User:Witness3's Diplomacy house rules

[="House Rules"]House Rules[/] » []Witness3's Diplomacy house rules[/]

House Rule

Hello! These house rules I wrote to help face certain issues I had when facing diplomacy as a DM in my first birthright experience years ago. The issue I've faced was that diplomacy, as it is explained, was always too simple or too complex to handle diplomatic situations, but having different approaches always seemed unfair, especially if you are playing as much as RAW as possible. Here is a quick summary of the issues I've tried to answer with these rules, if you found yourself in one of those issues, this page may be of help.

  • Sometimes a simple check seems too much, sometimes it isn't enough;
  • Roleplaying diplomacy may get unfair in terms of domain play (GB/RP);
  • When it is enough? When a state will say "yes" to annexion?
  • Who loses the action? How come they don't lose the action both?
  • Do I really need a whole month to ask for permission to enter a region?

NOTE a full, updated version of these rules may be found in my domain system approach in the C&C conversion book. The version presented here is 2E-3E compliant.

[top]Diplomacy levels

This was heavily inspired by the Gorgon's Alliance videogame. Basically, you have diplomacy levels just like you have province loyalty. The levels of diplomatic relationship are unique to each relationship between realms: If the level between two realms improves, it improves for both. If one kingdom declares war on the other, for example, the relationship automatically switches to enemies for both.

Diplomatic relationships define what you can ask or demand to another domain. Relationships may be established between any domain and realms, and so on. Bloodline strength plays a factor here as you will be required a high lineage to gain vassals - who would bend the knee on a lesser noble?

Actions in favorBidding involvment
-2EnemyNoneAlways against
-1TenseOnly by negotiationsagainst if convenient
0Indifferentyes if it's convenientonly in support of other friends
1Friendsyes if it doesn't hurtin favor if convenient
2Allieswill do sacrificesin favor if possible
3VassalAlwaysAlways in favor

  • ENEMY: Your domain and the other domain are at war. Cease fire or truce are the only thing negotiable. They will oppose the regent in any way possible, and grant nothing. You cannot have embassies, and reaching this level will trigger a contest action (either contest holding or contest trade route) towards the embassy.
  • TENSE: No open war, but there is no trust either. They will not grant a regent passage for his troops, for example, nor they allow easily any holding growth there. They may oppose building an embassy; a tense holding domain requires a negotiation to do an action, some guarantee or a truce.
  • INDIFFERENT: There is no previous relationships between the realms. Negotiations will play a big factor here in both concessions and denials. A diplomatic request will be accepted provided they have nothing better to do and it’s worth their while.
  • FRIENDS: There is a bound between the two domains. You may forge long-term treaties and agreements, but do not expect them to honor them if your lineage is less than 2 degrees from
    theirs (i.e. tainted vs major, or minor vs great). Friend domains usually agree to do actions for you if those do not go against their own alignment or interests.
  • ALLIES: An ally domain works with you toward a common goal. They will usually grant free passage of troops, and may be expected to help you in war. You must be no more than 1 degree less in lineage to expect them to honor their part of any agreements. Allied domains may accept more risks that friend domains, so they may be willing to sacrifice their standard action for a greater good.
  • VASSAL: Vassalage in birthright is a special bound by blood and divine magic, along with a series of benefits and duties. A vassal never betrays his sire, under penalty of being accused of treason. A sire who neglets his vassals may face consequences such as rebellion or betrayals from the people closest to him.

Relationships should be decided at start by the DM, keeping an eye with the Lore. If no special relationship is mentioned, "indifferent" is the starting default level. Improvement may be done via the Improve relationship action (see below), a normal diplomacy check or certain quests or negotiations. A treaty with a vassal becomes binding only when an Invenstiture ceremony is held.

Alas, ruining relationships is much easier. Failing to honor a binding contract, refusing to perform an action, or violating the other's domain rights will lower by 1 level the relationship. This may happen once per turn. If aggressive acts such as conspiracies or war are performed against a realm, the relationship immediately drops to Enemies even if it has already dropped for the turn.

[top]Vassal classes

To win the alliance of a domain, you must be at least of the same bloodline strength of the target domain and be allied in diplomatic relationships. The nature of the vassalage will depend on the domain definition (holding, lands, etc).

  • VASSAL STATES Will usually forfeit one or more of their own rights to the ruler, with the exception of the province investiture. A ruler may find easier to take a fixed income in RP or GB. Such states usually forfeits or share their military rights – after all it’s protection what they are usually after.

  • STATE RELIGION: A special agreement exists between the realm and the church. The church recognizes the king’s claim of power as rightful, but in doing so the church puts itself in a situation where the church itself grants the right to the king, via divine providence. a Grant that may be always taken away, should the king sway from the righteous path drawn by the high prelates. A loyal state religion will always perform rituals and spells in defense of thekingdom, and expect their faithful to be protected by the king in return.

  • ROYAL GUILDS are a special guild vassal. By forfeiting their regency and treasury, they become one and only with the realm regent. The royal guild finances the regent’s army and ambitions, while the realm regents’ ensure the guild’s monopoly over his realm. You may elect to have RP and GB separated, however any finance action between royal guilds and realms should be considered free actions (as in: no need for a court action).

