Idishe Melkhim

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

I haven’t played Crusader Kings II, but I found it interesting that a 16-year-old secular Canadian Jew decided to make a Jewish Kings “mod” to improve the accuracy (and depth) of the game’s depiction of his people:

Crusader Kings II does have Jewish characters, but most of them are not playable, and the few who are are — the Khagan of Khazaria and the Duke of Semien, to be specific — easily get destroyed by neighboring empires, and anyway are not very fun to play. I decided to add more options for playing as a Jewish character, such as new and unique decisions and events. In addition to making the Jewish character experience more in-depth, I added events for non-Jewish characters. For example, different kinds of Jewish courtiers can arrive at the court of a non-Jewish character. A non-Jewish ruler might be confronted with a migration of Jews to one of his provinces, and will have to choose either to accept them or not. Historically, sometimes European lords had to face tough decisions like this one. I added this event and others like it to make the experience more extensive and immersive.


Most of my changes to the game are small, but a few are relatively large, in my opinion. I added two new Israelite cultures: Mizrachi, the culture of the Jews who lived in the Middle East, and Hebrew, which is the predecessor of Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. I changed the names of people in each culture and I gave them different bonuses to make them more historical and distinctive. For example, characters of Hebrew culture get +1 piety, and Sephardi get +1 learning. I gave all characters of the Jewish religion +1 learning to reflect how historically Judaism always emphasized the importance of studying religious texts. At first, I thought that it would be wrong to give Jewish cultures and religion so many (arguably over-powered) bonuses, but then I saw that in the base game, Buddhism has +4 learning (which is objectively overpowered)! I lost all shame and decided to proceed with the addition of said bonuses.

I made Ashkenazi and Sephardi culture nonexistent in the early game, but then develop in and diverge from their predecessor the Hebrew culture around the 9th Century, as it did historically. I gave the Karaite sect a head of religion: the Exilarch, and also one for the Samaritans: the Kohen Gadol (High Priest). I added events which only fire when a character restores the Jewish High Priesthood: The Sanhedrin restores the punishment of known murderers and adulterers. I added events where rabbis and other zealous Jews try to encourage other Jews to lose bad traits such as jealousy, pride, greed, and develop good traits instead. I added event chains where a Jew and a non-Jew discuss theology, and one of the two (possibly) develops sympathy for the other religion: A rare friendly interaction between Jews and non-Jews in the Medieval World. I added a decision for Jewish characters to observe the holiday of Yom Kippur with other vassals.

Of course, during all the event chains I mentioned (and the ones I did not), a wide variety of different outcomes might occur depending on the characters’ traits, your decisions and chance.


  1. Rollory says:

    “Jew decides to rewrite something to make Jews more important.”

    What’s new and different here?

    I mean, yes, loyalty to one’s people, historical knowledge, ethnic pride, and other assorted virtues. And maybe if that’s all there was to it, it wouldn’t be notable — but the underlying pattern is always the same: Jew decides other people don’t think Jews are important enough and “corrects” the “problem”.

    When it does not matter that he has done this, except to other Jews, and it is not made any sort of big deal except to other Jews, and that standard of behavior gets applied everywhere else (such as in writing history books or discussing political philosophies) — when Jews don’t argue that everything everywhere all the time is at all times and places centered on Jews — then it will stop being an issue. Not before.

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