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!
 

NilsFabian

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Oh wow...
Thats amazing. We are getting the artifacts back.
I hope I can steal them or gift them to others. The treasury was my most loved feature in CK2
 
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lozikk

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Your spouse will very often be shown, we think that it's a very thematically appropriate character to place close to the ruler. I believe the idea is to have them of their own throne next to your, at least in certain court styles where such a thing was common.
Will the throne room and events reflect somehow situations when your spouse is a ruler (foreign ruler, not vassal) elsewhere or will they appear at any court event anyway?
 
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blackninja9939

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A lot of concepts, a lot of ideas. I do not know yet whether I like the whole thing, but it certainly is an ambitious endeavour. That's good! I keep my fingers crossed for the devs, as many parts are tricky to be done correctly. But there is surely potential for something amazing!

Having said that, three things bother me.
  • The throne room being 3D means that a lot more effort and assets are necessary to create a new one with a different style. We already see the consequence - there are only 4 cultural variants announced (kinda-pagan, kinda-Christian, kinda-Arabic, kinda-Far-East?). It is also inconsistent with all other parts of the game (background + some 3D art) and will probably cause CK3 to run much worse on older machines (and it is almost impossible to upgrade the PC right now). I feel that doing the court screen with hand-painted background might have been a better idea. BTW - (a question for the devs) - what is the estimated framerate drop on the court scheme? How it will influence required hardware?
  • Court types, culture ethea (and education focus, and lifestyles, and so on...) tend to be tied to the 5 main skills. Which might make them boring. Want to do a military thing? Stack all the military things. Want to do a learning thing? Stack scholarship things. And so on. I would really like them to be divided in another way, so the mixing-and-matching them with our gameplay style will not be a no-brainer. Religions are well designed in that manner, as there are no clear "diplomacy" or "stewardship" ones.
  • We are definitely moving towards the "gold does not matter, everything has a percentage-based cost" approach of CK2 and it makes me sad... :( See this comment for details.
  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.
 
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crowdemon

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Sound good to me.
 
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Gwydden

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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.
True enough, but the issue is not with the size and tier scaling but with income scaling. If court maintenance costs more the more money I have, what's the point of increasing my income?
 
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lozikk

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Religions are well designed in that manner, as there are no clear "diplomacy" or "stewardship" ones.
They are though... Something like Struggle or Warmonger are clearly warlike, Pacifism is for domain bulding, Gnosticism is for learning, etc. It makes sense for Courts to be even more specialized though because they are held for a reason - to decide something about realm's live, to push someone's agenda, etc
 

riadach

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Each Ethos unlocks more than one Court Type, and the Court Types are (currently) based on the five skills thematically, yes. :)


Your spouse will very often be shown, we think that it's a very thematically appropriate character to place close to the ruler. I believe the idea is to have them of their own throne next to your, at least in certain court styles where such a thing was common.


Dynamic, we're aiming for variation. The exact details are not nailed down yet. :)


There are some modifiers, and depending on the Amenity level certain Court Events might be affected.


1. We're actually discussing this internally! We're considering having it drop on succession, at least by a bit - making it so that you have to prove your worth as a new monarch.
2. Yes, they're a type of maintenance.
Will this mean that grandeur functions like legitimacy? That through grandeur usurpers have to prove themselves to their subjects that they are rightful rulers?

I assume petty kings won't have courts. WIll tribal kings, instead of holding court, be able to hold tribal assemblies?
 
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nyappi57

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I hope that we can make a type 'learned diplomat', or 'learned warrior', or 'while having hybrid cultures' to make a course as great as it is prestige, but I hope that it will be very difficult. to do it all the guys while by merging.

Otherwise, I can't wait to have this DLC. And to be in the immersion.
 
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Gwydden

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They are though... Something like Struggle or Warmonger are clearly warlike, Pacifism is for domain bulding, Gnosticism is for learning, etc. It makes sense for Courts to be even more specialized though because they are held for a reason - to decide something about realm's live, to push someone's agenda, etc
This doesn't bother me so much as it resembles the way dynasty legacies work. It's not like I play an uninterrupted line of martial characters in any of my playthroughs. In fact, I make it a point to switch it up generation to generation. So this is more like deciding what stat I want to be consistently decent across all generations.
 
