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  1. #1

    New to Birthright - Does and don'ts

    I never bought the Birthright stuff back when it was released. It was much later I got interested and bought up all the major stuff second hand. I really liked the idea of letting my players rule a part of the world and get involved in politics and rulership of the land. However, these days we don't play that often so it has taken some more years before the adventure story line reached a point where one of the players was raised to king of one of the Emirates in my world.

    Now to the question. Is there anybody out there that can give some advice on does and don'ts for a newbie?
    - What should I think of when creating the storyline?
    - How to get the players involved (the ruler as well as the rest of the party)?
    - Is there any good published adventures or available stuff on the net that I should consider to get the players into the political mess from day one?
    - What version of Birthright works best?

    Any help appreciated

  2. #2
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    There are several kinds of games. One is the game where the politics is just setting. Its a normal D&D adventure type of game, but the PC's also happen to be rulers of domains. Another makes the politics one of the motivating factors for the game, but there are also many conventional D&D motivators (treasure, magic, experience). Finally, you can have a game where the politics is the game, and the adventures are about political action.

    Figuring out where to put your "slider" on politics will have an impact on how you motivate players, create a storyline, and create adventures.

  3. #3
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    - What should I think of when creating the storyline?
    I`ve found that geography is VERY helpful when creating a Birthright
    storyline. You`ve got to make a blind decision; a leap of faith; and just
    pick one random province in one random domain in one random part of
    Cerelia. Read about that province, read about the neighboring provinces,
    try to think of ways you could use the characters detailed for that realm.
    This is assuming a strictly adventure-style game.

    For a realm-style game, there are very conflicting views. You`ll be better
    just trying it and developing your own style than getting advice on this.
    My main concerns would be on the villain and his motivations. It`s very
    important for me that villains don`t think of themselves as villains and I
    like to have moral grey-areas in my games. Usually this takes the form of a
    strong EVIL villain (because I want heroic games) with his various
    associates and henchmen having justified reasons for their choices. I like
    to make sure the PCs can foil the plan without outright killing the villain
    because I like to re-use villains. I try to make sure there is some
    FINALITY to an adventure though, so usually one of the henchmen gets offed
    at the least or an important asset is destroyed.

    I like to have realm-level plots; some people don`t. War is always a good
    realm-level plot, and I like to use the threat of war as the major concern
    for all characters rather than a war itself. I`ve used this a few times.
    PCs must race to prevent a war. There are thousands of adventures you can
    have with this goal. There are others. Groups of adventures with a strong
    THEME help to distinguish my games, and my Birthright and Modern games tend
    to have some of the most focussed themes (because its easy to become
    distracted or lost otherwise).

    I love playing with setting, especially in Birthright. I love re-using the
    same settings. I love treating each setting as its own character, re-using
    them again and again to enforce the same themes. There`s this one manor in
    my campaigns, for example, that I always use as the jumping off point for
    Shadow World adventures. The players know now that anytime they have to go
    to that manor for anything, there`s probably going to be something involving
    the Shadow World coming up. This kind of foreshadowing is important to me.
    I like it. Some people don`t.


    - How to get the players involved (the ruler as well as the rest of the
    party)?
    This has always been tough for most new players in any setting. My best
    advice is just don`t get too carried away and don`t forget the basics. That
    is, you don`t necessarily need a "Birthright motivation" to get involved,
    but remember past motivations that have got them involved before. You can
    give it a Birthright twist or not. For new players I recommend not taking
    anything away. That is, no you-must-save-your-brother adventures or
    this-villain-is-out-to-get-you adventures because they don`t really care
    about any of that yet. You need to start out with constructive goals, like
    establishing the relationship with the brother, for example. The first
    couple of sessions shouldn`t even really be about foiling the villain or
    stopping the bad guy; but on building on the player`s goals and creating an
    obstacle or villain that is in the way. Once the PCs have actually earned
    some part of their character`s relationships/possessions, they``ll be far
    more inclined to care when their relationships/possessions are threatened,
    whether we`re talking about those that the players earned previously or
    those that the GM is introducing for the very first time. In a way, this is
    the opposite of what "adventure guides" usually recommend, but I`ve found it
    works very well and feels very Birthright.


