Crusader Kings 3 Dev Diary #51 - It’s Time to Duel

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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018

Crusader Kings 3 Dev Diary #51 - It’s Time to Duel​

Welcome comrades! Today, we’ll be talking about our final major free patch feature: single combat.


Duels in CK2 have been a much-beloved feature for years, and whilst we’ve certainly got duelling content in CK3, we wanted the option to invoke something a bit more elaborate when circumstances called for it.

Following up on and improving such a feature was always going to be a tough ask, but we’re pretty happy with what we’ve got.

Plus, QA dared me, so here we are.


When designing the new single combat system, we had a few key points in mind to guide our implementation.

1. Duels should be dangerous​

The outcome of an in-depth duel should never be a completely forgone conclusion: a desperate rookie can still surprise a veteran master, or get lucky/play smart. If the fight would be ended before it’s even begun, it should use a simpler effect or auto-win option.

2. Duels should be reusable​

Duels should be easy to add anywhere in script, and their results should be as agnostic as possible. A detailed duelling system should be able to account for everything from strict honour duels to battlefield bouts to a knife fight in the tavern.

3. Duels should be variable​

Duels should vary in content and strategy depending on the characters involved and the location and circumstances around them. No two fights should ever be totally identical.

4. Duels should be character-driven​

Character traits, relationships, and other qualities should all have an impact on duels, not just prowess.

5. Duels should allow for both experience and intuition​

Although understanding the mechanics of the system should be rewarding and allow competent play, a newbie just guessing should still have a fair chance of success.

6. Duels should allow for both roleplay and rollplay​

It should be viable to both always play to win, and to play according to what makes sense for your character, without either totally kneecapping you. This should carry over to the AI, who should be somewhat readable based on skills and character traits.



All single combats take place between exactly two characters, and are fought to a predetermined end (be that a slight cut, an increase in the wounded trait, or a fatal blow), at the end of which the loser may be wounded or killed as appropriate.

Combat is divided up into distinct rounds, with first the defender, then the attacker selecting an option, before we work out whether one or the other has done enough to win or lose. All combats last between two and four of these rounds, ending automatically after the fourth (though this is a scripted value and easily changed if you prefer the possibility for prolonged, dramatic fights).

Options available are stylised as distinct combat moves, like headbutting your opponent, rushing into an all-out attack, playing defensively, and so on. At the start of your turn in each round, you randomly draw three such options from a pool of available choices, with the relative usefulness & drawbacks of each move related to your prowess skill.


The higher your prowess, the more likely you are to draw good moves, the worse your prowess, the more likely you are to draw bad ones. It’s a little more complicated than that in practice, but that’s how it feels player-side.

Instead of one of your regular combat moves, you may also draw a special move. Rather than being based on just your prowess skill, these take into account traits, location, special relationships between you and your opponent, all manner of things. They range from giving a demoralising speech to your opponent to using your skill as a raider to make an example of them as you fight.

As a rule of thumb, special moves tend to either offer a better pay-off than standard combat moves, or else give secondary effects outside the duel (e.g., dread gain or stress loss) At present, we have 18 standard combat moves and 22 special moves.

The primary method of winning a bout is to gain enough Likelihood of Success. This is a sort of tug-of-war between you and your foe, representing who is currently winning the duel, with almost all moves adding to the score. The first character to get their score a certain threshold above the other’s wins.


However, most combat moves also give you some Risk of Injury, representing how overextended you are and how easy it is for you to make a mistake and hurt yourself or else be dramatically foiled. As this goes up, it makes it more likely that you’ll simply lose when a round ends if you haven’t managed to explicitly win.

The basic rubric for fighting is thus trying to maximise your Likelihood of Success without extending your Risk of Injury enough that you lose before you can beat your opponent.

In the penultimate round of a fight (by default, though this can again be changed easily by tweaking one number), it becomes much easier both to win and to injure yourself, and certain special moves can also adjust these thresholds.

If, after the final round of the fight, there’s still no winner, then the highest prowess skill wins.

The AI selects combat moves and strategy based roughly off of personality, meaning that not only can it change as they gain prowess-related traits, but different characters will often fight differently even if they share identical prowess.

Finally, we have the duel edge system. As you duel, certain moves by you or your opponent may accrue duel edge bonuses and maluses for one or both of you, helping or hurting your prowess skill for the duration of the bout. This helps to keep things risky, and means that just because you entered a fight knowing who had the best prowess, it won’t necessarily stay that way for the whole combat.


Duelling in Context​

Since one of our prime goals with the new duelling system has been to make it useable in as many circumstances as possible, setting one up is nice and easy. We have a single effect that configures the circumstances of the bout, and every use of the effect requires two small follow-up events. One tells the duel what happens if it invalidates for some reason (usually we just send out toasts informing the affected parties), the other processes the after-effects of the duel itself, be they losing a bet or gaining a friend.


And… that’s it. It can be dropped into any effect block, any interaction, decision, or event, with whatever net results or criteria you like. Complex fight sequences with no muss, no fuss.

There are several ways we use this system in-game at the moment, with the most noticeable being an interaction to duel your rivals now unlocked by the Chivalry lifestyle tree’s Stalwart Leader perk (pictured a ways above). We also use it in several paid events in 1.3, and, of course, the all-new [REDACTED] interaction.


