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Elton Robb
06-15-2007, 03:52 AM
Discussion thread for The Sword Mage (http://www.birthright.net/brwiki/index.php/The Sword Mage). If you would like to add a comment, click the Post Reply button.

Those interested in finishing out the Sword Mage, there's a start for you. I was debating making him a War Wizard or a Battle Mage from Mongoose's Battle Magic: The Eldritch Storm. I'll let you decide what it is. :)

Gman
06-15-2007, 06:28 AM
Seems to me that nothing has been written about them except for rumours - so a mysterious character who hides their identity for some reason is about all you have - with some suspicion of Vos links.

The other suggestion is that they are somewhat mercenary and not a simple vassal.

Mage that likes to use a sword...
You could model him/her on the Raven as a fighter/mage.
Or prehaps has a penchant for using sword spells.

A Cloak of swords - Powerful Magic item or Special blood power/form which not only obscures her/his identity but makes attacks on anyone in melee.
Aka thorns. and more.

Could even be one of the Ghoeres Minor Nobles who has access to courtly circles but is not known as the sword mage.

Does not even have to be Vos as that could be a carefully constructed persona to mislead people. - why not spread rumors that the sword mage is Vos and male because you can speak Vos fluently and hide your true identity more effectively as one of the courts apparently demure Ladies.

1/2 Vos?

When seen is surrounded by a cloak with many hanging blades (think leaf mail) that ripples and seperates changing colour sinuously. Occasionally (particularly if displeased) blades appear, suddenly not just part of the cloth becoming tangiable and flickering out for just an instant before sliding back into the "cloth". An illusion surrounding them or something more....

ShadowMoon
06-15-2007, 12:47 PM
The Sword Mage details and description is in The Book of Magecraft (AD&D Birthright)...

And his/her (since gender is unknown) portrait (the one I coloured)...

Cheers...

vota dc
06-15-2007, 08:48 PM
He is a Vos but he speaks only Anuirean and elven languages?

ryancaveney
06-15-2007, 09:08 PM
He is a Vos but he speaks only Anuirean and elven languages?

I think all we can conclude from the description is that as far as Anuireans know, he has only been heard to speak Anuirean and Sidhelien.

Gman
06-18-2007, 05:39 AM
It is said that the Sword Mage hails from Vosgaard and draws additional power by summoning fiends. Though the rumor is unsubstantiated, it's enough to keep anyone from contesting the Sword Mage's source holdings.

Retrieved from "http://www.birthright.net/brwiki/index.php/The_Sword_Mage"

Languages Anuirean, Sidhelien

An unsubstantiated rumor that they are Vos and they don't even speak it - is this an oversight? Suggests more to me that this is a rumour.

Mabey Anuireans assume anyone that summons fiends is from Vos but even the summoning of fiends could be an unsubstantiated rumour.

I was suggesting some possible reasons for this above.

You can either assume the rumour is true and the last Wizard scion who attempted to contest the sword mages holdings was eaten by fiends and that the sword mage hails Vos or create some details as to why this rumour would be spread.

Gman
06-19-2007, 02:43 AM
The book of magecraft gives a bit more information. P40. Including stats.

And suggests that the swordmage likes dueling opponents with a sabre (has 2nd ed proficiency) including swordsman.

So I would suggest sabre rather than longsword. Weapon expertise? considering a low str and high dex.

Cloak of swords has +10 armour. (AC0 2nd ed)
and one of its blades adds +2 armour (probably deflection bonus)
other blades give additional.

so including dex an armour of 25 without spells or other smaller items.

Elton Robb
06-19-2007, 03:11 AM
I don't have the Book of Magecraft, or else I would have fixed it. Why not edit him/her yourself?
:)

Elton.

Gman
06-19-2007, 05:58 AM
I'm currently on my break at work but will bring book of magecraft tommorrow and see what I can do. (unless someone has already)

I reluctant to put in all the things I would like as I have a tendancy to make already mean things meaner.:) especially when they are slightly ambigious.

Another thought occurs that considering that 2nd ed stats are set and difficult to alter after character generation and 3rd ed gives stats every 4th level then when updating shouldn't the NPC's be given stats for every 4 levels as part of their upgrade to 3.5?

Mabey this has already been discussed but I haven't read it anywhere.

kgauck
06-19-2007, 11:34 AM
Depending on what the character looks like I've generally assumed that ability score improvements have already occured. But, I 'd go case by case.

Gman
06-19-2007, 02:15 PM
The Sword Mages fascination with blades of all types is his mantle. He has either Manufactured or otherwise procured many magical swords that he has issued to his lieutenants as needed.

The Sword mages cloak of swords is a powerful magical item constructed of heavy fabric and magically flexible swords that meld with the fabric. Each sword provides a new layer of protection to the wizards person. Some speculate that he once had the service of a fiend from another plane who could transform the semblance of magical items; Supposedly the creature turned a cloak of protection, a chime of opening and othe magical items into swords the wizard added to his cloak. Perhaps the Sword Mage can still call on that particular fiend at will, or perhaps he has learned the trick himself- occasionally rumours claim that he has added a new item to his arsenal, thus increasing the threat he poses in the Heartlands.

The Sword mage himself seems obsessed with personal power, He values strong offensive spells, while in nature his magical items tend to be defensive in nature. It is said he enjoys personal duels with wizards and even nonwizards, trusting in his magic and skill at arms (not to mention his items) to see him through any conflict.

His chief retainers are nearly as feared as Ghoere's Iron guard. Some are dual class fighter/mages while others are rogues of the highest order.

Like the sword mage himself, each retainer guards his ture identity with his life. When operatin "openly" each henchman wears a full-face, silver cloth mask with a black sword biscecting the face. They are seldom seen in this garb - but when they are, fear follows them.

The Sword Mages "rumoured" ability to contact other planes and bring across fiends as servants is genuine. He exploits this ability when necessary, summoning powerful beings to achieve the darkest goals.

Gman
06-19-2007, 02:28 PM
Personally I would like to give him three points of stats +1 Str +1 Int and +1 Dex (just his entitled level increases!)

Thelandrin
06-19-2007, 04:29 PM
Don't forget that BR 2nd Ed stat blocks are usually not fully accurate to deliberately inspire some mystery about the characters.

Also, the stats of the notable characters tend to be extremely high, so extra stat points aren't generally necessary.

Gman
06-20-2007, 03:14 AM
His description suggests some fighter classes - and a spell list to "Buff " himself up if he/she likes dueling so I put it out there to see what others thought - thought if fitted with the character description.
2nd ed description was 10 level wizard.

Keen Sabre was my addition based on his description as a magic sword collecter. Cloak of swords is as 2nd ed converted.

Didn't think he was necessarily a Vos noble.

His stats to me seemed above average but not especially remarkable for the character write up particuarly considering 3rd ed rules. But as you say the DM can modify them for their own game.

Wasn't sure what to do with the Fiend summoning ability and how to write it up but he/she definately has one.

Blood Powers need work.
Has resistance and alter self but should probably have more considering his bloodline score.

Elton Robb
06-20-2007, 03:56 AM
The sword mage needs two more class levels: Wizard or fighter.

Thelandrin
06-20-2007, 09:30 AM
Well, having counted his stats via pointbuy, the Sword Mage has 44 pts (and that's assuming that he raised his Dex, Con & Int given here by 1 each).

Gman
06-21-2007, 04:40 AM
To account for The Swordmages fighting prowess in "The book of Magecraft" and his joy in dueling opponents he has already been given 2 extra levels from his 2nd edition character.

The (cr 14) Rating is to take account of bloodline and Fiend powers - Not that they have been fully written up yet.

Fiend summoning and command??
Special spells. summoning command and protection from fiends.
Special Bloodline power - not in normal rules for contacting and controlling fiends??
Ancestral link/pact with fiends. (could be a template)
Additional Magic item(s)?

What do people think of Mehgevail (sp) sense as a Voryn blood power for him/her - it would account for the speed at he found sources and set them up (pretty much before anyone including High mage Aelies noticed) ?

