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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Differences between BR and RL Middle Ages

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    I can understand this, but in my oppinion this argument has the flaw that you can't paralelize so much how we lived in our medieval times to a world where there are dragons, magic and all those types of bizarre stuff going on. There are enough fundamental changes in the basics of the world that both "modern tropes" could be common even if they weren't in our normal history.

    But I can understand your reasoning and why you like it more, it's just that I don't see it more true than the other point of view because sadly we don't have anything to compare with.
    Actually we can compare - we have dozens of cultures to look at in RL, and can readily extrapolize from seeing how they interacted - the difference between non-magic peasant and wizard is far, far less than between the same peasant and the technologically able colonists - and the interaction of that one has many examples.

    Eberron pushes magic = common to the limits and shows how different you have to make the world to touch on the sort of cultural differences we've seen in RL.

    So take differences that BR is faced with:

    Many races? People hear of elves far away in the forests, 'they worship demons and crop their children's ears and pretend to live forever', dwarves 'short men cursed by the gods to live in caves that stole the secrets of the gods and denied them to us, the gods children' - but none of those are likely to live near any of the 'civilised realms' - Halflings - children are everywhere and halflings are surely less fantastic than people with strange coloured skin. Of all the non-human races only goblins are likely to be seen regularly (i.e. more than 1 or 2 examples, or more than a few times in a lifetime) even in frontier lands, not that medieval and earlier RL humans necessarily saw other tribes as 'human' in any event making the goblins just easier targets for rabble rousers and indistinguishable in effect from any number of 'barbarian' races in RL.

    Monsters? Unknown near civilisation probably but certainly not dissimilar to the myths of our world (unsurprisingly given their source). The RL peasant strange = danger stereotype is likely to be similar in BR, or even exaggerated since the strange really often is dangerous in BR.

    What about religion? In RL we have rich powerful religions - based entirely on fakery, fast talking con-artist, and narrative coincidences. BR has all that, and some true miracle workers - I can't see it being any less powerful or the people being less fervent.

    Magic? Mainly tricks and illusions, with true magic so rare that only the upper nobility know anyone who can use it (outside Khinasi certainly). It's effect is minimised by rarity and social issues for all its raw power.

    Travel - barring magic travel is no easier in BR than any other medieval culture - so the vast majority of people won't travel.

    Frankly the only real difference that is both powerful and common enough to impact most people's lives in BR is priestly healing and the spell plant growth, everything else is limited in area or to certain castes. If you limit the number of true priests to 1-3 per realm like the number of mages is limited then as far as the peasantry is concerned almost nothing changes.


    Well, I say that, but there are some subtle if powerful differences.

    Gods - no, a truly scary number of people hear little voices in their heads and do as they are told up to and including murder. For most people in BR that's all their gods are as well. So actually gods really existing doesn't change anything, except that in BR people know that the gods can be killed which is always comforting.

    Awnshegh - A person's soul corrupting / purifying their body into truly becoming a monster / angel / etc would be mostly legend, but it puts the germ of truth into a vast array of moral tales with several interesting follow on effects on morality and puishments - making ugliness and beauty 'proven' to reflect inner spirituality would just be a starter, although spoiling my rambling this was often suspected - and punished - in RL. I often found that this social aspect was the least utilised part of horros in earthdawn...

    Scions - actually these aren't any different from the peasant's view. The nobility has been a breed apart for a long time and often claimed divine favour. But bloodlines would have an impact amongst the nobility, both in reducing social mobility at the top, and in making realm rulership far more efficient than anything in RL barring modern-style governments.

    The real differences then are the most familiar to players - character classes.

    PC classes I - the impact of classes on gender politics is often overlooked, but if a female cleric, wizard, etc can whomp the crap out of legions on the battle field the old RL chestnut of 'girlies stay at home and do as daddy tells you' is going to evaporate in short order, realm a trains women to knit, realm B trains them to be magicians or priests - which realm probably wins? In RL we have alternated between equality (rare), female rule (early) and male rule (late) but the main dominating factors for men have been brute strength and the danger of pregnancy - classes make the former have sufficient exceptions to make real domination hard, while priestly healing removes the latter completely (1 priest with a lousy L1 cure light wounds and a couple of cantrips can cover a small town and surrounding farms easily).

