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Birthright is a Dungeons & Dragons setting which attempted to put new life into the 'classical' Fantasy Europe type of setting, primarily by integrating politics and the Divine Right of Kings. Players are intended to be the rulers of large realms and receive special powers from their heritage. The backstory of the setting focuses on an ancient battle in which six of the elder gods battled their corrupt brother, Azrai. When the six gods' assembled mortal legions proved inadequate to overcome Azrai, the gods destroyed themselves in order to destroy him. The mortals fortunate enough to survive the final blast inherited shards of godhood: while a small handful absorbed enough divinity to act as new gods, far more of the mortal onlookers ('scions') gained a few fragments of divine power that manifested as supernatural abilities and, more importantly in some ways, an ability to bond with the lands over which they rule. At the same time, Azrai's scattered essence granted power - but also monstrous mutations - to a variety of people and monsters, setting the stage for the awnsheghlien (monsters with similar 'divine right' abilities.)

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A videogame adaptation, Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance, was released in 1997.


This setting provides examples of:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: Orogs consider all other races their enemies.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Tighmaevril weapons, if you can get one.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Killing an awnshegh is a good way to become one, since upon acquiring its bloodline power the slayer can get tainted.
  • Animalistic Abomination: Beast type awnsheglien are former animals who consumed scions and were mutated by the Blood they carried. Examples covered in the "Blood Enemies" sourcebook consist of the Boar (a gargantuan albino wild pig), the Hydra (a crocodile which has developed multiple limbs and a mane of tentacle-like necks topped with the screaming heads of the scions it's eaten), the Leviathan (giant carnivorous whale or sea serpent) and the Wolf (an usually large and intelligent wolf).
    • Some of the Tainted type awnsheglien have devolved into a grotesque animal-like form, most notably the Basilisk (grotesque humanoid reptile), the Chimaera (scaly, multi-armed, bat-winged panther), the Gorgon (stony-hided minotaur), the Kraken (an enormous, deformed, squid-like creature), the Seadrake (man turned into a sea serpent) and the Spider (hideous half-goblin, half-spider).
    • The Sphinx is a weird case that might fit either category; He's a scion who was killed and eaten by a lion, but who possessed his killer's body and reshaped it to have eerily human-like traits.
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    • The Serpent is a strange awnshegh that can take the form of either a man with a snake's head or a giant serpent. He suffers from a particular strong delusion of godhood, even given that scions are, technically, aspirant demigods.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Lussinam the queen of the Unseelie Court, is the daughter of the queen of the Seelie Court. She once plotted to overthrow her mother and failed, but her mother was unwilling to execute her own daughter and exiled her instead, leading to the foundation of the Unseelie Court by Lussina and her followers.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Quite simply, a bloodline gives a Blooded benefits that non-Blooded characters don't have, and they're also recognized as the upper class, usually.
  • Balkanize Me: After the death of Michael Roele, last of his line, the Anuirean Empire crumbled as power-hungry pretenders to the throne waged a continuous civil war lasting more than 70 years.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Vos are a barbaric people that demand blood for even unintentional insults and consider all professions except warrior and hunter unmanly.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: It's mentioned in "Blood Enemies" that the Sphinx, an awnshegh consisting of a human mind inside a warped, semi-human feline's body, mates with both cats and humans alike, spawning strange hybrid offspring.
  • Bequeathed Power: Blood inheritance. May work, if rarely, even on non-Blooded.
  • Big Bad: The Gorgon. He was the strongest of the evil god's followers, but was too far away from the explosion to become a god, so he ended being the most dangerous Awnshegh instead.
  • Blinded by the Light: Avani's avatar is a bright beam of sunlight that can blind those that look directly at her.
  • Body Horror: Azrai's mutations are seldom pleasant.
  • Bungled Suicide: When Garrilein Suliere found himself transforming into an awnshegh, he tried to drown himself in the sea, only to find out that he can now breathe water, which also hastened his transformation into the Seadrake.
  • Cain and Abel: Raesene, the champion of Azrai who later became the Gorgon, is the Cain to the Abel of his half-brothers, Haelyn and Roele, champions of Anduras.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Formed a Wild Hunt to kill humans, one Elf is known by the title Manslayer.
  • Changeling Tale: Shadow World faeries steal human children to raise in the Seelie Court, leaving behind an ancient fairy in the stolen child's place.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Vos would argue this applies to them. It doesn't.
    • The awnsheghlien who manage to resist Azrai's remnant will have infinitely better claim to this. It isn't easy though, and more than one awnshegh antagonist is a Tragic Monster because of it.
  • Dark World: The Shadow World is a cold, dark parallel of Cerilia that exists when night falls. Those that made their way there describe it as a cold, dark, desolate, distorted version of Cerilia. Only powerful magic can breach the veil between worlds, but it is weak in places of great evil, or in the darkest winter nights. Cerilians believe that any supernatural evil like undead and fiends hail from the Shadow World.
  • Defector from Decadence: When Azrai first came to Cerilia, the elves initially sided with him to take revenge on the humans that took their land, but later realised his evil and deserted him.
