Domain and Regency » Government » Dynasties » Heir
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Heir · Ceremony · Cadet

No individual regent builds a dynasty. A lucky regent inherits the foundation of a dynasty, to which he contributes, and then passes it on to his heirs when their times come. A new regent might begin a dynasty, but it will be recognized as such only long after he has departed this world. A dynasty does, however, begin with one regent. The regent must have the ability to look toward the future and to analyze the past if he wants to create something lasting and important that can shape Cerilia long after he is gone.

The Anuirean Empire once dominated the world, with the Roele Dynasty standing atop it as the greatest dynasty in Cerilian history. Other, lesser dynasties have existed and still exist today. The Avans of Anuire have ruled their realm for centuries. In Brechtür, both Müden and Danigau's dynasties survived the Anuirean Occupation and the wars with the Gorgon and the Vos to thrive as examples of successful dynasties. In Rjurik lands, dynasties of families and clans have survived in Hogunmark, Halskapa, and Stjordvik for centuries. Some of the ancient dynasties of the Basarji in Khinasi can trace their lineage back to the time of el-Arrasi.

These examples may seem incomparable to the types of dynasties a PC regent can expect to create over the course of a campaign, but that doesn't have to be true. When combining role-playing and adventure with domain actions and war rules, players and DMs might find the years pass quickly, sometimes too quickly, aging characters past the point of adventuring. This problem can actually enhance the realism of a BIRTHRIGHT campaign. Rather than playing the same PC for years of real time without keeping track of his age in game years, players of Cerilian PCs have domain turns by which to easily mark the years of their characters' lives. They know that eventually the PCs will be too old to adventure, and the aging characters know that they must pass the torch to someone else, or die heirless.

[top]The Heir

The most important thing a PC regent can do to begin a dynasty is to designate an heir. Usually, once a regent has established himself, he starts looking toward siring or selecting an heir to ensure the continuance of his line of rulership. In most regions of Cerilia, the heir does not have to be the regent's son or daughter. Most regents prefer passing on their power and domains to their children, but sometimes this tradition isn't possible or desirable. In these unusual circumstances, the heir can be a trusted cohort, a relative, or even an elected successor.

Whatever the case, the wise regent begins tutoring his heir in the ways of rulership well before that heir might logically take over the domain. Not only does this practice assure the regent that he won't pass on his domain to an heir who doesn't know how to run it, but it provides the regent with a living ally and lieutenant who can assume increasing duties and responsibilities as the regent grows older. Players and DMs should begin talking about heirs early on in a PC regent's career. In the DM's case, the regent's advisers should start pestering the PC about the issue within a few months of the new regent assuming his throne. Advisers worry about that sort of thing almost obsessively, they want to know who they'll have to impress after the PC regent has passed on his leadership.

This concern can, and should, lead to interesting role-playing, adventuring, and domain action situations. The PC regent can be prompted (and goaded) into attending festivals and celebrations he might otherwise find dull or distracting on the pretense that he must find a suitable mate to produce an heir. Or, if the regent doesn't desire a familial heir, he can attend these events to meet and analyze the nobility of the surrounding domains, in the hopes of recruiting a trustworthy and loyal heir.

[top]Establishing the Heir

Both the player and the DM should have a hand in establishing the heir, or a few potential heirs, for a PC regent. Whether the heir is biologically related to the PC regent (a son, daughter, nephew, etc.), is someone the regent selects from a pool of likely candidates (an adventuring companion, cohort lieutenant or the like), or both, the PC regent should select the heir he wants. In doing so, he gets to set up the yardstick by which the potential heir will be measured. If the heir apparent does not have certain skills or abilities valued by the regent, he might lose his chance to inherit.

The DM may want to generate 'heir candidates' as NPCs and introduce them to the PC regent over the course of a campaign. If the candidates are the PC's own offspring, they don't actually become much of a factor until they near adventuring age, then, the regent gets to evaluate their existing abilities, skills, and personalities for himself. The most unrealistic thing about this selection process has to do with future role-playing of the heir. Ideally, the PC regent eventually steps down or dies, leaving one or more of the heir candidates the rulership of all or part of his realm. But generally the player does not retire from the BIRTHRIGHT campaign, he assumes the role of the heir, as a new PC. As a result, the heir may conform remarkably to the desires of the old regent (probably in a much smoother manner than any heir ever conformed to the desires of his predecessor in the history of any real or fictional world). But this deviation from realism in the transfer of power can be forgiven because it promotes a greater realism.

