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Greetings!

Welcome to the first Dev Diary for the Royal Court expansion! As we mentioned in a previous DD, we’ll go back to Azure patch DD’s for a few weeks after this one. But do not fear, there will be some more Royal Court DD’s before the summer holidays - and when we’re back from holidays we’ll have many, many Royal Court diaries for you!

It’s really hard to pick a topic for where to start, but we decided upon a dive into the namesake feature of the expansion - the Royal Court itself, your seat of royal majesty and power! The Royal Court consists of many features, all collected within a 3D scene that we call the Throne Room.

Here’s an early Work in Progress screenshot of the throne room - do note that it’s a very early version, but we just can't wait to show you what we have been working on!
RoyalCourtSceneExtremelyWIP.png

[Image: An early WIP western-style Throne Room, not indicative of final quality]

Now, there are many things that go into the Royal Court itself. It interacts with numerous new features that’ll come with the expansion - we won’t go into detail on all of them today, if we did this DD would become much too long!

It's worth noting that this isn’t just a graphical feature; while we admit the importance of immersion, we don't want any features to feel tacked-on or superfluous. The Throne Room is there to show what’s happening; what artifacts you’ve collected, which courtiers are having a fight, etc. This allows us to place your character in a scene together with others, showing that you’re actually present in the same world! We’re trying to bridge the gap between your character and the map, all while representing a side of medieval history we’ve never previously explored in detail - the importance for a ruler to show their power, their grandeur, to their subjects and peers.

Every Feudal/Clan King and Emperor has a Royal Court. Tribal Rulers do not have one, as this feature primarily models the formality and ceremony surrounding the court, as well as the need for spending Gold, while Tribal rulers use Prestige as their main resource. If a ruler is demoted to a lower rank (through war, election, or just sheer bad luck) their Royal Court and everything therein will either stay dormant until you regain your lost status, or follow the character who now rules in your stead.

Grandeur
The key concept that enables this is called Grandeur - a measurement of your standing in the eyes of your peers. While it’s measured on a scale from 0-100, it’s not necessarily a simple system. Increasing your grandeur will lead to direct political benefits, such as increased opinions, marriage acceptance, etc. It will also unlock new Council Jobs, such as being able to peacefully demand De Jure land with the ‘Convince De Jure Territory’ job, or gain Knight Effectiveness while also decreasing enemy Scheme Success Chance with the ‘Manage Royal Guards’ job. These effects motivate you to aim for a high level of Grandeur, but naturally comes at a monetary cost. How much are you willing to spend on artifacts, amenities, or on positions within your court? You have to balance your political needs with your temporal ones, such as warfare or development. Sacrificing your grandeur entirely will cause instabilities both internal and external.

Grandeur is not really a resource, and is not actively ‘spent’ - unlike something like Prestige. It works on a much slower timescale, and is something you must balance and work towards increasing over a longer period of time. Though there are of course choices in events that make Grandeur increase or decrease, with various trade-offs.

Grandeur Effects
As mentioned in the previous section, Grandeur has several different effects and modifiers. It is divided into 10 separate levels with their own effects. For example, the very first level of Grandeur unlocks the ability to Hold Court - which is a crucial component in achieving the higher Grandeur levels. The second level unlocks a Council Task called ‘Bestow Royal Favor’, which is a powerful single-target task that increases a vassal’s opinion of you while granting them, and you, prestige.

One of the most significant effects of Grandeur is its effect on attraction of Inspired characters - the higher your Grandeur is compared to that of your neighbors, the likelier you are to have these creative travelers visit your court first, giving you an opportunity for patronage (more on Inspirations in a future DD).

Some of these levels will give courtiers who stay within it a flavorful trait, which will increase their skills and attributes based on the type of court they’re staying at. A particularly grand court might even see a more powerful trait appear, making such characters excellent for various jobs and Court Positions (more on Court Positions in a later DD).

