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  1. #1
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    How to mark a Character of Lineage

    In light of the post by OneEyeTigh, I thought it might be useful for players and DM's to suggest how to signal (or remind) the party that the campaign, whatever its early forms, will become a High King or a Lonely at the Top style of game.

    Even if the whole crew sits down together before putting dice to table and agrees that one of these styles of game is what they want to do, its useful to keep signalling that this is what you want to do.

    If its obvious that the lineage of the character of destiny is above those of his peers, have the social situation reflect that. You can pick up bits and pieces of social rules from the national book of your choice (Ruins of Empire, Cities of the Sun, &c), but you'll need more, so you can either look to other games that elaborate on social rank, or make it up yourself.

    Social Rank for characters has two sides, how you behave, and how others treat you. All of this is for public behavior. When the servants have been excused and you are alone with your party, then you can drop your formal personae. Otherwise:

    People should communicate with the party by addressing its senior ranking character. If one player is the son of a duke and ther other PC's are scions of counts, jarls, lords, or knights, then everyone who encounters the party should address the scion of the duke. He will be easy to recognize because his finery will be superior. Note that in BR people who run realms are refered to as kings with a lower-case "k". This is a sign that they should be acting royal in terms of setting themselves apart from their underlings, the mere nobles who rule a single province. The Player's handbook gives us five levels of clothing. A royal outfit for 200 gp, a noble's outfit for 75 gp, a courtier's outfit for 30 gp, a scholar's outfit, artsan's outfit, or entertainers outfit for a few gp, and a peasant's outfit for 1sp. Wearing clothes appropriate to your station helps everyone identify who is in charge. Wearing clothes of some other stations will raise questions about you and you will lose credit with anyone who hears about it. People of other professions (wizard, cleric) should wear outfits of corresponding rank. I think we are all familiar that Pope's look finer than Archbishops, who look nicer than Bishops, and so on to Priest, acolyte, &c.

    If the party has someone playing the "face" of he party, who does most of the talking, that person needs to be seen to speak for the highest ranking member of the party, and not in his own right. This means that the face should learn to say things like, "His Grace inquires as to the nearest merchant of fine swords." "His Grace cannot accept this offer." And the highest ranking person should always appear to be the decision maker. The DM has to decide how to handle different spheres of activity. How independent should the noble/fighter be in combat, when the highest ranking PC in the group is a Priest of Sera, or some other non-combat diety? Again, this is only the case in public. The DM may decide that the higher ranking person must always appear to be in charge (though the players remain equal decision makers, this is a role play issue, not a game control issue) or the DM may decide that the activities clearly in a sphere of activity are worth a level of social rank, so that a priest in charge of Caulnor is equal to the Duke of Brosengae in matters that are religious. This is either an issue for the DM to decide or the players in common. Exactly how the social system in Cerilia (or the various nations) works is not so clearly spelled out that it must be done one way to the other.

    Generally cordial relations are limited to people who are your peers in rank, or one level above or below your own station. No one asks questions about a king associating with his counts. Indeed, what is a king without his counts, and shouldn't any large group of counts be lead by a king? However, things get tricker the farther we get away from a single difference in social rank. Players who hail from significantly lower lineages need an explanation and have more role playing to do to maintain the social order. Generally, they can appear to associate with a party member who is only one rank higher than they, rather than appearing to be a full member of the party, or they can appear to be servants, vassals, kinsmen, or champions of the party or its highest ranking member.

    If the highest ranking member of the party is Audreagh Nichaleir scion of the prelate of the WIT, and adopts the styles, clothing, and vestments of a royal level character, while three other PC's are sons of provincial level guilders, nobles, and templars, dressed in noble outfits suitable to their class and the kinds of holdings they associate with, and two more PC's are unblooded they might wear courtier level outfits or lower, and play the role of servants, champions, or kinsmen of other players. Certainly a count might have a cousin who is an unblooded knight.

  2. #2
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    There is also the "responsibility" of the character with the lineage of destiny.

    More is expected of him so he should be "judged" accordingly by NPCs and his "family".

    He should also be "more famous/infamous" because someone with a powerful bloodline is very, very hard to hide. Something "supernatural", albeit intangeable, sets them apart.
    Duane Eggert

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Another point which some players of 'low rank' characters find amusing is the concept of responsibility for one's servants.


    If the bard is caught with the count's daughter it might not be them who is really in trouble - the count may demand satisfaction from the ranking player for the insult done by their servant, etc if the ranking player tries to stop the count hanging the bard - and a noble is obligated to protect their servants...


    Players tend to be an independent lot who can find the continual deference grating, the odd bit of 'revenge' is only fair play, particularly if the high king is enjoying their prerogatives too much.


