View Full Version : Need Objective Opinion (Rulership Question)

04-06-2007, 08:57 PM
First post, so I'm a little shy. Forgive me.

I am playing a Birthright game now. I am an heir of the Roele line, found the sword of Roele, the banner, etc.. The game is epic and my goal is (obviously) to unite the land and try to put Anuire back together. The GM asked me if I was ok with this role as I had the most experience in the game and knew the history/background. I'm also not a big powergamer (which he was also looking for.)

The problem is this. My party is giving me grief about my birthright. They all want to rule as equals (I think some kind of council) that is all equal, without a figure head. After playing this game for over a year, working on how to move strategically, building my diplomatic relations, etc.. And I feel like they are trying to take away everything my character has worked for because they want to micromanage everything. This group never agrees on anything, not to mention the fact that some of the lands I want to begin investing belonged to my father (in game.) Yet, they are insisting that everyone be equal, 100% the same.

I'm trying very hard to be accomodating, but the more I try to explain to them that this is my Birthright and that I'd love an advisory council and would love for them to help me, that I can't see Anuire being ruled by council, especially one that cannot agree. The more I try to make them see my point, the angrier and pettier they get. One player threatened to walk off the game.

I just need some honest feedback on this. If I wasn't a descendent of Roele who was given this destiny, I guess I'd feel different? But, do I have a right to be a little peeved? I've done all this work and they want to jump in and take over. None of them are landed regents or have parents who are landed regents. I'm just so confused and the game isn't fun for me anymore. I feel like if I give in, my character will be giving up his birthright. Even the GM is upset and agrees with me that the group is being greedy.

Am I in the wrong? I just need some outside opinions. Maybe I really am being a tyrant here.

04-06-2007, 09:15 PM
I had the same issue in a game I was playing. I was the heir. And we never resolved the problem. I too felt like it was a lost cause trying to explain that "hey, this is the land of my parents and my forefathers." It all kind of soured me on playing the game again. Just grew tired of trying to defend my position.

All I can suggest is that you just try to be as honest as possible. I don't think you are being unfair, but I may be biased. Councils could work in BR, but in the end, only one may rule Anuire, imho. What good is the entire campaign setting and the line of Roele if you aren't going to use it?

Hope it all works out!

04-06-2007, 11:16 PM
This is an out of character problem, and defending yourself with in-character arguments, like this is the land of my ancestors, won't solve it. The DM and players have to sit down and discuss how the IC (in character) power arangements work, versus the OOC (out of character) arrangements will go.

Its a peculiar feature of the D&D culture, that an party of differing archtypes is master of their own sphere. This is such an unusual social organization, its almost party of the fantasy element. Normally, groups have leaders. There is someone who is the source of direction, decison, and values that most influences the group. Sometimes these people have institutional authority, and sometimes one person has informal leadership. A gaming group (aside from the DM) has no institutional authority vested in one person, and sometimes players are reluctant to role play inequality, afraid that IC leadership means giving up some OOC power.

I mostly lay this at the feat of the DM. The DM can't let the party run around as a group of equals for half a campaign and then suddenly shift gears and make the group unequal. This is changing the gaming contract. If the campaign is going to a High King campaign instead of a Collective Rule campiagn, the players need to know that as soon as possible and agree to this style of play.

In a High King campaign, one of you is Arthur. Its cool to be Lancelot, Merlin, Gwaine, and so on, but only one of you is Arthur. You may have a round table and try to foster a sense of equal participation many ways, but at the end of the day, only one of you is Arthur.

At the begining of a campaign (and the earlier the better) I like to talk to the players about what roles they are going to take. And then I try and make the world reflect that. People who are scions of great heritage are treated differently than characters of minor or especially common lineage. Lancelot is a cool fellow, but when Arthur is present, they'd rather fawn over him than Lancelot.

Typically players fall into one of two catagories: "I'm not sure if I ever want to rule a domain," and "I think I might want to rule a domain." Later on as players get experience you can add "I do" and "I don't."

If the DM waits until the party finds the sword in the stone to tell them that only one of them can pull out the sword and be hailed a the king of all Briton, he has put them in a serious situation. Arthur had to go to war with his rivals for the throne.

04-07-2007, 12:20 AM
I agree, the high king can demand all the spotlight...he is after all the king and has a lot of important things to do. Players can develope a left out feeling and no one games so that they can feel excluded.

A D.M. has to be enormously careful to keep everyone engaged and feeling as though their charecter has somthing at stake or the "secondary" players will start to feel like "secondary" players and I know that I don't enjoy playing the sidekick much myself.

It also helps if you remember not to greet the other players with "Good Morning Peasent!" ;)

04-07-2007, 01:07 AM
Kenneth pretty much nailed it.

