been born at the time. He gives Chaucer as an off-the-cuff example.
Henrik and Alex also shared word of some of the top-tier talents in CK3’s expanded lifestyle trees, such as the ability to forge alliances without marriage or extort or seduce whomever you want. Throw in a bunch of vengeful princelings disaffected after a rival conquest, and it sounds like CK3 will offer some brand new and thrilling opportunites for aspiring Machiavellis. Crusader Kings III is on Steam here and due for release some time next year.