    PC classes II - in RL the number of medieval people who really could whomp a legion is very short, or more accurately, nil - barring some seriou poison and ninja mojo. Frankly most warriors couldn't hope to beat half a dozen reasonably competent guards no matter how legendary they were. A mid to high level PC can total that guard patrol without slowing down - and while a noble might be able to afford better equipment, the scum have the numbers and scorn for death needed for adventuring types, so social mobility through personal power is going to be much more common - closer to the renaissance than most medieval societies.

    Otherwise I can't think of much on the fly - if you want different go for it, think of what you want and reverse engineer the legends to get it, but most of the 'huge changes' that people expect don't stand up to scrutiny - the briefest read of medieval legends makes clear that, even if it wasn't found in their home town, miracles were plentiful, magic common, monsters prowled nearby, and so on - although I'm tickled by the idea of cargo cults forming around a settlement that becomes home to a powerful adventuring band...

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    I can understand this, but in my oppinion this argument has the flaw that you can't paralelize so much how we lived in our medieval times to a world where there are dragons, magic and all those types of bizarre stuff going on.
    I disagree. The medieval world thought that kings died because of the will of an all powerful divine being, that states rose and fell according to his will, or plan, or punishment. They thought that enemies hexed them and cursed their flocks. They understood the world in supernatural terms, and got the society they got.

    We see the world in scientific terms. Someone acts strange, we seek a doctor, who will look for a natural cause according to medical practice. In BR, I drop the modern entirely. People don't get sick because of germs, they get sick because of evil spirits. Washing your hands doesn't keep you healthy, wearing a charm does. If science discovered it after Galileo, or Newton, it doesn't exist in the game. Its magical. Fire is produced by phlogisten, not combustion.

    We don't get our fantasy ideas from the sui generis creations of creative people working in game companies. We get them from the ancient and medieval world. Why not simply assume that they were right about things?

    This has nothing to do with powergaming Kenneth, we were talking about mechanics and they are pretty clear that halflings aren't going to produce the best mechanically possible fighter.
    Power-gaming, according the the DMG (and I think they are in line with the general understanding) describes an attitude that it is desirable to squeeze the best performance out of a build. In this case, you are trying to tell me that a -1 to attacks and defense, with a corresponding +1 to AC and Reflex saves is sub-par. I tell you that even if Halflings got a -1 to Str and got a +1 someplace like Charisma or Wisdom, it would still not be sub-par, because a 5% adjustment is a very small adjustment. Even over a long period of time and many actions. -5% is not sub-par. Now the halfling gets defensive and ranged bonuses that make up a lot of that 5%. But sub-par is well below a 5% penalty. Only a power-gamer would put such a premium on that 5%. Someone else would shrug and might make further decisions, like putting ranks in Profession (Farming).

    I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting a character who is as good as he can be at fighting, or that optimizing is bad, or that being motivated by being the best, or getting stronger, or thinking that using the mechanics to best advantage are bad things. But these traits do have a name, and it is power-gaming. Its a descriptive term of a style of play.

    Second, I can't discuss about your rules and games because I don't know them, I can only talk about the core books, because they are the middle ground.
    I play Birthright, not a vanilla D&D game. But, to extend what I just wrote, a concern with the rules as rules instead of a concern with how to use the rules to achieve some setting, story, or character purpose constitutes a power-gaming approach.

    Understanding these perspectives and their implications for play are important to discussing them. Its useful to be explicit about the fact that we don't all sit down for the same reasons and derive pleasure from the same activities.

    The question about moving to 4e on a Birthright forum implies that 4e in a BR context is a legitimate aspect of any transition. So those of us more concerned with setting, for instance, or character and story, might be more interested in 4e in BR than a vanilla BR.

    Agreed it's a small difference, but we never said they are inviable characters, we said they were supbar (not the best possible) characters.
    That's not was par means. Par means expected, normal, average. The word you are looking for is "suboptimal." I still doubt that a halfling is suboptimal, because a bonus to AC can be more useful than a bonus to hit, but its a far less objectionable statement.

    and as small guys they can't use a composite longbow (subpar archers).
    When the M-16 was adopted, its inferior range was cited as evidence that the US Army was selecting an inferior weapon. The army replied with evidence from previous conflicts and data on encounter distances in Germany (which Cold War planning understood as the principle front) that showed that most encounters took place within the effective range of the M-16.

