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  1. #1
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    Challenges to wider audiences for the Birthright setting, more players

    Since this is the primary forum location for the Birthright player community, I thought I'd post this here, as something for the community to address for the sake of the game.

    What do you think are some of the major reasons that Birthright doesn't have a wider gaming community?

    What do you think is holding Birthright back?

    And for those of us who do already love the game and want to play it more, what kinds of things make the game harder to play or enjoy (or conversely, what would make it easier and more enjoyable to play)?


    I want to go beyond some of the obvious factors--like no DnD support and advertisement or presence in game shops (though perhaps something could be done in those areas...). Instead, I'd like to come up with a list of ideas of things that you all think are major obstacles. Once we have those, we could start talking about relative importance of them and what we might be able to do about them.

    Here are some more specific thoughts I've had and wanted to get feedback on--as well as get other ideas from you all.

    1. Is DM burn-out a big issue? What contributes most to burn-out? Complexity? Difficulty managing large numbers of players, or NPCs, or adjudicating turns? Lots of set-up work? Player conflict? Rules problems in particular areas? Keeping up with communications? Lack of assistance or automation?

    2. Is player attrition a major problem? What contributes most to attrition? Complexity/time required to play? Speed of turns? Inter-player communications (and conflict)?

    3. Does the game take too long to play? (from turn to turn)

    4. Is there not a wide enough range of play scope? (do some player styles need to be supported at the sub-domain or beyond realm--faction-level--play scopes?)

    5. Is the game too complex to play long-term without automation?

    6. Is the game too rigid or too flexible?

    7. Are people too fragmented in their desires for how the rules system should work that dissatisfaction drives people away?

    8. Is it just too hard to bring in new players because of the amount of setting material and complexity of the rules system?


    I think there are a number of things that we as a community could work to address that might improve the play experience of those of us who already love BR, and there may be ways to bring in more players. I'd love to see both happen. I'm not sure how achievable the goals are, but we have seen some things--like Gio Garzelli's automated framework for play-by-post games.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    There are some game-wide issues, like increased competition from other RPG's and computer games, but ignoring that sort of stuff and looking purely at people who play PBeM's and Tabletop's:

    1. DM overload, and the general increased skill needed for a multi-tier game (although BR can of course be played single-tier)

    2. For PBeM's, player turnover, and meta-game assumptions of d4-1 leading to self-fulfilling prophecies thereof

    3. Number-crunching / juggling and turn-rate - all are related issues, although in practice my issue with PBeM's has tended to be when they go too fast.

    4. Possible lack of guidance on how to accommodate very different gaming styles (mainly a PBeM issue where players come from a global audience and may lack common understandings), I set up some DM tips and Player tips pages on the wiki but no=one added to them which is a shame, I'd hoped we could share experience and thoughts on that sor tof thing.

  3. #3
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    The answer is simple. The game is too complex, too unstructured, and not action oriented enough for most RPG players.
    And, in my view, if you fixed any of those things you would ruin the game, because those are precisely the things that make it great.
    Call me Bob.
    My Zaidan-Tai site: http://bobsworlds.x10.mx/Zaidan/
    My Zaidan-Tai PBEM: http://nrggames.proboards.com/
    My Tollanar blog: https://bobsworlds.wordpress.com/

  4. #4
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    The main issue for me is that you pretty much need computer assisted tools to run the domain part of the game. Trying to do that in paper becomes crazy very fast.

    Also, how the different layers in the domain system interact (law holders, guilders, temples, sources) is very weird. The game has really no mechanical way of stopping the law holder from saying to everybody else: the land is mine, pay or be razed to the ground.

    I like the idea of guilds, temples... but the more I have played Birthright and the more I have tried to tweak it, the more I think the implementation of Domain rules for Birthright is flawed beyond repair.

    Take into account that those issues are not so terrible when playing in a group of friends that are friendly to each other and work as a team, but in PbeMs they are a total mess.

    Honestly, if I would do redo Birthright for a new edition, I would totally design it towards that style of play (friends ruling together, adversaries are always NPCs), design asymmetric rules for a PC domain and a NPC domain (pretty much like how in 5e Characters and Monsters follow different creation rules) and forget about trying to accommodate the big scale of a forum PbeM with tens of players competing against each other.

    Regards!

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    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    As others have suggested, playing it at the regency level is too complex for many. However, you can also downplay the regency number crunching and just use Birthright as a setting for roleplaying. The fact that there are two levels at which you can play Brithright has always been missing from the marketing. The roleplaying is normally portrayed as an optional part of Birthright, rather than selling it as an "and/or" relationship between the roleplaying and regency levels.

