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Thread: Campaign Advice

  1. #1

    Campaign Advice

    Hi. I am several days away from beginning my first Birthright campaign (yay!). Having read and re-read the sort of "fluff" of Birthright for years, I'm pretty sure I know enough about the actual regents, etc, to do a decent job.

    However, I was wondering if people could have a look at what I've been thinking and let me know what sort of effects they could envision, on the campaign.

    I am actually (don't laugh!) running the campaign for my best friend's mum and partner. I'm doing a White Wolf Dark Ages Mage campaign for my friend, so I'm doing Birthright...

    Anyway. Because the two are going out, and its my first campaign, and its their first experience with Birthright and 3rd Edition D&D, I've made sure they are in realms that work together. One of them (the mum) is going to be a regent of Medoere (multiclass cleric/wizard, halfelven). The other is going to be either Ilien or Roesone. Now, I've spoken to the mum more about her plans, and she's actually impressed me with the level she's been thinking about it all (well, duh, she's about forty-something and I'm twenty, so of course she's thinking about it, I tell myself).

    One of her first (and I must admit, I really like the idea) acts will be to use a decree, denouncing evil of all kinds and pledging the resources of Medoere to fight evil in all its forms. She's going to add a caveat at the end of the speech saying, "You will see, my people, that after this speech, great evils will move against me. But I am not deterred. We must stand firm, (etc)."

    It is my belief that the caveat would deter Diemed from invading immediately (he wouldn't risk people believing his realm to be manipulated by evil, something that would harm his chances to the Iron Throne). Anyway. So, because the regent of Medoere is hoping for at least six months grace as a result of that decree, she instantly goes off on a long, long trip around Anuire. She starts at Ilien, then through Roesone, to Aerenwe, etc, visiting every single realm in Anuire (not all Cerilia, just as far east as Coeranys, north as Dhoesone and west as Taeghas).

    So, basically, what do you guys/gals all think could happen here? I've got several thoughts:

    1) Heirl Diem invades immediately, despite the decree, stymying the plan to travel, and potentially destroying Medoere completely

    2) Something happens to the lieutenant left in charge by the regent as she travels, either he/she rebels, is assasinated, etc

    3) I plan anyway, if the regent travels, on having it be a sort of adventure. Not detailing every single visit to every single regent, but showing the important encounters (so, the occasional ambush, the most dangerous meetings - Aeric Boeruine, for example, or Gavin Tael, or Queen Isaelie). But obviously, different realms would react differently.

    4) I can see some realms (Aerenwe, for example) being moved by diplomacy to enter into an alliance. Other realms (Elinie, Coeranys, Dhoesone, Mhoried, Tuornen, Talinie) may become more friendly, but not neccessarily offer an alliance. Other realms (Alamie, Cariele, Brosengae) may push for personal gain as a result of the meeting, but otherwise would not be an overly dangerous meeting. The elves of Sielwode and Tuarhievel would either not let her in, kill her, or negotiate, but how would they act? Would they accept some sort of agreement? The dwarves of Baruk-Azhik would probably remain distant? She also plans on stopping on the border of Osoerde, without entering, and meeting secretly, William Moergen. After that meeting, she will issue a strong decree, denouncing the policies of the tyrant of Osoerde. The player wants to do this, because whilst she can do little to help Moergen, she can earn brownie points and perhaps provide the catalyst for people helping his rebellion.

    Then of course, you have the "danger three" (Avanil, Ghoere, Boeruine), who the regent would have to be extremely careful with, that she doesn't inadvertently support them for the Iron Throne, or be captured. And of course, by all that's reasonable, she would be mad, absolutely crazy, to visit Endier or Diemed. But when I warned her about that, the player said that at that point (she plans to head east, curved round the north, then head from the west through Diemed back to her realm), she will have gathered ambassadors and emissaries from many faiths, many regents, and Diemed or Endier would never risk sullying their reputation by openly executing them. She is prepared for the likely assassination attempts, though.

    So... what am I asking?

    I could see a problem developing, here. If I take time to explain the "tour of duty" round Anuire, and leave the other player to do just normal actions, it may make him a little bored. Should I push them both to make the tour? But then that would be far too many regents out of their realm. Either Ghoere or Diemed would make a move then, and be damned about the bad publicity, I'm sure. So one concern is mechanical: how do I balance the other player whilst this interesting, fun, unusual journey is occuring?

