Best Crusader Kings 2 mods

Crusader Kings 2 [official site] is (somehow) now five years old. Adam raised a glass to its humour and humanity last month in celebration of its half-decade anniversary, so I thought I’d delve into its modding community to mark the occasion too.

Much like the digital empires depicted in-game, many of its mods have risen and fallen since my last visit, however the following list sends the best into battle. Given how involved CK 2 can be at times, I’ve tried my best to link videos where possible so as to properly showcase each mod’s worth. Enjoy!

NB – Note that some mods can only be accessed via Paradox forum accounts. You’ll have access assuming you own the game, so remember to sign in.

CK2Generator

By yemmlie

Let’s start with a wild card. A wild card, not in the sense that the CK2 Generator mod is temperamental, but that it’s intentionally unpredictable. Last year, Adam rightly compared yemmlie’s work to Dwarf Fortress in that instead of portraying the world as we know it against what the history books might tell us, CK2 Generator spawns an entirely new history of humankind from scratch.

In turn, this lets you grow your own entirely fictitious societies and landmasses and watch them procedurally generate before your eyes. Like Dwarf Fortress, you’re free to transfer your new creations over into Crusader Kings 2 and watch them take flight further still.

“Basically the tool will generate, from scratch, a completely new history of humanity from its first exodus from Africa as a new mod to be playable in CK2,” explains yemmlie. “These cultures will then spread throughout Europe, mutating and changing as they spread, words and language, religions, ethnicity, cultural ideals, laws, looting, river sailing, incest, religious heads, holy sites, wives, concubines and everything, all morphing, mutating and branching off as humans spread through time and land.”

A Game of Thrones

By CK2:AGOT Development Team

Sticking with fictional landscapes, CK 2’s A Game of Thrones has been going since 2012 and brings the famous book series and television show’s bounds to Paradox’s historical grand strategy. It expectedly intertwines George R.R. Martin’s fantasy drama with the game, however also tweaks its base mechanics so that the realm is less likely to fragment into multiple kingdoms over time – in turn in-keeping with its inspiration, as players vie singularly for the Iron Throne.

At present, the A Game of Thrones team has designed the mod so that players can kick things off up to 300 years before Aegon’s Conquest, all the way through to the beginning of The Feast of Crows – Martin’s fourth book. The A Game of Thrones mod featured on RPS’ list of the best total conversion mods last month.

Elder Kings

By Elder Kings Dev Team

From Westeros to Morrowind: the Elder Kings total conversion mod transports the world of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series to Crusader Kings 2. Set in wider Tamriel, Elder Kings sees players take control of “one of the many fledgling countries of the Interregnum,” so reads the mod’s description.

While still in development (and probably due an update), Elder Kings boasts two playable scenarios both contained within the series lore’s Second Empire. The Interregnum takes place towards the end of this era with Cyrodiil in disrepute following the emporer’s murder. The Colovian, the Nibenese, the Bosmer, and the Argonians are but some of the races locking horns here in a bid to conquer Tamriel. The Kamal Invasion, on the other hand, follows on and sees the Kamal Snow Demons invading Tamriel for the first time, and the fallout this incurs from the Akaviris, the Nords, and the rest of the realm. A Fourth Empire scenario – Skyrim’s The Stormcloak Rebellion – has been in the works for some time.

NB – as this is a work in progress, its creators warn bugs may be present. It’s perhaps worth bearing this in mind before installing.

Middle Earth Project

By CK2: MEP Team

I swear we’ll get back to the real world soon. But if Game of Thrones and the Elder Scrolls are a shoe-in for Crusader Kings 2 total conversions, then so too must be Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Featuring bookmarks throughout the Third Age, this ‘un’s map covers the main areas of Middle-earth as it’s known in the books and films.

“Will you play as the descendant of one of the noble families of Rohan or Gondor?” asks the mod’s creators. “Will you try to reforge the ancient kingdoms of Elves in Eriador? Or will you try to destroy all the Free Peoples, and claim Middle Earth for Morgoth?”

