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DM tips: Born to Serve

Below are some comments on playing a campaign without regents. Please feel free to add your own comments.

Not every Birthright campaign needs to include realm level play. Aebrynis is a world with a rich history and diverse cultures and as a result gameplay can be fun and rewarding even for those players who never look beneath the surface to see how and why the realms change about them.

Other DMs may wish to start a campaign with the PCs not ruling realms, or even unblooded, in order to give the PC a chance to win a name for themselves before they ascend to true greatness.

[top]Playing unblooded Birthright vs a 'standard' DnD campaign

In many respects a Born to serve campaign is identical to any other DnD game. To add flavor to the campaign and make it more 'Birthright' as opposed to 'Forgotten Realms', 'Greyhawk' or any other setting, the DM is likely to want to stress the differences felt by the common man between Birthright and other worlds produced. These include:

[top]Magic rare

Magic rare does not mean low magic, although the two often coincide. In a typical Birthright campaign few villages will have a wizard, or even a magician. In many games there will not even be a priest who can cast spells.

This means that superstition will replace knowledge for characters. In a game set elsewhere it may be common for a NPC to know that protection from normal missiles does not protect against sword-blows, that invisibility is dispelled if the wizard attacks, that wizards may be able to fly, that a wizard who fights with magic missiles and web is unlikely to cast gate or cause an earthquake, etc, etc. In Birthright all that many will know is that wizards have ungodly power - they could do anything. This is both a boon and a curse to PC magicians. Threats assume far greater effect when for all the knight knows the magician can make his mount go lame with a scowl and unman him with a curse. On the downside, a magician is more likely to be treated as dangerous than their power warrants - and likely the first blamed when something goes awry.

Only in Khinasi lands are 'more normal' attitudes to mages likely to be present, as magic is well respected there - and anyone who is anyone will profess at least some knowledge (quite possibly incorrect) about it.

If spell-casting priests are as rare as true wizards - which is non canon but quite in keeping with the setting, then healing magic is likely to be very expensive, consecrated land very rare, etc. This will make non-priest class priests more common, and quite possibly give PC priests who can 'create miracles' a vast (possibly undeserved) respect.

Magical items will also be far less common - meaning that high level PCs may still be vulnerable to the general populace.

[top]Racial differences

As with many other campaign settings Birthright changes a number of the races to present a different role-playing experience.


Birthright elves - or Sidhe - are not the traditional airy-fairy chaotic good folk who ride to save humanity from dread terrors beyond the understanding of lesser races, quite often they are the terrors besetting the tribes of men.

Cerilian history has the tribes of man invading elven lands about two thousand years ago and either directly or indirectly driving the elves from much of their land. As a result many elves are still bitter - indeed given that birthright elves are immortal, many remember the human invasion themselves.

This is quite a twist, many players will be unfamiliar with elves that can both be good and hate humans with a passion, or who can be evil without being subterranean with politically incorrect skin tones, and while Cerilian elves may share the superiority complex of elves in other lands (immortal , beautiful, magical - it's hard to see why) they are far more likely to be savage, feral or wild than the urbane elves in other settings. In addition to the racial dislike for humans, Cerilian elves do not worship gods, disdain authority in general, have more volatile emotions, different racial abilities, etc.

Elven PC's will meet both fascination and hatred in much of Cerilia. In human lands many humans know of the elves only as heathen savages that tried to deny humanity the lands of freedom promised by the gods and who allied with the dark god Azrai to destroy humanity and are rife with sorcery. Those rare elves accepted by the humans about them may however find that their fellows are less than understanding when they return home to the forests for the hatred is strong in many on both sides.


Birthright goblins - the term covers goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears, are like in other settings a brutal barbaric race that prizes strength and cunning not wisdom and grace. But in Cerilia they are slightly more civilized than in other settings, and often form large civilizations that trade with - and even make military alliances with - human realms. It can be amusing to see player's faces when they are told to lead a troop of soldiers on a mission and these turn out to be goblin mercenaries.

Goblin PC's are likely to be looked down on in many places, or given exaggerated respect to avoid offense. Goblin PC's may have to cultivate an obedient demeanor or have a strong patron to pass freely about Cerilia for in many areas Goblins are despised and hunted for bounty.


Everyone always forgets the halflings... In Cerilia the halflings are unlike the other races in that they are not native to Aebrynis, instead they fled the Shadow World when the spirit of darkness possessed it and began to turn the fair spirit world dark and treacherous. As a result many halflings are still partly of two worlds, half Cerilia and half shadow. This legacy makes Cerilian Halflings more serious in many respects than halflings of other worlds though in many ways they are unchanged.

PC halflings are likely to be treated like halfings in any other campaign - as children for the most part. Those who know the origin of the race may however give them far greater respect due to their mystical ties to the worlds.

[top]The blooded

In Birthright campaigns it is the blooded who rule, the blooded to whom others look for leadership. Unblooded PC's are likely to be considered usurpers if they seek to claim the mantle of greatness denied them by the gods themselves, while blooded competitors are feted to a higher degree and granted favors by those about them. This can cause issues for PC's who expect to be the center of attention. At low level this is unlikely to be an issue, at higher levels PC's may struggle to rule when competing with Scions who gain and spend regency points unavailable to the PC (or in some rule systems available to all but more plentiful for scions). This can lead the PC to begin plotting bloodtheft, or some other means of gaining a bloodline.

It should be noted that bloodlines are not likely to be bought and sold in a marketplace - a bloodline is part of one's very soul so it may be very difficult for an unblooded PC to gain one. Of course in Vosgaard in particular where one proves oneself worthy, and one gifted with the potential for greatness by the gods has failed to have the courage to seize that greatness, then the mortal servants of the gods may act to remedy the situation.

Of course one can play a game without bloodlines at all - or where they are very rare and held only by a handful of houses leaving unblooded rulers common, this will avoid the above issues to a degree.

[top]Playing a minion

it should be noted that few PC's are considered minions by their player. Instead the PC is considered the respected adviser to Queen Freila, the deadly champion of Prince Avan, etc etc. As much of the action in many Birthright campaigns is based around courtly intrigue, and the dealings of those of power. Although the rules for realm actions can be completely ignored if the PC's are not playing regents, the actions can also be retained and the realm tracked to provide a coherent rational for various missions given the the PC's, relative sizes of the armies, etc.


The birthright setting provides ready patrons - not just rulers but their vassals, guildmasters, temple prelates and source holders. All of these patrons require minions to do their bidding and through which to act and grow their domains.

It should be remembered that a Patron is not merely a source of adventure ideas, but also a protector and benefactor - overall having a powerful patron should be a positive thing. The patron will likely also demand loyalty, respect, service, and a certain degree of seemliness from their minions - players who cause trouble for their patron will swiftly find themselves abandoned or punished in most cases.

[top]Playing without a patron

Of course the players need not have a patron, or float between various patrons. This comes closest to a standard DnD game where PC's wander randomly looking for, or outright causing, trouble wherever they go.

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