What Makes a Good Vassal? (CK3 Vassal Management Guide)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Vassals should generally be selected according to their traits, culture, religion, attribute scores, and relation to you.
Existing vassals can be managed by keeping them weak, establishing Crown Authority 3 and 4, and forcing partition inheritance.
If necessary, you can also replace vassals by revoking titles or marrying your dynasty members to them, creating children of your dynasty. Marriages with vassal families will form alliances, as an extra bonus.
What To Consider When Selecting Vassals
Good vassal traits include Content, Trusting, Humble, Patient, and Craven. The first four give liege opinion boosts, which will make your vassals like you more.
Craven characters are more easily intimidated by your Dread score. These vassals are less likely to act against you in general.
Bad traits are roughly the opposite – Ambitious, Arrogant, Impatient, and Brave could cause some trouble. The first three lower liege opinion, so vassals will dislike you.
Brave characters are less easily intimidated and will be more likely to act against you.
Greedy vassals who have claims on your titles might also try to take them from you more often.
#2: Culture & Religion
Having a different culture can cause characters to have negative opinion modifiers against each other, if cultural acceptance is low.
The culture of the county is important, too.
If the vassal’s culture isn’t the same as the local one, cultural acceptance will also affect popular opinion.
This mismatch allows locals to form a faction and rebel against the realm. The top liege has to deal with these uprisings sometimes, so it might be your problem!
Religion functions in a similar way, and mismatches between you and another character can reduce their opinion.
Similarly, a county with a different religion to its vassal will have reduced popular opinion.
Factions created by religious differences are essentially the same as those created for cultural reasons, but under a different name.
#3: Attribute Scores
Choosing vassals with high attribute scores will fill your court with skilled characters.
You can kill two birds with one stone here since your most powerful vassals will demand a council seat. If they’re already good at the job, your council will be much more effective.
Just be careful with vassals who don’t like you.
If they’re highly skilled they’ll have an easier time plotting against you or fighting you, especially if their Intrigue or Martial scores are high.
#4: Family & Friends
Family members can make good vassals since they tend to like you already. Family may also have higher attributes and better traits depending on how you play, which is good for your council.
Filling your realm with family could cause you problems if you have a large empire, since you’ll have fewer marriage options.
Depending on their personality and claims, family members can often plot against you too.
So giving them more power or making them Spymaster isn’t always a good idea!
Friends, on the other hand, tend to plot against you less often.
The only downside is that your relationship won’t carry over to an heir when you die, unlike a few family bonds.
As above, it’s still advised to pick family and friends who have good traits and attributes. An Ambitious claimant is much more likely to steal your throne!
How To Manage Your Vassals
Keeping Vassals Under Control
Most players avoid creating large vassals with lots of power.
This is so that they can’t overthrow you or become independent.
To prevent this, try to offer dukes one or two counties with many of their own vassals, rather than every county within the duchy.
You can also prevent vassals from warring with Crown Authority Levels 3 and 4. This won’t prevent faction wars from happening, but vassals can’t try to take land.
To stop vassals snowballing via inheritance, add “Forced Partition” to their vassal contracts. You can sacrifice a bit of income or troop power for this if you have no hooks.
If you end up with bad vassals, you can replace them with another character.
The fastest way to do this is to revoke a vassal’s titles. You can find this option by right-clicking on a vassal and selecting “Revoke Title.”
Successfully revoking a title means you will gain it.
You can keep the title or give it to another vassal.
Revoking titles when the vassal hasn’t committed a crime gives you Tyranny, resulting in a general opinion debuff.
Vassals can also refuse to give up their title. In this case, they’ll rebel against you, and they may bring other vassals who dislike you.
If you don’t want to risk a war, you could also murder your vassal by plotting against them.
However, their heir will inherit, who may not like you either.
Another option is to marry your family to this vassal or their heirs.
You can form an alliance with some of your vassals this way, or replace their dynasty with yours depending on the marriage.