Over time, we hope to improve the combat system with general QoL tweaks, dedicated UI, and, last but not least, more combat moves. We also intend to pepper it throughout future content, as well as rework certain elements of old content on an on-going basis to use these more elaborate duels as appropriate.

Stick ‘em with the Pointy End​

Let’s have a bash at using the single combat system in anger, shall we?

Here’s me, as High Chieftain Waththab, fighting my son and rival, Musa, in a non-lethal bout.


Skills-wise, my son out-matches me quite drastically. I’ve got a fairly low prowess rating, whilst he’s at the upper end of average.



This means that he’ll be rolling average to excellent moves, and I’ll likely be rolling terrible to average moves. Both of us lack most traits that would grant special combat moves, and we have no extraneous circumstances that would give us any either (though we’ve got some special dialogue in places due to be related).

That said, there’s still a strategy here. I can see that my son is deceitful and craven, so overall, he’s likely to pick combat moves that are cautious or cunning. This means he’ll probably play it safe on trying to win via Likelihood of Success, and instead wait for me to injure myself with my blunders. If I can overwhelm Likelihood of Success before my Injury Risk gets too high, then I might be able to beat his superior skill.

I have three combat moves available to me:



Welp, we’re going all-in, so Unstable Foundations does nothing for me and Onslaught is basically playing it safe. Enthusiastic Onslaught it is!


Alright! That went… so-so. I launched an attack, he launched an attack, and the text at the bottom covers our relative Injury Risk and the current status of Likelihood of Success respectively. In short, I’m very close to injuring myself, but we’re actually neck-and-neck on Likelihood of Success.

That should have gone better, but:

It looks like my son is playing it a little less overly-safe than I thought. Rather than purely waiting for me to hurt myself, he’s putting up just enough of a fight to make it difficult to steal a win. His deceit is winning out over his cowardice, it seems.

Our new hand of combat moves has a new combat move available:

Damn, this actually would have been really useful last round, when we could have headbutted him to reduce both of our prowess a fair bit. We’re already stuck rolling poor moves, so it would only make us marginally worse, but as he’s got access to the higher move sets, reducing his prowess for the duration of the bout could have really helped us.

Looks like we’re in a bit of a tricky situation where I might get embarrassingly defeated by the AI >.<. We’re committed now, though, so let’s just hope he slips up and launch into another Enthusiastic Onslaught!



Haha! The Devil take you, coward!

Ok, so we got lucky there, as Musa played it safe rather than pressing his advantage and we managed not to injure ourselves, but it’s now round #3 and this single combat will almost certainly end here. Either my injury risk catches up with me or I manage to push through that last little bit of threshold to win.

Let’s take a look at the new moves we’ve rolled.



Wow, ok, not much competition here, is there? Pure aggression has brought us this far, let’s keep the medieval-equivalent of the pain-train a’goin’! Put the boot in!


Phew! Ok, not gonna lie, that was a little more tense than I’d have like it to be for the demo fight. Not as embarrassing as when I got a prowess 100 character killed by a prowess 0 character during testing, but still.

Needless to say, this is just one fight, one way of playing, and adapting your strategy and preferred moves based on the personality, skill, and experience of your opponent are all necessary to reliably win repeatedly.

If we played this fight again as Musa, we’d probably want to take a similar strategy to how he fought in the early rounds, letting our inferior opponent open up his guard whilst putting up enough of a fight that he couldn’t easily score a victory.

Two very skilled characters fighting each other becomes a mind-game of who can work out the best route to victory first, an incredibly inferior character verses a drastically skilled opponent turns into lots of desperate gambits to even the prowess ratings or exploit their personality, two very aggressive characters becomes a pure slug-fest that often comes down to sudden death, and so on.

Our hope is that, though all fights are relatively short and the mechanics aren’t too intricate, each and every fight has the potential to be memorable if you want it to be.

So Many Ways to Say “You Lose”​

You know what’s fun? Fight loc. Let’s look at some single combat results. Vanity-me, to me!







Fun-fact: putting the location trigger on crocodilians turning up in fatal [REDACTED] duels was stuck on my to-do list until quite late in development. This means that, for the vast majority of time spent internally playtesting, crocodiles would tend to turn up in any fight that wasn’t explicitly indoors. Taiga, steppe, European farmland, Tibetan mountain, the middle of the Sahara. None were safe from the surprise crocodile.

Accusations that this was left intentionally because certain elements of the dev team found the confusion entertaining are salacious and unfounded.

Anyhoo, that’s almost all for this dev diary folks! Let’s round things out with some more patch note excerpts.

