Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods in-depth Q&A

T.J. Hafer at

It's less than a month until the longships land to bring us The Old Gods, the pagan-focused expansion for Crusader Kings II. We've been keeping close tabs on new details at our Viking Analysis Desk, and today, we've got some extra meaty details for you. Below you'll find our massive Q&A with project lead Henrik Fåhraeus, covering everything from concubines to pagan sacred kings.

We've tried to mostly sail around previously-discussed info, so check out our previous interview, our analysis of the most recent livestream, and breakdowns of Dev Diary 1, Dev Diary 2, and Dev Diary 3.

PC Gamer: Will all ships be capable of traversing rivers, or will this be limited to a specific ship type?

Henrik Fåhraeus: It is not tied to a specific ship type, but only the Vikings can do it; and only until the adjacent counties become too fortified. That way, as a non-pagan, you can protect against river raiding by fortifying your holdings by the major river mouths (essentially representing fortified bridges, etc.).

About what year do you expect fortification technology to make river raids obsolete?

It should start happening fairly early, around 1000, and the process should basically be complete by 1100 AD.

Do these fortifications block friendly ships, as well? For instance, if I'm king of Holmgard and Koningard, will my fortifications eventually block my own ships from using my own rivers to get to the Mediterranean?

No, if you can hold the river provinces, you will always be able navigate them.

Where does the gold from a raid come from? Is it taken from the defending liege's treasury?

The approach we've taken in Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods is that the gold you plunder basically comes from the local population in the county; monks, burghers, rich farmers, etc. This is represented with a bar in the province view. The richer the total tax value of all the holdings in the county, the more gold can be looted. The bar is decreased while any siege is going on in the county, but you can only gain loot through the raiding mechanics. If the county has taken damage of this kind, the tax income is reduced proportionally until the bar is full again (it grows back slowly).

The fortification level of the holdings also plays an important part here; the higher it is, the more of the loot bar is locked down. If you want to loot past that limit, you need to actually occupy the castles, cities and temples in the county. When a holding is taken by raiders, it risks being permanently damaged (building upgrades are lost) or even completely destroyed... so you really need to chase off or hunt down raiders before that happens.

Can you flag your army for raid when you are at war with someone? Do normal wars affect the loot bar of a province at all?

You can toggle an army as a raider when it's in your realm, and you are always allowed to toggle it off (though rulers you have raided will still be hostile towards you for some time). All sieges damage the loot bar, but only raiding armies actually get money from it.

We know that Norse and Tengri rulers take a prestige penalty for not going to war or raiding for too long. What keeps them from just marking a small retinue as raiders, and parking it in some poor, indefensible, single-county ruler's land indefinitely to get around this?

If the raid is completely ineffective (can't besiege anything, getting no loot), you won't get around the penalty.

Can you raid other vassals of your liege if crown authority is low enough?

No, it's a neat idea, but there is no shortage of other raid targets.

Is the protected loot in a province based on the highest fortification level, the lowest fortification level, or some sort of average across all holdings?

It's a sum of the fort level in the county.

How are the children of concubines treated, in terms of legitimacy? Does this vary at all among pagan religions?

They are all legitimate in terms of inheritance, but like legitimized bastards in the Christian world, they are stuck with a permanent trait that slightly reduces their Diplomacy skill. This is, however, something we might still tweak.

If my Norse raider takes the wife of a Christian king as a concubine, and they have a child, would that child get a claim on the Christian ruler's lands?

No, but if you take a Christian princess as your concubine, your children might get weak claims on her father's lands.

Are provinces beside rivers considered coastal, for Republic/trade post purposes?

No. The republics cannot navigate the rivers and cannot build trade posts there. The major rivers are basically a Viking Era feature only.

What else can you tell us about the pagan reformations we've seen in the dev diaries and livestreams?

There are some significant downsides to being an unreformed pagan in Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods; your religion lacks organization and its faithful are vulnerable to conversion by the monotheistic religions. You cannot wage holy wars, but at least your homelands are very hostile to non-pagan troops (very low supply limit). However, even this advantage will evaporate when the Abrahamic rulers gain the requisite technology. So, unless you want to take a cold bath and eat a tasteless wafer, you might need to reform the old ways.

All religions now have five holy sites. If a single rulers controls at least three of them and has enough Piety, he can reform the religion. The various types of reformed pagans will either have Pope-like religious head (vassal to the reformer), or more like a Caliph, who is both secular ruler and head of the religion. Once you reform, you lose the home attrition bonus, but you can convert others (and resist conversion) as efficiently as the Abrahamics, you can start waging holy wars and pagan "Crusades", etc. Not everyone of your religion will choose to embrace the reformed faith; they will become a kind of heretics, but most will eventually convert given time.

Is the attrition bonus for unreformed pagans lost when the ruler converts, or when the population converts?

You only suffer the special attrition [when attacking] if both the county and ruler are pagan, unreformed, and outside your own realm. You can also prevent it if your tech is high enough. Lastly, Tengri pagans do not enjoy this advantage; they have a very powerful Tribal Invasion casus belli instead.

How plausible is it to maintain a pagan kingdom without reformation all the way to the 15th Century?

It's definitely possible, if you can grow so powerful that your Christian and Muslim neighbors fear attacking you. However, you will likely get Crusades coming your way, and being stuck with Gavelkind and the [higher than normal] short reign opinion penalty of unreformed pagans makes ruling a large realm difficult in the long run.

On the next page: The Norse pagan sacred kingship and the quest for Vinland.