Crusader Kings 2: The Old Gods dev diary explains pillage and plunder mechanics

The much-anticipated pagan expansion for Crusader Kings II, The Old Gods, draws ever nearer to release, with the devs revealing in a livestream that it is currently "feature complete" and undergoing QA testing. Among these freshly-completed features is the ability for the new playable pagans to raid their neighbors for delicious gold: a system that was explained in today's dev diary.

The way raiding works will be based on which pagan religion you are playing. If you're anything but Norse, you'll be able to raid any land provinces adjacent to your realm that are not under your control, and of a different religion. Raiding drains a new wealth bar that exists in every province—the lower this bar gets, the less gold the province's liege will receive from it in taxes. Raiding can be countered by improving your fortifications, which puts a cap on how much wealth the raiders can take. A large raiding force, however, can siege your holdings as normal for an even larger share of plunder, possibly triggering events that can damage or destroy buildings, improvements, and even entire holdings.

Troops must be flagged as raiders for these mechanics to take effect. Once you do this, you will become hostile to any foreign province you move into, and raiding will happen automatically with no need for a declaration of war.

If you happen to be a Norse pagan, things get a little more interesting. You'll have the opportunity to raid further afield, along with the mechanics to support it. Norse raiders aren't restricted to border countries—they can raid anywhere that they have a ship in a neighboring body of water. This includes the new, traversable river systems, which will only be accessible by Norse ships. The fleet acts as a drop-off point for your loot, and bringing more ships will let you store a larger haul. Unlike border raids, your pillaged cash won't be added to your treasury until the ships return safely to port.

Unfortunately, much like real life, the Viking Age will eventually draw to a close. Once the fortifications in a riverside province get to a certain level (some time around the 1066 AD start of the original game, I'd imagine), and depending on what the AI prioritizes, those river tiles will block all hostile ships. Whether this applies to friendly Norsemen with military access, we're not sure. But that and more should be answered in our upcoming, gigantic Old Gods Q&A next week.

This is all tied in, of course, with the fact that Norse and Tengri pagan rulers will take hits to their Prestige (and consequently, vassal opinion) for remaining at peace for long periods. The dev diary confirms that this system intentionally "forces aggressive pagans (especially lower rank ones, like counts) to raid unless they want to live with negative Prestige." This can be avoided by converting, or reforming your pagan religion—but more on that in the Q&A.

The next Dev Diary is scheduled for April 17, and we'll be ready here at the PC Gamer Viking Analysis Desk to remove its entrails and ascertain all we can.