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

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Which reformed pagans will have a Pope-like head of religion, and which ones will have a Caliph-like one? How did you make this decision?

Only the Norse have a Caliph-like mechanic. The rest are like the Pope or, more accurately, like the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch who is vassal to a secular ruler. The reason that the Norse are different is basically the ancient Germanic tradition of the sacred kingship, where royal bloodlines were often claimed to be descended from gods. For example, according to the sagas, the Yngling dynasty originated with the god Frey (Yngvi-Frey). Kings were even expected to perform priestly duties and sacrifice at the blot (something the early Christian kings had immense problems with). So, the reformed Norse faith has the "Fylkir"—the King of the People—who resembles a Caliph.

When you reform your pagan religion, do you still retain all of the unique CBs (such as Prepared/Horde invasions, the Muslim-style border conquests, and subjugation through "become King" ambitions)?

You completely lose the Subjugation CB, but not the others. However, the Prepared Invasion CB essentially stops being an option once you've become powerful enough; it's only allowed for small to mid-sized realms. Instead of the Subjugation CB, reformed pagans get the Holy War CB.

Does subjugation only work on independent rulers, or could you subjugate a rival king-wannabe's vassals?

It only works on independent rulers.

In the Old Gods livestream, the Reformation of the Norse Faith event seemed to fire when nobody was anywhere close to holding the five holy sites. Was that just something that was scripted to happen for the stream, or is there an alternate way for that to happen?

You only need three of the five sites, provided you have enough piety. However, in our beta builds, it's been too easy, so we've moved many holy sites to more difficult positions. We are still actively testing and balancing this.

With something ahistorical like pagan reformations, is this something we will see happening pretty uniformly in the 867 start, or will it be a bit less likely to see the AI go for it?

You should almost never see the AI attain this. The AI will tend to convert to an Abrahamic faith long before it can take three Holy Sites and get enough Piety.

Will any of the reformed pagans function like Orthodox Christianity, where realms might have an autocephalous regional High Priest?

No, there is only one High Priest and no autocephalous ones, or pentarchs.

Who rules Iceland in 867, considering there... weren't any humans there at that point? How did you make that choice?

Well, truth to be told, we cheated a bit and gave Iceland to independent Norse rulers, though it's at least a decade early. It's not a huge stretch and the island is even poorer and more peripheral than it is in 1066.

If you're playing as the Mongols or the Magyars, will you get events to spawn the sorts of doomstacks we've seen the AI using when you elect to invade a kingdom?

Well, yes. There is a new bookmark where you can play the Mongols just after they've arrived at the edge of the map. The Magyars in 867 also start with a fairly large force, although nowhere close to the hordes of the late game Mongols.

Are pagan warrior cults still in the game at this point?

No, they have been removed completely. Instead, a similar bonus derives directly from the religion of the county. And unreformed pagans have a hard time converting other religions.

We haven't heard much about the Norse fracturing event, which creates the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian cultures yet. What can you tell us about it? When does it fire, what are the conditions, is it inevitable, etc?

It tends to happen after 1050 or so; counties start flipping culture as a national identity starts to develop and dialects diverge. The rulers can then choose to embrace the process or not. It is hard to stop, but a stubborn player can remain Norse and the provinces can then start flipping back in the late game.

So say I'm a Norse ruler who just happened to conquer part of Tunisia at some point. How does the game decide which of the three fractured cultures I now belong to, with no historical basis for such a thing?

Independent Norse rulers outside Scandinavia will remain Norse, since the process only occurs within the de jure kingdoms of [Norway, Denmark, and Sweden]. However, Norse vassals to, say, a Danish king, will tend to become Danish. This is not so strange considering that, arguably, remote Iceland remains Norse to this day (despite having been part of Norway or Denmark for most of its history).

Does the split happen all at once, or will people slowly start to filter into the three, new cultures?

It's a slow, gradual process.

How does the event that makes the Magyars become Hungarian trigger? Does this still happen if I, as a player, decide to take over... say, Poland, instead of Bulgaria?

This is a very special event that can only fire once. It requires a Hungarian culture ruler to hold enough of the de jure kingdom of Hungary.

When the Magyars invade Bulgaria, what happens to their old homelands? How do you model the "leave the neighborhood" aspect of nomadic cultures?

The event that forms Hungary changes the culture in many of the conquered provinces to Hungarian, and removes that culture from their eastern counties, but they do get to keep control of them. The idea is that the Pechenegs or another tribe will, in turn, take that from them.

If I'm a pagan ruler with holdings in Norway and Sweden, could I adopt the King of Norway ambition, conquer it, move my capital, then pick up the King of Sweden ambition and keep conquering?

It is possible, but once you create one of the kingdoms, you can't take the ambition again. If you don't create a kingdom and you die early, your conquered duchies risk getting split between your sons through Gavelkind. But yes, with some work, it can be done.

What will cause East and West Francia to change to their 1066-appropriate names?

Those names are tied to the Carolingian (Karling) dynasty. If another dynasty manages to claim the throne in either title, it will change name to Germany or France forever.

How does Asturias become Castille? We've seen Leon and Galicia break off from it, but not how the name of the core realm will change.

Asturias actually becomes Leon, specifically (as it did in real history). This is essentially just a renaming that happens if the capital is moved to Leon.

How does sending missionaries to pagans work, for the Christian rulers? I assume it's different from the normal Court Chaplain province conversion process.

Actually, you just park them in the capital of an independent, unreformed pagan realm. Many factors will determine their success; the year, the traits of the target, etc. Mind you, pagan rulers may also convert to an attacker's faith if they are about to lose a Holy War. They can also be convinced to convert by a spouse or concubine.

You mentioned in the stream that naval mercenaries have been removed. Will these re-form as time goes on?

They have not actually been removed, but you cannot hire them until around 1066.

Are there any plans for future bookmarks between 867 and 1066, or would the team prefer to focus on post-1066?

We have no plans for that, no.

Will there be any events surrounding the Norse discovery of off-map areas like Greenland and Vinland?

There are events concerning that, but only for flavor and immersion.

We'd like to heartily thank Henrik for fielding our berserker barrage of questions. Keep an eye to the horizon for Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods, releasing on May 28. I'm also going to just leave this link to my first Crusader Kings Chronicle here. Not that I'm trying to hint at anything.