Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Special Guest (Donor)
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Chandler, Arizona
    Posts
    21
    Downloads
    74
    Uploads
    0

    Multiple questions about standard actions

    I have a couple of questions for you more knowledgeable gaming folks. However, before I jump into the inquiries, I need to provide a little background.

    I run a Birthright game that contains 5 primary PCs. One is a realm regent and the others elected to be guilders, church leaders, and a blooded wizard who supported the realm regent. As the game progressed, it has become more of a “everyman for himself” situation with the realm regent being the most aggressive and gaining the most overall military and political power.

    Last week I decided to give the realm regent some new challenges. I really haven’t been as hard I should be on him and he’s quickly gaining some new enemies (NPCs) how aren’t comfortable with him becoming any more powerful. I decided to use an activity that I’d read somewhere in the Birthright literature where a blooded wizard used a Subversion spell to force another regents’ military units to invade a neighboring realm (one that doesn’t like the PC). The blooded wizard controls the source in the province where the PC’s military units (one archer, and one scout) were garrisoned and has a ley line to the source in the neighboring realm. So I had the wizard control the units and attack the neighboring province which has led to a whirlwind of activity by the realm regent PC.

    Of course the realm regent wants to find out who is behind the activity, and immediately jumped into an “espionage” action. This has brought up a lot of questions that I want to throw out to the group.

    First question: Is it really an espionage activity if everything the realm regent is doing to uncover information is being done using overt means?

    Second question: Can the wizard use regency to stop the realm regent from finding out what was done to make the military units attack? The use of regency in an espionage action is not well clarified in the rules. It says that one cannot use regency to hide information, but also contains a note about the
    DM may decide if regency can be spent by secret auction.

    Third question: Can someone find out who created the original realm spell and what kind of spell was used? I haven’t been able to find any information connected to this question in chapter 7 (Realm Magic) and wondered if it was covered elsewhere.

  2. #2
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Chelmsford, Essex, England
    Posts
    2,305
    Downloads
    25
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Grinster View Post
    First question: Is it really an espionage activity if everything the realm regent is doing to uncover information is being done using overt means?
    Just because something is known locally doesn't mean that the details are known in the capital. This goes double if the local garrison commander starts burying the tracks of their 'sudden wild urge to invade xxx' to avoid punishment, or an enthusiastic supporter/rival starts spreading rumours to 'set the record straight'.

    Also just because the magic has ended doesn't mean that the issue has been resolved, a good espionage action may not only say who led the invasion, but also who saw the chaos and followed in, who is planning reprisals, who is offended, who does/doesn't matter, whether actions were in character, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grinster View Post
    Second question: Can the wizard use regency to stop the realm regent from finding out what was done to make the military units attack? The use of regency in an espionage action is not well clarified in the rules. It says that one cannot use regency to hide information, but also contains a note about the
    DM may decide if regency can be spent by secret auction.
    It depends on the exact version of the rules that you are using, I'd let the wizard do a counter-espionage to plant a false rumour, as could any other regent - and several people might want to take credit / pin the blame. That could be played out via opposed rolls, spent regency, or by providing the two or more 'correct' answers, or by only giving a partial answer. Actually I'd expect that the wizard has already laid several false rumours - they will have planned this in advance and anticipated the obvious enquiries, they probably even know who the regent is sending to divert / subvert the representative - or perhaps the whole thing is merely a ruse to lure out the regent's lord justicar where they can be executed in a planned ambush

    Quote Originally Posted by Grinster View Post
    Third question: Can someone find out who created the original realm spell and what kind of spell was used? I haven’t been able to find any information connected to this question in chapter 7 (Realm Magic) and wondered if it was covered elsewhere.
    I'd say that a good espionage success would pin the blame on the right soldiers / lordlings, say who was raided, who suffered damage, who profited by selling supplies, etc but make clear that the act was abrupt, out of character, failed to gather obvious cronies or avoided the lordling's ancient feud with the victim realm's lord 'x', etc - i.e. that the raid is out of character and was possibly caused by magic. I'd then suggest that a friendly wizard would need to do espionage to track down who cast the spell, where it was cast from (if using a ley line), etc, etc. That preserves the mystique of wizardry a bit. In general I'd say that espionage doesn't destroy information - someone always knows where the bodies are buried and it discourages reckless espionage acts if there is always a chance that they can be traced - but it can certainly bury it in misinformation and doubt.

