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  1. #1
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Inspirations for BR Campaigns.

    I thought it might be nice to mention a couple of things that BR fans
    might want to have a look at as inspiration for their campaigns. The
    two shows I`m going to recommend might seem very disparate and very
    odd as reference for BR, but I`ll explain how/why I think they are relevant.

    First off, I would highly recommend the HBO/BBC series "Rome." For
    those who haven`t heard/seen this show it`s very good. It takes
    place during Julius Caesar`s rise to power, and follows loosely the
    lives of characters from the Big J down to a few of his
    soldiers. It`s gone one season and had 10 episodes.

    Second, is the HBO series "Deadwood." This show focuses on the
    lawless period of the boom mining town as it begins the transition
    into US territory. Main characters range from the sheriff (or the
    character who will become the sheriff) to miners, gamblers, etc. The
    show has had three seasons, but apparently will not get a
    fourth. Instead they`ve decided to wrap it up with two 2-hour movies.

    What do they have to do with BR? Well, first off, they do an
    excellent job in both series of illustrating how one might transition
    between the domain level of play and the adventure level. In Rome we
    get the conflict between Caesar and Pompey whose actions provide the
    overall basis of adventures, context and background for adventures of
    characters who exist at the adventure level. In Deadwood we see a
    nascent "kingdom" being created, and the transition from a "camp" to
    what will become a state capital. The political level of play at
    the domain level has a definitive effect on the adventure level of
    play and vice versa. Sometimes characters transition a bit between
    those two levels, and at other times they remain strictly one or the other.

    Second, they provide an excellent example of how regents must
    think. In Deadwood characters recognize that they are going to have
    to pay bribes in order to keep their land claims when their
    unincorporated lands become part of the US. They begin a government
    (not so big that it looks like they are declaring their independence,
    but enough so that the recognized US government can justify their
    inclusion more easily) and collect taxes in order to pay those bribes
    that will be necessary for them to maintain their property
    rights. In Rome we get an excellent example of the way regents often
    justify their actions in ways that the "common people" can
    understand. Caesar wants to go to war with Pompey, but Pompey meets
    all of the demands Caesar had placed upon him--except one. He
    refuses to meet with Caesar face-to-face. "He refuses to meet me!"
    Caesar dramatically says, even though its clear he couldn`t care less.

    Third, there`s an awful lot of intrigue. By and large, intrigue is
    timeless. The intrigue of either series can be `ported straight into
    any other environment and it`ll still work. There`ll be tweaks, of
    course, but the nature of the plots and their motives will be pretty
    much the same.

    Good gaming (and viewing,)
    Gary

  2. #2
    Senior Member ploesch's Avatar
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    OK, I will netflix them.

    George R. R. Martin - "A song of ice and Fire" series is a must read for BR fans. Reading this series is what got me back into Birthright after an extended hiatus with a group that didn't like the Domain level of play.

    It has excellent transitions between Domain and adventure level play, complicated intrigues, and a low magic setting. Sometimes I think Mr. Martin Just writes based on his own BR games.

    I was instantly reminded of BR when I started reading the series. If you compare it directly, it takes place at the end of the Anuirean Empire, with different rulers trying to hold the empire together, but in the end making war on each other. Of course, all the names and places are different, but the 7 kingdoms are even ruled by the Iron throne. LOL. There are Battles, abstracted as far off action, and just what happens around the main characters. There is tons of intrigue, as well as trade going on in the background, and financing a dynasty.
    Last edited by ploesch; 09-20-2006 at 04:46 AM.
    When you play the game of thrones you win or you die.
    George R. R. Martin - A song of Ice and Fire

  3. #3
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I'm curious what other inspirations have DM's and players used in their play. I wonder if posters would also explain what about the inspiration makes it so useful. Obviously, Gary did us great service with his substantial review, and I encourage anyone to write an essay on what inspires them, but I think anything more than a line would be useful explanation for why the inspiration works for you.

    I'll mention a few of mine.

    Homer: While the action is generaly focused on the adventure level, there are substanial asides regarding the realm level, including the famous description of Achilles' shield. What is perhaps most useful in Homer is that he hits a lot of the random events in a very natural way. The characters are all kings and have realms, even though Agamemnon is the leader of the coallition of Acheaens.