    So the range difference between long and short bow is only an issue if its a common problem, rather than a theoretical problem.

    As a setting note, I limit use of the composite longbow to elves and Rjurik anyway. Halflings couldn't use it even if they were medium sized.

    So Halflings get a -1 hp damage for using a d6 bow instead of a d8 bow, but they get a +1 to hit because of their dexterity bonus. And a +1 AC against enemy archers, because of Dex. This is starting to look like they are advantaged against everyone except maybe the Elves and Rjurik.

    I don't see it as a flaw: every race produces warriors, but they don't have to be of the same quality.
    As I have shown, the margin of difference is so small as not to be noticeable (random variability will be a larger factor) and so a Halfling unit is as potent as a human unit. And their large felt hats are very stylish.

    Having to optimize for a DM style it's a kind of powergaming.
    False. Everyone optimizes all the time. Power gaming is optimizing for its own sake, or to power up. Optimizing to match the setting (the Brecht are ruthless hagglers, I should take plenty of Appraise to avoid losing my shirt) is Storyteller, optimizing for character reasons, (my character practices the esteemed craft of Talinean woodcarving and so I'll put a lot of ranks there) is Actor.

    If someone optimizes in for debates, diplomacy, court intrigue, and so on because they want to power up or because given a set of rules, they want to have the optimal character, then yes, its power-gaming. If they want a character who fits the setting as I run it they are actors or storytellers.

    Obviously people can have more than one motivation, but most gamers are not dwelling in the happy middle, but are more or less clear examples of one or two kinds of play. At some point motivations come into conflict (hey, if I put these ranks into Craft (Woodworking) I'm not putting them into Sense Motive) and we start to see where a player's priorities are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    I disagree. The medieval world thought that kings died because of the will of an all powerful divine being, that states rose and fell according to his will, or plan, or punishment. They thought that enemies hexed them and cursed their flocks. They understood the world in supernatural terms, and got the society they got.

    We see the world in scientific terms. Someone acts strange, we seek a doctor, who will look for a natural cause according to medical practice. In BR, I drop the modern entirely. People don't get sick because of germs, they get sick because of evil spirits. Washing your hands doesn't keep you healthy, wearing a charm does. If science discovered it after Galileo, or Newton, it doesn't exist in the game. Its magical. Fire is produced by phlogisten, not combustion.

    We don't get our fantasy ideas from the sui generis creations of creative people working in game companies. We get them from the ancient and medieval world. Why not simply assume that they were right about things?
    I answer Andrew here too, as both of you seem to think the same. I don't agree with both of you because I think that there's a world of difference between something "may be" real and something "is" real for sure.

    For example, divine magic: in my oppinion clerics aren't such a strange thing as Andrew claims to be because they were the reason why humans won their war against elves. That means that divine magic is pretty common in human lands. And that changes a whole lot of how the world works: the gods are real, magic is real, elves that live 1000 years are real (like we could make any type of analogy about how an elf would think...).

    It's not the same to be a king in real life than to be a king in BR and know that there are some kind of weird things that like to hunt your blood. It could be terrifying for some minor power in Europe to have an audience with Castilla when it was in its most powerful period, but it can't just compare to the terror someone would have if he was having the same audience with the Gorgon. The king of Castilla is a human after all, but the Gorgon is a fricking thing that can petrify you at will. Petrify, a pretty uncommon cause of dead in our real world.

    So yes, a lot of things may work similar, but magic, gods, monsters, different races, adventurers,... are real for sure and change a lot how people think and behave overall, enough to make things that would be weird in the Earth pretty normal in Birthright.

    The rest, I think it's already pretty off-topic and far less interesting than this.

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    That means that divine magic is pretty common in human lands. And that changes a whole lot of how the world works: the gods are real, magic is real, elves that live 1000 years are real
    Priests change bread and water in the body and blood of Christ, and participation in this ritual was a means to obtaining eternal life in a paradise in the divine presence.

    Relics of the saints could heal people, strengthen them, buff them in game terms, protect them with huge save bonuses.

    God punished people by turning them into salt, making them immolate, creating sufficient water to inundate the planet, parting the Red Sea, sending saints to advise contemporary humans. People were commonly liberated from prisons, miraculously healed, visions of saints and especially the Virgin Mary were quite common (still are).