Several Grandeur levels have effects and modifiers based on your Court Type - a type of flavorful perk for your court. Depending on your cultural Ethos you’ll get access to a few different types, such as a Diplomatic or Warlike Court. All royal courts have a type, and among other things it affects the type of trait that courtiers get (see previous paragraph). The bonuses granted from these types are varied and aim to enhance a certain style of play. The AI will tend to go for the Court Type most reflective of their Cultural Ethos and situation - for example, Indian Kings will often tend to want a Scholarly Court since many Indian cultures have a spiritual Ethos.

As an example, having a Diplomatic Court Type will grant you bonuses to Vassalization acceptance, tyranny gain, opinion, and potentially even unlock a Personal Scheme slot. A Warlike Court Type might instead see bonuses to MaA counter efficiency, knight efficiency, and the maximum size of MaA regiments. As not all cultures can access all Court Types, this is another reason to pursue Hybridization or Divergence (more on that in a later DD).

How Grandeur is Gained
Grandeur is divided in two; baseline, and direct gain. The baseline decides the ‘trend’, with you passively (and slowly) either gaining or losing grandeur over time, until the baseline is met. The baseline is affected by many things; what Court Artifacts you have, what Court Positions you have filled, etc (more on Court Artifacts in a later DD). The rate of grandeur change can be modified by many things, such as Cultural Ethoses or Traditions, but is as a rule of thumb slow. It takes time for word of your glory to spread, after all!

The most simple way to increase your Grandeur baseline is by investing in Amenities. Now, Amenities are simple and straightforward; but they’re still central to the concept of having a grand court! There are four different types; Lodgings, Food, Clothing and Servants. There are four levels to each, with each progressive level costing more gold to maintain, but giving more Grandeur baseline. They all come with a selection of flavor effects, for example; spending on food will slightly increase the disease resistance of your courtiers, but higher levels might also cause them to gain weight! Spending on clothes will increase their prestige, and will even cause them to wear fancier clothes at higher levels of expenditure (commoners will wear low nobility clothes, and so on). If your court is lacking in artifacts, spending on Amenities is the way to go.

Worth noting is that the cost of amenities is relative to your size and income; a small realm won’t have to pay as much as a prosperous one - the intent here is to allow smaller kingdoms and empires to ‘punch above their weight’ diplomatically, making choosing between expansion and consolidation a more relevant matter.

Reaching your baseline might take a long time, unless you decide to take action in order to speed it up - to gain grandeur fast, you need to Hold Court! Performing this decision invites your vassals and subjects to bring their issues, requests, and questions before you. The mere act of Holding Court will give you a one-time boost to your Grandeur, but the opportunities within the activity itself might give you opportunities to increase it further (or you could decide to lose grandeur for some temporal gain that is just too good to pass up!). The issues brought forth when Holding Court are many and varied, with many of them reacting to the state of your realm (more on Hold Court in a later DD).

Grandeur Expectations
Now, Grandeur isn’t only about reaching the level that gives the effect you desire, it’s also about managing expectations!

Depending on a number of factors, such as your tier or the size of your realm, you will have a certain expectation put upon your Royal Court. This expectation is a double-edged sword - if your grandeur is below expectations you’ll suffer increasing diplomatic penalties as people lose respect, while if it’s exceeded you might see powerful diplomatic bonuses.

These are scaled based on how powerful you are - a rather small Kingdom that undershoots its expectations won’t be hit particularly hard, while a massive empire such as the Holy Roman Empire or Byzantium will be punished much harder if they fail to live up to the expectations put upon them.

The effects of not living up to your expectations are many; reduced prestige, renown, and a hefty hit to opinion with both foreign rulers, courtiers and vassals. A large realm might easily find itself facing significant unrest unless its ruler starts spending on grandeur! On the other hand, a small kingdom that vastly exceeds the expectations put upon it might see significant bonuses to its diplomatic power, as well as renown and other bonuses.

Court Events
Now, the Royal Court isn’t all about Grandeur, of course. Another important role it holds is to show that there’s life in your court! This is done through Court Events; happenings contained within the court, taking place between those who live therein.