# Free Features
  • Enhanced the hair & beard inheritance gene system. Instead of inheriting specific haircuts from your parents, you now inherit a ‘hair type’ gene such as ‘straight’, ‘wavy’, ‘curly’ or ‘afro’. The actual haircut a character uses is now based upon their culture. This means that rulers won’t use inappropriate hairstyles/beards just because one of their grandparents happened to be of another culture!
    • NOTE: Existing characters from save games made before 1.3 might get a new haircut or become bald, and old ruler designer DNA data will not have hair/beard.
    • This system does not affect the Barbershop or Ruler Designer, where you’re still able to choose whatever hair you want.
  • Added the ‘Chin Goatee’ beard variant
  • Added new Special Buildings in [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], including the [REDACTED], [REDACTED], [REDACTED], and more!
... and many more [will be posted in future DDs]

# Balance
  • As the Patron of a holy order, you can now hire it even if it is already hired by someone else (except another player). You pay the full piety cost to the person who has already hired it, rather than the usual hiring it for free
  • Reduced acceptance bonus on Offer Vassalization from 'wide difference in rank' and 'rightful liege'
  • Reduced fascination gain from learning from +2 to +1
  • Blocked joining a tyranny war if you can't join a faction against your liege
  • It is now possible to recruit children from prison as long as they're not heir to one of their liege's titles
  • Reduced inherent health penalty on flagellant from -0.5 to -0.15
  • Reduced chance of characters randomly contracting lover's pox & great pox
  • Improved the candidate selection for republican mayors: they can be of the province culture as well as their liege’s culture, will prefer to be succeeded by members of their court, and women can be selected when it makes sense
  • Being more than 5000 men above the supply limit now causes you to lose supply faster, will scale from 5/month at 5k to 10/month at 10k
  • Buildings in holdings in the domain limit grace period are now disabled entirely
  • Creating a Head of Faith title now requires 1 more holy site (2 for Spiritual, 3 for Temporal). Creating a Spiritual HoF title now costs 300g rather than 50 to 300g based on your income
  • Imprisoning and Executing characters of no particular status (i.e. lowborns) now yield much less tyranny
  • Non-republican Barons now get married and produce a family more consistently
  • The Pope is now more willing to lift excommunications, but doing so costs the excommunicated a Level of Fame
  • When a Claimant Faction succeeds in their goal, they will free their Claimant from prison if they were a prisoner of the old title holder
... and many more [will be posted in future DDs]

# Bugfixes
  • Children should no longer incorrectly become Lowborn if at least one of their (known) parents carry a Dynasty
  • The Pope will no longer grant himself Rome every year, and gain Piety for it
  • Fixed several instances of wounds being applied using the wrong effect, causing them to never heal
  • Fixed Great Holy Wars invalidating rather than changing target if someone for instance takes the target's primary title
  • Fixed prestige and piety gains in extremely large battles (hundreds of thousands of troops on both sides) sometimes having an overflow issue causing them to go negative
  • Fixed the Controlled Territory Defender Advantage modifier only working for provinces you personally control, and not those of your vassals
  • Fixed the Diplomatic Range modifier not having any effects. Now range between two characters is based on the highest Diplomatic Range modifier of the two
  • Fixed the loss of your pet spoon removing your pet stone instead
  • Characters under 18 will now hold council props
  • Fixed an issue where vassals created additional holdings throughout a liege's realm when becoming feudal or clan. They should now only create holdings within their own sub-realm.
  • Hostile schemes are now invalidated when the target isn't within the owner's diplomatic range
  • It is now much harder to imprison a claimant that has the support of a faction that has pressed demands
  • It's now easier to imprison your own young children if they're unfortunate enough to be in your court
  • Removed the secret tunnel between Cherchen and Gomoco, allowing armies to pass through the Kunlun Mountains.
  • You can now send your kid off to university properly and easier
  • The AI can now occasionally attempt to escape from prison
  • Subjugation wars now return their prestige cost when invalidating
  • Tribals can now adjust tribe-valid succession laws (i.e., gender, mostly) at limited tribal authority instead of needing to reform to feudal
  • Fathers of secret bastards can now realize that they are the real father even when the mother is married
  • Characters can now rip their shirts off without exposing their crotch
  • Ended the Crocapocalypse
... and many more [will be posted in future DDs]

If all this isn't enough or you would like more, make sure you tune in for our Paradox Insider this Saturday, March 13th at 11:00am PT (8:00pm/20:00 CET) where we will be chatting and discussing things.


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QA Lead Stellaris
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Jan 9, 2018
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As long as my 10500 prowess guy don't die to -100 guy - it's what i want.
It drove me nuts - always a chance to die, even your opponent is supposedly doomed
There is nothing more dangerous to a professional, than an amateur.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
As long as my 10500 prowess guy don't die to -100 guy - it's what i want.
It drove me nuts - always a chance to die, even your opponent is supposedly doomed
;) Per the dev diary, this is entirely possible. If you're just going to auto-win, you should auto-win before entering a detailed duel. If there's no risk, it's no fun, nor commensurate with the other skills. A 100 martial character can still lose a battle, a 100 stewardship character can still go broke, and a 100 intrigue character can still get murdered.
Will other characters in the game, such as your rivals, challenge you to a duel if they have chivalry focus? Would be great to experience this mechanic even with characters who aren't chivalry focused.
They will, yes!
Good to see duels back in a more complex implementation, hopefully it doesn't get repetitive and isn't so random that it's pointless to look at your prowess

will the duels you can be challenged to over titles when you're tribal be handled by this system?
Ah, sadly not for this release. That was definitely our intent, but we had some minor technical issues behind the scenes, so it's been delayed. :) We will almost certainly get to this in future.
What about Duels during the Battles between armies?

Don't take me wrong, I loved the content... it's a new way to get blademaster trait and hope the KNight trait will be able to somehting like this too

But, I believe during a war would be very awesome too
Very easily possible to mod in, but I'm afraid we don't currently have events pop for commanders fighting battles as a deliberate stylistic choice. This would certainly include single combat.
Very cool! So much more in depth than the ck2 system and seems to be even more extensive than the AGOT mod duels, very exciting.

