Even for a Crusader Kings game, there are a heck of a lot of bastards in CK3

(Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

Affairs, lovers, and illegitimate children are nothing new in the Crusader Kings series. In one game of Crusader Kings 2, my pudgy, brown-haired character and his pudgy, brown-haired wife had five children. Four were pudgy and brown-haired, but one was very thin and extremely blonde. Hey, it happens.

But in Crusader Kings 3 there sure seem to be a whole heck of a lot of bastards, even for a Crusader Kings game. Take this one player who was inhabiting a ruler named King Nuno until he died, at which point he took over as his heir, Pedro. Pedro had a low fertility score, yet Pedro's wife Isabel kept getting pregnant. So Pedro sent his spymaster, Duke Aregisel, to investigate.

Not only did Spymaster Duke discover Isabel was indeed sleeping around, it turned out that Spymaster Duke himself was an bastard son of Isabel's. And Duke's father? The late King Nuno. Pedro's dad. King Nuno had knocked up his own son's wife.

My wife was getting pregnant of someone else. Sent my spymaster to find out who is the lover. Instead he discovers that he too is a bastard son of her. And more: with my own father (full story on the comments) from r/CrusaderKings

That's a particularly wild example of two unmarried characters secretly producing a child, but certainly not the only one. Everyone in Crusader Kings 3 seems to be sleeping with everyone else. Just take a look at this player's court:

By OccasionalBugReport on Reddit (Image credit: Paradox Interactive)

That's, like, everyone. "This is my entire court and they are all seducing each other" the player says.

I'm not judging! It sounds like an awesome, sexy court. But with all those people having illicit affairs with each other, they're gonna start producing illegitimate children pretty quickly.

One player certainly found that out the hard way. 250 years into their game, it turned out "all 10 of my children from several marriages were not actually mine!" And after turning on Crusader Kings 3's debug mode, they also discovered every single character they'd played were the result of affairs:

Is it just me or is there more cuckolding in CKIII? from r/CrusaderKings

Even the Pope—last seen being eaten by one Crusader Kings 3 player—is getting in on the fun.

One player saved the Pope from an assassin. As they put it: "My obese African empress dashed across the Mediterranean, dived through the Pope's window, killed an assassin, and then made passionate love to Pope Hadrianus III."

The result? "All of my children since then have turned out to be his bastards, despite me having a husband and three very keen consorts." That is one busy Pope.

I saved the Pope's life. He rewarded me with several bastard children. from r/CrusaderKings

It's possible some of the ridiculous amount of sleeping around is due to the AI being very keen on seduction. Paradox Interactive even said that it had to nerf the seductive nature of the AI before launch because it was out of control. It's starting to look like that nerf may not have been enough, however.

There are also occasionally false reports of bastards. A number of players have reported uncovering plots that certain characters had secretly fathered... themselves. This is either a spymaster getting a little too creative with their stories or someone in Crusader Kings 3 has unlocked time travel technology. Or, you know, it could be a bit of bugged text.

My spymaster discovered that an English Vassal was fathered by himself. It might just be me, but I feel like that's a bigger secret than him being a bastard. from r/CrusaderKings

And there's one more situation creating bastards that players have become wary of. There's a "disputed heritage secret" event that may be muddying the waters of a number of bloodlines.

What seems to be happening is as follows. A character and their spouse have a child, and the child is definitely, legitimately theirs. During the game, another character schemes to fabricate a claim that the child is illegitimate. In some cases it appears this event causes the game to decide the child is actually illegitimate, even though the child was originally legitimate.

On the Paradox Forums, a player noticed that looking back through an earlier save in debug mode, their child originally was a legitimate heir, and only after the event occurred, the child was suddenly no longer of their bloodline. It's as if the event had rewritten that child's DNA. Later in the same thread a Paradox member says this event is being looked into and the issue "is on our radar."

In the meantime, have your spymaster keep a close watch on your spouse, your heir, your court members, and in some cases, your own parents. Couldn't hurt to keep an eye on your spymaster, too. Somehow. You never know who is sleeping with who. As one player aptly puts it:

It's quite a lot to keep track of from r/CrusaderKings

Check out our Crusader Kings 3 tips and guide to the Crusader Kings 3 console commands if you need help sussing out what infidelities are happening at court.

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.