Hello, I'm Crusader Kings II developer Goosecreature. You may remember me from such Developer Diaries as "Events and Decisions" and "The Heathens are Coming." Today I'll be talking a bit about - you guessed it - the events and decisions of The Old Gods. This expansion will introduce many of these and not just for the Vikings.
As a Norse Pagan, you can hold a blot every nine years during winter. This is a good way of making your vassals like you more, and it is somewhat similar to a feast with one big difference – the human sacrifice. During a blot, four random prisoners will be brought up from your dungeon and you will have to decide whether or not to sacrifice them to the Allfather for prestige and piety. If you have no prisoners, some nameless thralls will be sacrificed instead but this won't bring you nearly as much renown. Anyone can be sacrificed, including close family members, but you will earn extra piety if your victim is a Christian or a Muslim. These are harsh times and the world is not a friendly place.
Another way of increasing your prestige is to commission a runestone. This can be done only once in a character's lifetime, and you can choose to devote it either to yourself or one of your parents. The Scandinavian dueling tradition of holmgång is also in the game, and Norse characters can, under certain circumstances, challenge each other to single combat on an isolated islet. There are also events for Norse characters leaving to join the Varangian Guard, the discovery of Greenland and Vinland, characters gaining the Viking or Berserker traits, the appearance of the Jomsvikings and the Seljuks, völur (mystic seers) joining your court, and many more.
The Mongols will have a decision to hold the nerge, a great hunt in which most of their army participates. This is in essence a massive military training exercise that sees the different wings of the Mongol army coordinating maneuvers and driving wildlife before them in close formation. Once encircled, the wildlife is killed and the army gains both provisions and invaluable experience working together as a single fighting force. Doing this will give your armies a morale boost.
Suomenusko pagans will be able to hold the Ukon Juhla festival, where they worship the god Ukko in the hope of improving their harvests. For Romuva pagans, the U˛gavenes festival can be held in spring, where effigies to winter are burnt and the coming of summer is celebrated. Finally, Slavic pagans can hold a festival in the name of the god Jarilo, in which a random vassal is given the honor of representing Jarilo and paraded around wearing bells and other glamorous clothing.
This doesn't cover everything, but as I wanted to write a bit about something else, it will have to do for now.
There have been a lot of requests for us to go into more detail on the Zoroastrians, which is something we hadn't originally planned to do for the Dev Diaries. In order to please YOU (yes, you in particular), the next part of this diary will be devoted to them.
For those who aren't familiar with it, Zoroastrianism is an ancient religion that originated in Persia. It predates the Abrahamic faiths by quite a bit, and was the state religion of the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid empires. Its decline as a major religion came with the Arab invasion of Persia and the spread of Islam in the 7th century, but pockets would still remain in the Central Asian hinterlands of the former Sassanid Empire centuries later.
By 867, the common folk in several parts of Persia still cling to Zoroastrianism but they are the subjects of Muslim rulers and their conversion to the Mohammedan faith is only a matter of time. Just north of these domains, along the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, Satrap Vandad of the Karen dynasty rules the last independent Zoroastrian realm on the map. This is a challenging starting position and reclaiming Persia and its holy sites for the Zoroastrian faith will not be easy, but it can be done.
Zoroastrianism is not a member of the Pagan religious group, and so they have no need to reform their religion. They will start the game in 867 without a High Priest, but if you hold the Persian Empire there is a decision to restore the position of the Moabadan-Moabad (the Priest of Priests). Just like the Pope, this priest can grant divorces and sanction invasions against other Zoroastrian realms. You'll probably be the only one at this point, so this likely won't do you much good unless your carefully built Zoroastrian empire fragments in civil war.
Also, Zoroastrian rulers are able to enter holy marriages with close relatives of the opposite gender. Such a sacred union will increase their standing among vassals, but producing a healthy heir may become a problem... fortunately, you can always fall back on your concubines for that.
If you manage to stage a miraculous Zoroastrian recovery and reclaim the Persian Empire, you will have the option of declaring yourself the Saoshyant, the chosen savior of the world mentioned in prophecy by Zoroaster himself. This will not only earn you a new nickname, but you will also get a new trait that significantly boosts the opinion of all Zoroastrian characters towards you. All future descendants of the Saoshyant will also get a less powerful version of this trait, even if they convert to a different religion.
That's all I have for now. I hope you'll have a pleasant Wednesday!