Reign of tyranny

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A reign of tyranny, also known as North Korea Mode, is a strategy of tyrannically seizing all of your vassals' counties. It is often used as a starting duke, or as a king who does not have the crown authority needed to revoke titles.

Some reigns of tyranny only last long enough to acquire a solid demesne. Others continue indefinitely, as players choose to rule a large realm with an iron fist.

Preparation[edit | edit source]

If you have time and means, acquire a skilled marshal and spymaster. The marshal can increase arrest chance using the "suppress revolts" mission. The spymaster passively increases arrest chance by increasing your state intrigue.

Ensure you have enough piety and prestige for the actions you plan:

  • Imprisonment costs 10 piety per attempt
  • Banishment costs 10 piety
  • Execution costs 20 piety, but only if the victim shares your religion
  • Title revocation costs prestige scaling with the title, for each title taken.
    • The cost of title revocation is waived if you have a justification, but you still need enough prestige

Decide whether you are seizing all baronies or only counties.

Pause the game.

Imprisoning all vassals[edit | edit source]

Have your marshal "suppress revolts" in each province as needed. To move your marshal between provinces, you can fire and re-hire him (without Conclave) or swap him with another councilor and back.

Since vassals of vassals cannot rebel against you, and instead abdicate to their heir on failed imprisonment, two strategies are possible. If they have an heir, it makes sense to force abdication until you imprison one. If they lack an heir and instead have your direct vassal as their fallback heir, it may be preferable to have your direct vassal imprisoned first.

For your direct vassals, if you are concerned about rebellion, imprison their spymaster and execute their spouse first; this will destroy your vassal's state intrigue (may require reloading), making their arrest more likely to succeed. However, keep in mind that imprisonment success rate drops as opinion falls, so it may be best to start with the imprisonments where success is the most important.

Seizing land from vassals[edit | edit source]

For each imprisoned vassal, there are three methods you can use to seize their titles:

Method Tyranny Cost Best when...
Action execute.png Execution 10 Piety.png 20*
  • You are the heir, and:
    • You want to minimize the amount of tyranny.
    • The vassal is duke rank or higher. This allows you to inherit your vassal's technology points.
    • The vassal has a different religion. (*This removes the piety cost of execution.)
Action banish.png Banishment Per title Piety.png 10
  • You are the heir, and:
    • You want their cash.
    • Crown authority does not let you revoke titles.
Revoke title.png Title revocation None Icon prestige.png Per title
  • You do not want to anger courtiers, vassals of vassals, etc.
  • You are out of piety, but have prestige to spare.
  • Can be done without imprisonment, if you can wait for a reply. Rebellion chance depends on relative power

Preventing plots against yourself[edit | edit source]

An angry court makes it easy for characters to plot against you. The danger is highest when someone has a reason to murder you.

You should replace any high-intrigue councilors, especially your spymaster, with newly invited characters. But keep your old chancellor for long enough to keep invitees coming and bribes working.

Empty your court of witnesses as much as possible. Remove unmarried courtiers by getting them married outside your court (matrilineally for men), or with The Reaper's Due, simply asking them to leave. Ideally, get your courtiers married to nearby landowners, making it less likely that two nearby realms will combine through inheritance.

If you've already decided which counties you are getting rid of, consider granting the churches in those counties to your courtiers. You will gain 25 piety from each church grant, and as soon as you give away the counties, they will not be your direct vassals. The downside is your new counts will have fewer "+20 granted a barony" modifiers because you didn't give the temples to them.

Dealing with your demesne limit[edit | edit source]

If your demesne limit is small and you're only slightly over it, don't worry about the limit. The penalties to income and levies start out at only 20% per holding over the limit. Try to get a spouse or heir with higher stewardship.

If you're significantly over your demesne limit, you may:

  • Ignore the effects of demesne limits while holding all counties yourself.
    • This is known as North Korea Mode.
    • You can even hold all baronies yourself, although this has additional "wrong holding type" penalties for income/levies.
  • Keep all count vassals imprisoned, so they cannot join factions or plot against you.
    • This is known as Guantanamo Bay Mode.
  • End your reign of tyranny by granting land to new vassals who did not witness your actions.
    • These non-witnesses can come from invitations or from decisions that generate new courtiers.
    • Another possibility is to land a small number of counts, wait for them to generate courtiers, and then land those courtiers.
    • Or, you can use "create new vassal" on a minor barony and then grant the county to that baron. (For cities/temples, this will change the county type, and cannot be done if it will cause more than 10% of your realm to be under that type of government.)

Changes under new patches and DLC[edit | edit source]

In the current game 3.2.1 with all of the gameplay DLC, it is possible to implement several North Korea strategies.

Tribal No Vassal mode[edit | edit source]

Since Holy Fury (3.1) and with Legacy of Rome DLC, Tribes can make use of prestige retinues, including Hunting Party (50 light cavalry + 100 light infantry) which is powerful in the opening skirmish phase. This works well with the low income when over demesne size. With Open, Eldership or Tanistry, it is possible to keep the realm succession stable (no title breaks away) without having any count-level vassal. The Earth Hillfort building provides 100 retinue size. With Horse Lords, tribes can destroy holding in county in order to have a tribe building in every county, thus having very large retinue size, and a large standing army costing only prestige.

Outside of the retinues, the levy will be severely limited, but the capital levy is not, and all tribal shipbuilders (even not the capital) will provide full numbers of ship.

For money, the tributaries will pay taxes in full even their master is over demesne. Tribes can also raid neighbor, but not their tributaries for money and prestige. Barons tend to die often and will give their wealth back to the liege when they are running out of heir (barons are locked on agnatic gavelkind). The destruction (razing) of no-tribal holdings can give money and 5 tech point, but this increases the provincial revolt risk a lot.

Nomadism No Vassal mode[edit | edit source]

Normally a khagan can only have one third of the horde provinces without risking minor clan revolt. But this revolt will not happen if the maximum clan number is reached. So, with 8 vassal clans, the khagan can have a realm as large as he wants. Beware this may break the game through integer overflow of prestige or gold. It may also be patched in the future.

Advanced imprisonment, revoke, banishment, vassal levy[edit | edit source]

The probability of imprisonment is decreased by the opinion of the vassal and his state intrigue. You cannot give a imprisoned vassal title. Revoking the final title of an imprisoned vassal of the same culture will get him back to your court in one day (condition unclear, it may or may not happen), enabling you to banish him for all his wealth. Thus, it is possible to give a 0 intrigue courtier of your culture a county then an empty duchy or kingdom (titular title works best). Imprison this person. Then, transfer vassals to this person. Sub-vassals can be imprisoned without risk of revolt, and contribute to the vassal levy. Execute the sub-vassals who don't have family will transfer their wealth to the imprisoned vassal duke/king, who will then transfer this wealth (also artifacts) to you after you execute him. It is possible to have over 10k gold with this strategy by establishing a merchant republic then imprison/execute a series of patricians. For more strategies of the same type, see these guides made by jwalche on Paradox forums..