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Thread: What Is Birthright?
12-27-2003, 08:02 PM #1
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- Dec 2003
I am new to Birthrigth. Which i think look like a fantastic setting but have a few questions about this world!
What makes this setting unique/better compered to Dragonlance or Forgotten realms!
Is it high magic like FR!
Do the players all have to be kings?
12-28-2003, 12:07 AM #2
Welcome, Hubert, to the wonderful setting that is Birthright! First off, I suggest you download the Playtester document for the "upgrade" from AD&D 2e to D&D 3e (more things have been considered, especially now with 3.5e on the shelves).
Now, on a quick note, Birthright is a setting of generally low magic, with few strokes of brilliantly majestic high magic concepts: +1 daggers are valuable family relics, and +5 vorpal bastard swords are more than legendary! Furthermore, on the note on regency, well, no, not all of us enjoy playing regents, other find it fascinating but too big a bite to swallow (spelling?), while others love playing regents!
12-28-2003, 12:48 AM #3
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- Nov 2001
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
Actually Birthright is not a low magic campaign. It is a low-magic item campaign though, much like RaspK_Fog pointed out. There are, supposedly fewer magic items (unless you look at the 2nd ed adventures and published material which is inconsistent in this regard) - but the magic items tend to be more powerful than normal. There are few who can cast the powerful greater magic spells (in 2nd ed this was any arcane spell of greater than 2nd level except for illusion and divination spells), saince in order to process these power of these spells a character had to be blooded or have elven blood.
The magic itself is extremely powerful. There is Realm level magic which affects entire provinces.
Most players do tend to want to run kings or rulers of some kind, but there are different types of styles being run. There are some who play a standard adventure level game, those who play a predominantly domain level game (little to no adventuring - very common for PBEM type games) and those who play a mixture of both. Historically the most powerful regents were actually priests and thieves because priests controlled the motivation of the people and thieves (2nd ed, now rogues) controlled the economy. Most realm regents ended up having to court favor with the local guilder and priest in order to maintain control of the realm.
The things that set Birthright apart mostly revolve around the death of the 'old gods' and their blood being spilt on those around. This was the basis for 'being blooded'. Being blooded granted scions (those who have been imbued with the blood of the old gods) blood abilities which are very similar to spell-like abilities, it also made them better rulers by being 'blessed' with the divine. There are other key factors that also set it apart - elves don't worship gods and hence are not clerics, but can cast greater magic without being blooded. Halflings come from the Shadow World, which is a very different place than the 'Real World', many features being the same, but many others being different - death and dread have taken over the Shadow World and now it is not a good place to be.Duane Eggert
12-28-2003, 08:53 AM #4
> Hubert wrote:
> I am new to Birthrigth. Which i think look like a fantastic setting
> but have a few questions about this world!What makes this setting
> unique/better compered to Dragonlance or Forgotten realms;Is it high
> magic like FR!Do the players all have to be kings?
Birthright can be played either as noble rulers (kings, high priests, guild
masters) or as the familiar adventurers who might take commissions from such
figures. The pure adventure style ofplay works fine, its a well developed
world, but its not a better ford than any other setting for this kind of game.
The politically motivated adventure game uses strait adventurers, but the
complex political machinations of the various rulers creates a background and
context for the adventures the PC`s undertake. This might be considered a kind
of three musketeers style of play, and the BR setting provides plenty of
material around which to build intrigues and political changes that don`t rely
on the PC`s as the mainspring. The third kind of play is the PC`s as rulers or
nobles who are family of, friends of, or vassals of rulers who may or may not
rise to the higest ranks themselves. I think its at this level of play where
BR is really offering something that no other setting can touch. There are
rules for handeling the special divine abilities so many RW cultures have
associated with aristocrats. The list is broad and fantasy based, but its easy
to be selective if you are focusing on your favorite nation or your own
invention. Second, there are rules for governing provinces. Again they are
best used to reflect the society you imagine in your minds eye and not used
litterally as written, but its much easier to patch an innertube than make one
Birthright is generally a low frequency / high power magic world. Magic is
rare, but its wielders can be especially potent. Wizards need to be decendents
of the great heros to be able to cast true magic, so its rare. Those who also
control the magical energies of several territories can cast magic more
powerful than normal wizards by drawing on the magical energy of the land.