In the past I've found the best way to handle things is to have everyone have an equal influence.

Note this does not mean that all are emperers.

The game is designed so that there are multitude of holding types so that no single character can effectively rule without the aid of the others.

Now if everyone is playing law/province rulers there is a problem (and was from the get go).

Someone should be dedicated to being the source regent, someone the guilds, someone the temples, etc.

IMO the most powerful regents are the guilders adn then the temple regents.

Even though most think that the province ruler is the most powerful - he also has the most head aches (and expenses). The others do not need to maintain armies do they?

The guilders control the money and the preists control the people.

That is of course my opinion, but past play has proven that true in my experience.

04-07-2007, 01:18 AM
It is important to realise that, while generally accomodating, players truly hate standing outside the limespot; it sort of makes their characters second-rate, and the maturity needed to realise that, at times, equally (or even more) important and powerful people did not have a place on the stage for the crowd to lay their eyes on is not a prerequisite of being a roleplayer...

The best possible solution is for your co-players to assume some seat of power, as already suggested; it does not seem you fail at that as much as delivering the message: the King is much less powerful without his Barons, Clergy and Guilds behind him, even if the people love him. Should your team-mates manage to realise that a council CANNOT be accepted by the people (an issue your DM should have taken care of all ready, as far as I can tell), the rest is a piece of cake by all means: their "council" is only replaced by their corresponding seats of power (which, admittedly, is far more interesting).

04-07-2007, 02:23 AM
My first campaign was an "Its Lonely at the Top" campaign, never mind "High King." Only one player had a domain, and since he was the Overthane of a Dwarven realm, the other PC's not only could not be regents, or officials in his realm, but they had to lay low in Dwarven politics.

04-07-2007, 04:50 AM
As others have said, it would have been best for your
DM to make sure the other players are satisfied with
the game, it shouldn`t be up to you to accommodate
their need for "importance" or what have you.

If none of the other players have been truly involved
(until only recently when they saw the power you were
gaining) then your character would be in his right to
tell them to shove off and quit being such leaches.

On the other hand, if they were instrumental in
helping you attain the sword, banner, etc... then you
may perhaps be obligated to them much more deeply than
even making them advisors.

Others have said that having different spheres of
influence is the usual method for playing in the
Birthright setting, and for your group it may be a
very good option. If you have a wizard, promise him
the highest seat of wizardly power in the empire,
controlling all the magic and having your treasury for
his needs should make him feel just fine! If your
cleric isn`t of the church of Haelyn (the "official"
Anuirean church) then you could still give him the
leeway to build his church unopposed by your High
Priest of Haelyn (which I think every Emporer should
have!). Rogues could easily see the benefit of being
the "Emperors Personal Guild Master" and etc...

Just because the peasants don`t want more than one
ruler, doesn`t mean that the other players can`t have
very significant power of their own.

If worse turns to worse, it IS a BIRTHRIGHT
campaign...and I have seen several parties turn to
bitter enemies when there just wasn`t enough room for
them all to hold power...

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04-07-2007, 06:35 PM
Thank you all for your responses. I definitely read some good material here and I agree so much with much of what has been said. Up front, the game was never stated to be any type of game (for example, one having more power/the king, etc.) The GM does not tend to get involved with things like this, he wants the players to work it out themseles, preferably through role-playing.

After talking to some of the players, one on one, I've learned that half of the group (three of the other 6) think that a joint ruling of Anuire is a terrible idea and that we would spend our sessions arguing over stupid things, which we tend to do anyway in all variety of situations. The other three are being demanding. The bard will claim that one moment he is not interested in ruling anything yet he is the biggest voice for a council. The wizard is in line to inherit the high position of the College of Sorcery. The third pretty much goes along with what the other two want no matter what.

ALL of the group members are blooded. My plan was definitely to include them in close ruling positions, whether they own guilds, temples, sources or so forth. I was excited to see our characters have the opportunity to rule different holdings and come together to really kick some butt. But for some reason, this is just not enough. I've told them I'd love if they sat on an advisory council, but that the "head" figure in the end would make the final decisions as a descendent of Roele. To this, half the group called me a dictator.

Imagine going before a great king from another nation (i.e. a Pasha or Sultan from the Khinasi lands) and having to explain that my lineage of Roele means nothing, that I am bound to the will of a council and that I have no say in the end. I daresay they would take this as a sign of weakness. This is not a democratic game. It's a feudal setting. Even Lord of the Rings (which has one of the strongest Fellowships you can find in any fiction) maintains this idea. One of the biggest concepts of the entire trilogy is that of service. Sam serves Frodo to the end. Merry serves Dernhelm/Eowyn. Pippin offers service to Denethor. Even in Rome, with a senate, there was the idea of a First Citizen or a Caesar who made the final decision. And even as I write this, I cringe, thinking "this must sound so selfish of me."

