Bloodlines for D&D 3.5

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WotC Article

The contents herein are entirely copyrighted to Wizards of the Coast and represent official Birthright lore.
©1996-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Original article from Dragon Magazine 315

The gods of Aebrynnis brought about their end, and the end of an age, on the slopes of Mount Deismaar. Anduiras. Reynir, Brenna, Vorynn, Masela. and Basaia battled against their evil brother Azrai for control of the world. Mount Deismaar exploded and the gods themselves were destroyed. The power of the old gods entered those who fought on either side and new gods came into being. Some became horrible abominations, corrupted and changed by the blood of Azrai, while others became heroes, imbued with the power of the old deities. These heroes became champions and rulers of Cerilia, the northern continent. They became heir to the bloodlines of power.
The BIRTHRIGHT campaign experience revolves around these heroes. They are known as scions, or blooded characters, and they have special powers beyond those of other mortals. Each has a bloodline, represented numerically, that can increase or decrease over time. In general, all PCs (and many important NPCs and monsters) in the BIRTHRIGHT campaign setting have bloodlines and blood powers.
If you introduce this system into your D&D campaign, you need to take that increased power into account when balancing encounters for your characters. To best interact with the D&D game system. bloodlines and blood abilities can be translated into special kinds of feats. These are not normal feats, but supernatural abilities that increase over time and with experience. All bloodline ability feats have the [Blood] designator. They are nor balanced with other feats in the game, but only with each other. Expect most bloodline abilities to be more powerful than standard feats in the D&D game.

The Creation of Birthright
Birthright got its start in late Igo when all the designers at TSR were asked to write one-page pitches for a new DM campaign setting. The results were turned over to Richard Baker and Collin McComb to use in executing the design.
"There was one theme that ran strongly through a bunch of them," recalls Baker. "They were all worlds where the player characters get to be the king. So that's the concept we took as our mission statement."
The project turned out to be a real team effort, "The setting was loosely based on an unpublished novel that Rich wrote, called Kingslayer," says editor Anne Brown. "And Jeff Grubb added the notion that the gods had come to the world to fight a war and been killed in the process, hut that their power still flowed in the blood of the nobility."
This concept of bloodlines became the central hook for the setting. The team spent a great deal of time playtesting the regency rules and domain spells?an expansion to the D&D magic system that allowed spellcasters to draw power from and affect any lands under their control.
"I had a big cork board hanging outside my office with pins to indicate troops and holdings," Baker says. "We played it more or less like a play-by-mail game. Each of the designers became the ruler of one country, During the day. they came by to look at the map and then went off to talk to one another, forge alliances, arid plan their next moves:' Of course, things did not always go as predicted.
"Roger Moore was playing the Wizard King of Alamie," Baker says. "He went wild using realm spells to conjure up and army of zombies and skeletons. then launched an attack on Monte Cook's kingdom. It took a coalition of four kingdoms to put him down. but they did it pretty convincingly. It was kind of weird, but it did show us that the rules worked."

