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Warfare is the most straightforward way of expanding a character's Realm, using armies to take Titles by force. All wars require a Casus Belli, which provides a war Objective and consequences for each side winning or losing the war. A character cannot declare war while in Debt. If a vassal becomes independent it leaves any war started by its liege.

Battles[edit | edit source]

Combat phases[edit | edit source]

Battles start when two hostile armies enter the same Barony. At the start of any battle, the terrain's Combat Width decides how many troops are able to fight each other at the same time. Each battle goes through 4 phases:

  • Maneuver phase.png Maneuver Phase (2 days): The armies prepare for battle and the Commanders make their initial Advantage rolls.
  • Early battle phase.png Early Battle Phase(12 days): The armies fight and inflict damage upon each other daily and cannot retreat. If an army is defeated in this phase, all Routed Casualties become Fatal Casualties. This will lead to the defeated army being completely removed, or "stackwiped."
  • Late battle phase.png Late Battle Phase: The armies keep fighting and keep inflicting damage upon each other each day until either all soldiers on one side run out of Toughness or one side decides to retreat. If an army retreats, all remaining soldiers become Routed Casualties.
  • Aftermath phase.png Aftermath Phase(3 days): The winning army gives chase to the defeated army and attempts to turn Routed Casualties into Fatal Casualties. When the phase ends, the defeated army moves into an adjacent Barony with all Routed Casualties and cannot be given orders until it finished traveling a couple of Baronies away, but will travel slightly faster than controlled armies.

The advantage modifier[edit | edit source]

When combat starts, the Advantage, a modifier that lasts the entire battle and increases the damage of all troops on either side, is calculated for both sides. Advantage can come from traits, terrain, buildings or the Martial skill of the Commander. Each Commander will also make a d10 roll every 3 days in an attempt to increase their Advantage, and the roll can be affected by various modifiers and traits. Each point of Advantage increases an army's damage by +2%. Starting Advantage can be affected by the following:

  • +30 if army is defending across a strait
  • +20 if army is defending across a large river
  • +10 if army is defending across a river
  • +5 if liege is leading the army
  • -10 if realm is in debt
  • -10 if army is gathering
  • -10 if army is low on supplies
  • -25 if army is out of supplies
  • -30 if army is attacking across sea

Capturing commanders[edit | edit source]

A defeated commander may be captured upon defeat in battle. The base chance that the enemy commander is caught is 10%, represented by two chance "scores" in the game script, 90 for escape and 10 for capture. These scores are affected by various factors, and should not be treated as percentages, as their total is not always 100.

Condition/Factor Effect
Commander has Stalwart Leader Perk (player) +100 to escape score
Commander has Stalwart Leader Perk (ai) +30 to escape score
 Prowess Capture score is multiplied by (30 - prowess score) ÷ 30, with a minimum of 0.1.

E.g. a character with 10 prowess would end up with 60% of the total capture score

Has the trait  Craven Capture score is halved
Army is stackwiped Escape score is divided by 5
Has the trait  Brave Capture score is doubled
Has the trait  One-Legged or  Maimed Capture score is tripled

Siege[edit | edit source]

A Siege is the main way of gaining War score. It takes place when an army attacks a Fortified Holding and outnumbers the Holding's  Garrison. In order to occupy a County, all Fortified Holdings have to be occupied. Castles and County Capitals are all fortified by default. How difficult it is to besiege a Fortified Holding is determined by its  Fort Level, which can be increased by certain buildings and modifiers. The base amount of Siege Progress needed to occupy the Holding is 100, and each  Fort Level increases it by 75. Siege Progress is gained every day, especially if the attacker heavily outnumbers the garrison or brings siege weapons.

Being attacked while besieging a Fortified Holding will make the besieger the attacker of the battle, conferring any terrain defensive bonus to the other army instead. There is also an additional Advantage penalty for fighting in the same Barony as a Fortified Holding.

Each siege will keep track of the defenders' supplies, average health and fortifications. During sieges, certain events can happen by default every 20 days (shortened by 30% to only 14 days with  Military Engineer commander), which can lower one of those. Walls can only be damaged if the attacking army has Siege Weapons.