    Joan of Arc was advised by two saints and protected with incredible buffs, allowing a peasant girl to lead an army to victory over the team that won at Agincourt and had been advancing unchecked every since. Eventually the source of her supernatural power was questioned. Not that she had supernatural power, just its source.

    Battles won were the work of God, and people gave the Church huge gifts as a result. People wouldn't give such huge gifts for things that weren't real. If forces loyal to Haelyn win a victory, no one doubts that Haelyn's priests cast the decisive battle magic. Why did Henry V promise to build new churches and give more charity to the poor on the night before Agincourt? People took real, concrete actions because of beliefs in supernatural powers. That's what happens in games. People take real, concrete acts because of a belief in supernatural powers.

    Sailors encountered sea monsters, adventurers (and there were plenty) encountered strange monsters, other strange races of non-humans, saw artifacts of giants, and land forms altered by giants.

    The king of Castilla is a human after all, but the Gorgon is a fricking thing that can petrify you at will. Petrify, a pretty uncommon cause of dead in our real world.
    People were afraid of meeting Satan, and knew with a certainty that encounters with him occurred. Satan's powers are not limited by a stat block. Petrification is among them I'm sure. And equally weird stuff is attested.

    So yes, a lot of things may work similar, but magic, gods, monsters, different races, adventurers,... are real for sure and change a lot how people think and behave overall, enough to make things that would be weird in the Earth pretty normal in Birthright.
    Explain how your certainty that supernatural forces didn't actually impinge on the ancient or medieval world effect those times and places. Medieval daily life is a parade of the weird which is constant evidence of supernatural forces. I don't know what you think is normal. Perhaps you have modern ideas about the cause of lighting that medieval people (and people in Birthright) don't have. In Cerilia, lightning is a sign from the Stormlord. In the early 16th century, a young clerk considering a law career got caught in a lighting storm and thought God was angry with him and he switched from law to theology and became a priest and monk. This fellow, Martin Luther, had quite an impact on the world because of his supernatural explanation for lightning. But I'm sure you think that's perfectly normal.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    I answer Andrew here too, as both of you seem to think the same. I don't agree with both of you because I think that there's a world of difference between something "may be" real and something "is" real for sure.
    Not really, the point is 'do people think it is real' - consider the vast wealth of the papacy - all based on superstition and myth, the wars between rival religions that are almost indistinguishable to an outsider (muslim/jew/christian - to me its arguments over the shape of hats, but to some people these are completely different faiths, one of which is real and the others which are lies) to those who believe, it is all real.

    It was proved that the world was flat, that the earth went around the sun not the converse - and despite having proof to back their argument it still took centuries for the majority of people to accept it. Evidence rarely changes minds, it just cements opinion. If my neighbour claims that in the city is a woman who can summon fire and lightning without the favour of the gods, then my local priest is going to demand he stops 'lying' - probably forcibly. Since travel is hard how many other people are going to support the neighbour's 'wild tale'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    For example, divine magic: in my oppinion clerics aren't such a strange thing as Andrew claims to be because they were the reason why humans won their war against elves.
    So the histories written by the priests say... odd how the goblin priests were less decisive I make spell-casting clerics rare deliberately to suit my campaign and gaming style, but even with a spell-casting priest in most towns and larger villages the key impact will be from L0/1 healing spells on infant/maternal survival and from the plant growth spell, the rest would just be gilding the lily in terms of impact.

    Either way I struggle to see the church being less important if priestly magic, gods, etc were real - and it would struggle to be more important, because religion dominated RL in many ways. Frankly I'd recommend that everyone makes spell-casting clerics rare, because a church with more power than RL equivalents pretty much wipes out very other possible regent type and thereby ruins the game.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    That means that divine magic is pretty common in human lands. And that changes a whole lot of how the world works: the gods are real, magic is real, elves that live 1000 years are real (like we could make any type of analogy about how an elf would think...).
    Priests would in my view vehemently oppose the 'magic is real' approach as it makes them less special and reduces the gods to parlor magicians. Clerical miracles would probably be hoarded to keep them valuable (and expensive) and avoid them becoming familiar - the priests want the gods to be mysterious afterall - that is why people obey the gods and listen to the priests instead of treating them like traders 'bob, I'm going to dig out those rosebushes, I'll pay for a cure light wounds in advance to deal with the bramble scratches'. So I'd expect spell casting priests to refer to their spells as 'miracles' and wizardly spells as 'illusions and deception', and to push the magic = evil devilry or magic = fakery line strongly.