This new type of event uses the throne room as its backdrop, transforming the entire throne room into an event when they happen. Unlike normal events, this type of event is non-interruptive - you get notified that something is happening, whereby you can go into your Royal Court, inspect the scene, find whoever is involved, and trigger the event yourself. Usually these events are some sort of drama happening between your courtiers, which you can choose to simply ignore if you feel like you have more important matters to attend to.

These events come in many different flavors, mostly focusing on how it is to live in the court.

Some examples of court events that are being worked on currently include courtiers causing you embarrassment through their drinking or poor manners, or getting into arguments with your architect. Others involve things like rumors spreading about your predecessor on the throne, or popular and unflattering songs about you spreading within the court itself.
Court events might also be things like foreign ambassadors trying to uncover your secrets or devout courtiers shaming you and your court for your frivolous living.

---

Now, of course there’s more that goes into the Royal Court, but we’ll save going into details regarding Court Artifacts, the UI and graphical looks of the Throne Rooms, Court Positions and so on for future DevDiaries! Of course, this expansion isn’t all about the Royal Court; before the summer break starts you’ll get to read about some of the other features coming with the expansion and patch.

That’s all for now!
 

Koyraboro

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I can only echo the mistake of neglecting the existence and prominence of ducal courts, especially in France, Spain, Italy and the HRE.

I can also see why not all dukes should hold court, but there's a specific group that definitely did and should. Namely independent dukes and prominent vassal dukes in Empires and Kingdoms where centralisation is low.
Even restricting it to independent that's is still a lot of Courts to simulate. I really think it's just an issue of resources at the end of the day and making a threshold between King and the below tiers
 
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Voy

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Even restricting it to independent that's is still a lot of Courts to simulate. I really think it's just an issue of resources at the end of the day and making a threshold between King and the below tiers
Well, I for one can't wait for the expansion "the Prince" where being a vassal is interesting.
 
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Meg2345

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Very excited to hear about the new expansion! The game really needs new ways to interact with courtiers and vassals. My characters keep dying of complications of obesity due to attending too many feasts! Will be nice to have some other options.
 
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wfoster5

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I really hope they bring back coronations and the jeweler mechanic. also maybe introduce legendary artifacts like hunting for Excalibur in England to help cement your rule. and armor/weapons to give bonuses to duels or protection from schemes. and pets/mounts that could be seen in the court.
 
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Ksiendzu

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I wonder how Grandeur will work with ascetic faiths. Lollards don't looks like being impressed by fancy stuff in palace ;)
 
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Lady Anarion

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I am excited for this DLC!! I hope it lives up to the potential.
 

r3xm0rt1s

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I agree with this. However: If the transition didn't happen on zoom out, but only when you deliberately access the court, then we could have the nice visuals as without a usability cost.
An animated transition should be optional, otherwise a nice indulgent gimmick becomes frustrating. Though I am not certain I would keep my maps of vital strategic intel in my throne room.
 

Bakes0310

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As someone who didnt really play CK2 (30 hrs) i cant compare the two games. But for me im really likeing the look of the expansion and i hope as i recall in an early dev diary on tutorials they will update theirs when they bring out new big features and expansion packs, did i dream that or is that something thats going to happen?
 

Tadeus72

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Cool that the artifact system comes back, and that it will be extended and mixed up with other new systems, I just hope they won't remove all the other ways to get cool artifacts and won't limit it to just ordering them from your guests/artisans.

On the 3D room, meh, I don't know. Sometimes less is more, and some things should be left to our imagination.
 
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r3xm0rt1s

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The throne room must have good feng shui. Are you consider this devs?
The throne room should have good feng shui, or bad things will happen. It might be coincidence and not causal though, confirmation bias is hell of a drug. And we need a scheme to subtly disrupt the feng shui of the throne rooms of our enemies.
 
