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This question is specifically for Total War: Medieval 2, but I would imagine it can apply to most, if not all, of the Total War games.

Since I lost my last playthrough to unbelievable squalor in all my cities (50%+ and going up), I have done some extensive research on what creates/prevents it.

I now understand that squalor is created by increased population. It appears that it is also created by a large army sitting in the city. I have deduced that higher taxes will cut down slightly on the population growth, but this really isn't a fix. The only guaranteed way to get rid of it is to move out, let the city rebel, and then exterminate the populace, which I would really rather not do. Other than that, it appears impossible to get squalor to go down. From my understanding, it is impossible to get rid of it entirely.

I have found nothing at all on whether or not any structures/buildings actually prevent or at least reduce squalor. I can't even find anything on which ones create it, though I would imagine it's everything that contributes to population growth. I also have found nothing on what calculates squalor, and how much it goes up each turn, and why.

So here's my question: Squalor: How can I know when it is coming, and is there anything I can do to stop, remove, or slow it?

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Squalor is defined by "A filthy and wretched condition or quality". In the game it's the same thing.

It is always present, as it's the game's way of mitigating the maximum ammount of people a given settlement can have, although it can be reduced by increasing the available space by, building a wall upgrade. You can also use character traits like HarshRuler 3 which reduces squalor.

Alternatively you can just let the settlement rebel, take it back and exterminate the populace, and as such with less population, less squalor. In order to prevent it, make it so the settlement's population isn't increasing too rapidly (Up taxes, don't get public order/health buildings, wait for a plague,etc..).

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You cannot reduce it, but from what I understand, you can counteract the negative effects somewhat by upgrading your city with buildings that increase happiness, like churches, entertainment centers, high food supplies,... Something else that also works is relocating your capital to a more central region.

source: http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthread.php?69740-Squalor&s=04e47f0627765606ac561a4a6c1fd21c&p=1335636&viewfull=1#post1335636

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