    - Is there any good published adventures or available stuff on the net that
    I should consider to get the players into the political mess from day one?
    I know its not quite what you were asking for, but I strongly recommend
    reading the Book of Regency. It was released for free and can be found
    online. As for published adventurers, I liked Legends of the Hero-Kings -
    it was a book that expanded the random events into frameworks and ideas to
    make into short adventures. I love doing stuff like this. Anything I can
    draw a direct parellel between domain-level play and adventure-level play is
    a GOOD THING in my opinion.

    - What version of Birthright works best?
    This largely doesn`t matter. Some prefer 2e and some prefer 3e. Some write
    their own house rules. Others use other games entirely like Ars Magica or
    GURPS. The biggest think that makes Birthright isn`t the rules used, but
    rather the focus of stories and the strength of the setting.

  4. #4
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    Great post Just one opinion from my Birthright games: trade is a great
    realm-level plot. Food to eat, basic resources for building, exports for
    income,... are great ways of spawning adventures, from diplomacy to open new
    trade routes, to fighting to steal supplies or protect important shipments.

    Regards!

    Vicente



    -----Mensaje original-----
    De: Birthright RPG Discussion [mailto:BIRTHRIGHT-L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM] En
    nombre de Lord Rahvin
    Enviado el: martes, 20 de febrero de 2007 21:21
    Para: BIRTHRIGHT-L@ORACLE.WIZARDS.COM
    Asunto: Re: New to Birthright - Does and don`ts [9#3415]

    - What should I think of when creating the storyline?
    I`ve found that geography is VERY helpful when creating a Birthright
    storyline. You`ve got to make a blind decision; a leap of faith; and just
    pick one random province in one random domain in one random part of
    Cerelia. Read about that province, read about the neighboring provinces,
    try to think of ways you could use the characters detailed for that realm.
    This is assuming a strictly adventure-style game.

    For a realm-style game, there are very conflicting views. You`ll be better
    just trying it and developing your own style than getting advice on this.
    My main concerns would be on the villain and his motivations. It`s very
    important for me that villains don`t think of themselves as villains and I
    like to have moral grey-areas in my games. Usually this takes the form of a
    strong EVIL villain (because I want heroic games) with his various
    associates and henchmen having justified reasons for their choices. I like
    to make sure the PCs can foil the plan without outright killing the villain
    because I like to re-use villains. I try to make sure there is some
    FINALITY to an adventure though, so usually one of the henchmen gets offed
    at the least or an important asset is destroyed.

    I like to have realm-level plots; some people don`t. War is always a good
    realm-level plot, and I like to use the threat of war as the major concern
    for all characters rather than a war itself. I`ve used this a few times.
    PCs must race to prevent a war. There are thousands of adventures you can
    have with this goal. There are others. Groups of adventures with a strong
    THEME help to distinguish my games, and my Birthright and Modern games tend
    to have some of the most focussed themes (because its easy to become
    distracted or lost otherwise).

    I love playing with setting, especially in Birthright. I love re-using the
    same settings. I love treating each setting as its own character, re-using
    them again and again to enforce the same themes. There`s this one manor in
    my campaigns, for example, that I always use as the jumping off point for
    Shadow World adventures. The players know now that anytime they have to go
    to that manor for anything, there`s probably going to be something involving
    the Shadow World coming up. This kind of foreshadowing is important to me.
    I like it. Some people don`t.


    - How to get the players involved (the ruler as well as the rest of the
    party)?
    This has always been tough for most new players in any setting. My best
    advice is just don`t get too carried away and don`t forget the basics. That
    is, you don`t necessarily need a "Birthright motivation" to get involved,
    but remember past motivations that have got them involved before. You can
    give it a Birthright twist or not. For new players I recommend not taking
    anything away. That is, no you-must-save-your-brother adventures or
    this-villain-is-out-to-get-you adventures because they don`t really care
    about any of that yet. You need to start out with constructive goals, like
    establishing the relationship with the brother, for example. The first
    couple of sessions shouldn`t even really be about foiling the villain or
    stopping the bad guy; but on building on the player`s goals and creating an
    obstacle or villain that is in the way. Once the PCs have actually earned
    some part of their character`s relationships/possessions, they``ll be far
    more inclined to care when their relationships/possessions are threatened,
    whether we`re talking about those that the players earned previously or
    those that the GM is introducing for the very first time. In a way, this is
    the opposite of what "adventure guides" usually recommend, but I`ve found it
    works very well and feels very Birthright.