ShadowMoon
06-21-2007, 12:00 PM
Well in regard of The Sword Mage's fiend summoning specialization, You can give him/her few levels in Warlock (core class, D&D3.5 Complete Arcane) and/or The Thaumaturgist (prestige class, D&D3.5 Dungeon Master Guide)...

Gheal
06-21-2007, 05:57 PM
Thaumaturgist won't do any good - this PrC for divine spellcasters only. But if he/she/it controls a gate from the Shadow world to more distant planes and research such forbidden spell as planar binding - it'll do the trick. IMO, fiends must look at him favorably - there's not much summons from Aebrinus these days... :)

AndrewTall
06-21-2007, 09:20 PM
But if he/she/it controls a gate from the Shadow world to more distant planes and research such forbidden spell as planar binding - it'll do the trick.

Well, demons can be an elastic term - the Swordmage could be summoning things from the Shadow World rather than a 'classic' lower planes - some of the inhabitants are quite unpleasant, and given the mutability of (at least parts of) the shadow World theoretically I don't see why the summoned thing could be quite literally someone's worst nightmare...

Elton Robb
06-21-2007, 09:27 PM
Like living Eighth Grade all over again?
:D

AndrewTall
06-21-2007, 09:43 PM
Like living Eighth Grade all over again?
:D

Hmm, some people I know loved that time. As a friend said recently of one: I should be nice to 'x' someday to show there's no hard feelings - give him a tip when he waxes my car...

ryancaveney
06-21-2007, 09:44 PM
Fiend summoning and command... Special Bloodline power - not in normal rules for contacting and controlling fiends?

I think this is the logical Azrai version of the elemental summoning ability possessed by some scions of Anduiras, Basaia, Masela and Reynir -- where, as Andrew says, "fiend" is best interpreted as "icky, scary, nasty thing from the Shadow World".


Ryan

Elton Robb
06-21-2007, 10:01 PM
Hmm, some people I know loved that time. As a friend said recently of one: I should be nice to 'x' someday to show there's no hard feelings - give him a tip when he waxes my car...

Another place that showed your worst nightmare was the Klingon Hell.

dalor
06-21-2007, 11:00 PM
The Sword Mage could be part fiend himself...

I actually made him a Teifling in my game, saying he
was the son of a fiendish Witch from Vosgaard.

To ramp it up, you could actually make him a
Half-Fiend directly...and that is why he wears a mask
and such.

Just a thought.


Anthony

--- Gheal <brnetboard@BIRTHRIGHT.NET> wrote:

> Thaumaturgist won`t do any good - this PrC for
> divine spellcasters only. But if he/she/it controls
> a gate from the Shadow world to more distant planes
> and research such forbidden spell as planar binding
> - it`ll do the trick. IMO, fiends must look at him
> favorably - there`s not much summons from Aebrinus
> these days... :)



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Gman
06-22-2007, 04:11 AM
Spawn of a spawn and a witch .... Nice - just my style of nasty npc - How do we put it to a vote?

Elton Robb
06-22-2007, 04:12 AM
Well, the thread starter, me, has to start a poll. :)

Elton.

Sorontar
06-22-2007, 04:50 AM
Just a small point. What are you each trying to design the Sword Mage for?

The BRCS/Atlas?
The BrWiki?
Your homegrown campaign?


The reason I point this out is that I believe one of the requirements of the BRCS is that we try and base things around the core D&D3.5 books (the PHB I and DMG I) and previous official Birthright publications. So if you are designing the Sword Mage for that, then I would make him/her/it based on the same documents. I wouldn't use races or abilities from other documents unless you modified them for Birthright and added them as well.

If you want to add the Sword Mage to the Wiki or your own campaign as a possible NPC representation, then you can base it on whatever you like. Just remember, what goes in the BRCS or Atlas will be the (semi-) official ones.

Sorontar.

ConjurerDragon
06-22-2007, 12:15 PM
Gheal schrieb:
> This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
> You can view the entire thread at:
> http://www.birthright.net/forums/showthread.php?goto=newpost&t=3874
> Gheal wrote:
> Thaumaturgist won`t do any good - this PrC for divine spellcasters only. But if he/she/it controls a gate from the Shadow world to more distant planes and research such forbidden spell as planar binding - it`ll do the trick. IMO, fiends must look at him favorably - there`s not much summons from Aebrinus these days... :)
>
And there is a reason for that. The Shadowworld should as far as I
understand it block the way of such spells in Birthright. So how could
the Swordmage do it, without anyone else (at least anyone else known)
try the same if as evil and powerhungry?

Perhaps he?s just an acolyte of the skin and wears the mask because he
looks like an ugly demon himself? Pershaps his "summoning of fiends" are
just rumours of people who saw him without mask - like the guard
entering the room with lord vader sitting there getting dressed ;-)

AndrewTall
06-22-2007, 08:36 PM
Perhaps he?s just an acolyte of the skin and wears the mask because he
looks like an ugly demon himself? Pershaps his "summoning of fiends" are
just rumours of people who saw him without mask - like the guard
entering the room with lord vader sitting there getting dressed ;-)

The great thing about a mask - as a bad guy in particular - is that it removes accidental emotion to a reasonable degree; fear, surprise, amusement, tiredness etc all must be deduced from body posture or tone of voice. Similarly a mask provides distance from the masses - and gives a distinctive intimidating look that some merciless conquerors fail to have despite years of hard effort to learn how to laugh manically and scheme for world domination.

Best of all, the swordmage can vanish in a moment if in severe trouble by simply dropping the mask and walking away - anybody could be under the floor-to-neck robe and the mask... Similarly spying on the people is made easy without magic - the swordmage could for example easily maintain a persona that would attract their enemies without risking radiating magic or suchlike.

I have to say that I always saw the swordmage as a 'big reputation' type, someone who makes themselves look really tough to cow foes into submission without necessarily being the stronger. I'd make them very good at 'fake' magic and mind games which form as much a part of their power as real magic - all the better if a foe sees the fakery and thinks the real power underneath is also fake...

Brockstar
06-23-2007, 09:05 PM
I kinda figured the sword mage was a bit of tiefling and as such has to hide behind a mask. That plays into his or her relationship with the infernal.

ryancaveney
06-23-2007, 11:53 PM
And there is a reason for that. The Shadowworld should as far as I understand it block the way of such spells in Birthright. So how could the Swordmage do it?

I think the things he summons come from the Shadow World (or, to a lesser extent, from the elemental planes -- to which IMO Cerilia also has unblocked access). It is the official home of extraplanar nasty things, which is exactly what Cerilians would call "fiends," whether or not they have the stats of devils and demons.


Perhaps he's just an acolyte of the skin and wears the mask because he looks like an ugly demon himself?

I think he either looks like a demon as part of the pact that brought him his power over them, or he's one of the Magian's riders -- either way, he has to hide his appearance. I lean towards the first, since then I can ban magical disguises just by saying that the terms of the pact stipulate that if he ever stops looking like a demon, he also loses his power to control them.


Ryan

DanMcSorley
06-26-2007, 12:37 AM
It`s funny, because I went totally the other way with this character.
The Sword Mage was scary and dark and mysterious because he got killed
by a demon he summoned, and his apprentice (who inherited his sources)
put on the mask and had to make people believe she was still the same
old powerful Sword Mage. Before, she was one of the masked servants,
and now she`s desperately trying to pretend to be the real Mage.

And the black-masked servants? Those were still her, too. I mean,
she was one before, she was used to being one. Why not keep it up,
and make everybody think you have a bunch of scary servants?

--
Daniel McSorley

Sorontar
06-26-2007, 12:56 AM
his apprentice (who inherited his sources)
put on the mask and had to make people believe she was still the same
old powerful Sword Mage. Before, she was one of the masked servants,
and now she`s desperately trying to pretend to be the real Mage.


This really makes me think of the Phantom ("The Ghost Who walks"). The whole idea of there not being one person who is the character, but that it is passed down through the generations, making the public think that the Phantom never dies. Go Mr Walker!

