Hey all!

I am just curious why a number of people on this list (and, by extension, other Birthright players) are worried that the Trade Route rules are unbalanced. Sure, they may bring a large amount of money (and RP for thief regents) but a DM should have absolutely no trouble keeping them under control. For starters, a trade route is not all that immediately easy to set up. Firstly the route has to connect provinces that have different terrain types (so, for example, a trade route between the Imperial City and Endier which would normally generate a whopping 8GB/turn is not possible as both "provinces" are the same terrain - rolling plains or something very similar), or another culture (Anuire to Khinasi, for example). Secondly, a road has to link the two provinces (admittedly this isn't much of a barrier). Lastly, the establishment of a trade route requires a success roll that interested parties can oppose (rival guilds, for example - if there are two or three guilds already with interests in either of the provinces involved, the regent could find succeeding at the roll a VERY expensive prospect indeed). Plus there is the number of trade routes/province rule - when this rule is combined with the different terrain requirement, the road requirement and the need to have a guild holding at each end of the trade route, they can be quite difficult to set up.

Once a trade is established, it is almost laughably easy to disrupt it - a simple decree action by the lawful "ruler" of one of the provinces connected by the trade route can neutralise the route as long as the ruler's law holding is greater than the guild holding of the owner of the trade route. The decree action is a "free" action so it can be used as many times as desired (as long as the GB hold out as least). Also, contesting either of the guild holdings that support the trade route shuts it down, as the does the conquering of either province connected by the trade route. The BR rulebook also says that random domain events (banditry, rebellion, etc) can also shut down the trade route. With all these options at a DMs fingertips, I have found it relatively easy to keep a lid on the amount of money taken from trade routes.

However, that said, I understand that a large number of BR campaigns where the PCs are regents have the regents either allied or at least very friendly with each other (please correct me if I'm wrong here). In this sort of environment, with say half a dozen allied countries busily creating trade routes back and forth and the party's spellcasting regents busy augmenting them with the various realm spells that affect such things, the GB situation could easily get way out of hand simply because the allied/friendly/whatever regents of each domain are not going to oppose their friends trade routes. Controlling trade routes in this sort of situation is obviously difficult.

However, I would like to voice some opinions related to this. Please remember that these are only my opinions and experiences and I am not in any way trying to suggest they are better or correct!

In my campaign, the PCs (all of whom are regents) all play regents in Anurie (they are the rulers of Roesone, Medoere, Tuornen and Endier - I love the domain sourcebooks!) and they anything BUT allies. Generally, they do not actively plot against each other (I do not actually want them to go to war!) but they do not help each other except where their own interests and goals are served. I have found that situations like out of control trade routes simply don't crop up simply because the cost of setting many of them up is simply to exorbitant thanks to the opposition of whoever's territory they are trying to move into. As a case in point, the regent of Endier embarked on a trade network program (as if Endier doesn't make enough GB every turn anyway!) early on in the game. It fizzled before it really got off the ground because almost every single regent in southern Anuire strongly resisted the idea of the Endieran regent getting his claws on any more trade domination than he already had. He was able to get a couple up and running by making deals with some regents and outmanoeuvring others but his grand plan didn't even come close to succeeding. The other barrier in the way of my regents doing things such as setting up trade routes, is that each trade route requires a domain action to accomplish (and maybe even more if the success roll fails) and that about half of my regents' actions are spent reacting to the actions of other regents or events in general, and alot of the remaining time is spent on more immediate matters, like ruling holdings, mustering troops, etc. For most of my players, Trade Routes are a long way down on the list of things to do I have found that I have had no trouble in keeping things that way (the possibility of invasion from a neighbouring realm is almost guaranteed to bring trade route building to a screaming halt!).

Well, sorry to have rambled on for so long. The point of this whole rant is that I personally have no problem with the trade route rules as they stand.

Peter "Dragon" Hodge
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e-mail: dragon@uq.net.au
Website: Dragon's Lair (http://www.uq.net.au/~zzphodge)
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