PC Gamer

Sharpen your old axes: Crusader Kings II's pagan/viking expansion, The Old Gods, has been confirmed for a May 28 release. Alongside the announcement, a two-hour livestream on Monday unveiled some new details, as well as a few things that have been added since the last live build we had a look at. I've tried not to retread too much previously released info, so if you need to get caught up, here are my breakdowns of Dev Diary 1, Dev Diary 2, and Dev Diary 3. You'll find the freshest bits below.

What we learned from the livestream:

The only republics existing at the 867 A.D. bookmark are Venice and Amalfi, the latter being a completely new historical trade union made up of both Italian Catholic and Greek Orthodox patrician families. Genoa and Pisa can both form between 867 and 1066—we saw Genoa pop up during the stream. We're unsure whether or not they always will.
According to game designer Chris King, there is a new "Berserker" trait that certain characters can have. The effects and cultural restrictions remain unknown.
Since there weren't that many powerful Shiite Muslim landowners in 867, an event will fire after game start that spawns the first Shia Caliph. He will begin as a landless adventurer with a large host of supporters, and carve out a kingdom for himself to begin the Shia rise to power. This event was modeled after the rise of the Mamluks.
Muslims are given an across-the-board starting boost to technology, due to their historical scientific superiority during the time period the expansion depicts.
If you have researched too far ahead in any technology track, you will take a percentage penalty to researching the next step until time has caught up to the point at which that tech would have, historically, become available. Thus, rushing down one tech path will now result in less efficient use of tech points over a long campaign.
You now get a base boost to Military, Economy, and Cultural tech based on the stats of your Marshal, Steward, and Court Chaplain, respectively. Council missions no longer increase your chances of discovering new tech, but rather speed up the spread of tech in the targeted province from all adjacent, higher-tech provinces. This will give you more incentive to actually move your tech research missions around, creating "highways" of tech spread to outlying areas of your realm.
Any time you capture a fortress as any religion, you will now be able to take prisoners from the court there, such as the ruling lord's family. If you are a pagan ruler, you can force any such prisoners who are female and of age to become your concubines.
Succession for pagans treats children of concubines exactly the same as children of wives.
Zoroastrian rulers are apparently less concerned with incest than other religions. Concrete details were lacking, but they made it sound like marrying your own daughter is all well and good with Ahura Mazda.
The Jomsvikings are in the game as a Holy Order that can be hired by Norse Pagan rulers. Holy Orders for other pagan religions are still under consideration.
There will be a much larger mercenary pool, and many cultures that did not have cultural mercenaries will have them now.
Flavor events surrounding the great East/West schism in Christianity are still being considered, but are not currently in the game. Orthodox and Catholic are still being treated as "effectively separate" in 867.
If you are a pagan ruler under a Christian liege (such as Erik the Heathen in 1066), some of the pagan mechanics—notably raiding—will be switched off. We're unsure if this is based only on top-level liege, or if it applies to any liege. (For example, a pagan count under a Christian duke under a pagan king may or may not have these restrictions.)
Heretics can now rise up in organized rebellions.
New formable empires include Abyssinia and Mali on either side of Africa. These join the previously-revealed Tartaria, Carpathia, and Italia, such that every province on the map now belongs to a de jure empire.
Dublin will be ruled by the Norseman Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok, in 867.
Pagans have the ability to sacrifice prisoners for Presige and Piety boosts.

We'll have even more info to place on the altar when our huge Old Gods Q&A goes live in the lead-up to release.
PC Gamer

Paradox Development Studio is known for some well-regarded grand strategy titles with notoriously high learning curves such as Europa Universalis and Crusader Kings. In an era where plenty of PC franchises seem to have been streamlined to appeal to a wider market, Paradox hasn't let up in terms of the often almost Byzantine depth (pun intended) its core titles are built on. Studio lead Johan Andersson, speaking to Digitally Downloaded, said that he doesn't think a game has to pick between appealing to a wide audience or being complex.

In Andersson's philosophy, the solution to reaching a wider audience isn't simplifying or taking things away. It lies in making the features that are already there easier to understand, as is the studio's goal in the upcoming Europa Universails IV. "Improvements to your interface allow you to keep the same level of complexity while at the same time broadening the appeal," he said. "With a new a game and the freedom it offers we can start from square one with the interface. So we are looking to streamline the interface to help new and old players alike."

Andersson also reaffirmed his studio's commitment to the PC, and expressed that there are no current plans to expand the core family of grand strategy titles to other platforms. "We hope come across as grand, fun and challenging and we´re not sure we could make that on console," he explained. "I've worked for over 18 years in the gaming industry, and I've seen so many things come and go, that I just believe in one thing: 'good games sell.'"