This is easily transferred to Birthright (cf. the Chancellor of the Imperial City who may or may not be the same person, depending on your campaign). The blood abilities of any masked character can be transferred along with artefacts. The Sword Mage may be the perfect character to do this with.

One wonders.... what happens if someone inherits a True Bloodline voluntarily. I have forgotten the rules of inheritance... need to check them out.

Sorontar.

Elton Robb
06-30-2007, 02:41 AM
Wow! I like the idea as well. Who says you can't borrow from the concept of the Phantom? It's an idea, and I too, think it works well for Birthright. Now, I found a place where I can get a copy of the Book of Magecraft. :)

elton.

kgauck
03-02-2008, 09:01 AM
I would rather the Sword Mage not be outside the normal kinds of people who marry, have kids, and have parents and siblings.

My reasoning is that there are two named characters Mhistecai, and The Wizard, who both have bloodlines of Vorynn 45. If these bloodlines are going to stay high, they need to breed with other such bloodlines, and if they are to stay of the Vorynn derivation, there need to be more than two such people running around. The Sword Mage is a Vo 42, and so represents another potential breeding family. Its reasonable to an extent to simply postulate that Mhistecai and The Wizard had aunts and uncles and therefore cousins, and we can construct a group of Vo's in the mid 40's, but it sure would be nice to have another named member of the group.

Its also possible to mix things up a bit with other derivations in the low 40's. That is like adding rice to stretch the soup, allowing our families to marry second cousins occasionally instead of always marrying 1st cousins.

Another option is marrying families from far off places, but I don't know of anyone in Brectur, though its certainly possible to decide that Rheulaan Greenscloak must be one of these people. Outside of Anuire, bloodlines seem to drop about 10 points, if not more.

One of the problems of just inventing new people with Vo 40's bloodlines is that one begins to wonder how it is that they don't displace any of the large number of source holding wizards with bloodlines in the teens. Even if that displacement was through marriage, eventually one would expect the high bloodline people are closely related to an known source holder.

So for this reason, I would prefer to see the Sword Mage as someone who is closely related to Mhistecai, The Wizard, and some of the many Vo 30+'s.

Rowan
03-03-2008, 02:53 AM
You don't have to marry within the same derivation. To keep the Vorynn bloodline, they need only mate with someone with a lower bloodline than their own. Bloodlines can be boosted or kept strong through wise realm rule, bloodtheft/usurpation (probably more common among wizards than most), or passing on the bloodline (from master to apprentice, etc.).

There are a couple more high Vorynn derivation humans and high wizard bloodlines among the Council of Ten of the Imperial College of Sorcery (on BRwiki, but I believe they came from the Book of Magecraft). In a current PBEM, I looked around for possible relatives/parents of Mhistecai, trying not to have to go to elves to explain her bloodline, and found Morel the Wise, on the Council of Ten, Vo 54.

It would also make sense for many of the Vorynn bloodlines to be preserved through the elves. An injection of power from an elf-human union, resulting in 40's or higher in the bloodline, could last for many generations of normal human unions before being watered down significantly. It seems fitting to the flavor of the Vorynn bloodlines to also have this magic tie of the blood of elves, even if much less than normal half elves.

kgauck
03-03-2008, 06:03 AM
You don't have to marry within the same derivation. To keep the Vorynn bloodline, they need only mate with someone with a lower bloodline than their own.
I already covered this. The problem is this strategy will result in Mhistecai and The Wizard's decendents falling to the mid 30's where there are a lot of Vo's.


Bloodlines can be boosted or kept strong through wise realm rule, bloodtheft/usurpation (probably more common among wizards than most), or passing on the bloodline (from master to apprentice, etc.).
If this were a practical solution, why are there so many bloodlines that are minor, tainted, and bred out?

Of course its possible to make the case that Mhistecai and The Wizard are from dynasties in the mid-thirties and that they are exceptional for being in the mid-40's (heroic stuff, bloodtheft, and so on) and that it is inevitable that their decendents will slip back to the 30's where their bloodline with stabilize again because there are enough people in that breeding pool.

There are a couple more high Vorynn derivation humans and high wizard bloodlines among the Council of Ten of the Imperial College of Sorcery (on BRwiki, but I believe they came from the Book of Magecraft). In a current PBEM, I looked around for possible relatives/parents of Mhistecai, trying not to have to go to elves to explain her bloodline, and found Morel the Wise, on the Council of Ten, Vo 54.

There is only one other Vo derivation on the Council and its a Vo 9. There is a Ba 40 and the rest are pretty low. Morel of course raises whole new issues. How did he get a 54? And how will his decendents not fall into the same boat of sliding back to the mid 30's?


It would also make sense for many of the Vorynn bloodlines to be preserved through the elves. An injection of power from an elf-human union, resulting in 40's or higher in the bloodline, could last for many generations of normal human unions before being watered down significantly. It seems fitting to the flavor of the Vorynn bloodlines to also have this magic tie of the blood of elves, even if much less than normal half elves.

This raises more problems than it solves, do I'd rather not go there in order to save the appearances.

Ultimatly this comes down to a question of just how much variation one can expect over time. However, as one considers this, it becomes clear that for game play reasons, change is almost always penalized by bloodline entropy. Bloodtheft is only one severe example. For good reasons at the game play level, one to one transfers of bloodline are hard to come by. Second, many of these transfers get very, very hard as bloodlines get higher. If houses rise and fall and this is typical, and possessing a bloodline is more and more a question of actions rather than inheritance, then the total value if bloodlines in the world would shrink drastically. For this reason, it seems that these kinds of changes are pretty rare, or that they are countered by some other force.

Rowan
03-03-2008, 03:42 PM
I think there are a lot of minor and tainted bloodlines because the farther you get from a throne, the less chance you have of preserving or increasing a bloodline, and the more often people will marry lesser or no bloodlines.

I do think that gradual decline and stabilization in the 20's to 30's is the norm. The greater bloodlines can be readily achieved through passing on the bloodline (a form of inheritance) or bloodtheft. I would suggest that both are more common than you have stated.

Consider a regent who has established an heir to inherit his line. Whether he transfers his bloodline willingly on his deathbed or dies violently, some or all of his power will transfer to his heir. If I understand the rules as currently written (BRCS) correctly, then the heir will end up with a higher bloodline than their predecessor.

If Mhistecai were to have a child with someone of half her bloodline, that child would have a bloodline of Vo 34 or so (probably Minor). If that receives her bloodline in inheritance, and she hasn't increased or decreased it at all, they will automatically receive her Major Vo 45. However, they would also receive a boost as if the lesser bloodline (their own 34) had been received by bloodtheft, giving them 170RP with which to increase their new score--on top of any RP left over from the direct transfer (lets say RP accumulated equal to bloodline score). So that's 215RP, which can boost that 45 score immediately up to 49, with 35RP left over.

Offspring of this scion will have higher bloodlines than Mhistecai's children (and most couples of this period bear at least four children, often many more). Only poor rule, interruption of rule, or interruption of the passage of bloodlines through designated heirs can result in diminished bloodlines. Very well preserved rulership over a realm (such as in the case of Boeruine, Avanil, and Mhoried) can shore up the ruler's bloodline despite marriage with lessers, despite disasters and poor rule, despite a few interruptions in the passage of bloodlines, and despite having to burn a bloodline point to gain RP to deal with a disaster.

Throw in the effect of bloodtheft and it gets easier to control bloodline entropy. Due to the number of children born to people of this age, I suggest that population dynamics result in an overall increase in number of scions over time, violent death before having sufficient children being the primary means of reducing them (and even then, others can become blooded).

True, the bloodlines will diminish except through direct lineage, but that only reinforces the importance of inheritance and primogeniture in Birthright, which I think is VERY appropriate for the setting.

With bloodtheft, though, scions are dying on the battlefield fairly frequently, I imagine. Between battlefield violence and duels, the regency storm is not terribly uncommon, though actual bloodtheft may be rare. Among wizards I expect dueling is fairly common, and bloodtheft proportionately moreso, even if regency storms and overall deaths of scions among wizards are less common.