Will there be new fitting animations and poses for the duels?
I hope the finished product won't be the two duelers doing the 'mum says it's my turn on the xbox' pose at eachother.
I'm afraid that those are the animations we've got for the moment, but I believe this is something we'd certainly like to look at in future. And, tbf, mum did say it's Sancho's turn on the Xbox.
Now I'm intrigued. Care to explain this one?
:p During development, we left the location trigger on crocodiles turning up in lethal duels until very late. This meant that crocs tended to turn up in any fight that wasn't explicitly indoors, which bemused the hell out of playtesters.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Duels at last! Great work as always Dev Team!

Just a question, will duels happen in the midts of battle, like when leading an army?
Very nice DD! Little question though: Will duels appear in battles just like in CK2?
Ah, I'm afraid not. Perfectly feasible, but it's a design decision not to trigger lots of events over the screen when the player is trying to control their army.
Why does images never work in the dev diarys? Why always wait some hours ._. Want to look o:
o_O As it turns out, because I am the dumb. They should be fixed now.
Love it when Dev Diaries give us some insight into the design decisions that the content is based on. More of this please.
^^' I'm glad! I'm always a little worried going into more development thoughts: I find it interesting, and did before I worked here, but I know a lot of people prefer to skip straight to juicy content.
Tbh in not sure I like that. Firstly, I am not sure how historical duels were and how much of it is not later romanticisation. I can't think off the top of my mind of a single western king that was challenged to duel or died in a duel - except of course in one-on-one wartime encounters.

Also, as someone said on another thread, we need "more game, not more mini-games". I am really afraid that the duel system will just become a minigame for peacetime...

(I am one of those who can't see the pictures)
Y'know, I was actually right there with you, initially. QA came to me with this as a suggestion, I said I'd look into it but thought it was likely something of a D&D/GoT thing, like dedicated town guards and the like, but, as it turns out, nope, honour duelling in this fashion (or similar) was actually really common across a lot of Europe throughout our period.

To hopefully ease your concerns a little, I'll reiterate that we distinguish between lethal and non-lethal duels, and such is set (and clearly communicated), when the duel starts. Monarchs dying in dramatic 1:1 combat was exceedingly rare (like you, I certainly can't think of an instance) if it happened at all, and not what this system is there to accomplish. We do use it in lots of different ways, and honour duelling your rival is certainly one of the less historical ones, but as its not fatal, its capacity to really dramatically screw with your sense of historicity should be limited.

:) I have more reassuring things I could say but alas, I'm afraid they're *[REDACTED]* at the moment.
Is "Likelihood of Success" a 'score' that's accrued across the fight - with the character with the highest score at the end of the final round declared the winner?

Or is it an actual likelihood - i.e. at the end of the final round, one character has a 95% "Likelihood of Success" and the other has 5% - with the latter character winning the duel 1 in 20 times under those circumstances?
A score that's accrued across the fight.
This was exactly why I was going to say! Please devs, make the characters hold swords, axes, hammers or spears, and even hit each other, depending on the results! If not in this patch, in a future update!
;) Since you asked nicely, we'll think about it!
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
In the examples, the "Enthusiastic Onslaught" and "Onslaught" moves both have "HIGH increase to your Likelihood of Success". Does that mean that both moves increase Likelihood of Success by the same amount? Or does "HIGH" cover a range of numbers in the calculations?
Oh, gosh. That's embarrassing. You know, you're totally right: Onslaught is actually a better and higher tier move (middle as opposed to lower) than Enthusiastic Onslaught, I just goof'd my own system. :oops: Always read the tooltips, kids.

To answer your question: it's the same amount rather than a range.
I think living with the constant fear of being eaten by a cocodrile at any time is a crucial part of medieval life. You should keep the crocapocalypse.
I see you, too, are a human of culture and taste.
Okay but can I use my best friend/pet spoon in duels.
[scribbling ideas for future combat moves] Not currently.
In the "Has Happened" here, does the "myself" refer to the player or to Musa?
:) Musa.
Awesome stuff!

Can we also have duels between friends please? Basically sparring, with very little chance of injury or death.
^^ Certainly something to think about for the future, though I'm afraid not for this release.
Sry this is not related to this Dev Diary, but are notification settings something on your list? Can we expect some tweaks to the message system in a future update? Other than that, very nice and I'm looking forward to the insider.
:( I'm hugely sorry, but I'm afraid that's very much outside my bailiwick and I simply don't know.
How often do the duels come down to this? Also, would it be better if the duel lasts this long that there be some variance allowing for a wild outcome like the amateur winning against the professional or possibly a draw or in a lethal duel both exchanging death blows simultaneously?
In my experience, quite rarely, though more than you'd think sometimes. The worst culprits tend to be characters who are skilled but given to gloating: they spend more time taunting you and telling you your mother was a hamster, etc., and don't get round to actually beating you till time runs out.

I certainly agree that amateurs should have a chance to beat professionals, but that's kinda enshrined into the general play of a bout. If you can't beat a professional through luck or unexpected desperation quickly enough, they simply overwhelm you with reliably superior fundamentals.