You can read the full interview on Digitally Downloaded.
PC Gamer
Elder Kings

In Skyrim, while you were shouting down dragons, dicing up Daedra and fast-travelling up a bloody big mountain, did you ever stop to wonder what it would be like to pack up adventuring and go live as a Jarl? Probably not - their life appears to be a repetitious bore of sitting on a throne, wandering to bed, going back to the throne and occasionally making a pompous speech. But, if untethered from Bethesda's engine, they could get up to all sorts of political and military mischief. That's the aim of Elder Kings - an Elder Scrolls themed mod for Crusader Kings 2.

It's set before Skyrim. In fact, it's set before all the Elder Scrolls games, taking place in the Interregnum period of the Second Era. Supposedly, it was a time of petty bickering and tribal warring - which makes for a perfect Crusader Kings setting.

The mod promises 25 races and cultures, with unique bonuses for each, as well as new traits, events and diseases - adding vampirism to CK2's already eclectic range of ailments.

It's still early in development, although the recent 0.1.1 patch has fixed a fair number of bugs from launch. You can download Elder Kings from ModDB.
PC Gamer
CK2 Old Gods

Welcome back to our Viking Analysis Desk for a look at the third development diary for The Old Gods, the upcoming, pagan-focused expansion for Crusader Kings II. This entry focuses on prepared invasions, and clarifies some information about which types of pagans will be able to do what, and to whom. Let's dive in...

Immediately, in this first screenshot, we can see confirmation of a Scandinavian portrait pack. That hasn't exactly been a secret for those who have been paying attention, but it's good to see some more variety being injected into the mix in terms of character faces. It's also hard to tell from this resolution, but it kind of looks like the unit model on Akershus, just above the tooltip, might be new. Every major expansion so far has also launched alongside a unit pack, so again, nothing too earth-shattering.

We also get a look at the new "Become King" ambition, demonstrated briefly in the Old Gods livestream, which allows pagans to get a free Subjugation casus belli on any other pagan ruler within the de jure realm they seek to control. Based on the wording of the dev diary, it sounds like this Subjugation system will only work with pagans fighting other pagans, but is not restricted by culture.

We can also see the new Petty Kingdom system in play. The border on Hrane's portrait indicates that he's a Duke-tier ruler, but due to his culture, his written title will be "King."

In this second screen, history buffs should be drawn to the lower right of the interface. It seems the three successor kingdoms of Charlemagne's Karling dynasty have been renamed from Francia, Burgundy, and The Holy Roman Empire to the more 867-appropriate East Francia, Lotharingia, and West Francia. What will cause them to revert to their original names by the time 1066 rolls around, your guess is as good as mine. We know the historical names in Scandinavia are tied to the new "Norse" culture, which will eventually splinter into Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. It's possible that the existing "Frankish" culture has been changed to refer to earlier Frankish people, and will, at some point, evolve into "French."

Scotland, it seems, is still called Scotland, rather than the 867-appropriate Strathclyde. And thus the case of Official Forums v. Game Designer Chris King shall continue.

More excitingly, we get a look at the Prepared Invasion mechanic we've heard about, which allows leaders with relatively few feudal holdings to call on warriors from across the land to aid their conquests. It looks like this will be restricted only to Norse pagans, and require a one-time expenditure of 500 prestige. The diary also clarifies that Prepared Invasions will only be usable against non-pagans.

Finally, we have this image of good ol' Rurik, the Norse founder of the state that would become modern Russia. There isn't a whole lot new in this one that isn't already pretty commonly known about the expansion, but we do get our first look at the indicator for non-reformed Norse pagans taking prestige loss for going too long without warring or raiding. For those interested in minutiae, we can also see that Rurik is Attractive, Gregarious, Ambitious, Just, and Deceitful.

The other little tidbits we got from the diary deal with the Invasion casus belli. Like Muslims, any pagan can declare an invasion on any neighboring county. For Norse pagans, this ability extends to any coastal county on the map, making their naval mobility all the more intimidating. Granted, we have been told that navigable rivers do not count as coastline, so they won't be able to just invade, say, Paris, on a whim. That's what raids are for.

Additionally, Altaic pagans (notably the Mongols), as well as the nomadic Magyars, who go on to become the Hungarians by 1066, will be able to declare invasions of entire kingdoms with their mounted hordes.