If you figure that most rulers of realms or powerful nobles who live for very long benefit from absorbing some power through a battlefield regency storm or bloodtheft, and then most of these also pass on their bloodlines (lesser nobles may not be able to hold the designation ceremonies, it's true), then bloodline stability among the greater nobility will be fairly strong.

For wizards, there is probably less familial continuity, one wizard passing on their bloodline to another through designating an heir unrelated to them. That might well mean that the Sword Mage and the like are not biologically related to others of high Vorynn bloodlines, but become related as their bloodline is adopted from a predecessor and they become inducted by Divine Right into another lineage.

Lastly, I see little problem with the injection of power from elves. It's possible that a higher proportion of elves than humans have bloodlines, and certainly powerful ones, since so many elves (many still living) were present at Deismaar. They likely didn't have as rampant bloodtheft as humans. Many half-elves are likely blooded. Humans 10 generations down from a half elf may still wield some Vorynn bloodline.

Another thing that has bothered me about elves (off topic) is that they can likely increase their bloodlines with regency over centuries; many could have truly enormous bloodlines this way, increasing even only once every decade. To prevent some of this, I much prefer to have many, many elf regents, rather than a single elf controlling all provinces, law, and source holdings (what a huge waste and inefficiency!). Source vassalage at the least makes elves much stronger and strategically wiser than the current stupidity of situatiosn like the Sayer of Coullabhie.

kgauck
03-04-2008, 09:55 PM
I think there are a lot of minor and tainted bloodlines because the farther you get from a throne, the less chance you have of preserving or increasing a bloodline, and the more often people will marry lesser or no bloodlines.
I don't think this makes sense. Let's consider each of the ways a scion can increase their bloodline, and determine who has a better chance of doing this, a regent or a scion far from the throne.

Bloodtheft or the death of a scion: Far more likely to involve a free lance than a ruler, who is kept away from violent death because the stakes are simply way too high.

Gain of Regency, should apply to any scion who performs heroic deeds, advances or defends their dynasty and/or bloodline, as well as improving their patrimony. I think the risk of a Loss of Regency is more common for a ruler than a scion, but not by a great margin.

Spending RP to increase bloodline. Never seen it happen in a game, not inclined to see regency stockpiles. Rulers should be way too busy in an environment way too competitive to a years worth of RP sitting idle.

Second, those involving RP, either from a stockpile or bloodtheft are going to have a much greater impact on smaller bloodlines than on larger ones. So smaller bloodlines should be buoyed while the larger bloodlines are unable to benefit from these possibilities. Just getting enough RP to give Mhistecai up to Vo 46 is just shy of 200 RP. I cannot imagine a situation where I would ever see a player in one of my games with 200 RP that they didn't know what to do with, so invested it back into their bloodline. Getting 184 RP from bloodtheft requires the perfect bloodtheft of a scion with 19 (old style accounting) and that's worth a single point.

Rather all of these techniques really favor the little guy and can explain why its really hard for a bloodline to die out, because its so much easier for a guy with an An 7 to get to a 15 of some kind than it is for Mhistecai to get a single point of bloodstrength. And this is despite the fact that it costs exactly twice as much (368) for the little guy to get from 7 to 15, because the little guy can get there in little handfulls c. 40-50 RP at a time for much of their climb.


The greater bloodlines can be readily achieved through passing on the bloodline (a form of inheritance) or bloodtheft. I would suggest that both are more common than you have stated.

I don't think people die violently. I think people may die after violence, but death a death blow that spills blood is so rare that its a kind of freak occurance that DM's should use strategically because that have a story. Blooded NPC's are like PC's: they have an escape plan. Inflicting a coup de grace against a scion is basically a story event, not a routine occurance. Also, villains can surrender. Good aligned characters and those who serve Haelyn should have problems killing prisoners or those who seek mercy.

In the Medieval world, it was far more common for one noble to take another captive for his ransom, because nobles in general didn't want to get killed themselves. So they agreed not to kill one another, but to pay ransoms instead. I think that would happen in Cerilia for the same reasons. This would further reduce acts of bloodtheft.


Consider a regent who has established an heir to inherit his line. Whether he transfers his bloodline willingly on his deathbed or dies violently, some or all of his power will transfer to his heir. If I understand the rules as currently written (BRCS) correctly, then the heir will end up with a higher bloodline than their predecessor.
This makes no sense. The only portion of the bloodline that should be transferable to a child (and the whole question here revolves around finding breeding pools of high Vo) is strength gained since the birth of the child. Otherwise, the child already has that bloodline. The same bloodline can't stack, it must overlap.


If Mhistecai were to have a child with someone of half her bloodline [...]
I really hope you misread something, because if that's teh BCRS interpretation, not only did they reverse the rulebook, but created a terrible way to game the system in a way that makes no sense and is totally without any justification. Its contrary to the clear reading of the rulebook and the whole sense of so much color in any number of NPC descriptions. In fact, its backwards.


With bloodtheft, though, scions are dying on the battlefield fairly frequently, I imagine.
AFAIC, scion death is preventable and plans exist to prevent it, just as any PC would have. Actual scion death in battle means someone's plan failed. Reasonable people don't fight to the death.


Among wizards I expect dueling is fairly common, and bloodtheft proportionately moreso.
If I recall correctly, you need to a touch attack and to spill blood, so most spells are not going to cause bloodtheft.


If you figure that most rulers of realms or powerful nobles who live for very long benefit from absorbing some power through a battlefield regency storm or bloodtheft,
Which I don't

and then most of these also pass on their bloodlines (lesser nobles may not be able to hold the designation ceremonies, it's true),
Which I consider stacking bloodlines which should overlap, not stack.

then bloodline stability among the greater nobility will be fairly strong.
Since I reject both of these premises, I quite obviously reject the conclusion.


For wizards, there is probably less familial continuity, one wizard passing on their bloodline to another through designating an heir unrelated to them.
Why? Do wizards love their children less? Are they less likely to mate?

Based on other kinds of intellectuals, I would argue that wizards are the most likely to pass on their domains to their offspring, because the children of intellectuals (scholars, priests, academics, artists, writers, thinkers, &c, &c, &c) are the most likely to be intellectuals themselves. Much more of the love of the world of the mind and the habits of learning are passed on than are skills with handling money (shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations), piety, or a desire or ability to be a soldier (very, very uneven across generations), or administration. All of these things can be heritable (as presumably are all the abilities scores) but intellectuals seem more likely to have intellectual children than the other types are likely to reproduce their class choices.


I see little problem with the injection of power from elves.
I don't think the elves would give humans bloodlines unless they were instruments of sidhe policy. I think its far more likely that elves harvest bloodlines a la the Gorgon than they inject high powered bloodlines into human rulership. How nice for the elves to live in harmony with the humans when the humans have lost the ability to rule more than a petty lordship and must yield to the elves provinces and domains. The humans would be divided and naturally subject. Such a plan, were it possible, would be more effective than basically everything else we're ever discussed the elves doing. The elves would not buoy human bloodlines.

I don't think there is any way to transfer a bloodline from an elf to a human, short of investiture, and the elves won't divest their own bloodline for humans.

I don't think the elves reproduce sexually, so that's right out, but even those who accept the principle of sexual reproduction among the elves generally describe sex as infrequent, so from a human perspective, diminishingly rare.

Sorontar
03-04-2008, 11:02 PM
I am remembering the rules off the top of my head here but I thought it was as follows:

Lord A has 45 blood strength
Little Miss B (his daughter) has 20 blood strength.

Through being A's heir or bloodtheft or investiture or Land's Choice, A gives his blood points to B. This *does not* mean that B now has 65 blood strength. Instead, it has to be calculated step-by-step.

For B to increase her blood strength by 1, she needs to absorb 20 new blood points. That will give her 21 blood strength and A will still have 25 blood strength. To increase B's blood strength again, she will have to absorb 21 new blood points. This will give her 22 blood strength and the remaining 3 points are absorbed but do not change the bloodline strength.

