As your dynasty in Crusader Kings 3 becomes more and more renowned, you’ll start to earn special benefits. These “dynasty legacies” provide various skill bonuses and abilities to your dynasty, from the lowliest knight to your continent-ruling emperor. To help you make the most of your hard work, we’ve put together this ranking of the best dynasty legacies in CK3!
These legacies can get pretty spendy — the first tradition costs 250 renown, and the cost goes up by 500 for each subsequent upgrade. We hope this list will help you determine where to spend your hard-earned renown first.
Best Dynasty Legacies in CK3, Ranked
Let’s jump right into our ranking of CK3’s best dynasty legacies!
Customs — Royal Court DLC
Before we touch on any of the main-game legacies, we should talk about the five different DLC legacies. Since these are walled behind paid content, they’ll be inaccessible for most players. The Customs legacy is largely based on cultural acceptance and using the “Learn Language” scheme.
Languages are very helpful for diplomatic rulers, or anyone running a more peaceful playthrough. They help immensely with relations to foreign rulers, your own vassals, and the people who live in your empire. These upgrades will all help your descendants be accepted by the denizens of their various empires — perfect for a Dynasty of Many Crowns playthrough in CK3.
The first two upgrades improve various aspects of learning languages, which prove invaluable in a multicultural empire. Three upgrades give you a free weak hook on each leader of another culture when you turn them into a landed ruler.
Investing into all five upgrades will unlock the “Celebrate Other Cultures” decision. It provides a 15% discount on new building construction, along with bonuses to development and control, and a flat +5 advantage to defense for your entire realm. This is a fantastic decision to pop right after you’ve annexed a huge amount of multicultural territory. Once you’ve done so, you can rapidly turn it all into profitable land that you can more easily defend.
For this to work, you need each other culture within your empire to have 75% acceptance with the realm culture of the player character. It also costs 30 gold plus an additional 10 for each eligible county. In a big empire, this gold cost can add up quickly, but it’s well worth unlocking.
Northern Lords DLC — Adventure & Pillage
These two legacies are unlocked by the Northern Lords DLC, which focuses on Scandinavian cultures and Varangian Adventurers. Vikings are already huge facets of the game in 867, almost always becoming a problem early on for any of their neighbors, whether from sharing a land border or just being unfortunate enough to have any coastal land whatsoever.
There are two legacies unlocked by this DLC, only accessible for rulers of the Nordic cultures or their descendants. If you unlock either of these and then change to another culture, you can continue to unlock the rest of the trees.
The Adventure tree has a wide range of effects, all of which are specifically helpful for Vikings. An increase in your diplomatic range lets you declare wars from further away, and gives you extra troops if you use the Varangian Adventure casus belli to declare war. The second upgrade makes romance schemes both more effective and rewarding.
The third upgrade here makes it easier to coexist with or convert to neighboring religions. This helps when it comes time to accept a new Christian culture on your way to becoming a feudal lord. The fourth legacy gives an insane 100% bonus towards supply duration for your troops, letting them raid for twice as long without running out of food or weapons. It also grants a slight boost to their movement speed to help you escape enemy armies. The final bonus gives a small range of bonuses and unlocks the “befriend” scheme for every member of your dynasty, helping form stronger bonds all the way down your family tree.
The other unlockable is the Pillage legacy. Centered entirely around raiding, the first upgrade for this makes your ships faster, letting you strike quicker when paired with the longships your culture already possesses. Use this upgrade to hit enemy cities far down the rivers of Europe. It also doubles the prestige and fame reward for winning in combat, encouraging you to fight as often as possible. The second upgrade gives you some defender bonuses, along with the ability to recruit more heavy infantry regiments (an incredible perk in the dark and bloody early days of 867). It also lets your raiders carry more loot around so they can pillage for longer.
The third upgrade lets you capture more prisoners and increases your ransom values. You can fund an entire kingdom on ransom gold if you plan it properly! The fourth increases how many enemy casualties occur during fights, and grants you a gold bonus for how many casualties you inflict. Almost no other bonuses in the game actively encourage you to deplete the enemy troops like the Pillage tree does. The final bonus relates to siege warfare, cutting the average time of a siege down by a whopping 1/4. It also lets you retain more control over your land if it is occupied during a siege or raided by your neighbors. This allows you to focus more on offensive maneuvers while leaving your own territory open to surprise attacks.
