Crusader Kings In-depth guide to the independence faction By: Brandarc


During the last week’s, I noticed a lot of questions about the handling of factions. So I started to look into the game files. At first, I wanted to do a complete guide on every faction, but man, that’s a lot of ground to cover. So I figured, I will do one smaller guide for each faction over some time and merge all intermediate results into one big guide.

I am currently on holiday, so I can’t look into the game files again but I remember most of the stuff and saw just yesterday an other thread about independence factions. So I will give you a 90% complete guide with the most important stuff instead of trying to make the perfect guide over the time span of several months. Also, I am not very used to reading paradox code, so I might not get every detail, but it’s enough for a sound understanding of the mechanics.

If I forgot something important which you think should be mentioned, leave a comment and I probably will incorporate your input into the guide.

I will skip the standard stuff like each vasal adds faction strength. Instead, I will focus on information you probably don’t know yet or won’t find somewhere else easily.

Structure of this guide:

  1. Some general information which are true for every type of faction

  2. Specific details of the independence faction and a discussion on the importance of factors

  3. Typical scenarios and implications for your playstyle

If you prefer some kind of tl;dr, then skip part 2.

General Information

The most important point first: Genghis Khan/Temujin is immune to factions. He has an extra code snippet checking if he is genghis khan/Temujin and if that is true, no ai will create or join a faction against him.

I really wanted to share this specific information, although it’s not super important for the average player. So, let’s go to the juicy bits.

Firstly, whenever you beat a faction, the faction goes into cooldown! When you white peace a faction, this faction can’t be created again for the next 5 years. If you win against a faction, this faction can’t be created again for the next 10 years.

When the game checks if a vasal wants to create or join a faction, the game will calculate a score for this specific vasal. If the score for the vasal is bigger than a base reluctance score, the vasal will join said faction. If the score is lower than the base reluctance score, the vasal leaves the faction. The game should recalculate the scores for faction about once per month (not 100% sure). Details for the score calculation for the independence faction will be in chapter 2.

Also, there are hard blocks and soft blocks for joining a factions. (I don’t remember clearly which block exactly was a hard block and which was a soft block.) Hard blocks make a vasal unable to join/create a faction against their liege no matter how much the vasal hates their liege. Hard blocks are having an alliance with the vasal, being a friend with the vasal, the vasal is a theological vasal or the liege has a strong hook against a vasal.

Soft blocks just add -1000 score to the decision making process of the AI. So while the vasal is in theory still able to join a faction, he just doesn’t want to. The most important soft block is the vasal having an opinion of 80 or higher of his liege. Be aware that the opinion soft block may be buggy ( confirmed bug report ).

On a side note, I found a code snippet which makes a vasal who joined a faction unable to leave said faction for some amount of time. The variable was named $Years$, so probably for quite some time. I didn’t found when this part of the code is used, but I guess it comes into play when a vasal is forced into a faction by someone else. Since we can’t see why a vasal joined a faction, be aware of the possibility that some vasals are forced into the faction by other vasals with hooks and can’t leave the faction for some time.

Details about the independence faction

Most information presented here are from the file 00_factions.txt in game/commons/factions, in case you want to have a look yourself.

To create/join an independence faction, an AI lord must have over 175/150 score. Hence any added positive score make the vasal more likely to join the faction, while any negative score makes it less likely. In an other file, I found some code which reads like adding a small buffer. So that an AI vasal actually need a score of 160 to join and 145 to leave. This should reduce “join-leave-join-leave”-behaviour.

  1. Get the opinion the vasal has on the liege and add “opinion*-0.4” as score.

Essentially, the vasal gets between 40 (-100 opinion) and -40 (100 opinion) score depending on the opinion.

This modifier is important since it’s easily manipulated by the player and can enable the soft block based on the opinion above 80 (if that soft block works correctly.). But since it’s gives only -40 score at best, it’s not extremely impactful without the soft block.

2. If the religion of the vasal views the religion of the liege as astray/hostile/evil, they get 25/50/100 score.

Especially the score for the hostile and evil religion is sizeable and will push a vasal a lot towards independence. But since you will mostly conquer areas with different religions by holy wars, the play will often only get the astray score, if any. Thus the religion will often only play a minor role.

3. If the vasal has a different culture than the liege, but both are in the same culture group, add 25 score. If vasal and liege are in different culture groups, add 50 score.

The player often conquers a whole kingdom by inviting a claimant and pushing the claimant on the foreign throne. Often the claimant will have a different culture group and thus one needs to be aware of the added 50 score.

4. If the realm has an elective succession, the Electors of same faith get -150 score.

A score of -150 essentially doubles the score needed for a vasal to join the independence faction. This is a huge bonus. This means any realm with elective succession with many electors should be quite stable in regards of independence factions.

5. If the liege is not the rightful liege of the vasal, add 125 score. In addition, if the vasals realm is big relative to the liege, add 375 instead.

I am not 100% sure about how the game calculates when a vasal is considered big, but here is how I think it does:

The game puts every ruler into brackets/tier depending on their realm size, like 3/12/36/90 (not the real numbers since I am on holiday). Now, if the liege is in one bracket and a vasal is in the bracket directly below, then the vasal is considered big. As a rule of thumb, use “realm size of vasal is 1/4 of the liege”.