Whatever you answer above, the Middle Earth Project offers seven races – Humans, Hobbits, Dwarves, Orcs/Goblins, Elves, Nazguls/Sauron, and the Istari – and five scenarios by way of The Last Alliance, The Fall of Arnor, The Kinstrife, The War of the Ring, and The New Shadow. If you’re familiar with LotR lore, you can probably guess what some of those entail, however full details of what they’re all about can be found in this direction.

Crusader Kings Z

By Korbah

Besides being a pretty brilliant and intuitive mod, Crusader Kings Z has a fun story too. After Paradox released a teaser for the fictional Crusader Kings Z as an April Fools’ Day joke in 2013, modder Korbah (who is also involved in Elder Kings mentioned above) decided to make it A Real Thing.

The result is something similar to Paradox’s own Sunset Invasion DLC as it creates an alternate timeline for it events to unfold within. At some stage after the year 1000 AD an unexplained zombie outbreak occurs in Ethiopia which quickly spreads from Africa to Europe. Enter you, the player, and supposed world saviour as you scramble to form armies strong enough to combat the spreading infection and restore peace and, you know, humanity to the world after ridding the globe of the walking dead. If it feels like zombies are in everything these days, that’s because they are. But they’re also good fun.

When The World Stopped Making Sense

By Enlil

While it could be argued 2017 fits this bill more than any other era to date, Enlil’s When The World Stopped Making Sense is a lovely mod which reinterprets the Migration Period at any date between 476 AD – which aligns with the fall of the Western Roman Empire – and 700 AD. From here, players can play through till the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire centuries later in 1453 AD.

This is definitely one for the history buffs and while other Crusader Kings 2 Dark Ages mods tend to follow a typically predictable historically-accurate arc, When The World Stopped Making Sense allows for more player autonomy as you craft yet another alternative timeline. It’s still in development, however ten multi-century-spanning bookmarks are planned in total.

CK2+

By CK2Plus Team

Perhaps the most essential Crusader Kings 2 mod available for those after a challenge – CK2+ changes host of things about the base game with the aim of “deepening the CK2 experience”. In practice, this means making the base game more challenging without straying too far from what makes it enjoyable. Historical accuracy somewhat takes a backseat along the way, but the upshot is a more involved game.

For example, one of the most obvious tweaks CK2+ brings with it is the reduction of vassal limits. In turn this means managing larger empires is significantly more difficult, and makes the decision to increase Crown Authority far more important. Retinues are also smaller, thus more difficult to maintain, and the usefulness of technologies has been capped.

Furthermore, more considerations have been applied to factions, meaning they now bore more common interests. “Do they want peace and wealth?” asks the mod’s creators. “Do they want a strong ruler with lots of prestige? Do they want a pious ruler who doesn’t change from the old ways?” These changes mean there’s less chance of players gaining wider personal power, as they become more reliant on vassals.

No Hassles Vassals

By MonteCristo

Speaking of vassals, MonteCristo’s No Hassles Vassals is a simple but very effective mod which lets players distribute both county and barony titles with just one click. This is likely one which needs to be experienced in order to appreciate its worth, however NHV uses targeted decisions which in turn means you’re no longer required to run with your rule from one county to the next.

I’m actually going to turn you over to YouTube person Arumba here, who does a fine job of talking us through exactly what this one’s all about:

After the End

By Ofaloaf

While I’ve enjoyed watching the world burn several times in Ofaloaf’s After the End mod, part of me worries it’s more prophetic than I’ve given it credit for. As depicted elsewhere on this list, Crusader Kings 2 is perfect for recreating alternate histories, fantasy or otherwise, however this one opts for an arguably more ominous alternative future. We know that didn’t happen in the past, but this could happen in the future, right?

Hopefully not, because after an Extinction Level Event of cataclysmic proportions years prior, the world as we know it in the year 2666 has apparently gone to shit. North America now attempts to rebuild its disconnected societies – which sees a host of new-age cultures on the rise, as players get to grips with over 900 provinces, 25 kingdoms, four republics, one theocracy, five tribes and 14 religions.

“The setting also allows for the introduction of salvaged modern technology in the mostly neo-medieval setting and several invasions and events that change the game-world as time goes by,” reads the mod’s description. Ominous.