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Liggi

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Are we able to interact with the system as a vassal at all? I appreciate that a Duke will not have their own Royal Court, but if they have a King-level Liege, does the AI King have a Court that you can interact with at a Vassal level?

Can you bring your concerns to the King, and is your character eligible to participate in "Court Events" from the AI King's perspective?
 
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I think the fact that the court system isn't going to be available to Tribes is a cause for optimism. Part of the problem with CK2 were mechanics that sat across all government types despite not being appropriate for some.

This approach makes me think that we'll see a big tribal update at some point with new mechanics unique to them. A lot of people have been saying that playing in different areas of the world feels the same - and those kind of differences address that.
 
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True enough, but the issue is not with the size and tier scaling but with income scaling. If court maintenance costs more the more money I have, what's the point of increasing my income?
It is what I'm liking about it. It's a money sink and has historical precedent. It's already easy enough to have a lot of gold after some time played. It's going to expand the RPG aspect of the game and internal affairs.
 
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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.
Thanks a lot for replying! 1. Sounds reassuring! :) 3. I mostly feel bad about "% of income" costs. Basing it on realm size, number of titles, development (please use development more! it should be easier to have a grand court in developed lands) is perfectly fine!

2. Something different? E.g. ten types of courts for every pair of skills (martial+scholarship=crusading, intrigue+stewardship=mercantile, etc.). Or treat it as religion (and as Stellaris empires) and make each court have 2-3 traits ("invites commoners", "enjoys fencing and tournaments", "drinks a lot", "lots of protocols", "customary gifts"). Or do it as a local quasi-political system ("autocratic monarch", "religious advisors", "influential spouses"). Basically anything that does not mimic the existing skill system and copy the lifestyle bonuses.
 
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I've only had two serious CK3 playthroughs so far because the game still feels a bit empty. I felt like I had already seen almost everything, so I played CK2 instead and reformed the Suomenusko faith or something.

This DLC, however, looks like it's just the update I have been waiting for to promote CK3 to CK2 levels of replayability.

Artifacts were one of my favorite mechanics from CK2 - I'll never forget my conquest imprisonment murder rampage in Ethiopia to obtain the Ark of the Covenant, for example. I'm glad that they'll be back - they'll give me something else to collect other than congenital traits.

Also, CK3's culture system felt quite lacking compared to the religion system, especially since some religious tenets could be argued to be more about cultural than religious norms. I appreciate that culture will be promoted to be as immersive as the religious system in the upcoming DLC.

The return of minor titles, and expansion of their effects, is a welcome addition. They were always a bit boring in CK2 because most of them had no real gameplay effects, so I just named a guy Keeper of the Swans when I had to improve his opinion by 5 to force him to convert or something. I was hoping for flavor events related to the title, but there just weren't any.

Btw, does somebody happwn to know the timestamp of the Royal Court being discussed in last weekend's PDXcon? I skipped some parts because I don't care about the management perspective and the non-GSG titles, and I must have accidentally skipped the Royal Court discussion.
 
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About the inheritance of grandeur, I don't know if you are taking suggestions, but it would be really nice to have it tied at least a bit to some kind of coronation event. For something really basic, it could be simple like losing a certain quantity of grandeur depending on how much you are willing to spend for your coronation, but it would be nice if it were something more involved, like a feast. In any case, I think it would make a lot of sense thematically and give some flavour.
 
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Looks great!
Two questions:
How moddable will the system be? Could courts for powerful Dukes or tribals be modded in?

Is the decision of scaling court expenses to income final?

If not, consider this suggestion:
While realm size should definitely be factored in, scaling it to income needs to be carefully balanced in order to not make increasing income meaningless.
If I have a gold mine in my domain, it should reflect on my court.

To counterbalance, high income should (in addition to all other factors) increase the expectations of your court.
 
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