  • COURT WIZARDS: Wizard lines rarely are able to keep their income stable. Magic research is always too expensive and the wizard regent may often be required to choose between running adventures to keep the finances and staying in his tower to work on some domain spell. Most court wizards require a small tribute in gold or regency in exchange for intel, and full commitment either on defending the realm or attacking other realms, depending on their alignment.

[top]New actions

The following actions expand and may even replace the regular Diplomacy action. Note that benefits from Embassies (3E) or free Diplomacy actions should extend to these actions too.

[top]Negotiations [Standard;Diplomacy; 1GB]

This actions is used when full depth diplomacy actions are required. A full diplomatic commission is formed and sent to the target capital, to discuss diplomatic matters. An embassy will allow a court action instead.

The regent's diplomatic expedition shows with a series of demands, and may also suggest some counter-demands if they wish so - they are not binding. The target's regent (or court) must decide if they send the expedition away right now or change the terms. If they send the expedition right away, no action is performed and the GB returns to the regent (unless we are talking evil domains).

After that, each round, each side may spend 2 RP and either a) change a demand (either side) b) add a new term , c) remove a term at all or d) accept the deal. This goes on until both parties agree on the terms.

At any moment after the first round, should anyone want to forfeit, they may do so - the negotiation is not binding until they both agree. Any regency spent is lost and the action is considered performed even on a failure.

Countering the negotiation: Anyone with a presence in the capital province may try to stop the negotiations from happening. The mechanic is the same as the original Diplomacy action with a DC of 15 - the diplomatic level between the two.

Negotiations as players: Should two regents start a diplomatic discussion, outside the ufficial channels, you may require they nevertheless follow the action mechanic. Diplomacy based only on roleplay may be ruled as a simple promise, without any real binding. It's up to the DM.

[top]Behind the courtain: what is most valued in life?

NATURE You can put on the negotiation plate offers of this nature: military (anything that involves the army), political (province rights, attitude towards other domains and/or management of actions), commercial (spending or purchase of assets or GB), heraldic or dynastic (investitures and titles, negotiations concerning RPs or blood points, marriages, recognition of a title or a right).

GESTURE beyond the nature of the request/offer, the kind of gesture is also important. A designation is full-time. A concession is basically a loan, while a permission is a guarantee of neutrality. A partnership is the guarantee that your domain will actively participate.

TABLE: Hierarchy of values by human culture, from highest to lowest


[top]Request [Character/Free]

A messenger is sent to the king to ask for a simple matter, urging a simple response. Nothing can be sent in gift and no negotiation may happen.

The target recipient must answer either yes or no. Anything more will require a negotiation or a diplomacy check.

[top]Improve Relationships [Standard;Diplomacy;1GB]

This works exactly as the Diplomacy action in mechanics, with one exception: upon a success, the relationship between the regent and the target domain is improved by 1 level.

No more than 1 level per season may be improved this way, no matter who performs the action.

Note that reaching The vassal status this way is binding only via Investiture. The relationship is handled as Allies until such ceremony is performed.

[top]An example at play

Let's say we are playing the Black Baroness of Roesone.

Peaceful seas of NesirieFriends
Impregnable Hearth of HaelynState Religion

Now, Roesone is fearing Ghoere is up to some of the usual shenanigans and wants to press from the north to conquer the northern roesonian provinces.

[top]Requests to diplomacy

Roesone asks Kalien for Espionage help. The Baroness starts with a simple Request action. Kalien is indifferent, so it needs something in return.

The DM rules that Kalien is interested in GB only, so the normal Diplomacy standard action can be used.


Roesone then asks Aerenwe for military support. A negotiation is required even if they are allies because some limits must be defined. Luckily, Roesone has an embassy there, so this will require just a court action.

Round 1: Roesone proposes unlimited military aid if the realm is attacked. Queen Liliene of Aerenwe change this to "Limited military aid if Aerenwe is attacked too". This does not sue the barones needs, so the negotiation will start.

Round 2: The baroness spends 2 RP and changes to "Limited military aid no matter who gets attacked". Liliene spends 2 RP too to add "The requester pays 5 GB per season to support this expense no matter what".

Round 3: Marlae of Roesone spends 2 RP to change the second term: The requester will cover 40% of the expenses for the military aid. Liliene agrees, but Marlae has yet to agree.

Round 4: Marlae agrees, but then Liliene has a change of hearth! She spends 2 RP and adds: "Payment over 5 GB will be split into annual rates of 5 GB each, no interest".

Round 5: They both agree.

The final, binding treaty will be:

1. Limited military aid from the other no matter who gets attacked;
2. The requester of such aid will cover 40% of the military expenses;
3. Payment over 5 GB will result into 5 GB annual rates with no interest.

[top]Improve relationships

Now, Kalien returns with results: Ghoere is indeed moving the troops at his southern border! Marlae needs as many friends as she can. The wizard of Ilien may be a useful resource, but Aglondier must be convinced that Ghoere is a threat to everybody - Marlae cannot afford to spend time in negotiations under war. She decides to improve relationships with Ilien.

The bidding war goes unopposed - Marlae is friend with the sisters of Nesirie who do not interfere in such matters. Relationship between Roesone and Ilien is now Friends. Roesone has a new potential resource, not an ally yet.

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