    - Is there any good published adventures or available stuff on the net that
    I should consider to get the players into the political mess from day one?
    I know its not quite what you were asking for, but I strongly recommend
    reading the Book of Regency. It was released for free and can be found
    online. As for published adventurers, I liked Legends of the Hero-Kings -
    it was a book that expanded the random events into frameworks and ideas to
    make into short adventures. I love doing stuff like this. Anything I can
    draw a direct parellel between domain-level play and adventure-level play is
    a GOOD THING in my opinion.

    - What version of Birthright works best?
    This largely doesn`t matter. Some prefer 2e and some prefer 3e. Some write
    their own house rules. Others use other games entirely like Ars Magica or
    GURPS. The biggest think that makes Birthright isn`t the rules used, but
    rather the focus of stories and the strength of the setting.

  5. #5

    GBs and RPs

    Great input. I have tried to use my existing game (a combination of the old Babylonian empire and the old Al-Qadim setting) and applied the Ariyan domain to the country. I found it to be a great way to steal some plotlines and then use some other domains that fit into the surrounding countries from the Cities of the Sun material. By regent assumes the rulership of the country after his new found brother has attacked the Emirate and almost destroyed it, killing their joint father in the effort, before the player comes in and saves the day (hopefully, haven't played that part yet).

    My major concern is how to keep the effort of building up your domain, collecting GBs and trying to rule it with your RPs, exciting even though you have no real players playing the surrounding domains. Without the competition of neighbouring regents with other agendas, birthright seems not to come to its fullest.

    How do you as a DM manage the sheer magnitude of surrounding regents, domains and plotlines in order to make my regents effort fair compared to what everybody else is trying to achieve around him? Another problem is of course to try to stay somewhat neutral if you as a DM try to act in character for all surrounding regents and decide their domain actions? Or is that overdoing it? Should I just make up what is happening in the surrounding areas, without actually going through the effort of following all the Birthright rules for the surrounding domain actions? But if i choose the later, what is then the disctinction between Birthright campaign from a normal D&D game?

  6. #6

    Collecting GBs and RPs - fun?

    Thanks for all the great input. I have tried to use some existing Birthright material that I have incorporated into my own campaign (which is based on a combination of the old Babylonian empire and the Al-Quadim setting). I used the Player’s Secrets to Ariya as the background and used many of the plotlines in that one, and then I took some domains from the Cities of the Sun material to create the surrounding nations.

    However, one issue I have is how to handle the surrounding domains and regents. Should I play out all the domain actions for all surrounding regent in order to see how they achieve compared to my player (just to keep it fair)? Thats a lot of work but adds to the realism. Is that the only way to make it interesting for my regent to go through the effort to collect GBs to build his domain and gather RPs to force through his will? Without the competition of surrounding regents with other agendas, I think it is hard to motivate the players to go through the effort of playing out the details of ruling the domain (GBs and RPs). Another option would of course be to make it simple and just make up what is happening in the surrounding domains, but then I do not see any real difference between Birthright and any other D&D campaign setting – or have I misunderstood something?

  7. #7
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    For a DM, I think "King of the Giantdowns" is really an excellent start. PCs could start as normal adventurers and then learn about social, political and geographical landscape of the 12 provinces within the Giantdowns. If you like diplomacy and war, you will find that the unsettled situation in that region can be very interesting. If you like adventures, you can find it easy to put adventures in wilderness and dungeons into that setting. After three or four adventures, your PCs may become interested in setting up their own province too. If they don't, they may become agents of other regents around the areas. In this way, they will be involved in some local politics.

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