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  1. #1

    A perpetual problem

    My BR friends... I know I haven't posted a whole lot here in the long years this site has been around, but believe you me that I do love Birthright and have lurked a fair deal.

    My question for the BR loremasters is such: Nowhere can I find any information as to whether or not PCs should have access to information like Province Level, Holding Levels, and whatnot. On the one hand, it seems as though this knowledge isn't really secret. It's required for some ruling actions (if a Province can't support any more Law holdings for instance) but should the players KNOW this, or just be told their rule action fails for unknown reasons?

    On the other hand, it seems like they have no real reason TO KNOW this. Where are they getting the information on how extensive some Guilder's merchant network is?

    In the absence of a ruling I've been having all this information be proprietary and revealed only through failed Rule attempts, spies, or scouts. However, this greatly complicates note-keeping, as I have to keep track of all the domains privately and keep my players from showing each other their own domain stats.

    Any ideas as to a ruling on this?

  2. #2
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    At 06:24 AM 11/21/2009, Idabrius wrote:

    >My question for the BR loremasters is such: Nowhere can I find any
    >information as to whether or not PCs should have access to
    >information like Province Level, Holding Levels, and whatnot. On the
    >one hand, it seems as though this knowledge isn`t really secret.
    >It`s required for some ruling actions (if a Province can`t support
    >any more Law holdings for instance) but should the players KNOW
    >this, or just be told their rule action fails for unknown reasons?

    Personally, I`ve never had a great experience as DM or player in a
    campaign in which this kind of information is kept secret by the
    DM. I`ve never tried it with a BR campaign, but in other settings
    I`ve tried to keep information ranging from secret powers and stats
    to ammunition and weapon status, and found the process problematic on
    a few levels. First off, it slows down play as the DM has to
    reference his materials more often. Second, it can rapidly turn into
    a bookkeeping nightmare. Third, players like to have a sense of
    progress and improvement, and that`s difficult to convey without
    using things like the simple numbers associated with their characters
    (or, in this case, realms.)

    So, the compromise I`ve usually made is to let the players do all
    their record keeping, but they need to send me copies by email. That
    doesn`t always work out so well because players sometimes neglect to
    send along updates, but the alternative that the DM does it
    constantly and that`s usually worse.

    G

  3. #3
    I meant less for their OWN province levels, etc. than for NPC realms. For example, should they KNOW the rankings of Ghoere? Should it be a secret?

  4. #4
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    At 06:24 AM 11/21/2009, you wrote:

    >I meant less for their OWN province levels, etc. than for NPC realms. For example, should they KNOW the rankings of Ghoere? Should it be a secret?


    Ah, OK.

    Maybe this is from the POV of a BR old-timer, but given the age of the materials, I don`t know how easily it might be kept from the players.... At least, I`ve had a problem keeping this kind of thing out of the hands of players.

    But in general, I don`t think this information was meant to be kept from the players. At least, I don`t see any indication that the things you list were meant to be hard to identify or recognize. If you take a look at the Espionage domain action, we get a hint of the kinds of things that the game designers had definitely intended should be kept from players--until they perform the proper action. The size of province/holding levels doesn`t appear on the list of things that domain action performs, so that would indicate that the information either A> isn`t particularly difficult to ascertain or B> is totally unknowable. I don`t think the latter was the intent of the system.

    There are a few realms in the published materials that do actually have their holding levels unlisted... so that information is secret from even the DM. I always found this convention annoying. DMs should feel free to change whatever they like for their campaigns, so game designers shouldn`t feel obliged to set a mood by keeping that info out of the DM`s hands. The existence of those domains that have levels that aren`t actually listed in the published materials would also indicate that the levels of the other realms are actually listed isn`t secret information for the DM only.

    As for how players might know that information, it might be interpreted as a basic function of the nature of regency. The connection of the regent to the land itself might give him/er some sort of mystical information gathering ability. Just as s/he instinctively understands the nature, size and influence of his own domain, he might be able to sense the power of nearby domains.

    If a mystical explanation isn`t satisfactory, the provinces and holdings might be fairly easily recognizable through their physical manifestations. That is, something like population level is meant to represent an actual number of people. People sometimes take issue with how well that works as a game mechanic, but it`s clearly what the game designers meant. They did, after all, list actual population numbers and associated them with the various levels. Taking a loose head-count could give nearby regents a pretty good idea of population level. Similarly, holdings are physically present in the province. They have manifestations--small, medium and large temples, for example--that could be rated fairly easily. As uch, the levels of various holdings might be more or less easily recognized. Of course, a regent wouldn`t think of his holdings as levels in the way gamers use the term, but s/he might be able to rate them in a way that is comparable.

    That said, the openness of this kind of information does sometimes strain credibility, and lots of folks have found fault with this basic premise. At least, there have been a good number of house rules to create things like "secret" or "covert" holdings that are not normally detectable by other regents. Those house rules would seem to indicate that many folks view the various levels at the domain levels are more or less knowable.... But it also pretty clearly indicates that most people think there should be a way around the ease of attaining that information.

    I would find it completely reasonable for a DM to rule that information about another realm might require a free action with some sort of GB cost, or something like a court action from the BRCS update. It just doesn`t seem right that a player whose character ruled a realm in Anuire might have information about the holding levels of some domain in the Rjurik Highlands. Guilders seem particularly apt at gathering up this kind of information, so if one were to put a restriction on the information gathering of players then one who controls guild holdings might have a slight advantage.

    Gary
    Last edited by Thelandrin; 11-22-2009 at 03:05 AM.

  5. #5
    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    As Gary I think pointed out, the size of holdings etc is easy to work out, so therefore their level should be a given as should the capacity of a province. However, there may be some details that aren't as obvious, e.g. allegiances, vassalages, whether this was a good or bad season, public morale. These can certainly be worked out with a bit of research if the regent doesn't make them freely public knowledge. Likewise with troop numbers and positions.

    As for secret holdings (e.g. temples of Cuiraécen), they too can be discovered, but it will just be harder.

    As for whether a regent's domain actions should be known, that is a no. The outcome may become public knowledge but exactly what the regent was intending may be concealed by the regent until research reveals the truth.

    But, of course, you are probably best saying that all actions are publicly known unless the regent says otherwise. Many proclamations cannot be concealed due to what they are.

    Sorontar

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mirviriam's Avatar
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    I just describe what people know via rumors, old wars, last year's unit locations reported by merchants at inns (someone's doing customs checks on the checkers at one point or another).

    If you want to get technical, you don't have to hide the information. Just don't feed it to them in raw numbers.
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