    You've clearly started a ball rolling, I hope I'm not being overly forward in suggesting some spoilers:

    * The raid was a success and the local garrison commander came back rich / smashed a long standing foe. Now the PC can either praise him (maybe giving him a small holding) or show lack of nobility by scorning the hero's courage - thus are great captain's born
    * the raid was a failure and the regent is blamed internally for failing to give proper support, the victim demands reparations, a useful vassal is weakened, etc.
    * the raiding lord is the godson / lover / protege / etc of a powerful lord / priest / guilder / etc - punishment may be politically impossible or lead to serious conflict.
    * the victim is targeted by an intrigue by one of their/the PCs ambitious vassals which undermines any 'proof of innocence' that the PC has and makes it clear that this was a testing raid - failure to react forcefully would clearly indicate weakness...
    * the raid broke some religious rule (no fighting on godsday, a church got burnt, there was an atrocity during the raid, etc) and a church leader urges a severe punishment - decimating the troops, exiling their leader, ban on troops being sent without clerical blessing, expensive penance from the leader (possibly bankrupting a needed vassal) or the PC etc - regardless of orders the PC is the liege of the leader and their troops and so is responsible for their conduct...
    * a neighbour misunderstands the raid and thinks that the PC is spoiling to expand - either in their direction, or against a mutual foe. the neighbour begins working to gather an alliance against the 'mad dog' to protect themselves, or seeks to ingratiate themselves to encourage a joint attack - with the PC's realm at the vanguard.
    * the wizard follows up the subversion with an attack on the province morale using the regent's response to 'explain' the shift.
    * the wizard uses subversion on the victim of the raid to create a reprisal raid
    * the wizard uses subversion on an ally of the PC regent to create a mirror raid, leading the victim to fear that this is the beginning of a concerted assault.
    * the leader who led the raid is captured and held for a king's ransom - literally
    * the leader who led the raid realises that they were the victim of sorcery and over-reacts totally to the resulting stain on their soul, he and his men seize and burn some 'witches', or go off on a holy quest for redemption - possibly depriving the regent of a key unit/commanders when they need it most.
    * someone approaches the regent saying they know 'the truth' - all the regent has to do is promise to give them some trifle, some pittance, take part in a ritual that will protect them against further such attacks maybe - whether this person is a charlatan, rival of the casting wizard, the caster themselves, a demon, a pawn of a rival, etc if the wizard then this move will be wreathed in intrigue - the wizard would not have cast the spell as their opening act, it was simply the first act that was visible to the PC...
    etc.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Lacalfiusa
    Posts
    110
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewTall View Post
    Just because something is known locally doesn't mean that the details are known in the capital. This goes double if the local garrison commander starts burying the tracks of their 'sudden wild urge to invade xxx' to avoid punishment, or an enthusiastic supporter/rival starts spreading rumours to 'set the record straight'.
    While this is true, it's also true that with a DC of 5, confirming "common rumours and information" is absurdly overpriced at 6000 gp (3 GB = -3 for a final DC of 2, if a roll of "1" always fails). Add to that the implication that your entire bureaucracy grinds to a halt as your Domain Action is, inexplicably, wholly focused on and largely preoccupied with this trivial task, and - yes, it doesn't seem right.

    I'd suggest using Character Actions, "Gather Information" checks. Can't be modified by expending GB or Regency Pts, but if you have the manpower it's essentially free. Or at worst, spend a Court Action to Hire a couple dozen skilled hirelings for a fortnight, and spend some few hundreds of gp as fees and bribes, a tenth the cost (GM would have to rule on the modifier), and see what comes back. Imo, far more cost effective, both re money and "Actions".