So yes, this favours low blood strengths as it is really hard to increase your blood strength through inheritance. Even the Gorgon or Rhuobhe would have trouble doing it through bloodtheft.

I can't remember what happens if an unblooded person does bloodtheft but I imagine it would be something similar (1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 = 45 blood points to give 9 blood strength).

Hope I got this right. Never had to use it in play (much).

Sorontar.

Rowan
03-05-2008, 05:20 AM
I think you may have misunderstood some of my points, Kgauck. Sorontar, you're pretty close to right, if not dead on, with current and original rules for increasing bloodlines.

Kgauck, I think we're naturally going to disagree on a lot of these points if you're talking about your campaign house rules. I'm speaking of general standard rules, generally BRCS but I could go back to the original 2e rules if you prefer. I'll go through your post, but many of your disagreements stem from disagreements with the rules and wanting to change them, or so it seems to me.

First, I do see your point about bloodlines not being so susceptible to random events among the lesser nobility. However, there is no event that influences bloodlines so much as intermarriage and bearing offspring. A scion who has children with another person leaves that child with a bloodline strength of the average of the two scores. I believe lesser nobility are less likely to be able to make the marriages necessary to preserve their bloodlines, in general. More of them marry wealthy commoners or wealthy lesser scions (wealth often ending up mattering more than the bloodline). Children of a scion and an unblooded parent have only half the bloodline strength of the parent, so bloodlines diminish very rapidly over such generations.

I posit that domain rulers are more able to make favorable marriages and so preserve their bloodlines. Further, they are more able to obtain the ceremonies necessary to pass on their bloodlines from the patriarch/matriarch to the succeeding generation. As you say, they die less often in battle, and thus are also more able to pass on bloodlines.

I agree that ransom is more common than fighting to the death, but people die violently in jousts--many more will die in combat on the battlefield, whether they intended it or not. Escape strategies are pretty hard to make work in the heat of battle when you're surrounded by desperate men. It also makes sense to me in a D&D world, particularly BR, that heroic one-on-one combat among nobles (also akin to George R.R. Martin's works) happens pretty frequently, and will often result in violent death (even if "often" is only 10-20% of the time).


Spending RP to increase bloodline. Never seen it happen in a game, not inclined to see regency stockpiles. Rulers should be way too busy in an environment way too competitive to a years worth of RP sitting idle.
I've been in 3 PBEM games and only seen about 2 turns in each, and in each of those games I could have managed the Bloodline+1 RP requirement to increase score and have plenty left over. Not for a lack of competition or a lack of random events, but because wise skill use and planning of domain actions can preserve a lot of RP, and because Gold is a much more limiting factor in my experience than regency is. The only reason I didn't increase bloodlines is that in short-fuse PBEMs, the game really isn't likely to last long enough to make it worth it. You're much better off accumulating the RP and spending it liberally where you can to expand at a break-neck pace to try to reach all your goals in 2-4 turns, before the game dies. In a longer-turn, less wild and desperate game, it would be very easy to manage bloodline increases, particularly among more isolated realms (Mieres, the elves and dwarves, Coeranys, Elinie, Talinie, etc.).


Just getting enough RP to give Mhistecai up to Vo 46 is just shy of 200 RP.
Where are you getting that? Original rules and current BRCS, reconverted to original blood scores (and not the 1/2 ability scores from the .pdf version), only require Bloodline+1 RP. So getting Mhistecai up to Vo 46 only costs 46 RP. 200RP, coming from accumulation or bloodthefting someone with 40 bloodline or both, would raise her score from 45 to 49 (46+47+48+49=190RP, 10 left over).


This makes no sense. The only portion of the bloodline that should be transferable to a child (and the whole question here revolves around finding breeding pools of high Vo) is strength gained since the birth of the child. Otherwise, the child already has that bloodline. The same bloodline can't stack, it must overlap.
Bloodline investiture passes a bloodline on from one person to another. The heir receives the giver's bloodline if higher than their own, and the lower bloodline is immediately treated as if bloodthefted. Having a child CREATES a new pool of blood power in the child; if someone were to bloodtheft a child and a parent, they would absorb power from TWO bloodlines, not one. So when a parent passes on a bloodline to a child, it bolster's the child's bloodline. I agree this is very powerful, but is limited by the loss of bloodstrength for the children of many marriages; most of the most powerful bloodlines get diluted every generation, and must be bolstered somehow. You're observing this problem among the Vorynn bloodline, but's even more of a problem for the Dosieres, Avans, and Boeruines unless they can bolster bloodlines through investiture. Unless those three families go through extensive interbreeding, mostly by 1st cousins probably, those 60+ bloodlines are going to drop hugely every generation. Intermarriage to that extent IMO would violate the canon division of these families; otherwise, a Boeruine/Avan royal family would likely have been merged and there'd have been an emperor long ago, and the Dosieres would also essentially be of that family as well.


I really hope you misread something, because if that's teh BCRS interpretation, not only did they reverse the rulebook, but created a terrible way to game the system in a way that makes no sense and is totally without any justification. Its contrary to the clear reading of the rulebook and the whole sense of so much color in any number of NPC descriptions. In fact, its backwards.
It's backwards that you average the bloodline strength of the parents to get the bloodline strength of the child? Howso? That makes perfect sense to me.


If I recall correctly, you need to a touch attack and to spill blood, so most spells are not going to cause bloodtheft.
Violent death by destructive evocations will release regency storms; conditions necessary for bloodtheft can be created through any number of spells--charms, sleeps, paralysis, feebleminds, grappling by summoned creatures, etc. I expect less honor among wizards, not because there aren't wizards with much honor, but because the source material suggests many wizards who don't seem above arranging the bloodtheft of their opponents.


Quote:
If you figure that most rulers of realms or powerful nobles who live for very long benefit from absorbing some power through a battlefield regency storm or bloodtheft,
Which I don't
Quote:
and then most of these also pass on their bloodlines (lesser nobles may not be able to hold the designation ceremonies, it's true),
Which I consider stacking bloodlines which should overlap, not stack.
On one hand, you seem to like heroic one-on-one battles in Birthright, yet on the other you seem to want regents to never engage in battle and be warrior kings who are likely to meet other nobles in combat, many of whom will die before they get a chance to yield and result in regency storms. It seems idiomatic for BR to me.
I believe the Bloodline Investiture ceremony/spell explicitly talks about rulers passing their bloodlines to heirs, by the way, with the higher bloodline replacing the smaller and the smaller being used like through bloodtheft to increase the overall score.


Why? Do wizards love their children less? Are they less likely to mate?

It's not that they don't love their children as much. Yes, I think many are less likely to bear children--they're wizards, they're concerned with magic, not with dynasties. They spend their time in their studies and in pursuit of power. Mages are not viewed with much prestige and favor in Anuire; they are less likely to be able to arrange powerful noble marriages to preserve their bloodlines, and less interested in it in general, anyway. I don't think they're as likely to have as many children, either. Those children may be likely to become wizards, but not all will. At best I think wizardly reproduction (in terms of children also following in their footsteps) must be less than replacement level, to account for a few scions not born to wizardly parents to enter the profession and yet not meaningfully increase the rarity of wizards in Anuire.


I don't think the elves would give humans bloodlines unless they were instruments of sidhe policy.
From what I gather, you seem to like the chaotic, impassioned nature of the elves, to be alien in the degree to which they are subject to their passions. If this is true, elves wouldn't plan the manipulation of human bloodlines or the generation of half-elves. Rather it would occur as the source materials suggest--when an elf becomes taken with a particular human, and mates with that human out of passion. Bloodlines, then, get transmitted just as through normal procreation and this far less meditated act of passion on the part of the elves.