Currently, we deliberately don't support draws. It would have involved a prohibitive amount of extra localisation needing to be written to account for such, plus then every instance of the duel effect would need to account for it potentially ending in a draw. We wanted it to be easy to use and easy to add, and whilst draws are fun, they're really something of an edge-case, and very much the definition of a nice to have, not a need to have.
But from what dev said even without both hands they still have a chance to win duel because everyone will have a chance to win, no matter what their condition, prowess or skill so.
:D Technically, no. The minimum possible hands you can have in-game is 1, not 0 (single combat loc accounts for how many arms, hands, and eyes you have), so a character with zero hands does not have the chance to win a duel because the base title doesn't support such. A character in a duel will always have a weapon, so they will always be at least occasionally dangerous.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Hopefully duels work well in multiplayer games with two human opponents.
:D If the feedback I got is anything to go by, they do! QA seemed like they had a lot of fun beating the ever-loving snot out of one another with 'em.
It reminds me of my CK2 200-300 combat skill characters dying to one-legged, one-armed, blind 70 years old inbred imbeciles just because there is built-in chance to lose any duel. Please, don't do that.
Blind characters (along with pregnant characters, though that's more a matter of taste) are hard-blocked from duelling. Similarly, characters aged 70 and over are only able to duel if they have at least 10 prowess (and thus can still fight).

:) We're firmly committed to duels always being a risk, but that doesn't mean that we want them to feel unfair. Just a gamble, and gambling has no spice without the risk of loss.
Earl Ewan "Handless", in his 335th attempt to win duel.

I'll get 'em some day.
Do the same moves always have the same effect?
Moreover, why doesn't the player's character have the left arm in any screen?
With the exception of one move that explicitly has one of three effects at random, yes.

:( B-because my vanity character is missing his arm... he's also got a peg leg and an eye-patch. He's doing his best.
I’ll be the contrarian and say I’m not super enthusiastic about this. I’m much more interested in stuff besides bells and whistles for the characters.
No worries, friend! ^^ Here's hoping we'll have other things to entice ye in future!
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
I'm a bit confused, I can't see anything in the screenshot that indicates that this move would result in a mutual reduction of prowess. Is that something that hasn't been added to the tooltips yet?

Also, I don't really get exactly what the "Has Happened" portion is referring to. Is it describing what the option that the opponent picked in the prior round did? Does it only show if the player is picking their option for the round second, showing what the opponent is doing this round? Or is it a sort of summary of the opponent's current overall status/position in the duel?
Ah, minor bug in this screenshot, I'm afraid. It should mention it.

:) It's referring to the move your opponent picked in the prior round.
It says "It becomes harder to Injure myself", under Musa's portion of the tooltip. Is this a pronoun localization error, and it is talking about Musa being less likely to injure himself, or is it referring to a change in the player's Risk of Injury, but under Musa's portion of the tooltip for some reason. This ties in with my issue with the lack of clarity of the "Has Happened" section, as after a bit of thought, the only way I can see this being here is because it is meant to represent the player having reduced Risk of Injury because of what the enemy did. If this is the case, that line should probably be changed to something along the lines of "His actions make it harder for me to injure myself", ensuring that the line's focus is on the character who's block this is. As is, it is rather confusing, as normally having a character's name be at the start of a list of modifiers (or whatever) like Musa's name is in the screenshot means that they are all being applied to that character, so having something being applied to a different character in that block is not what the game teaches one to expect, resulting in confusion.
Of the three bullet points in that "What happened", two refer to Musa as "his" and one refer to him as "myself". It's a little confusing. It's like some are speaking in the first person (as Musa) and some are speaking in the third person.
These are very helpful notes, we'll try to clarify the UX/loc in future!
Makes sense, I suppose this explains why players as commanders don't fight in their armies - but do battlefield duels (presumably some simplified AI-to-AI system) trigger in a similar way for knights (so if one modded players to be usable as knights then they'd get battlefield duel events) or do battles still use the existing system to decide who's wounded/maimed/killed?

Also, I hope this means we're getting tournaments back sometime (they don't have to be bugged to never end and eventually maim your entire court like CK2's were, but they don't not have to be...)
Battlefield duels use the existing battle events system. Generally, single combat is used when we want to explore one fight in a lot of detail, whereas we have things like prowess challenges for doing one fight in little detail, and battle events for lots of small life-or-death fights in quick succession.