    Suggesting that elves are immortal is going to go down in a church inquisition like a ton of bricks - humans are the favoured of the gods (of course), elves are the allies of the Shadow who prove their demon nature by refusing to worship the true gods, thus their beauty is artifice and illusion, they lie about their immortality, their magic, their everything - no priest is going to admit that elves are favoured over humans, particularly favoured with something as inherently 'godly' as immortality.

    How elves think will have almost zero impact on humanity - the little that humans see of elves (raiding gheallie sidhe mainly) has very easy analogues with RL. Within the elven communities analogs will of course be rarer - but extrapolation is not difficult - see my wiki page on elves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    It's not the same to be a king in real life than to be a king in BR and know that there are some kind of weird things that like to hunt your blood. It could be terrifying for some minor power in Europe to have an audience with Castilla when it was in its most powerful period, but it can't just compare to the terror someone would have if he was having the same audience with the Gorgon. The king of Castilla is a human after all, but the Gorgon is a fricking thing that can petrify you at will. Petrify, a pretty uncommon cause of dead in our real world.
    Dead is dead, RL kings could, and did, perform terrible atrocities routinely (look up Cesare Borgia and consider how relaxed you would be in going to see him to talk your way out of paying your dues), similarly they had plenty of enemies who wanted them dead so that is very little difference to BR where their enemies simply have one more reason to want them dead (bloodline). Even if you add a unique terror to their dealings, how does it change their society? More protections? How does it change the way that non-scions (the bulk of the population) live?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    So yes, a lot of things may work similar, but magic, gods, monsters, different races, adventurers,... are real for sure and change a lot how people think and behave overall, enough to make things that would be weird in the Earth pretty normal in Birthright.
    What changes in society are you expecting? How common do you think that non-humans, monsters, magic, etc is? Do you actually want to change things a lot? I want to change things that are embarassing, but keep much of the medieval way simply because it makes for a richer gaming environment - and less arguments as a less fantastic society is inherently more familiar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    The rest, I think it's already pretty off-topic and far less interesting than this.
    Hmm, we should maybe split the thread, it is branching...

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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    Priests change bread and water in the body and blood of Christ, and participation in this ritual was a means to obtaining eternal life in a paradise in the divine presence.

    Relics of the saints could heal people, strengthen them, buff them in game terms, protect them with huge save bonuses.
    Miracles in history are few, pretty appart from each other and without many eye-witnesses. Divine magic in Birthright is totally different from Earth miracles. The effects are real, easily seen and everywhere.

    People took miracles for incredible things and no one would take divine magic at the same level, because it's common and real. I can go to the closest church and ask for a Cure Light Wounds (name the prayer as you like the most) and I know it's going to heal me. In Earth you could try the same and you would never be certain of the result. Divine magic works 100% (and with pretty inmediate results), prayers in Earth could work or not, that's a big difference.

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    God punished people by turning them into salt, making them immolate, creating sufficient water to inundate the planet, parting the Red Sea, sending saints to advise contemporary humans. People were commonly liberated from prisons, miraculously healed, visions of saints and especially the Virgin Mary were quite common (still are).
    Yes, there were stories and books about those things, again different from watching them first person pretty often.

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    Joan of Arc was advised by two saints and protected with incredible buffs, allowing a peasant girl to lead an army to victory over the team that won at Agincourt and had been advancing unchecked every since. Eventually the source of her supernatural power was questioned. Not that she had supernatural power, just its source.
    There's quite a difference in Joan of Arc and the whole array of powerful characters that live in Birthright (and that can do things far more impressive than Joan of Arc). Compare what Joan of Arc did with what Rhuobe can do in a battlefield, it doesn't come even close: Rhuobe could just fight against the whole Agincourt army alone and butcher it single handlely, producing in the process pretty fireworks and a whole other array of special effects.

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    Sailors encountered sea monsters, adventurers (and there were plenty) encountered strange monsters, other strange races of non-humans, saw artifacts of giants, and land forms altered by giants.
    Sailors had a friend of a friend who knew someone who had a brother that had seen a sea monster.

