Vassals can rarely pose a direct threat to you, but lets discuss how they can become a real threat - Factions. Alone they are a nuisance but together they are wolves circling the bear. The biggest danger to your game comes from internal conflict as a civil war can not only split your Realm apart, but also present a weakened target for your neighbours.
- Peasant - The Peasant Faction wants freedom for the people from foreign or infidel rule, and will strive to replace a Liege who does not share the Culture and Faith of the commoners in the Counties
- Populist - The Populist Faction wants freedom from foreign or infidel rule, and will seek independence from a Liege who does not share their Culture and Faith
- Liberty - The Liberty Faction only seeks to lower Crown Authority, but members are otherwise loyal to the Realm
- Independence - Members of the Independence Faction seek independence from their Liege
- Claimant - Members of the Claimant Faction supports a pretender targeting a title belonging to their Liege
Vassals are free to join a single Faction at a time, and multiple Factions will attempt to merge where possible. This also includes switching to or joining a different kind than they want to be in. An example of this will be Liberty, where if there is not enough support for it, Vassals may join a Claimant Faction because they will be more likely to influence them than you, thus reducing Crown Authority in a roundabout way.
CK3 Faction Threshold
When a Faction is formed it won't issue its ultimatum immediately and instead try to collect enough members to meet a minimum threshold of 80%. This percentage is the sum total of the military strength of the Faction's membership compared to the strength you're capable of fielding without those members. If you're having a lot of close calls, the Hard Ruleincreases the threshold to 100% which can be very helpful.
In this way a Vassal actually counts as more than you might think, since them switching sides would reduce your own strength while increasing the Faction's. That said, it only reduces your strength by what they would have given you in Levy contribution which is usually much less than the total forces they'd send against you in a civil war.
When strength reaches the threshold there is only around 30% chance demands will be issued. This is due to the way Discontent works, which increases if the Faction's strength is over the threshold and decreases while below it.
The speed it increases by starts fairly slow but sees a rapid acceleration if the Faction reaches 110% strength. Once Discontent reaches 100%, the ultimatum is sent.
Note: Peasant Factions do not require the military strength to increase their Discontent meaning they will often be weak and easy to defeat.
CK3 Vassal Military Strength
Your average Vassal's military strength will rise and fall compared to your own depending on what era you are in. Early game, Vassals are likely to be roughly your equals in terms of individual strength but as you progress, the extra gold flowing in to your coffers will see you massively outstrip them by mid game. This then peters out and they begin to gain on you after you've built everything up as high as you can in your own Domain and have no further advantages to pay for.
If you are looking to keep your strength up, you'll end up having to recruit ever larger numbers of. This can be expensive, but their unraised costs aren't as much as you might think, and the exceptional quality of these troops can outshine even the unwashed hordes of rebellious Levies.
You're not the only one who gets to play with them but as Crusader Kings 3 doesn't show these on the map as the previous game does, we can all be forgiven for forgetting they exist. A decent sized Duchy can have personal Men-at-Arms numbering up to around 3,000. This is still quaint compared to what you'll be able to field, but are more than enough there to crush your Levied forces should they be far away from your own elites during a civil war - which considering the Supply Limits and size of a Kingdom is pretty much guaranteed.
Note: It's also a good idea to check on what type of Men-at-Arms are being favoured by your Vassals - and other potential enemies - as the rock-paper-scissors of their combat could negate up to 90% of a Regiment if you get unlucky or go in unprepared.
CK3 Faction Membership
There are various conditions for Vassals joining a Faction, mostly down to their opinion of you and the Laws you have set. What is more important is the reasons why a Vassal can't join or start a Faction, as these will give you the means to stop them. Vassals cannot join if they are:
- A Child
- Imprisoned by the Liege
- Terrified of the Liege
- A Friend of the Liege
- A Lover of the Liege
- Allied to the Liege
- A Theocracy
- On a Strong Hook to the Liege
Except under exceptional circumstances, Vassals will also refrain from joining a Faction if they are already at war and Intimidated Vassals are less likely to sign up.
CK3 Faction Tips
There are a lot of different ways to play and plenty of methods of control you can exert. What you use will depend on your playstyle and the circumstances you find yourself in. There are a couple of standard methods you'll find most useful though.
Stewardship Administrator Lifestyle - Perks for +10 vassal opinion and +20 council member opinion. This adds a little boost to all Vassals and makes the Powerful Vassals who want on the council a little easier to manage, and ones on the council will probably become super happy with you thanks to the +20.
Dread - Getting yourup to something like 30 will keep a good number of your Vassals in a Terrified state and this isn't too hard to achieve.
Imprisonment - Either through naturally occurring events or discovered through the Find Secretsaction, you'll uncover plenty of reasons to lock up your nobles. Sometimes you'll want to use this to weaken them through Title Revocation, but if you keep them behind bars, there's no chance they can join a Faction against you - ever.
Friendship - If you want to play the nice Liege, there is the Sway Scheme. This is often enough to make a Vassal like you, but is no guarantee as even +100 opinion Vassals can still join Claimant Factions. The Perk unlocked Befriend Scheme takes this one step further though, as Friends will never stand against you. On top of that, the same Lifestyle branch also contains some nice Stress reduction benefits, great if your character suffers from niceness induced penalties when raising their Dread.
Feasts and Hunts - A new ruler is always more susceptible to Factions than one with a Long Reign. Use the Host Feast decision to get a little bump in the opinion numbers of many Vassals at once. The Call Hunt decision can also help, but it has a tendency to turn your heir into a peasant killer, which can leave a nasty stain on their Traits. Neither one is really useful, but they can help in times of strife.
Murder - Claimant Factions in particular are a pain to deal with. If however the Claimant accidentally slips off a balcony or finds a dagger in their back, the Faction disbands. You won't find much use for this as they don't usually achieve the right amount of support but if it looks dicey, murder away.
If you're looking for more Crusader Kings 3 guides, you might want to check out our, along with our guide on the .
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