  • Deity of Human Origin: When the old gods died at Mount Deismaar, their champions inherited their powers, becoming gods themselves.
  • Divine Conflict: In the setting's Back Story the Good deities fought the Evil deity Azrai. They finally sacrificed themselves, destroying both themselves and Azrai.
  • Dragon Hoard: The Seadrake collects a toll from all ships passing through his domain. He has no practical use for the treasure, but enjoys its company and jealously protects it from thieves.
  • Ethnic God: Dwarves, goblins, gnolls, minotaurs, orogs and other races each have their own patron deities who are little known (let alone worshipped) by other races.
  • Evil Poacher: The Boar of Thuringode became an awnshegh by killing an Azrai-blooded nobleman who went into the forest to wantonly destroy trees and wildlife.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Each human nationality is even treated differently.
    • Goblins are treated as mere vermin, but some sourcebooks hint that they were once a civilized and noble people in their own right, long before humans colonized their lands.
    • Humans and elves fight quite bitterly, with many elves hating humans for their perceived ravaging of the forests. The Wild Hunt exists on Cerilia as essentially an anti-human hate group, a militant faction of elves dedicated to driving off or exterminating all humans. One of the awnsheghlien, is Rhuobhe Manslayer, also called "The Elf", who was one of the founders of the Wild Hunt and still harries humanity to its extinction today.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Anuireans, Khinasi, Brecht, Rjurik and Vos are respectively Anglo-Saxon Romans, Turkish Persian Arabs, the Hanseatic League, Vikings and Kislevite Russians.
  • Fisher King: The land tends to mirror whoever is ruling it. A just ruler will result in their land being fair and just in result, while a despotic or underhanded ruler will see their realm turn inhospitable. Should a ruler have their bloodline severed, the land will often enter a period of dramatic decline, suffering droughts and natural disasters.
  • Full-Boar Action: The awnshegh known as the Boar of Thuringode is a white boar of unusual size, ferocity and constitution.
  • Glory Seeker: Cuiraécen is the patron of young warriors who plunge into battle in search of personal glory.
  • God Couple: Couples among the gods include Haelyn and Nesirie; Sera and Ruornil; Erik and Avani.
  • God's Hands Are Tied: After Deismaar, the new gods agreed to avoid direct interference in the world to prevent a repeat. This is why the Gorgon, rather than the new evil gods, is the Big Bad.
  • Götterdämmerung: Mount Deismaar.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Half-elves are the offspring of the unions between elves and the rare humans that get accepted by them. Elves view them as Sidhelien and welcome them fully, while humans usually distrust them.
  • Hegemonic Empire: After the battle of Mount Deismaar, Roele, champion of the old god Anduras and brother of the new god Haelyn, founded an empire by defeating the local Anuirean petty kings as well as the Brechts and Basarji. He and his descendants did a good job ruling it until his line failed and the empire crumbled with it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the battle of Mount Deismaar, the old gods gave their own lives in the hope of stopping Azrai.
  • Horned Humanoid: The Gorgon appears as a stony skinned humanoid with horns atop his massive head.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Quite literally, a hero attempting to slay an awnshegh may end up getting overwhelmed by the evil power in the monster's bloodline and become just as tainted.
  • Immortality Seeker: Danita Kusor sought to discover the secrets of immortality and eternal youth during her mortal life before she became the Chimaera.
  • In the Blood: "Bloodlines" are the central feature.
  • Invading Refugees: The original humans who came to Cerilia from Aduria did that to flee the shadow of Azrai in Aduria, displacing the native elves in the process.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Justina Heulough's normal self is that of a kind, sweet, just leader. When she sleeps, the Banshegh, her dark self which closely resembles her face and form, separates from her corporeal body to haunt her domain. Justina doesn't know that she is an awnshegh, denies all the evidence and even puts a bounty on the head of the Banshegh. It is unknown if the Banshegh is a malevolent invader or a manifestation of Justina's spirit.
  • King in the Mountain: Several hundred years ago, a Brecht invasion into Vosgaard was stopped by the Tsarevic Basil Zariyatam, who formed a short-lived Vos Federation. He was destroyed along with his army and the invaders in a bloody battle on the frozen surface of Lake Ladan, but the Vos whisper that he's sleeping under the lake, waiting until he's needed again.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Malik el-Badr, father of Bali el-Badr, wanted his son to become a proud, beautiful, loved leader exactly like him. Bali, however, only wanted to be left alone to his studies and rebelled by sowing discord, malice and worry, eventually becoming the Basilisk.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: The Seadrake is a 50-foot-long serpentine awnshegh capable of breathing both water and air that patrols the Straits of Aerele and preys on sharks and whales.
  • Ley Line: Domain-based magic rules include these.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: The campaign themed itself on allowing Players to run PCs who ruled a domain (country, temple, guilds), which required more rules.
  • The Lost Woods: After the elves lost their war against the invading humans from Aduria, they retreated to the forests, concentrating their efforts on protecting their borders against any invading humans. Those that try never return, and humans are advised to stay well away from elven woods.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: The awnshegh known as the Siren has the unique Bloodline power of a super-destructive voice that can annihilate whatever is around her when she speaks. Unfortunately for her, she's both incapable of turning it off and a good person at heart.
