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  1. #1

    The Heartland PBeM

    Over the last few months, I've pondered starting a campaign with basic birthright principles and an adjusted ruleset, in a campaign world of my own. Its nature has encouraged me to introduce such things as culture holdings, populations and colonization, as well as other things without which representing the campaign world would be nearly impossible. Unlike Cerilia, which borrows (if not rips off) heavily from real-world cultures, the Heartland campaign world has aimed for originality, which means uique cultures and racial mindsets, phiolosophies, faiths and utilities, new architecture, weather plantlife and pretty much everything else that still leaves the world similar enough to Earth. It also means a larger documentation that needs to be read before playing, and this is what worries me - not many people might want to scroll through several pages of descriptions before playing.

    The Confederacy, with its unique laws, military structure and society, allows regents and their lieutenants to be voted as counts - each owning a single province - for five years, but excludes anyone from gaining complete dominion over any of its regions. Astul, the city of sorrows, with its tribal neighbourhoods and centrally-placed castle, takes pride in the size of its population, which has been amassed through slavery and immigration. The two can be replicated with deportation actions, as well as occasional slave raids in surrounding lands. The region of Bal Azmilav, known to the Sandriharians and others as the southern steppes, includes such well-hidden domains that few could ever hope to conquer them, despite their feeble armies, primitive organization and run-down economies. Without the stealth rules I've developed, none of these tribes could survive, yet with the rules in place, they're actually powerful enough that they could easily succeed in a defensive war. Meanwhile, certain organizations, such as the gnomish monopolies, cannot be fully represented without the existence of resource-related rules, nor can the peace between Astul and the Confederacy remain justified. There are many, many aspects of my campaign world that use the rules I've introduced, so that without them, any game I were to run would simply fall apart. The only problem is, my ruleset takes about twenty pages. I can either rely on players to read it all, or highlight the rules they really need to know and keep out most of the clutter that they're never really going to use. For example, temple regents that have been forbidden from recruiting armies might not care about warfare rules.

    I'm about to start this campaign, so I need to know if anyone's interested in actually reading new rules and playing in a new campaign world. From what I've seen, most games focus on Anuire and involve playing the same domains over and over again, with emphasis on trying out new twists to the old characters rather than diving into a completely original setting. Is it a bad for move for me to run a Birthright campaign like this, or would people actually join it? If so, what would be ~your~ reasons?

    If people do sign up, I can guarantee I'll be running it for at least the next six months, but the ammount of role-play hooks I'll be throwing in will vary, based on how much people deal strictly with RP and how much they focus on governing their domains. I've yet to negociate the technical side of things, but I've finished the written material. I'm thinking of setting up an InvisionFree forum, where I'll post the rules as well as any IC locations that might be needed. Note that, as most cultures tend to remain isolated (spiritually, if not physically) from one another, there probably won't be a single "common room" type of location - instead, different cultural groups will each have their own meeting place.

    Note that, as the number of players grows, I might spread the game over the whole continent. For now, I estimate that 30 players will be needed to cover either half of it. Early on, however, the action might take place on either the eastern or western side of the continent, depending on everyone's playing styles. The west feels more like standard birthright, with former colonies besieging the heart of a fallen empire and city-states scrambling to take advantage of the chaos all around them, while the east sports the more or less democratic Confederacy, as well as a barbaric group of fortress-dwellers in the north and ruthless warlords in the south. Whichever the players choose, they'll be facing (or playing) the leaders of artistic movements, guilds of ancestor-worshipping gnomes, a monopolistic faith that struggles to tear down its local rivals, as well as a large number of mercenaries, secret orders and rebel organizations. Expect the gameworld's real history to be cleverly hidden, either deliberately or not, and every group to have its own, often suprising reasons for its actions. Playing in Heartland won't be so much about winning as about ~understanding~ the gameworld, and in the end, those who attempt to recognize the truth behind their rivals' actions will earn far greater rewards than simple political power.

  2. #2


    Hello Demonizer,

    Let me answer your man question: Waht would be my interest in playing such a campaign?

    I would say plainly for two reasons: the first one is that I am curious to discover what you have created so far, and the second one is that I pretty enjoy the atmosphere surrounding the Birthright ruleset. Alongside this, I've always been keener to play in Brechtür and Khinasi-Vosgaard not really because there is no fallen Empire - I quite enjoy the Anuirean setting but it is very very guidelined - but because there are places where more remains either to discover or to come up with during the course of the campaign.

    I would be delighted as well to read the houserules you set up, and 20 sheets is not really a lot of work especially when considering that this is for having fun thanks to them.

    Here is my email, feel free to mail me the ruleset (and I could give possibly some - hopefully - relevant feedback by next week)


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Blackgate, Danigau
    Birthright in a completely new world could be fun, indeed. I like many BR fans, i think, have toyed with the idea of starting with a blank slate of nations and cultures. 'Anuire again' can get a bit stale.

    But, Ive found that the flavor text of the BR books adds alot to the game and there is alot if it. (Witness the enourmous work of the Atlas project) Whenever Im playing in a new region I havent before I learn tons from re-reading the region in detail. As 'understanding the game world' is what you are stressing, make sure your players have ample background material to grow from. Your post seems to stress your 20 page ruleset, so Im not sure youve realized the importance of background material for your players.

