This diary first appeared in PC Gamer magazine issue 361. We do one every month, taking on new challenges and approaching our favourite games from entirely new angles—and letting you know how we got on.
This is the second part of our Crusader Kings 3 diary. Read the first part here.
Last time in King Randy of Scotland’s quest to roger his way to glory in Crusader Kings III, I left him preparing to, ah, insert himself into the marriage of Petty King Gudrød Haraldsen and his wife Princess Ragnhild. This isn’t solely because Ragnhild is far too comely to be lumbered with a mere Petty King, although it certainly sweetens the deal. Specifically, I want to break up Gudrød’s alliance with Ragnhild’s father, King Olav III of Norway, thereby softening up Scotland’s western isles for conquest.
Despite a 95% chance of success in Randy’s seduction scheme, however, Princess Ragnhild rejects his advances! What could she possibly not see in a middle-aged monarch whose hobbies include sleeping with the pox-ridden King of Sweden?
King Randy hasn’t been rejected before. He takes it well, immediately setting up a new plot to murder Princess Ragnhild. But then I notice Norway is currently embroiled in two different wars, which means Olav probably won’t have many reinforcements to help a Petty King cling on to Scotland’s right arse-cheek. I take the gamble and declare war on Gudrød. Norway joins the war immediately, but its army never shows up, and I sweep aside Gudrød’s meagre forces with ease. Sometimes it’s best to skip foreplay and get straight down to business.
With all of Scotland bar the northernmost tip under his control (Randy has always had trouble controlling his tip) the king is feeling pretty good about himself. The game recognises it to, notifying me that Randy has earned enough renown to unlock a dynastic legacy, a house trait that will be passed down through the generations. After exactly five seconds of deliberation, I select ‘Bounteous Loins’.
On the subject of bounteous loins, Randy finds a way to put the ever-ripening fruits of his to use. ‘Helen\’, Randy’s unfortunately named daughter, has come of age. As Randy seeks a husband for her, he discovers that King Olav has recently lost his wife. Within moments, King Olav has a brand new wife, and King Randy has a powerful new ally. Helen\ doesn’t get a say, because the medieval world was dreadful.
Everything seems to be going gravy for Randy when he is suddenly dealt two crushing blows. One of Randy’s earls reveals that Duke Gospatric, Randy’s Chancellor, long-time lover, and soulmate, is cheating on him with a lad named William. Conveniently ignoring the fact that he has several lovers himself, Randy issues an ultimatum – it’s me or him. Gospatric chooses William. “Nothing compares to it,” he says. “Not even you.” Ouch.
'Til death do us part
Mere days after this arrow through Randy’s heart, the Grim Reaper rips it out and stamps on it. Queen Ximena, Randy’s wife of 20 years, keels over dead. Randy may have cheated on her liberally, but his feelings for her were genuine, and the seven children they had seemed to have been borne from genuine affection.
The combined stress of losing both his wife and his soulmate is too much for Randy, and he suffers a mental breakdown. The only solace he finds is at the bottom of a whisky bottle, and he gains the drunkard trait. Wracked by grief, guilt, and booze, he decides to openly announce his four bastard children, all of whom were borne by his second lover, his lowborn courtier Malmure.
For Randy, this mistake is costly. He gains the ‘Adulterer’ trait and is considered a sinner in the eyes of the church. For poor Malmure, however, it’s catastrophic. Not only is she shunned by her husband Owain, who Randy set her up with as a sort-of apology for leaving her with four of his kids to look after, but all those children are formally moved into Randy’s household, leaving Malmure with nobody. She dies shortly afterward under mysterious circumstances, likely murdered by Owain.
This terrible run of events leaves Randy bruised, but still standing. Well, certain parts of him are, anyway. He begins his recovery by searching for a new wife. I scroll through the list of available ladies, and am somewhat baffled by the appearance of a Mòrag Cockburn. At first I wonder whether this is one of Randy’s children that I’ve forgotten about, he isn’t exactly short of them. But it turns out to be pure coincidence, as there’s a second, much smaller House Cockburn in Scotland.
Regardless, Mòrag fits Randy’s bill. She has the lustful trait, while her character pages notes that she is a ‘giant’. Statistically, this gives her a five-point deduction in attractiveness, demonstrating Crusader Kings III is yet to kneel at the altar of Lady Dimitrescu. For his part, Randy likes to sample love in all its flavours, and is wedded to Brienne of Airth within days.
No sooner are nuptials attended to than Randy’s prowling for other covers to slip between. Duke Gospatric slinks back into the picture, making not-so-subtle advances toward Randy. I consider telling him to go boil his head, but sex is a great stress reliever for Randy, and a dalliance with Gospatric will reset his stress level to zero. Randy has bigger ideas, too. He’s already enjoyed an affair with a king (riddled with venereal disease though Erik of Sweden may have been), and according to contemporary medical advice, it would be of great imbalance to his humours if he didn’t pursue a fling with a Queen.
Randy casts his roving eye across Europe. It returns with a finger in it. Nearly all the queens of western Europe are docile, zealously religious types, morally opposed to a roll in the hay with a sinful drunkard. Everything east of Byzantium, meanwhile is too distant for meaningful character interactions. He does manage strike up an affair with the ‘Queen’ of Aquitaine. But let’s face it, Aquitaine is not at real country. At best it’s a duchy with ideas above its station.
