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  1. #1

    A daunting task.

    To start let me say that I have only recently discovered the Birthright game, and have not yet (nor do I plan to any time soon) explore any 3.X iterations of the game.

    At first glance Birthright appears to be one of the greatest roleplaying games/settings ever. But after looking at it more it began to dawn on me just how huge of a task it must be to run. Even if the DM restricts players to realms in a localized area the number of key actors on the scene whose plots, goals, and motivations that must be accounted for are dizzying.

    For example the DM announces that all the players will play regents from the Southern Coast. Players being the pesky creatures that they are will no doubt have schemes that involve their neighbors outside of the Southern Coast (and key NPCs outside the region seem to want in as well). This will mean that Ghoere, Endier and Osoerde will factor prominently in this game.

    That means there are 39 regents that have holdings in these realms, assuming that four of them are players that leaves the DM to plan for 35 regents every turn.

    While the BRCS Rulebook suggests only having three NPC regents act a turn, and just updating inactive realms every once in a while, I can't imagine that working well without the world seeming horribly static despite all descriptions to the contrary.

    In your experience how does a DM make the world turn without losing his mind?

  2. #2
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    You can play the game on several different levels.

    I personally would recommend starting the game using the BR setting without using the Realm or battle system to start.

    I found that starting the players as unblooded/blooded or non regents and/or possible heirs to a throne was much easier.

    The politics and interactions could be done without using the exact mechanics while everyone got used to the Birthright setting - understood the province and started to aquire knowledge of the surrounding areas and the politics. (and while the game master fleshed out the "local" areas)

    As they get more powerful they could then Inherit or take a more important role - become lieutenants with regency/take over the running of a province after their father is assassinated. etc.

    Most of the time I rated the PC's as not significant enough to show up on radar as a major problem for surrounding Regents. If they start to want to take regency actions against these regents then they start showing up on Radar - most Regents are plotting against their major opponents not worrying about some petty Lord they can probably crush in an instant and who is only a Lieutenant giving most of their regency to a Scion.

    If that regent has other major problems to worry about then they can continue to sneak under radar - particularly if what they are doing is subtle.
    Because unless you start them large then they just don't have the resources to oppose anyone with regency and gold bars to burn.

    So an organic process where eventually, the added complexity of battles and regent actions was added later on, worked well for me.

    There are some good regency tracking sheets for download that help with the complexity of keeping track of provinces and assets - and with limited actions every three months you only have to do the bookwork every so often if you are playing a more roleplay intensive game.

    And if you want to advance the timeline for a year or so and switch styles of play for a while the players enjoy that as well.

  3. #3
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    First off limit the area of play (at the beginning). This can be done via using the fact that distance must be covered and that until the regents set up 0-level holdings in another realm they can have difficulting establishing a semi-permanent way of communicating.

    I would also suggest limiting the number of province rulers to 1 or 2 (for a group of 4 or 5) and have the others be non-landed regents. Non-landed regents are very powerful in their own right and no province ruler can adequately survivie without the support of a guild regent and a temple regent, a source regent comes in real handy too.

    You, as a DM, should not focus on maintaining the current status of every realm in the known world. That is what my first Birthright DM attempted and it ruined the game and led to its eventual ending.

    My latter DM started the precedent (which I continued) of only calculating what happened in surrounding areas (and realms of concern to the PCs).

    You will most likely find it real useful to have an excel (or other similar spreadsheet/database) to keep track of realm status. I had one that had crosslinks and sheets for each player with their domain information on it. I had to enter the new status on the province sheet and it sent it to the appropriate player's sheet.

    I tried to focus on adventuring/character level things when we got together for table top play and handle the domain level stuff via e-mail. Sometimes this couldn't be done, like a war for example, but it made things go much smoother.
    Duane Eggert

  4. #4
    Senior Member Jaleela's Avatar
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    I agree with Duane, start small and don't try to run everything all at once.

    When we started out, I had one player, Diemed. He started at the top after the death of his characters father. His primary concerns were, dealing with the great nobles of the land, taking care of business within the realm, dealing with brigands and such, ruling up his provinces, and working to win the hearts of his people.