There are three main ways to gain a bloodline (and blood abilities). The first occurs during character generation. By choosing the Bloodline feat (see below), the character gains a bloodline and a score to go along with it. In the original BIRTHRIGHT campaign setting, bloodlines were rolled randomly. In an effort to achieve some balance, this system awards bloodlines and blood abilities through feat expenditures.
The second way to gain a bloodline is to be invested with one. A cleric or druid can invest a willing character with a bloodline by transferring it from another willing character.
When this happens, the bloodline passes from one character to another. Usually, this is done when a character retires or is dying and wants to pass on his power to an heir. Sometimes it occurs in more sinister circumstances.
The third way of gaining, or increasing, a bloodline is to kill a character or monster that has a bloodline. This isn't as easy as it sounds. In order to steal another creature's bloodline, a character must make a killing strike to the victim's heart, This can only be performed as a coup de grace action. See Increasing or Stealing Bloodlines below for what occurs when such an event takes place.
Ifs you have the Bloodline feat, you begin with a set bloodline score. You may increase this over time as you gain experience or by selecting the Strengthen Bloodline Feat later on. The bloodline score dictates how you may use your blood abilities. See the Bloodline Score table.
D100Bloodline StrengthStarting ScoreActive Range
The percentile roll on the Bloodline Score table can be used if you want a more random determination of your bloodline score (or for NPC generation), but it is recommended that when a character gains a particular bloodline strength, he begin with a set Starting Score. This keeps the range of blood abilities predictable and easier to balance with each other.
Tainted bloodlines have faded over generations or have been recently acquired by formerly non-blooded individuals.
Minor bloodlines can be possessed either by characters whose ancestors were not very close to the gods' destruction at Mount Deismaar, or they can be possessed by those whose immediate forebears did not keep up heroic activities and could not work to maintain their lineage. A few characters with minor bloodlines are actually on their way up the ladder, and these scions are still to be reckoned with.
Major bloodlines indicate active blooded characters whose ancestors were probably instrumentat in the last battle, or they are possessed by characters whose immediate family has been very active and heroic.
Great bloodlines only belong to those whose ancestors stood side-by-side with those who became the new gods of Aebrynnis; the right-hand men and women of the gods. To achieve a great bloodline through heroism and adventure (or villainy and treachery) would be an amazing achievement.
Characters increase bloodlines either by adventuring, by investiture, or by killing other scions or monsters with bloodline scores. Characters can also purchase the Strengthen Bloodline fear described below.
To increase a bloodline by adventuring, a creature must do something particularly heroic (an evil creature might do something that is particularly villainous). This is in addition to normal adventuring. Defeating a dragon is heroic, but defeating a dragon to save a town from destruction is something that might be heroic enough to earn a bloodline point. Every time the DM feels a scion has been particularly heroic, he may give the scion one additional bloodline point (in addition to normal experience). Defeating a more powerful blooded character or monster (blooded monsters are known as "abominations") is always worth a bloodline point.
Any creature with Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of 3 or more can be invested with a bloodline. This is a magical process that transfers bloodline points and a bloodline ability. The process requires 1 hour of uninterrupted time, and the cleric or druid involved must have at least 5 ranks of Knowledge (religion. The creature gains power based on the relationship between its bloodline score and that of the donor. Both creatures must be willing for the transfer to occur (although any amount of "persuasion" can be applied). The receiving creature gains 5 bloodline points. If the recipient did not have a bloodline, it gains the Bloodline feat as a bonus feat if it did not already have it. If the recipient has a bloodline already, it may then choose to change bloodline derivation to the donor's (possibly losing blood abilities he no longer meets the prerequisites for; see below) and gain one blood ability of the donor as a bonus feat. The donor loses the Bloodline feat and all bloodline abilities.
To steal a bloodline, a creature with a bloodline and Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of 3 or more must kill a blooded creature in a certain way: It must stab the creature through the heart with a piercing or slashing weapon. This can only be done as a coup de grace action. If the coup de grace attempt succeeds in killing the creature, the bloodline is transferred in one of three ways. If the killer's bloodline is less powerful than the victim's (that is, the killer has a lower bloodline score), he gains 1d6 bloodline points. If the killer's bloodline is equal to or more powerful than the victim's, the killer gains t bloodline point. Regardless of which is the case, the killer gains one bloodline feat that the victim possessed so long as the killer meets the prerequisites. If a victim killed in this fashion is raised or resurrected, he loses his bloodline and all the Feats associated with it.
At character creation, your character may select the Bloodline eat. The DM might choose to allow experienced characters to choose the Bloodline feat, but it is recommended that the DM make the feat available to all characters in the group at the same lime. If the DM wants to run a particularly heroic game, he could give every character the Bloodline feat for Free. That's the way the BiRTHRiGHt campaign setting worked; every character could be (and usually was) a regent and a blooded hero.
Once you choose the Bloodline feat, you must choose a particular bloodline derivation. This derivation not only dictates what sorts of blood abilities you have access to but also what deity you got the bloodline from. You become a scion of that god. Each god had its own personality, and one was immeasurably evil. Scions might wish to base their choices on which deity most closely matches their own personalities. Regardless. simply choosing a particular bloodline does not have to dictate the way a character acts. While a scion of Azrai (the evil god) might be looked on with suspicion. he is no more or less predisposed to evil than a half-arc.
When you choose the Bloodline feat. you gain one bloodline ability feat (indicated by the [Blood] designator) as a bonus feat. It must be one allowed by your derivation (the derivations are listed as prerequisites).
Unless otherwise noted in the blood ability description, the following things are true about all blood abilities:
  • You may use them at will as a standard action.
  • They are supernatural abilities.
  • The caster level of any blood ability is equal to your Hit Dice for all purposes (duration, caster level checks, level-based effects, and so on).
  • You may use any benefits your bloodline score qualifies you for. Thus, a character with a Major bloodline may use any Major or Minor benefit of a blood ability but not the Great benefits.