I can't comment on tournaments, but we did hold an internal tournament with vanity characters using this system, so it's perfectly possible. I believe one of the artists won, mostly by brutally chopping people to shreds with her axe. I uhhh, I was murdered in the first round.
Also, will there be a little more flavor to being a witch and the covens? Like making it a little easier to become one but having more consequences if founded out. I try recruiting known witches to my court basically my every game but I don't think it affect the chances of being a witch myself.
No witch content this time, I'm afraid, but perhaps in future.
So does that mean tribal challenges will be restricted to adults? Or do you have some special "single combat" message for when you're fighting a baby ("You stomp on the High Chief, killing him in a single blow. Great job. Bet you feel like a real big warrior.")?
At present, tribal challenges will continue to work as they have so far, which means infants and the infirm get a stand-in. :) Assuming we do get to rework it, that would likely continue to be the case (you'd just fight their champion through the new system instead of the old).
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
What are the time limits on general duels? What about the Challenge Your Rival to a Duel interaction?
Four rounds, then sudden death. :) The interaction itself has a cooldown of five years generally, ten years against a specific person at time of speaking.
Will there be options at duel ends to kill vs capture your opponent on the battlefield?
We don't currently have any duel types that result in capture, though it's eminently scriptable and certainly something I could see us doing in future. We do have fatal single combats, though the only vanilla instance of them at the moment occurs in [REDACTED]. That said, they're still part of the free feature, and thus available for modding and future content, they just aren't used in the base title at the moment.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Looks very fun :)
There's a typo in one of the images: you wrote "Taste the wroth of Allah," when it should have been "Taste the wrath of Allah."
:D Wroth is an archaic variant of wrath, and one I've always much preferred, I'm afraid. Good eye, though!
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Hoping for a progress bar to show who has an advantage, like in a war.
:D UX certainly has thoughts for the future, though I can make no promises.
Also, in the screenshots showing the very first round of combat, there is already a "Has happened" section. If that section is meant to describe the move the opponent used in the prior round, is it a bug that this block is showing up in the tooltips for the first round?
Ah, sorry, miscommunication on my part: it shows you the last action your opponent took rather than strictly the last round. Since we're the attacker in this instance, we went second, so even though it's the first round, we can still see the action the defender has taken because he's already moved.
Do you offer the possibility of a non-fatal duel resulting in death on a rare basis due to incompetence of the fighter(s)? After all, if you have one or both people with very low prowess, that wild swing that was expected to just injure someone might end up taking off their head, right? :) It should obviously be a rare occurrence, but it would give a player a reason not to just constantly pick fights with low prowess characters because of the potential risk of death. The risk should be related specifically to having a character with low prowess who could then accidentally kill their opponent. A medium to high prowess character should never accidentally kill anyone in a non-fatal duel. You can add in a certain negative outcome for the person who accidentally killed someone in a non-fatal duel, whether that be a low of a level of fame or something else that might make sense.
This is an interesting one! Initially, yes, this was the plan, but as design went on, we became more committed to making duels as reuseable in as many places as possible. Because the system is so elaborate and involved, we wanted to have it be available for more than just [REDACTED], so that meant it had to be context sensitive. If there's a slim chance you can kill someone in a duel, that's a really drastic edge case that needs to be accounted for, which would make it a lot more work to add duels in to any random piece of script.

At the moment, it takes, maybe 20 minutes or so to add a simple duel effect to a piece of content, up to an hour, hour and a half if it's a much more complicated situation. Every edge case that we bake in to duelling by default ups this number significantly, so we strimmed them out quite heavily.

That's not to say that this isn't a cool concept or something we wouldn't do, though! If we wanted to handle something like this, we could still set it up, but it'd likely be in the post-duel events. Say we were to implement sparring duels with friends as a lot of people have asked, we'd probably make those 100% non-lethal, but might add something where clumsy or ineffective characters might slip just after a yield has been offered and accidentally fatally wound their friend/sparring partner. As a player, the experience is then much the same, but we handle it outside the duelling system but in close relation to it, which keeps the script lean and light.

:oops: That turned into a bit of a ramble. Sorry, I spent a lot of time on designing, scripting, localising, and fine-tuning this thing, so I have many thoughts on it.
The one overall criticism I have is that "Likelihood of Success" is confusing terminology. If it's a tug of war meant to represent the overall status of the duel, maybe "Duel Momentum" or "Stance" or something would be more clear. Likelihood makes it seem like you're rolling to win every round, which is more what's going on with the injury chance (in reverse) if I understand correctly.

If the duel is predetermined to be a fatal one, does that mean one of the combatants is 100% guaranteed to die? Or just that that's the worst possible outcome and you may end up merely injured/forced to surrender?

I know you've said you're not adding this to Tribal leadership duels in this patch, so let me add my voice to those saying that would be super awesome (and frankly it'll probably feel weird that they're not after a little while with this update).

I totally get this but you have to admit that battlefield duels would extremely epic.

You mean you *roleplayed* ;)

Gotta admit, I was super confused by this, I thought it was reducing the player's injury chance. Changing it to himself would fix that problem.
  1. Yeah, I'm inclined to agree with you, honestly. It is what it is for the moment, but I could certainly see us revising some of the terminology in future.
  2. If a duel is guaranteed to be fatal, someone is going to die unless it invalidates. There is a duel type for making fatality less of a hard on/off, where it varies by government type and wound status, but generally, I think that "will this kill me or not?" is powerful information that the player should possess when making a decision.
  3. ^^' Not wrong. I really hope we get to it in future.
  4. Ahhhhhh, I personally liked them, but I also enjoyed a lot of stuff from CK2 that was not generally popular, so I don't know how much my tastes really count on the issue. It's also, as with many design matters, more a matter of general discussion and collaboration between various designers on the team.
  5. HA! Touche!
  6. It's a mite bit more tricksy than that, I'm afraid, as the issue is to do with how tooltips are conjugated relative to perspectives, but it's certainly on our radar.
I really love this dev diary and the how dualling is being implemented, but I'm pretty worried about how well players will understand the mechanics.

The dev diary provides a lot of information about the system (far more than players will get in-game tooltips) yet, even after a few follow up questions (which Devs have been really good at answering), I don't think anyone on this thread is 100% clear about how the mechanics work.

The terms used in the interface seem counterintuitive ("Likelihood of Success" implies a %chance but actually refers to a score) or needlessly opaque ("Duel Edge Malus"). I'm still not really sure how "Risk of Injury" works.

