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  1. #1
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Rulers and Styles of Play

    Whether you rule a guild, a temple, sources, or provinces, there are three ways to play Birthright. Players can adventure exclusively (and adventures can be realm oriented or not, players can focus on the wargame aspect of the game, aquiring GB, RP, and spending time (both IC and OOC) on the realm as the instrument of play, and of course you can combine them into a hybrid style of play.

    When considering characters, the D&D game itself is designed for the adventure style of play. The realm part of the game was all new, and characters were not designed to win at this level of play. They are designed to do something else. A good realm character would be good at doing realm things, getting more GB, or RP, or really holding on to the loyalty of his people, planning and implementing realm actions, and commanding units in warfare. Given the way classes are designed in D&D it would make sense that a character would be really good at one of these and decent and another one or two, and weak at another two or three.

    I know that people who play the adventure style of play see no use for these kinds of characters. But for those who either play Birthright like the old computer game, or like some PBeM's in which play is based on the realm, not the adventure, there is the question of the character who is good at non-adventuring things.

    Its also the case that many people just don't like to see characters who are bad at what they are doing just because no one has devised a class for that activity. In most games, any activity outside of adventuring, is poorly or just not represented by class skills or abilities. But, in fact its just as easy to suppose that the commoner class isn't someone who is bad at everything, he's someone who is good at non-game things, like being a good parent. But in the BR setting, some of these activities make sense. A financier, whether a guilder, templar, or province ruler, someone who can really get the GB to come in makes sense, especially if play revolves around aquiring and allocating GB rather than the dungeon crawl.

    Perhaps rather than looking at guilder and noble (which isn't a really good governing class, but just a noble fighter), I suggest we look at functions pf the realm experience, and we should get natural classes based on these things. An Int based financier, who brings in the money, and may have secondary benefits in organing realm actions. A Wis based figure who is deeply connected with their realm. Not only do they get better regency collection, but they are more aware of what is going on in their realm. Charisma based beloved ruler, who has bonuses to increase and avoid decreases to their loyalty, and may get some minor benefits to RP collection as well.

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    One possibility I have flirted with is similar to the old Dark-Sun idea of a character tree with each player having a realm-level character and an adventure-level character.


    This does however have great-captain type issues, and players who identify with the regent exclusively might find the system unsatisfying. The big problem is probably going to be with source holders where realm-level play tends to be limited, if explosive - the wizard winds up using the same character at both adventure and realm level play and therefore advance more swiftly than other characters.


    Alternatively all characters could have classes in both realm-level and adventure-level classes, if the two types of class did not impact on each other (i.e. being a charisma-based ruler had no impact on adventure level play) then the level of one could be ignored when looking at the progression of the other - although this could have issues relating to skills and the like.


    To make a 'two-lane' class system like this work, realm-level characters would need to have no or minimum hit points and saves, BAB, etc - although they should have no use for them; otherwise the realm levels will impact adventure level play and distort challenge ratings and the like. That does however beg the question of what such characters do have beyond skills, feats and abilities - although what else do they actually need?


    The problem area in two-lane characters will probably be skills useful to both adventure and realm level play. Diplomacy based characters (bards, priests, etc) would be the most likely characters to have skills which overlap.


    One final problem is how to deal with characters with very high levels in adventure/realm classes and very low levels in the other - are your players going to be happy that their veteran L15 fighter is no better at running a kingdom than a L1 fighter fresh off the farm? I can see arguments both ways.

  3. #3
    Senior Member blitzmacher's Avatar
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    Or play non-class based systems.
    Cattle die and kinsmen die,
    thyself too soon must die,
    but one thing never, I ween, will die, --
    fair fame of one who has earned.
    HAVAMAL

  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    This is really interesting, Andrew.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall
    Alternatively all characters could have classes in both realm-level and adventure-level classes, if the two types of class did not impact on each other then the level of one could be ignored when looking at the progression of the other [...].