Honourable Mentions

RIP – Realm Intrigue & Politics
By ManiacTehGreat

While the contents of this list so far has focused on CK 2 total conversions, ManiacTehGreat’s RIP targets some of the game’s finer details. Well worth your time.

CPRplus – Cultures and Portraits Revamped
By Silverino

Make everyone pretty.

Fantasy!
By JordanDoes

Make everyone not so pretty.

Unique Buildings
By Morrolan

Adds a host of neat historical buildings and monuments to the game.

Bloodline
By Dorimi

Inherit your own bloodlines.

Secret Society
By JordanDoes

Shhhhh.

And so concludes our battle chest of Crusader King 2 mods, fit for toppling kings, conquering nations and winning wars. But what mods were lost on the field? Herald your own favourites in the comments below.

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9 Comments

  1. Dezztroy says:

    Not even a mention of Geheimnisnacht? That’s crazy.

  2. TheOx129 says:

    Good list (always glad to see a plug for After the End), but I think Geheimnisnacht, the Historical Immersion Project, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms mods deserve some attention, too. Also, while still rather early in development, the Tianxia mod looks promising as well.

    Also, while I know I can just download it and see for myself, does anyone who’s more acquainted with When the World Stopped Making Sense have any thoughts on the mod? Late Antiquity is one of my favorite periods in history, so I was very excited when the mod was first announced; but I remember losing interest when a lot of forum discussion from the mod team seemed to revolve around weird fixations with the “butterfly effect” (in practice, this meant interminable discussions about the dozens of melting pot cultures that needed to be created to reflect all the potential migrations) and making sure there were plenty of ways to restore Rome (e.g., as Soissons, Julius Nepos, etc.) rather than trying to simulate the period as best they could given the limitations of the engine and game mechanics.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Captain Narol says:

    Great list, good job Joe !

    I need to point out that AGOT total conversion is even better than vanilla CK2, and it’s someone addicted to CK2 who is saying that (2117 hours at today’s count).

    @TheOx129

    WTWSMS is at version 0.99 and seems very good, having integrated some ancient religions (druidism, hellenism, etc…) that had disappeared already at the vanilla starting dates.

    It’s compatible with 2.6.3 but not yet with 2.7 and MnM, the team is currently working on it.

    I have dowloaded it but not played yet as I have a interesting vanilla campaign to finish first… (my Russian Empire is attacked by Aztecs on the west and Mongols in the east, gonna be a fun endgame ride)

  4. piss says:

    SKELETONS

  5. Arglebargle says:

    No Lux Invicta? By far my favorite ‘Alternate Reality’ mod, with deep and clever modifications of game mechanics and history. Every important figure in history has a lineage represented somewhere. Comes complete with a Deus Otiosus original designer, and horde of acolytes carrying on the good work.

    The Winter King was also an interesting CK2 iteration of the Dark Ages, based on a published source.

    That Alternate history CK2 generator is new to me, and pretty enticing. Must download.

    I haven’t actually played a non modded CK2 in thousands of hours of playtime. Be it an Alexandrian dynasty from Cyprus controlling the Eastern Mediterranean basin, to 500 years of Targaryen rule, it’s been interesting CK2 convolution for me.

  6. Fiatil says:

    CK2 Generator looks amazing. It may be time to CK2 again, though I also now really want it ported to EU4 and HoI4

  7. Neutrino says:

    Are there no mods that improve the combat, logistics or economy aspects of the game, as for a strategy game those are woeful (i.e. non-existent).

    • carewolf says:

      Adding new systems to a game with a mod is a lot more difficult than adding new content.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Martell says:

    I’ve been a reader of Martin’s ASoIaF series since 1996 (pre-publication galley proof) and despite the feverish fandom, mods based on that series have had lukewarm interest at best, even in games like CK1, M2TW and M&B, where it should’ve been natural fits. This despite the books being bestsellers globally for decades.

    Then the HBO series came out, and boom.

    While this could be taken as a sad commentary on the dearth of readers in today’s world, I guess I also feel grateful for the torrent of high quality material we’re getting for free, since, you know, Martin spends his days rolling around in a huge pile of cash nowadays and not actually writing. /madmuttering