Crusader Kings 3 Dev Diary #49 - A Cold Embrace

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Game Designer
Paradox Staff
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Mar 15, 2012
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Greetings everyone!

Don’t stand out there in the cold. Come on in and warm yourself by the fire!

Have you made yourself comfortable? Excellent. Before we get to it, first things first. I know that all of you are eagerly awaiting more news regarding upcoming DLC content, but we’re not ready to start talking about those quite yet. Don’t fret, you will not have to wait that long. They say that patience is a virtue, but knowing better, I’ll leave this right here.

For the next few weeks and the coming dev diaries we’ll talk a bit about what we have in store for the next major update, 1.3. In usual fashion, you can expect 1.3 to land alongside the upcoming DLC. Without further ado, let’s get to it shall we?

Winter is Coming
Winter is being introduced to CK3, making the already unforgiving world of the Middle Ages a much harsher place! As winter approaches, the map will gradually get covered in snow, clearly showing the extent of the freezing cold. The system itself is fairly flexible and allows for a great degree of control, as we can set which provinces should experience winter, and which shouldn’t. Winter won’t be limited to just the northernmost parts of the map, so expect snow to appear in places such as the Persian Mountains, or on the heights of the Tibetan plateau.


With the introduction of winter comes new gameplay considerations. It wouldn’t be any point in adding this cool system if it didn’t do anything interesting. Winter comes in three different variants; mild, normal, and harsh. Mild and normal winters will be fairly common throughout central Europe and parts of southern Europe, while harsh winters are rarer but can still occur. If you find yourself lost in the frozen landscape of places such as Sápmi, Mongolia, or Himalaya, expect harsh winters to be the norm and plan accordingly!

We wanted to make sure that it’s easy to see what level of winter is present in any given barony at a glance. The amount of snow increases with higher levels. Mild winters should generally be fairly easy to spot, with patches of green still clearly visible. In contrast, harsh winters mostly cover an entire province with snow. Certain areas might even have clouds with steady snowfall appearing for that extra level of detail!

Depending on the severity of winter, your armies will start to lose supply over time. Harsh winter means you’ll lose more supply each month, making it a risky business to go above the supply limit for an extended period during the winter season. Harsh winters will also have armies suffer more fatal casualties during battles.

Winter will also have an effect on your Men-at-Arms. Most noticeably, cavalry units will perform worse in normal and harsh winters. Heavy cavalry, in particular, will suffer some hefty penalties. I would advise against the use of heavy cavalry if you know you’ll be fighting battles in mountainous terrain during the winter season. On the other hand, some Men-at-Arms will get (sometimes quite significant) bonuses while fighting in winter. One such unit is the Tibetan culture unit, Mountaineers. Accustomed to the cold and the snow in the mountains, they can utilize it to their advantage in the form of a damage bonus whenever they participate in battles when winter is present.


The system for setting winter bonuses (or penalties if you will) on Men-at-Arms works just like setting terrain bonuses, making it very friendly for any modders out there.

While winter and snow might look and play nice, it wouldn’t be complete without a fitting soundscape. I’ll hand over to our sound designer Gustav to talk a bit about what he did to bring winter to life!

A Sound Plan
Winter for a Swede is like butter on toast, we love it! (brr… please be spring soon!) There are two areas where we have updated audio on the map.

Audio gets reflected with real-time updates to holdings. When winter spreads over your lands; or any lands for that matter, folks now go inside their homes, birds have migrated to more southern regions, and the animals are now in their stables or inside by the hearths, cozy!

The way we achieve this is to link the shader that covers the region with snow and Ice to a real-time float parameter, that then talks to our Audio Middleware Engine Fmod.

Awesome, but what does it actually do?
It attenuates sound layers, controls effects such as equalizers and reverb, and reshapes the original sound that was there during summertime, and morphs it into wintertime.

We also have snow storms appearing, for both mild and harsh winters.
If you hear the sounds, be wary, your troops will most likely suffer some penalties in these areas.
Tread carefully!

The snowstorms are spawned on the map with the particle system, which allows us to be able to spatialize the sound effects ( position them in a 3D location X-Y-Z ) as the mild snowstorm morphs into the harsh storm, so do the sound effects. I’ll leave you with this; a snippet of what goes on under the hood inside Fmod during winter.

Obligatory Map Update
Anyone who has followed the history of CK2 or the DDs for CK3 will know that I do enjoy my maps, and I’ll try to get in smaller map updates or improvements whenever I can. Since release, we’ve identified a few general areas that we think can be improved upon. Some of these will be updated in 1.3. First up, Ireland.

The baronies in Ireland were a bit too large, making the emerald island have a significantly less holding density than its neighbors, England and Scotland. The western half of Ireland in particular suffered from a few quite large baronies. To solve this issue, we’ve added a number of new baronies, along with a couple of new counties, that should improve the overall experience of playing in Ireland.


