An overview of TSR's most challenging AD&D(R) game world Adapted for play in the World of Vazaron
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Dark clouds gather over the war-torn lands. Armies march to battle once again, answering the ancient call to arms. The banners of noble houses flutter raggedly before the onslaught; some will fall, but others will weather the storm. Across the ruined empires of Vazaron, the dogs of war are let loose. Somewhere on a muddy battlefield, a common man becomes a hero--and a hero becomes a king.
The BIRTHRIGHT(TM) campaign is like no other AD&D(R) setting ever seen. In this setting, the player characters are kings and nobles, prelates and guildmasters, great wizards and royal heralds. They're the leaders of their own kingdoms and domains, wielding the power to wage war or seek peace. At their command, armies march and kingdoms fall.
Most characters in the BIRTHRIGHT campaign are descended from heroes of old. These ancient heritages are called bloodlines. Scions of the bloodlines are gifted with abilities beyond those granted to the common folk of Vazaron, and over hundreds of years they've naturally risen to positions of power. There is some quality of kingship, an aura or divine right, that calls to the ancient blood; most of Vazaron's rulers are blooded scions.
Bloodlines wax and wane in strength with the quality of a king's rule. Hundreds have been extinguished since the earth-shaking wars that shaped modern Vazaron, while others have risen in prominence and power. There are also bloodlines of evil in Vazaron, descended from the forces of darkness that besieged the land in the dawn of history. These powerful adversaries are known as the awnsheghlien (aun-SHEY-lin), an Elven word meaning "Blood of Darkness."
Bloodline: A character's bloodline is his heritage of divine power, created long ago when certain heroes were imbued with the essence of gods during a titanic battle with evil. Bloodlines are described by strength and derivation; many characters command unique blood abilities, supernatural powers given only to scions of the ancient lines.
Domain: A domain is a kingdom, guild, temple, or magical dominion controlled by a character. Any blooded scion who rules a domain is known as a regent; he accumulates Regency Points (RP) based on the strength of his domain and the success of his rule. Domains are composed of provinces, or physical territories, and various types of holdings found within provinces.
Domain Turn: The Domain Turn is a three-month period of game time, divided into one-month Action Rounds. During the Domain Turn, regents collect taxes, raise armies, and engage in political or military actions to lead their domains to prosperity and power.
Regency: Regency is the mystical aura of command and presence that surrounds the blooded rulers of domains. It is measured in game terms by a character's Regency Point score. Naturally, only regents--characters who rule domains--accumulate regency.
There are more fighter regents than there are regents of any other class. Since they don't gain any special benefit for controlling temples, guilds, or magic, blooded fighters often set out to expand their kingdoms by main force.
Vazaron is a magical land, and a mage with both the right and the knowledge can create wonders and terrors with the power the land provides her. But true mages and high sorcery are quite rare in the BIRTHRIGHT campaign, and each one is a figure of mystery and destiny. In all of Vazaron, there aren't more than 10 to 15 score true mages, and less than half that number are actually regents capable of wielding realm magic.
Vazaron mages recognize three orders of magic: lesser magik, true magic, and realm magick (Note the spellings of each of them). Any person of sufficient intelligence and training can comprehend lesser magik--the art of creating illusions and casting divinations. True magic includes all other schools of wizardry, but only elves, half-elves, or scions of the blood can command its arcane power.
The most powerful enchantments are known as realm magick; they are woven from the power of the land itself. Only regents may use these spells, since a wizard who dared to cast such a spell without the energy provided by a sorcerous domain would destroy herself utterly.
You can choose for your character to begin play as either a commoner or as a scion of one of the ancient bloodlines. Only blooded characters can become regents and rule their own domains, but there are also hundreds of blooded characters who don't run kingdoms. These scions are cousins, second or third heirs, or other relations who aren't in danger of suddenly becoming the ruler.
