12 Best Lifestyle Perks in Crusader Kings 3, RankedThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
CKIII’s implementation of the lifestyle system gives you some great options to customize your character. It builds up on the standard character traits system, offering ways to roleplay and gain access to unique mechanics that can serve your current needs.
Education impacts how quickly experience is gathered, but you’re not limited in your lifestyle choice. There are ways to improve you experience gain, like certain character traits, dynasty legacies and cultural pillars.
Gathering enough experience will earn you a point that you can then spend on a lifestyle tree. Each category has 3 trees for a total of 15.
This list will rank perks considering their ease of access (how early in a tree they are), uniqueness, and usefulness.
12. Groomed to Rule
Groomed to Rule requires only a single point in diplomacy lifestyle, as it finds itself at the start of the Family Hierarch tree.
It provides a couple extra skill points to your children. In my experience it usually provides 3 extra points.
Generally, the diplomacy lifestyle is the weakest one.
Until you have a large empire with many vassals under your control.
Ever had a ruler you just wanted to get rid of? Well, in these cases dipping into diplomacy for this perk is a good idea. If you know a ruler doesn’t have much potential, you might as well do everything in your power to make your heir better.
You do not have to educate the kids yourself for the extra points!
Switching lifestyle focus locks you into that focus for 5 years.
This will give you enough experience to grab another perk. Grabbing the nearby befriend perk is a good idea. Befriending your vassals can help you keep them from revolting when your ruler is bad.
11. True Ruler
True Ruler provides a big increase to vassalization acceptance.
This means that you will have an easier time diplomatically vassalizing foreign rulers of a lower rank.
This might sound powerful, but it’s actually quite niche.
Vassalization acceptance relies heavily on cultural heritage, cultural acceptance, language, and de jure situation.
It won’t be often that you will find neighboring smaller rulers of your culture, religion, and de jure your vassals.
And this is in the middle of the August tree, requiring an investment of 5 whole points to reach. If you’re anticipating a situation where the bonus from True Ruler will allow you to vassalize some neighbors, then you should start building towards it!
Meritocracy is another niche perk.
It allows you to attempt the “Claim Throne” scheme against your liege. If successful, it provides an unpressed claim on your liege’s primary title.
It’s located on the very start of the administrator tree, allowing you to easily pick it whenever.
The scheme can be powerful, but it is highly situational. Even if you play as a vassal in a big realm, there are other ways to ensure you usurp the throne. Claims through marriage or outright independence revolts can do the trick just fine.
Claiming the throne and pressing the claim this way will have you inherit the internal mess that the realm potentially is.
Furthermore, to succeed in the scheme, you’d better have some investment in intrigue.
The absolute best way to use this focus in my opinion is to first build up an intrigue lifestyle, then switching to stewardship for this. Acquire hooks on your fellow vassals, unlock meritocracy, scheme for the throne. That should be the first part of your plan.
Second part, you create a claimant faction for yourself and force all these hooked vassals in. Press the claim with enough strength and your liege might even give up without a fight!
9. Golden Obligations
Golden Obligations is another perk that requires only a single stewardship lifestyle point.
It allows you to exchange hooks for money.
The perk is very handy when you find yourself with tons of useless hooks on various characters. Even against your loyal vassals, you sometimes have nothing valuable to do with a hook. But money, money is always valuable.
Combined with the “Find Secrets” spymaster action it can give you a nice source of income, especially when you still haven’t built your domain up.
Prophet is another situational perk that can give you insane value in the correct situations. It gives you some extra piety per knight which can be sizeable in large realms.
The perk’s main draw is that it cuts faith creation and reformation cost in half.
Essentially, if you’re reforming an unreformed faith or creating a new one, this perk should be priority number one.
Of course, you do not need to pick it first thing. Make sure you will be in a position to reform the desired faith, and then start investing towards it.
It’s located deep into the Theologian tree, requiring 4 points to be spent.
The previous bonuses leading up to it are all buffs to county conversion. They can come in handy when you start spreading the new faith.
7. A Job Done Right
A Job Done Right provides a +25% chance of success to all hostile schemes.
Getting it requires an investment of 3 points in the intrigue lifestyle.
The previous perk also buffs the chance of success in murder schemes, giving a noticeable increase in in your murder attempts. If there’s a character you absolutely need to kill, and you seem to be unable to do so, getting this perk can save your hide.
Of course, characters that want to go on murder sprees should fully unlock the tree, as it provides some great bonuses to this style of play – including the ability to have two simultaneous hostile schemes!
But even on a character who isn’t a murdering psychopath, A Job Done Right can be godsent for that one murder you have to do.
6. Bellum Justum
Bellum Justum is Latin for “Just War” or “Justified War”.
The perk cuts the cost of declaring wars by half, be it a prestige or a piety cost.
It needs just one point from the martial lifestyle, allowing you to easily pick it.