12-29-2003, 07:03 AM #5
At 09:02 PM 12/27/2003 +0100, Hubert wrote:
>What makes this setting unique/better compered to Dragonlance or Forgotten
A couple of people have chimed in on this, but I`ll go ahead and add my take.
THINGS THAT MAKE BIRTHRIGHT UNIQUE
The Domain Level. BR is the only campaign setting with an articulated set
of guidelines for running a realm comprised of population, legal systems,
economy, religion and magical potential of the land itself. Rules
occasionally come out for D20 products that do something similar, but IMO
none has really approached the versatility and utility of the BR domain
level, despite some of the vagaries and sometimes occasional shoddy editing
of those original texts.
Bloodlines. Bloodlines are unique to BR and are tied into the background
of the setting. If you don`t already know, they are the remnant of the
divine energies of the gods released by their sacrifice and embodied in the
mortals (and a few others) present at the Battle of Deismaar. Those with a
bloodline are called scions. 1,500 years after that battle, bloodlines
continue to exist by being passed on to the progeny of those present, to
those they willingly (in one way or another) transfer it, or by some rather
poorly documented methods generally left up to DM fiat--the Land`s Choice
or by a form of extreme bloodtheft. Bloodlines grant divine powers and
allow the collection of regency, the mystical powers gained by the control
of a realm that represents the energies of the collective hope,
aspirations, respect, belief, power, etc. of the people and natural
environment who make it up. Note that in the original 2e BR rules only
those with a bloodline could control a realm while in the fan-produced, BR
3e update anyone can be a regent (though they wouldn`t be as good at it as
a scion because they couldn`t collect/spend regency on their domain actions.)
Awnsheghlien/Ersheghlien. The iconic monsters of BR are unique to the
setting and are in many ways different from any other monsters in any other
setting. Where FR or DL might crank out a few dozen, hundred or even
thousands of draconians (or other monsters) that make those settings
"unique" the "unique" monsters of BR are themselves actually unique. It`s
THE Spider, THE Gorgon, THE Magian that inhabit Cerilia.
THINGS THAT MAKE BIRTHRIGHT BETTER
(compared to FR and DL)
This one is subjective to a certain extent, and I`m no doubt biased on this
score. Having said that, I`ve played FR and DL as well as several other
campaign settings, and here`s my opinion:
BR has better demi-humans, humanoids and human cultures. The races of BR
are more "realistically" and portrayed, and differ from standard D&D races
in ways that are apt to the campaign setting. Athas did a pretty good job
of changing the various demi-human and humanoid races to fit the campaign,
but that is a very specific setting. When one plays in that world one
knows what one is going to get. Most campaign settings have the standard
D&D races plunked down into them with very few changes or changes that
don`t necessarily have anything to do with the setting itself. The
demi-human and humanoid races of BR all have demonstrable, significant yet
subtle changes that interact with the campaign setting itself. BR goblins,
for instance, are different from goblins in other settings. They are not
physically larger, more intelligent, but because they control very large
populations and trade with human neighbors, etc. they have a culture in a
way that seems lacking in other campaigns. Orogs are more interesting than
the cannon fodder of standard humanoid races in other settings. Similarly,
the human races are culturally distinct, yet we see how human cultures are
often intermingled in the various border nations of Cerilia. These
examples don`t even touch upon the subtle, yet significant differences
between BR elves and those of other campaign worlds.
