|Close relatives||Siblings and half-siblings, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces (if your spouse is of your dynasty she/he also has the big blood drop symbol).|
|Other dynasty members||Cousins and distant relatives.|
|Bastard children||Recognized but not legitimized children.|
Most characters in the game belong to a dynasty. The dynasty gives the character a coat of arms and a surname.
Characters with no dynasty are referred to as Lowborn. (Technically "Lowborn" is itself a dynasty, as seen in marriage negotiations as "marrying into House Lowborn", but it is special in that it has no coat of arms or surname, always has no Prestige, and doesn't give rise to opinion bonuses or alliances.) A lowborn character who gains a feudal county or merchant republic is raised to the nobility, becoming the founder of a new dynasty.
Children of a normal marriage, or born to a concubine, are of their father's dynasty. However, in a matrilineal marriage, the children are of the mother's dynasty, as are unacknowledged bastard children. A noble's children are never lowborn, so if a noble woman marries a lowborn man, the marriage must be matrilineal (and vice versa).
Having a large, powerful dynasty brings many benefits. Characters are able to negotiate non-aggression pacts and alliances to all members of their dynasty, and as such, dynastic ties are some of the strongest in the game. They also get a bonus to relations with each other.
Every dynasty has a dynastic prestige determined by the titles of all members of the dynasty, both living and dead. A tenth of this is given to new dynasty members upon their birth. A smaller amount is given to their spouse upon marriage (depending on the two dynasties' relative prestige), which affects how likely characters are to accept a marriage request from members of the dynasty.
Other rulers of your dynasty will be much more willing to marry when it would result in consolidating titles. In particular, sharing a dynasty removes the groom's demand for a patrilineal marriage ("[groom] is too high in the line of succession") or the bride's strong preference for a matrilineal marriage.
Having a large dynasty gives you more choices for succession:
- Under elective-type succession laws, you have more choices of heirs. You may be able to choose someone with excellent traits, claims, or titles.
- With Feudal elective, you can choose a child, claimant, or existing elector. You can also grant an elector title to any dynasty member you wish to nominate. Furthermore, electors of your dynasty are more likely to support your chosen candidate or at least someone of your dynasty.
- With Elective gavelkind or Tanistry, you can nominate any dynasty member. Vassals are not especially likely to listen to you, but they will usually pick someone good.
- Under gavelkind-type succession laws, one way to avoid realm-splitting is to forgo having children. Having a large dynasty makes this choice more palatable.
- Under Patrician seniority, you can designate a successor using an honorary title, as long as they are in your court (or your direct vassal?).
- Older men will have an easier time winning the election for doge, but any adult can win given enough prestige or campaign funds.
Finally, if your character becomes unlanded, you will automatically switch to another dynasty member rather than facing game over.