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Thread: More Powers

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    I've been skimming the initial release of the d20 Birthright (which does look pretty damn good by the way) and it appears that while there have been some new bloodline powers added (possibly from sources I don't own) there still aren't enough for my tastes. I believe that variety is the key to longevity in an RPG and as such I was wondering if there were any plans to expand the bloodline powers list? If not, would you consider doing so? The new D&D is all about the options right? Am I alone in this line of thinking?

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Cinder@Aug 13 2003, 03:07 AM
    I've been skimming the initial release of the d20 Birthright (which does look pretty damn good by the way) and it appears that while there have been some new bloodline powers added (possibly from sources I don't own) there still aren't enough for my tastes. I believe that variety is the key to longevity in an RPG and as such I was wondering if there were any plans to expand the bloodline powers list? If not, would you consider doing so? The new D&D is all about the options right? Am I alone in this line of thinking?
    Actually there were no new blood abilities added. The list was from the Book of Regency (free download from wizards) and some of the original descriptions were in Blood Enemies as well.

    There seemed to have been an error in the fact that endurance was added when it shouldn't have been since it wasn't one of the abilities listed.

    The answer is no there are no plans to add any additional abilites to the "core" BRCS book. There are presently some guidelines for how a DM can create new ones if he wishes, but generally this is not a good idea, and if done there should be some sort of history as to why the "new" ability was discovered. A blood ability is not like a spell that can be researched it was something passed on from the deceased gods. That is why the words were written the way they were in the BRCS-playtest to discourage people from treating blood abilities like spells in this manner.
    Duane Eggert

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    blem with adding new blood abilities under the right

    conditions. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when doing so,

    though, that should probably be mentioned.



    First, what is the role of the new blood ability? Where does it fit into

    the portfolio/sphere/emphasis of the god whose derivation it will be

    associated? What aspect of the god (or of general godly powers) does it

    convey?



    Second, (and this one is probably more important) what will the actual game

    mechanical effects of the power be? In 3e+ we have a lot more actual rules

    for effects. Damage reduction is much more articulated, the ability scores

    have broader effects, skills outlined, etc. What will the actual game

    mechanical effects of the power be? Having spent a lot of time writing up

    the Bloodline Point document a while back it felt like I had just about

    exhausted every possible permutation of the rules to reflect the

    differences and scales of various blood abilities. I didn`t, of

    course. It just felt like it after the somewhat brain wringing exercise of

    writing up that system. However, it is possible to get to write up a blood

    ability that doesn`t vary much from existing ones, and that`s not

    particularly worthwhile. (Plug: A system of BP handles such things much

    better since it allows for changes and additions to the existing blood

    abilities, making them of practically endless variation.)



    Third, one should try to make an attempt to balance the powers` effects

    against existing ones. This is one of the things the original rules didn`t

    do very well, I`m afraid. Many of the powers at various strengths (minor,

    major, great) were more than a little questionable as far as being balanced

    against one another is concerned.



    Last, one should dedicate some sort of thought to the issue of whether the

    blood ability should be available to players. If it is, then it`s the kind

    of thing that one wouldn`t want to introduce after character generation has

    been done. Players might feel ripped off by running into characters who

    have powers that should be available to them, but that they missed out on

    due to the tardiness of the DM.



    Did you have any particular blood abilities in mind?



    Gary

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    offers bloodline feats for sorcerers. Many of them

    could easily be blood abilities.



