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Thread: Lieutenants - follow up (long)
03-19-1998, 07:29 PM #1Bryan PalmerGuest
Lieutenants - follow up (long)
After reading the many responses to my question regarding the use of
lieutenants I think it only fair to discuss the reason for my inquiry.
When I started my Birthright campaign, approximately two years ago, one
of the first concerns to emerge was the misuse of vassals/lieutenants by
the PC regents. Most of my player characters (5 in all) are what I
would characterize as "math wizards." They have a tendency to over
quantify or numerically manipulate every character or situation so as to
minimize all danger and maximize every characteristic to their favor
(Yeah the old problem of "min and maxing"). I saw the Birthright
setting as a means to control this zealousness by placing each PC in
political and economic situations requiring a great deal more personal
The main regent character (developed as the regent of Tuornen) quickly
discerned the benefits of using lieutenants, and set out on a quest to
acquire as many as possible. Using the rules as a guideline, I quickly
limited his number of lieutenants to the total number of henchmen
available per his charisma score. Then he went after vassals. This was
much easier to control due to the limited amount of blooded individuals
within the population (Based on 1% or less).
Even with these limitations he was able to accomplish many more actions
than I, as the DM, felt was reasonable to accomplish in such short time
periods. This also put an extra burden on me to be fair with the amount
of actions that could be accomplished by all NPC regents. My perception
at that time was that the pace of the game was getting far too
accelerated. So I developed the following guidelines for my PCs:
Vassal: A blooded regent-character who has sworn some type of allegiance
to another regent. In most cases this has involved a ceremony of
investiture where the vassal has given up the majority of his regency to
his overlord, such as with the Count of Taeghas, a wizard who has sworn
an alliance of fealty to Prince Avan in return for Avan's protection, or
the vassal is gaining regency from his overlord, such as the case of
Torin (the primary regent character) turning over regency to a blooded
character to rule a portion of his kingdom.
Lieutenant: A blooded or non-blooded character who has a position of
high authority for a powerful character. Most lieutenants are
non-blooded while their rulers are blooded. The character can be a
Scion (blooded), not be receiving regency, and still be a lieutenant.
Thus we see that a character can be both
a vassal and lieutenant. The character that usually denotes the
difference between the two is the receipt of regency. To be a vassal
one has to receive some amount of regency (or in game terms - have a
connection with the land, religion, or guild that gives the regency).
While being a lieutenant requires only service to a higher authority.
Both categories have both positive and negative aspects.
The vassal provides he/her liege lord
with the greatest power in terms of domain actions. A vassal also has
the right to take three domain actions every domain turn (one per
month). This gives the liege lord the ability to accomplish much in his
or her domain. However, a vassal has much more autonomy that a mere
lieutenant. A baron has more room in regards to carrying out orders and
making decisions with regards to his Duke wishes than the Duke's
captain. Vassals have been known to become quite powerful and often
turn on their lords to gain greater power. Vassals also have the same
abilities in regards to character actions and free actions as any other
regent (one character action per month and as many free actions as the
DM finds reasonable).
The lieutenant gives his/her liege lord
much more loyalty. These people are entrusted to the service of their
lord and are usually quite willing to give everything they have to serve
him/her. If they are a vassal-lieutenant and are not receiving regency
(link to the land, religion, guild, or source) or are unblooded, they do
not have the ability to perform domain actions. They may, however,
perform one character action per month and as many free actions as the
DM finds reasonable.
This is only a small portion of the letter I wrote for the PCs (I went
into greater description of the criteria to denote a lieutenant and who
would or wouldn't be tagged with that title) but I believe you can see
that I put a pretty severe limitation on unblooded lieutenants or
vassal-lieutenants not receiving regency by not allowing them to perform
domain actions. After reading your various suggestions I have begun to
wonder if I overacted and eliminated some hefty benefits for my PCs.
I was wondering if Ed or Carrie had any particular thoughts on this
matter? It would be interesting to hear if this was a problem in the
original play-testing phase.
"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."
Arizona State University
03-20-1998, 12:18 AM #2Mark A VandermeulenGuest
Lieutenants - follow up (long)
On Thu, 19 Mar 1998, Bryan Palmer wrote:
> Thus we see that a character can be both
> a vassal and lieutenant. The character that usually denotes the
> difference between the two is the receipt of regency. To be a vassal
> one has to receive some amount of regency (or in game terms - have a
> connection with the land, religion, or guild that gives the regency).
> While being a lieutenant requires only service to a higher authority.
> Both categories have both positive and negative aspects.
Am I the only one who enforces the idea that a vassal MUST be an NPC (and
thus not available for player control as a lieutennant is)? I thought that
this was a part of the rules, but I may be mistaken. In this case, yes the
regent theoretically gets an extra three domain turns, but must deal with
the DM on a give and take basis. Yes, the vassal is theoretically under
the rule of the lord, but any quick porusual of medieval political history
gives you an adequate idea of how well that works in actual practice (i.e.
about as long as its in the vassal's best interests).
To provide a gaming example, the Roesone DS mentions that Marlae
Roesone has a trusted "great captain" named Isilviere (I forget his first
name because I'm dealing with his son now). My PC playing Roesone decided
to make Isilviere his lieutennant, and later his vassal of the province of
Fairfield. Now, my question is, if Isilviere thought that he had a bum rap
from the Regent (and his son, in my game, feels that way), what is to keep
him from swearing a NEW vassalage agreement with Ghoere, thus transfering
not only his loyalty, but also his province, to the control of Ghoere. Now
if a state religion had been named, such a new vassalage investiture spell
would have to be cast by the state religion, but in my game Roesone never
actually declared the Impregnible Heart as the state religion. Risks such
as this might serve to greatly DEvalue the benefits offered by creating
vassalage agreements (although it might be best, and most interesting
game-wise, to let the players discover such risks the hard way).
03-20-1998, 12:40 AM #3James RuhlandGuest
Lieutenants - follow up (long)
> Am I the only one who enforces the idea that a vassal MUST be an NPC (and
> thus not available for player control as a lieutennant is)?
Why can't a Vassal be a PC, the way Fulgar the Bold is B.A's Vassal in
Darkstar's PBeM game? IMO, this is much more fun. and, also, having PCs
play Vassals (especially to other PCs, but even to NPCs, the way Haelynil
is to Ghoere in Darkstar's PBeM again) is soooo much more fun. Plus, it
relieves the DM of having to decide how loyal the Vassal is, how well he
obeys (or disobeys) the Liege, etc; 'cause the other Player will determine
03-20-1998, 12:47 AM #4James RuhlandGuest
Lieutenants - follow up (long)
Regarding the below: Nothing but loyalty. Thus one has to be careful who
one selects as a Vassal. They may rebel, with (or without) the support of
other powers, at any time. IMO, I like Lawful (and not Evil) Vassals, and
especially ones that are related to me by blood. That's no guarantee,
though. Anyone who's studied history will be able to give an unlimited
number of examples of "loyal" Vassals (brothers even, and other relatives)
who rebelled against their liege. But IMO it's less likely than if you pick
the first blooded slag you happen to hire as a Lt and make him your Vassal,
and then expect long-term, servile Loyalty.
Oh, and treat these guys with respect, or even the LG types will decide
you are unworthy of their loyalty.
> Fairfield. Now, my question is, if Isilviere thought that he had a bum
> from the Regent (and his son, in my game, feels that way), what is to
> him from swearing a NEW vassalage agreement with Ghoere, thus transfering
> not only his loyalty, but also his province, to the control of Ghoere.
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