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  1. #1

    Some strange things about the AD&D 2nd ed rules for Birthright...

    First of all, why are the province levels so low? It only takes one domain action (1 month) and some gold/regency to rule a province up. The Empire of Anuire existed for hundreds of years and was relatively stable before the death of Michael Roele, but even on the south coast, most provinces are level 2 or 3. Im sure war and plague have decreased province levels, but it just seems oddly low to me given the relative ease of ruling a province.

    Secondly, province taxation doesnt seem very balanced. Tax wise, the optimal setting seems to be at least half law holdings in the province + severe taxes, or moderate if you are worried that something else will impose a loyalty change. It takes a lot of regency and domain actions to go from half law holdings in each province to full law holdings just to make severe taxation safer, and the difference between moderate and severe taxation is not much except for very high province levels...for a level 4 province, the difference is basically 1 GB on average.

    Law claims are also surprisingly ineffective. Assuming law holding = guild/temple level, most of the time you are claiming 0 GB. This doesnt make sense for what should be things like duties, tariffs, etc...and claiming from multiple holdings actually nets you more than one big holding.

    Holding taxation stops making sense after level 6 as well, a level 6 holding and a level 4 holding in a level 10 province generates more gold than a level 10 holding in a level 10 province, because a level 10 holding generates the same gold as a level 6 holding.

    Scarcity of gold also seems to be balanced on the regent only controlling one type of money making holding (guild, temple or province). If a regent controls two or more, they get very rich. As an example, Talinie generates almost as much income as Boeruine due to having 7 provinces + lots of temple holdings, even though Talinie is a recommended PC realm and is not described as some kind of power house.

    Another example is Diemed vs Medoere. Diemed generates 16 GB income on average, Medoere despite having way fewer province levels generates 15.5 GB income on average due to controlling the temples...despite being less than half the size of Diemed. If Medoere spends one action casting Bless Land, they generate more money than Diemed on average.

    Trade routes are also far too powerful as described in the rules. It only takes two actions to create a trade route (assuming diplomacy is not required). It costs only 1 GB and 1 RP base. You only need a level 0 guild holding. It gives you a fixed amount of gold that cannot be taxed via law claims. A level 4 province with a trade route to another level 4 province generates a fixed 4 GB per turn...almost as much as a level 4 province on severe taxation. I'm not sure if trade routes are one way either...for example, if i can link province A to B, can I also link B to A for a second trade route?

    And despite how powerful trade routes are, Anuire does not appear to have any trade routes defined. Every regent should be scrambling to make trade routes given how much money they bring in for minimal investment. A realm can easily double their income if they had a single trade route from each province....and level 4-6 provinces can support two trade routes.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Question View Post
    First of all, why are the province levels so low? It only takes one domain action (1 month) and some gold/regency to rule a province up. The Empire of Anuire existed for hundreds of years and was relatively stable before the death of Michael Roele, but even on the south coast, most provinces are level 2 or 3. Im sure war and plague have decreased province levels, but it just seems oddly low to me given the relative ease of ruling a province.

    S
    Equilibrium: the province are so low otherwise wizards became unhappy. Because it's not so easy improve a province. It's very differente from our days where we have problems of overcrowding. You can't move people from a province to another one as Stalin did in the last century.
    I don't agree with u also for ratio in tax, temple and law holding. It's normal that a theocracy has more money, the Vatican is an example. Vatican doesn't pay taxes in Italy for example, but when they have control over Lazio and Marche they collect taxes, and a lot of them. You are right about trade route: simply don't permit to your PC to create. If they want tell them that far city as all assets busy. This is my humble opinion

  3. #3
    You're correct, the 2e version had a lot of holes in its rules, something that the 3e version created here tried to correct.

    I have refined those rules even further.

    Simply put, I've recalculated income generation, and limit ruling provinces to once per generation (which is based on the predominate culture's maturity rate).