    Kenneth Gauck

    kgauck@mchsi.com

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    The answer is no there are no plans to add any additional abilites to the "core" BRCS book. There are presently some guidelines for how a DM can create new ones if he wishes, but generally this is not a good idea, and if done there should be some sort of history as to why the "new" ability was discovered. A blood ability is not like a spell that can be researched it was something passed on from the deceased gods. That is why the words were written the way they were in the BRCS-playtest to discourage people from treating blood abilities like spells in this manner.
    I tend to think of blood abilities as the inherited traits of the old gods - in essence, "mini-salient divine abilities." I think each blood ability should represent some definitive aspect of the old god from which it is derived - and I'm not convinced the breakdown of abilities found in the 2e products represents the absolutely final sum of all such aspects which scions may have inherited; I certainly can't recall such being stated anywhere, and I would guess that, given the line's continuation, the total number of such abilities would've kept piling up as designers would probably occasionally add new ones, at least in rules-oriented products. That said, I think that if any new blood abilities were to be added, there should be a strong reason in terms of the character of the old god for its addition. That said, I also think that bloodlines should be somewhat malleable over time - as bloodlines intermingle and intermarry, the original "flavor" might get somewhat lost, resulting in new abilities or combinations, or in that individuals of great personal power might affect somewhat what abilities their heirs inherit, resulting in certain blood abilities, even unique blood abilities, running down certain lines - this was sort of hinted at in Blood Enemies, for instance, and while that book wasn't exactly among the best of the BR products, I don't recall any indications elsewhere that contradicted this - even the adventure Sword & Crown, written by one of the setting's original designers, showed how specific permutations of blood abilities run down certain lines - which, again, is also completely in line with what amounts to much of the inspiration behind bloodlines in the first place - the characteristics of European noble families, both legendary and real. All that said, you are, of course, completely right that characters can't research or invent blood abilities - that doesn't mean they should be completely beyond the player's ability to customize somewhat, however.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

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    Well let's see,

    There are presently some guidelines for how a DM can create new ones if he wishes, but generally this is not a good idea, and if done there should be some sort of history as to why the "new" ability was discovered.
    Ok, why would you need a history for a (new) power that is included with primary rules? None of the current powers have histories. If some new powers were added (before the "official" release of the setting) they would be part of the basic set. I agree that it would be somewhat disruptive to "suddenly" have powers added as an after effect (like they did with the accessory supplements in 2nd ed.), but I thought that the Birthright project was still in development, and thus still subject to change. Am I mistaken?

    There seemed to have been an error in the fact that endurance was added when it shouldn't have been since it wasn't one of the abilities listed.
    This is what I'm referring to. Endurance seems like a good addition to me. When I looked it over I didn't realize that it wasn't a stock ability. I don't believe its unbalancing. Does it hurt the game to have it in there?

    A blood ability is not like a spell that can be researched it was something passed on from the deceased gods. That is why the words were written the way they were in the BRCS-playtest to discourage people from treating blood abilities like spells in this manner.
    I agree totally. A blood ability is not researchable in the way spells are and as such should not be introduced as such. What I'm suggesting is an expansion of the blood powers in the MAIN rules set, thereby making them the STANDARD just as the other powers are. The idea is to add variety and options to add to the longevity of this aspect of the game.

    First, what is the role of the new blood ability? Where does it fit into the portfolio/sphere/emphasis of the god whose derivation it will be associated? What aspect of the god (or of general godly powers) does it convey?
    I agree that a new power should fit whatever god(s) it's associated with. Any type of power (offensive, defensive, or utility) can be adjusted and flavored to fit. I'm not suggesting arbitrary additions, on the contrary, I think any new additions should be carefully reviewed. See my example at the bottom.

    Second, (and this one is probably more important) what will the actual game mechanical effects of the power be? In 3e+ we have a lot more actual rules for effects. Damage reduction is much more articulated, the ability scores have broader effects, skills outlined, etc.
    From what I've seen 3e+ characterizes effects as follows (I might miss one or two); Feat-like, spell-like, extraordinary, supernatural, skill bonus, template, and racial/natural. Considering the variety that each of these types of effects can offer, I think there is plenty of room for more powers. Just look at the hundreds of feats out there. I could see many minor powers functioning just like a feat does (NOTE: a power may function like a feat, but it ISN'T actually a feat and can't be taken like one). Many powers could work like a spell-like ability (just as the Protection from Evil power does). As far as how the game mechanics would work, you can simply use the provided guidelines/examples in the MM and DMG as well as compare them against existing bloodline powers.

    Third, one should try to make an attempt to balance the powers` effects against existing ones. This is one of the things the original rules didn`t
    do very well, I`m afraid. Many of the powers at various strengths (minor,
    major, great) were more than a little questionable as far as being balanced
    against one another is concerned.
    Naturally, there needs to be balance. That's already being done with the existing powers (some powers are being roped in, others expanded).