Asset Stage 1 effects Stage 2 effects Stage 3 effects
Siege action supplies.png Garrison Supplies None Unit stat siege progress.png +10% One-Time Siege Progress Unit stat siege progress.png +30% One-Time Siege Progress
Siege action disease.png Garrison Health None Unit stat siege progress.png +10% Daily Siege Progress Unit stat siege progress.png +20% Daily Siege Progress
Siege action walls.png Walls None -10% Time Between Siege Events
Yes Can assault the Fort
-30% Time Between Siege Events
Yes Can assault the Fort

Assaulting the Fort will add a large amount of daily Siege Progress at the cost of casualties.

Occupation[edit | edit source]

Once the besieging forces reach 100% siege progress, they become the controller of the barony. If they control all fortified holdings within a county, they will also occupy the entire county. Upon occupation, the county loses control (unless original owner has the Overseer lifestyle perk Enduring Hardships). Occupying the war target's holdings provides warscore.

Capturing characters in a siege[edit | edit source]

Characters present in a holding which has just been occupied or raided have a chance to be imprisoned by the besieging force. The following conditions exclude characters from being capturable:

  • The besiegers have defeated the defender's army, but the defender's army has not yet retreated to a different province
  • The character is imprisoned in the barony

For eligible characters, the base chance to be captured is 35%. Each point of intrigue will reduce this percentage by 1, with a maximum reduction of 20%, and each point of prowess will reduce this percentage by 0.5, with a maximum reduction of 15%. The third Pillage legacy effect adds 20% to this chance.

If the occupying force is a peasant army, or the target is undesirable, a captured character will instead be killed. A target is desirable if any of the following is true:

  • They are landed
  • They have at least one parent
  • Their spouse is landed
  • Any close family member is landed
  • They have a high skill rating in diplomacy, martial, stewardship, intrigue or learning
  • They have a physician lifestyle trait
  • They have a mystic lifestyle trait

War score[edit | edit source]

War score is a measure of which side is winning a war. It ranges from -100 to +100, each point added to one side being subtracted at the same time from the other side, e.g. if one side has 25 War score, the other side will have -25 War score. War score is gained by winning Battles, occupying Holdings, taking important prisoners and especially having control of the Casus Belli's Objective, or the "War Target". Even though the game doesn't define the term "War Target", it appears to correspond to whether either side has possession of at least one county in the de Jure title being fought over. If either side controls the entirety of the de jure title being fought over, they accumulate war score every month. If the other side takes control of at least one of these counties, the war score gained from control resets to 0 but will return to its previous level if the county/ies are recaptured. If neither side controls all de jure disputed land, there is no gain from control. For example, a war for the Duchy of Lancaster in England means that there are 4 counties that are at claim. If the attacker seizes all 4, they accumulate 1% per month of war score. After a certain amount of time, the defenders will gain score if the attackers have failed to capture any of these counties. Note that this does not apply in wars where the claim is on the highest title in that realm. For example, a claim on England will not accumulate a control score as long as the attacker takes even a single county; if they were to take them all, they would automatically win by full occupation unless the Empire of Britannia has been created and is the liege of the holder of the title of Kingdom of England.

Objective Bonus war score
Capturing enemy ruler +100
Capturing enemy heir +50 (primary heir)
+25 (secondary heir)
+10 (tertiary heir)
Occupying enemy capital +10

The benefits given by winning battles is based on the size of the losing army relative to its total soldier count. The benefits given by occupying holdings correspond to a percentage of the total holdings the defender has, both inside and outside the war target. The percentage allocated to winning battles is limited to 50% so it is not possible to win a war as an attacker without also occupying holdings unless the ruler or the primary heir is captured in a battle.

At +30 War score, the winning side can call for White Peace. At +100 War score, the winning side can enforce their demands on the losing side. Alternatively, at -100 War score, the losing side must surrender to the winning side. This can be modified by Peace Acceptance, particularly with the Peacemaker Lifestyle Perk.