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck View Post
    People were afraid of meeting Satan, and knew with a certainty that encounters with him occurred. Satan's powers are not limited by a stat block. Petrification is among them I'm sure. And equally weird stuff is attested.
    No one in the middle age times (or nowadays) had a clue how or where to meet Satan in Earth. The Gorgon has a big nice realm with his name in all the maps. If you don't think that makes a difference when you are living in a realm bordering his...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Not really, the point is 'do people think it is real' - consider the vast wealth of the papacy - all based on superstition and myth, the wars between rival religions that are almost indistinguishable to an outsider (muslim/jew/christian - to me its arguments over the shape of hats, but to some people these are completely different faiths, one of which is real and the others which are lies) to those who believe, it is all real.
    I don't think it's common in Birthright to think that Haelyn is real and Curiacen is not, for example People may even preach different gods depending on what they are doing or what favors they are searching.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    It was proved that the world was flat, that the earth went around the sun not the converse - and despite having proof to back their argument it still took centuries for the majority of people to accept it. Evidence rarely changes minds, it just cements opinion. If my neighbour claims that in the city is a woman who can summon fire and lightning without the favour of the gods, then my local priest is going to demand he stops 'lying' - probably forcibly. Since travel is hard how many other people are going to support the neighbour's 'wild tale'?
    People have been watching those things in Birthright for centuries. It's something that permeates the world since its first days. Also, your priest seems to think like a priest from a place where there's only one god and one single religion. Birthright is a polyteistic place, that's pretty different from our Middle Ages.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    So the histories written by the priests say... odd how the goblin priests were less decisive I make spell-casting clerics rare deliberately to suit my campaign and gaming style, but even with a spell-casting priest in most towns and larger villages the key impact will be from L0/1 healing spells on infant/maternal survival and from the plant growth spell, the rest would just be gilding the lily in terms of impact.
    The impact is that magic is common, it's accepted. I don't think it's the same to believe something because of supersticion and believe something because you can see it all the mornings when you wake up.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Either way I struggle to see the church being less important if priestly magic, gods, etc were real - and it would struggle to be more important, because religion dominated RL in many ways. Frankly I'd recommend that everyone makes spell-casting clerics rare, because a church with more power than RL equivalents pretty much wipes out very other possible regent type and thereby ruins the game.
    The church has also lot of extra work to do that earth churches don't have. For example, if you aren't a "good" priest (follow your ethos), then you may become unable to cast spells. That puts into the priest a total different preasure than earth priests.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Priests would in my view vehemently oppose the 'magic is real' approach as it makes them less special and reduces the gods to parlor magicians. Clerical miracles would probably be hoarded to keep them valuable (and expensive) and avoid them becoming familiar - the priests want the gods to be mysterious afterall - that is why people obey the gods and listen to the priests instead of treating them like traders 'bob, I'm going to dig out those rosebushes, I'll pay for a cure light wounds in advance to deal with the bramble scratches'. So I'd expect spell casting priests to refer to their spells as 'miracles' and wizardly spells as 'illusions and deception', and to push the magic = evil devilry or magic = fakery line strongly.
    Ruornil has a problem with this explanation...

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Suggesting that elves are immortal is going to go down in a church inquisition like a ton of bricks - humans are the favoured of the gods (of course), elves are the allies of the Shadow who prove their demon nature by refusing to worship the true gods, thus their beauty is artifice and illusion, they lie about their immortality, their magic, their everything - no priest is going to admit that elves are favoured over humans, particularly favoured with something as inherently 'godly' as immortality.
    I'm a king, I do diplomacy with an elven or dwarf kingdom, I know for sure they are pretty long lived. There's no way I'm not going to believe that.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Dead is dead, RL kings could, and did, perform terrible atrocities routinely (look up Cesare Borgia and consider how relaxed you would be in going to see him to talk your way out of paying your dues), similarly they had plenty of enemies who wanted them dead so that is very little difference to BR where their enemies simply have one more reason to want them dead (bloodline). Even if you add a unique terror to their dealings, how does it change their society? More protections? How does it change the way that non-scions (the bulk of the population) live?
    People could freak out because someone had a different skin color, so imagine watching the Gorgon live. Borgia doesnt' come close either. It provokes in the person a whole set of differences to see a cruel human and to see a cruel non-human. You know you can protect from Borgia, as he has the same types of resources as you, but you know also you can't protect against the Gorgon, no matter what you try to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    What changes in society are you expecting? How common do you think that non-humans, monsters, magic, etc is? Do you actually want to change things a lot? I want to change things that are embarassing, but keep much of the medieval way simply because it makes for a richer gaming environment - and less arguments as a less fantastic society is inherently more familiar.
    Adventurers and their place in society, this started because of them.