    It depends on the exact version of the rules that you are using,
    I'd say it depends more on the Action you're trying to modify. Regency is "authority", a Regent's ability to rule the land and the people in it -
    "...Regent characters can spend RP as they rule their realms to subtly manipulate and support their followers in their assigned tasks..."(3.0 BRCS p 37)
    If the GM feels that this is appropriate in a given situation, then yes - but it's not a magical currency that simply modifies anything and everything, nor should it. Let's be honest - the BR rules are, all too often, swiss cheese, and those holes have to be filled in with a combination of extending the rules as presented and common sense. Good luck with both.


    I'd then suggest that a friendly wizard would need to do espionage to track down who cast the spell, where it was cast from (if using a ley line), etc, etc. That preserves the mystique of wizardry a bit.
    Agreed - the mundane use of Espionage doesn't seem to have the juice to reach into the mystical world, not to trace ley lines and spell echoes, so you'd need to have special, magical agents who can, indeed, use magic to do some snooping around to determine who cast it, what spell it was, where it was cast (as opposed to where the obvious target was), etc. Any gossip can ask questions, but Detect Magic (at least!) would be required to answer some of this, if not more high powered spells or even ability with ley line Realm Magic. (There are Realm Spells that are specifically designed for this sort of thing, or are crying out to be researched.)

    "Who researched that spell?" presumes that the spell was researched in a way that the wizard left some "footprints" that still exist today - records of use of a known library, memories of purchases from arcane merchants, etc., and this might not be perfectly clear if the wizard "showed up" in the game with the spell already under their belt or did their research long ago or in a far-off land (or with a mind to keeping things secret) - some wizards are hundreds of years old, and that would be a tough spell to trace. The GM would have to rule on where and how the spell was researched, but since it costs many 1000's of gp to do that research, and money does tend to leave a trail, it should be possible for generic agents to tell "who has researched a spell lately". However, it would then again take some sort of specialist, sage, advisor or wizard (or cleric/etc.) to infer "what that spell was" (or at least what sphere/school/domain it fell into), and thus whether that recently researched spell was more likely to have been "Charm Unit" or "Bless Land".
    Last edited by Cuchulainshound; 10-20-2010 at 08:32 PM.

  4. #4
    Special Guest (Donor)
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Chandler, Arizona
    Posts
    21
    Downloads
    74
    Uploads
    0

    Thanks and addtional informtion

    Thanks for all the great suggestions. I've thought about this a great deal during the week and I believe I have some ideas, many based on many of your suggestions, that can help to resolve the situation.

    I believe I’ve left out one small piece of information (OK, maybe not so small) that does affect how these things occur in my game. The five primary PCs live in various distant locations and the game is played about 90% through an online forum and about 10% in face-to-face gaming activities . So the mechanics of how each action (character, court, standard) occurs is extremely important to have clearly defined in order for PCs to be able to use them correctly in their posts to the electronic board.

    So far we haven't had too many problems but the use of espionage has been limited. The questions related to the espionage action were beginning to boil up from previous activities. On top of this is a realm regent who loves to use his regency to essentially “pay down” every possible roll to only needing a one or better to succeed. The wizard who performed the subversion spell is very powerful , which would seem to me a good reason for why the ruling regent could not easily discern who performed the spell.

    I think one problem I and the PCs were having was the separation of the espionage action from the activities taken by the regent to uncover the plot. I think we were seeing the espionage and gather information activities as one long action which then brought up the question of whether or not the wizard, who did the espionage action, could use his "authority" or regency to thwart the realm regent's efforts to uncover the wizard's nefarious plot. As I've thought about your comments and played out the activities in my mind, I finally see them as two separate actions - the espionage action has been completed, without the wizard having to using regency and the efforts to uncover the action can now be affected by the wizard just like any other action since the wizard controls a source in both the province where the troops were affected and in the province they attacked.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Lacalfiusa
    Posts
    110
    Downloads
    1
    Uploads
    0
    Quote Originally Posted by Grinster View Post
    So the mechanics of how each action (character, court, standard) occurs is extremely important to have clearly defined in order for PCs to be able to use them correctly in their posts to the electronic board.
    The question of "regency or not" is one that could only be addressed via houserules. By the RAW, it's 100% kosher (in all situations) in both the the 3.0 and 2.0 BRCS.