    In my opinion, the roleplaying should be the basis for the marketing with the regency and diplomacy as the added level of fun. The blood powers and how they can be improved and utlised is what makes it different from Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms or Eberron. It is a unique enough campaign setting just on that basis. The blooded regents and how a player can be one is a layer on top of that - the extra icing on the cake.

    Sorontar
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    Information Communication ILLUMINATION!!

  6. #6
    For RPG, I believe than DMs burn out quickly. Its hard to make things running for several NPC domains, and having an RPG group makes the things harder by far if u want to run some conventional games between BR turns. I always thought, yet, than a good and dedicated DM can make the thing working, its just than with no official backup, is harder.

    For PBEM, I believe than the limited playerbase is in itself a very detrimental thing. So well known among each other, than always plays the same. No RP at all, only backstabbing with no respect for alignment, and ways of play than perpetuates only bcos they always play that way. You cant even trusts a LG player to behave like that, and its quite frustrating as some players gets the spotlight and constantly delay the turns bcos they are adventuring and similar.

  7. #7
    So, I'm new here, and although I got some of the Birthright materials years ago, I never really ran a successful campaign in it.

    The main barrier for me is integrating between character-level play and domain-level play. It feels like there's this pretty cool setting and I want to run games in it, but then everyone has to learn this pretty complex subsystem -- or those who don't are left out of part of the game.

    That may or may not be a true statement, but it's definitely the impression I get, and I don't think I'm alone in that feeling of reluctance.

  8. #8
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duck Call Lass View Post
    So, I'm new here, and although I got some of the Birthright materials years ago, I never really ran a successful campaign in it.

    The main barrier for me is integrating between character-level play and domain-level play. It feels like there's this pretty cool setting and I want to run games in it, but then everyone has to learn this pretty complex subsystem -- or those who don't are left out of part of the game.

    That may or may not be a true statement, but it's definitely the impression I get, and I don't think I'm alone in that feeling of reluctance.
    Hello and welcome

    I'd suggest starting off at tabletop level with the domain stuff in the background - King of the Giantdowns is the ideal.

    I tried to build some domain-play inspired adventure hooks in PS Dhoesone and PS Danigau (both are on the wiki) and also off the random events table (also on the wiki) - if the players are "trouble shooters" for one or more regents they could get tied up in those, with them being told as much or as little of the domain-stuff going on behind the scenes as you like.

    To me if playing tabletop then the domain-level play should be there purely to add background, inspiration, etc to the adventure-level play, something to tie adventures together and show concrete progression towards goals.

    If playing PBeM then domain-level play is the mainstay, with adventures fairly minor to avoid gumming up game-play, arpig did a handy ready-reckoner for adventures that were done with a single die-roll, other things I've seen work are internet chat systems and email chains although the latter are quite limited.

  9. #9
    Member ebatalis's Avatar
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    1. Is DM burn-out a big issue? What contributes most to burn-out? Complexity? Difficulty managing large numbers of players, or NPCs, or adjudicating turns? Lots of set-up work? Player conflict? Rules problems in particular areas? Keeping up with communications? Lack of assistance or automation?

    "Strategic approach to BR is very quick to burn out a GM, why is that? Lets see.
    Tremendous of homework, if you want a serious GM doing the job, he needs tons of free time, which as we grow older he dont have, and even if we do, trust me there are some more things to do out there. Communication is a huge issue. I know that the internet is doing a good job to keep us close, but NOTHING will ever substitute the round table and dice along side with beer. Although the strategic part of BR is meant and I figure is tons better to be played with a dozen or so players it is not meant to last if not assisted by a gazilion of automations. If we give automated things to the game, I would be the first to contribute to an online strategy game of BR that takes everything into account.

    2. Is player attrition a major problem? What contributes most to attrition? Complexity/time required to play? Speed of turns? Inter-player communications (and conflict)?

    Dedication and time as I have mentioned above is the key. Not speed. If you see around there are so many automated things all around you that make our lives easier. It tires sometimes even the dedicated to play out something that complex, and even if some start out at the first light of stalling, they are out first hand.

    3. Does the game take too long to play? (from turn to turn)

    It is irrelevant on one hand, but it is very important on the other, although as I mentioned above, only automated sequences can solve this.

    4. Is there not a wide enough range of play scope? (do some player styles need to be supported at the sub-domain or beyond realm--faction-level--play scopes?)

    If you start out a game in one area of Cerilia its very hard to swap to a different location. If you have ever played Hattrick you could see that the play score is narrowed, but it is not it that makes the difference. It is the largeness of it that makes it.

    5. Is the game too complex to play long-term without automation?

    It is impossible to play the game too long without automation, and by that I don't mean
    excel sheets or so, I mean online and real time data.

    6. Is the game too rigid or too flexible?

    Neither

    7. Are people too fragmented in their desires for how the rules system should work that dissatisfaction drives people away?