  • Meaningful Name: As the PCs are often rulers with a ancestral bloodline, or birthright.
  • Might Makes Right: Belinik teaches that might makes right; strength and savagery are all that a warrior needs.
  • Mirror World: The Shadow World, same as the real one, except inhabited by the dead.
  • Monster Progenitor: Many awnsheghlien.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Portmantitle because it's a compound word.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Yep. The dwarves of Cerilia are the classic strong, enduring, hard-working people who live in mountain-based clans and excel at mining.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Unlike in normal Dungeons & Dragons, Cerilian dragons are all part of the same species. Fewer than two dozen have been ever known to exist, and perhaps only half a dozen are still alive, all of them unique. Dragons are neutral and only want to be left alone in their homes, high in the Drachenaurs.
  • Our Elves Are Better: They're more The Fair Folk.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Cerilian giants are elemental creatures tied closely to the earth. Stone, hill, forest and mountain giants are usually solitary, reclusive and only attack those that trespass or build settlements in their territory, while the northern ice giants and fhoimorien are more dangerous and frequently raid.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Mechanically the standard D&D divisions of goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears still exist; culturally and visually there's only one race of goblins that happens to come in three different sizes.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Many monsters that are common Mooks in regular D&D are unique villains called Awnsheghlien or Blood Abominations. (Examples: The Gorgon, the Hag, the Manticore.) They often spawn mook versions as well. While other Bloodlines are less contagious, they are also known to "enhance" normal animals: "Bloodhounds" descended from war-dogs who got spilled power can detect Shadow creatures and tend to be very smart, loyal and strong. Wild dogs with the bloodline of a war-god become natural leaders in their packs just like humans do, and can be really nasty critters — or legitimate bloodtheft fodder, for those who can pull this.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They call them Orogs.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The vampire is a blood abomination who used to be a heroic nobleman, but stabbed a previous blood abomination in the heart and got his bloodline.
  • Portmantitle: Also a One-Word Title.
  • Power Parasite: Some of the raw bloodline strength, sometimes along with abilities, can be stolen by killing its carrier in specific ways. Blood Abominations tend to be very, very powerful because they frequently choose bloodtheft as the road to power and actively seek it — by the time people knows of them, they usually already have slaughtered and drained lots of "blooded" folk.
  • Proud Merchant Race: The Brechts model their lives according to the ideals of their patron Sera, goddess of commerce. The highest caste in Brecht society is the merchant, and many sailors give their lives in their aspiration to become one.
  • Rasputinian Death: Invoked; a Bloodline power called Invulnerability, carried through the Bloodlines of Azrai, Basaia, and Vorynn, makes it impossible for the possessor to die unless certain ritual steps are completed first. Otherwise the "dead" body will slowly regenerate itself, even to the point of From a Single Cell, until the scion comes back to life. Many of the more prominent awnsheghlien possess this trait, but not all of them; "Blood Enemies" lists its possessors as the Apocalypse, the Banshegh, the Basilisk, the Boar, the Hydra, the Magian, the Raven and the Spider. Ironically, the most famous of all awnsheghlien, the Gorgon, lacks this ability. Further complicating matters, almost all of these awnsheghlien don't have their method of destruction described in "Blood Enemies"; only two have a canonical means of death:
    • The Boar will only perish if decapitated and its tusks are pulled out.
    • The Spider can only die if he is chopped into bits, those bits are then burned for a day on a fire fed with wood taken from the tree of a dryad, and the resultant ashes are then plowed into the earth with a large amount of salt.
  • Savage Wolves: Cwm annwn are enormous, elf-hunting supernatural dogs that come from the Shadow World, and they are the reason for the elves' ancestral fear of the Shadow World.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The name of an awnshegh can be distinguised from the servants they created by the presence of the definite article. Killing a hydra is nothing like killing the Hydra.
  • The Theocracy: The island kingdom of Ghamoura is ruled by the High Priest of Nasri, with lesser priests serving the roles of military officers and bureaucrats.
  • Unobtainium: Tighmaevril, also called Bloodsilver, is a very, very rare ore created from the blood of the gods. It was used by the elven wizard Ghoigwnnwd to create twelve (probably) of the most powerful weapons known.
  • Was Once a Man: Many awnsheghlien used to be humans until transformed by Azrai's dark power in their veins.
  • Weakened by the Light: Orogs are an underground-dwelling race and are nearly helpless in sunlight.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Kill one of the Blooded by violence, and his spilled power will be inherited by anyone in the vicinity of his death. Kill him with tighmaevril, or by piercing him intentionally through the heart, and you get it all. But since a bloodline may dominate equal or weaker one, the killer sometimes get more changes than just power. Which is one of reasons why Awnsheghlien are hard to eliminate: those who slay one without being more powerful as scions frequently end up tainted by its bloodline, possibly producing several unwilling "heirs" from one killing, eventually turning into new overpowered monsters.


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