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  1. #1

    Let's do a Birthright "Appendix N"

    Appendix N is an appendix on 1e dungeon master's guide listing all books Gygax conisders inspiration for D&D. You can find a good definition here.

    So, I was thinking, What could be a good 'Appendix N' for Birthright? I think it would be useful to have it on the site, to help newbies understand better the atmosphere and the type of stories that can be created with Birthright. Of course I'm not talking about Rich Baker's Appendix N or the "real" birthright influences, but about everything birthright brings to mind fans.
    It should also be something more modern. Gygax wrote in the late 1970s, and books were the preferred medium for fantasy. now we also have music, films, tv series, comics, animes, webseries, real-life historical essays, whatever you want, as long as it is related to domains, conquers, ruling, highlander-ish-power-stealing duels ... you name it!

    I would start with what I consider "the obvious":
    • The birthright novels: obviously
    • That forgotten realms novel which is a birthright novel in disguise: obviously
    • The A Song of ice & fire saga / The Game Of Thrones series: born in the same year (?) of birthright, it is an excellent example of stories that intertwine with each other, and of fantasy where politics becomes almost more important than saving the world. And, of course, (spoilers! spoilers?) the idea that you can kill the good guys and still have the story going.

    As for my picks:
    • The Iliad (book): war, heroes soaked in the blood of the gods, military strategies out of this world, magic, but above all a lot of accounting, exactly like in Birthright!!
    • The Silmarillion (book): it is a story of gods, kings and peoples, seen from both points of view. It is interesting that there are more adv-ehrm more stories that keep time going, like a campaign that lasts centuries in game-time.
    • Highlander (movies/comics?): I confess that I added as a house rule the possibility of obtaining blood points even by decapitating the enemy. And I put Queen's "Princes of the universe" every time. Seriously, the idea that there are people with a supernatural force within them that can be stolen by killing them in a certain way is a central element of the game.
    • Vikings (tv series): Who would have said that Viking politics was capable of generating so many dramas? Between conquests, political marriages, invasions, sieges, and a story that spans multiple generations, there is the theme of the war for resources and the clash between different cultures.
    • ManOwaR / Blind guardian (music): To explain what epic metal has to do with Birthright the best way is probably this review, which I believe is the most hardcore, drunk and detailed Birthright review ever. For me they represent the idea of the importance of going in the middle of an armed confrontation between thousands of people, trying to get with all your limbs attached to your body to the guy with the crown, so you can take his head off and steal his divine power . Or die trying, "such is the price of power" said Baker in the adventure "family matters". The song "Battlefield" from Blind Guardian actually inspired most of my battles in the game.
    • The King (netflix movie): I think it's based on Shakespear's Henry V - I'm not enough of the Bard fan to say for sure. A nice story that shows the management of a domain from the king's point of view. Politics, intrigues, battles, but also the importance of managing a domain in financing a war.
    • Machiavelli's "The Prince" (book) should stand at Birthright as the "Dungeoneer's survival guide" stands for classic D&D.

    What do you think? What would you add? What would you remove? What makes you think "oh, that's just like Birthright" ?

  2. #2
    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    A few book series from me, that tend to have a political environment that gives the powers-that-be magical powers and abilities above the normal folk. The various states or worlds tend to be quite different as well.
    • The Keltiad series by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison - Arthurian and magic but in a science fiction environment
    • The Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley - Again, magic and mystical politics in a fantasy/science fiction mix
    • The Amber series by Roger Zelazny - Magic and shifting realities in a political fight for control of reality


    I am sure that the Dune series might also be suitable, but I only read the first couple of books, years ago.

    Sorontar,
    who fully supports the Silmarillion being included, though it might be a struggle for some to read due to Tolkien's writing style. It was described to me as the bible for Middle-Earth.
    Last edited by Sorontar; 07-10-2020 at 09:20 AM.
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    I had always thought (or at least kiddingly assumed) that George RR Martin had stolen ideas from Birthright. But you are correct that the first of the SOIAF books came out in 1996, just one year after Birthright (though Martin had started writing years before). Still there are a lot of parallels (the Iron Throne, broken empire, geopolitical intrigue and war, limited magic and monsters). So definitely a good source.

    I agree with Sorontar on The Silmarillion. A necessary inclusion, though i'd wager people get more inspiration from The Lord of the Rings.


    As for me... i've found much from sources that aren't overtly magical in nature- those that have a more realistic bent to them (perhaps because i like low-magic campaigns).

    The 13th Warrior, which was based on Crichton's novel Eaters of the Dead, which in turn was meant to be a realistic take on Beowulf. The Arab foreigner, helping the Norse fight an evil threat... always felt like a Khinasi in Rjurik to me. That premise alone fits well when you have a big diverse party.

    King Arthur with Clive Owen: a realistic take on the legend - leadership, nobility, sacrifice, etc.

    The series The Last Kingdom, about the Viking invasion of England and the history behind the formation of England. I've not seen it all yet but season 1 was great.

    To any of the above, you just need to add some minor fantastical elements, and they all fit into Birthright well.


    -Fizz

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    Senior Member Delazar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizz View Post
    I had always thought (or at least kiddingly assumed) that George RR Martin had stolen ideas from Birthright. But you are correct that the first of the SOIAF books came out in 1996, just one year after Birthright (though Martin had started writing years before). Still there are a lot of parallels (the Iron Throne, broken empire, geopolitical intrigue and war, limited magic and monsters). So definitely a good source
    -Fizz
    It always boggled my mind that Legends of the Hero Kings was written by (N)Ed Stark...

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