Fate of Iberia DLC — Metropolitan & Coterie
The Fate of Iberia DLC introduces its own independent mechanics regarding the struggle between religious factions in the Iberian Peninsula. It also introduces a couple new legacies you can pick from, although their use is even more limited than the raid-focused builds of the Northern Lords DLC. These two legacies can only be used by rulers who have a house head with an Iberian heritage or a realm capital located in Iberia. Once the first piece of either has been unlocked, the trees will stay open for that dynasty through the rest of the game.
The first new addition from this DLC is the Metropolitan legacy. This improves the benefits of owning cities. You’ll maximize the benefits of this particular addition if you choose rulers from the Catalonian culture, who start the game with the Parochialism benefit. This makes it more beneficial to build cities from the get-go. The first addition from the legacy chain raises county development by 20% per city, which can rapidly help you build tall in Iberia.
Next, your entire dynasty gets a chance to receive stewardship or learning education traits. This boosts how quickly your family is able to progress through the tradition trees or hold more territory. The third upgrade drops all building or city constructions by 10%, a nice simple upgrade that can stack with anyone using a stewardship tree.
The fourth level gives you +150 renown each time a city-holding building is completed. If you’ve assigned members of your dynasty to run cities across your realm, this will stack rapidly to help you advance down the trees. It also gives you a chance at recruiting a guest each time you finish a city building, hopefully helping to round out your royal court or bring new knights to your side. Finally, the “Expand Cities” decision allows you to pay to expand all the cities that are within your personal counties. You can only do this every fifty years, but you’ll likely only ever need to do this twice, since cities can’t have more than five slots. But since the previous upgrade gives you perks for constructing new buildings anyway, this pick stacks very well.
The next dynasty legacy unlocked by this DLC is Coterie. These bonuses allow house members to help each other in more diverse and dynamic ways, and also improve the functions of your royal court. Its first big upgrade is to remove the cost of keeping your own house members in court positions. This can add up to a pretty hefty amount of gold in the early game. Next, you’ll gain a 10% bonus towards your own skills based on the primary skill of your councilors, so long as they’re members of your house. This encourages you to keep a big family around and avoid letting them splinter into cadet branches.
Next, your entire dynasty gains the ability to call other house members to war. This helps you keep a united front even if you aren’t the dynasty head. This gives a +10 opinion bonus among all house members to keep those bonds tight, while also giving a renown award each time the house head does call members to war. Legacy 4 unlocks “Share Secrets,” which lets you pass valuable information to your house members to help them with their schemes. Lastly, the fifth upgrade allows you to disinherit your own children, even in situations where you normally couldn’t. This can possibly help you avoid a terribly flawed ruler in favor of a strong sibling.
Let’s move onto the base game legacies. Law is near the bottom of our list because of its relatively limited applications. It focuses on keeping your realm happy, either through direct vassal opinion buffs or boosts to various actions that make you more popular. If you’re building tall, you’ll want to take the Law tree for the benefits it provides towards taxation and construction.
First off, you gain a flat +5 benefit towards popular opinion. This mechanic determines how much the peasants in the fields appreciate your rule and accept you as their proper ruler. The higher your popular rule, the less likely your citizens are to rebel against you at inopportune times. This first upgrade also makes the “feast” and “hunt” decisions cheaper by 30%, letting you build up a lot of prestige and respect from your vassals.
The next benefit provides a bonus towards control gain in all the counties your dynasty owns, along with a 20% discount towards creating new titles. This can help you expand your territory more rapidly. The third benefit is ideal for steward-centric dynasties, giving you an extra 10% experience in that field, along with a 5% discount on all building and holding constructions. This adds up to thousands of gold by the game’s end.
Legacy 4 provides you with a direct opinion bonus with “Powerful” vassals. You’ll always have a number of powerful vassals — keeping them happy suppresses rebellions without needing to assign them to your council. This bonus also makes the powerful vassals on your council more effective at their jobs, providing a 10% bonus towards their output.
The most powerful bonus from this tree is its fifth legacy, where you gain a +5 controlled territory defense advantage, along with an extra holding towards your domain limit. This is invaluable for letting you consolidate your rule under house members, since every one of them will be able to control an extra domain.
Glory helps you maintain relations with foreign or domestic rulers via boosts to your diplomatic capabilities. Across the board, Glory helps other houses view yours as people they want to work with, improving the opinions of various other figures. If you plan on having a lot of vassals or running an expansive empire, Glory can be a helpful choice.
