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  1. #11
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    What contributes most to burn-out?
    Running the NPC realms.
    The rest is a piece of cake in comparison, just number crunching and accounting

    Unlike in a usual campaign, where only a few NPCs last longer than any given adventure, in Birthright you have a ton of them, and devising motivations and aims and actions for umpteen realms, guilds, temples, etc. so they are all unique, interesting, and believable quickly exhausts one's creativity.

    Even in a very limited geographical area you will have a lot of them to plot and plan for.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
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  2. #12
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    Summary

    I'm going to try to sum up what I think I'm hearing, before moving on to discussing any point in more detail.

    To improve the game for its players:
    1. Make the game easier to play -- streamline rules (improve, rewrite, or just have a less complex option)

    2. Automate extensively -- both the DM side (turn resolution, generating and running NPCs) and the player side (easier turns), which may substantially reduce DM burn-out, player turnover, time (and detail) barriers to entry, and disputes; and possibly increase game longevity and the flexibility to do longer or shorter turns.

    3. Find more ways (or just more advice or more game offerings) to support a wider variety of play styles (more action-oriented, strategic vs tactical vs adventuring, etc.)

    4. Make it easier to expand (and contract?) the regional play scope, so that more of the map could be introduced later in the game.

    To recruit more players:
    1. Advertise, cross-promote, invite people in, etc.

    2. Support the latest editions of D&D, or possibly other popular RPG systems (5e, Pathfinder, etc) -- this may be more perception based (which is valid), because it's been a while since I've played a PBEM that really cared about standard D&D character creation; the Domain Rules can exist as a wholly separate layer.

    3. Stress the roleplaying aspects of the setting.

    4. Make the Domain Rules more portable to other settings, so that people can import it into their own games or official, supported settings (like GreyHawk, FR, etc).

    5. Somehow bring the game more up-to-date with other, competitive offerings, to take advantage of relevant new trends while avoiding letting the game just die of old age (or the appearance of such).

    Does this capture it fairly well? Or are there significant things missing?

  3. #13
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    1. Make the game easier to play -- streamline rules (improve, rewrite, or just have a less complex option)
    No. If you do that you will ruin the game, it is the complexity of it that is it's beauty, that's what makes it worth playing. Otherwise it is just another mildly interesting setting with a few surface oddities to provide some flavour.

    2. Automate extensively -- both the DM side (turn resolution, generating and running NPCs) and the player side (easier turns), which may substantially reduce DM burn-out, player turnover, time (and detail) barriers to entry, and disputes; and possibly increase game longevity and the flexibility to do longer or shorter turns.
    This goes for any D&D game, period, but especially so for Birthright. For my short-lived Zaidan campaign I created an automated action calculator to determine the total cost and success number of every possible action and incorporated it into the turn order form so the players could have all the calculations done for them as they were planning. It was a major undertaking, but I now have the basic template for any future campaigns I try.

    3. Find more ways (or just more advice or more game offerings) to support a wider variety of play styles (more action-oriented, strategic vs tactical vs adventuring, etc.)
    Birthright is, pretty much by definition primarily a strategic level game with some allowance for some tactical level play (sort of like the Total War video game series), and while it is really easy to incorporate adventures into a table top game, it is very difficult to do so in a PBEM without bogging things down or some serious willingness to dedicate specific blocks of time to the adventure on the part of the players, which can still be problematic given the global nature of the player base.

    Actually, I think I will make a thread on this specific topic so as to not derail this one altogether.

    4. Make it easier to expand (and contract?) the regional play scope, so that more of the map could be introduced later in the game.
    I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you mean, the only issue involved with expanding the play area is the DM updating his databases, and having the needed energy/creativity to effectively utilise the additional NPCs.

    To recruit more players:
    1. Advertise, cross-promote, invite people in, etc.
    I think that having some sort of ongoing updating of the events in a campaign here on Birthright.net would really help, because that way casual surfers would possibly get sucked into the story and then be inclined to participate in writing the story.

    2. Support the latest editions of D&D, or possibly other popular RPG systems (5e, Pathfinder, etc) -- this may be more perception based (which is valid), because it's been a while since I've played a PBEM that really cared about standard D&D character creation; the Domain Rules can exist as a wholly separate layer.
    In all honesty, I think that this is likely the most important one, but rather than trying to come up with an entire new version of Birthright for each new edition, we should attempt to try to make the Domain level play rules as independent of the underlying character rules being used as possible, so that one only needs a small conversion document to apply it to any given rule set.

    3. Stress the roleplaying aspects of the setting.
    THIS!!! I am a very strong advocate of this. Far too often the emphasis is on playing the domain and treating the regent as just another asset of the domain. I feel this is entirely the wrong approach, I feel that the emphasis should be on playing the regent, and treating the domain as both an asset and a liability for that regent.

    Unfortunately, given the ever increasing influence of online role-playing games, actual role playing is pretty much a thing of the past. What passes for role playing there is really rule playing a stereotype with different stats and flashy add-ons, rather than playing the role of the person represented by the stats. All too often actually role playing well is seen as an annoyance rather than the point of the game, which it was originally meant to be. Mind you, this is not really a new phenomenon, we have always had players who are more "My 8th level Paladin attacks the orgres using his +3 sword" than they are "I draw Sangriel and lunge at the ogre on my right", the problem now is that those who do it right (by which as in the second example above) are often seen as needlessly slowing down the action with unimportant "fluff" details.
    It is those so-called "fluff" details that are the heart and soul of good role playing, but by emphasizing that aspect of the game, I am afraid we will actually be driving away far more players than we will attract.

    Of course those players that we do attract will be the sort that we really want to attract.