Allow me to quickly comment on another group that I play in. This group (different people playing) is also set in Birthright. The story is parallel in that a female member of the party is the lost heir of the Iron Throne. Yet, in this group (again, it was not decided beforehand that this would be a Kingly game,) they all work together to support her. They do not demand a council, they are excited that they are in a group with the future Empress and we work very hard to make her look her best in public and to have many victories. It is a delight! Me, as a follower (I play a wizard who is trying to get sources) I am excited just to help the future empress. I feel like Merlin to Arthur!

As for the other group, the few simply will not let it go. We even sat down and thought out how a council would rule. The GM said that a council could rule, but that it would be less effective power-wise when the council itself would only have three domain turns (whereas an alliance would have a head figure with 3 turns, a guilder with 3 turns, a wizard with 3 turns and a temple with 3 turns.) This took up an entire session, arguing about how the mechanics would work. It was just one thing after another.


Anyway, I didn't mean to bog this post down with more details. I have talked to the GM and he agrees with me, but he really won't go out on a limb and take charge of the game. Chances are, I will simply work some things out on my own with the GM on the side while they continue to bicker. To me, it's a nightmare to imagine trying to do a single domain action with this group when they cannot decide anything. I just can't make them understand at THIS point, but maybe by providing them with some of the material you all have give me, I can open the discussion up and speak with them more candidly and with a good sense of what to say. So much here really helped put things in perspective for me and I think I will use some of your exact lines if you don't mind!

Thank you very much.


04-07-2007, 09:19 PM
It's worth separating what you will do, and what your character will do in this scenario.

If what really bugs the players is the idea that they, personally, will have no say in what goes on in the game, then by all means if necessary agree that the players collectively will agree broad strategy, with each then directing their player as they see fit within the strategy. So before you invade Khinasi or declare holy war, you as players will all agree on doing so.

That is a very different position to the characters having a similar conversation and agreement - the high king must as you say appear to have authority and if his closest allies scorn him why should others follow him. If your fellow gamers cannot accept the concept of feudal culture, the divine right of kings, etc, and roleplay their characters accordingly then perhaps you need to accept that the players will not be able to accept a high king scenario.

In which case they can run rival dukes and the like. If the DM is cool with expanding the game a little it shouldn't be a problem for the players characters to get a realm each although if the characters are likely to be bitter rivals of the high king grouping you'd need some mechanic to explain the groups continuing to adventure together - for example "only those present when the demon from the shadow world was released can banish it from the world" while heavy handed gives a reason why the characters wouldn't physically backstab each other, etc - at least until they find the various talismans and secrets and banish the fiend.

The players then get the run a throne and have the power they crave. Of course they may find the crown a heavier burden than they thought - you get the glory, but you also get the blame, and if they can't handle challenges to their authority without throwing a tantrum, they will swiftly find rebellion in their lands...

04-08-2007, 12:49 AM
How long has the game been going on?

What I mean is how long (real time) and sesssions-wise has it taken to unite the realm?

If it has been too quick then things fall into the no one feels like they have developed a role in the overall empire.

It also strikes me that this game is falling into the WoW syndrome. I have seen too many people play RPGs like computer games and really miss out on the long term story.

Not to harp on the DM, but it seems like it designed the game to be a high king one (why else have someone from the Roele bloodline be a PC?)

This should have been made clear from the get go.

Now, let the other players read the 2nd ed material concerning the history of Roele, the Iron Throne adventure is another good one for seeing how the empire is lacking an emperor.

Also the 2nd ed material is very, very clear on the role of bards in the game. They are not supposed to be regents, and definitely not regents with a capital "R" (as in landed, emperor types). Being such a regent goes against the very core of that class.

Having said all of that it might be best for a reset of the game since it will not end well if thigns progress the way they seem to be.

Start over with a clear end game concept for everyone here. Really it is not that far a concpet to do either. After the Iron Throne is claimed everything else is pretty much anti-climatic. Well except for getting rid of the Gorgon.

04-08-2007, 08:14 AM
This game has gone on for 2 years now (in real time.) In game time, probably the same. The GM never stated it was a kingly game, but in the beginning, everyone was very supportive of who I was and went out of their way to protect me, to hide my identity until the time was right. I was a precious commodity to them and someone they wanted to keep alive at all cost.

Now, they seem to have changed their minds or suddenly think that being a guilder or a priest or wizard with sources will not be enough for them to do (when I'm trying to explain that a landed regent NEEDS the help and friendship and alliances of the inner circles within the country.) Sometimes I think I am just being unfair, but then I realize in the OTHER group that I'm glad to help the "heir to be" and do my best to contribute.