Similarly, the use of "HIGH", "MEDIUM", "LOW" etc. seems to needlessly mask the underlying numbers that the system is based on from the player. That seems odd given that the rest of the game is based on ultra-transparency of it's mechanics - from opinion modifiers to plots etc.

I made a joke about Pokemon earlier up the thread and, while I'm not calling for that level of detail/numbers or that kind of minigame, I think I'd prefer something a bit more transparent.

Hopefully this doesn't come off as too complain-y. I suspect some in the thread will be suprised I posted something like this at all given my reputation for always giving Paradox the benefit of the doubt. But I'm posting it in the hope that it's taken as genuine feedback.
On transparency: the system is a lot more intuitive when you can use it a little rather than pouring over text and pictures (like I mentioned in the DD, we really wanted it to be valid to win by just roleplaying even if you don't understand a thing that's happening). In-game, it also has the advantage of being game concepted heavily, so it should be somewhat supported.

On complainyness: you're absolutely fine IMHO mate! I've found your feedback and queries to be very politely phrased and validly put. Some of the question have certainly been tricky to reply to, but that doesn't mean they're rude, just that we've got areas for improvement. :) I'm not in a position to promise things, just to provide whatever return info I can, but the input and feedback are certainly appreciated.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
It's weird that Onslaught and Enthusiastic Onslaught are identical in every way except that Onslaught has a lower risk of injury. I know these are randomly drawn from a pool, but it would be nice if the event didn't include dummy options that you'd only ever click if you misread. It's not exactly engaging gameplay to just pick the option that is equal to or better than the other in every way.
Ah, that one is actually me goofing my play. Bloody game devs can't even play their own games, smh.

Onslaught is actually the higher tier version of Enthusiastic Onslaught: with my prowess score, I was almost always drawing low-tier moves, but got lucky and rolled a mid-tier move. Which I then proceeded to not take because my brain is just one out-of-date Capri Sun wrapped in pinkish clingfilm.

@Wokeg please add the line "My name is <Character Name>. You killed my father. Prepare to die." into the dialog options:)

:D We have plenty of references peppered subtly throughout, I can assure you. Not currently that one, but never say never.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
A question: how often duels happens in normal gameplay in current design? I like the basic idea, but I'm afraid this duels can became old quite fast.
Depends on circumstance. If you've got a lot of chivalrous rivals, a moderate amount, though you can always turn them down for prestige. If you don't, they're fairly rare. Where we use them in events, they tend to be opt-in, and of course for [REDACTED] I can't give details, or else you'd twig that [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED]. Sorry about that.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
What about the case of children being challenged by adults? Are kids, too, hard blocked from being challenged?
During events, they simply shouldn't get the option, for rivalries, children can neither challenge nor be challenged, and for [REDACTED], they [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED] [REDACTED].
Wait... are you a crocodile?
No comment, though I do enjoy sliding into good vibes in my free time.
Right, but I mean it would be nice if the system didn't give you two versions of the same move (or if moves weren't strictly better or strictly worse than one another), so that there weren't clearly wrong options to fall into.
Ahhhh, I follow you. Hmmm... we could sort that, but script-wise it'd mean making duels slightly harder, since we'd basically have to make you less likely to roll a better version of anything you've already rolled and you roll from lower move sets first. That said, it would be undeniably better UX. I'll have a think, thanks for the note!
1) Do the blademaster traits give special options, and can they be gained or leveled from fighting duels? In addition, do you get prowess boosts when you win from the experience you gain?
2) What does the berserker trait do? Massive boosts to wound for both sides?
3) Can non-fatal duels have a chance of turning fatal? I love how every duel isn't to the death anymore, but when swinging around sharpened pieces of steel there's always a risk.
  1. They do indeed, though it's a single option for all three ranks. That said, it is one of the best combat moves available. Fun-fact: the loc for that was patterned off of our very own @Enfield_PDX, who enjoys his meatspace swordplay.
  2. Berserker is another extremely good combat move. It's quite a rare trait, generally much harder to get than blademaster, so it's commensurately about as powerful, and gives a rather heavy amount of stress loss on the side. Nothing more relaxing than ripping the frustrations out of your opponent's spine. They also have some of my favourite gory duel locs.
  3. Ah, I'm afraid not. I've mentioned it elsewhere in the thread, but this was a deliberate decision to keep the script streamlined, since otherwise it's an edge-case that any given usage of the effect would need to account for. That doesn't mean it's not something that we could sort happening as a result of duels, but we'd need to sort it on a case-by-case basis. :D Still fun, and still good drama!
Is "Risk of Injury" the same? A score that's accrued each round of the fight? And then you lose automatically if the scrore reaches some threshold?
:) RoI is a score matched against an individual threshold. If you exceed it, you make an invisible roll (with the percentage chance being the amount you exceed it by), and if you goof the roll, you lose the match. So, from the player's perspective, more risk is always risky, no matter how much risk you've accrued so far.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Sorry, @Wokeg, but @aantia is right on this one. Wroth is an archaic adjective, not a noun, so wroth is to wrath as angry is to anger. The text is basically an archaic form of "Taste the angry of Allah," which while pretty amusing is probably not correct. :)

Now if someone told me my conception of a word was wrong then my first reaction would probably be to smile in amusement and ask them for their sources, so I should probably provide some for my claim. If you prefer a professional dictionary there's Merriam-Webster, if you want a web-based one there's, and if you prefer a crowd-sourced one there's Wiktionary.