Players can always Surrender to the opposing side, ending the war and enforcing the opposing side's demands on themselves. The AI will also eventually surrender to the player when the player has 100 war score, preventing the player from taking additional captives or inflicting additional damage to their realm.

War contribution[edit | edit source]

Wars where either the attacker or the defender has allies keep track of the percentage of War score that was provided by each ally's armies. When the war ends, a certain amount of  Gold,  Prestige or  Piety is shared among all allies based on their War Contribution.

If a war lasts at least 2 years and one of the allies has 0% War Contribution, it will lose -20  Opinion with the war leader and have to pay  Gold or  Prestige or promise to earn War Contribution within a year. Breaking the promise will result in losing a Level of Fame as well as -50  Opinion with the war leader.

Ending wars[edit | edit source]

Wars can end in two ways: victory for one side and defeat for the other, or with a white peace.

If the attacker achieves victory, they benefit from the effects of the used casus belli. If the defender achieves victory, the attacker is forced to pay a large sum of gold to the defender and will lose  prestige or  piety. A lost war against one's liege also results in the liege imprisoning the attackers and getting a reason to revoke a title from each of them.

White peace can be proposed at any point by one of the two sides and requires the other side to accept it. In case of white peace, the attacker will lose a small amount of  prestige or  piety. Additionally, for many CBs, the attacker will gain  40 stress if they're  Ambitious or  Arrogant, and an Arrogant defender will also gain this much stress.

After a war, the allies of both sides will gain  prestige regardless of who the victor was, based on their contributions.

When a war ends, the attacker will gain a mutual truce with the defender for 5 years. If the former attacker declares war again while the truce is active, they will lose  250 prestige and one level of fame and gain  −50 general opinion for 3 years.

Holy wars[edit | edit source]

Holy Wars are wars started with one of the Holy War casus belli. Unlike other wars, Rulers of the same Faith as the defending Ruler can join the war without requiring an Alliance. A Ruler targeted by a Holy War gains a character interaction to convert to the attacker's Faith in order to end the war in White Peace at the cost of 100  Piety and 3 Levels of Devotion.

Great holy wars[edit | edit source]

Great Holy Wars can only be declared by a Head of Faith whose faith has the Warmonger, Armed Pilgrimages, Struggle and Submission tenets, or Special Doctrines such as Rightful Rulers of the World. They can only target Kingdoms ruled by a character of a different Faith. If victorious, all Titles within the targeted Kingdom are seized and divided between the attackers based on their War Contribution. Great Holy Wars can be Directed or Undirected. Great Holy Wars do not cause Vassal  Opinion loss no matter how long they last. A faith must have at least 75% fervor to launch a Great Holy War.

During Great Holy Wars, there is no option for White Peace and capturing and imprisoning the opposing war leader or its Heir will not grant War score. If the attacking Faith wins, its Fervor will decrease by -30 while the defending Faith's Fervor will increase by +25%. If the defending Faith wins, the attacking Faith will lose -25 Fervor.

Rulers who contribute to a Great Holy War and knights in the armies that fight such a war will gain the Trait crusader.png Crusader trait if Christian, Trait mujahid.png Mujahid trait if Muslim or Trait faith warrior.png Warrior of the Faith trait if their Religion is any other. In addition, if the character had the  Excommunicated trait, it is removed.

AI rulers are less afraid of armies that outnumber theirs during Great Holy Wars.

Directed great holy wars[edit | edit source]

Directed Great Holy Wars can be declared by Temporal Heads of Faith. If victorious, the Kingdom is granted to the Head of Faith. Rulers of the same Faith can join forces with the Head of Faith, and based on their War Contribution, may gain Piety or Titles in the conquered Kingdom if victorious.

Undirected great holy wars[edit | edit source]

Undirected Great Holy Wars can be declared by Spiritual Heads of Faith. When declared, a preparation phase starts, during which Rulers of the attacking and defending Faiths can either donate gold or pledge military support to their side.

Each Undirected Great Holy War will have a War Chest, to which characters of the attacking Faith can donate  Gold in order to receive  Piety equal to half of the amount donated. Donating significant amounts will also grant bonus  Opinion with the Head of Faith. When the preparation phase ends, 20% of the War Chest's value will be divided among all rulers who pledged military support for the attacking Faith. The rest will be divided among all rulers who pledged military support if their Faith wins.