    Remember, this is late Medieval period in Cerilia's history - wars, famine, plagues, and attrition all play a big part in why population levels are slow to grow. I assume they fluctuate over time, too.

    That being said, there should be a slow, steady growth in population, in the balance of factors - emphasis on slow.

  4. #4
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    All good questions that boil down to 'it balanced the game' rather than 'it makes sense' in my opinion. That said, if you see Anuire (in particular) as having suffered a general loss of authority, low province level could represent lack of respect for the throne, with the actual province population significantly higher - that would also justify the sort of rapid rise possible under the 2e rules.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Question View Post
    First of all, why are the province levels so low? It only takes one domain action (1 month) and some gold/regency to rule a province up. The Empire of Anuire existed for hundreds of years and was relatively stable before the death of Michael Roele, but even on the south coast, most provinces are level 2 or 3. Im sure war and plague have decreased province levels, but it just seems oddly low to me given the relative ease of ruling a province.
    I think the real question is not why province levels are so low, it's why rulers do not raise them?

    In the original 2E, it was stated that the PNC kingdoms would not grow with the same speed as a PC kingdom. I don't remember if it was Baker or Stark that said that none of the PNC rulers, not even Avan or Boeruine, could become emperor - that was a goal reserved for players. I think the idea implied there is that PC rulers are to be intended as enlightened rulers, who bring a new era in the kingdoms after a steady decline. They are somehow better than the regular regent, just like as an adventurer in a way he is more skillful and lucky than an ordinary person.

    Culture is also a factor. In cities of the sun, it is clearly stated in the introduction that the Khinasi are mainly concerned with building large cities, surrounded by nothing or almost nothing. An enlightened ruler may be able to go beyond this vision, it seems. In the Rjurik lands to grow the provinces too much may anger the Emerald Spiral. In Brecht and Vos lands a province too high a level can attract unwanted attention - it takes little to become a new Adlersburg, when you are surrounded by monster kingdoms.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Osprey's Avatar
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    As strategic players are often prone to min-maxing their domain growth, and other PCs tend to respond with similar moves to stay competitive / keep up with the other players, the art of balance falls heavily upon the DM's shoulders. It is up to the Birthright DM to introduce competitive NPC regents who work against the PCs and/or are busy growing their own realms up quickly next door to keep up with the new guy's rapid growth lest they be conquered or vassalized.

    The reason the core setting is so low-leveled is because regents have not kept up with the problems their realms face, and also just lack of motivation to grow those realms or centralize control. I have always believed PC regents pushing growth would change the entire political landscape, and force NPC regents to step up or get trampled / left behind / absorbed by the the rising stars in the realm. Or sometimes they might become vassals via PC diplomacy and join the new winning team.

    It is worth noting that the Contest action is a HUGE deal when it comes to RP drain. If you want to keep a PC regent's growth limited, just have a few regents contesting their holdings and trade routes, maybe running Espionage every so often (have you noticed how many neutral and evil guild regents there are? They don't tend to play nice if they can get away with it!).

    Aside from NPC regents, the other great balancer is Events. If you use the random tables, events happen about 30-40% of the time, which means roughly once per season on average. Not all events require a domain action to resolve, but they often resolve much better when the regent handles them personally instead of delegating to a Lieutenant or the court.
    The DM can always choose to add and invent additional events, and even make such events the focus of the domain storytelling in general.

    I have to admit that personally, when I have run (3.5/Pathfinder) BR campaigns, I have been a little slack in rolling for and breathing life into as many realm events as I should. Partly that is because there is a LOT to track as a BR DM and I tend to forget to do it. The other reason is that the events seem heavily geared toward landed regents, so they do not seem as important for non-landed regents to deal with, or just don't apply in some instances.

    This is a definite weakness in the game design. A more robust random event table, perhaps with a different table for each holding type, would be a terrific improvement to the domain system.
    Last edited by Osprey; 08-29-2022 at 12:50 PM.

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