    Second: would I have the reactions of each realm right? I tend to think that most regents would actually appreciate the journey. They would applaud the courage of the regent for actually making it. After all, most communications from regent to regent occurred through letters and emissaries, not face-to-face. But is it too impractical? Is the regent deluding herself in thinking Diemed wouldn't attack while she was away?

    When I've actually begun properly preparing the sessions, I may ask more focused, rules-based questions! Hope its not too much written here. All opinions welcomed!

    ~Ol

  2. #2
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maskmaker View Post
    2) Something happens to the lieutenant left in charge by the regent as she travels, either he/she rebels, is assasinated, etc
    I generally think this is a bad idea. The first time people play, everything you do is teaching them this is what happens when... And I wouldn't want players to think that every time the leave home, I'm gonna trash the home. She's a mum, so what she expects is that being away, home will need order restored. So allow the lieutenant to be only partially effective. Coming home to a laundry list of messes to clean up will seem normal. If she comes home to rebellion or assassination, she will be reluctant to leave again. Let her leave home several times before you drop anything bad on the home front.

    4) I can see some realms (Aerenwe, for example) being moved by diplomacy to enter into an alliance.
    I think Aerenwe is in the Diemed camp, and not a prospect for alliance. Diemed and Aerenwe fought together against Roesone, and Aerenwe lost Bellam and Abbator. Ursala Diem felt perfectly happy to join the religious orders of (friendly) Aerenwe rather the temples of Diemed. Once there, she undoubtedly steered Aerenwe closer to Diemed. The other domains in Aerenwe and Diemed have the same enemies, such as the IHH. So, I would say Aerenwe is firmly in Diemed's camp.

    From Diemed's point of view, Aerenwe is friendly, but values its neutrality. Restoration of Bellam and Abbator would be powerful inducement, but realistically, that's unlikely. I would also individually check the Eastern Temple of Nesirie, and the High Mage Alies. No need to check Siele Ghoried, his position is obvious and unmoveable: He doesn't want open participation in a war, so much risk to his holdings in Roesone, but is happy to supply Aerenwe's forces as a "neutral" party. He favors Aerenwe and may offer secret assistance, mostly information, but will try to appear neutral enough that no one will risk pushing him to open participation along side Aerenwe.

    Aerenwe is country that favors its neutrality and peaceful siuation. So moving it from being friendly to Diemed to warlike is going to be hard. Moving the Eastern Temple of Nesirie might be easier, they are hot rivals with IHH, but they go prefer diplomacy to war.

    Back to Medoere. Medoere knows that if Roesone and Ilien back her, Diemed cannot win and must have Aerenwe to match this alliance. This means that all eyes end up on Aerenwe. She she does is critical . If she goes to war, there is war, if she doesn't, there is no war. Getting Aerenwe to go to war means someone must also get Alies and ETN to prepare for war. The Medoere alliance will have Rogr Aglondier and the IHH on their side, the Diemed alliance cannot overlook wizards, temples, and guilds.

    You mentioned the Roesone/Ilien player participating in some of this tour (such a tour is called a progress). It makes utmost sense for Roesone (and to a lesser extent Ilien) to participate at least as far as Aerenwe and Ghoere are concerned. I would encourage the other player to visit those two realms.

    Aerenwe will be reasonable and fair, but pretty implacable. The object of diplomacy here, for both parties, is to win good will. Good diplomacy here will not end the rivalry and ill will between Roesone (and IHH) on the one hand and Aerenwe (and ETN) on the other, but it might convince Aerenwe/ETN that diplomacy, not war, is the best route to solve their problems. If they can remove Aerenwe from the list of possible belligerents, a great deal will be accomplished. Aerenwe will remain pro-Diemed/OIT, but could be made unwilling to support them with their own soldiers. Failure here, could mean war is close at hand.

    The relations between Rogr Aglondier and High Mage Alies are not so easily resolved and will remain cold until one of them decides they don't want the rich sources of the Erebannien any more.

    Other realms (Elinie, Coeranys, Dhoesone, Mhoried, Tuornen, Talinie) may become more friendly, but not neccessarily offer an alliance.
    As DM you role play these states. If you were any of them, and you knew that war between Medoere and her allies was quite likely with Diemed, would you ally with them? Are you eager for a war with Diemed? I don't see that happening.

    Many of these countries are not desirable as allies for Medoere and friends either. Tournen would drag you into wars with Alamie, Elinie and Coeranys with Osoerde, and the like.

