Tribal realms can be strong even if they are small, due to their prestige-based upgrades and their ability to call vassals into war. However, these abilities weaken relative to feudalism as realms grow to kingdom-size and beyond, along with advances in technology. As a result, rulers of large tribal realms often look to reform their government to feudalism.
Tribal rulers have a number of special council missions which can spawn event troops. Without Legacy of Rome, they can purchase event troops; with LoR, they can instead hire tribal-exclusive retinues which cost Prestige instead of Gold. Event troops are disbanded as soon as all wars end; declaring another war before concluding the first will allow these armies to be kept up indefinitely.
Tribal realms which seek to remain with the old ways may also pillage holdings they personally hold (like nomads), eventually freeing up the holding slot and making the tribe holding in the county more useful.
Nomadic realms will become tribal if Horse Lords is not activated. Nomads who wish to change government types and still keep their nomadic counties and vassals have to adopt tribalism first.
- Tanistry is available for Celtic cultures and for scions of some bloodlines
- Eldership is available for Romuva and African religions
- Ultimogeniture is available for certain Mongol Empire titles
Most organized religions allow tribal rulers to switch to Gavelkind succession. In fact, even unreformed pagans can continue to use Gavelkind; players can take advantage of this by converting to an organized religion just to switch to Gavelkind and then converting back. However, if a pagan faith is reformed, the reformer can choose doctrines which allows the use of other succession laws:
- Open, with Agnatic Clans or Enatic Clans;
- Eldership, with Ancestor Veneration; African and Romuva reformers can also choose their unique doctrines to continue the use of Eldership
Tribals have a special Tribal Organization law in place of Crown Authority. With Conclave, higher levels of Tribal Organization gradually enable various Council laws (and automatically passes them in favour of the council), whereas Absolute Tribal Organization is required to reform government. Absolute Tribal Organization also allows a tribal ruler to propose passing council laws in the ruler's favour.
- Low passive wealth income
Tribes have low base income, and tribal regions often do not have any other holdings. As such, tribal rulers have low passive income; they often have to supplement their income with raiding.
- Call to arms
Tribals call their direct tribal vassals to war like allies instead of getting regular levies or taxes from them; they are able to tax baron and non-tribal vassals and receive liege levies. Vassals of vassals cannot be called to war.
- Different government
Tribal leaders get a -20 "wrong government type" opinion modifier from non-tribal vassals (of count-tier or above), as do non-tribes with tribal vassals of a different culture. On the plus side, tribal vassals don't count towards their non-tribal liege's vassal limit.
- Effects of county culture and religion on taxes and levies
Tribals get reduced taxes and levies from tribes in demesne counties which do not share their culture or religion, with larger penalties (-25%) if the county's religion/culture is outside the holder's culture/religious group.
- Strong claim duels
With Holy Fury, tribals with a Strong claim to a title may, under certain circumstances, duel another tribal who holds the title to usurp it.
- Low technology requirements for buildings
Tribal buildings don't require high technology to construct (except Shipbuilding). On the flip side, they do not benefit from high technology, making them relatively weak as feudal realms take advantage of advanced tech for their buildings.
- Few troop types
Tribes offer few troop types, making tribals vulnerable to certain army compositions. On the flip side, Tribals need to invest in fewer types of technology to strengthen the bulk of their armies and if managed correctly, they can engineer appropriate combat tactics to maximize effectiveness. Cultural buildings can also be built at tribes for greater troop variety.
Council missions and laws
If you're a tribe, some of your councillor missions are different.
- Organize a Raid replaces "Research Military Tech". If this succeeds (must be at peace for it to succeed), an army appears in your capital. This army must be used to raid, or it will disband after a while.
- Settle Tribe replaces "Raise Taxes". If this succeeds, the county's culture changes to yours.
- Build Legend replaces "Research Economy Tech". While this mission is active, you get an extra 0.1 prestige per Stewardship point of the councilor, per month. If it succeeds, an army appears in your capital. They will disband if they don't fight anyone within a year.
- Court Chaplain:
- Build Zeal replaces "Study Cultural Tech". While this mission is active, you get an extra 0.1 piety per Learning point of the councilor, per month. If it succeeds, an army appears in your capital. This army must be used to fight in a religious war, or it will disband after a while. (Religious enemies aren't enough - the CB has to be religious.)
In addition, as Tribal Organization is increased, council laws are made available, and automatically passed in the council's favor; only at Absolute Tribal Organization can the ruler propose to reclaim powers.
Changing government type
An independent tribe can become a feudal realm or merchant republic by decision. Both decisions require Absolute Tribal Organization and significant investment in the capital. They also require an organized religion, so Pagans must first convert to another religion or reform their Pagan religion. Your realm must also be at peace for the decision to be unlocked.
Independent tribal rulers who wish to adopt feudalism must build a Stone Hillfort in their capital (which requires the Castle Infrastructure I technology), or gain a castle and make it their capital.
When you first convert to feudalism, all demesne tribes are immediately converted to castles, even in provinces of the wrong religion. Converting tribal settlements later (by right-clicking) requires that the province shares your religion.
Your tribal vassals will be able to join you in feudalism as long as they follow an organized religion. Vassals are now required to construct a Stone Hillfort to take the decision. All tribal vassals are more likely to adopt feudalism if they share your religion and culture.
Whenever a tribe is converted to a castle, a city and temple can be created in the province as well. The tribe must be owned by the county owner and the province must have two empty slots (even if only creating one due to the other already existing).
