Traits You Did Not Know You Wanted in ck2

August 7, 2019 by Solar Cross

We all want to be diligent and ambitious geniuses or failing that brave and gregarious. Certainly we don’t want to be inbred imbeciles. That is universal for players of Crusader Kings 2. So far, so obvious.

However some of the quirky traits our character can have are bad but also sort of good. Good enough to want. So follows a look at some of the more interesting but under appreciated traits of ck2.

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Negative Genetic Traits

Negative genetic traits in Crusader Kings 2 are among the very worst traits to have. This is not only because the penalties are often strong. It is also because they can not be removed and they can keep coming back generation after generation. They can spoil a family line indefinitely.

The blue heart icons for negative genetic traits are the dismay of all players. Two of them however are not so bad and even sort of good. Good enough to want.

Left Handed

Although classed as a negative genetic trait Left Handed only has one small and situational penalty. The penalty is a moderate opinion penalty of -10 with Muslims and Christian priests. However it also gives a healthy bonus of +15 to personal combat skill.

If the characters you interact with are not often Muslims or Christian priests then the opinion penalty is superfluous.

On the other hand (the right hand?) a strong bonus to personal combat skill is golden. This is especially true for warrior focused lords who lead from the front. Personal combat skills help on the battlefield but are primarily for winning duels. Winning duels is the fast path for ranking up in warrior lodges. Dueling is a good clean way to legally murder rivals too.

For Norse pagans and nomads the Left Handed trait is practically a good genetic trait on a par with Attractive.


The opposite counterpart to the Dwarf trait carries with it some pretty undesirable penalties. However Giant, unlike the Dwarf trait, also carries a few really quite good bonuses.

For the penalties there is a small health penalty equivalent to cramps or a headache although permanent. Also there is a very small attraction penalty and a substantial fertility penalty.

For the good it gives a +10 bonus to personal combat skills and opinion bonuses with vassals and tribals.

For dueling tribal lords these bonuses may well be more than worth the penalties.

Health Traits

Health traits cover diseases and injuries. They generally give penalties and can often be fatal. There are a few though that have desirable bonuses or mechanics.


Not desirable in itself but Wounded is the usual precursor to getting the Scarred trait, see below. It can be acquired through a wide variety of events. However you can deliberately increase your odds of getting it by commanding troops on the battlefield and engaging in duels.

If you do get Wounded cross your broken fingers for it changing into Scarred because otherwise it might become Infection. Infection will probably kill you.


Scarred is why we want to get Wounded. It comes in three different strengths and all of them give nice opinion buffs with other scarred people and tribals. The main benefit is a bonus to monthly prestige. The two more serious forms of Scarred, Grievously and Horrifically, also make you more attractive. They also increase your personal combat skill.

One Eyed

There is nothing good in this one unless you want pagans to like you. If you do then bearing the same mutilation as the one eyed wanderer Odin will be sure to impress.

One Legged & One Handed

These two are pretty much the same as each other. They hurt your attractiveness and your personal combat skills but they also grant a bonus to your Learning attribute.

I suppose there is some extra mental stimulation in operating without a full set of appendages. Hence the Learning buff. How does one open a jam lid with one hand?

These handicaps will suit old soldiers who already have their heirs. Those that have retired from the battlefield to take up more scholarly pursuits.


Depressed offers a broad range of penalties but that is not why we want it. Uniquely this trait unlocks the Commit Suicide decision.

Being able to choose our time of death can be invaluable. It is a rare piece of fine control over a game event of paramount importance. Obviously it is handy for getting out of poor quality, compromised or damaged characters and into fresh ones without waiting.

Some succession laws, particularly the ones subject to the opinions of electors, have unstable and unpredictable lines of succession. Leaving your death up to chance can result in it happening when your electors are picking the wrong heir.

Having the suicide option lets you pick the moment of succession. You can then have it when your preferred candidate is also the one the electors want.

Another more gamey use is to dodge the blowback from a tyranny binge. If you can die when you like then you can spend your last years gaining with unrestrained tyranny. You can ramp up Crown Authority, revoke titles and execute those at your mercy with wild abandon.