Dejure and beeing the rightful liege plays a huge role for independence faction. Any non dejure vasal gets 125 score right of the bat. This is pretty close to the 150 score needed to join a faction. Non-dejure vasals often also have different cultures. That would be enough to join the faction.

If you happen to have a big non dejure vasal, he will be in a faction unless blocked!

6. If the liege is the rightful liege of a vasal but more than 50% of the vasals land is in “non dejure”-territory, that vasal also gets 125 score.

These vasals essentially also think, that the liege is not their rightful liege since most of their land is non dejure.

As with regular non dejure vasals, this plays a huge part for joining a faction.

7. If the vasal is a king/has a King-Level title, add 50 score.

While it’s only a medium amount of score on its own, if you have a non dejure king level vasal, that’s together 175 score and only 150 is needed to join an independence faction.

8. If the vasal is only a count, add -25 to the score.

It’s a nice bonus to have, but it’s only a small bonus. Also, it would be quite micro intensive to actually get a lot of use out of it.

9. If the liege has the “toe the line”-perk active, add -50 score.

-50 is a decent bonus if you want to make your live easier. But it probably won’t solve all your faction problems. If you play a stewardship character anyway, it’s a nice bonus. But probably not worth changing your lifestyle just for this one bonus.

10. If the stem duchies innovation is active (for the liege, I think), then add -25 score.

Nice bonus, but small. Also, there’s not much you can do here.

11. Add 25 score for each sin the liege has and add -25 for each virtue the liege has.

This can be quite impactful. Between a ruler with three sins and a ruler with 3 virtues, you have a score difference of 150. That’s the same as the base reluctance score.

12. If the vasal is intimidated of his liege, then add -100 score. If the vasal is scared, add -1000 score. These scores are only added as long as the independence faction is not above the power threshold!

Right now, dread is extremely powerful. Be aware that this only works as long as the faction is below the power threshold. If you have some brave vasals who push the faction above the power threshold, everyone scared until now will dog pile on you.

13. If the liege is in debt, then add 10 to 60 score depending on how long the liege is already in debt.

Important for the AI, not really an issue for the player.

14. If you play on easy, then add -50. If you play on very easy, then add -150.

Quite a big bonus for very easy. But since stuff is very easy on very easy, I will assume for this guide that you play on normal.

Now, it’s not explicitly stated somewhere, but according to my understanding, the game now calculates the score based on the points presented above and will modify the result the following way:

15. If a neighbor of the vasal already joined the independence faction, increase the score of the vasal by 25%.

This can be quite impactful and will probably produce clusters of vasals joining the faction.

16. If the vasal is a mighty vasal, double his score.

This. Is. Huge.

Typical scenarios and implications for your playstyle

At first, I want to talk briefly about factor 11 and factor 4. Factor 11 means, you want to avoid sins and collect virtues like they are Pokémon. A 3-virtue ruler will have a lot less factions in general. Also, if you have acces to an elective succession with a lot of electors and like elective succession anyway, go for it. Your realm will be a lot more stable in regards of independence factions.

Apart from factors 4 and 11, the biggest single factors for joining a faction are the non-dejure factors 5 and 6. The other factors will add some score on these, but most likely only non-dejure vasals will join your independence faction unless you are an extreme sinner. Non dejure vasals are your trouble makers! But being a non dejure vasal is not quite enough on its own. Unless we are talking about a big non dejure vasal, at least one second factor is needed.

Usually, a non dejure vasal comes hand in hand with a different culture or even culture group. This means a score of 150 or even 175. The first is manageable with just positive opinion, while the latter needs about 63 positive opinion or a virtue.

But if your non dejure vasal with a different culture group also is a king or a mighty vasal or is big relative to you, the vasal will be inside a faction! To reiterate the importance, look out for vasals which fulfill the first and any two other of the following criteria:

These are your prime trouble makers! You need to deal with them by soft blocking with 80+ opinion (potentially bugged), by hard blocking with friendship, alliance or strong hook or by making them dejure vasals!

The blocks are straight forward. Alliances can the specially usefull since there won’t be many good external alliances in the late game. So you can use your kids to neutralise strong vasals.

About how to make your non dejure-vasal into dejure vasals, I personally see three options:

  1. The long game by integrating the kingdom into your empire. Though this will take a while. But once the kingdom belongs dejure to your empire, the king will very likely not join any independence faction anymore.

  2. Create the empire the king naturally belongs to. This may result in realm splits according to your succession law.

  3. My personal favourite: Beat them in a civil war and take the king-title or just revoke their kingdom title outright. By holding the kingdom title yourself, you make every Duke/Count vasal of the kingdom your dejure vasal and they will be very unlikely to join the independence faction. This still allows for dejure shifts.

This will make you a viable target for claimant factions for the kingdom though. But how to deal with claimant factions is a matter for another guide.

On a side note, you can also try to make sure that every mighty vasal is actually a dejure vasal. Then none non dejure vasal will get the doubled independence score. But your empire needs a certain size to be able to do that in the first place and I am not sure if it’s worth the hazzle.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the guide and the information provided was helpful to you and your game.

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