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  1. #21
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    The two biggest problems for Birthright are no automation and the necessity for Roleplay.

    There are a few small automation projects that have been done by a few people that are scattered across the internet. Nothing as of yet has been done that is comprehensive enough to satisfy the entire player base that frequents this website let alone the potential player base of Birthright or the quasi-BR players interested in domain rules for other settings. You satisfy this need, then you solve the biggest problem for this game ever.

    Huh what roleplay as a problem for Birthright? Yes. Why? Politics. To engage in politics requires background story knowledge or knowledge of history. For BR players that is the bread and butter of the game, we love and enjoy it, but that is preaching to the choir. Most people that play in RPGs don't RP. In the adventure game they don't need to RP to get by. In Birthright you need to RP in order to get involved. A player can simply play the numbers in BR and power game themselves through it, however the number crunching technique lasts 1d4-1 turns before the consequences of their lack of political knowledge are about to catch up with them. By then, DMs may be burnt out from the spam wars right off the get go. Aside from this RP is a turn off in the greater player base of RPG players and delving into lore or fluff reading to figure out how to play your character effectively is a playstyle that doesn't suit everyone. The question is then what can we do about it? I don't think there is anything, because players who don't like to read or are adverse to being informed have this deeply rooted in their lifestyle choices that the scope of our game can't address.

    So what can we do? We can attempt to automate. Over the years many man hours have been put into various projects to do just that. Some of these projects are ongoing and others have been set aside. The problems with automation is that each player has their own vision for what they want. Many of these visions have to be curtailed because of lack of man hours devoted to their project. The question is can a single project address all these visions in order to unify these man hours put into this single goal of automation? More particular questions are how many coders are there out there that are even available and willing for such a project and what format would they use? Also, would it be viable to simply pick up an already established project and update it or modify it to reach the scope of everyone's vision for their games rather than starting from scratch?

    Personally I have gotten little response to this problem on this forum. I think this is due largely to the lack of people with the skills to provide such a project and it would be a huge undertaking for any one person or even 3 persons to do. Therefore it is not even considered realistic in its scope for the large part I'd think by those whom I've asked. I have remained consistent with this point over the decades because since the day of the games release when I opened the boxed set I knew it needed some automation program.

    I think until this is addressed no amount of effort of rules changes will make a difference as evidenced by the 3E rules published here the population has simply dwindled. That publication didn't make a difference. All it really seemed to do is provide some interest for others who wanted domain systems to check it out and see if they could use it when 3E was going strong and perhaps a trickle of people since. None of whom have been won over to Birthright or its domain system.

    There is no other problem for Birthright that is so crucial as no automation. If you want Birthright to appeal to other player bases, then you need to make something that they can easily use to play. Rules changes will simply turn it into a different game.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  2. #22
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    I agree 200% with the automation issue for Birthright, it is critical to play. The main problem is that there is not a single Birthright ruleset the player base plays. Every PbeM is full of small new rules, additions, tweaks... Doing a program that is able to handle that is EXTREMELY hard.

    In my opinion the main issues for a full automation project are:

    - You can go for a simple desktop program to support only the GM. This is the easiest thing. You need somehow to provide an output for the players.

    - You can go for a solution that supports the GM and the Players (mostly oriented for PbeM games). This is much harder to do for several reasons:

    1) You need a central server, and that costs money.
    2) You need two very different interfaces, one for players, one for the GMs.
    3) Then you can complicate it more if you go for a desktop app, or a web front end, or both.
    4) You can even go more crazy and support mobile clients.

    Also, personally doing a good map interface to support interacting with the data in an intuitive way is not a trivial problem to solve.

    I've done this in the past (BR Campaign Manager: https://brmanager.codeplex.com/) and I abandoned the project because Microsoft moved the technology I was using from desktop to web (and I now nothing about web development). I am more than happy to try this again, as it is a super interesting project, but the rules fragmentation of the community is pretty much a killer for this

    My 2 cents!
    Vicente

  3. #23
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    I think what we really need to accept is that the game has a limited appeal period.

    I have seen a growing trend to take the RP out of the game in a number of PBEMs, and it just makes me want to slap the ones doing it. It's like saying "Hey let's take this game and improve it by removing the best part of it." The simple fact of the matter is that the game requires a greater investment of grey matter than the majority of people will ever be interested in committing to a game, so we should resign ourselves to the fact that it will always be what it has always been: a small niche in the overall RPG world (which itself shrinking in the face of the online "RPG" games.

    The best thing we can do for the game is to stay true to it, to just play it the way it ought to be played, and to introduce new people to it that way. Most people will not be interested, but that has always been the case anyway.

