There are a huge number of rulers to choose from in Crusader Kings 3, and looking at the map it can get a bit overwhelming. Of course, choose the character who most resonates with you - if you want to shag your way to a horny gang of Estonian giants, no one's stopping you.
We've put together some suggestions if you're stuck though. Here's the best rulers to pick at the start of CK3, in both 867 and 1066.
Starting characters for 867
Sultan Yahya II ibn Yahya of the Idrisid Sultanate
Sultan Yahya starts with a lovely chunk of land in North Africa, and will often begin games with a lovely high Diplomacy stat. It’s random each time, but he’s likely to be pretty good with the ol’ foreign affairs. In addition, you hold a solid early army of over 1000 soldiers, which can easily be bolstered by Yahya’s ability to take multiple concubines and secure alliances that way.
He also has the ‘Sayyid’ inheritable trait, thanks to the Blood of the Prophet in his veins, giving him +5 opinion with those who share his faith. This can be inherited by heirs as well. Your early game will often also consist of many wars, since Yahya has a lot of casus bellis to invoke. De jure attacks, holy war, or just straight up invasions can give you solid early expansion, and your young age of 21 means your reign will likely be long and fruitful if you’re careful.
High Chieftess Daurama of Kano
Daurama is a brilliant starter for something a little different. Early on in her campaign, you can disavow male dominance in her area and put in place a more matriarchal social structure. Her husband is a powerful ally and will help you in early campaigns, but if you’re smart enough, with Daurama’s high diplomacy stat, you might just be able to make female succession work in a world that’s vehemently against it.
Of course, the challenges you’ll come across are unique, but it’s well worth a shot if you fancy the diplomacy route. You can raid neighbours, create a new religion around your ideals, and take numerous consorts in order to rewrite history in favour of Daurama’s legacy.
Jarl Dyre ‘the Stranger’ of Könugarðr
This guy’s a bit down on his luck. Disinherited from his dynasty and a bastard, you might think Jarl Dyre is a rough guy to start with. However, he’s got a lot going for him. With a great stat spread across the board and young age, as well as the congenital Genius trait, he’ll get a lot of advantages in most aspects of his reign. You can also use this stat boost to educate your children excellently, offering them stat growth and helping them follow in your footsteps.
It’s a fun game to play, whether you decide to take your place back in your old dynasty or forge your own path. The bastard child of a powerful dynasty is a precarious place to be, and your dad’s all the way over in England, so you’ll have to find a way to make things work on your own.
Starting rulers for 1066
Earl Murchad mac Diarmait of Dublin
Starting in Dublin as Earl Murchad mac Diarmait will give you a similar experience as the game’s tutorial, but this time you’re in control of the capital. Don’t worry about your comparatively small amount of land - your dad is 71 years old and controls Leinster, and upon his death you’re his heir.
Dublin has solid development growth, faster than many of your rivals in Ireland, and is a great starting point for those of you without much CK3 or grand strategy experience. It’ll go perfectly with a side of our beginner’s guide to Crusader Kings 3 too, so be sure to give that a look!
King Sancho II ‘the Strong’ of Castille
Sancho is a strong ruler. His outrageous number of title claims (18 at the start of the game) and good military potential mean you can get down to business nice and early, invading neighbouring lands with casus bellis for days. He has a strong martial stat, letting him raise troops and invade immediately, giving you the chance to unite a huge chunk of Spain right away.
The best bit though? You are the direct heir to León and Galicia, meaning if you bump off both of your brothers, you can immediately take control with minimal blood spilt, before taking your newly increased troops and charging into the territory of your cousins and other neighbours. Be careful of King Alfonso VI ‘the Brave’ of León though - he’s got a high intrigue stat so it’ll be tougher to murder him with a scheme.
Sancho is a great starter for a military-focused player, with the opportunity to become very powerful early in the game and consolidate that power throughout the years. Remember though, your beloved brothers will probably be trying to kill you too, so check out our guide on how to raise levies in CK3 for tips on avoiding this aggression.
Thakur Vijayabahu of Rohana
This guy has absolutely mountains of Special Soldiers, and begins at war taking part in the Sinhalese Rebellion. With over 4000 soldiers available, you can easily claim victory and claim an absolutely ludicrous amount of territory. From here, you can look to expand North through India, gaining allies through marriage and betrothal and boosting your fame throughout the world.
Thakur Vijayabahu is a great choice for 1066 thanks to his ability for quick expansion and strong lineage. Be careful though - the initial war is far from a gimme. Get some early alliances and invite them to your war effort and you’ll be able to take some chunks out of the Chola kingdom, as well as immediately create a Raja (a Duchy-level title) in your homeland. After winning the war, you can create the Kingdom of Lanka, and from there you’ll be well on your way to a great deal of power.