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Introducing CK3 #04 - Schemes. One Proud Bavarian walks us through schemes in Crusader Kings 3. Understanding how to engage in cloak and dagger activities is essential to master the game!

Intrigue is one of the two paths to victory used in both the middle ages and the Crusader Kings series. It is the more indirect one, focusing on defeating other characters through subterfuge.


Any character can be targeted with a scheme in accordance with the plans of the schemer. Each character can run one hostile scheme and one personal scheme at the same time, but a character cannot be targeted by a hostile scheme and a personal scheme simultaneously. Ongoing schemes can be canceled at any point.

Each scheme has a scheme power and each target of a scheme has a scheme resistance. Both are determined by the skill of the schemer and its target and both their spymasters. Every month a scheme has a chance of progressing one step, with the odds determined by the schemer’s scheme power and the target’s scheme resistance. Once the scheme finishes progressing it is executed with the current success chance, which determines whether the scheme succeeds or fails.

Hostile schemes

Hostile schemes are executed in secret and have a secrecy value which determines whether the schemer will avoid being discovered when the scheme is executed or not. A high success chance increases the scheme's secrecy.

A character can run a second hostile scheme simultaneously if they have the Twice Schemed perk.

Scheme Skill used Agents Success effect Secrecy effect Requirements
Murder  Intrigue Yes Target is killed Character only gains the Murder secret None
Abduct  Intrigue Yes Target is imprisoned Character is not accused of the Crime of kidnapping Kidnapper perk
Fabricate Hook  Intrigue No Gain a Hook on the target Can execute the Scheme again Truth is Relative perk or  Vengeful trait against a Rival
Claim Throne  Stewardship Yes Gain Pressed Claim on the Liege's Primary Title Do not lose a large amount of Prestige Meritocracy perk

Being at war with someone grants -50 Success Chance to Murder schemes and -200 Success Chance to Abduction schemes.

Hostile schemes can have agents - characters who are close to the target and increase the scheme power based on how close they are. Agents may join a scheme if they stand to gain something or dislike the target. They can also be bribed with  Gold to slightly increase their acceptance and a  Weak Hook will greatly increase it. Characters who are terrified of the scheme target will never become agents except through the use of a  Strong Hook. Agents will grant the following amount of success chance depending on their closeness to the target and their  Intrigue.

Closeness Success chance
Spymaster +75
Spouse +50
Guardian +50
Best Friend +50
Friend +30
Lover +30
Concubine +30
Closeness Success chance
Court Physician +30
Councilor +25
Close Family +20
Powerful Vassal +15
Extended Family +15
Nemesis +15
Any other +10

A scheming character is protected from discovery while the scheme progresses but its agents are not. If an agent is discovered the target will gain a +5 hostile scheme resistance modifier for 2 years.

Personal schemes

Personal schemes do not use secrecy or agents. A failure usually prevents the scheme from being used again on the same character, and some may have "critical failures" which carry harsher penalties.

Scheme Objective Success factors Consequences Base success chance Min success chance Requirements
Sway Gain +25 opinion with the target
  • Diplomacy Skill
  • Rank difference
  • Whether the target is in a different realm
None 50% 20% None

Lay with the target

  • Target opinion
  • Trait compatibility
  • Target's opinion of their Spouse if Married
  • With mutually compatible sexualities, Target becomes a Lover
  • In a heterosexual pairing, high chance of Pregnancy
5% 0% Target's sexuality is attracted to your gender
Romance Gain prestige through courtship
  • Target opinion
  • Trait compatibility
  • Whether the target is the character's Spouse
Target becomes your Soulmate 0% 0% You and target have mutually compatible sexualities
Befriend Develop friendship with target
  • Diplomacy skill
  • Rank difference
  • Diplomacy education trait
  • Target opinion
  • Trait compatibility
Target might become a Friend 5% 0% Befriend Perk
Elope Target joins your court and you get married
  • Intrigue skill
  • Target Intrigue skill
  • Target liege's Intrigue skill
  • Whether target is unimportant
  • If either party is already married, they will be divorced.
    • If the existing marriage is polygamous, they will be divorced from all spouses even if there is room for an additional spouse
  • Opinion penalties with family members of both parties
  • Depending on the religions of each party, you may lose a level of devotion and/or get excommunicated
25% 5%
  • Target is your Lover or Soulmate
  • Target is unlanded
  • Target is not at your court


Characters acquire secrets when they do something that is a crime or frowned upon. Secrets can be discovered through random events or via the Find Secrets spymaster task. If a secret is discovered, the character who uncovered it has two options. One option is to expose the secret, which will apply various negative effects upon the target based on how serious the Secret is. The other option is to blackmail the target. If the target agrees to the blackmail, the character will gain a  Weak Hook if the secret is Shunned and a  Strong Hook if the secret is Criminal. If the target refuses, the secret will be exposed.