    The wizard who performed the subversion spell is very powerful , which would seem to me a good reason for why the ruling regent could not easily discern who performed the spell.
    I think you also have to consider what Espionage is and isn't. What it's not is an unregulated meta-informational cheese-ploy, an open-ended "If I roll well, I get an answer to any one question".

    I'm not sure how sending out any number of mundane agents and hired snoops assigned to find out "Who cast this realm* spell?" could succeed except by the most extraordinary luck. It'd be like using Espionage to try to discover what someone dreamt last week, or what they were doing while alone in a locked, windowless room - I'm just not sure what the rationale there would be for success, what "clues" could be tracked down for that casting short of asking them directly, which defeats the point. (Maybe the money trail, since it does cost 1GB or more... depends how "public" you believe that expenditure is, or how personal a wizard keeps their spending.)
    (* "Subversion", not "Charm Unit", which is the battle spell version - I knew that didn't sound right.)
    I think one problem I and the PCs were having was the separation of the espionage action from the activities taken by the regent to uncover the plot. I think we were seeing the espionage and gather information activities as one long action
    Another GM and I were having a discussion of the practical diff between using Character Actions and Skills (such as GI, X-Knowledge skills, Spellcraft and the like) and using Espionage to find out information. Why not just hire a master Rogue to Gather Information non-stop? Why pay the Espionage costs when the information gained is the same?

    Gather Information assumes "footwork" - a specific character (even an NPC hireling) has to ask questions, buy drinks, hang out, walk around, follow leads, maybe pays small bribes, etc. etc. However, the info doesn't have to be written down or documented - rumours and gossip (for better or worse) are assumed to play the biggest part. It's public and active (unless specifically stated otherwise) - it takes more than "keeping your ears open" to generate a roll without a large penalty. As a result, these questions can in turn generate an undesired rumour - "Someone has been asking about X", and that "someone" is fairly easy to describe in detail, and thus probably also easy to actually find later* if someone wanted to.
    (* If disguises/etc are used, that's going to be more expensive, and involve more rolls, and generate bigger rumours if those rolls fail. Average Hirelings cannot be expected to "leave town" simply because you then ask them to. Hiring from out of town also can generate more interest than casual in-town hires. Using your own stable of permanent employees makes it easier to trace back to your domain. If these are not negative considerations, then rejoice! However, if they are...)
    Knowledge (X) skills are usually passive (unless used via a non-personal library/etc) - so it requires an explanation of how some detail of information was previously learned. Knowledge (Arcane Lore) has no chance of telling one "Who cast this spell?" unless, somewhere, that fact was written somewhere and the Character using that Knowledge had reasonable access to that document while learning their Knowledge. (Thus, the wizard's personal diary is a highly unlikely source, etc.) If ownership of ley-lines and Sources is not published somewhere, it's just not something any "knowledge base" would have provided. If obscure, if it's not somehow "something that was plausibly studied", it's just not possible. However, this is passive (unless used via a library/etc) - there is no way someone can track you down simply because you remembered something.

    Bardic Lore would be similar to this - it's not Bardic Intuition or Bardic Enlightenment, but it's not an activity ether.

    Now, that's not to say that inferences and deductions cannot be made - if only 1 wizard is commonly known to have ever cast the Realm Spell "Subversion"*, then it's not a huge leap to guess who cast that. May not be right, someone else may have developed it and cast it this time, but it's a valid and reasonable "rumour" or bit of Knowledge to scrape up.