The lifespan of most role-playing characters in other settings can become astounding when finally tallied at the end of a long-term campaign. In a BIRTHRIGHT campaign, however, the passing of years is regularly measured by domain turns and carefully-marked adventures. After a while, even the players least concerned with realism might begin to ask questions about lifespans and retirement.

[top]Role-Playing the Heir

Once the heir (or candidates) reaches adventuring age, the DM should encourage the player to take him (them) on adventures, either as a cohort or lieutenant for the PC regent, or as a PC himself. This allows the player to get a feel for the new character (or characters) and develop an interest in playing what could be a drastically different character. During this transition period, the DM might find himself indulging in a little more realism. Heirs and PC regents become a little more expendable when the players get used to developing them. As a result, the adventures can become more critical and the escapes a little more narrow.

This doesn't mean the DM has a license to kill off heirs and PC regents frivolously, but they can explore more dangerous territory, knowing the player has a back-up PC he can use in a pinch. The player should endeavor to make the heir, or heirs, unique in their personalities and goals. When the player assumes the role of an heir, he should realize that the heir's interests and goals might diverge from those of the regent character he also plays, and those of any other heirs the DM may be allowing him to role-play (in most cases, however, the player should focus on one heir at a time, until the heir succeeds to the throne, gives up, or dies trying). This opportunity can provide very interesting role-playing and storyline situations for mature role-players. Playing two (or more) characters with overlapping, but not necessarily identical, interests stretches the player's abilities to the limit.

[top]DM Tips

As mentioned above, an heir becomes something of a tool for the DM. The DM can experiment with new types of adventures, keyed to the new PC's interests and abilities, while still preserving the integrity of the campaign. They can, if the story calls for it, kill off an heir without worrying about the overall campaign coming to a screeching halt. Best of all, they can help the player establish a realistic line of succession that keeps the campaign focused in the same areas even when the player wants to assume the role of a different character.

The DM should reward good role-playing of the heir by the player. Heirs of popular or powerful regents gain benefits that other starting PCs never obtain. They may have access to magical items or NPCs their successors found for them, and they probably have higher bloodline scores and perhaps even more experience than the characters that came before. If the heir isn't the offspring of an existing regent, he might even have abilities and a background foreign to the existing campaign.

[top]The Heir as PC

Eventually, the DM and/or the player will want the heir to become the full-time PC of the campaign.
This doesn't mean the old regent dies or even passes on his regency, he could become an NPC ruler and the heir could take over some of the regent's responsibilities (allowing the DM to experiment with a whole new type of campaign). Of course, the DM may have to encourage this transition. If a player has a particularly successful and interesting regent he likes to play, he won't want to give him up for a new PC at the drop of a hat.

The DM may have to offer the heir a few perks that make him seem more attractive as a candidate for full-time adventuring.

Bonus experience: Depending on how long the transition period between old regent/new heir was, the new PC might not have much experience, and the player might not want to give up the power he's already attained. The DM can award the new PC some experience points gained from studying at his predecessor's knee, though these points shouldn't boost the heir more than one complete level of
experience, and they should be rewarded for tangible things the heir has done, even if they were not completely role-played.

Trusted cohorts and lieutenants: While most regents begin the game with hirelings or followers, they seldom start with henchmen they can really trust. The heir might gain one or two fairly powerful lieutenants from his predecessor as guides and watchdogs 'to keep him out of trouble' while he learns the ropes of adventuring and/or regency.

Better magic: All regents have the option of beginning the game with a magical item. However, since the heir has a predecessor holding a lifetime's achievement in magical items, he might actually begin the game with a few more, or one more powerful item. This advantage might make him a match for some of his more powerful adventuring companions and inherited foes. Of course significant additions to a character's possessions might merit a ECL adjustment.

Adventuring companions: In some campaigns, the DM might wish to have every regent begin fostering heir candidates at the same time. However, this isn't always the case. If a low-level heir goes adventuring with a few mid-to high-level PCs, he'll learn a lot while gaining their protection and he might get a considerable amount of experience quickly.

Bonus loyalty/regency: When the heir ascends to the throne (which might not happen right away), the transition and its attendant pomp and circumstance usually boost the morale of the realm or domain he rules. Ofttimes, royal successions are cause for celebration. As a result, loyalty in most provinces should be boosted beyond normal levels, and the new regent could receive a bonus in regency for his first domain turn.

A staunch ally: If the old PC regent doesn't die or disappear, the new regent or heir apparent has a powerful and devoted ally sitting on or behind the throne. The old PC could step in at certain times (meaning the player doesn't have to retire his old character permanently), or might become a valuable NPC adviser in his own right. Either way, the new PC has advantageous resources.

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