    To make a 'two-lane' class system like this work, realm-level characters would need to have no or minimum hit points and saves, BAB, etc. That does however beg the question of what such characters do have beyond skills, feats and abilities - although what else do they actually need?
    Suppose it works this way, every scion character (someone with a bloodline) gets and additional 2 regency skill points per level, and an additonal feat based on character level (just like on table 3-2, pg 22 of the PHB) that is only good for Regency feats.

    Then go through the existing skills and BR feats and identify any that are really good for rulers of domains (Knowledge (Law), Administration, &c) and call them Regency skills, which means you can spend regency skill points on them. Any character can also buy them with regualr skill points, but regency skill points can only be spent on regency skills (BTW, here is your guilder with 10 skill points if he's a rogue). Likewise with regency feats. Any general feat can aquire a regency feat, which makes the Noble suddenly able to purchase Regency feats, if he likes. But the feats aquired by a scion can only be used to aquire feats with the regency descriptor. Then make feat trees that acomplish what I was describing, a finance feat tree, a realm loyalty feat tree, a realm-sensitive feat tree, and so on. So that every scion character would simultaneously get better at ruling a realm, and adventuring. At the same time the NPC classes would get the same regency progression. So the 9th level Expert or Aristocrat would still be as good a ruler as the 9th level PC, but not in adventuring.

    This is intriging. We need to keep Andrew around.

  5. #5
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    On the discussion concerning player characters at realm-level, I want to make some comments.

    I am sorry to raise the question that where is the fun if we operate Birthright exclusively on realm-level? Imagine at first, maybe it is fun because the players can clearly know their achievement by checking the number of their total holding level. What is next? Blindly working for a bigger number until the re-unification of the old empire? As a DM, I will try to move away from that kind of mentality.

    Whether a PC ruler be a good one, it depends on the DM. I think the DM is somehow like a god in developing the history of the player's realm. The history can be deterministic: The player's realm will be progressive, static or in decline. And I think after several domain turns, your players will feel the general trend of the history.

    For exmaple, in a province (0), 4 or 5 blooded PCs make themselves regents of holding (0). Through the first few adventures, the priest regent spreads his teaching in the province, the fighter regent gains acceptance of his leadership from the local people, the wizard regent accidentally discovers some locations of source holding and the party makes friends with more and more mportant NPCs in the province. The players will feel they are in a progressive trend. In this case, making progression makes good ruler.

    On the other hand, a PC ruler may have a realm with 7 provinces with all types of holding. There are several power struggles between different regents at provincial level or regional level. Then, Lieutenants get assassinated, Treasure was robbed, One or two provinces are being invaded and one is under rebellion at the same time. These may even force each PC to work individually on different events at the same time. Then, the PC rulers will know ... in this case, slowing down the decline can be regarded as a great achievement.

  6. #6
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    But these stats exists?I see only the classic strenght,dex,const,int,wis and charisma!

  7. #7
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    If you make regency feats based around a military commander-type ruler then these could be fighter feats as well.

    I'm not sure how the regency skill points and feats would go down in a scion/unblooded mixed party - you already have the 'freebies!' issue on bloodline abilities (allow Irdeggman has fixed this to a degree in the brcs) and this will amplify the 'favouratism'. Although if the regent skills have little use in adventure play it shouldn't be a problem.

    Possible regent level skills: Administrate (brcs), Gather information (brcs version, in your own domain only), bluff, diplomacy, knowledge (regional and local from brcs only or nature if a wizard), lead (brcs), warcraft(brcs), all seem appropriate, with possibly possibly sense motive from the phb...

    A regent could probably take a feat to allow them to spend regency skills on standard skills - but they would almost certainly get a shocking reputation for neglecting their realm... This wouldn't impact a non-regent though so probably should be banned as munchkinism.

    The use of regency skills, etc would allow fighters and the like to be reasonable regents without needing to use all their skill points on the above skills - although bluff and diplomacy could be issues - unless the regency skills ony stacked at realm-level. I.e. he's mostly an ok diplomat, but he's great when talking with an army at his back and a treasury full of gold...