The first upgrade for Glory simply raises the marriage acceptance rate for any marriage offered by your house by +30. This lets you marry upward into powerful positions. You’ll never need to accept a marriage with a commoner anymore, letting you hold on to more prestige. Next, you gain an extra knight, plus some extra prestige and a 10% discount on mercenaries. This group of bonuses is seemingly out of place with the rest of the Glory tree, but is still welcome. If you have the Royal Court DLC, it also doubles the change rate of your Court Grandeur.
The third upgrade gives you more diplomacy experience, and increases the power of your personal schemes like “Sway” or “Befriend.” You should always have at least one personal scheme operating, and these will bring everyone on your side a little quicker.
The fourth Glory upgrade is helpful for keeping a big realm together. You get +10 towards your vassal limit, letting you keep a lot of smaller, weaker vassals contending with each other instead of yourself. It also reduces the “short reign” duration by 20%, an opinion debuff your rulers will receive for the early years of their rule. Additionally, it makes it harder for your vassals to join various rebellion factions and provides another bonus to Court Grandeur. The fifth and final upgrade grants +10 to the general opinion of pretty much everybody, while also letting your entire dynasty go through with two “Sway” schemes at once, keeping them beloved with everybody important across the realms.
Next up on our list of the best dynasty legacies in CK3 is Kin. This legacy is all about having a big, healthy family. The upgrades are all centered around fertility and health, which are essential for pushing your characters into the max age range. This is a great pick for the mid-game once you’ve established some more organized inheritance laws, ensuring your massive family unites your empire instead of fracturing it.
The first Kin tree upgrade is a 10% fertility bonus for the entire dynasty, as well as a +5 attraction modifier. This makes every member of your dynasty more physically attractive — another boost towards fertility, marriage acceptance, and pulling off Seduce schemes. Next, you gain a bonus from children of the dynasty towards their parents, helping you form inter-generational alliances and reducing the chances of a young claimant trying to attack you. You also gain a +2–3 educational bonus for each dynasty member. This bonus can stack over generations, with each successive generation becoming a better set of teachers than the last.
The next upgrade makes spouses of this dynasty like them a little bit more, which functions as yet another fertility boost. It also cuts the chances of a complication during pregnancy by 25% and gives you a general boost to health and resistance to disease. This will cut the general mortality of your house members down, helping to avoid the loss of children before they’re old enough to rule and have kids of their own. Legacy 4 gives you a +10 bonus to closer family members’ opinions, a +5 bonus to the same stat with your entire dynasty, and a +30% chance towards personal scheme success with your own dynasty members. Pairing this with parts of the “Glory” tree or a series of diplomatic specialists can feel like a cheat code for holding a large realm together.
The last upgrade makes your elder dynasty members hold on to more power, gaining a random skill point at age 30 and every five years afterward. They also never lose prowess from aging, staying powerful warriors well into their 70s. This perk also has a visual cue, with your house members visibly aging slower than others.
Guile concerns itself with some of the darker elements of the game, particularly the Intrigue tree and its murderous connotations. It improves how well you can work with concepts like Dread. A house invested heavily into Guile will tend towards displays of intimidation rather than acceptance. Guile is a great pick if you want to dive deep into the bloodiest aspects of this game like murder and torture with any kind of frequency, instead of just letting one ruler with “The Impaler” nickname do it.
First, you get a bonus to Dread, with every house member gaining a +15 natural Dread factor. Scars or the albino gene can stack with this natural Dread, too. Additionally, you get a +20% bonus towards Dread gain from all other sources, so executing or torturing captured rulers will result in even more intimidation toward your vassals.
The second legacy effect gives every hostile scheme a higher chance of success and cuts the cost of bribing agents in half. Bribing agents can radically enhance the success chance of a scheme, especially if you get ahold of someone important like a spouse, doctor, or cup-bearer. The third effect gives a 10% buff toward intrigue experience, enhancing generations of assassins, as well as a +15% buff towards scheme secrecy so even an unsuccessful scheme can still go undetected.
The fourth gives you a +10% bonus towards the taxes you receive from intimidated vassals, with a double bonus if they’re terrified instead. It will also allow your “tyranny” stat to decay gradually, so you’re free to simply take land from your least obedient subjects, especially if you’ve already taken efforts towards scaring them. The last bonus will help with this significantly as well, by doubling the chances of any interaction being successful towards an intimidated vassal. This includes revoking their land or throwing them into prison without cause. It also will give you a solid chance at preventing the murder of any dynasty member, helping you avoid a cycle of assassinations.