Founding a merchant republic
The decision to found a merchant republic requires a Large Market City and the technology Trade Practices 1. Building the Large Market City requires Town Infrastructure 1. For players, it has the additional requirements of a coastal capital and The Republic DLC, in order to ensure the resulting realm is playable.
In addition to upgrading your capital to a city, it creates a duchy-level title (if needed) and creates family palaces for you and four vassals of different dynasties.
Being a republic unlocks the convert to city decision for you, which creates a holding of each type in the chosen province (if a temple already exists it will not be created).
Although reforming a tribe will make the realm stronger in the long term, it can catastrophically weaken the ruler in the short term. A newly converted holding will generally have fewer levies than the tribal holding it replaced, since it no longer gets a bonus to levies from empty holding slots. In addition, you must now consider the de jure structure of the realm, due to the increased importance of liege levies.
Your income will increase a lot after adopting feudalism, and even more after converting to a merchant republic, thanks to the automatic creation of a holding of each type upon conversion in every province in your demesne (assuming that there are enough empty holding slots).
Tribal vassals who do not share your culture will be unhappy (-20 Wrong Government Type) until they feudalize themselves. If you convert to a merchant republic, this penalty will never lapse, as vassals can only adopt feudalism. Event troops from council missions and (without )decisions will no longer be available. If you are a king, (without Conclave) you will switch from Absolute Tribal Organization to Autonomous Vassals (minimum crown authority), losing the ability to revoke titles. With Conclave, Absolute Tribal Organization empowers the council, so it could be useful to become feudal while being a vassal of a feudal king in order to keep absolute rule. For these reasons, it is advisable to obtain some combination of powerful allies, trustworthy vassals, money to hire mercenaries and tribal retinues, before taking the decision. Also, consider the average technology level of the realm, as feudal realms rely on them for their military buildings; consider delaying adoption until technology is sufficiently advanced.
After becoming feudal, it is in the ruler's interest to encourage tribal vassals to become feudal due to the following reasons:
- It removes the "Wrong Government" opinion modifier, and allows the "Noble Customs" technology to increase opinion.
- Just as feudalism weakens a tribal liege, it also weakens tribal vassals, by reducing the number of troops they have and by reducing their demesne limit.
Economics of upgrading
The cost to upgrade a tribal holding in a county with a low level of construction technology is about 500 gold. Raiding goes a long way towards paying for the upgrades. Non-tribal lieges should consider building another holding instead of directly upgrading, as the cost is about the same and the vassal holding's income will allow the tribe to be upgraded more quickly.
Every two levels of tribal building will convert into one level of the equivalent city or castle building, except for ship builders, which convert one-to-one.
Building forts in a tribe that will be upgraded to a city is a poor investment: 225 gold worth of buildings (for the first two levels) or 300 (for the last two) will turn into a mere 75-gold wall. Building towns in a tribe that will be upgraded to a castle is still not efficient, but not as bad: 225/300 gold turns into 150 gold structures. If the tribe will be held for a significant period of time before upgrading, the extra income may be worthwhile. On the other hand, the level 1 shipbuilder is an excellent investment: this 75-gold structure turns into the 150-gold city or castle shipbuilder.
By swearing fealty to a feudal liege, or being a vassal to a tribal ruler who converted its government type into feudal or merchant republic: this enables a more accessible variant of the adopt feudalism decision, not requiring Absolute Tribal Organisation, but still has to be following an organized religion. However, if your aim is to become a merchant republic, you must remain independent.
If you die with a feudal heir, your heir will remain feudal as long as his feudal title is of equal rank or higher. Conversely, inheriting a feudal realm of higher rank may allow you to become feudal.
Feudal expansion into tribal lands
If you're already feudal, consider holding tribes in counties which follow your religion and convert them to castles using the "right-click" method. This is more crucial if you are not following an organized religion, as your tribal vassals will not be able to change to feudal on their own.
- If there are tribal counties near your realm, prioritize those with your religion and with 3 empty holding slots or more (in order to get two free holdings after conversion; 2 empty holding slots only gives one free holding), and hold them in your demesne.
- Consider using CBs which usurp titles rather than vassalize the target.
Note that baron-tier tribals can never abandon tribalism; to get rid of tribes held by them, the direct liege must hold the tribe personally (high chance as baron tribals do not marry on their own and rarely have other heirs, especially if generated by the "new vassal" button) and build another holding in its place.
In 769, vast regions in Scandinavia and eastern Europe are tribal pagans. Catholics also have tribal starts in Ireland and Pictland (Scotland), and Muslims have tribal starts in Mauretania and Socotra. West Africa is also largely tribal and pagan.
In 867, Ireland is still tribal, as is the tribes around the Arabian deserts.
By 1066, Hungary, Poland, and much of Scandinavia have become Catholic and feudal. However, the remaining pagans to the east are mostly tribal (except for Steppe nomads if Horse Lords is enabled). The only Christian tribal rulers in 1066, and thus the only tribes playable without any DLC, are some of the Russian princes and a few Ethiopian tribes. In later starts, the Golden Horde is briefly ruled by a Nestorian Christian in 1255, while the Ilkhanate has a Nestorian ruler in 1279.
Tribal holdings may occasionally be baronies, if the temple holding (which some tribal provinces have) becomes the county capital, or if a non-tribal liege who owns the province builds a different type of holding in that county.
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