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    Ehrshegh of Spelling Thelandrin's Avatar
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    Voila! A new thread for this discussion. Do please continue

    Ius Hibernicum, in nomine juris. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

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    Vicente, I think you are playing a much higher level of fantasy that I am. I also think you are significantly underestimating how miraculous daily (yes daily) life was in the middle ages. Every performance of a mass is a miracle. Healing miracles were a commonplace. Saints are all required to have performed miracles, and there are a boatload of saints. The high level of faith of the middle ages was the consequence of the regular and visible supernatural power of the Church.

    Boosting magic beyond the medieval requires a lot of high level casters walking around. I don't think BR demographics supports that. First and second level spells might be commonly witnessed, but 3rd level spells, are well beyond what common people witness. Regents are somewhere between 5th and 12th levels typically, and that means most of their hierarchy is below that. So I don't know what you think most people are seeing on a common basis.

    As a player who knows the rules, you know what effect the spells have. An in-character description of spells would be more like what regular people experience when they claim to encounter the supernatural. Often no more than a feeling. If you look at the 2nd level clerical spell list, most of these could easily leave you in doubt as to whether something happened. A player knows Aid grants them a +1, but people can't tell they've received a 5% improvement in ability. Most people are unable to recognize the effects of alcohol impairment until they become severe. Given the freedom of fear and the temporary hit points along with the +1 to hit, Aid is going to make someone feel ready for a fight. That's about it.

    Look at it from a regular person's perspective, not someone who knows all of the regents in Cerilia by name, and knows how the rules work, and I think the results look very much like an ancient or medieval religious experience.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    ...things in Birthright for centuries. It's something that permeates the world since its first days. Also, your priest seems to think like a priest from a place where there's only one god and one single religion. Birthright is a polyteistic place, that's pretty different from our Middle Ages.
    Polytheism has a big impact - but consider roman times which are fairly recent and where you have polytheism mixing with temples of the one god. That means that the BR churches will have some differences to late medieval times, but not as many as some people think - for example, how many chapels in RL are there dedicated to Mary? How many prayers to Jesus / archangels / saints? These are different gods in all but name which gives a very easy way to see how churches of Haelyn (king of the gods) will relate to Avani (his vizier), Cuiraecen (his champion), etc, etc...

    Also priest v priest competition is very different to priest v mage - in one you have two people each saying that their god is best. In the second case the wizard is laughing and saying that gods are unnecessary and power comes to any who take it - priests will struggle against each other, but immediately band together to smash mages as a mage is living proof that the priests miracles are mere magic and thus unworthy of worship, they thus undermine the faith, while a rival cleric just twists doctrine...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    The impact is that magic is common, it's accepted. I don't think it's the same to believe something because of supersticion and believe something because you can see it all the mornings when you wake up.
    I'd point out that to most of the world there is a huge difference between the prayers of a priest, wizardly magic, and magic of monsters. Priestly magic is almost certainly seen as socially good, that in turn pushes the rest to be seen as neutral or evil. And if something is socially seen poorly, it will be seen less often - consider the descriptions of magicians and wizards in Rjruik and vosgaard, a single true wizard in a realm is seen as a catastrophe...

    As for common, even if you allow 1 priest per hundred people, and then say half are L1, a quarter are L2, an eighth are L3, etc, etc you have very little magic in the community, as noted even at those fairly common levels you get a major change through curative spells, but not enough to prevent us from extrapolating changes to society which was your initial contention - we have seen the impact that medical care had on society...

    So I'm struggling to see magic as common, your peasant goes to the town temple with a farming injury, their father pleads that they are worthy, have paid their tithe, etc, etc, the priests accept the petition and call upon sacred Nesirie for a miracle - and it will all be bound with ritual and pomp and be anything but common - as stated, churches want mystery, they want pageantry, they do not want to be trader joe's who are treated as nothing more than craftsmen, their aim is to gather worship and faith, and that needs to be seen as divine in the RL sense.