    Arthurian Legend: There is a lot here, from the general tone of the tales about knights confronting monsters, seeking magic items, and confronting evil, to the subtle way magic is portrayed, to the issues around governing and maintaining a kingdom. Arthur also includes a very nice arc which can be used in BR where a character starts on the fringes, his birthright is discovered, and he unites disparet realms to forge a kingdom.

  4. #4
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    One of my biggest inspirations for Birthright (and really role-playing
    in general) is Robert Jordon`s Wheel of Time series. It`s at least 10
    books large so I stopped recommending it to people, though. : )

    The first book starts out with a trio of young characters whisked away
    from their small country town and forced by fate to become adventurers
    after their town is scourged by nastiness. Throughout their travels,
    we get to meet new characters and explore new lands, most notably the
    honorable realm of Andor, the insidius court intrigues of Carheinen,
    and the ever-vigiliant militaristic Borderlands. The characters
    acquire mystical artifacts, train in various skills, and get caught up
    in an epic plotline to determine the fate of the world. By the third
    book, we`ve not only been involved in several court intrigues, but are
    exploring the dangers of running the realm of Tear and the threachery
    that surrounds a ruler. We sort of add more realms to the list as
    time goes on as one of our characters tries to become this world`s
    equivilent of the Anuirean Empire as dreamed by its last emperor,
    though there`s a lot more to it.

  5. #5
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    Another one of the other recent shows that could be used as an
    inspiration is the new Battlestar Galactica. The political level of
    play is apparent from the get go in that series, and just about every
    BR domain action can be seen exemplified in the events of the show
    ranging from assassination to agitate, and several episodes could be
    interpreted as the results of random events. Oh, and it has
    spaceships. Nerdy cool factor 12.

    Gary

  6. #6
    For some top-notch political play and adventuring, one can also try Roger Zelazny's series on "Amber".

    The first books more than the Merlin ones.

  7. #7
    My primary inspirations for the Birthright game I'm running are the Matter of Britain (Mabinogion, pre-French influenced Arthurian legend, et al.), the Matter of France (chansons de geste, Orlando Furioso, et al.), the Nibelungenlied, Beowulf, and a few modern works including Bujold's Chalion and Spirit Ring settings, Zelazny's Amber, Sci-fi's Galactica and McGuire's Wicked. Overall, it's been knightly tournaments and questing adventure, heavily cribbed from the Pendragon game and the earlier Childs Ballads, but there has been some court intrigue. The game will eventually lead to domain-level play.

  8. #8
    Big on the list of my birthright-specific inspirations:

    Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott): Especially for a couple key characters: The errant king/knight (Richard), the evil monach (just about all the normans), the evil templar (Brian de Bois-Guibert who kidnaps the beautiful jeweress), the "jolly" woodsmen fighting for the land's rightfull ruler (Locksley), even Wamba the jester -- in adition there are issues with rival law holdings (between saxons, the normans, the woodsmen), and trade (the jewish bankers)

    The Prince (Machiavelli): This one is truelly great for ruler settings and intrigue, as well as some good DM responses to ways that other NPC regents can/could react.

  9. #9
    Despite starring Orlando Bloom, Kingdom of Heaven was a decent movie, with lots of good scenes involving the nobility, knights, nomads, religion's role in warfare, sieges, and such.

    It could spark some ideas if the Khinasi ever decided to invade Anuire, even on a province level.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sigmund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ploesch
    OK, I will netflix them.

    George R. R. Martin - "A song of ice and Fire" series is a must read for BR fans. Reading this series is what got me back into Birthright after an extended hiatus with a group that didn't like the Domain level of play.

    It has excellent transitions between Domain and adventure level play, complicated intrigues, and a low magic setting. Sometimes I think Mr. Martin Just writes based on his own BR games.

    I was instantly reminded of BR when I started reading the series. If you compare it directly, it takes place at the end of the Anuirean Empire, with different rulers trying to hold the empire together, but in the end making war on each other. Of course, all the names and places are different, but the 7 kingdoms are even ruled by the Iron throne. LOL. There are Battles, abstracted as far off action, and just what happens around the main characters. There is tons of intrigue, as well as trade going on in the background, and financing a dynasty.

    Quoted because Ploesch's experience almost completely mirrors my own. My old DM's user name on message boards is even King_Stannis. He Dmed our BR campaign after reading Game of Thrones, and it rocked. Very gritty, yet full of hope, with extremely complex, multi-dimensional characters.

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