Top 7 Best Cultural Ethoses in CK3 (All Ranked)

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A transliteration of a Greek word that can be loosely translated to “morals” or “principles”, ethos describes a culture’s attitude in everyday life as well as its core values.

Every culture in the game has an ethos that characterizes them.

There are seven different ones to choose from, all of which have their advantages.

But as with most things in CK3, there is no single Ethos that trumps all others in every scenario imaginable. All of them provide decent bonuses and can complement your desired playstyle in each campaign.

A culture’s ethos enables and disables certain types of royal courts, potentially locking you out of a desired one. Always keep an eye on your available options!

This list mainly aims to give you an idea of which ethos would be suitable for any given campaign you might attempt.


7. Egalitarian

Egalitarian Ethos / CK3

The egalitarian ethos gets the last spot on the list.

While not that much inferior to the competition, one of the seven had to end up here.

It provides no bonuses to counties that possess it. Characters with an egalitarian ethos enjoy better relations with other cultures, while also benefiting from a +10 to their vassal limit.

The bonus to vassal limit is irrelevant, as you usually prefer a bunch of powerful vassals that you can easily appease, rather than a swarm of them.

The better relations with foreign cultures can come in handy in vastly multicultural regions. It also helps if you want to conquer vast swathes of the map, as you will inevitably have to deal with foreign cultures.

But the egalitarian ethos provides access to the administrative court. They synergize very well together, allowing you to rapidly raise cultural acceptance with neighboring cultures!


6. Stoic

Stoic Ethos / Crusader Kings III

The stoic ethos is all about protection. If you thought this meant protection as in military defense, then you’d be mistaken.

It protects from diseases, combat, and stress.

Essentially anything that can kill your character, bar assassinations and old age.

The bonuses are character-specific except from the defender advantage +5 which applies to provinces with the stoic ethos.

It synergizes very well with the warlike court it gives you access to. Throw a military lifestyle in the mix and you can repel invaders against overwhelming odds!

The stress reduction is nice too, and will come in handy when playing characters with certain traits. Certain traits that make each event decision a stress bomb. I’m looking at you compassionate and shy traits!

Disease resistance won’t be relevant a lot of the time, but when it is it makes a huge difference. When an outbreak hits your court, you might just make it out without your whole dynasty in the ground.

Straightforward and simple, the stoic ethos gets outclassed in nearly all aspects by another ethos that will be discussed further down the list.


5. Spiritual

Spiritual Ethos / CK3

The spiritual ethos is another one with no bonuses for the counties exhibiting it. It only provides bonuses to characters of any culture with it.

These bonuses are +10% monthly piety, +15% control growth, and -20% cost reduction for faith creation and reformation.

The bonuses to piety and control growth are welcome but nothing extraordinary. Piety is generally worth less than prestige, while control growth isn’t something that should trouble you after the early game.

The final bonus though, providing -20% for faith reformation and creation is sizeable. But it will come into play at most once in a campaign.

It might be worth temporarily switching to this ethos if you plan on reforming a faith with a character.

And the spiritual ethos provides access to the scholarly court, which is the rarest one. At level 7 it gives a bonus of +10% to lifestyle experience which is powerful and versatile throughout the game.


4. Communal

Communal Ethos / Crusader Kings III

The communal ethos has a very distinct peculiarity.

While its bonuses to characters are mediocre at best, the bonus it provides to provinces is excellent.

It gives a slight cost reduction for hiring same-culture mercenaries, and a +5 opinion with close family. The mercenary cost reduction can be translated to very little money saved over very large periods.

By playing the game, you’ll very quickly realize that the close family that would be impacted by a +5 opinion modifier hates your guts. Your adult siblings with claims on your land won’t be swayed to your side with just a minor bonus like that.

However, provinces of a culture with the communal ethos benefit from -10% cost AND time reduction to buildings. This is very strong and synergizes perfectly with an administrative court.

Did I mention that you gain access to said court by having the communal ethos? Well, you do!

Stack all of this on top of a stewardship lifestyle and you can be building stuff for dirt cheap.


3. Courtly

Courtly Ethos / CK3

The courtly ethos provides some very nice bonuses to characters exhibiting it, but no bonuses to provinces.

Said bonuses include a boost to monthly prestige, cheaper creation of titles, a bit of court grandeur, and a nice +5 opinion to all house members.

The extra prestige and cheaper title creation are straightforward as far as bonuses go. Prestige is always important to have while saving on some costs can be godsend in the early game.

Court grandeur from nothing is always welcome. It’s also complemented by the diplomatic court you gain access to, making vassalization of neighboring rulers a piece of cake.

The bonus to opinion of house members might seem negligible, but it really isn’t. In contrast to the close family bonus from communal ethos, courtly ethos extends it to your entire house.

Pay attention, not dynasty, House.

Still, unless every member of your family went out creating cadet branches from very early on, the bonus should extend to a good portion of your dynasty!

Courtly ethos is the only other ethos providing access to the scholarly court apart from the spiritual ethos.

This differentiates it from the top 2 choices here, and gives a very good reason to prefer it in your next playthrough.


2. Bellicose

Bellicose Ethos / Crusader Kings III

The bellicose ethos is as straightforward as it gets.

Do you want to have excellent knights and cheap men-at-arms? Do you want some extra levies just because?

Did you ever think your culture’s mercenary companies were too few? Ever wondered why you are losing wars to seemingly inferior enemies?

Well fear not, the bellicose ethos has the answer to all of the above!

Also yes, these annoying rulers declaring war on you are usually part of a culture with the bellicose ethos.

By choosing it yourself, you can finally go toe-to-toe with these annoying guys attacking you whenever they see that you have 5 troops less than them.

Of course, the bellicose ethos gives you access to a warlike court, which (to absolutely no one’s surprise) synergizes very well.

Throw some extra war-related traditions into the mix, unlock a bunch of military-buffing dynasty legacies, and voila you have the recipe for Space Marines.

Bellicose ethos could very easily be in the first spot, were it not for the versatility of our top pick.

Still, one could make a case for it.

Note: I’ll admit I’m a little bit biased against generic military-buffing modifiers.


1. Bureaucratic

Bureaucratic Ethos / CK3

The bureaucratic ethos gets first place due to its versatility and practical applications.

Let’s see in detail exactly how each bonus it gives helps your realm.

First of all, the boost to monthly lifestyle experience is a straight-up buff to whatever you’re aiming to achieve with a character. Applying to all lifestyles, any character of yours will be aided in unlocking their lifestyle perks faster.

The bonus to cultural fascination does the same, but in an inter-generational scale. By unlocking advancements faster, your culture gains earlier access to the bonuses of whatever aspect you want!

Evidently, this is mainly relevant when you’re the culture head and can pick the fascination yourself (which will be the case in almost every campaign).

The bureaucratic ethos provides its last direct bonus to provinces following a culture with it. This bonus is a nice buff to development growth, slowly but surely raising the value of every single county in your realm.

Finally, the bureaucratic ethos gives the choice between a warlike and an administrative court. This versatility pushes it over the top, allowing you to choose whichever is needed at the time.

Just beware that changing court types takes some time to confer the full bonuses!

Still, a warlike court during extended periods of warfare and an administrative one for long periods of peace will ensure your realm’s prosperity.

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G. Tsechilidis

Born and raised Greek citizen. His love of history, geography, and all things map-related, are certainly a contrast to his pursuit of a master in civil engineering. An avid gamer from a very young age, he found the perfect match in Grand Strategy Games. If not for a good chess match or a round of carambole billiards, you'll certainly catch him firing up EU4 or a Total War game to spend the evening.