Secret Severity Description
Secret murder.png Attempted Murder Doctrine kinslaying.png Depends on who was the target This character has attempted murder.
Secret murder.png Murdered Doctrine kinslaying.png Depends on who was the target This character is a murderer.
Secret deviancy.png Is a Cannibal Core tenet foodsacrifice.png Depends on whether faith has the Ritual Cannibalism tenet This character consumes human flesh.
Secret deviancy.png Is a Deviant Doctrine deviancy.png Depends on the Deviancy crime doctrine This character has a predilection for socially unacceptable acts.
Secret deviancy.png Is a Sodomite Doctrine homosexuality.png Depends on the Same-Sex Relations crime doctrine This character engages in sexual intercourse with other men/women.
Secret deviancy.png Is Incestuous Doctrine consanguinity.png Depends on the Consanguinity marriage doctrine This character has sexual relations with close family members.
Secret religious.png Is a Non-Believer Yes Always Shunned This character believes in a false god, or none at all.
Secret religious.png Is a Witch Doctrine witchcraft.png Depends on the Witchcraft crime doctrine This character practices witchcraft.
Secret adultery.png Is the illegitimate child Doctrine bastardry.png Depends on the Bastardry marriage doctrine This character is a bastard.
Secret adultery.png Lover Doctrine adultery men.pngDoctrine adultery women.png Depends on the Adultery crime doctrines This character is someone's illicit lover.

The Is the illegitimate child secret is removed if the real parents eventually join in marriage or concubinage.


A hook represents that a character owes you a favor or that you can coerce them in some way. Hooks can be gained in a variety of ways and can be used to force a character to do something beneficial. They come in two varieties:

  • A weak hook can only be used once. They cannot be used to force a character to become an agent in a Murder scheme.
  • A strong hook can be used multiple times, with a cooldown between uses. It also prevents the character from joining factions, declaring war, imprisoning or demanding religious conversion from the character holding the hook. Having a strong hook over a Realm Priest forces them to pay maximum contribution.
Hook Strength Duration Source Can be fabricated
Blackmail (Weak) Weak 10 years, or until the secret is exposed Blackmail character interaction over a secret which is a shunned practice No
Favor Weak 10 years Random events
Ransoming an imprisoned character for a favor
Negotiating to release an imprisoned character for a favor
Faction members who helped put claimant on the throne receive a hook on new liege
Winning a war to gain a title for a character
House Head Weak Permanent House Head over when a child is born No
Indebted Weak 10 years Random events Yes
Manipulation Weak 10 years Random events Yes
Threatened Weak 10 years Random events Yes
Blackmail (Strong) Strong Until the secret is exposed Blackmail character interaction over a secret which is a criminal practice No
Fabrication Strong 10 years Fabricate a Hook scheme Yes
Loyalty Strong Permanent Random events Yes
Threatened Life Strong 10 years Fabricate a Hook scheme Yes

Spending hooks

Hooks can be spent (used) in a variety of ways.

  • By spending a hook, you can make it much more likely that a character will accept a marriage proposal, join your council, come to your court, join a faction of your choice, or vote for your preferred candidate in elective successions.
  • A liege can use a hook on a vassal to negotiate a feudal contract in their favor without incurring tyranny.
  • A vassal can use a hook on their liege to negotiate a feudal contract in their favor at all.
  • A vassal who has a hook on his liege can use the Demand Council Position character interaction.
  • A vassal with a hook on his liege can declare war on other vassals of their liege, even if their crown authority would normally prohibit this.
  • Though it is very difficult to get a hook on your Head of faith, doing so would ensure the head of faith agrees to any one request you might make (such as granting you a divorce or a claim on a title).
  • A strong hook can be used to force the person to join a hostile scheme, such as a murder scheme, though weak hooks cannot do this.
  • The tier 1 stewardship lifestyle perk "Golden Obligations" allows demanding payment for hooks, assuming the person you have a hook on has the money to pay for it.
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