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Thread: Something new.

  1. #1
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    Something new.

    Ok, I'm new to the forums and wanted to write about the new Birthright campaign I have launched and the philosophy behind it and my core problem with the simplicity of D&D pantheons. Who would worship an evil god when they know the god of justice and everything good EXISTS. That the afterlife is a certainty? To this end the first thing i did was revamp the entire D&D outlook on the pantheon. No multiple gods. Anuire worships Haelyn. Period. All other 'gods' are now saints within the church of Haelyn. Their names called on on specific occasions but on the whole forgotten. Eg. Sera is remembered as a martyred merchant who gave her wealth to promote the church during the chaos before the empire and died for her selflessnes. Erik was a holy hermit who aided Haelyn during his days in the wilderness etc. The possible exception is Curiaecen, and this only because war and a martial saint would attract a powerful following in Anuire. Something close to the templars in europe. Along with the ensuing friction with the mother church. The entire church reads like the Catholic church when seen through the eyes of wossisname the guy that wrote the DaVinci Code. Dark, focused only on temporal power and Machiavellan. They alone know the truth of Desimaar. The ascension of multiple dieties etc. The whole reason of this is that D&D style pantheons are simply unworkable for me. Absolute moral values of good and evil remove the challenge of doing the right thing. I thus like moving the gods into the background and having the players interact with the church, a VERY DIFFERENT proposition. This of course has tremendous impact in basic playability of certain classes. The paladin disapears (I personally hate this class... feels like you are playing/storytelling Jesus Christ in full plate mail and a bastard sword most of the time) and the cleric changes completely. They do not channel divine power directly from the gods. They are merely granted access to the divine power of the land (an aftereffect of Desimaar and the massive amounts of energy that were released not all of which was absorbed by the combatants) through a series of rituals granted to them by the church. They are basically channeling the same energy as mages in this case (helps explain the ability of both classes to dispel and notice the others magic that was never successfully explained in 3.5) but through completely different process that gives each class such a distinct feel to its magic. A corollary to this different percieved cosmology is that the gorgon and the other awnsheighlen are percieved to be manifestations of the devil/evil sent to plague mankind for its failings. So far this change has worked out very well in Anuire. The faith is homogenous but the church is fractured. Add to this a few heretical churches that overenphasize the role of a particular saint (Sera, Avani, Neserie etc) and the templars (Curiaecen) and you basically have a much more medieval outlook to the world. Main reason for posting this was to see what the reaction is from other players/storytellers. Whether they have also come accross these problems or ideas before and what pitfalls or traps they can see in introducing such a dark dogma to the churches.

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    Site Moderator Sorontar's Avatar
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    Welcome to Birthright.net.

    Okay, this is your campaign so my aim is not to criticise or condemn the way you chose to do things. Instead, I will just ask questions about how you have chosen to handle various aspects that are normally taken to be crucial elements of Birthright.

    1) If Cerilia now is monotheistic, do you have bloodlines and where did they come from?

    2) Does your campaign have regents?

    3) Does your campaign have humanoid races like elves, dwarves and goblins?

    4) Does your campaign have the Shadow World?

    5) Who is worshipped in Brechtur, Vosgaard, the Rjurik Highlands and Khinasi?

    6) Which gaming system are you using? AD&D? D&D 3.5? D&D 4e?

    I think that's enough questions for now.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    I used to find the alignment system and absolutism a problem too, similarly the idea that the deity took active involvement in the faith made the church very unified and removed much of the scope for doctrinal issues, political games, etc 'brother tarquin secretly serves Eloele not me, do not elect him as patriarch' and suchlike.

    I started trying to fix this by looking at how followers might consider Belenik, Kriesha, etc 'good' and gods such as Haelyn were 'weak' or even 'evil'. I found that taking a communal view this wasn't too hard, if mercy endangers the tribe then being 'firm' becomes being 'good'. I eventually got rid of the actual gods themselves completely and replacing it with a concept of 'astral focuses' drawn from MZB's Darkover novels and Katherine Kerr's Deverry series. Magic worked by drawing magic from some source, focusing it through some 'astral source', and then releasing it back into the 'real world' via an appropriate focus (holy symbol, familiar, wizard's staff, etc).

    Wizards and the like drew magic from the natural life of Cerilia as required and focused it through an ad hoc astral focus which suited their purpose making their magic very versatile. Priests on the other hand used very rigid enduring astral focuses (a Darkover tower approach), every prayer from the faithful then fed power into this focus (since all members of the religion had similar ideas of how to pray, view of the god, etc), even though individually very weak in the most cases the volume made the established churches very strong - priestly magic was easier than wizardry (as the focus was eternal and the power already present) but it was very rigid.

    I then drew the priest:wizard rivalry from Barbara Hambly's novels so that wizards were seen quite negatively, and were encouraged to rely on patronage for protection. Witch-burning was not uncommon as priests 'protected' the population from wizards. Of course priests believed that their 'prayers' were totally different to magic, and that their god existed, as such they could lose access if they believed that they had failed their god, and could take their continued spellcasting 'proof' that the god approved of their 'improved interpretation'. Wizards of course understood the actual source of the power, etc and so were prone to atheism - which did nothing to make them socially more acceptable or endear them to the priesthoods.

    I like paladins a lot, I never saw them as JC types - more Arthurian knights, templars etc. I did however expand them from LG to more 'exemplar of an archtype' - so Belenik would have paladins who personified 'tough, relentless, ferocious proud warriors' for example. The paladin type was mechanically a warrior variant which had additional social strengths and weaknesses to reflect the social role. The Belenik paladin for example would never ignore a challenge, would never help someone weak, etc.

    I kept the pantheonic approach to mandate a certain degree of tolerance and avoid the church becoming absolutely dominant socially, and to encourage contests between the different churches. The tolerance also meant that contests, rule, etc actions didn't need to be rebalanced, they simply represented political control over different temples and the like rather than mass conversions between different faiths.

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    Sorry for the delay but couldnt access site for quite a while. The core clarification I want to make is the following: Desimaar DID happen in this setting (mostly as per the book :P) its the INTERPRETATION of this event that has been ... guided.

    And notice i said Anuire not cerilia is monotheistic. So the setting remains pretty much unchanged as far as most of these factors remain. Bloodlines come from the gods (saints in anuire) and descent from those selfsame gods or saints (rather than descent from footsoldiers or generals present at the battle where the gods died).

    The empire reads rather like medieval france where the kings claimed direct descent from christ and used that to enforce their claim to rule. Sounds rather like a meaner and less clean regency doesnt it :P Same thing just more direct, complicated and competitive :P.

    All of the other races exist, but as far as the anuirean church (and thus most of its citizens) they are enemies placed on earth to test and plague the weak, disloyal, etc.

    Shadow world and cosmology touch on other aspects of the campaign ive changed drastically, particularly the cosmology. Think this was changed in the same one as well but basically the planes collapsed/disappeared/became the shadow world, from where the gods and spirits come.

    As far as the other cultures each has their own take. The Rjurik Highlands worship much like the nordic mythology (Erik = odin, curiaecen = thor etc) they dont much CARE what happened 2000 years ago at deesimaar so those that have bloodlines are considered scions of gods, or descendants of these same scions. The brecht have the most 'accurate' and view each diety as a god onto themselves. So they are close to the dnd pantheon outlook. Anuireans are of course aghast at this heathen godlessness. And in khinasi Avani dominates the pantheon, much the same way that Haelyn does in Anuire.

    Finally the game uses the 3,5 system except for its magic system that uses the midnight system.

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