I've been drafting a weighty scroll of questions for the Paradox team about the Old Gods, which will be dispatched to them by raven before the day is out. Keep a keen eye for the full Q&A on the near horizon.
PC Gamer

Crusader Kings 2's Game of Thrones total conversion has received a huge update, adding in two new scenarios with which to experience the mod's blend of war, intrigue and special family cuddles. This time, players will get the chance to try The Blackfyre Rebellion and A Feast for Crows scenarios, along with improved Hedge Knights and building options. There's a video teasing the new additions, but it comes with a couple of dire warnings.

Dire Warning #1: The video contains spoilers for A Feast For Crows, book four of the series and, incidentally, also the name of my Bioshock Infinite playthrough.

Dire Warning #2: Because of the aforementioned spoilers, I've not actually watched the video. It could contain anything! I did do a quick thumbnail scan, though, and it mostly seems to contain video of the game. So you're probably not going to see the mod's developers dancing naked in a giant vat of trifle or anything.

In all, there's a giant changelist of new features and fixes. The patch note summary gives the basic run-down of what to expect: "The first thing you’ll notice is that armies can move again, but the most perceptive amongst you will no doubt notice we have two new scenarios: the much requested Blackfyre Rebellion and the spoiler-heavy A Feast for Crows (seriously, don’t even think about clicking on it if you haven’t read all the books).

"There are a lot of tweaks and additions, as usual. You’ll find, for instance, that you have new options to employ Hedge Knights. We have begun adding sensible buildings at last, so that late game should hopefully be improved, and there has been quite an overhaul in certain parts of the map."

You can download Crusader Kings 2 - A Game of Thrones from its ModDB page.

Thanks, Kotaku.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Jim Rossignol)

Crusader Kings II is rolling out the pagans, and the game is changing not just by the nature of the idols it worships, but also in a few fundamental game mechanics, game events, and in the start date, which has rolled back to the ninth century. The Paradox team have taken some time to explain these decisions in a series of development update videos, which you can see below. (more…)

PC Gamer

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.
PC Gamer
CK2 Old Gods

It's not quite zombies, but Paradox are still set to unleash a horde on Crusader Kings 2. The Old Gods brings pagan pillaging and Norse nautical navigation to the game, and you can see some of this in action in this two-part highlights reel of Paradox's recent preview livestream. In just under nine minutes, jarring cuts of information will guide you through a campaign beginning at the expansion's new 867 AD start date.

I'm looking forward to this one. The last expansion, The Republic, made for a great side-campaign, but its smaller scope meant it's impact on the overall game was fairly minimal. From what we've been shown so far, The Old Gods should integrate far more dramatically - perhaps rivalling even Sword of Islam in its overall effect on the game.

