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Thread: PBEM rules

  1. #1
    Member Arentak's Avatar
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    PBEM rules

    <rant>
    I have yet to play in 2 PBEM's with the same rules, and its getting damn annoying. If you, as a DM, need to change a few things to simplify turn resolution, that's fine. But opinions are like you know what, and every one of us has different opinions. We shouldn't have to learn new rules for each and every Birthright game play.
    </rant>
    I like PBEM's.

  2. #2
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    I have to say it's a pain too from the point of view of trying to make a computer program to help playing Birthright online (because making it flexible for very different rulesets is a pain).

    Also, I liked a lot the direction the Empire Twilight/Reign rules was heading for PbeM.

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    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    The problem is that the DM or GM running the game has their preferences. Standard practice is to submit your point of view in any RPG game and the DM makes a judgment when you have any disagreement. The implied contract agreement by joining a DM's game is that you agree to these previous statements. The DMs don't get paid to run their games and without them there are no games to play. It only makes sense given these points that they should be allowed to run the game the way they want. This paradigm I know for certain comes from the AD&D rules play where home rules were abundant making one game different from the next. I am not sure of earlier versions.

    Standardized play is only a result of online computer gaming starting with Diablo II and maybe a couple earlier games. Even if Wizards of the Coast supported Birthright and produced a new set of rules in an attempt to standardize play, it is difficult to do so given the different scopes and foci of each campaign. Once you have the main rules learned, however, it is a simple matter of reading through the PBEM rules you are about to join to see the modifications the DM has made to the rules. For the most part there isn't huge changes to the domain rules. This is how Birthright PBEMing has been since it started.

    This kind of style of play tends to bring DMs that have a purpose for changes. These DMs are also a higher caliber of player than the standard adventure DM. Not necessarily better players, but able to rise to the challenge of running a Birthright campaign. The standard Birthright campaign is a level above the standard RPG game of adventuring. Adventuring can be inserted into Birthright easily, but for any DM not prepared for a Birthright game inserting it into their Adventure campaign will not take the full advantage of the domain level of play. I am not saying that it is impossible, but a DM must be prepared for Birthright more so than the adventure game.

    If you are new to the game, the best thing is to play small parts and get to know players in the community through the games and learn from them as well. DMs for the most part tend to be helpful. I don't know all the DMs so I cannot speak for them all. Usually if something doesn't work out a player leaves a game. If that is your situation, then perhaps that is the best thing. It isn't worth playing a game if you no longer have fun. Things can happen in game, or real life and it isn't worth playing at that time. It happens all the time. You can always come back another time to another game or whatever works for you.

    Although I agree that having to learn new rules over and over again can be tedious, it is part of the game right now. I believe it is a sign of level of detail that a DM wants to process every turn and how solid the rules are in the first place. When it comes to DM work load there is no argument that will win against them trying to make less. If the DM gets burnt out the game is gone. The rules themselves are tedious when you get into bigger campaign scopes. There are some holes in them here and there that DMs may wish to address. It is a clunky game when it comes down to it. However, the scope and detail of the game is like no other. From the Total War franchise, Crusader Kings, RPGs, Strategy and City Sims nothing comes close to the complete Birthright game in the grand scheme of play. They only offer elements of it. Hence it is to me a wonder that anyone would choose to DM a game. So for my part, thank you DMs of Birthright one and all.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

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    I have to admit I don't see things that way. I have to agree is up to the DM to do the game he wants to do, and given how much time he is going to invest in the game it's his call to change anything he does not like.

    But, Birthright was not designed to be played in a PbeM environment. Not by far. It's a mess trying to play it at that level, with tens of players and hundreds of NPCs, and the whole system breaks down very fast (for example, reactions and biddings in some actions are very hard to track manually with so many people involved, same with army movements and tactics).

    Trying to play a BR PbeM without any type of computer tool places a huge extra burden on the GMs (which have enough in their plate just following and answering emails). If every game keeps changing rules, then there is no way to solve this problem at all.

    The best initiative we have seen in this respect from my point of view is Gio Legacy of Blood website. Dawn had a sweet set of electronic tools too, but I have no idea if they will be used outside Dawn or not.

    While it's a pity you can not change every single detail to your tastes, the burden they lift from players and GMs is from my point of view more than worth it.

  5. #5
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    Magian wrote

    "I believe it is a sign of level of detail that a DM wants to process every turn and how solid the rules are in the first place."

    As this was more of a player oriented rant than that of a DM rant I didn't feel it was necessary to go into more depth on this point. You did a fine job of explaining the problem of how solid the rules are in the first place and I don't see how it is a contradiction to what I have said.

    For the original point of player frustration I inferred it was due to the lack of standardization of the rules. With that in mind giving perspective of what any DM has to go through given the rules was I felt appropriate. I also infer that you have argued that point as well. Given the rules as they stand any game will add up to a large workload even with computer processing or rules stream lining from Gio's project. Again depending on the level of detail the DM chooses it is a campaign that goes above and beyond any adventuring type of game.

    If we are going to promote one way to run a Birthright style over another, that is fine, but I think it gets away from the original concern of the poster. Any way you go about it, there is no easy answer as of yet. The Gio system reduces level of detail from the adventuring system by circumventing it altogether. For many games that option isn't what they want. It is however, worth looking at, because I think any ideas are worth exploring and saving. A person never knows if they'll change their mind about something later.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  6. #6
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    Well, at least for myself as a player the issues are two fold:

    - One is as Arentak said: you have to learn very similar rules, but with differences in details (which is a pain).
    - Second is that without tool support, making a turn is much harder for the player. But also the returns are much harder as you have to double check everything quite carefully.

    About promoting Gio, I do not do it because of rules style. Although I personally think they did right using Warmachine for combat resolution and simplifying char generation and adventuring (which exists, I have adventured in those games).

    But the great thing about Gio system is that if you want a game, you get a forum (with private sub-forums, multiple linked accounts, tappatalk,...), and players/gms get electronic tools to run the game. As far as I know we have nothing else that beats that deal right now.

  7. #7
    Ehrshegh of Spelling Thelandrin's Avatar
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    All praise to Gio and his coding skills, unquestionably, but the ET/Reign rules have been slowly adapted and refined over the last three years, based on Solmyr's original rules from his Enothril games. (I don't know from where his inspiration was derived!)

    In my experience, the biggest impediment to PBEMs before play is having to design complicated stat-blocks for every character (all the more so if you're not familiar with the DM's chosen system) and, during play, it's the requests to go off and spend vast chunks of the GM's time on solo or near-solo adventures. Cutting out almost all of those time-heavy events speeds up PBEM games immeasurably.

    Ius Hibernicum, in nomine juris. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

  8. #8
    Gio's program is pretty good, but until it allows action entry that changes the base data, I will stick with birmail. While it has some weird "uniquenesses" - it is by far the best/most complete program for birthright gaming that I have seen.

    To the point of the original poster - it can be pretty frustrating trying to learn the rules all over again / wildly different rule sets. I think however, part of the reason for the rules changes are that there is a perceived inbalance, or a desire for character design to "impact domain level play" ...

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