If your character has a common origin, she isn't automatically a peasant just because she doesn't possess an ancient bloodline. She can come from any level of society. In fact, there are great numbers of high-born nobles, courtiers, advisors, and government officials with mundane heritages. There are two good reasons to play a common character: first, the character won't have the additional responsibilities of running a kingdom; secondly, it's fun to role-play a squire, advisor, or captain in the service of another player character.
Blood abilities gained by characters include these: Alertness, Alter Appearance, Animal Affinity, Battlewise, Blood History, Bloodmark, Character Reading, Courage, Detect Lie, Detect Illusion, Direction Sense, Divine Aura, Divine Wrath, Elemental Control, Enhanced Sense, Fear, Healing, Heightened Ability, Iron Will, Persuasion, Poison Sense, Protection from Evil, Regeneration, Resistance, Shadow-form, Touch of Decay, Travel, Unreadable Thoughts.
While many scions and awnsheghlien wander Vazaron with noble heritages and potent blood abilities, their powers have little significance without a domain of their own. Blooded characters who control kingdoms are blessed with a mystical connection to the land, a right to rule that infuses them with supernatural power and responsibility.
No one knows for certain how this bond between ruler and domain comes to pass, but it's thought that it might have something to do with the power of confidence and belief--in effect, the power of the ruler is derived from the fealty of his subjects. Something in the semi-divine blood of a noble scion responds to the allegiance of the character's followers in the same way that a true divinity gains strength from worshipers.
Kings and nobles aren't the only rulers blessed with this mystic ability. Charismatic priests derive the same kind of power from the confidence of the people who follow their faith. Merchant-princes and guildmasters enjoy the confidence of those who work for them or pay them tribute. And even wizards gain power from the recognition of the masses.
Because there are as many different types of ruler as there are rulers, the people of Vazaron simply refer to these characters as regents. In this sense of the word, they're stewards of power who hold the trust of the people and responsibility for the land. The mystic power that regents derive from their stewardship is known as divine right, karma, or nobility--but it's most often called regency.
In game terms, regency is measured by a score of Regency Points (RP), just like hit points or bloodline strength. Only regents can amass a Regency Point score. Blooded scions who choose not to rule kingdoms never gain Regency Points, nor do common characters without a divine bloodline. The ruler's Regency Points can be used to increase the power of his or her bloodline (possibly gaining new blood abilities) or to increase the success of various domain actions.
When two blooded scions meet in battle and one falls, his slayer gains a part of his bloodline power. The scions of Vazaron discovered this unpleasant fact after many deaths. The betrayals and feuds of Vazaron's scions have fueled more than a thousand years of ceaseless war.
In the BIRTHRIGHT campaign setting, each player can choose to play a regent--a character who rules his own domain. He can be the lord of a kingdom or barony, the patriarch of a temple, the leader of a thieves' guild, or a master of the magical arts. Whatever his position, he's powerful and influential; his actions affect the shape of the world and the direction of the campaign.
Regency is the mystical power associated with blooded rulers and leaders. It's a blend of nobility, honor, and kismet that a true king carries like an invisible crown. If a character rules well and exemplifies the qualities of his alignment, his regency is strong--an unseen aura of power that helps him to do things that lesser mortals couldn't even contemplate. But if a king rules poorly, his regency dissipates.
Not every character is a king. You can decide if your character is a ruler, or free of the crown's burden. This means that there are three types of characters in a BIRTHRIGHT campaign: regents, blooded scions, and unblooded adventurers or commoners.
Regents are blooded characters who hold domains of any kind. Domains can be kingdoms, guild networks, temple sects, or collections of magical power. If you wish, your character has a title such as king, duke, count, prince, patriarch, guildmaster, or whatever. Regents accumulate Regency Points by controlling domains, and their bloodline strengths may change with successful reigns.
Scions or blooded characters are descended from one of Vazaron's heroic bloodlines. A blooded character may be a relation of a regent or part of a bloodline that doesn't hold any domain. Scions have a bloodline, but since they don't hold a domain they don't accumulate regency points--if they held a domain, they'd be regents.