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Moopli

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  1. Being able to see everyone and your artifacts etc is a big part of the immersion into the royal court that we want hence the 3d scene instead of painted backgrounds. We are well aware of the performance implications and will be aiming to make sure it can run fine across our minimum and recommended hardwares, with some reduction of number of things on screen etc if required for the min specs like the options we already have for them.
  2. What other divisions would you want here? :)
  3. I don't think that is too true here, the specific nature of it is that exceeding one's expectations is easier when you are small and the expectations are low compared to someone like the HRE or Byzantines. So I think it makes a lot of sense design wise and thematically for this system.
Hey @blackninja9939, got some suggestions :D!
2.
  • I'd love to see itinerant courts, where you travel throughout the year with your entourage, from palace to palace, often hosted by your major vassals (which, of course, gives the host a great deal of access to you, and a level of control over who else has access to you), and of course, often on the road itself. In general, a lot of the "focus" of a court depended on the location of the court - just consider the tribulations of high medieval English kings and their attempts to assert royal control over the finances of London, and thus the establishment of Westminster just outside the old city limits. Even the French kings weren't permanently situated in La Cité, moving to a more secure location (near the Bastille) during the HYW, and La Cité became more and more of an administrative center and location for special events through the late Medieval period. In a period dependent on personal relationships to hold together great territories, the court was key in making sure that the monarch could maintain connections with the key people he needs to keep onside, and be seen ruling and demonstrating that he holds power. In many ways, centralization in the period (and to a greater extent in the early modern era) relied on the monarch being able to build a power base outside of the aristocracy, and much of this depended on who could easily access the court to petition the king. Rulers can also hold court when they're personally on campaign, which also, temporarily, completely changes the character of the court, while back home, the court seneschal/majordomo might be overstepping their caretaker role ;)...
  • Beyond just access, there's also the question of power base, so, what social groups does the king rely on for supporting his rule, and how are these groups welded to him to ensure continued support? This could determine a lot about which advisors the king keeps close, what kinds of people sit on the in-game council itself, and how the king is practically forced to respond to various kinds of petition - for example, if he relies heavily on the Church for administration, and has a lot of church figures as regulars in his court, then a petitioner against the church might be summarily dismissed by one of his advisors, and you have to decide if you countermand a key supporter of your rule.
  • And outside the king's power base, how is rulership maintained over the rest of the kingdom? Does the king rely on fealty through justice and right of rule, is the king the lynchpin that balances diverging interests among his vassals/subjects, or is his power derived from his ability to hold his vassals together for mutual defense, or perhaps, is he a controller of sufficient wealth in his own right that he can keep vassals and power-brokers on-side through agreements of mutual benefit? For example, the early Capetians very much play the balancing game, and really that's an important part of French politics until after the HYW.
  • How all of this reflects on your "court style" is through the fact that your court protocol/culture is determined partially by culture, partially by what kinds of people you want to impress, partially by what kinds of people have access to petition you, and partially by what other powerful people in your kingdom want your court to be like, since their own decisions will have an impact and you won't necessarily be able (or willing) to counter them. This might work well as a set of traits, where traits are permitted/forbidden based on culture, ruler personality, some element of powerbase, and then the player chooses a non-conflicting set of traits from the given set of options. On top of that, a court would have a current location and current host, which skews the probabilities for different types of petitioner, and can cause friction between the host and the court members if there are incompatibilities, with the ruler able to weigh in.
3. Let the expected level of grandeur slowly chase the actual level of grandeur, and then set the starting expectations, in history files, based on the level of grandeur of the predecessors of starting kings and emperors. Also, foreigners should judge a court's level of grandeur based on their own expectations. For example, a tribe migrating into the balkans might be wowed by Byzantine splendor, and that might make it easier to convince them to become vassals, but as they get used to the level of opulence displayed in Constantinople, they eventually (perhaps after a generation) don't get overawed by that, and so when they, for example, break away from the Byzzies and get conquered by the king of Sicily, they're disappointed that his wealthy and well-stocked court is, nevertheless, outright spartan compared to Byzantine splendor.

Overall though, I'm excited to see this dlc taking shape!
 
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Riamus

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Will there be walking animation?
Just a guess, but I doubt it. Everything I've seen references "placing" objects/people in various locations. This isn't a first person or third person type of game where you can control where you walk. It is very unlikely that they'll put in that kind of work into this and will likely just have people and objects placed throughout the scene. Hopefully they will add some new standing animations, though. Some of them are good, but some seem strange and some are clearly missing. With a court and many characters present and full body views instead of just headshots means you'll want more variety in animations so people aren't all doing the same thing.
 