I just felt extremely cheated that they are pushing this council thing so hard, that my bloodline was also being cheated (speaking in character.)

I again thank you for your answers and consideration. I have gotten more responses than I had ever hoped for and it makes me feel better on a very big level.

04-08-2007, 10:33 AM
Two years is quite a while for a campaign. If they are worried they won't have enough to do (for example if the DM is generating province only random and planned events) then ask the GM to throw some action their way. alternatively they may just be getting bored with their characters.

Alternatively your character could contact other realm leaders and bemoan the lackadaisical guilds and wizards you have, such rumours travel swiftly and someone is bound to be interested in testing whether the guilder really spends all time at the court mired in intrigue rather than running their own guilds and such-like...

I would note that it's not unreasonable for the merchant's guild, etc to advise the king, particularly if the king has come to ask for money to wage a war or finance a palace. The merchants just need to go about it in the right way - as long as the king is seen to be in charge and the advisers are only offering wisdom their input isn't a problem.

Of course if a guilder or wizard has too great a power over the throne it does more than make the king look weak. Rival merchants and nobles will fear the guilder's influence and conspire against them, the churches will fear the wizard's wisdom will displace their own; assassination is an ugly word, but karma has a way of happening very quickly to the enemies of the rich and powerful. :cool:

04-11-2007, 09:58 PM
The problem seems to be that they do not want to be advisors or landed regents who swear fealty to the Emperor, they want to rule Anuire as a council. Again, having been in this situation, it just doesn't make sense for a Feudal-setting and it lessens the importance of a Birthright or bloodlines (especially the line of Roele.)

Nobody should be able to question YOUR right to rule the land YOUR forefathers once ruled. If your father, grandfather, great-grandfather, whatnot ruled a piece of land, then they have no right to tell you what to do, how to rule, etc. Either they want to be a part of it or they don't. I don't think you a "dictator" at all. You're the heir to Anuire, of an ancient line that ruled the most powerful nation on Cerilia. Even Arthur (who had a round table) had to make a final decision in the end. He was Arthur for God's sake.

If the game did not have an heir of Roele (as the GM obviously allowed in your campaign,) then I'd say have at it. Invest lands as you wish, try to unite regardless of your lineage. But, to have someone in your group that is of the Roele bloodline--it's political suicide to try and remove that component: it persuades, it inspires, it's connected directly to the land.

My suggestion would be to just do your own thing. Get with the GM and go over options. It sounds like the GM understands your situation, but doesn't want to get involved. He/She could probably nip it in the butt by having the Chamberlain state, "make a council if you wish, but I will only recognize the true emperor/empress of Anuire as the ONE to sit upon the Iron Throne." NPC's can help a lot in that situation.

Were I the Chamberlain, I would probably get a good laugh out of a group of players trying to ursurp the throne from the rightful line of Roele. By saying "look, we have a descendent of Roele here and they're gonna try to unite Anuire... BUT, we don't want them to because WE want to rule by committee" is like telling the Chamberlain that HE and all he stands for is obsolete, that his ancestors and HIS bloodline mean nothing. His job is to guard the Iron Throne until the one ruler emerges to unite the land.

Now, he could decide that a council would work. But in the end, I think even in that case it could be argued that a council can never replace one ruler. As Uther said in Excalibur: one land, one king.

This doesn't mean you ignore your advisors or that you can't have an advisory council and players who run guilds/temples/wizards. A King/Emperor needs his/her guilders and templars and wizards. Without that support, how can a leader succeed? And you don't sound like you'd be out making bad decisions willy nilly. It could be they just don't trust you to make these decisions without their fingers in all your pies (so to say.) That would be a dynamic that needs to be worked on in game and outside of game. Perhaps they are not seeing how important these roles are?

Tell them to make their council, WITHOUT you, and you separate and seek your birthright on your own. See how far they get without the Roele name in the eyes of the people. If they are without your name and your bloodline, they may start to realize just how important this name really is and what it can do for the people of Anuire. It's almost like they want to use your name to get Anuire united, then toss you aside when they're done and THEY get what they want. True friends would aid you no matter what (like in the other group you mentioned.)

On that note, I run another campaign where we have a descendent of Roele trying to unite the land. He's gained the favor of the Chamberlain. The other people in the group are working their butts off to help him. Not a single one has said "hey, let's rule by council because I don't trust you." They know he's the one king. They help him. They have faith in him. There's no snottiness or cattiness. It's a blessing. When it works, you would be amazed at how amazing the game can be. When it turns sour, it's just no FUN anymore.

Ramble ramble. Hope you get it worked out.