Warmongering characters love this perk. It will save you tons of prestige in the long run.
It’s especially useful as a tribal ruler when your prestige is also your source of men-at-arms.
Even if you do not focus martial, switching to it for this perk alone is worth it.
The extra couple points you will get until you are again allowed to switch focus won’t go to waste either. There are plenty of perks that buff your military to choose from!
The Schemer tree is the only one represented twice in the list.
The Kidnapper trait unlocks the “Abduct” scheme for your character. It requires an investment of 3 intrigue lifestyle points. Intrigue focused characters will always want to unlock the full tree.
This scheme allows you to, well, kidnap another character.
It can be used against any character in your diplomatic range, and it will imprison him on your dungeons upon success.
The potential can be hard to miss at first glance. I’ll give you a couple of ideas:
Kidnap the heir to a kingdom’s throne and marry them to your heir.
Kidnap the enemy war leader and instantly win a war.
This scheme can be abused to insane levels, and I personally avoid using it like that. Recruiting foreign heirs and instantly winning wars trivializes half the game.
4. Forever Infamous
Forever Infamous is deep into the Torturer tree, requiring a whopping 7 intrigue lifestyle points to unlock. It nullifies your dread decay. What this means is that you can stay at 100 dread once you reach it.
This perk is one of the most underrated ones in my opinion. It enables a whole new style of gameplay for evil-ish characters.
Playing a character disliked by everyone?
No worries, you can rule through fear!
Of course, if you go all this way, you might as well unlock the whole tree.
The tree makes it cost no piety to torture characters, and allows you to increase certain skills after torture sessions. It also makes afraid and terrified vassals give you more tax and raises your skills the more stressed you are.
Going down this path drastically changes the way you play the game. It’s possible to go full tyrant on your subjects and have no one complain out of sheer terror.
Highly recommend this entire tree for sinful intrigue characters in an unstable realm.
3. Whole of Body
The Whole of Body tree could have two entries: one for the entire tree, and another for the “Restraint” perk.
Let’s start with “Restraint”.
It requires only two learning lifestyle points, and it simply allows you to become celibate. Being celibate means that you cannot have any more kids. You can renounce and reactivate celibacy by decision any time you want.
It also offers a great way of ensuring succession.
Simply have one eligible heir, and then become celibate. The inherent risk is of course the lack of backup heirs in case your one precious son dies. Always marry your older daughters matrilineally!
Now for the whole tree and the final Whole of Body perk.
It essentially makes your character live longer.
The last two perks do just that. They buff your health and subsequently your lifespan. The rest of the tree gives some nice, related bonuses like better court physicians and disease resistance.
So, when should you go all the way in the tree?
Well, if your heir is an idiot but your grandson is a genius, you can use this tree to prolong your reign, ensuring that either your grandson succeeds you or your current heir has a short reign.
The Scholar tree is in my opinion the single most powerful one in the game.
All three learning trees are strong and rightfully represented on this list, but this one takes the cake.
Every single perk is mighty powerful. A couple are applicable only if you are your culture’s head, but you should always be that. The bonuses to your learning attribute this tree provides are insane. They will speed up your culture’s innovations like crazy.
The tree’s highlights are the last 3 perks in it.
“Learn on the Job” gives your character a bonus to all attributes, depending on your councilor’s skills. A +4 across the board isn’t uncommon at all!
“Sanctioned Loopholes” allows you to buy claims. Buy them by spending piety. Instead of trying to fabricate claims county by county, you can press a button and get a claim on entire duchies, kingdoms, or even empires. A great way to spend all your accumulated piety.
Lastly, the “Scholar” trait buffs your learning significantly, increases development growth in your entire domain, and boosts the success chance of all your schemes.
Even with characters that lack a learning focus, going down this tree is often the best course of action.
Especially as a culture head, I cannot stress enough how important high learning is. Unlocking innovations can be seen as direct buffs to you and all your future characters.
1. Household Guard
Ever wondered why are you losing these equal numbered engagements in the early game?
Well, it’s probably because your enemy has gone down the “Household Guard” path and you didn’t.
Like it or not, military focus is king in the early game. The 4 perks leading up to “Household Guard” should be your first priority as any small ruler in the early game, especially in the 867 start.
These 4 perks will give you 4 extra knights, make them almost twice as effective, reduce your chance of dying in combat, and decrease your overall casualties in battle.
Combined with the “Chivalry” focus and the “Leading Own Troops” modifier, you get a combined +15 advantage in battles where you are the leading general.
Now add terrain, your martial, river crossings, and defender bonuses and you can easily reach +50 advantage.
Knowing all this, you can now go ahead and be the one winning these seemingly even engagements!
And as a general tip for your early game martial characters:
Get “Household Guard” as soon as possible, and then complete the “Strategist” tree. Especially as a tribal ruler, your county control is barely relevant; your troops will come through men-at-arms and vassal contribution based on your fame.