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klopkr

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I know they're doing this piece meal to not bite off more than they can chew but I really hope the devs are planning on having estates/hearths for the rulers that can't have courts. It doesn't need all the splendor but having a place to show your characters/family and store your artifacts for EVERYONE just seems like an important fundamental design choice.
 
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peaswar

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It's a tad weird to be expected to pay for my underlings clothes, food is fine, but clothing? Would you be willing to consider a system where you can set an appropriate level of clothing as the ruler with the twist of the courtiers paying for it themselves (landless courtiers not included, or as part of some monthly pittance).
As far as I know, that was the strategy at the absolutist courts of Europe (not the timeframe I know), to bleed out poor courtiers forcing them to pay for the latest fashion.
Otherwise I like this DD and the way the game develops very much!
time to refuse my courtiers clothes
 
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peaswar

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Wait, actually I have to reconsider my initial opinion on linking court types to cultural Ethea. Judging by the remark that many Indian cultures have a spiritual Ethos, it sounds like each base culture has an Ethos from the get go. And as per PDX-Nicou's recent post in the previous thread, Divergence is the only answer to wanting to swap an Ethos out. That's further corroborated by this dev diary, as it mentions how Divergence and Hybridization (meaning it's actually two ways) are the only answers to wanting different court types (as that in turn requires an Ethos change).

And that's kinda limiting. And while some choice is good in games, this is limiting in a bad way. Let's say you want to play as a French dynasty. Perhaps you're French yourself or at least some of your ancestors were. Perhaps you're a fan of French history. Or perhaps the idea of eating frogs simply speaks to you on a spiritual level. Whatever your reason for playing French may be, you're limited to the - I'm going to guess here - two court types unlocked by the Ethos it has from the get go.

So, what happens if the court types unlocked by that Ethos don't suit your playstyle? The only answers provided by the devs are either Hybridization or Divergence. I.e. creating a culture that is NOT French. Completely defeating the point of wanting to play as specifically French. And here you're not limited in your choices because you did something, like how picking certain buildings means you can't have others because building slots are limited. You're simply limited from the get go. It'd be like limiting characters of French culture to a specific religion.

According to the GameWatcher article, Traditions can be picked by the Cultural Head if you have free spots by using Prestige. Which indicates that unlike Ethea Traditions are not there from the get go. Or at least not all spots are filled. As such, I'd argue that Traditions would make for a better mechanic to tie court types to. You'd still have to make a choice but here you'd be in control.
this this this, this summarizes many of my concerns regarding ethoses
 

vandevere

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It's a tad weird to be expected to pay for my underlings clothes, food is fine, but clothing? Would you be willing to consider a system where you can set an appropriate level of clothing as the ruler with the twist of the courtiers paying for it themselves (landless courtiers not included, or as part of some monthly pittance).
As far as I know, that was the strategy at the absolutist courts of Europe (not the timeframe I know), to bleed out poor courtiers forcing them to pay for the latest fashion.
Otherwise I like this DD and the way the game develops very much!
Actually, the records of Medieval Royal courts are full of details like the King ordering so many bolts of silk, and/or satin, for his courtiers to use for apparel. So, apparently, that was a thing...
 
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DreadLindwyrm

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Actually, the records of Medieval Royal courts are full of details like the King ordering so many bolts of silk, and/or satin, for his courtiers to use for apparel. So, apparently, that was a thing...
I'm not 100% certain, but that may have been limited to the household and any noble with a "job" that was employed directly by the King (and thus technically part of the household). Not so much for the Duke of Random who might be forced to maintain himself and his clothing at his own expense - unless he could get a title of some sort within the court that would see him granted livery rights.
 

lozikk

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But whose said this is for Duke of Random? It's logical that this is for employed ones. From the first post:
pending on clothes will increase their prestige, and will even cause them to wear fancier clothes at higher levels of expenditure (commoners will wear low nobility clothes, and so on)