    Occasionally, the player would have to deal with an outside event that primarily dealt with Avanil and Anuire the city. He allied with Avan through marriage, not through Aubrae, we created a second wife and children, so the character married the younger daughter. This involved him in wars with Boeruine as an ally of Darien, however, the character was not at Avan's beck and call.

    Over the past few years, the adventures and diplomatic entanglements have spread to the North and there are occasionally personal visits to the Khinasi lands. But the focus remains pretty tight.

    Other players who rule Brecht domains, also maintain a personal character in the other players retinue so that everyone gets to play all the time. However, this can cause some player knowledge vs. character knowledge issues.

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    I would have to agree with irdeggman. I have DM my group many times in different region of Birthright and it was always easier if a couple of the group played landed regents and the other players played Guild, Temple or Source rulers. It usually game them a common goal to work together.

    I also used a spread sheet to keep track of thing but I did go as far and keeping a track of all the rulers in the region eg. Anuire. I would have just about all of them inactive, unless they had direct exposure to the players.

    * The inactives regents I would just go through my spread sheet and change some holding or province levels as I saw fit. Not many though.
    * The active regents probably were either competing directly or were my so called villans against the players.

    You don't have to control every regent, you can just make changes to your spread sheet so the game doesn't get stagnent and just control those regents that the player interact with all the time.

    I also ran adventures with the same players, who were working together, on issues that effected some of them or all of them. Some things were from the randon events and others were related to my overall plot for the campaign.

  6. #6
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Birthright is a versatile ruleset. It can be played a variety of different ways. I think it is a mistake to try and play it all the ways it can be played simultaneously. So the first thing you want to do is figure out what kind of game you want to play. Based on your earlier post, I'm going to assume at least some, if not all, of your players will have regent PC's. If so, you need to consider whether you want a strategic game or an adventuring game. Will the players merely play with the domain rules across a map, like a wargame? Or will they all be together working towards common goals? If the second case is true, then you can still do normal D&D stuff with adventures and a party who goes places and does things together, even though they have their own political agendas domains.

    A campaign in which each character has their own domain, but they are not overlapping and allied domains, will be complicated and would not be suited to adventures as a party. You might use troupe style play, but then you get problems with IC and OOC knowledge. That game is mostly suited to strategic play.

  7. #7
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Aha I found my old excel domain sheet.
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Duane Eggert

  8. #8
    Giving everyone their own domain is a horrible idea. And for more reasons than just paperwork. Either you'll have an unrealistic sort of synergy between the fiefdoms, or they'll compete - and even fight, and someone's bound to get their feelings hurt, quit, et cetera. The other bad thing is that everyone will have to sit on their thumbs during other players' domain turns.

    So bearing in mind that The High King is the best approach, you could give the PCs a selection of domains with a lot of internal matters to deal with - Dhoesone, for instance.
    Look for me by moonlight
    Watch for me by moonlight
    I'll come to thee by moonlight
    Though Hell should bar the way

  9. #9
    Giving everyone their own fiefdom is not a "terrible" idea. It depends on the personalities of the players involved and the rules that you set down. Any game, from giving each player a realm to one player being the head cheese, has its own issues/rewards. If you feel that your players can handle interacting with each other as rivals, then run a game where each player has their own realm. If you feel that the players can handle having one person in charge and the others underneath, then do High King.

    To close out one particular game type based on personal history without understanding the make up of the player base is, to be honest, a knee jerk reaction. A more realistic and honest approach would be listing the pros and cons of why you think one is worse than the other. There are many more games that have survived using multiple regents than games using the High King rules.

  10. #10
    I'll echo Autarkis: it's not a "terrible idea" -- it actually works and Birthright is versatile enough to actually make it quite a fun way to play: I agree that it's a lot of work though; a lot of book-keeping and incrementally complex with every new player. All the advice above is awesome and I'll augment by saying that the "High King Setting" is probably your best bet for introducing new players (to rules etc..), then I suggest having slowly each of the players earn their own kingdom/domain. Most likely you'll be DM'ing 3-5 players and that's fairly easy to manage on a spreadsheet. More then that and it becomes a part-time job: i'm using Birmail to run my current adventure -- so far so good!

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