    Last, one should dedicate some sort of thought to the issue of whether the blood ability should be available to players. If it is, then it`s the kind of thing that one wouldn`t want to introduce after character generation has been done. Players might feel ripped off by running into characters who
    have powers that should be available to them, but that they missed out on
    due to the tardiness of the DM.
    Again I agree with this thinking. Are there any existing powers that are/should be restricted from the PCs? If the power would cause too much disruption then it should be disqualified or changed. This is an old play-balance issue and isn't unique to new bloodline powers. Whenever a new feat, spell, race, or piece of equipment is added it should be carefully considered. I was never advocating the "blind" addition of new blood abilities. Geeman, the last sentence of the quote above is one of my points. Put the new powers in the MAIN rules set before you "officially" release it prevents DM tardiness. As far as current Birthright games are concerned, this project is still in development and things are subject to change (please tell me if I'm wrong). Sure it may be disruptive, but the kinks are being ironed out (the setting is in DEVELOPMENT afterall, again tell me if I'm wrong).

    Did you have any particular blood abilities in mind?
    Actually I do. In my current Birthright game I'm running I have an assassin working against the crown (i.e. the PCs). He has a particular ability I call Shadow Jaunt. It functions as the spell Dimension Door with a few modifications. The spell only "doors" between places shrouded in shadows and has a range of short (25ft + 5ft/2 levels). The power can only be used once per day. I consider this a major power. This is a power only associated with Azrai derivations. It's minorly associated with the shadow realm and it isn't as potent as the travel abilities. I think it's a nice inbetween power that's functional without being too good. Any thoughts or comments? As for other powers, just look at the powers archived on this website. Granted some of these might not be appropriate, but some are pretty dang good ideas (Summon Woodland Animal, Augmented Magic). They need some tweeking, and that's ok, everything does. The powers included in the game (and its supplements) are far from all-inclusive. Why not add variety, especially when its one of the special aspects of the setting? Thanks for reading!


  7. #7
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    3 +0200, Cinder wrote:



    >
    Last, one should dedicate some sort of thought to the issue of

    >whether the blood ability should be available to players. If it is, then

    >it`s the kind of thing that one wouldn`t want to introduce after character

    >generation has been done. Players might feel ripped off by running into

    >characters who

    >have powers that should be available to them, but that they missed out on

    >due to the tardiness of the DM.
    >

    >Again I agree with this thinking. Are there any existing powers that

    >are/should be restricted from the PCs?



    There are a few that might not be particularly appropriate. Most notably,

    the powers of awnsheghlien if given to players would pretty dramatically

    determine the nature of the campaign, as could several of the powers of

    Azrai, for that matter. Ersheghlien are slightly less trouble, but still

    heavily influence the campaign in a way that the DM may want to avoid.



    >
    Did you have any particular blood abilities in mind?
    >

    > Actually I do. In my current Birthright game I`m running I have an

    > assassin working against the crown (i.e. the PCs). He has a particular

    > ability I call Shadow Jaunt. It functions as the spell Dimension Door

    > with a few modifications. The spell only "doors" between

    > places shrouded in shadows and has a range of short (25ft + 5ft/2

    > levels). The power can only be used once per day. I consider this a

    > major power. This is a power only associated with Azrai

    > derivations. It`s minorly associated with the shadow realm and it isn`t

    > as potent as the travel abilities. I think it`s a nice inbetween power

    > that`s functional without being too good. Any thoughts or comments?



    You might want to consider attaching it to Azrai`s version of the Travel

    blood ability as a major version of that power. One of the things that`s

    always annoyed me about the blood abilities is that many of them are only

    available at high or low strengths, making the process of character

    generation a bit of a pain in the backside. Expanding the blood abilities

    into versions for all three levels of power would help eliminate that

    issue. Making it part of the Travel blood ability will also let it fit

    into existing abilities in a way that will avoid some of the "new ability"

    issues.