During the preparation phase, characters belonging to the Faith of the attacker or the defender can pledge military support. Characters who pledge military support may gain a share of the War Chest's value and will end all wars against characters who also pledged military support. Characters of the attacking Faith who pledge military support can also choose a Beneficiary, an unlanded and non-heir character of their Dynasty who will receive titles in the targeted Kingdom proportional to their War Contribution. Upon pledging, characters of the attacking Faith will gain Piety and the War Chest will gain Prestige and Piety depending on their Primary Title rank:

Rank Piety War Chest Prestige War Chest Piety
Baron 30 250 75
Count 60 500 150
Duke 90 1000 300
King 120 1500 600
Emperor 150 3000 1200

A character can withdraw their pledge for military support after making it, but doing so will cause them to lose one Level of Devotion.

In addition, during the preparation phase, characters who pledged military support can spend Piety to change the targeted Kingdom. This must be done at least 101 days before the start of the Holy War.

Once the Preparation Phase ends, the war starts if the projected attacker strength is less than 33% of the projected defender strength. If the attackers are victorious, the Kingdom is granted to the attacker that had the highest War Contribution. During both war and the preparation Phase, attackers may donate Gold to the War Chest.

Unlocking Great Holy Wars[edit | edit source]

To unlock Great Holy Wars a Faith must have the right Doctrines, its Head of Faith must exist and not be imprisoned, there must be at least 35 counties in the world following the Faith, fervor has to be above 65% and at least ten years must have passed since another Faith unlocked Great Holy Wars. If those conditions are met, a Faith will unlock Great Holy Wars after year 1100 but they can be unlocked at any point earlier if two Holy Sites are in a realm whose top liege is not of the same religion. Crusades and Jihads can be unlocked earlier if certain conditions are met.

Faith Minimum year Condition
Catholic 1095 Top liege of Jerusalem is not Christian
Catholic 1000 Byzantine emperor or top liege of any of these counties is not Christian: Ankyra, Athens, Constantinople, Corinth
Catholic 800 The top liege of any of these counties is not Christian: Cologne, Halberstadt, Paris, Venaissin, Toulouse
Catholic - Top liege of Rome is not Christian
Islam - After Christianity has unlocked, and any holy site is in a realm whose top liege is not Muslim
any faith - After both Christianity and Islam have unlocked, and any holy site is in a realm whose top liege is of Hostile or Evil faith.
any faith 800 Any two holy sites are in a realm whose top liege is of a different religion.

Great Holy War Weights[edit | edit source]

Main article: Great holy war weights

Great Holy Wars have a multiplier for AI targeting of 100 for a key religious holding (Jerusalem for Catholics and Jews, Mecca and Medina for Muslims), 75 for the kingdom where someone who made a Human Sacrifice of the Head of Faith came from, 50 for kingdoms with a holy site, 40 for kingdoms in heartland regions, 30 for frontier regions, 20 for fringe regions, and 10 for stretch regions. Note this means all other kingdoms would have a multiplier of 1. If the Head of Faith is landed, this is divided by the distance from the Head of Faith. If not, it is divided by the distance from the primary religious site (e.g. Rome). There is also a multiplier of 20 if someone of the same faith holds the kingdom title, but does not possess enough of the kingdom. Great Holy War Weights can be found in game\common\script_values\02_religion_values.txt.

Raiding[edit | edit source]

Raiding is the process of attacking the Holding of another character without requiring to be at war with them in order to gain Loot.

In order to Raid, a ruler must have at least one of the following:

Once a Holding has been Raided it cannot be Raided again by the same enemy for 5 years, during which time the Holding will have -50% Taxes, +50% Building Construction Time and -10% Development Growth. If the raided Barony is a Ruler's Realm Capital, raiding may capture or kill courtiers or family members. Holdings that have been Raided will have a torch icon above them when a raider army is selected. Realms at truce with cannot be raided.