Rowan
03-05-2008, 05:20 AM
I don't think the elves reproduce sexually, so that's right out, but even those who accept the principle of sexual reproduction among the elves generally describe sex as infrequent, so from a human perspective, diminishingly rare.
Well, non-sexual reproduction of elves, particularly prohibiting that from being the mode of production for half-elves, is a house rule that I won't question. It's not helpful when discussing the passage of bloodlines with the mainline rules, though, which assume sexual elven reproduction, particularly in the case of half-elves. Some people here assume elves mate sexually quite frequently, but just don't produce many offspring from those unions. More, it seems to me, agree with the idea that sex with humans produces offspring at a much higher rate than sex just between elves, and the mention of at least one of the female elven rulers (can't remember who right now), mentioning quite a few half-elven children, seems to support this idea. Personally, I favor the latter explantion (infrequent sex, but frequent offspring when inter-speciel).

irdeggman
03-05-2008, 11:51 AM
For reference

Book of Regency pg 16


When a scion has a child, that child gains a bloodline with a strength, score, and derivation that reflects those of his parents.

If two scions have a child, his bloodline score is determined by averaging the scores of his parents. The child receives the bloodline strength and derivation of the parent with the highest bloodline score. So if a scion of Brenna with a great bloodline and a strength score of 30 has a child with a scion of Reynir who has a major bloodline of 40, the child has a bloodline of Reynir, major, 35.

Should a scion have a child with an unblooded person, the child gains the bloodline strength and derivation of his blooded parent, but only half the parentís bloodline strength score (round up). This number results from averaging the two bloodline strength scoresóone a number greater than zero, the other zero.


Pretty much same words in the BR Rulebook pg 29

Book of Priestcraft pg 81

ďBloodline investiture is more often used to elevate a rulerís heir to the same blood strength that the ruler himself enjoys. This is normally a gift to strengthen the new regent for the trials and hardships ahead.Ē

BR rulebook pg 30
Passing the bloodline
ďThe recipient of the bloodline increases his bloodline to the power of the donor, while the donor reduces himself to a bloodline strength of 0. . . .If the recipientís bloodline strength is already higher than that of the donor the recipientís strength increases by 1 point.Ē

From BRCS (sanctioned chapter 2)


Direct descendents of the greatest heroes of Deismaar tend to have stronger bloodlines than those whose bloodlines have been diluted by common blood, or whose ancestors were only on the periphery of the cataclysm. When a scion has a child, that child's bloodline (which manifests at puberty) reflects the bloodlines of its parents. In the same way that the physical attributes (such as skin color or constitution) of parents tends to determine the attributes of their children, the bloodlines (measured by the bloodline strength, derivation, and score) of the parents also tend to dictate the bloodline attributes of their children.

Children always share the bloodline derivation of one of their parents. This derivation is generally inherited from the parent with the strongest bloodline, although this is not always the case. The bloodline strength of the child is generally that of the parent having the weakest bloodline strength (or minor, if one of the parents is non-blooded). Powerful scions must often arrange marriages with other powerful houses to maintain the purity of their bloodlines.

Children tend to have a bloodline score that is the average of their parent's bloodline scores, but this is subject to the same variation as other inherited physical properties. Siblings may differ greatly in bloodline scores. A child's bloodline manifestations cannot usually be determined until puberty, at which time the child's latent bloodline stirs. A Bloodmark (should one run in the line of one of the parents) is the only manifestation of bloodline that is present from birth.

A scion can voluntarily pass his bloodline to another character by participating in a ceremony of investiture (described in Chapter Five: Ruling a domain). After such a transfer, the donor becomes non-blooded. This generally occurs only when an aged or dying ruler wishes to invest their chosen heir with their accumulated power.




BRCS Domain action section:


This action allows a regent to arrange for current, future, or on-going transfers of domain assets to another character. Ceremonies help to fix the minds of a domainís populace and ease the acceptance of a new regent or heir. This action is often combined with the casting of a Bloodline investiture realm spell.


BRCS Bloodline Investiture realm spell


This spell allows the priest to transfer the bloodline of a willing regent to another character. A bloodline investiture transfers the donating scionís entire bloodline, including strength, derivation, and score, to the designated recipient. The donating scionís regency reserve is not transferred to the recipient. This change is permanent and cannot be reversed unwillingly.

Bloodline investiture is often used to elevate a rulerís heir to the same blood strength that the ruler himself enjoys. However, both characters must be present and willing for the ceremony to be effective.

If the target character is already a scion, then the bloodlines are combined in exactly the same manner as if the character with the stronger bloodline had performed bloodtheft on the character with the weaker bloodline.


Now the BRCS realm spell has not been updated to match the sanctioned chapter 2 information. So the spell should have that if the recipientís bloodline score is lower than the donor than the entire score is replaced with the donorís score, but if the recipientís score is lower than the donor then the rules for bloodtheft should be followed.

kgauck
03-05-2008, 07:41 PM
Kgauck, I think we're naturally going to disagree on a lot of these points if you're talking about your campaign house rules.
I'm not talking about house rules, I'm talking about demographics based on setting material.


However, there is no event that influences bloodlines so much as intermarriage and bearing offspring.
Which is why I revived this thread by saying, "I would rather the Sword Mage not be outside the normal kinds of people who marry, have kids, and have parents and siblings." The issue of marriage and offspring has been my argument for a normal Swordmage. Certainly that has not been forgotten.


More of them marry wealthy commoners or wealthy lesser scions (wealth often ending up mattering more than the bloodline).
Having actually built family trees back as many as four generations for an entire realm (Baruk-Azhik), I can say that this isn't required as much as one might suppose. It would only be caused by a disproportionate number of one sex in a breeding cohort. Otherwise blooded can find blooded, especially if a college of heraldry is consulted. Some people may have difficulty finding mates, even so, but there are matches in more distant places to consider as well. Instead, I would say the common explanation for these minor and tainted bloodlines would be bastards. Count Bellam has a few affairs with servants, and you have a half dozen children running around with half his bloodline. I propose that this happens far more often than turning one's back on the divine sanction to rule for a little money.


I posit that domain rulers are more able to make favorable marriages and so preserve their bloodlines. Further, they are more able to obtain the ceremonies necessary to pass on their bloodlines from the patriarch/matriarch to the succeeding generation. As you say, they die less often in battle, and thus are also more able to pass on bloodlines.
OK, so we're back to this issue. I contend that bloodlines of the same family do not stack. It makes no sense that you can have two brothers both invest the same person (let alone an offspring of one of them) and get more and more bloodline.

I wrote, "The only portion of the bloodline that should be transferable to a child is strength gained since the birth of the child. Irdeggman then posted the following:

Bloodline investiture is more often used to elevate a rulerís heir to the same blood strength that the ruler himself enjoys.
and

The recipient of the bloodline increases his bloodline to the power of the donor, while the donor reduces himself to a bloodline strength of 0. . . .If the recipientís bloodline strength is already higher than that of the donor the recipientís strength increases by 1 point
So the original rules allowed investiture to increase the investee "to the power of the donor", not beyond. If Father has Vo 45 and son has Vo 46, then the investiture defaults to teh +1 clause. If Father has Vo 45 and son has Vo 45, then investiture has no effect (though I would allow the +1 clause). If father is 45 and son is 44 or lower, then the son is brought to 45. There is really no notion of stacking bloodlines here (with the small exception of the +1) and there is no sense that only families don't stack, every bloodline doesn't stack.

As such, the notion that Mhistecai (Vo 45) could marry an unblooded person, and then invest their bloodline into their heir and get a Vo 49 heir is, I say again, backwards. Mhistecai's children should end up as the average of both parents until invested, and then end up as Vo 45 (except in the happy circumstance that heir is higher).

Getting a bloodline higher should not be business as usual, but require heroic actions and good stewardship.

ThatSeanGuy
03-05-2008, 09:09 PM
Or it could just assume that the Sword Mage comitted bloodtheft at some point, or made some sort of sinister magical deal to increase his or her bloodline strength.

I mean, not even the good regents always play by the rules; you see several characters who founded their own noble lines after slaying a rampaging awnshaghen.