Fortunately, it isn’t long before fate intervenes. William the Conqueror dies, leaving the throne of England to some piffling 14-year-old teenager, but he’s betrothed to a woman rather amusingly named Amburga. Randy once had an affair with Amburga when she visited his court, presumably allured by her seedy buns. It turns out she still holds affection for him, providing an opportunity to become very personally acquainted with the future Queen of England.
Randy begins to pursue Amburga like a hungry man in McDonald’s. Unfortunately, things get off to a bad start, as I accidentally click the ‘Romance’ scheme rather than the ‘Seduction’ scheme. And it gets worse from there. By the time his romance scheme completes, the young King of England has “died under mysterious circumstances”, and has been replaced by Queen Hermine, flipping Amburga right out of contention. Instead of sinking his teeth into a Big Tasty, Randy has ended up pledging his soul to the Saver Menu. I would say it should teach him not to eat fast food, but it would be a hiding to nothing.
Randy stops chasing queens for now, and instead focussing on expanding Scottish territory into Ireland, nibbling away at the provinces of Ulster and Oriel. Tragedy strikes once more, however, when Randy’s second-eldest son Alastair is grievously wounded in combat. Randy hires a physician to save him, but the quack botches the operation and Alastair dies.
This is followed by further misfortune. Days later, Duke Gospatric also dies, in a manner almost identical to that of Alastair. It’s a particularly gruesome death, Gospatric’s character page notes he was “brutally mauled” by his incompetent doctor, while his portrait wears a black mask to conceal the damage. The double-shot of grief is too much for Randy, and he suffers a second breakdown, this time taking to brothels to distract himself from the loss.
At this point, Randy’s sex life takes a turn for the surreal. He takes on a new lover, a young woman named Euá, and is enjoying a nightcap with her when in walks the Duchess Gruoch, who happens to be Randy’s Spymaster. Either Gruoch is terrible at her job, or she planned this. Unfazed, Randy calmly asks his mistress of whispers to join in the fun. Which she does! No sooner has Gruoch left Randy’s bed, she joins a rebellion against him to free the Gaelic province of Buchan from his control. There’s poor performance, and there’s inciting revolt from your own Spymaster.
No sooner has Randy dealt with this bit of sexual whiplash, he has a conversation with his wife Mòrag in which she intimates that she likes to lie with horses, by which I don’t mean she enjoys telling them fibs. Mòrag’s revelations earn her the trait ‘Deviant’. Frankly, I’d be surprised if Randy wasn’t likeminded, but mercifully he doesn’t get the chance to explore this, ah, equestrian take on an open marriage. Shortly after the reveal, Mòrag dies abruptly. For a moment I worry what exactly it is she died of, but her character page reveals the cause of death as gout. While unpleasant, it’s far preferable to what I had imagined.
Randy deals with his grief in two ways: marrying a third time (to a woman whose name I genuinely can’t remember) and arranging for his daughter Isabel to marry Benoit, the new King of France. In the process, he discovers that Benoit is gay, and cannot resist the idea of bedding a hot new king.
Sleeping with the husband of one of his daughters is probably the single most King Randy thing King Randy has ever done. His eldest daughter Rodina berates him for being a “Lecherous Bedswerver”. Bizarrely, this outburst makes Randy less stressed. It seems Rodina has been in a Polish prison for several years, and Randy takes her anger as a sign that she’s coping with her ordeal. I don’t grok the logic, but let’s face it, Randy lives on a different planet. One where all the trees are suggestively shaped, and where you really don’t want to go paddling in the oceans.
By this point Randy is in his 60s, but he hasn’t let go of his plan to bed the Queen of England. There have been several English queens since his last effort. The latest is Queen Cecilia, who is also the ruler of England, rather than being wife to a King. Randy considered approaching her earlier, but a seduction scheme would have proved futile because she “loves her husband” like a loser. Luckily, that husband is dead now, leaving Randy free to do what Randy does best.
I should point out that Randy is attempting his latest lech having just beaten Queen Cecilia in a war over the county of Dunbar. A bunch of civil wars in the wake of King William’s death left England militarily weak, and Randy used his alliance with Norway to strongarm Dunbar back across the Scottish border. “I stole your land, wanna come back to my place?” is one hell of a pick-up line, but Randy’s overcome worse odds before. He puts on the charm and before he knows it, Princess Cecilia is wrapped around his finger.
Hold on. Princess Cecilia?!
Oh for the love of, well, everyone. It turns out Queen Cecilia has been overthrown, the throne now belonging to King William II. Randy’s quest to seduce the Queen of England has failed again, and sadly, he won’t get a third chance.
At the age of 65, King Randy dies in his favourite place, his bed. It may not quite be doing what he loves, but it’s a better death than most can ask for in the medieval world, and frankly a better one that he probably deserves. He leaves the throne to his eldest son, the equally Randy II. There isn’t time nor space to tell his tale, but let’s be honest, he’d struggle to live up to his dad.