Raiding is done via Raiders, armies raised in owned provinces for the purpose of Raiding that can carry loot based on the army size. Raiders cannot embark unless their culture has unlocked either the Longships or West African Canoes Innovation, or the Practiced Pirates tradition. While Raiding, the army cannot move, allowing the attacked character to raise an army against the raiders if possible. If a Raider army is defeated before returning inside its own borders all Loot will be recovered. Maintenance cost for armies raised as raiders is reduced by 50%.

If a Commander has raided at least 20 times, each raid has a chance to grant them the Trait viking.png Raider trait equal to the amount of times they raided.

If a ruler is the army's Commander after the Holding is raided, there is a 30% chance they will gain the option to sack its County. The chance is increased to 50% if the Liege has the Trait viking.png Raider trait. Sacking the County presents at least one, sometimes two options. A player can always sack for additional treasure, granting more  Gold and  Prestige while the County will gain -40  Development Progress. When sacking a feudal or clan barony, if the raider’s capital has under 15  Development, they are also presented with a second option to capture slaves for their capital. Choosing this option will increase  Development progress in the raider’s capital by +40, decrease the sacked county’s development by -1, and decrease sacked county’s development progress by -80. Capturing slaves is perhaps the fastest way in the game to increase development, but can only be done in your capital county up to development 15.

Choosing either option will also give the County the Recently Sacked modifier for 20 years, which prevents it from being sacked again and gives it +20 Popular Opinion. Sacking a County will grant +10  Stress if the character has the  Compassionate or  Forgiving traits.

Raided rulers gain a decaying -15  Opinion towards the owners of the raiding armies.

If the Northern Lords DLC is installed rulers who meet certain requirements have a 20% chance to be offered to trade instead of raiding. The chance is increased to 40% if the character belongs to the North Germanic culture group or has the second Adventure legacy track.png Adventure dynasty legacy. If the offer is accepted the army will gain 10 Loot and +20  Opinion with the realm owner but will not be able to raid them for 5 years. In addition the previously raided County will get a +20 Popular Opinion modifier for 5 years. To be offered to trade, the following requirements must be met:

  • At peace
  • Leading the raiding army as a Commander
  • Raiding a Holding castle.png Castle holding
  • Either the  Longships innovation or the second Adventure legacy track.png Adventure dynasty legacy

Terrain[edit | edit source]

A map showing each type of terrain in Crusader Kings III

Each Barony has a dominant terrain. The terrain determines the movement speed and combat width in the Barony and can affect the supply limit and development growth in its County as well as which buildings can be constructed.

Terrain Movement Speed Combat width.png Combat Width Defender Advantage County Supply Limit County Development Growth Other effects
Terrain desert.png Desert 70% 100% 0 -30% -50%
Terrain desert mountains.png Desert Mountains 50% 50% +12 -60% -50% -30% Defender Retreat Losses
Terrain drylands.png Drylands 100% 100% 0 -5%
Terrain farmlands.png Farmlands 100% 100% 0 +50% +20%
Terrain floodplains.png Floodplains 100% 75% 0 +35% +20%
Terrain forest.png Forest 80% 90% +3 -10%
Terrain hills.png Hills 80% 80% +5 -10% -10%
Terrain jungle.png Jungle 50% 70% +6 -25% -40%
Terrain mountains.png Mountains 50% 50% +12 -50% -25%
Terrain oasis.png Oasis 100% 100% 0 +10% +10%
Terrain plains.png Plains 100% 100% 0
Terrain steppe.png Steppe 100% 100% 0 -50%
Terrain taiga.png Taiga 80% 80% +4 -20% -5%
Terrain wetlands.png Wetlands 70% 60% +5 -25% -25% +25% Retreat Losses
+20% Fatal Casualties

References[edit | edit source]

Characters CharactersAttributesTraitsResourcesLifestyleDynastyCultureInnovationsModifiers
Realm & Governance VassalsCouncilCourtSchemesGovernmentLawsDecisionsTitlesBaronyCounty
Warfare WarfareCasus belliAllianceArmyHired forces
Faith ReligionFaithDoctrinesTenets
Meta ModdingPatchesDownloadable contentDeveloper diariesAchievementsJargon