Crusader Kings II – The Guide to Happiness
You might be wondering, “What the blazes is a Guide to Happiness?”. The aim of this Guide is to provide tips and hints on how to keep your nation “Happy”. Crusader Kings II often sets your ruler, and thus you, in a difficult situation when it comes to keeping your entire nation content. If the Peasants are content the Lord could be unhappy, and vice versa. There are numerous factors which influence a character’s disposition toward somebody else. Although it will never guarantee peace completely, at least you can place a higher demand on your subjects when you need it most. It is very easy to turn a strong reign into complete anarchy, only because you neglected one of the social groups.
This Guide will be divided into a number of subsections, so jump to the part which interests you most.
Crusader Kings II – The Guide to Happiness
The Peasants are the lowest group within your kingdom. They will occupy your Towns, Castles and Churches. You cannot make the Peasants happy as such, but instead ensure that they are content. There are numerous events which can make your peasants unhappy. Sometimes an event could call for your own intervention (like a Heretic Stronghold) and if left unchecked could lead to a problematic revolt. Revolts themselves only occur if there is unrest. Depending on the size of unrest the probability that the peasant will revolt increases. Once it happens your only hope to regain stability in a region is by quelling said revolt with your own army. The peasants will besiege your provinces one by one… and who knows what will happen if they ever conquer your kingdom?
There are a number of ways to keep the peasants in check. First of all, organize a Summer Fair. Once you start this event you will have a number of smaller events which could make the peasants a bit happier, while also causing unrest. If you refuse to spend coin on the Summer Fair, or you are certain you are on the verge of a Revolt in a region, you can send in your Marshall to restore order. He will not call for any troops, merely decreasing the level of unrest within the region he is in.
Sometimes unhappiness will be the result of a region having a different Culture or Religion. You cannot do much about the Culture by yourself, but you can send you Head Spiritual to convert a region to your kingdom’s faith. The problem with converting a region to another faith is that it takes time, and if it is unsuccessful you will end up with even more problems on your hands.
Overall though, unless you deliberately cause Peasant Unrest, there should be no problem with the Peasants. However, even though you can keep your regions in check does not mean the other Lords will as well. Keep an army handy at all times.
Barons, Bishops and Courtiers hold some power, but not enough to make you feel threatened, theoretically. Even though the Towns and Castles are obliged to give you support in the form of soldiers, using them constantly could cause Civil unrest. If the economic strain on your Towns is too heavy you might be met with demands to decrease the taxes. If you lack the proper Attributes this could be costly for you.
The opinions of the Bishops are centered not only around your Virtues, but also the overall opinion of the Church. If you are an Excommunicated Heretic it is likely you will get absolutely no support from the Clergy in your region. The reason why you would want the support of the Churches are their Templars/Knights. Towns will produce low-quality infantry, Churches will produce Heavier Infantry, while Castles will provide you with a mix of different troops, including cavalry.
Lesser Lords visit you during your Feasts and Hunts, other events can also influence their opinion of you. Barons and Bishops normally do not have families of their own, so you can feel mildly safe that by insulting the Baron of a Town his entire family will not try to gut you.
Lesser Lords provide you with the necessary income and troops to keep your kingdom safe and running. Even though Courtiers spend most of their time at your Court, if they have nothing better to do, remember that you could hand them some land, in which case you would prefer them on your side.
Actual “Land” holders, who might be Counts and Dukes. These gentlemen (sometimes ladies) could become a very deep thorn in your side, if you play your cards wrong. They could be your family members, or members of your Court. Whichever the case, they could try doing something “stupid”. It is not uncommon for a family member with a Duchy to attempt and become the next King. Other Lords decide they want their neighbor’s land and start a small Civil War, over which you have absolutely no control.
Lords have the nasty habit of scheming behind your back, and trying to keep you in check. Any attempt to increase your Crown Authority could be met with open Protest and Civil War. Making the Lords Happy is difficult, because what will speak out loudest to them is: Prestige, Diplomacy and Length of Reign. If you lack a charismatic leader you might be forced to constantly appease the Lords, so that they remain on your side. Once your ruler becomes a “Legend” most Lords will not dare to oppose him in any shape or form. The problem is that they could oppose the Heir.
Certain technologies will provide a bonus to the happiness of different Lords, such as Noble Customs. Keeping the Lords Happy is one of your most important tasks, because even if the Peasants and Lesser Lords are Happy, they are still under the control of the Lords. No amount of Loyalty will stop the Peasants from following a treacherous Lord in a war against you.
Diplomacy is always complicated. It is hard to be friends with another ruler, unless he is family (which does not guarantee your safety). A friendly disposition will not stop wars, or land claims being made, at least not as often as otherwise. There is strictly no fixed rule to appease another ruler. Once you will face somebody demanding a region it is likely you will fight numerous wars for it.
All in all, if a Ruler is being troublesome it would be easier to make the first move, rather than to allow him to attack you first. Weaken him so that he no longer poses a threat to you. After all, there can be many “Kings”, but there can be only one King
Keeping your family happy is easy, but only at the start. Once you send your family members all over the world it will be very hard to check up on all of them. Family members in other courts could try to claim your throne for themselves. This is the result of sending your daughters to marry the sons of other rulers. The sons and daughters from those marriages will be hungry for your comfy chair. To make matters worse, a Family member who will remain in your court will not guarantee peace for you either. Your own wife could try to kill you at the slightest provocation and your sons could wage endless intrigue wars against each other.
There is very little you can to do stop the family from killing each other, unless you keep discovering their plots and demanding they end them. If you are a charismatic ruler the family will obey you in the same way your other Lords will. If that’s not possible check the desires of your different Family members and try to fulfill them. It will keep them happy, for a while at least.
In essence, the simplest way to keep your subjects happy calls for having a character with high Diplomacy, and the correct Traits, so that they will be viewed positively. The most penalizing Trait is Craven. Nobody likes a coward, and this trait will come back to bite you every single time. Being a Glutton will be viewed poorly by some people, as well as the church. Other sinful traits will also result in unhappy Bishops and Pope (not all of them are negative though, being Proud provides you with a Prestige bonus). Be smart in developing your characters. Their virtual lives depend on it.
Alex “WriterX” Bielski