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Tabletop Game / Birthright

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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.)

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

This setting provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Happened at Mount Deismaar after the original Gods duked it out. Their champions inherited their power.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause/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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Body Horror: Azrai's mutations are seldom pleasant.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Formed a Wild Hunt to kill humans, one Elf is known by the title Manslayer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Rhuobe 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.
  • Götterdämmerung: Mount Deismaar.
  • 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.
  • In the Blood: "Bloodlines" are the central feature.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Dragons Are Different: Avoids the color-based Dragons of regular D&D.
  • Our Elves Are Better: They're more The Fair Folk.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Most of the Awnsheghlien, such as The Gorgon or The Manticore.
  • 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.
  • 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.