For some more static previews, we can turn to CK2 obsessive T.J., who goes hunting for Old Gods info here, and interviews the developers here.
Product Update - Valve
2013-03-25: v1.092
- Added a Trade Post limit for patricians, based on palace upgrades and number of adult males in court
- Family dues are now given only to adult males of your family in your court, and they all receive the same share
- Patricians can no longer increase their Demesne limit with higher tier titles. However, the Doge gets +1
- Patricians who imprison or banish someone now get a tyranny opinion penalty from everyone in the whole Republic
- Patricians no longer confiscate gold from dynasty members that they banish
- Doges can no longer use the Seize Trade Post plot
- Patricians can now only use the Seize Trade Post plot on Patricians owning more Trade Posts than themselves
- The Seize Trade Post plot now always costs a small amount of money to implement
- The Holy War CB no longer works against too distant targets
- Sieging will siege back your own holdings first
- Tanistry electors are no longer de jure
- The Windows version is now large address aware
- Fix for crash on multiplayer game start on Windows 8
- Fixed a bug where a vassal of a vassal who won a war against an outside state would become a vassal of that state
- Several events, including those dealing with the creation of the Hansa, no longer require "The Republic" to trigger
- Rewrote large parts of the tutorial to be up-to-date with current features
- Fixed a problem in basic military tutorial that made it impossible to proceed past a certain stage
- Fixed a problem in basic war tutorial that made it impossible to proceed past a certain stage
- Fixed a crash in court view during observer mode
- When determining what tier a character is for the purposes of marriage, the highest ranked non-republican ruler among their close relatives is now used (so the nephew of a King would count as King tier)
- Will no longer get prestige hits for marrying below your tier unless you marry more than one level below it (so a King would get a prestige hit for marrying a Countess but not a Duchess)
- AI now takes into account both tier prestige and dynastic prestige when responding to marriage offers
- AI now takes into account prestige effects when selecting spouses for themselves and their relatives
- Exported MARRIAGE_AI_PRESTIGE_VALUE to defines.lua, this variable is a multiplier on the importance AI places on prestige when arranging marriages
- The Prestige cost for breaking a truce is now much harsher; 50% of current Prestige + 200.
- You now get a -5 Diplo penalty for five years if you break a truce
- Diplomacy View: The Piety and Prestige costs for declaring war no longer prevent you from selecting the action to see why
- The 'any_neighbor_province' trigger now works for sea zones as well
- Trade Posts dont give warscore unless the war is using an Embargo or Sieze Trade Post CB
- You now need twice as much value in a trade zone before reaching its bonus cap
- Fixed a bug where Patrician stewards would add modifiers to tax multiple times when performing the tax action
- Fixed a bug with the trigger 'is_land'
- The republican CB to seize a whole coastal county is now range dependent
- The republican CB to seize a coastal city now requires the Patrician to have a trade post there already
- Can no longer grant independence to an antipope
- Fixed a bug where de jure status of kingdoms would reset upon loading a save game
- de_jure_liege="---" now works properly in history files
- Tied bride price to total prestige gain at a ratio defined by DOWRY_MULTIPLIER in defines.lua
- Can now only ask to embargo republics with trade posts in target ruler's realm
- AI: Less willing to launch embargo wars in general, especially against rulers they like
- AI: Less willing to accept requests to embargo on opinion alone
- AI: Will now factor in strength of target when deciding on whether to accept a request to embargo
- Inherited retinues are now added to the heirs use of retinue cap
- CB types now takes ai_will_do with modifiers to modify the priority they place on a particular CB
- Fixed the birthdate of Domenico Dandolo
- Minor fixes to Alan dynasties
- Fixes to Sergiids/Spartenos names
- Corrections to various Italian characters
- Several Mamluk dynasties should now use the proper Muslim dynastic shields
- The correct event is now triggered when an old Patrician family member marries a young woman
- The Voice of Satan is now properly removed when a character is no longer possessed
- Characters will no longer hear more than one voice when possessed
- Patrician family members that are betrothed will no longer experience random marriage events
- Two additional childhood learning events are now correctly triggered for Muslims
- Added additional Komi dynasties
- Minor fixes to some Irish and Welsh characters
- Added many new Ethiopian characters
- Added Ethiopian Patriarchs
- Added Nestorian Patriarchs
- Exported chance of getting a birth trait to traits.txt files
- AI doges will no longer gift powers they want to start embargo wars if those powers would say no even when gifted
- Added new scripting trigger realm_size = x for checking total holdings in realm
- Added new scripting trigger realm_manpower = x for checking max manpower in realm
- dynasty = x can now be used to check for whether a character belongs to a specific dynasty
- You no longer get a claim on the Papacy if he was in a successful independence faction
- Fixed a slight bug in the claimant faction ultimatum decision
- landed_titles now takes assimilate = no, which will turn off all de jure drift (both ways) for a Kingdom or Empire level title
- Fixed a bug with Patricians revoking castles from baron vassals

PC Gamer

The first developer diary for the upcoming Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods expansion has been released. The Old Gods, set for Q2 2013, will finally add playable pagans to CK2. A new start date of 867 A.D. is also being added, as the pagans don't exactly start on stable footing in the default, 1066 scenario. I spent all morning pouring over the diary and the new screenshots and reading between the lines. What follows is every possible tidbit of information I was able to extract.

Europe, 867 A.D.

We’ve got confirmation of a few things we already knew from around the time of the announcement: The Carolignian Empire is divided among the grandsons of Charlemagne as the HRE, Italy, Francia, and Burgundy (historically, the last should be called Lotharingia). Almost everything North and East of that is divided into chiefdoms and petty kingdoms. England has yet to come into being, with Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Viking-held Jorvik creating a divided and hotly-contested realm.

In what will one day be Russia, we can see Holmgarðr and Kónungarðr, the newly-formed Norse realms of Rurik. It’s interesting that they have chosen to divide this land between two rulers. We already know about Rurik in Holmgard, but who his independent, Norse neighbor in Kiev might be, I couldn’t say.

Scandinavia is also, appropriately, quite broken. Other than the petty kingdoms of Jylland, Sælland, Ostlandet, and Sviþjód (the Old Norse name for Sweden), it mostly seems to be divided between single-province chieftains or jarls. It will be interesting to see which among them can forge kingdoms of their own.

Now, here’s where I got really excited…

Holmgard, and beyond! That's where the winds will us guide!