    And as far as automation goes, I have one word for you: Excel.

    Yup, good old fashioned spreadsheets, massively convoluted ones, but spreadsheets none the less.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
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  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    I think what we really need to accept is that the game has a limited appeal period.

    I have seen a growing trend to take the RP out of the game in a number of PBEMs, and it just makes me want to slap the ones doing it. It's like saying "Hey let's take this game and improve it by removing the best part of it." The simple fact of the matter is that the game requires a greater investment of grey matter than the majority of people will ever be interested in committing to a game, so we should resign ourselves to the fact that it will always be what it has always been: a small niche in the overall RPG world (which itself shrinking in the face of the online "RPG" games.

    The best thing we can do for the game is to stay true to it, to just play it the way it ought to be played, and to introduce new people to it that way. Most people will not be interested, but that has always been the case anyway.

    And as far as automation goes, I have one word for you: Excel.

    Yup, good old fashioned spreadsheets, massively convoluted ones, but spreadsheets none the less.
    I'm not sure I agree the game has limited appeal. Kingmaker is consistently one of the most loved Pathfinder APs, domain level play has always being an important part of the end of DnD, several retroclones support it very explicitily (ACKS has a huge chapter on this, Labyrinth Lord has a great supplement in An Echo, Resounding). So I think the appeal is there.

    But maybe there are other issues:

    - The rules are not very good. I think BR is a good idea, but the rules can't handle the work needed to run several kingdoms at the same time and their interactions.
    - The setting is not very attractive. BR is very different from other settings, and I like it, but I think it's not the cup of tea for most DnD players, or a good fit for DnD in general. If you want a pseudo-realistic low magic fantasy world, probably you prefer something different like Pendragon, Harnmaster, ToR.
    - It came out in a wrong time for TSR/roleplaying. No clue if this affected it or not, BR had quite a healthy line of supplements so I don't think this had a huge effect.

    And I don't think BR requires much brain matter than other PbeMs, but the PbeMs are organized to require more brain matter. It's not that I have to create my own character, I have to create his family, a senator (which is simply a patch for PbeMs), most important retainers, a backstory for him and his family... And then track all of that (without having good tools to track all that information). Birthright itself doesn't require any of that, but PbeMs ask for it and it adds a lot of extra work for everyone.

    Regards!
    Vicente

  5. #25
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    Automation would solve the problems of complexity of running the game and player's part of inputs like character creation, at least how I envision it. Again it is currently out of the realm of being realistic and I understand that.

    RP is not a trend in gaming. It is a stigma, at least in my experience. Ironically RPGs are trending, but for the most part it is a numbers game for most. BR largely has balancing support from RP in character alignment, domain alignment, diplomacy, politics, and character reactions. Without having a Diplomacycraft supplement perhaps that is the main problem for its lack of success? That is to say a rules set that tightens up what can be done regarding domain level interactions with other regents rather than rely on the player's ability to engage in the setting and create a set of character responses on their own. Is there a need for clear rules for responses that could equate causus belli? That and other aspect for politics may just be what is needed, but in a sense that can be used in general terms outside of the Cerilia setting.

    There is appeal for a domain level game for a fantasy setting. The popularity of Game of Thrones may be used as evidence to support this. However, bloodlines are unique to Cerilia in how they work. So, what mechanism could replace them for unblooded domain settings? The Targaryen bloodline could be passing on the dragon affinity or w/e it is they have. No spoilers please for people watching the TV show. In that sense it would explain their interbreeding. Therefore we should focus on a domain mechanic if anything. The appeal for players to come visit BR rules is to check out a domain level system that they can use. It only seems to follow that a universal system should be able to work in all D&D settings and adapted to others if desired. This is a conversation that has happened many times, but directly pertains to the appeal in my opinion.

    The biggest problem I've seen with a universal domain system is the bloodlines rules being exclusive to Cerilia only. It is a cool mechanic and justifies the whole legacy thing we hear in history and myth. If we'd open it up to other worlds, then we create a bloodline system for other derivations, another conversation that has been had. I would envision a sort of guidelines for making new derivations and blood abilities. The bloodline is derived from myth that signifies the right to rule and it should be varied as per the setting and culture in which it is used.