Erudition concerns itself the most with the Learning tree. It affects the faith and piety-based mechanics more than the other dynasty legacies in CK3, while also giving you some perks toward getting better and more skilled guests in your court. It’s one of the absolute best trees due to its well-roundedness, especially once you’re past the earlier parts of the game where constant warfare is the norm.
The first Erudition perk is rather lackluster, simply giving your guests a better opinion of you and making them cheaper to recruit. Guests can be helpful to fill court positions or open up new paths for warfare. Next, you gain a 10% bonus to piety for your entire dynasty, as well as a better opinion from the clergy. The third upgrade gives every dynasty member a 10% bonus toward Learning, which will help you advance the traditions of your culture as rapidly as possible. It also gives you a 20% bonus towards development growth, one of the best bonuses in the entire game.
The fourth addition concerns faith in its entirety, making faith creation and reform cheaper. The format of your religion will determine what specific bonuses you’ll receive here, but they can range from a faith hostility advantage against opposing religions to a bonus with your head of faith if they’re a Spiritual Head or just more tax collection from followers of your religion. The fifth upgrade from Erudition makes all of your councilors accomplish their tasks 10% more effectively. This can let you convert more of your land to match your own culture and religion much more quickly.
War is such an essential part of the game, whether you plan on waging wars of expansion or just defending from your political rivals attempting to take your own land. The Warfare tree concerns itself entirely with martial matters, whether that means commanding armies, fighting in single combat, or recruiting your own men-at-arms as a ruler.
The first martial upgrade you get from this lineage is a flat +2 prowess towards every member of the dynasty, as well as a 15% bonus toward knight effectiveness. Knights are especially deadly in the early game, and the prowess buff makes your family members better knights themselves. The next upgrade makes you better at pursuing an enemy army after a victory, and your armies will engage in retreats more efficiently after a loss. You also get to declare wars for 20% less prestige or piety.
The third upgrade is essential for warrior bloodlines, giving you some extra martial skill, along with a chance to gain prowess each time someone in your dynasty fights as a knight. Your dynasty knights will also get a 25% lower chance to die or be wounded in combat. Level 4 of the Warfare tree gives you a higher counter efficiency with your men-at-arms. If you’ve already planned the composition of your armies properly for the terrain and opponents you’re facing, this bonus can give you a huge edge. It also provides a +5 advantage for all of your dynasty commanders.
The fifth and final bonus unlocks a powerful, unique set of Heavy Infantry called House Guards, and gives you a free men-at-arms regiment slot. House Guards are free to maintain when they haven’t been raised, saving you quite a bit of money while also providing every dynasty member with some powerful troops to back them up.
Ultimately, the most powerful legacy relates to keeping the bloodline of your family as strong as possible. Topping our list of the best dynasty legacies in CK3 is Blood. This legacy gives you chances to apply and receive various buffs, from “Genius” to “Beautiful” to “Herculean.” What’s more, you can activate a particular decision called “Strengthen Bloodline” if you can get behind a player character with one of all three positive traits.
The first Blood upgrade gives you a 30% chance to spontaneously generate any of these positive traits when a new dynasty member is born, as well as a 30% higher chance that children will inherit traits. The second upgrade also gives a 30% chance to reinforce congenital traits, including the chance that two parents with the same trait can grant their child an upgraded version. The next upgrade is perhaps the most valuable, providing a 30% reduced chance of inheriting or generating negative congenital traits like “Ugly” or “Slow.”
The fourth upgrade lets you pick from among a list of various traits, some of which are arguably bad but still provide some remote benefit that you could capitalize on, like adding albino congenital traits for the Dread bonus. Fecund is a great pick here, just because it will help your dynasty multiply the most. The final upgrade gives your entire dynasty +5 to their life expectancy — always welcome when you have a brilliant, beautiful, and physically powerful series of rulers!
Join the High Ground!
Picking the best dynasty legacies for your empire will depend on how you want to play in CK3, but every player wants a series of powerful rulers. Applying this list when you’re first starting out with the game can definitely speed up your progress as you conquer your feudal neighbors, raid the shores of Europe, or reform a religion on the Indian subcontinent. Let us know your thoughts on our ranking in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.