Well, it's Friday and high time to spill the beans on the new expansion for Crusader Kings II; the Sword of Islam. Judging by the forum, playable Muslims is the most requested feature for CKII, and who are we to disagree? We always wanted to do it, provided we could do the Muslim world justice. That time is now (or, well, soon ). As with the Ruler Designer DLC, the Sword of Islam will be released together with a major content patch. What you get with the Sword of Islam is simply the ability to play as the Muslim rulers, but all the new mechanics will be there and running for the AI (or other players in multiplayer) even if you don't have the expansion.
I'll be doing three dev diaries on the Sword of Islam, each one dealing with some unique features for the Muslims as well as some free features that everyone will have access to simply by patching to 1.06.
THE SWORD OF ISLAM
One of the major hassles with making Muslims playable was the prevalence of text with obviously Christian or Western terminology. Therefore, we had to go through all text to make it fit the setting if you are playing a Muslim. Often, this required writing whole new events and decisions. For example, Muslims don't hold tournaments, they have the Furusiyya instead, which is an exhibition of martial arts and horsemanship. They don't hold Grand Feasts, they observe the Ramadan, etc. We also added some completely new decisions, like going on the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca), which will initiate a cool little event driven story of what happens on the way to and from the holy city. Of course, there is also a whole slew of events dealing with various new gameplay features (more on that in later dev diaries.)
Another issue we needed to solve was the Gothic looking graphical interface of Crusader Kings II, which we felt did not really work when playing as a Muslim ruler. So we did a complete reskin with sand tones and green symbols and patterns instead of the church window graphics of Christian rulers. Yet another problem was that many event pictures looked distinctly Western/Christian, so we've added about 25 new ones to serve as Muslim equivalents. Then there are all the little things, like trait icons with crosses, the Crusade banner, etc. All of that has been changed to provide the right atmosphere. We've even changed the five councillor models for Muslims when they're out in the provinces performing jobs. It's all been a lot of work, but I think it turned out really well.
Muslims get a slightly different set of character traits; they don't get the Kinslayer, Crusader, Celibate and Chaste Traits. Instead, they get the Mujahid, Hajjaj, Faqih (Islamic law expert), Hafiz (has memorized the Koran), Sayyid (agnatic descendent of Fatima or one of Muhammad's uncles) and Mirza (child of a Sayyida mother) traits.
Lastly, Muslims get another set of honorary titles to hand out to their vassals. They all get a few special flavour events - especially the Chief Qadi - a position requiring an ecclesiastical education.
That's it for the Sword of Islam in this dev diary; next time I will go into the core dynamics of playing as a Muslim ruler.
THE 1.06 PATCH
Now then, here's some of the free stuff we're giving ya'll in the 1.06 patch...
First off, we thought the southwest corner of the map looked a bit dull, so we added a bunch of new provinces down there, representing the flourishing civilizations of the Manden people; Ghana, Mali and Songhay. The area comes with historical rulers (of course) and a new West African culture group. The region is rich but hard to reach.
For flavour, we have also made it so that duchy tier and above titles held by rulers of Iranian, Arabic and Turkish cultures are named after the ruling dynasty. For example, the Kingdom of Egypt automatically becomes the Fatimid Sultanate while the Fatimids are in power (though the original name is also used where appropriate.) In case the same dynasty holds several high rank titles, only the highest is named after the dynasty. Thus, we can have both a Seljuk Sultanate and a Sultanate of Rum, both ruled by the Seljuk dynasty. Randomly generated characters of these cultures automatically get a dynasty name suitable to name states after (ending with -id or -n, etc).
Lastly (for this dev diary), there are seven new creatable empires (the Arabian Empire, the Empire of Persia, Britannia, Scandinavia, Francia, Spain and Russia) and a whole slew of new de jure kingdoms, mostly to break up the old kingdom of Khazaria. Now, I know the addition of the new empires is controversial, but the creation conditions are designed to be fairly difficult to achieve, so the AI will very rarely do it. We want players to have the imperial option to strive for if they so desire - the Unions turned out to be a popular feature in Europa Universalis III.
Oh, and before anyone asks, patch 1.06 will be semi-compatible with old save games: you will be able to keep playing, but we're making no guarantees that the balance will not be completely upset, or that any added new provinces will be active and working.
That's it for now. Next week I'll talk about polygamy, decadence, and strong and weak claims!