Unblooded characters make up 99% of Vazaron's population. For every blooded king, there's a whole court full of advisors, servants, guards, and attendants. Some of these personages can be skilled adventurers. Unblooded characters don't have a bloodline (obviously), and cannot be regents.
The Basics of Rulership
The Basics of Rulership
Domains take many forms. Typically, a domain is associated with the class of the character who stands as its regent. Warriors are usually titled nobles who rule nations. Priests control clerical hierarchies and occasionally hold lands under theocratic rule. Thieves control the guilds and underworlds of their domain, and wizards' domains are any place where they have magical influence. A ranger or druid might not govern at all, but rely on networks of allies and contacts.
A character's domain consists of the provinces he rules, holdings in his own provinces, and holdings in provinces ruled by other characters. While provinces are the most important component of a domain, the character's armies and alliances are also critical to his success as a regent.
Guilds are usually the building blocks of thief domains, although any kind of regent may control a guild holding. In Vazaron, hundreds of craftsman guilds and merchant companies control trade. A regent who controls a guild is either a merchant prince, an investor, or an underworld figure.
Law holdings are most important to warriors, who are usually titled rulers. They reflect the ruler's ability to control a province and the loyalty of his government servants, including bureaucrats and constables.
Sources are magical holdings, representing the magical power of the province. Untouched land holds the most magical power, as the clearing or altering of the land weakens the natural forces of the area. Unlike the other kinds of holdings, only wizards may control sources. A wizard must control a source in order to cast realm spells.
Temple holdings are monasteries, shrines, temples, or cathedrals of the character's faith. Naturally, they're vital to priest characters. Temple holdings can be controlled by any regent character, but priests can use temple holdings to cast realm spells.
The Domain Turn
The Domain Turn
Each Domain Turn, the regents involved must determine the state of their nation, the resources they have available, and whether or not any unusual events have developed that require their attention. Once the domains have been updated, both PC and NPC regents will probably have a variety of actions they'll want to take with their domains (see below).
Random events for domains include many challenges, such as these: Blood Challenge, Assassination, Festival, Feud, Natural Event, Diplomatic Matter, Corruption/Crime, Monsters, Brigandage, Trade Matter, Intrigue, Unrest, Revolt, Justice Matter, Heresy, or Magical Event.
Players are free to discuss any plans or issues they wish to before the Action Rounds begin, but unless their characters are actually in the same place, it's assumed that these conversations are taking place through routine messengers. These messages can be intercepted by means of a successful Espionage action. Therefore, any time the players are discussing something by messenger, the DM can ask them to reveal what they were planning or discussing.
Communicating routine threats, offers, or remarks to NPC regents doesn't require the use of the Diplomacy Action, but if the player wishes to role-play the diplomatic encounter or try to force a concession from the other party, he'll have to use an Action to perform Diplomacy. Similarly, if a player receives a routine communication, he can make a brief response--i.e., accepting or declining a proposal--without forfeiting an action.