    However, if it's GI, it involves "the public" - and that means it can be traced back just as easily. If done "personally" by the Regent or a Ltnt, they may be recognized (unless disguised/etc), and if hirelings are used they could be followed, or let something slip and be overheard themselves, or get Gather Information'd themselves at a later time - it's just a job, after all. Even the employees of a Court can be the source of Gather Information - altho' this cycle can then start to become infinite, as they know that you know that they know that you know...

    All these skills are also relatively unreliable, being a simple modifier against what is usually an annoyingly high DC. Only a small additional modifier could be included by paying excessive bribes/etc, which then in turn make the action more memorable and more easily tracked via a counter-Gather Information. The obvious solution to use massive waves of manpower (and thus generate multiple skill rolls) likewise makes it hard for the target to miss hearing about, even if they aren't trying. Some "rumours" just arrive without looking for them, especially if the action generating them is notable in some way. These are small towns and bored peasants that we're talking about for the most part.

    Otoh,Espionage implies (by its cost, if nothing else) a different level of subtlety and secrecy. The questions may be the same, but are done with more finesse and/or by persons who cannot be so easily traced*. Rather than just ask "Did you sell any oil of subversion lately?...", perhaps they break in at night and read the ledgers without asking - you're paying 1000's of GB for this, right? In order to trace an Espionage Action, another EA is required - spies don't leave breadcrumbs for someone to just "snoop around" and find by talking to the local bar crowd. That's the whole idea.
    (* The 2.0 rules suggest that if the Espionage roll misses by 10 or more, the action/identity is revealed to the target - I'm undecided whether this is a good rule or no, but to emphasize the diff as discussed here I'm leaning toward "no".)
    (Otoh, using Regency to bring the DC down to 1* is harder to defend as "anonymous" - if a Regent is using their authority to get a question answered, it seems that it'd be fairly clear who's adding that juice to the mix.)
    (* Actually, if a "1" always fails, the pro tip is to adjust it only down to a "2".)
    Another difference is that something like Gather Information, as a character action (even if that "character" is an NPC hireling), is specific - you name the target location, and it involves travel to and from that locale. This is also traceable, and adds to the time involved for that Action. That character can be grabbed and questioned by thugs. That character can make mistakes. That character can be a double agent. Espionage is more abstract - you talk to a man who knows some people... done. Those "people" don't necessarily know who they're working for, only what the job is - that's part of the concept of "Espionage". You can conduct an Espionage Action across the map in one fell swoop, reaching across the nation without concern for the details. "Get me the answer to this question", he said, tossing 100's of pounds of gold on the table - done. The details are not necessary to consider, because Espionage operates at a Domain level rather than a Character Level.

    So... I'd suggest, in considering Skill use and Espionage as distinct both in conduct and subtlety, even if the result might be the same. Skill use, especially (but not limited to) Gather Information, is quite time-consuming and is much higher in exposure. Espionage, otoh, is the opposite - it's clean, it's (relatively) untraceable, creating more distance between actor and Domain, and it tends to be more reliable in that you can modify the roll to a 95% reliability, something that cannot be done with Skills.

    You pay for what you get.
    (English is the idiot bastard child of incestuous European cousins.)

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Realm actions.
    By Question in forum BRCS 3.0/3.5 Edition
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 12-03-2005, 01:50 AM
  2. Standard/battle/realm magic how to distiguish them
    By irdeggman in forum BRCS 3.0/3.5 Edition
    Replies: 53
    Last Post: 02-26-2005, 04:44 PM
  3. Domain Actions
    By Falendor in forum The Royal Library
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-01-2004, 06:51 AM
  4. Multiple Generations?
    By esmdev in forum The Royal Library
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: 05-12-2003, 09:08 PM
  5. Domain Actions
    By Leland in forum The Royal Library
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 02-18-2002, 08:37 PM

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
BIRTHRIGHT, DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, D&D, the BIRTHRIGHT logo, and the D&D logo are trademarks owned by Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and are used by permission. ©2002-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.