Previously, we’ve detailed how you can complete Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s main quest “Neretzes’ Folly.” The quest was quite a folly in and of itself, but it’ll eventually have you assemble the “Dragon Banner.” The continuation of the main quest would subsequently lead to the “Conspiracy” quest and your ability to form a kingdom or support an existing one. Here’s our mini-guide to help you out.
Note: This guide is intended for Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s early access stage. It’s possible that some mechanics may change in due course, so please inform us if we need to update certain details. For more information, check out our Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord guides and features hub.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord – The Dragon Banner
As mentioned in our “Neretzes’ Folly” guide, you’ll end up speaking to both Istiana and Arzagos, two important characters who’ll tell you about Calradia’s history. Istiana is in Epicrotea and she wants to continue supporting the Calradic Empire despite its fracturing due to a civil war. Arzagos, meanwhile, lives in Mannurath; he prefers that the empire be destroyed and that a non-imperial faction should rule in its place.
You’ll also be notified of two bandit hideouts near the main settlements (seen above). According to Istania and Arzagos, these two camps have the missing pieces of the Dragon Banner. Go attack the hideouts and defeat their respective leaders and you’ll have the Dragon Banner ready.
The Dragon Banner is an important fixture in Calradia’s history and lore, and you’re now at a crossroads. Istiana wants you to support the empire and here are her requirements:
- Option 1: Create an imperial faction – be at clan rank 3, have 100 troops, be an independent clan, and own an imperial settlement.
- Option 2: Support an imperial faction – present the Dragon Banner to a ruler of the three warring groups: Lucon (Northern Empire), Rhagaea (Southern Empire), or Garios (Western Empire).
Arzagos, meanwhile, has slightly different plans:
- Option 1: Create a non-imperial kingdom – be at clan rank 3, have 100 troops, be an independent clan, and own a settlement
- Option 2: Support a non-imperial kingdom – present the Dragon Banner to a ruler of the independent kingdoms: Unqid (Aserai), Caladog (Battania), Monchug (Khuzait), Raganvad (Sturgia), or Derthert (Vlandia).
Note: You must first join a kingdom if you wish to support it when you hand over the Dragon Banner.
The Dragon Banner and a kingdom’s humble beginnings
In any case, the major difference here is how you’ve approached Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s campaign so far. Assuming you’ve increased your clan rank to become a vassal, all while increasing your influence and capturing settlements, you’ll have to look at which path will be easier to take.
In my Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord playthrough, I joined Vlandia as King Derthert’s vassal and I also own a couple of settlements. If I choose to create a non-imperial kingdom, it’d require me to gain independence from Vlandia and either (a) relinquish all my holdings and take the diplomatic relations hit, or (b) keep my holdings, be at war with Vlandia, and incur an even heavier relationship malus.
Alternatively, I could offer Neretze’s Dragon Banner to Derthert since he already leads a non-imperial kingdom. I won’t need to reach clan rank 3 or recruit a lot of troops anymore. The same steps also apply if you choose to follow Istiana’s advice, except that you’ll need to focus on imperial rulers.
Note: Funnily enough, if you surrender the Dragon Banner to a ruler, it won’t even increase your relations.
Anyway, let’s say you wanted to start your own kingdom and you’ve met the requirements, speak to Arzagos or Istiana to complete the quest. If you were at war with your former liege, you’ll be at peace once more. Congratulations on forming your own kingdom, Butterlord!
Assuming you decided to support an existing ruler instead, that’s also fine as well. Whatever your decision, you’ll receive the next step of the main quest which is about a conspiracy.
Note: Head over to our kingdom policies, ruler influence, and vassal management guide for more info in case you decided to strike out on your own. Learning these mechanics will be crucial to Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s late-game experience.
Possible major bug
Do be reminded that you might encounter an irreversible bug where you’ll fail “The Dragon Banner” quest and be unable to form your own kingdom. The information was provided by one of our readers, CFH_Hitman, and it has something to do with taking too long to complete “Neretzes’ Folly” and “The Dragon Banner.” The game will tell you that you weren’t able to complete the objectives within ten years, though it’s more likely that only three years have elapsed since you’ve started Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s campaign.
In any case, our follow-up guide about managing your kingdom and vassals should help you with your continued progress.
The “Conspiracy” quest
For those who picked either of Arzagos’ suggestions, your next task is to weaken the empire by ensuring that “no more than four settlements are owned by all imperial factions.” Since I chose Arzagos’ path, I got a quest telling me that Istiana was leading a conspiracy against me. Another quest would tell you to “stop the conspiracy” and it even has a bar showing you the strength of the plot. Oddly enough, for some reason, there are no directions that are given on how to stop it. Attempting to speak to Istiana also didn’t give me additional dialogue options to end her conspiracy.
Note: The “Conspiracy” quest also kept failing from time to time, only to pop up again as an active quest. I simply ignored it and went about conquering imperial lands.
Things got even weirder the more I continued with this Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord main quest. I was able to capture all the settlements held by the Northern Empire (Lucon) and Western Empire (Garios). Their parties, however, continued to spawn in their previously held towns. It was like playing whack-a-mole all while conspiracy notifications kept popping up. It was good for leveling up and obtaining high-tier units that can be recruited, but it was a major nuisance.
Istiana’s mission: Unify the Empire
If you decided to go with Istiana’s mission to create an imperial faction, then your next goal is to “Unify the Empire.” In order to do this, you’ll have to attain ownership of two-thirds of all territories that have imperial culture.
The best way of knowing which settlements (castles and towns) have this culture is by checking those that allow you to recruit imperial-type soldiers. Likewise, this can be readily seen given the default settlement ownership when you start Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s campaign. As long as these settlements are in the hands of Rhagaea, Garios, or Lucon when you started the game, they’ve got imperial culture. For reference, you can check the image below:
Let’s go back to Arzagos’ missions. In my playthrough, the Southern Empire (Rhagaea) was down to only a few settlements, I was able to complete the main quest only for three more to pop up. All three required that the imperial factions be completely eliminated. A progress bar even showed you how you’re faring against them respectively — the more settlements and parties they have on the field, the more you still need to do to finally destroy them.
The funny thing was that, technically, I eliminated two out of three imperial factions already by owning all their settlements. They just won’t stop spawning new parties which meant the progress bar couldn’t reach 100%. There’s also no option to offer peace anymore, and there were times when it was hard to find where the remaining lords were hiding on the campaign map.
I did manage to get Rhagaea to capitulate after occupying her last settlement. She ended up joining an imperial faction and her remaining vassals were scattered to the four winds — some even ended up with the Sturgians and Khuzaits.
Warning: Executing the leader of an imperial faction and their entire family will simply pass leadership of that faction to another vassal. I made this huge blunder when I executed Garios and his kin only to see the mantle pass to one of his followers who was just staying in a castle.
Bug: One reason why I couldn’t get the Northern Empire to capitulate despite imprisoning Lucon and his lords was because of a minor character that joined his faction. This character’s army remains stationary on a part of the map I couldn’t reach, locking the progress bar at 98%.
This is actually where my progress with Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord‘s main quest ends because I couldn’t figure out what to do with the landless imperial factions other than playing whack-a-mole. I don’t have a save file prior to capturing the final settlements of the Northern Empire and Western Empire, but perhaps one could delay doing that until the next quests (with the progress bar to eliminate them) become active. If you’ve fared better, let me know.