CK3 Dev Diary #07 - Characters & Portraits

Greetings!

Today we’re taking a look at what makes up a character in CK3. As you already know, the game revolves around characters and all the things they get up to, so to make it interesting we have to make sure that they have as much personality as possible!

To start off; each character still has skills and traits, just like in CK2. Their skills determine how well they can do different things, a character will high Diplomacy will be well-liked, while one with high Martial will excel as a commander. The main source of these skills are traits, the foremost of which is the Personality Traits.

Unlike CK2, where personality traits were much like any other trait, we’ve decided to put more emphasis on the personality traits in CK3. In CK2 you could easily end up with 5-8 personality traits without much effort, but then what really defined you? It was hard to get a grip on who a character really was, something we’ve improved in CK3. Personality traits now have a massive effect on the behavior of each individual character, so when a character is Greedy you’ll really feel it. To emphasize this, characters tend to not have more than 3 personality traits so that you can at a quick glance tell who they are (other types of traits are of course still unlimited).

Personality_traits.png

Personality Trait icons. Can you guess which one is which?

We’ve also added a feature where a character's personality is summed up in two words, which is then displayed in their character view. This is very useful when, for example, assigning vassals or getting agents. A ‘Rapacious Blackguard’ might not make for the most loyal vassal, but quite a good agent, while an ‘Honorable Empath’ would be the opposite!

character_portraits_01.jpg


Prestige and Piety remain in CK3, though with a new element to them. In CK2, you accumulated prestige that you then spent on various things - this rarely made much sense, why would launching an invasion suddenly make everyone like you less, for example? Therefore we’ve decided to split the currency part of prestige/piety from the perception part. In CK3, all prestige and piety accumulated by a character will contribute towards their Level of Fame/Devotion. These have various effects, for example, your Level of Fame increases the opinion of all secular rulers (as it did in CK2), give your more Knights, and unlocks special interactions - such as invasions should you be Tribal. Your Level of Devotion increases the opinion of the clergy and allows you to declare better Holy Wars among other things. These levels range between 0-5, with 0 representing disgrace. Instead of only losing prestige when doing truly dishonorable things, such as breaking a truce, you now also lose Levels of Fame, making the whole thing more of a hard choice. Accumulated prestige and piety can be used for various things as a currency, just like in CK2, prestige being used for vassal interactions, decisions, and war, while piety is the primary resource used when interacting with the church.

Exalted.png


Before moving on to the Portraits themselves, I’d like to mention genetic traits! Traits such as Strong and Genius were much sought-after in CK2, and you often went out of your way to breed those traits into your direct line. In CK3 this is even more involved, with genetic traits having multiple levels that you can improve with successive generations (which can be sped up by inbreeding!), and there’s also more of them. Genetic traits will often have a visual effect on your portrait - the Beautiful line of traits will make your characters more-and-more symmetrical, for example. On the negative end of the spectrum, we have traits such as Ugly or Albino, which will reduce symmetry or alter your character's skin tone respectively (the Middle Ages were full of prejudice).

Now, without further ado, let's move on to the Portrait section, hosted by our very own portrait artist, Nils!

So, when it comes to the visual presentation of characters in the game, we've chosen to switch out the 2D "paperdoll" style portraits of CK2 for full animated 3D characters in CK3. While the portraits in CK2 undeniably have their charm, going 3D just gives us so many more possibilities for all kinds of dynamic features.

Every character has a DNA in which their appearance is defined. Each facial feature that we can control has its own gene. And there's a great number of those to give us a lot of variations and an endless amount of possible faces. For example, the nose alone has over 10 different parameters that define its shape. Compared to just one in CK2.

Another thing we wanted to change is how much of the character we display in the UI. This is, of course, the middle ages we are talking about, where a person's clothes are a more important indicator of who they are than even their facial features. So it made sense to show more of the body than just head and shoulders. How fancy and expensive a character’s clothing looks will give you as player information about their rank. The larger frame also allows us to show different animated poses, and as Alex mentioned above they give a hint of the character’s personality. Additionally, we can do more with body types as well. Characters have different heights (yes including dwarfism and gigantism) as well as different weights and body composition, something that is affected by their lifestyle and traits. So if your character is a gluttonous hedonist, chances are they will have a body rather on the stout side of things while if they are a legendary warrior their pecs and deltoids will also likely be of the legendary variety.

character_portraits_02.jpg


Other cool features that the 3D system allows us to do is seamless aging and disease overlays. Now you can see your toddler gradually change into an adult and eventually (barring any unforeseen incidents...) to an elderly 100-year old. Should your character, heavens forbid, catch a serious illness their appearance will reflect that with suitably repulsive skin texture overlays.