    The people are going to play Birthright (those who love it) no matter what the rules are if it is properly presented.

    8. Is it just too hard to bring in new players because of the amount of setting material and complexity of the rules system?

    No, this does not play any significant role



    Any sort of stategy played game needs a tremendous work on the backstory of it. If this work is not done automatically it means that someone must do this on his own accord. This of course even in the example of playing a game over Anuire, you could end up with hundreds of factions to decide at every domain turn, which is not an easy matter of a GM or a team of GMs. Strategy in order to be succesfull needs either full human participation, or automated procedures that would come up to fill the gaps, if no such are presented at some time, people will always end up playing Civ IV or V, you choose.
    " The Empire will fall...."

  10. #10
    Junior Member Arawn76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    What do you think are some of the major reasons that Birthright doesn't have a wider gaming community?
    What do you think is holding Birthright back?
    *
    1.******* Is DM burn-out a big issue?* What contributes most to burn-out?* Complexity?* Difficulty managing large numbers of players, or NPCs, or adjudicating turns?* Lots of set-up work?* Player conflict?* Rules problems in particular areas?* Keeping up with communications?* Lack of assistance or automation?
    *
    I know that burn out was a problem for me but at the time I was pretty much the only DM for the group over a long period of play. I can’t say the system is overly complex but the separate sub systems do make it inelegant which can be off putting to modern players. Set up was longer than usual as we had a whole additional layer of game.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    2.******* Is player attrition a major problem?* What contributes most to attrition?* Complexity/time required to play?* Speed of turns?* Inter-player communications (and conflict)?
    *
    Nah I’ve had the same players for years. They pretty much will only play D&D so system familiarity means complexity has never been an issue.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    3.******* Does the game take too long to play? (from turn to turn)
    *
    Not that I’ve observed but if you’re a traditional D&D player it can be a bit jarring to spend time at the macro level. Streamlining the system would be a goal if reinventing the system for a new generation.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    4.******* Is there not a wide enough range of play scope? (do some player styles need to be supported at the sub-domain or beyond realm--faction-level--play scopes?)
    *
    Not sure what you really mean here. ** We have adventurer level up to kingdom, what else is there?
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    5.******* Is the game too complex to play long-term without automation?
    *
    If you mean electronic aids no. People are too lazy these days. I used to have to carry a couple of bags of books and prep to my games.* That said electronic assistance can open the game up to the more time challenged gamer.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    6.******* Is the game too rigid or too flexible?
    *
    No more than I’d expect from D&D… Sorry I must be coming across argumentative but none of these are issues unless you’re expecting a play experience very different from the one D&D has always offered. Perhaps I’m not understanding you.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    7.******* Are people too fragmented in their desires for how the rules system should work that dissatisfaction drives people away?
    *
    Yes. Some people can’t let go of the old way of running the game enough to make the necessary adjustments to streamline and bring it in line with the new edition. The desire to basically import the 2e system can be very strong.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    8.******* Is it just too hard to bring in new players because of the amount of setting material and complexity of the rules system?
    *
    The problem isn’t complexity or amount of setting material of which BR has far less than most. The problem remains exposure. You should, hopefully, know what you’re getting with a D&D game.
    *
    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    I think there are a number of things that we as a community could work to address that might improve the play experience of those of us who already love BR, and there may be ways to bring in more players.* I'd love to see both happen.* I'm not sure how achievable the goals are, but we have seen some things--like Gio Garzelli's automated framework for play-by-post games.
    *
    Thoughts?
    *
    ·******** If as a community we want to bring attention to the setting we need to be better advocates. If you’re running a game get an AP posted and keep it updated. If it’s good then people are going to want a bit of that action and if you’re lucky enough to be a half way decent writer even better.
    *
    ·******** Look for appropriate opportunities to insert BR into threads where it offers a viable example or solution. Start conversations about different aspects of the game that are interesting and portable to other settings or games.
    *
    ·******** Conversions for your favourite system, let’s be honest every gamer fancies himself a master game designer and love nothing more than to nose and criticise another’s work. And it lets you get the setting out to different gaming communities as well as being a fun exercise.
    *
    ·******** But you need to get out there to other boards and communities. New players (and more importantly DM’s) aren’t looking for you so if you stay huddled up in a corner then you’re just going to see the BR community shrink.
    *
    I know you said no this, but it bears saying. Lack of support for current rulesets is the biggest thing holding it back. Despite 2e being a still excellent and very serviceable system people will always look to obtain the newest and brightest toy. And anything associated with an older system will be relegated to niche.
    Additionally lack of promotion, the only way to draw new players is to get them excited, not enough advertisement on forums, live games etc.

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