    4. Make the Domain Rules more portable to other settings, so that people can import it into their own games or official, supported settings (like GreyHawk, FR, etc).
    Here there really doesn't need to be much done at all, I have been porting the rules to home made worlds ever since they came out (I've never run a Birthright campaign in Cerilia), and it is ridiculously easy to do. Really, the only thing you need to do is to make up a new explanation for Bloodlines to replace the whole Deismar/Death-of-the-Gods explanation used in the published setting. After that it all just snaps into place pretty easily with only the occasional minor tweaking needed here and there.

    5. Somehow bring the game more up-to-date with other, competitive offerings, to take advantage of relevant new trends while avoiding letting the game just die of old age (or the appearance of such).
    Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by this.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
    My game design blog: Bob's Worlds

  4. #14
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    Ameliorate the gender imbalance brought up by Duck Call Lass in her Gender Parity thread to make the game more attractive to female players.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
    My game design blog: Bob's Worlds

  5. #15
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    Arpig, I agree with most of what you're saying, and like many of the ideas. A few things:
    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    No. If you do that you will ruin the game, it is the complexity of it that is it's beauty, that's what makes it worth playing. Otherwise it is just another mildly interesting setting with a few surface oddities to provide some flavour.
    I was summarizing the comments of several others. There is a difference between the play scenarios the rules are trying to cover--running a realm--and the complexity of the system itself (which can be and often is quite cumbersome, clunky, inelegant, inefficient, and insufficient to cover either the scope of what players may want to do or a simulation of running a realm--all rules systems suffer in various degrees from similar problems).

    It seems to me that the target scenario--strategy-type domain management, running whole organizations and realms--is the primary goal of Birthright. The rules system used to achieve that goal should not be an end in and of itself. In fact, several have stated that the rules themselves don't matter so much. Indeed, there are already many variants of the BR system.

    The goal in streamlining the rules would not be to sacrifice anything about domain level play, but rather to make the rules that enable that work better, faster, more easily, and be more easily learned.

    Sorry, I have no idea what you mean by this.
    I was responding to a comment made earlier that Birthright competes with so many other games out there for peoples' attention. Perhaps we need to take a look at how games have changed with an eye towards anything that could be a good thing for Birthright. After all, the Gorgon's Alliance game (which brought in many players) was doing just that, porting BR as much as was possible at the time to computer games.

    For instance, if we ever had the talent and time available among the fan community, I could see artwork and apps built to make inter-player communications easier on social networks, as well as news updates and turn submissions. "Live games" or campaigns have already been proposed. There are also podcast and Twitch games, as well as TeamViewer-type conferencing; MUD and MMO worlds; match-up systems; randomized setups; and other game innovations. Maybe there's something that could help out BR.

    Ameliorate the gender imbalance brought up by Duck Call Lass in her Gender Parity thread to make the game more attractive to female players.
    How do you address gender disparity? While it would be nice, gaming in general has always attracted more men than women. Seems to me that you first chase low-hanging fruit before focusing your efforts at others. If there are easy ways to move in that direction, great. Not sure what they would be.


    As for roleplaying, it seems to me that mostly what the fan community loves about BR boils down to two things:

    1. Domain-level roleplaying
    2. The story of the Birthright setting

    1. Is a matter of rules and tools
    2. Is a matter of evangelization/marketing and story-telling

  6. #16
    As some noted in here, it is the perception by many to see the game as a "Strategic Game" in the sense that the video game portrayed it.

    For some its about taking provinces, and winning the war, and they don't see much more than that tactical aspect of it.

    Others are on the opposite end, they are in it for the diplomacy and spying and manipulations that are allowable in this setting that are not really built into any other system. They like to weave a story and debate the nuances of Imperial law.

    Some have memorized every nuance and typo, and have a set series of "moves" they use for any given realm. Others are newcomers who don't understand the game mechanics at all.

    A DM has much less difficulty running the game if everyone is on the same page, expectations wise. It is much more difficult when the experience of players varies greatly and the expectations vary significantly.

    Birthright requires an experienced DM(s) (any successful campaign I have been part of has had DM responsibilities divvied up between two or more people) to truly shine, because for many players the Birthright setting and mechanics is so well known.
    Last edited by rugor; 09-22-2014 at 01:44 PM.
    The better part of valor is discretion

  7. #17
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    Rowan.
    OK,I see what you mean by reducing the complexity, and yes that would not be a bad thing, however, over my many years of gaming, I have found that streamlining rules almost always involves the removal of options or degrees of detail in the play of whatever game is being tinkered with, so that is something that we would need to be careful about.

    One possibility would to break the rules into basic and advanced rules along the lines of the way the old Battlesystem rules were presented.

    And I now understand your technology point and agree. Personally I think there is enormous potential for the conferencing/teamviewer type software, especially since it is free, so potential gamers wouldn't be required to fork out any cash to play.

    And finally, the gender issue I was referencing was in the setting itself, not specifically the players, but the point would be to try attract more women to the game. In short, if we made sure to give women players a wider variety of interesting female characters/regents/institutions to play, then more of them would be inclined to play.
    Call me Bob.
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  8. #18
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    In reference to providing interesting female positions to play, I think it is important that we try to provide positions women actually find interesting, rather than what we as middle-aged (or older) men think they should find interesting.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
    My game design blog: Bob's Worlds

  9. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    In reference to providing interesting female positions to play, I think it is important that we try to provide positions women actually find interesting, rather than what we as middle-aged (or older) men think they should find interesting.
    Not all of us are middle-aged or older men, but I do feel you have a point - maybe some exploration into what about BRCS appeals to women, or what about D&D appeals to women, could help guide more into BRCS.

  10. #20
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    Not all of us are middle-aged or older men
    In which case the input of those people (the not middle-aged or older men) would be doubly welcome.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
    My game design blog: Bob's Worlds

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