BR has better themes. Where FR and DL themes can be vast,
continent-spanning and as significant as the basic conflict of good vs.
evil, BR overshadows either of them in both scope and subtlety. In scope
there`s just not much more significance that one can put into a setting
than a cataclysmic battle of the gods that permeates the campaign
world. Perhaps a setting based on something like the Norse Ragnorak would
compare, but even that IMO fall short in that such a campaign is
apocalyptic, where for BR it represents only the _beginning_ of
things.... In subtlety, BR has the corrupting influence of Azrai`s
bloodline influencing characters at the adventure level and exemplifying
the addictive nature of evil as portrayed with all the complexity of
personality and totemic monsters; the setting has all of the intrigue,
diplomacy, wrangling and maneuvering of the political level of play at the
domain level; the cosmological significance of the Shadow World cannot be
overstated, nor can one ignore the pre-history of the setting that is much
more closely akin to several real life mythologies--and gains all the deep
rooted psychological benefits thereof. The conflicts of other campaign
worlds are comparatively vulgar--in the sense that they lack development
beyond very coarse or obvious oppositions, thus providing little
opportunity to portray depth of character, conflict of choice or moral
ambiguity available in just the shortest of BR`s texts, the Atlas of Cerilia.
>Is it high magic like FR?
It`s not high magic like FR, but it`s not really a low magic setting
either, and in general I think there are things about BR that make it a
much more high magic setting than any other campaign world. Sometimes
described as "low magic" BR is unique in that magic items are comparatively
rare, but there are vastly more powerful magics available (realm spells)
that are generally reserved for DM fiat in other campaign worlds, in
addition to the power of bloodlines already described and large amounts of
magical energies available in controlling realms. BR battlespells are also
significant magics in the setting (one that I personally think either need
to be discarded or vastly reworked) that are very powerful. In many ways
the magic available to low level BR characters can overshadow that of the
epic level characters in other campaign worlds.
>Do the players all have to be kings?
Nope. By "kings" I assume you mean regents who control provinces or
holdings, and in BR there are several flavors of them. Technically, at the
domain level only 1/4 or so would be considered nobility in the traditional
sense. Those regents who control temple, guild or source holdings may or
may not have titles, but in general more regents are not "kings" (or
amongst the landed aristocracy) than are.
More to the point, however, campaigns need not be conducted at the domain
level at all. BR can be played entirely at the traditional, D&D adventure
level of play using only the background, terrain, cultures, languages, etc.
of the setting as background for those adventures. I`ve personally played
whole BR campaigns in which no one ever controlled a holding or a province
other than NPCs, but the PCs actions did have domain level consequences in
that they dealt with things ranging from domain level random events to
carrying out the LT actions or participating in the delegation of duties
that were part of a larger domain action being performed by their
liege. When one sees the adventure level of play in such a context it adds
considerably to the depth and gives a nice way of portraying the events the
PCs engage in.
Hope that`s informative,
12-29-2003, 05:15 PM #6
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- Dec 2003
Thank you, for all the replies.
I will start to read the d20 BRCS, and see what more can laern about Birthrigth.
12-29-2003, 07:22 PM #7
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- Nov 2001
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
01-01-2004, 01:09 PM #8
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- Dec 2003
ok! Thank you very much
01-01-2004, 07:57 PM #9
I usually consider BR to be low magic because of the lack of magical items and the relatively low number of arcane magic practitioners. As well, most arcane practitioners are of a relatively low level. The setting also lacks the near god-like casters from some settings (re: Elminster).
Another aspect that I think hasn't yet been touched upon is the emphasis in the setting on religion. In most settings, temples and religion seem to have little effect on the world, whereas in BR, they are hugely influencial. As well, there aren't all-encompassing doctrines for each god or goddess. For each god, there are many many different interpretations of a god's place in the world, their stance on social issues, etc. So there is a great deal more potential for conflict.
As well as the d20 BRCS which has been released, the d20 Atlas of Cerilia is under construction.
01-02-2004, 06:18 PM #10
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- Dec 2003
the more i read the BRCS, the better it sounds but Is there any place where i can find or see a map of cerillia or do i have to buy it as a ESD.
I know that there is a map on Map of the Week from WOTC, but it dosnt have any names on it.
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