We will have a more in-depth look at the portraits in a future dev diary, so stay tuned for that!
 
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Andrzej I

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I have to ask it: Why King Harold's clothes seems like to be drenched with olive oil?
When you're the King, you do as you please.
just three personality traits? They seems too few to me, especially if they include both positive and negative traits.
Unless I'm reading the quote below wrong, you can have more than three traits, it's just up to three "personality" traits.
To emphasize this, characters tend to not have more than 3 personality traits so that you can at a quick glance tell who they are (other types of traits are of course still unlimited).
 

sreckom92

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CK3 nude mod incomming...
Sorry, someone had to make that comment. :D
Also, perhaps even worse, plastic faces, makeup and treated hair.
 

rageair

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Could you tell us what respresent the small heart beside the age and name ? yellow or green
Its the character's overall health. It's fairly abstracted (you will never be able to tell exactly when a character is going to die) but it will give you an indication - a very ill character might have a black shriveled heart for example.

Are genetic traits invisible or visible?
Visible, though characters can also carry recessive traits... those are not visible, but can be inherited by their offspring!
 

Denkt

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I think anything above 20 really should be an outlier, not as common as it was in CK2.
Well they gave a 17 year old lowborn girl like 30 material in CK2 and primary stat in 20s is not that hard to get in CK2. The question is what a 20-30 stat person would actually be, at some Point you would probably be so focused on your work that all other attributes would take a hit, but in CK2 that is seldom the case leading to characters being pretty good at Everything which is a bit unrealistic given a person only have so much time to do stuff. A 30 stat person would probably be pretty much completely obsessed with their work which to me feel like they would be rather limited in other areas.
 

Demonkill227

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I have to admit when I first saw the announcement of CK III I was very skeptical about it due to more recent games, but a lot of these dev diaries show me the amount of work and dedication you guys have put into this game. While I am sad about the removal of some game mechanics seeing all these additions and improvements to what CKII wanted to be is amazing, and I am very happy to see where this is going!
 

Leonardosson

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Will the characters wear artifacts in their portraits? Like the Crown of Crows, Ruby Bracelets, Hermetic Handgun or Chinese robes?
 

Stachosson

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So pre-Norman England confirmed. Good.

I'm not so sure about that because in 1066 the anglo-saxons still ruled england but were instantly conquered and quickly replaced.
Although it would be epic to see that.
I would also love to switch between different days before 1066 not just after 1066 as in CK2
 

sreckom92

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Can we know the topic of the next week diary? :)
 

Danir

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I am not quite sure from the screenshot, are virtues and sins still easily recognizable at first glance ?
 

Andrzej I

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Its the character's overall health. It's fairly abstracted (you will never be able to tell exactly when a character is going to die) but it will give you an indication - a very ill character might have a black shriveled heart for example.

Visible, though characters can also carry recessive traits... those are not visible, but can be inherited by their offspring!
Very glad for both of these changes! That said, curious, will characters who die of illness always show a black heart before dying, or is it possible for them to seem in good health but die suddenly anyways?
 

Svennie 135

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I really love the postures of the portraits. You can see the pride of a king in Harold. The Fearlessness and the craven next to each other make a fine example of how the traits change your portrait
 

Nyrael

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I am not quite sure from the screenshot, are virtues and sins still easily recognizable at first glance ?

Yes, you can see small icons (devils and wings) below the portraits. It seems like Traits are no longer marked as Sinful or Virtuous by themselves, but instead by your religion.
 

Serenity84

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The characters in this pictures look better overall than what we've seen previously. But some of them still have weird poses. Like the monk looking off the side. In other pictures some looked at their feet or the ceiling. Some variations in poses is good, but such extremes can make them look bad.
 

ogarrr

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How moddable is the transference of genetics? Would it be possible to, say, create a family where they have a prevalence for strength and almost all of them have black hair and blue eyes? Except for those three blonde haired, green eye kids. But take no notice of them.
 

CassCD

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  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Cossacks
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Divine Wind
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Europa Universalis III
It's *very* hard to change your personality, and random events will never do it. There are a few ways you can alter your personality slowly over time, and depending on how you play your character stress might also have an impact... I'll not go into details on that yet though ;)
Considering how hard they supposedly are to change, will we have more agency to choose traits we get as we grow up? While the randomness of a personality developing is certainly kinda realistic, I hope we have adequate opportunities to make interesting decisions along the way. If we're going to be largely stuck with them, I'd like to earn it.