    Im probably just extrapolating to much from your post, but hidden histories and suprising NPC actions might make a very frustrating game. From a player's perspective, imagine if you were ruler of Ghoere (to take a well-know example). But you didnt have access to anything other than the BRCS ruleset. So you've never heard of the Gorgon to your north, or even the Spider. You could get very pissed when the DM plagues you with the Spider's raids or a full-scale Gorgon pounding. All the players emails to the Spider go unawnsered, leaving the player in the dark. It might seem all clear in your godlike DM head, but to the clueless player he just thinks he has a stupid DM. Encouraging the player to 'understand' the world would just add salt to the wound, as there are few tools available to the online player. Just a small caution my reading of your post brings to mind. You might have tons of background material for folks to read.

    In my own game project, Ive found the size of the needed background material too much. Thats why I decided on a region of Cerelia then advanced time a few decades. Its a fresh slate for regents and domains, but all the historical and cultural stuff in the BR books still applies. Shameless plug for, stop by and chat DM theory.

    Feel free to email me your ruleset ( If you need any help on the technical side of things, let me know too.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Please e-mail me your rules set
    Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

  5. #5
    Uruloki, I'm glad you've shown genuine interest in my campaign. I'm working on its technical aspects right now - I'll let everyone know when the forums have been established.

    I need to emphasize that I wrote about 100,000 words (as part of a document that almost reaches 200,000) for one region alone (The Confederacy), and I'm still not satisfied with how much I wrote for it. Every confederate province (each of whom is no greater than an actual province in game terms) has been sketched out in a loose, but still large, documentation of its own. I'll present a few descriptions in this post, but the do not by any means describe the campaign world accurately.

    Every player would probably know what his character would reasonably know. He would know that there are cruel tribes in the southern steppes, some of them cannibalistic, some of them eating their own dead, and a few even sending out their dead onto the battlefield. He would not know that they eat their healthy dead as a means of spiritual ascendancy, or that the "dead warriors" they send out aren't actually dead, but drugged. To understand this, he would have to perform espionage actions on the tribes involved, or hear it from one of the tribals themselves (which is unlikely). If, on the other hand, people would know about it. They do know about the tribes of giants that threaten to overrun the continent, and about the efforts of the White Crown to hold them back. They also know about Astul's attempts to colonize the southern contient, and their repeated wars with local giants. What they don't know is how those giants have managed to hold off the Astulics. Most Confederates know about "pollen" and the source of this narcotic, but few understand the distribution schemes used by its traders. In other words, yes, there are going to be plenty of secrets, but none of them will involve things that players have a right to know. Players will be encouraged to understand these things not via invasions or anything of the kind, but through a host of well-placed rumours that may often contradict each other. Understand that around Heartland, prejudice and xenophobia will often limit what the PCs know about their neighbours, but most of the relevant knowledge, such as states of war and possible trade routes, will be explained. And, while everyone will benefit from lengthy descriptions of their particular corner of the world, players of a different culture are free to ignore such documents and read a curt, slightly biased summary instead.

  6. #6
    This forum has just become the campaign's headquarters. Anyone interested in playing should really come by for a visit - while I'm still in the middle of writing some domain descriptions, they should all be finished by next week.

    I've been working non-stop for the last week to get everything finished, and I do mean non-stop... Waking up to start work and falling asleep when I was done. I'm determined to make this a long-lived, exciting and unique birthright campaign, something that people will remember not just for the good time they had, but also for its memorable characters and settings. Hopefully, once the entire campaign world is up and running (for the time being, I'm restricting play to the Confederacy and the Southern Steppes, which you'll find out about in the vast documents I've made available), this game will reach its true potential. Right now, there are about twenty domains waiting to be filled, most of them belonging to the Confederacy - and considering how people will be fighting tooth and nail for every province they can be elected in, I'm sure things will get downright exciting in the next ten turns, even if there won't be many players outside the Confederacy itself.

  7. #7
    I've completed the domain descriptions... Now, the only thing that's missing is the players.

  8. #8
    Well, I'll be finishing turn one in a few days, and there are still many domains waiting to be filled - particularly as I've opened up a new part of the world. The more I've played this PBP, the more emphasis I've placed on one-on-one DMing sessions, so as new players come in, I'll also be on the lookout for an assistant GM.
    Last edited by Demonizer; 10-01-2005 at 12:53 PM.

  9. #9
    You can now access the game's website. I'm sad to say that I've been forced to convert it to a regular PBP, focused on regular characters, due to the tremendous lack of interest the Birthright-based game experienced. The option to play a regent (using Birthright rules) is still being enjoyed by a few, although at a more relaxed pace: one turn in real time now equals a turn in game time.

  10. #10


    i just found out still existed and loved your idea for a new game. I am currently working on one of my own too, and to hear that yours struggled due to originality, not very positive to say the least. I wish i had arrived a bit earlier to find your game, i would've gladly supported it, even if i had to skim through the required reading. I'm really sorry your game didn't work, but if you ever feel like resurecting it, let me know, i always loved unique settings with the birthright flare

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