    I generally like tying blood ability effects to the strength of the

    bloodline (tainted, minor, major, great, true) or blood ability itself

    (minor, major, great) rather than character level since I see the two

    aspects of character class as interacting, but fundamentally different and

    divorced from one another, so I`d make the range 25 feet + 5 feet/bloodline

    strength category rather than character level.



    A great version of the ability (if you want to keep is separate from the

    Travel blood ability) might allow for greater range and/or more uses per

    day. A minor version of the power (whether attached to Travel or not)

    might give the character a dodge bonus to AC while in shadows and hide

    checks while in shadows.



    >As for other powers, just look at the powers archived on this

    >website. Granted some of these might not be appropriate, but some are

    >pretty dang good ideas (Summon Woodland Animal, Augmented Magic). They

    >need some tweeking, and that`s ok, everything does. The powers included

    >in the game (and its supplements) are far from all-inclusive. Why not add

    >variety, especially when its one of the special aspects of the

    >setting? Thanks for reading!



    I don`t object to adding new blood abilities. There are a few things to

    keep in mind when adding them, but if those are taken into consideration

    new blood abilities are fine.



    In fact, I think the whole bloodline system should be expanded to include

    things like skills, feats and prestige classes none of which really existed

    before 3e/D20. Such things can be used to reflect several aspects of the

    bloodline system and should IMO be incorporated into any update of the

    setting. When it comes to blood abilities themselves, I prefer an entirely

    different system of handling blood abilities using a point system, and

    several customization effects for the abilities rather than the somewhat

    inflexible original system or the updated version.



    Gary

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    There are a few that might not be particularly appropriate. Most notably,
    the powers of awnsheghlien if given to players would pretty dramatically
    determine the nature of the campaign, as could several of the powers of
    Azrai, for that matter. Ersheghlien are slightly less trouble, but still
    heavily influence the campaign in a way that the DM may want to avoid.
    Which is part of the reason why the abilities that awnsheghlien and ehrsheghlien develop are considered monster abilities, not blood abilities. They're still available to PCs, only that it requires PCs to take monster levels in order to develop them, which should be balanced overall, if done right.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

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    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    3 +0200, Mark_Aurel wrote:



    >
    There are a few that might not be particularly appropriate. Most

    > notably,

    > the powers of awnsheghlien if given to players would pretty dramatically

    > determine the nature of the campaign, as could several of the powers of

    > Azrai, for that matter. Ersheghlien are slightly less trouble, but still

    > heavily influence the campaign in a way that the DM may want to

    > avoid.
    >

    > Which is part of the reason why the abilities that awnsheghlien and

    > ehrsheghlien develop are considered monster abilities, not blood

    > abilities. They`re still available to PCs, only that it requires PCs to

    > take monster levels in order to develop them, which should be balanced

    > overall, if done right.



    It wasn`t balance I was addressing, but the appropriateness of such

    abilities for PCs. Things can be balanced game mechanically (and should be

    if one is going to maintain the EL, ECL and CR system of 3e) but a campaign

    that contains PC awnsheighlien is likely going to go a particular direction

    which the DM may not want to deal with. It`s a bit more difficult to find

    or develop adventures for such PCs, so the DM should take that into

    consideration before allowing players to have access to those powers.



    Gary

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    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by geeman@Aug 14 2003, 08:16 AM
    It wasn`t balance I was addressing, but the appropriateness of such

    abilities for PCs. Things can be balanced game mechanically (and should be

    if one is going to maintain the EL, ECL and CR system of 3e) but a campaign

    that contains PC awnsheighlien is likely going to go a particular direction

    which the DM may not want to deal with. It`s a bit more difficult to find

    or develop adventures for such PCs, so the DM should take that into

    consideration before allowing players to have access to those powers.



    Gary

    Whic is precisely why the DM controls all applications of awn/ersh transformation. It shouldn't be allowed if the DM can't "control" it in a manner that he wishes.

    Again, both of those are options that DM can invoke or not, same as monster levels.

    Just because a method is presented in the BRCS doesn't mean that a DM has to allow his players access to it, just like prestige classes it is totally up to the DM. Now once a DM allows it then the mechanics (e.g., advancement and abilities chosen, etc. fall more under the player's control)
    Duane Eggert

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