Bloodline [General]
You gain a bloodline, bloodline strength score, derivation, and a blood ability.
Benefit: You gain a bloodline. If you chose this feat as one of your normal feat allotment, you gain a bloodline score of 0 and a bloodline ability feat (indicated by the [Blood] designator) as a bonus feat. Choose one bloodline derivation from the following list.
Anduiras: Male deity of nobility and war, former leader of the Cerilian pantheon.
Reynir: Male deity of woods, streams, and the hunt.
Brenna: Female deity of commerce and fortune.
Vorynn: Male deity of moon and magic.
Masela: Female deity of the seas. Basaia: Female deity of the sun.
Azrai: Male deity of evil and the shadow.
Special: If you gained this feat through investiture, your bloodline score is 5. You gain the donor's bloodline derivation and a bloodline ability of the donor.
Alter Appearance [Blood]
You may change your physical appearance.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (Azrai. Brenna, or Vorynn).
Benefit (Minor): You can change your features using the disguise self spell.

Benefit (Major): You can use alter self to change your form.
Benefit (Great): Once per day as a full-round action, you can use polymorph on yourself only.
Animal Affinity [Blood]
Each of the old gods was associated with a totem animal. Depending on your bloodline, you can affect particular animals with this bloodline ability. The totems are as follows: Anduiras(lion), Azrai (snake), Basaia (eagle), Brenna (cat), Masela (dolphin), Reynir (wolf), and Vorynn (owl). This affinity extends to related animals. Thus, Anduiras affinity for lions extends to all large. predatory cats, while Masela's affinity is for water mammals like dolphins, whales. and seals.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (any).
Benefit (Minor): You have an empathic link with the animals of your kind up to a range of 6o feet. This empathic link is exactly like that of a sorcerer to his familiar, without any of the other special abilities. Animals of this kind will never attack you unless they are compelled or you attack first.
Benefit (Major): You can speak to animals of your kind as the speak with animals spell. They will aid you in reasonable requests and try to be helpful.
Benefit (Great): You can detect the nearest totem animal of your kind within a 1-mile radius. As a full-round action, you can see through its eyes and use its other senses as if you were there, and you can communicate with it, and it can talk to you. You may have one animal of your kind as an animal companion as if you were a druid of a level equal to your Hit Dice.
Battlewise [Blood]
You are a military genius.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (Anduiras or Azrai)
Benefit (Major): As a full-round action, you may inspire any allies who can see or hear you and are within 6o feet. They gain a +2 bonus to all attack and damage rolls while within range and a morale bonus to Will saves. This effect lasts as long as you wish, but each round after the first requires you to rake a move action to continue the effect.
Benefit (Great): You can now employ the Major benefit of this ability in rounds after the first as a free action each round, but you must succeed at a DC so Concentration check every round where you do not spend a move action to maintain it. You must still spend a full-round action to activate this ability.
Character Reading [Blood]
You are unnaturally perceptive of others.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (Basaia, Brenna, or Vorynn)
Benefit (Minor): You gain a +4 competence bonus to Sense Motive checks. Benefiting from this ability does not require an action.
Benefit (Major): You may cast detect thoughts three times per day.
Benefit (Great): You may cast discern lies three times per day.
Direction Sense [Blood] You are never lost.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (Masela or Reynir)
Benefit (Minor): You always know which direction north lies. Benefiting from this ability does not require an action.
Benefit (Major): You gain a +6 bonus on all Survival checks. Benefiting from this ability does not require an action.
Fear [Blond]
Others fear you and may bend to your will.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (Azrai)
Benefit (Minor): You gain a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks. Benefiting from this ability does not require an action.
Benefit (Major): Once per day, you may cast fear.
Benefit (Great): You exude a frightful presence, exactly as if you were a mature dragon with Hit Dice equal to your own (see the Monster Manual, page 69, for details). You can suspend use of this ability as a free action for any amount of time.
Strengthen Bloodline [Blood]
Your bloodline strength increases.
Prerequisite: Bloodline (any).
Benefit: Add +10 to your bloodline strength score. If this increases your bloodline strength, you have access to more blood ability benefits.
Normal: You can only increase your bloodline score through adventuring, killing other scions, or through investiture.

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