Typical domain actions for regents include the following:
|Adventure||Char||None||Varies||The character takes part in an adventure.|
|Agitate||Dom||1 GB, RP||10+||Increases or decreases target province loyalty one grade. Priest regents may do this once per turn as a free action.|
|Build||Free||Varies||5+||Builds roads, bridges, etc. Cost varies; 10 MP of road costs 1 GB.|
|Contest||Dom||1 RP||10+||Contests a holding or province; target provides no gold or regency until Ruled.|
|Create Holding||Dom||1 GB||10+||Creates a holding (0) in an eligible province.|
|Declare War||Dom||None||Auto||Allows regent to move armies into foreign domains.|
|Decree||Free||1 GB||Varies||Issues a decree with several possible results.|
|Diplomacy||Dom||1 GB||10+||Creates or breaks alliance, opens trade agreement, forces concessions, etc.|
|Disband||Free||None||Auto||Character disbands army units or holdings.|
|Espionage||Dom||1 GB||Special||Reveals troop movements/ positions, investigates plots or intrigues, launches assassinations, etc. Thief regents get one free Espionage action per turn.|
|Finances||Free||None||Auto||Character converts Gold Bars to/from personal wealth, takes out loan, or sells off assets.|
|Fortify||Dom||1 GB||10+||Creates or enhances castle or fortifies a holding.|
|Grant||Free||Varies||Varies||Character dispenses largesse, titles, or patronage. Variable effects and cost.|
|Hold Action||Free||1 GB||Varies||Delays action until later in the Action round.|
|Investiture||Dom||Varies||Auto/10+||Arranges transfer of domain, regency, or bloodline. Requires the use of a priest realm spell.|
|Lieutenant||Char||None||Varies||Creates a lieutenant for regent's domain.|
|Ley Line||Dom||1 GB, RP||5+||Wizard regent forges ley line between two provinces.|
|Move Troops||Free||Special||Auto/5+||: Relocates troops within domain. Troops can't enter provinces not ruled by regent.|
|Muster Troops||Free||Varies||Auto||Creates new army units. Cost varies with unit type.|
|Ply Trade||Char||None||Special||Character uses personal skills to make a living.|
|Realm Spell||Dom||Varies||Special||Priest or wizard regent casts realm spell.|
|Research||Char||1 GB+||Special||Priest or wizard performs spell research or creates a magical item.|
|Rule||Dom||Varies||10+||Regent increases level of province or holding.|
|Trade Route||Dom||1 GB, RP||10+||Regent creates a trade route.|
|Char||Varies||Special||trains for level advancement, improves proficiency scores, or gains 1 hp.|
The awnsheghlien (aun-SHAY-lin) are the monstrous inheritors of evil bloodlines, just as the player characters and most of their neighbors are heroic scions of good bloodlines. Some of the awnsheghlien have survived for many ages (1,500+ years). Others came into their power much later. Whatever their origin, the awnsheghlien are the greatest danger facing Vazaron today.
Many of the awnsheghlien were once human, but the dark power running in their veins has warped and transformed them. The Devil and Sarin the Dark are good examples. To some degree, the power seems to create an outward shape or form that matches the awnshegh's blighted spirit. This dark power is as much a curse as it is a reward; most awnsheghlien are tortured creatures, despising themselves as much as they do others.
Some of the awnsheghlien were monsters who served in Kitharzi's armies. The Lord of the Dead and Sarin the Dark are examples of these. In the years since, they have become even more monstrous. Others such as the Devil or the Great Hive Mother (Beholder) came into their dark power through misfortune or accident. And from time to time, new awnsheghlien are created when bloodlines tainted by Kitharzi's derivation happen to breed true.
An awnshegh doesn't always conform to the standard AD&D version of the monster. They are not necessarily creature described in the MONSTROUS MANUAL(TM) tome. Since they were once great warrior and wizards, they are often skilled in the use of most weapons and specialized in their favorites.
Some awnsheghlien have created life, servants that reflect the awnshegh's name. Those who would fight the awnsheghlien should be aware that killing a devil is nothing like killing the Devil.
To some degree, the physical enhancement of the awnsheghlien are their blood abilities. The manifestations of divine heritage are different for monsters than they are for heroes. However, any awnshegh might possess blood abilities commonly associated with heroic lines.
A number of powerful awnsheghlien control domains as regents do. Most are considered to be Warriors for purposes of collecting regency and running a domain, but there are representatives of other classes as well. The awnshegh use their kingdoms to increase their own bloodline power, trying to find lesser lines to absorb or simply investing themselves with Regency Points whenever they can. However, a few with more patience and cunning pursue a campaign of slow expansion, building their strength for future conflicts.
Here is a complete list of all the Awnsheghlien of Vazaron:
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