It's a commonly misused word these days. Personally I blame GRRM, who loves to use "wroth," incorrectly, as a noun in his books.


I also want to add that while this post probably comes off as a bit "smart-assy," I don't mean to be harsh. I'm very happy with what we've heard in the last two dev diaries. I really appreciate both the diaries and your eager and open engagement with the player base, @Wokeg, and as far as I'm concerned right now you're God's gift to us players. :) And I don't give praise like that quickly or easily, as my posting history will show my criticisms of Paradox's lack of communication have been legion, and praise rare.

But I do believe in giving praise when it's deserved, and here it is. Thanks, @Wokeg, and please keep up the excellent work! :)
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TIL! Tbf to GRRM, I suspect that it's my love of 40k doing me in here.

:oops: Well, thank ye kindly for the kind words! Both this and the poetry DD have been absolutely lovely threads to chat to people in, which has made it very easy to talk about things where I'm allowed. It's been really heartening to see not just a lot of enthusiasm for our upcoming content, but also earnest and politely presented feedback and queries. Generally, as devs, we really do like to reply to and engage with people, but it can be a daunting task when a few bad apples cross the line into just being rude, mean, or otherwise callous. :) I'm extremely thankful to everyone we've had in this thread so far just being fundamentally decent people, even/especially the folks who've said that it doesn't sound like this is the feature for them, or have concerns they'd like to air.

^^ It may take us a while to get through all the feedback we're getting both now and in the future, but I'm very much looking forward to iterating on single combat to make it more immersive, intuitive, and responsive to niche situations in future updates.

... And I'm not just saying that because someone a couple of pages ago suggested a special move involving the prison spoon and now I can get that out of my mind.
I just want a white killer rabbit. 100% win chance.
I personally believe very strongly in an upper limit of one Monty Python joke per DLC. I have no way to enforce this limit, save bringing it up to the team constantly.
If a "fantasy" game rule is ever added for immortality/witches/whatnot I really hope Crocapocalypse makes a return :p
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Not in love with the idea of a 100 guy losing to a 0 guy. I get there should be a chance for guys to punch above their weight, and from a pure realism perspective there is always a fraction of a chance a far superior fighter loses, but from a gameplay perspective it's not ideal. Now admittedly we don't know all of the context of how that happened, but even if I was the luckiest man in the world, I'm not beating Khabib Nurmagomedov in a fight 999/100 times. I think this comes down to a philosophical difference with the devs. They want tremendous range of outcomes in fights. If my experience in CK2 taught me anything, it's that this type of extensive range only leads to frustration and for me to be hyper cautious in order to avoid the horrors of RNG roles. We will have to see how it all plays out of course but a mod regarding dueling seems to be in my future.
Ok, ok, ok, so, how could this possibly happen, right? Like, I wasn't even trying to lose, and my 100 prowess test character lost to the 0 prowess opponent I'd deliberately picked? Welp, I'll tell you how.

I picked an arrogant bastard to play, and because I was testing, I wasn't really reading any of the combat options I'd painstakingly written. Just wanted to test something in the victory screen, so I just clicked buttons at random, only half-processing what I was doing. And, because of the type of character I was playing, every round, I rolled one of the various "you suck and I'm the best" speech options, and, by chance and my own stupidity, selected that.

I was stabbed in the neck whilst on round three of my evil monologue about my skill and greatness, because I'd managed to not actually really fight my opponent all duel, instead just vaguely assuming I'd win.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
Nice system, but I hope there are some combat options that tie to other systems. Like an option to flirt with you opponent, starting a event chain that can result in a lover, if the participants are attracted to each other. Or even a simple piety or fervor gain for defeating some one of a hostile religion, showing whose god is better
There are indeed! We've got a couple of dozen special options that tie in like this, including a special option for Zealous characters that does, in fact, award piety based on your hostility in relation to the faith of your opponent.
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Juniorest Content Designer
May 14, 2018
How many months will the average duel take?
In single-player, they should be instantaneous. In MP, I'm afraid they go at the speed of the slowest involved player depending on game settings: you can conceivably finish them in a week or so if both players are quick and know what they're doing, or otherwise likely a couple of months.
Unrelated note: It kind of bugs me how the "maimed" trait always shows up as the character missing their left arm. I think the way it is represented on the character model should be something a little more generalized, because 99% of the time, the missing arm makes no sense in the context of the event.
As a left-handed person, I would certainly appreciate the ability to lose my right hand instead.
Aside from character things already mentioned (adult, not blind, not pregant etc), what determines who you can challenge to a duel?

Do they have to be in your court? In your realm? Within diplomatic range?

Can you challenge you liege? Your vassals? Can you challenge the Pope?

Can they be a neighbouring ruler?
This depends on the type of duel being set up. [REDACTED] use very specific requirements that I'm afraid I can't go into here, event duels currently tend to mostly use characters created within that event (though that's just what we've got implemented, not all that's possible), and duelling your rival through the Stalwart Leader perk's interaction requires a rival within diplomatic range who you are neither at war with nor have a ceasefire with. Neither of you can be imprisoned.
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