Rowan
03-05-2008, 09:15 PM
As for house rules, I was really latching more onto the elf thing, as well as any variation from the original rules (special rules stating that family lines don't "stack").

I don't disagree with the Sword Mage being a normal human. I jumped in to say that he didn't have to be to help explain high Vo bloodlines. I personally think the SM was born a normal human who ended up becoming tainted in some way--either through secretly having his bloodline cannibalized by Azrai through some act of blood-mixing, theft, or dabbling in the Shadow World; or some demonic taint through pacts with demons or mixing of essences.

Irdeggman also posted this:

Bloodline investiture is often used to elevate a rulerís heir to the same blood strength that the ruler himself enjoys. However, both characters must be present and willing for the ceremony to be effective.

If the target character is already a scion, then the bloodlines are combined in exactly the same manner as if the character with the stronger bloodline had performed bloodtheft on the character with the weaker bloodline.

I was referring to the Bloodline Investiture clause explained in that last part. I don't think it's necessarily imbalanced, depending on how you let it play out in BR. However, I do agree that it is probably in most cases better balanced to say that the recipient either replaces his bloodline with the donor's if the donor's is higher, or increases it by +1 or so if the donor's is lower. The problem with limiting to just +1 is that voluntary donation should be at least as effective as bloodtheft; yet if it is limited to +1, bloodtheft would have been more effective. Adjusting for this factor would change the rule so that the recipient absorbs the donor's bloodline as if in bloodtheft if the donor's bloodline is lower than the recipient's bloodline +5. The reason for the "+5" is best shown by example:

This allows a scion with a bloodline of 30 who has a child with a scion of bloodline 20 (child now has 25) to pass on the bloodline to that child even if they don't increase it to 31. If the original bloodline were to drop to 24 through major losses, investiture would produce 120RP (5x), which could bring the child's bloodline to 29 (26+27+28+29=113RP). Thus it is better for a recipient to bloodtheft a scion rather than accept their bloodline in place of their own unless the donor's bloodline is 5 or so higher than their own (more benefit bloodthefting a 24 bloodline than replacing their own 25 bloodline with a 28).

The big control on bloodline investiture is an unpredictability of time of death, unwillingness to pass on the bloodline (it's almost like a form of suicide, killing the divine life within oneself), and the limitation that the bloodline can only be passed to one other person--i.e., the firstborn child (in most cases).

kgauck
03-06-2008, 04:20 AM
As for house rules, I was really latching more onto the elf thing, as well as any variation from the original rules (special rules stating that family lines don't "stack").

The original rules didn't allow any bloodlines to stack in cases of investiture. I wasn't trying to go that far in my more limited argument that a family can't use other family members as a rocket booster for their bloodline. Whether one prefers the original reading (no stacking) or the newer reading (some stacking) in cases of investing non-family, I really don't have a preference which system were general, but there are too many ills when one can take the same bloodline and fold it in over itself, plus the idea that you can have the same blood twice is like knowing the same information twice. If secrets made you powerful, knowing the same secret twice isn't better than knowing it once. Likewise a ruler who divests his brother and makes him common should be weaker, not stronger. A dynasty is more powerful than a single man.

About the elves, I made it clear I was identifying my own concerns, but just the same, I was not the author of it, and it represents a distinct alternate position in the community.

kgauck
03-06-2008, 05:49 AM
I agree that ransom is more common than fighting to the death, but people die violently in jousts--many more will die in combat on the battlefield, whether they intended it or not. Escape strategies are pretty hard to make work in the heat of battle when you're surrounded by desperate men.

Actually most combats are a series of attacks and withdrawls. Electing to withdrawl with a sanctuary single use magic item would seem to be quite common. Even a cure light can be the difference between a sucessful withdrawl and death.


It also makes sense to me in a D&D world, particularly BR, that heroic one-on-one combat among nobles (also akin to George R.R. Martin's works) happens pretty frequently, and will often result in violent death (even if "often" is only 10-20% of the time).

If violent death was visited on 10-20% of scions who entered combat with other scions, I think they should all have been dead in three generations.


On one hand, you seem to like heroic one-on-one battles in Birthright, yet on the other you seem to want regents to never engage in battle and be warrior kings who are likely to meet other nobles in combat, many of whom will die before they get a chance to yield and result in regency storms. It seems idiomatic for BR to me.

I think rulers are too smart for heroic combat, and follow the advice of Machiavelli, who warns, "never should one risk the whole of one's fortune on the success of but a part of one's forces," namely one's self. If the whole fortune of the kingdom can be brought down by the death of a single man, it is utter catastrophe to let them risk it. These kinds of combats are the place for young scions seeking to make their names and earn their fortunes.


It's not that they don't love their children as much. Yes, I think many are less likely to bear children--they're wizards, they're concerned with magic, not with dynasties.

One could make the same argument for any of the other kinds of rulers, especially soldiers and merchants who are more often far from home. Wizards with research are far more likely to be at home than other rulers. So just like other intellectual families, there are wizardly families.


They spend their time in their studies and in pursuit of power. Mages are not viewed with much prestige and favor in Anuire; they are less likely to be able to arrange powerful noble marriages to preserve their bloodlines, and less interested in it in general, anyway.

First, my concern with the Sword Mage was specifically that we needed one more wizardly family in the top rank for some of the reasons mentioned, but second, I think there is too much emphasis here. Mages are not so contemptable that a match with one would not be pursued if the match, like any other were favorable in terms of blood or alliance.


I don't think they're as likely to have as many children, either. Those children may be likely to become wizards, but not all will. At best I think wizardly reproduction (in terms of children also following in their footsteps) must be less than replacement level, to account for a few scions not born to wizardly parents to enter the profession and yet not meaningfully increase the rarity of wizards in Anuire.

No class sees more than a fraction of their children take up that class. Most must become aristocrats (the NPC class), some smaller number are mostly nobles (the PC class) and a few take up priest, fighter, guilder, or wizard beyond a token level. Since there are so few bloodlines of Vo or Ba, and nearly all wizards have this derivation, I don't imagine that even with big families, the number of actual wizards will always be small.


From what I gather, you seem to like the chaotic, impassioned nature of the elves, to be alien in the degree to which they are subject to their passions. If this is true, elves wouldn't plan the manipulation of human bloodlines or the generation of half-elves.

Actually I very little to say about elves at all, they are not my cup of tea. So I either view the elves as Romulans with longbows, or follow the interpreations of the materials made by others, such as Ryan Caveney and John Machin. As Romulans with longbows, they are the ultimate schemers. Passionate, certainly, rather than logical, but very disciplined. YMMV.

ThatSeanGuy
03-06-2008, 03:15 PM
Actually I very little to say about elves at all, they are not my cup of tea. So I either view the elves as Romulans with longbows, or follow the interpreations of the materials made by others, such as Ryan Caveney and John Machin. As Romulans with longbows, they are the ultimate schemers. Passionate, certainly, rather than logical, but very disciplined. YMMV.

Do they have to be one way or the other? You could have one faction of elves who are all, "We're chaotic and wacky and in the treeeeessss!" while another sees manipulating human or half-elf bloodlines as being just as natural as breeding horses or dogs for certain traits.


I think rulers are too smart for heroic combat, and follow the advice of Machiavelli, who warns, "never should one risk the whole of one's fortune on the success of but a part of one's forces," namely one's self. If the whole fortune of the kingdom can be brought down by the death of a single man, it is utter catastrophe to let them risk it. These kinds of combats are the place for young scions seeking to make their names and earn their fortunes.

Normally, I'd agree with this. But isn't part of the whole reason we have magical god-bloodlines a ratonalization for why a group of D&D adventurers are running a kingdom instead of a bunch of NPCs with the Aristocrat class? If you're not willing to fufill the hero part of the hero-king bargan, the land will eventually reject you, just like it rejects a hero who refuses to actually act like a king. One on one combat? Yeah, that's a little Highlander for the setting. An adventuring group sneaking past enemy lines to complete a crucial mission to win the war or otherwise put a stop to hostilities? Sounds like a job for the regent and his posse of scions.

kgauck
03-06-2008, 05:56 PM
Hero kings do have certain kinds of adventures marked out by them by myth and literature, and its well within players to expand those boundaries, but such hero kings are often surrounded by followers, be they knights of the round table, Beowulf's thanes, or the larger number of heroes who serve kings. Often becoming king comes at the end of a great adventure. Kings are really too busy to be primary adventurers.


