Too many duchies in Crusader Kings 3

Crusader Kings 3 limits the number of duchy titles a ruler can personally hold before incurring penalties. Specifically, kings and emperors can only hold 2 duchy titles before their vassals start to get upset. Going over this limit results in all vassals getting an opinion malus, which can lead to dangerous faction formation if left unchecked. However, there are ways to manage having too many held duchies.

Quick informations about duchies in CK3
  • Kings and emperors can only hold 2 duchies before getting penalties.
  • Going over the limit gives an opinion malus with all vassals.
  • This malus can lead to dangerous faction formation if unchecked.
  • Grant excess duchies to vassals or heirs to avoid penalties.
  • Alternatively, destroy duchy titles or accept the malus if you are strong enough.

What are duchies and duchy limits in CK3?

Duchies are collections of counties that make up a realm below the kingdom level. The duchy title is the highest rank below king. Duchy titles provide bonuses like increased vassal limits, knight counts, and access to duchy buildings that benefit the whole de jure territory.

In CK3, counts can hold as many duchies as they want with no issues. However, kings and emperors are restricted to holding a maximum of 2 duchy titles before penalties kick in. This limit is in place to prevent rulers from accumulating too much personal power by monopolizing all duchy titles and their resources.

Penalties for holding too many duchies

For each duchy above the limit of 2 that a king or emperor holds, they incur the following penalties:

Opinion malus from all vassals (-15 for each excess duchy)

This stacks up very quickly if multiple excess duchies are held. Just 3 extra duchies held means a -45 general opinion malus with all vassals.

Increased faction formation risk

The reduced vassal opinion makes it much more likely powerful vassals will join independence or claimant factions against you. This can lead to dangerous civil wars if too many vassals join factions.

Strategies for dealing with extra duchies

Now that you understand the problems of holding too many duchies, here are some strategies you can employ:

Grant duchies to vassals or heirs

The simplest solution is to grant excess duchy titles to vassals or heirs of your dynasty. This eliminates the opinion penalties and helps keep vassals content. When granting duchies, aim to give them to unambitious vassals with high opinion of you or to heirs you want to empower. Avoid granting multiple duchies to already powerful vassals.

Destroy duchy titles

Instead of granting duchies, you can choose to destroy the title altogether. This does remove the opinion penalties, but angers de jure vassals of the duchy. However, count-tier vassals tend to be fairly weak on their own, so this anger can be managed.

Accept the opinion penalty

If you are an emperor with a strong personal domain, another option is to just accept the opinion penalty from holding too many duchies. The extra resources from those duchies may outweigh the vassal relations hit, as long as you can keep factions in check through defensive pacts, alliances, and diplomacy.

Choosing the right strategy

So when should you employ which strategy for dealing with extra duchies? Here are some guidelines:

  • Early game – Destroy or grant away extra duchies. You need positive vassal relations while still small.
  • Late game – Can afford to accept some penalty in exchange for power.
  • Weak vassals – Destroying duchies is safer when vassals are weak individually.
  • Powerful vassals – Grant duchies to appease those who could threaten you.
  • Roleplaying – Grant duchies only within your dynasty for a family empire.

Special cases

Dukes – As a duke, you face no duchy limit. Feel free to hold all duchies within your de jure territory.

Multiple Kingdoms – If you hold multiple kingdoms, you may need to hold more than 2 duchies total. However, limit yourself to 2 duchies within each kingdom to avoid penalties.

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Problems with too many duchies and how to solve this with vassals.

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About article
Last edit: 02/10/2023
Article is actual with curent version of Crusader Kings 3 (1.10.2)
Author hours in Crusader Kings 3: 121
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