Then before the accumulation of negative opinion modifiers results in irresistible factions and plots just throw yourself out the window. Your heir inherits all of the gains from your tyranny with only a little of the opinion penalty.

Sin Traits

The seven virtue traits are, with the exceptions of Kind and Chaste, nothing but the purest good. It is not the case however that the corresponding Seven Sins are all altogether bad. Only two of them: Gluttonous and Slothful are absolutely without any merit.


Proud offers a buff to monthly prestige without any penalties. For tribal players this is particularly useful as prestige is upgrade money. Prestige can also be spent on certain powerful Casus Belli.

Indirectly Proud helps with getting a good opinion bonus as characters gain +1 opinion for every 200 prestige they have.

It is a vice but without any drawbacks.


Greedy characters suffer a hit to their Diplomacy but to the advantage of a +10% to their national tax take. Characters with a large demesne and few vassals likely gain far more from this than they lose.


Gives a sizable benefit to fertility and a small bonus to Intrigue. It comes at the cost of a small hit to monthly piety and the opinion of Christian priests. This is probably a net gain for those who have no use for Christian priests. It also goes well with the seduction focus. Also good for those who want to make many heirs.



While celibate a character gains significant monthly piety and a small opinion bonus with Christian priests. But at the cost of a huge penalty to fertility.

The celibate trait is easily acquired and removed by choice for players who can join the Benedictine or Dominican societies. This control allows this crushing penalty to heir production to become a valuable tool for shaping the line of succession.

In one of my recent games as a Catholic king my first born was a genius girl. If I had no more children then this high quality character would be certain to inherit after me.

But if I had more children then I would be increasingly likely to produce a boy. Each boy would set her back in the line of succession, reducing a certainty to an improbability. Taking up celibacy after her birth enabled me to preserve that desirable order of succession.

If mischance killed her before me then renouncing celibacy means I still have a chance to get a replacement heir.

Particularly for female characters past childbearing age the fertility penalty becomes entirely irrelevant.


Being Cruel hurts your diplomacy but helps your Intrigue. Your vassals dislike it a little but it helps you a bit in combat. However it is worth a mention here because of three fairly rare or unique other properties.

The first is moral damage. Cruel characters have the edge in pushing opposing flanks to rout on the battlefield. Traits with morale damage bonuses are not so common outside of the Leadership traits.

The second is that it unlocks the Charge Through Skirmishers battlefield tactic. This is considered a bad tactic because while it buffs cavalry quite strongly it hurts archers strongly too. However if your Cruel character has a flank maxed on cavalry but minimised on archers then that is tolerable. It will give more chance for a strong cavalry tactic.

For these last two reasons Cruel might be a desirable trait in commanders in charge of a pure cavalry flank. Or commanders in charge of a breakthrough flank for the morale damage.

Finally Cruel unlocks the choice to mutilate your prisoners. Mutilation allows for more fine control in the damage you do to your prisoners. If outright execution is not worth the tyranny you can mutilate them instead.

As noted above mutilations, such as one-eyed, one-legged and one-handed, have strong penalties to personal combat skills. So you can make use of mutilate to make rivals easier to beat in a duel. Imprison, mutilate, release, duel. Rinse and repeat.

All in all Cruel is a pretty strong trait for martially focused tyrants. It is also quite accessible from many event choices.

Tribal Kinslayer

Kinslayer traits are gained from being exposed for killing family members. The penalties are very strong hits to diplomacy and dynastic opinion. The penalties get worse with the closeness of the killed relation.

With the Holy Fury dlc tribals get their own kinslayer replacement, Tribal Kinslayer. It has the same penalties as regular kinslayer in a weaker form but also with an actual benefit to attraction. For tribals there is apparently something sexy about fratricide. Picking up tribal kinslayer might not be so bad for a tribal pursuing a seduction strategy.


So there it is a quick look at some traits which may be more useful than you realise. Of course this information can be made obsolete by the vagaries of patches and new dlcs. Hopefully you found it interesting. What are the less obvious traits you enjoy? Leave your comment below!

Sources: 1, 2

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