    What might make sense is a bulwark against Ghoere. So ask yourself then, who would be willing to go to war with Ghoere in the event Roesone were attacked. Mhoried is the most likely candidate, but Elinie is not out of the question. Dhoesone is a sink, Tournen her hands full with Alamie, Talinie spoken for, and Coeranys in position to help only if Elinie is there first.

    An anti Raenech alliance also makes some sense for Roesone. Especially if Aerenwe could be enliested, because this makes Roesone and Aerenwe partners. Since the purpose of such a coallition would be William Moergan on the throne and no other advantage for Roesone and Aerenwe, there can be no squabble about spoils. Of course ETN and IHH won't see it that way, so the risk lies there.

    The elves of Sielwode and Tuarhievel would either not let her in, kill her, or negotiate, but how would they act? Would they accept some sort of agreement?
    I doubt very much the elves would be interested in making nice with Medoere. They might each send human friendly folks like Corwin Rhysdiordan to greet them at the border, engage in the niceties of diplomacy without agreeing to anything and basically informing them this is about as good as it gets with the elves. Fhiele Dhoesone may speak for the elves of Tuarhievel in Sonnelind, but the message would be the same.

    The dwarves of Baruk-Azhik would probably remain distant?
    Like the elves, you probabaly don't meet the Overthane, but the Guilder of the Royal Guild of Baruk-Azhik. He is the face to the outside world and has holdings throughout the eastern marches. If Medoere were to take a stand on Osoerde, or Roesone to seek friends against Jaison Raenech, then you would certainly have the interest and attention of Diirk Watershold. I suspect the dwarf mostly wants to listen to talk about Osoerode size up the regent(s) and see how things develop. Again perfunctory congratulation from the Overthane.

    And of course, by all that's reasonable, she would be mad, absolutely crazy, to visit Endier or Diemed. [But she believes] Diemed or Endier would never risk sullying their reputation by openly executing them. She is prepared for the likely assassination attempts, though.
    Frankly she is safer in Diemed and Endier than she is anywhere else on Cerilia. If something bad hapened here, it would certainly look like the local regent was behind it and this would mean violation of the oldest of the laws between nations. Once they let harm come to a visiting regent they may as well turn cannibal and eat the regent, because it won't do them any more harm than violating the diplomatic protections of a ruler on a diplomatic mission.

    Endier and Diemed will be cold but formal. They won't engage in the greatest crime imaginable - regicide.

    If I [...] leave the other player to do just normal actions, it may make him a little bored. [...] So one concern is mechanical: how do I balance the other player whilst this interesting, fun, unusual journey is occuring?
    Role play the neighboring realms. What are they doing? Does Ghoere have spies in Roesone/Ilien? Perhaps, even if there was diplomacy with Ghoere, a scribe in the Chancery turns out to be on the payroll of Ghoere. What was turned over is mostly instructions to sheriffs and others in law holdings - nothing of earth shattering importance, but it reveals that Ghoere is a bad guy. He could do a progress around his own realm (more to do in Roesone than Ilien) meeting his officials and the counts. Start laying the seeds for later actions.

    Should I push them both to make the tour?
    They should both visit Aerenwe (and ETN and Alies) and Ghoere (&c).

    But then that would be far too many regents out of their realm. Either Ghoere or Diemed would make a move then, and be damned about the bad publicity, I'm sure.
    There is no advantage to be gained. It looks like a dirty trick and what does it get you? A single war move in which the armies are commanded by a veteran military commander instead of a brand new regent? The military of Medore is probabaly in better shape now than it will be under a cleric/wizard.

    Second: would I have the reactions of each realm right? I tend to think that most regents would actually appreciate the journey. They would applaud the courage of the regent for actually making it. After all, most communications from regent to regent occurred through letters and emissaries, not face-to-face. But is it too impractical? Is the regent deluding herself in thinking Diemed wouldn't attack while she was away?
    Such a progress was pretty typical at the beginning of a reign and after wars. I think it would appear pretty normal. She's ranging a little farther than one might expect, but not by much, and her realm is new, so she is reasonable to reach out.

    Diemed would be foolish to attack now. They gain nothing and give up much. Besides if Aerenwe isn't already on board, they lose as well. Doesn't sound like a winner.

    Before an NPC realm takes an action, ask yourself, if you were playing this realm, what would you do?