    I would say that you need to be very careful in picking the high king, although some players naturally gravitate to the role some do so purely because they cannot handle anyone else with 'the power' in the game - giving them a 'formal' position generally only encourages them which can ruin the game for everyone else.


    Its one reason why I prefer interlacing realms, although it makes 'physical' adventure options slightly contrived - oh look, yet again at a major wedding to which you are all invited some adventure has begun...

  4. #4
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I have played other role playing games where there was a king, his magnates, and minor lords, and there were few if any problems about rank. Normally the kings were assigned by staff, and other positions were assigned randomly. People were much more concerned with getting PC's that had certain stats rather than who got to have rank.

    Rank and deference just seemed to be a given. The king had all the money, had preferments to hand out. While some players had built in connections to the king, being his brother, uncle, or major magnates.

    These things, I think, we unquestioned because that was the game they sat down to play. If everyone sat down to play a standard D&D game where everyone is an equal party member and the DM has different ideas, than the DM has played a bait and switch on his players.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    The Arthurian setting by Swords and Sorcery, Excalibur uses feats to set some players apart. There is a Lessor Destiny, Greater Destiny, Famous Destiny, and Incredible Fortune which all revolve around the notion that some players have things going on in their storyline. As feats, this are things you bought, instead of taking other things, rather than a DM fiat (which can be more satisfying to players who had the opportunity to buy these feats and did not.)

    I think the BR system already has some costs associated with a parallel mechanic, in aquiring blood abilities and so on. I don't recall whether the BRCS uses scion levels or whatnot, but it seems that one could just graft some of these feat abilities onto the various bloodline strengths.

    Generally they involve some minor recognition that you are somebody above and beyond. The Leadership score already takes this into account, and the specific Blood Ability Bloodmark does as well.

    People might approach you and prophecize some great deed you will acomplish or reward destined for you

    As these things are feats they tend to give feat benefits that are approximate to other feats. For example, Famous Destiny grants you a +3 Diplomacy bonus if your destiny is considered benign and +3 to Intimidation if its considered malevolent (and benign and melevolent are mostly in the eye of the beholder).

    The thing is, this mechanic allows players to mark their greatness by buying feats. For players who object to the DM messing about with fiats that favor one player or another (and I can see objections from both a Gamist and Simulationist perspective) a mechanic offers a clear way to allow players to get on the destiny express if they want to.

    Generally I prefer to work this kind of potential ahead of time and to develop it if the player wants to (or leave it be if they don't) and to handle this in the Bloodline mechanic in terms of who gets better than a tainted or minor bloodline and what decent you can claim. If its worked out in advance that a certain PC is a decendent of Roele, has a great bloodline, and is the decendent of Emperors, then there really are no in-character reasons for objecting to this PC occupying the Iron Throne.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Very correct, no matter what mechanic you adopt the DM of a Birthright setting campaign has a great deal of responsibility to "set the table" for the Party and its interactions.

    I rarely go with the "High King" option as it often means the other players are relient on the "generousity" of the Regent.

    If I do go with this option it is incumbant upon me to "remind" the regent of his responsibilties to his captains and companions. No one wants to be Falstaff. If he persists a not so random event can serve to remind the regent of the price of not rewarding loyalty. Say Great Captain/Heretic that arrives at a bad time and this once loyal "Kings" man is very popular with the commons and the regent needs loyal friends to aid him avert rebellion. Hopefully the regent will see the not so subtle message. (It is also likely that the other players will not so gently remind him.) You have to keep a close eye on those potential tyrants.
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    I almost think that "Its Lonely at the Top" is an easier campaign to run than "High King".

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    As a mage regent there are other options that may provide for a more divergent style of rulership. A king (high or low) might find ways to leave simalcrums (or in some cases types of clones....i.e....not the clone spell, but a variant) so that the ruling mage can sneak off to do research, or to be able to take part in an epic quest or two for short periods of time.

    Of course the regent might have to keep in touch with "Crystal ball/Cell Phone" all the time in order to handle minutia through his/her proxy, but it is possible to do. It also will make assasins and foreign powers think twice about direct attacks against such a regent....."is that really the high mage king......or is it memorex....a simalcrum/clone".

    So lonely at the top need not be the case for all.

    Also for some regents having close familiy mages would yield much the same results in the creation of simalcrums....but there will be problems in communication if the PC doesn't had the magical contact (cell phone) ability.

    Just one mans opinion.

    Later


  9. #9
    Senior Member Jaleela's Avatar
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    I do agree with a lot of what you said about being able to tell folks apart.

    To me describing a characters clothing in gold pieces, silver, etc... does not set them apart from their underlings. In our campaign, every major regent is described in full from every day clothing to court clothing, to their baggage train when on campaign. FYI our time period for our campaign is 14th century.