Traversable rivers! One of the greatest advantages of the Viking longship, historically, was its shallow draft—you could load it full of weapons, shields, burly Norsemen, and whatever plunder and slaves they gained on a raid, and it would still sit high enough in the water to glide right over shallow riverbeds and the like. Adding the ability to sail up and downriver means that those Franks in Paris can’t sleep soundly, safe from Viking raids in their inland capital—as the Seine River acts as Pillager Highway 1. In a response on the official forums, the devs also confirmed the existence of portages: strips of land between two rivers over which boats can be carried, and re-deployed. The Vikings were known to make extensive use of these, particularly in reaching Eastern destinations.

There also seems to be a vertical bar at the bottom of the fleet card with an icon depicting gold coins next to it. This probably represents how much plunder your raiders can carry back.

But Viking longboats were unique in this capacity. Surely they wouldn’t let just any ship traverse Europe’s rivers?

New ship type? I think so.

The answer, from what I can tell, is that this will not be the case. As you can see in this screenshot, there are two different ships, both under control of the player (the unit counter is green), with different models, sitting side-by-side. This isn’t a confirmation, but it certainly seems like Old Gods will be adding a second ship type. Previously, in Crusader Kings, a ship was just a ship. If this is the case, the question is raised: Who will have access to river-capable ships? Surely the Norse will. Could this be tied into the new, more hands-on technology system we’ve heard murmurings about?

Also, take a look at the province card. We’ve got stats for “Loot Protected by Fort Level,” “Max Loot,” and “Possible Loot.” So it seems you’ll be able to protect more of your gold from raiders by building up the defenses in your provinces. The interesting thing will be: where does this gold come from? Is it a proportion of the amount in the liege’s treasury? That would seem to suggest that you could pre-empt a raid by spending all of your money, defensively. It’s technically possible that a raid could take a set amount no matter what, potentially putting you in debt. A third possibility is that the defending liege doesn’t actually lose any gold when a raid happens—his incentive to stopping it is just to keep the raiders from generating money and prestige.

I’m also curious to see whether or not raiding will use the regular warscore system, or simply allow you to declare a raid, take your money, and leave. There seems to be a little icon of a crossed torch and axe on some troops and fleets. It could be that these are a new "raider" unit type, separate from the normal armies and fleets. This would also explain the different ship types: One is a raiding fleet that can traverse rivers, and the other is made up of the traditional transports, which can only sail the seas.

Needs moar beard.

The dev diary details that “Playing a pagan chieftain is at least as different as playing a Muslim. Not only that, there are significant differences between the various heathen religions.” We had already heard that Norse leaders will begin to lose Prestige if they remain at peace for too long—meaning that if you want to one day give up a strategy focused on raid and conquest, you’ll either have to convert, or have enough positive Prestige modifiers to offset this. What we didn’t know is the other side of this coin: Unlike all current rulers in CK2, the Norse will not take penalties from their vassals for having troop levies raised.

The devs had also previously teased defensive bonuses for religions like the Romuva in the Baltic, who historically resisted Christianity the longest of any of the European, non-Abrahamic faiths. The diary mentions that they will receive larger garrisons in their homeland, and can be “reformed” to better resist conversion. Whether this reform simply refers to smart, player-driven gameplay, or a more discrete, new system altogether, we can’t yet be sure. It would be very interesting to see a mechanic for centralizing and appointing a religious head for your pagan faith. It’s not remotely historical, but neither is Venice conquering Arabia under an Ethiopian-born warlord. In CK2, stranger things have happened.

It's a Sa-Trap!

Lastly, let’s take a look at the character sheets and the interface. One thing that’s conspicuous by its absence is any kind of unique player resource, like Muslim decadence. Piety is still a factor, but it seems the rumored “Viking points” didn’t make the cut. Both Norse and Zoroastrian characters seem to have a space for Concubines. We’ll have to wait and see how the children of these concubines interact with the current system for bastards, since most pagans weren’t as uptight about that kind of thing as Christians were. It also brings up the issue of what happens to these mistresses if a pagan character converts to a strongly monogamous religion.

There’s also that little asterisk button underneath the spouse portrait. The forums seem to suggest that this is a way to mark a character as special interest, helping you keep an eye on them through notifications in your message log, without fiddling around in context menus. That's a very welcome addition, as I played for about 200 hours before figuring out how to do this.

Check out the official forum thread for more, including revelations about Iceland (it will be colonized, even though there were actually no humans there in 867—the engine doesn’t currently support uninhabited provinces that can later become inhabited), the Magyars, and the Slavic-Norse conflict in Russia. Paradox dev diaries tend to roll out roughly weekly, so check back for more from the PC Gamer Viking Analysis Desk in a quarter moon's turn.

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