  3. #3
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    If I was Kalien I'd impress on her just how dangerous the north is - and how lucky she is that the guilder generously helps protect her realm and grant it information on the schemers and belligerents around the heartlands. Certainly any suggestion that I - good, generous Kalien who restored the industry of northern Medeore after the Diemed armies and tax gatherers crushed the Ruornilites into powder - well - would clearly be unthinkable for anyone to make... Of course to maintain that wealth, so that the realm is protected from Diemed, I have to take a personal interest in the realm - the priests do a good job protecting the souls of the faithful but are sadly unprepared for the temporal world of trade that I need to selflessly look to ensure the continued defence of the realm, etc, etc...

    Kalien is an opponent - but not yet an enemy. Offer him sole guild rights and he may happily release the law holding - for a suitable fee to cover the costs he so selflessly incurred in creating and maintaining it. For Kalien law holdings serve simply to protect his guilds, if he held the guilds of Alamier and Braeme he'd be protected by lack of competition and ubiquity...


    If I was Flaertes I'd be all over Medeore's new regent, Tuornen under Flaertes lives by being diplomatic and nice, any ally - particularly one that won't annoy Avan or Boeriune - would be a godsend. Even 2-3 units would be significant in time of need given Tuornen's tiny army and all it would take is a single spell of Caine's to get them past the Spiderfell, the new regent has come to a workable understanding with Kalien of course?


    If I was Diemed I'd not be impressed by talk of good or right - Ghoere talks about how his is doing the right thing and protecting the just. Now if Ruornil had spoken to the regent to tell her to travel I'd be very wary - the last time the god spoke 2,000 Diemed soldiers died and with it much of Diemen power, it may have been 10 years ago but nobody in Diemed has forgotten the moonstrike.

    I'd instead try to build 'good' relations - there is no need for alliances between Medeore, Roesone and the like, goodness me no! Why Diemed merely feared that its citizens would fall into chaos, be conquered and ruled by bandits - it sought merely to ensure its people were properly protected and safe! Now of course that they are safe, and the church of Ruornil has been sanctioned by the gods themselves (such a pity that the Orthodox church were misled into thinking otherwise and drove Diemed to war) there is no question of further strife - perhaps a trivial issues need to be resolved but the real enemy is the Spider surely? The madman in Osoerde who is rumored to be building castles on every border and fleets in every harbour? The Gorgon brooding in the mountains? Avanil and Boeruine who will no doubt seek to drag all into another of their generational wars?


    Now Roseone would clearly want Medeore as a friend - any aid to deter Ghoere is welcome. But as the other PC realm will follow their whim.


    Avanil could use Medeore as an ally - Diemed might then come into the fold to avoid being pincered - although this could backfire, if played correctly the risk should be low. Certainly however Avanil would strive to ensure that the 'quaint little realm in the south' was properly awed by Avanese majesty - the prince will be the next emperor you know.


    Alamie gains little from Medeore and likely frowns upon 'new realms' which carved themselves out of an older realm - add an insecure duke and I'd expect poor welcome from Alamie - particularly if the Western imperial temple or celestiel jewel worry that she is proselytizing for the faith.


    Aerenwe of course has a strong interest in the new regent - particularly if it wants to avoid being into a war by Diemed, or wants Diemedan aid against Osoerde. In the first case they will be welcoming, in the latter frosty. Of course if Roesone is looking belligerent then a key aim would be to undermine the Medoere:Roesone alliance or have Medeore apply pressure to keep the bandit-kingdom from seeking to add more Aerenwean land to its demense.


    Ghoere would probably be keen to explain that if Medeore was 'fooled by Roesone's rhetoric' about 'Ghoere's southern provinces' that the Iron Fist of Ghoere is very very strong - and it would be better not to get involved...


    Will she visit Mieres? What about more of northern Aduria - they are often overlooked but could be good allies - and are probably easier to get too than north of the Spiderfell! Mieres would welcome a safe port - particularly if Kalien could then get goods to the heartlands without troubling the customs agents of the imperial city! Pacifying Albiele islands and eliminating its pirates/etc would win the respect of coastal regents and spread the faith - and what about Caelcorwynn Isle?


    Another possibility is that she does her tour before being formally appointed with Suris going into seclusion on her return - then she is an ambassador not regent making things a little different even though she gets all the introductions. That would also make travelling with the ambassador from Roesone easier.


    One other thought - there are thousands of people in the realm, dozens of courtiers and key personnel - having a 'primary' character and 4-5 'supporting characters' that are quasi-PC's can easily keep the two players together when the key regent's can't plausibly take time out to meet.
    Last edited by AndrewTall; 08-24-2008 at 04:11 PM.

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