    Here's a little taste of our description of the Duke of Alamie that I and my co-DM wrote up for our players. He's just a duke. Now imagine what a Prince or the Emperor would really have. (yeah we have that too )

    We also created our own heraldry for the regents since the ones used in the BRCS don't follow the rules of heraldry. I need to tweak the blazon for Alam's.

    Carilon Alam is a tall, thin, well appointed man in his mid-forties with a meticulously groomed moustach and trimmed, small forked beard. Shoulder length dark hair with the lightest touches of silver. His gray eyes miss nothing of the goings on around him. He has fine, aristocratic chiseled features that occasionally show the disdain he has for the lower orders of life. He moves with the lethal grace of a great cat. He has a regal demeanor and a calculating intelligence.

    The duke favors somber colors, dressing in the finest silk or linen shirts with elegant blackwork. His chausses are of the finest wool in winter and silk in the summer.

    In winter, his cote (tunic) is plush, high quality wool. In summer, it is gold embroidered brocades in deep reds and blues, or black. Cotes are embroidered gold or silver.

    He wears a well tailored ankle length gown of plush wool or piled velvet in blacks or deep blues.

    For court occasions, gowns long or short are usually of black cloth of gold. He wears a ducal coronet over his hat or cap of maintenance.

    His head is always adorned with a black, blue or burgundy piled velvet hat.

    Winter clothes are lined with sable or vair.

    He wears a thin belt of the best cordovan leather with gold mounts. He wears gilt bronze spurs, chased with filigreed designs and enameled with his coat of arms and engraved with his motto.

    He wears an assortment of three or four gold rings set with rubies. One is his seal.

    He always has a staff of 10 discreet body servants on hand who are dressed in clothes of gentlemen of wealth, made from the highest quality wools or silk brocades. His servants are nobleman and gentlemen of Alamie.


    Alam’s Armour:

    Alamie’s heraldry: Sable, a panther rampant argent, with gold flames.

    Helmet: Dhalaenian manufactuer visored sugarloaf greathelm of elegant proportions of blued steel with decorative re-enforcements in gilt brass.

    Crest: It is a work of the goldsmith’s art. It is a silver panther inlaid with gold spots, gold flames, magicked to protect it from damage. Ruby eyes. The mantel adorning his helm is black brocade with reverse white brocade and all is held in place with a ducal coronet.

    Underneath his helmet is a blued sevellier with an aventail of blued enameled Diemian maille with a 2” border of solid gold rings.

    Hauberk and chausses of finest quality Diemian double maille, blued to match the aventail. Also has a matching 2” wide hem of solid gold links.

    He wears a Dhalaenian coat of plates covered in black velvet and studded with silver and gold nails with panther heads.

    He has Dhalaenian blued steel gauntlets with a gilt latin border around the cuff, engraved with his motto.

    He wears Dhalaenian blued steel greaves and knee cops trimmed, engraved, and gilt to match the gauntlets.

    He wears a fashionable surcoat of black silk brocade with panther embroidered in silver and gold thread.

    Sword belt of finest cordovan leather with gilt buckle and mounts enameled with his coat of arms.

    Dhalaenian sword of the highest quality with gilt steel pommel and guard. His arms are enameled on the pommel. The scabbard covered in black velvet and mounted with gold.

    He has a matching dagger.

    He also has a high quality Dhalaenian mace that is elaborately decorated.

    His horse is a dappled gray Alamian Destrier. The horse’s bard is of high quality maille, covered with a caparison of black silk brocade with powdered panthers embroidered in silver and gold thread. The broad reins on his horse’s bridle are covered in black velvet, as is all the horse tack. Gilt latin pendants enameled with his arms dangle from the tack.

    He is often in the company of two black panthers wearing collars of gold plaques which are enameled with his coat of arms.

    His shield is diapered (just a decorative pattern in a % of black) black with a panther in silver and gold leaf.

    Note: The Carilon Alam in our game is not an old duke who cares nothing for his realm.
    We've never had a problem with players keeping to "rank" within a party or figuring out "rank" amongst regents; you may be a count, but you pay deference to a Prince.

    When the PC is out of the public eye, those in his household who are his "familiars" can call him by his given name or the family nickname.

    On the same token, our players are pretty savvy when it comes to knowing what their duties are to their people and lieutenants. If they aren't aware, they quickly learn what types of issues can arise from such things as "favoritism" and how that effects older nobles vs. newly raised.
    Last edited by Jaleela; 04-11-2007 at 05:08 PM.

  10. #10
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    I think it depends on the group. One group I run/play in has no issue with one person being the “face person.” They help that person and we have a great time. In the other, there seems to be a weird kind of competition. Needless to say, in the second group, I’ll opt out of being leader in the future at any cost. =)

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