    When all is said and done a domain rule system that is easily plugged into other games is what everyone is looking for anyway. Of course this problem has been talked about already too with no resolution that could be agreed upon for a project by the community. Ultimately it too would need automation for admin. and player inputs for a larger appeal.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  6. #26
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    Birthright itself doesn't require any of that
    It does when I run it.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
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  7. #27
    Senior Member arpig2's Avatar
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    That is to say a rules set that tightens up what can be done regarding domain level interactions with other regents rather than rely on the player's ability to engage in the setting and create a set of character responses on their own.
    This is a good example of what I meant by improving the game by removing the best part of it. It is precisely the lack of any limit other than your own imagination and creativity that makes the game good.
    Is there a need for clear rules for responses that could equate causus belli?
    No, why would there be?
    It only seems to follow that a universal system should be able to work in all D&D settings and adapted to others if desired.
    Which is something that Birthright does very well. I have been running BR campaigns since the rules first came out, and have yet to run one in Cerilia. I always make up my own world.

    And the Bloodline thing is really easy to adapt to another setting. Here is an example of what I mean. This is the explanation I made up to apply bloodlines to my Zaidan setting
    http://bobsworlds.x10.mx/Zaidan/index.htm
    See, all it takes is a different back story and a change of names, and voila... Bloodlines tailored to the new setting.

    I think a lot of the problem is that far too many people seem to want things to be done for them, which, to my mind at least, defeats the whole purpose of running a game in the first place.
    Call me Bob.
    My website: NRGGames.org
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  8. #28
    Site Moderator Magian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arpig2 View Post
    This is a good example of what I meant by improving the game by removing the best part of it. It is precisely the lack of any limit other than your own imagination and creativity that makes the game good.
    I agree with this.

    What I was imagining when I was typing my post was a system that starts out in a tabula rasa setting where players make things up themselves. We could apply the same here as well again leaving it up to the player creativity for culture and reactions to power gamer / expansionists that may "break the game." But is there something missing that could be added?

    I don't know as I've mainly played in Cerilia with an established setting. Again, that does not necessitate any changes in my mind, that is why I am asking.

    Thank you for sharing your work for a good example of what could be done. It almost satisfies the gap of starting a new setting or blank slate. The success of a sandbox approach to a setting allowing characters to run their cultures does depend on their creativity and investment into the game. Hopefully that wouldn't be a problem.

    The reason I am approaching it from a tabula rasa setting is to illustrate what a lack of political intricacy could do as in showing any rules gap. That is to say gaming the rules without political climate already established as a response to what an expansionist is doing. In a way it is a question that doesn't trust players to be able to deal such a Ghoere-like player. Anyway I don't know if this is even an issue with appeal.

    Just going through this conversation and working out my ideas and especially seeing your work I am more convinced that appeal just won't happen no matter what without turning in into something that isn't Birthright.
    One law, One court, One allied people, One coin, and one tax, is what I shall bring to Cerilia.

  9. #29
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    I wonder if also the main issue is that BR was designed for a small group of 4-6 players, and not a huge PbeM with 40-50 people at the same time. Re-reading a lot of domain systems I have around at home most of them assume a rise to power from normal heroes, and also that usually heroes found their kingdoms in a wild frontier or dangerous land and pretty much work to civilize it.

    BR clearly doesn't fit this idea, and even less on a PbeM. I like the idea of a Tabula Rasa in politics, Cerilia comes with a ton of assumptions.

    Regards!
    Vicente

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    So, my wife and I have just started up our own Birthright game. Here are some of the things we are really pushing for our game.

    1. While she is the DM, I am doing a lot of the minor DM stuff that let's her do the bigger things. Like looking up and making lists of Characters and where they are, etc. This means that when it comes time for her to flesh out those NPC's so they can interact with the PC's she has something to work with rather than start from scratch.

    2. Countries that are not integral for the immediate future ( say not 6 or so Domain Turns) we give them a generalized idea of what they are doing vs mapping out each Domain Action for Each Domain turn.

    3. We ARE automating some things. For instance, we will be doing up a dice roller on a spreadsheet so that it's easier to document what is happening and what has happened.

    4. We limited our party severely. We have 5 players, including my wife and I. This limits how many people we have to keep track of and schedule around, but also limits party issues like loot or internal conflict.

    As for why there are so few that play it, I think this is a very good question, with a lot of different contributing factors.

    1. Availability. I have only seen a handful of books, all of which were on ebay, most of which were $50 -75 for a players secrets to fill in the blank country. That's a bit much, and individually useless without the corest and such.
    2. Knowledge. There isn't enough advertising to really know the game exists. I think it's a great game and have been spreading it by word of mouth, but that only gets so much done as far as awareness.
    3. People are loath to try things that are this big in scale if they never have before. In a previous game, about half the party didn't WANT to be regents. I know, you know, we all know, that in Birthright you don't have to be a regent. That doesn't mean THEY know it.
    4. The complexity. I love games with a lot of things to do and details that can mean success because I paid attention to details. Some only like smashy smashy, and for the most part that isn't Birthright.

    Anyway, hope this helps.

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