While Italy hasn't suffered from larger baronies in the same vein as Ireland, the area didn’t quite feel up to par with many other regions within Europe. Especially in terms of overall holding count. Italy generally had a bit too few holdings per county, so we’ve added new baronies in various places throughout the peninsula, from the slopes of the Alps all the way down to Reggio Calabria. The southern half in particular got some much needed attention. In the new setup, you’ll find significantly less counties with only two baronies. To mention a few examples, you’ll find that the county of Veneto has Malamacco as a new barony, Agnone can be found in the county of Lanciano, and Lecce is now an actual holding in the county with the same name. Overall, this should make Italy more representative of its historical impact and more fun to play in.



That’ll be it for today! I do have a few more map improvements in store for you, but those will have to wait.
Until next time!
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1) Will winter only effect the combat, or are other systems, for example economics tied into this?
2) Will there be a way to predict the severity of the coming winter? Will it be necessary to make preparations for the winter like it was common back than?
3) How will performance be impacted? I guess you wont use the HoI3 system but still...
4) Any chance for new map modes? I really miss one where all existing and potential historic buildings are marked...
1. It'll mostly affect combat for now.
2. Not per se. You'll learn what to expect in any given area as you play, but the actual severity is slightly random and will vary from year to year.
3. Testing so far shows only a small performance impact, but we are actively looking at it to make sure it doesn't go out of hand.
4. I do have a few map modes that I would like to have added at some point, but I can't say when we'll get about to adding any of those.
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How moddable are the winters? Specifically, can you set so different areas have winter at different times? Useful for simulating the south hemisphere.
It's not possible to have winter appear at two different times. Other than that, winter should be fairly moddable. You can set exactly which provinces have winter, and how likely they are to get the different severities of winter by setting a "bias" value on them. There are a number of default values set in defines that can be overriden by individual provinces as well.
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Will winter have an effect on river crossings, i.e. rivers freezing in harsh winter and allow crossings everywhere?
No, it's a really cool idea though. The tricky part is time dilation, the fact that time in CK passes quite fast compared to real life.

Are the winters somewhat randomised? As in some years you might experience a mild year in a certain location, while in other years the same location could experience a normal or harsh winter? That would be quite interesting.
Absolutely, though this heavily depends on where you are. If you're in southern continental Europe, you can pretty much expect mild winters. If you're close to the polar circle you can expect harsh to be the norm. If you're somewhere in-between, it can vary - but we've been quite diligent in assuring that nothing feels extremely out of place. There are several regions where Harsh winter can't appear, for example.

I am bit sceptical about the consequences of a harsh weather because the game is not really made up for it. In games like Hearts of Iron you can plan for a winter campaign but in CK3 where battles could last weeks there is simply no way to avoid winter warfare. It's the same problem that makes it impossible to conquer England as William the Conquerer by Christmas 1066. The time flows to fast in comparison to the battles and the movement.
Most of the significant effects take hold at the start of a combat rather than continually change during it, specifically because of the time dilation CK uses. It should be good enough to plan an engagement to occur during a specific point of winter, rather than having to plan for winter to occur during it. It feels quite good in practice, even if it is a trade-off.

Sounds great. Not sure it’ll have big gameplay implications currently unless maybe you’re playing in an area of the world with very long winters, but honestly I’d be happy with it even without gameplay effects. It just looks nice and adds some dynamism to the map. I hope weather and other map effects keep being added!
Mild winters have quite a nominal impact, by design. We want Normal and especially Harsh winters to 'pop', with quite tangible effects. For example, if you're in the steppe fending off light cavalry, picking a fight in harsh winter might actually be very beneficial for you. There's a tactical layer to it, and it's generally very good to defend in harsh winter should you be attacked.
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Will this update destroy old campaign savefiles?
And just to make sure this gets addressed. Generally speaking, you should be able to continue with your save, and the game should be fine. There might be some oddities though, since we are updating the map in a few areas. Previous versions are usually made available in Steam, and we recommend you to continue playing on the 1.2.2 branch if you have a campaign that you really want to finish and don't want to risk running into any potential issues.
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Well, I notice that "mostly" caveat - can you explain what effects it has outside of combat? :)

(Or is it just supply you are referring to with that?)
Let's clarify that a bit. Winter won't have an impact on gameplay outside of warfare. Winter mainly affect battles, by giving bonuses or penalties to MaAs, and increases the overall fatal casualties on both sides. Armies also loses supply over time (a modifier that increases with each winter severity, and is added on top of the normal penalty for being over the supply limit), along with a couple of other additions, such as an increased movement speed during winter if your commander has a corresponding commander trait.

Will Ironman/ Achievements be broken?
As far as I know, ironman games should continue to run fine with the new version. Again though, if you have a save you are very invested in, I recommend you to continue with the 1.2.2 branch to avoid any potential issues.
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