    Another possibility is moving away from character levels at all for regency skills/feats - if only regents got them they could get regency points/feats based on time spent running a domain, or as a reward for success. That way a scion only gets the 'extra' skill points if they actually spend a reasonable amount of time on realm level play, and even unblooded characters could get these skills and feats if they ruled a realm - although they would still be at a severe disadvantage to a scion, an unblooded regent with decades of experience could have a chance in a contest with some of the variant regency collection systems.


    mayiuchung, on why play mainly at realm level it depends what type of game you are playing.

    I have the privilege of playing in the Rjurik Winds PBEM; the game centers around realm level play almost by necessity - although the GM ran an online adventure yesterday its not easy to do. I assume that other PBEM's are similar - it takes a long time to play out a combat via email (Charles had us use Y! messenger and invisible castle for rolls...).

    In many ways realm-level play is like standard play without the combat - lots of negotiation and planning with some shopping and character creation thrown in. (And still with the odd bout of terror, Hruthvar just got a letter from the Gorgon)

    A tabletop game can still have a lot of realm-level play - although to me it is primarily an excuse for adventure in that case. hmmm, want to forge a trade route do you? well its either +10 DC for the known impossibility of the task or you role-play negotiating with the varsk-raiders and seek the lost mountain pass yourself...

    Overall I would suggest that play that is exclusively one or the other is less satisfying than one that mixes, or at least acknowledges, the other.

  8. #8
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    If you make regency feats based around a military commander-type ruler then these could be fighter feats as well.
    In general, I think there are plenty of military commander PrC's out there to cover this. That's not to say BR couldn't add something to what's out there, but I would wait to see what the needs are. Recruiting and training would probabaly be an area where BR stuff could fill gaps in D&D stuff already out there.

    [...]this will amplify the 'favouratism'. Although if the regent skills have little use in adventure play it shouldn't be a problem.
    I think we should have a hard line test. If its useful in adventure play, its not a regency skill or feat. Buy Bluff and Sense motive normally.

  9. #9

    Realm Level and Adventure Level play

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall
    I have the privilege of playing in the Rjurik Winds PBEM; the game centers around realm level play almost by necessity - although the GM ran an online adventure yesterday its not easy to do. I assume that other PBEM's are similar - it takes a long time to play out a combat via email (Charles had us use Y! messenger and invisible castle for rolls...).
    I'm guilty as charged of having moved a PBeM into the realm of Instant-messenging for adventures - and I had a blast DM'ing five or the Rjurik Wind players on Saturday.
    I REALLY liked the duality of Birthright's Realm-based play intermixed with character Adventures and I insisted on group adventures; I'm glad I did.

    One problem I was faced with was how to reward players: They are spending a character action; (or lieutenant) for barely any treasure (by realm standards) -- and level advancement is really not going to help realm play: you can be Fighter 3rd level, and do as good of a job as a Fighter 12th level; it's more about domain power/regency/Blood scores even now-weapon abilities and basic stats (say good administration score)...

    Some options were:
    1. Rewarding players with increased loyalty: Regent or lieutenant finished a quest; the population is proud and happy
    2. Couple extra GBs - especially for temples or guilds or realms strapped for cash
    3. Couple new Lieutenants: inspired by the quest, they ask to come in the regent's service bringing much needed skills


    Id love to see if any of you had other "benefits" to suggest..

  10. #10
    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    In the the world of politics, a key factor is always information. If the players do well in an adventure, slip them little bits of information about the world that may benefit them. While they could possibly have found out similar information through actions, you can put them down as rumours heard on the road, things they have seen or things any new "friends" have told them. The sort of things that the regent wouldn't necessarily learn unless they did a bit of travel themselves amongst the commoners. This could be as simple as new clerics or soldiers appearing in certain towns, or major price changes of certain products in the markets.

    Of course, some of this information might be about other players :^) And it will be up to the player to make use of the new information as best they can at the domain level.

    Sorontar

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