Crusader Kings 3 Education Guide: Guardians, Wards, and Universities

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Crusader Kings 3 Education Guide: Guardians, Wards, and Universities

Crusader Kings 3 is a game that immerses players in the complexities of medieval politics, succession, religious exploitation, and warfare. Players need to keep their lineage strong, enabling their heirs to take control of the realm in effective and varied ways. One such way is the concept of guardianship, where your child is entrusted to the care of an adult, usually a parent, who will shape their upbringing and education. We’ve put together this CK3 Education Guide to explore the ins and outs of guardianship and wards, along with determining whether or not founding a new university is worth all the trouble.

Put on your thinking crown, and we’ll break down the entire system of education and the ramifications it can have on your empire.

Guardians and Wards

Choosing an education focus in CK3
Choosing your education focus is underrated and hard to find in the game. Look for the small set of arrows on the left of the child’s portrait. | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

In Crusader Kings 3, every child character should be assigned a guardian when they are young. The guardian is responsible for the child’s education, which includes developing their skills and traits. The guardian’s skills and traits will determine the education focus that the child receives. For example, if the guardian has high martial skills, the child may receive a martial education, providing a bonus to both fighting in wars and in combat as a knight or duelist.

Ward Benefits

Taking on your nieces and nephews as your own wards can ensure a powerful and diverse lineage. | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

Wards have alternative uses beyond just education. When you give one of your children over as a ward or take on someone else’s children as a guardian, you’ll have an opportunity to convert the child to the religion or culture of their new guardian. You can use this to subtly shape the world around you by taking in future leaders of neighboring realms and altering their preferences to become more viable allies in the future.

Additionally, when you have a child as a ward, you’ll get opportunities to gain “Stress” in order to change their adult personality traits. This can let you shape an heir with the right foundation of a personality to rule. For example, you could get a chance to replace a “Sadistic” trait with a “Just” one to make your next ruler more popular among their citizenry, or perhaps the other way around if you know they’re going to need to do a lot of murder plots to stay in power.

You also gain fairly significant relations boost with the parents of anyone you take on as a ward. You can even spend hooks to force someone to take a ward of yours or to allow you to become the guardian of their children. This can be used for all sorts of long-term schemes to unify large swaths of territory or undermine your hostile neighbors. A lot of the best starts in Crusader Kings 3 come with a large family under your control so you can place wards as you see fit.

Matching Guardians to Wards

Britain map and character menu
A genius educator is always your best bet. | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

The best guardians are strong in whatever skills you want to be imparted to your wards, along with having a high Learning skills. Matching guardians to wards will depend most on the personalities of the wards. Their childhood personality trait needs to be matched to the type of education they receive in order to maximize the skill bonuses they receive during childhood.

You can set an education focus for your wards until the age of six. This lets you choose what kind of education they’ll receive in an even more precise way. Education focuses can significantly impact the child’s future in CK3, since education provides a massive XP bonus if you choose the corresponding lifestyle path for your ruler. This XP bonus allows you to unlock more perks and abilities than if you choose a lifestyle you have less education in.

Pair your future rulers with guardians that will maximize their skill gains, so that one day they can pass this education down to the next generation of rulers. It’s worth noting all this instruction goes out the window if you have access to a guardian with the Genius trait. A genius with low skills will likely still provide a better education than a character of normal intellect.

Founding A University

Founding a university in CK3
Founding a university gives you the “Scholar” title on top of all the other bonuses! | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

The next piece of our CK3 education guide is universities. Universities are institutions that you can build in certain provinces scattered across the map.

Universities are available for the following counties:

  • Fes, a prominent barony in the Sultanate of Maghreb
  • Salamanca, in central Spain or the Kingdom of Leon
  • Madrid, also in central Spain but typically beginning the game under Muslim control
  • Coimbra, along the west coast of the Kingdom of Galicia or Portucale
  • Oxford, in the Kingdom of England
  • Cambridge, also in the Kingdom of England
  • Napoli in Sicily
  • Bologna, an otherwise unremarkable barony in Italy
  • Padua, just barely north of the University of Bologna, is also unremarkable other than the university

From reading this list, you can see that the distribution of universities is not remotely even among the playable kingdoms and empires of CK3. Brittania, Hispania, and Italia get literally every university except the one in Fes. None of the universities exist within the De Jure capital of a major kingdom either, aiming to prevent you from stacking too many special buildings in a single place.

Building the University

Increasing development for education
Increasing development is a thankless, but important task for a medieval steward. | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

Once you’ve acquired one of these counties in your realm, even if it’s the property of your vassals instead of your own personal land, you’ll need to boost the development of the barony that could potentially contain a university up to 40 development points. This is best done using the Steward skill called “Increase Development in County.” This gradually improves the quality of the area you’re working on as well. If the barony is coastal, you should make sure to construct a Tradeport there, providing a boost to the gain of development for the area as well. Tradeports are one of the best buildings you can construct for this reason.

You’ll also need to have earned enough prestige to be at the fourth level of fame, “The Living Legend.” Once development has reached 40 points and you’re at the right level of fame, the “Found University” decision will unlock. Taking it allows you to construct a university at each viable site across your kingdom. Aim to consolidate the university land into your own personal holdings before taking this decision, as it provides numerous great bonuses. These include increased development and a Learning bonus that scales with your level of fame, as long as you hold the land personally. Allowing a vassal to hold your university land can give them a dangerous edge against you.

Sending Children to University

Sending children to university in CK3
This ruler was well educated in Martial traits via a university and his rowdy personality as a child. | Image: Paradox Interactive via HGG / Nathan Hart

Now that you’ve built your university, it’s time to actually send your kids over there. Ideally, you’ll also have consolidated the university into your personal holdings, which will allow you to be the guardian your children are sent to while they attend school. Assign yourself as a guardian to your wards as usual, but now that you’ve got a university, you can check the box that will send them there. Sending wards to university costs a lofty 1500 gold, but that’s likely worth it for important heirs or particularly brilliant children. It almost guarantees a 4-star education, providing significant skill bonuses over the course of their lives.

You’ll still get the opportunity to gain Stress to change your ward’s personality in small ways, along with the other usual bonuses that come along with taking someone on as your ward, but you don’t have to worry as much about matching your own skills and traits to the child while you attempt to maximize their skill bonuses. Children can stay as wards until the age of sixteen, when they reach a medieval form of adulthood and can start to act on their own. This is the age when they receive their final personality traits, along with gaining their education bonuses and any special traits they might have picked up as well.

Join the High Ground!

With this guide to education in CK3, you and your future heirs will have a huge advantage over competing dynasties. After constructing your first university and sending a few generations of rulers through it, you are sure to take the high ground. Want more feudal-era tips and tricks? Subscribe to our newsletter for more, and make sure to follow us on all your favorite social media.

Happy gaming!


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