An adventuring group sneaking past enemy lines to complete a crucial mission to win the war or otherwise put a stop to hostilities? Sounds like a job for the regent and his posse of scions.
Actually this sounds like a job for the regent's champion and his posse of scions. If something happens while the ruler is on this mission, it could mean defeat anyway. Kings need to stay at the center of the information flow, not at the center of the action. Putting yourself at the center of action generally puts you outside of the information.

There are generally three models you can find for command and kingship in the era before telegraphs and more modern communication:

Stay back and oversee the whole operation from a short distance, you can see the whole battle, but are removed from direct command anywhere, and need to rely on subordinate commanders to execute.
Take direct command of a part of the operation where you think the decisive action will occur.
Lead from the front and throw yourself into the melee.

As you go down the list, you lose control over the whole and gain control over a smaller and smaller part. Generally what is most common (and for good reasons) is for the commander to stay in the overview position. Once the situation has clarified itself, the enemy has committed his reserves, resources have been committed, the other guy can't change plans without summoning unseen/unknown assets. Then the commander can shift to the second position, at the decisive point. If the commander selects this option too early, it can turn out that the decisive point is elsewhere and the battle is lost. Finally, the commander might enter the action as a final push to secure the victory with his personal body of warriors.

Someone like Caesar got plenty of direct, personal combat, but still spent most of their time in the big over-view position, only entering combat to rally a shaken legion or encourage a legion to break an opponent putting up a tough resistance.

Leaving the army to perform some critical raid is one of those ways that a king would be abandoning their office for a lower function. Such a role is better suited for a subordinate, such as Beowulf's friend Wiglaf.

However, there are times where it genuinely seems that there is one main threat, and that the king can pursue a single threat (say a dragon) as long as he has left his ducks in a row. During this time, the king may directly lead adventures. But for the most part, the king's duty is to the whole kingdom, not to be his own champion. Or his own diplomat, or his own treasurer, or his own architect. It is a temptation to be avoided. The king, who has worked his way up, like the Mhor's son and lieutenant, will be tempted to use himself as his critical asset and solve problems directly, but this is not the best role for the king. A king can also be too detached and leave everything to his household, but this is not optimal either. The best role for the king is to directly supervise their subordinates, making sure that each in their sphere is doing what the king wants, neither ignoring the subordinates and hoping for the best, or doing the work for them and having no time for supervising others.

ThatSeanGuy
03-06-2008, 06:00 PM
Hero kings do have certain kinds of adventures marked out by them by myth and literature, and its well within players to expand those boundaries, but such hero kings are often surrounded by followers, be they knights of the round table, Beowulf's thanes, or the larger number of heroes who serve kings. Often becoming king comes at the end of a great adventure. Kings are really too busy to be primary adventurers.

But, isn't that the point of the setting? Instead of kingship coming at the end of the adventure, kingship's just the beginning?

I mean, I see what you're saying here, and it's logical stuff, but I thought the main idea of the setting was that, instead of being the champion or unlikely mercinary who carries out the king's orders, you were the ruler yourself doing the darring do.

Also, we've kind of spreaded off into a tangent, and I apologize for that, considering that this is supposed to be about the Sword Mage.

kgauck
03-06-2008, 06:38 PM
BR gave us the domain rules too. Play can run from all domain and no adventure to all adventure and no domain turns taken using the domain rules. Players need to find their happy spot, doing the things they like to do, but there are also better matches between players and roles. Some players like to coordinate others, get involved in running a domain, rather than wanting to get out and slay some orogs. Others want to slay orogs.

While you should try and be flexible, I think a DM should also impose natural consequences for choices made. If a ruler is spending too much time away from the throne, opportunities should be missed, both to seize advantage and to avoid dangers.

Rowan
03-06-2008, 07:19 PM
I agree with you, Kgauck, with some qualifications. I think it is more common in the Birthright setting's divine bloodlines and adventuresome-ness for rulers to direct some battle, but frequently leap in at decisive points, seeking out enemy commanders on the battle field. One does not win glory by testing one's noble mettle against mere peasant footsoldiers, but by defeating, capturing, or killing your noble foemen. That's where I think the regency storms occur.

Further, you talk about kings. Most of Birthright is about counts, barons, and dukes. As you go up the list, people become more important figureheads, and would likely act more like kings. But kings have their dukes, barons, and counts take those lead positions on the battlefield as well as in diplomacy or administration of the kingdom. Just because Anuire is currently divided does not mean this has broken down completely and everyone acts like a king.

I think the primary difference that still remains is that kings are tremendous symbols and figureheads for their nations; the fate of the MAN is extremely important, and the death of a king can cause great disruption. However, for lesser nobles individuals are less important than families. Successions are smoother (with relation to the impact on the state), since the people look to the noble family as their liege lords, not just the current patriarch of that family. The apparatus of state is likely to be less disrupted by the transition of rulers at those lesser levels.

I think this means that your typical BR counts, barons, and dukes are significantly more likely than a king to engage personally in events and even risk themselves seeking glory. After all, the king need not prove his prowess in most situations since he already has the highest station, whereas lesser nobles are always vying against each other to rise in the ranks of the valorous and honorable.

kgauck
03-06-2008, 07:46 PM
I totally agree with your point Rowan, and that's what I was getting at saying that a lieutenant, like Beowulf's friend Wiglaf, would be involved in more adventures than Beowulf himself.

I didn't identify the titles of the subordinates who go out into the world, but counts, lords, and officers of the king would fit the bill. Dukes and Barons are effectively kings in Birthright, since they are the top of their own pyramids.

Rowan
03-06-2008, 10:13 PM
Well, I'm suggesting that dukes and barons still aren't quite up to the part of kings, even though they're at the top positions in their respective realms. I just don't think the realms place as much emphasis on the person of the baron and duke as they would an emperor or king, and that they care more about the ruling family than the individual.

kgauck
03-06-2008, 10:21 PM
Kings (and Queens) occupy realms no larger than those of dukes and barons. Is Stjordvik or Aerenwe more concerned with the person of their sovereign than Ghoere or Dauren?

Certainly if there were a new layer restored above the current top this person becomes even more essential, but that's a hypothetical.

Rowan
03-06-2008, 11:31 PM
In small realms, the peasantry and nobility get to know the entire ruling family more easily than in larger ones, and can easily see the transition of the throne among the family members. The nobility and administrators are fewer in number, and thus it is easier to bring them under the wing of the successor. Given these factors, I think the transition of power within a ruling family is easier in smaller realms, and the people see the family as ruling more than the individual. The larger realms get and the more layers of hierarchy, the more important and distant the ruling individual, and therefore the more important his symbolic position.

Also, weren't duchies and baronies often more stable than monarchies? The stability of these lends, again, to the realm identifying with the ruling family moreso than with any one individual.

kgauck
03-07-2008, 05:03 PM
Determining exactly how this plays out can involve a lot of factors and how they interact will determine how provincial a place is. Some place like France or the Empire (both in their own ways, models for Anuire) had more devotion to the local magnates than to the king, who was distant and remote. So developing a model of how, precisely, this works in Cerilia, would require a cultural history of the various places under consideration.

My own sense would be that where ever the PC's are in the feudal hierarchy has an elevated importance for the people.

But most importantly, I'd want it all to make sense for the area where the game takes place. Only Anuire is attached to the notion of an Emperor. The Brecht and Khinasi realms have the notion of a greater pan-union league, but I suspect that the regionalism of the preople would express itself most for their domain-sized rulers. For the Rjurik, there seems to be a lot of attachment to the jarls, at least in the older thinking. The newer urban Rjurik might well prefer kings, with their wider view of things.