On this page, you will learn how to start your first playthrough of Crusader Kings 3, how to navigate the ruler selection screen and what options are available there. The most important game settings and the matter of selecting a ruler are described on the following pages of this chapter.
In the game's main menu, you have a few standard options to choose from. The New Game and Load buttons allow you to start a new game or load a saved game, respectively. If this isn't your first time starting the game, you will also see the Continue button. It allows you to quickly load the most recent save file. Hovering your cursor over this button displays information about the save file in question.
The Host Game button allows you to start a new game online, while the Join Game option allows you to join an ongoing online game. Additionally, the main menu allows you to check the achievements available in the game and to view the built-in encyclopedia. Gameplay, graphics and sound settings are accessed via the small settings button at the bottom of the screen.
New game screen
To start a new game, click the New Game button. You will be redirected to the character selection screen where you will have to make your first few important decisions. If this is your first playthrough and you haven't played the previous games in this series, I strongly recommend that you complete the tutorial. To start it, click the Play Tutorial button (1) in the upper right corner of the screen.
The six main gameplay scenarios are listed at the top of the screen (2). Upon selecting one of them, a short description will be displayed on the left side of the screen, while on the map there will be several characters to choose from. The rules of the game in each scenario remain the same, so they should rather be treated as a suggestion from the Developers as to the choice of initial location and ruler. The first three scenarios (from the left) start in 867, and the next three in 1066. Each of them is also set in specific historical era and you can choose between the most important characters relevant to the given events.
At the bottom of the screen, you can set the difficulty level (3) and special game rules (4). There are three difficulty levels to choose from: very easy, easy and normal. The difficulty level you select affects a number of statistics related mainly to random events and internal politics (check out the difficulty levels page). As such, the difficulty level doesn't alter the availability of resources, the strength of your army or the AI's behavior. All these aspects remain the same whether you choose to play on the easy or normal difficulty level. For this reason, I suggest that you start playing on normal mode right away, as the game was designed with this setting in mind and it's this mode that offers the most complete experience. Remember that failures are an integral part of the fun in Crusader Kings 3 and through them, you will gradually learn more and more about the nuances of medieval politics.
The game rules settings, as noted by the developers themselves, allow you to modify the gameplay to slightly reduce historical accuracy. Here, you will be able to decide, among other things, to randomly distribute rulers or religions, modify some historical events or aspects of the law of inheritance (more on the game rules page). Remember that changing the rules of the game may affect the availability of certain achievements. On the right side, at the bottom of the screen, you can also activate the Ironman mode (5). It disables the option to freely select the character during the playthrough and to save the game manually. The game saves automatically every six months of in-game time and upon quitting the game. Achievements can only be obtained in Ironman mode. The final pages of this chapter contain a full list of the game rules that can be modified and a detailed description of all the difficulty levels.
Free ruler selection
The last important element of the ruler selection window is the icon of a grayed out character with the caption play as any Ruler. As the name suggests, this option allows you to play as literally any character on the map. New players should definitely consider choosing one of the scenario's suggested rulers, but after completing a few campaigns, this mode will open up the real possibilities of the game. Once you have selected a ruler, the game's actual map will load. In the lower right corner of the screen, you can go back to the previous window by pressing the Back button, or open the game in online mode. Then, you can choose a random character (Radom Character button) or start playing in spectator mode. To select the ruler of a specific kingdom, simply click on it on the main map.
Keep in mind that in this mode, the map is fully interactive and you can use all the available previews. These will be discussed in more detail later in the guide, but it's worth using them to find out about the religious or cultural situation in the region that interests you.
When you select a kingdom or principality, its territory will be highlighted and you will be able to see the coats of arms in the area. Each of them corresponds to one playable dynasty, with the size of the coat of arms corresponding to the position of that dynasty in the feudal ladder. The smallest coats of arms correspond to counties, the larger ones to principalities, while the largest ones indicate kingdoms and empires.
By clicking on one of the smaller coats of arms (1), you can view the division of the country into administrative units. Again, the coats of arms in the selected area represent the vassals of the chosen ruler, and the yellow line (2) indicates their senior. If you don't see a yellow line, the ruler you have selected is independent.
After choosing the ruler, information about them will be displayed on the right side of the screen. The list includes their traits (3), titles (4), rightful successor (5), as well as their religion and culture (6). In the lower right corner, you can also set the game difficulty (7) and change the game settings (8).