    As a result the most common spellcasters will be restricting their casting - once or twice in a peasants lifetime they might be healed, perhaps more often for women, that sort of visible magic won't be a daily/weekly event. Accordingly while it will be known that the gods grant power to their servants - just like in RL - 'magic' is otherwise no different from the peasant's perspective in BR or RL.

    I question though the assumption you seem to be making that common 'real' magic would make people less likely to believe in 'fake' magic. I wonder if it could have the exact opposite effect and make people more likely to believe that their are fairies in the lonely hill, that the wind blowing through the branches carries witches? What societal changes do you expect magic/classes/etc would have? What changes do you want?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    The church has also lot of extra work to do that earth churches don't have. For example, if you aren't a "good" priest (follow your ethos), then you may become unable to cast spells. That puts into the priest a total different preasure than earth priests.
    If you have 1-3% of priests casting spells, and maybe 1/2% to 1% magicians in the ranks as well, you still get 96%+ of the clergy unable to cast spells, so the vast majority of the church has exactly the same issues as RL churches. The chrch has boosts from its 'living saints' / miracle workers, but that is no different to having a firebrand preacher who can exorcise demons, lay on hands, induce rapture, etc - all of which the RL churches have had for a long time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    Ruornil has a problem with this explanation...
    Ruornil also has almost no churches... And I think that while his people may accept wizards more easily than other faiths, necromancers and anyone dabbling in the shadow world is going to be attacked unrelentingly, the Swordmage is not Medoere's friend! I'd expect that the church of Ruornil has more in-house wizards than other faiths, but that they see 'rogue' mages in a barely more positive light than any other faith...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    I'm a king, I do diplomacy with an elven or dwarf kingdom, I know for sure they are pretty long lived. There's no way I'm not going to believe that.
    I'm a king, four generations ago my great great grandfather sent a missive that was ignored, now I finally get a response from the elves, they obviously name their children after their fathers... Humans who live 3-4 decades, 5-6 if noble and lucky, and who have little in the way of reliable histories are not going to assume that the elf spoken to in legend is the same elf they are speaking with, much less accept a clear stripling saying that they are centuries old. It is, afterall, very hard to prove that you are immortal.

    You might get a handful of cases where diplomacy is common where the aged retainer wonderingly says that 'the prince hasn't aged in all my years', but that is countered by many social factors, not least of which is face recognition for different races - all elves/dwarves look the same to someone who has seen only Anuirean faces their whole life...

    My point is, that people don't want to believe that elves are immortal - they may not accept that they are non-human at all. They may well take the view that goblins/dwarves are cursed with ugliness, elves cursed with frailty, etc, but that they are all still human - why you can even breed with them if desperate enough...

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    People could freak out because someone had a different skin color, so imagine watching the Gorgon live. Borgia doesnt' come close either. It provokes in the person a whole set of differences to see a cruel human and to see a cruel non-human. You know you can protect from Borgia, as he has the same types of resources as you, but you know also you can't protect against the Gorgon, no matter what you try to do.
    How many times to people meet el-stony in your game? I'd expect in most his rivings every few generations are about it - you don't bump into him in the market. And as far as 99.9% of the population is concerned they can no more protect against a regent than they can a god - a peasant has their mates, a stout staff, maybe a scythe, hammer, knife, etc - they can't hold their own against any noble, and frankly most nobles would be well aware that they can't challenge any of the realm rulers as well. I'd note that the awe/terror felt by people when going to meet the pope, president, popstar, etc, etc can be very real indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicente View Post
    Adventurers and their place in society, this started because of them.
    Hmm, I thought it started because you were concerned that we were assuming commonalities with the medieval world which were unsustainable given game mechanic changes.

    The major changes that I see are going to come from clerical healing, plant growth, and character levels. The first two have ready RL analogues that we can use in extrapolation, the latter is harder, but should not be overstated - ultra high level characters are very rare, over L9-12 is almost unheard of in human lands, so you will get social mobility and legendary heroes in most realms, but not army-killing engines of destruction. That's deliberate setting design of course, the domain system breaks down if no-one bothers hiring armies to make war...

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