Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Across the ruined empires of Cerilia, the dogs of war are let loose. Somewhere on a muddy battlefield, a common man becomes a hero - and a hero becomes a king.

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Big Mac
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Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by Big Mac » Thu May 24, 2018 5:10 pm

In Dungeons & Dragons there are several subraces of dwarves, and the dwarves worship a pantheon known as the Morndinsamman.

But that does not hold true for all campaign settings.

Dragonlance removes the dwarven god and Forgotten Realms swaps out the dwarven subraces and introduces it's own ones.

But how does Birthright deal with dwarves?

What is generic and similar to other campaign settings?

What is different from other campaign settings?
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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by The Dark » Fri May 25, 2018 2:17 am

Like standard dwarves, they're non-magical and get the saving bonuses and magic resistance. They also have the usual mining abilities and have 90' infravision. However, they don't have any attack bonuses against monsters or bonuses against giants, but orogs and ogres are -2 to hit dwarves. They take only half damage from crushing or bludgeoning, and their strength is considered 4 points higher for encumbrance.

Stat-wise, rather than the +1 Con, -1 Cha of a standard dwarf, a Birthright dwarf gets +2 Con, -2 Dex. Racial ability requirements are a bit different, requiring 13 in Str and Con rather than 8 and 11. Like normal dwarves, Birthright dwarves can reach level 15 as fighters, but they're better at clerical magic (priest 12 instead of 10) and worse as thieves (level 8 instead of 12). They have the same multi-class options as standard dwarves, so fighter/priest becomes a better option for them. They also have a back door to illusion magic by being a Priest of Ruornil, who gets spell abilities of a magician of half their level.

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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by NPCDave » Wed May 30, 2018 9:23 pm

To supplement what Dark has said...

Fluffwise, Birthright dwarves are not wholly flesh and blood, they are partially creatures of the element of the Earth. Thus they weigh more than humans of much larger size because their physical density is greater than pure flesh and blood. Thus the special rules about damage and encumbrance.

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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm

Thanks The Dark.

That's a great overview that establishes that standard dwarves can't be used.
NPCDave wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 9:23 pm
Fluffwise, Birthright dwarves are not wholly flesh and blood, they are partially creatures of the element of the Earth. Thus they weigh more than humans of much larger size because their physical density is greater than pure flesh and blood. Thus the special rules about damage and encumbrance.
Wow! What The Dark said is interesting, but this is very exciting.

How tied into the backstory of the campaign setting is this?

Do they make it a throwaway "our elves are different" thing or are there a lot of entries in the Birthright timeline that explain the origin story of the dwarves?
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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by agathokles » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:51 pm

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm
Wow! What The Dark said is interesting, but this is very exciting.

How tied into the backstory of the campaign setting is this?

Do they make it a throwaway "our elves are different" thing or are there a lot of entries in the Birthright timeline that explain the origin story of the dwarves?
According to the dwarven creation myth, they were created by Moradin from a wondrous greenish-silver meal he discovered in the lands of Kuldarzik (Cerilia, the main continent of Aebrynis). Moradin then used gems to fashion the first dwarf's heart, and clay, sand, and silt to fashion his flesh, and obsidian for the eyes. He then created a total of 8 dwarves, and used fire, lightning and rain to give them life. The dwarves appeared in the continent more than 3000 years before the dwarves, and only started recording a written history around the time of the humans' arrival.

Note that cerilian dwarves can eat rocks and earth, if nothing else is available. On the other hand, they don't digest milk and seeds, and have problems digesting fowl, bread, honey, corn and some fruits. Pigs and eggs are taboo.

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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 18, 2018 12:51 am

agathokles wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:51 pm
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm
Wow! What The Dark said is interesting, but this is very exciting.

How tied into the backstory of the campaign setting is this?

Do they make it a throwaway "our elves are different" thing or are there a lot of entries in the Birthright timeline that explain the origin story of the dwarves?
According to the dwarven creation myth, they were created by Moradin from a wondrous greenish-silver meal he discovered in the lands of Kuldarzik (Cerilia, the main continent of Aebrynis). Moradin then used gems to fashion the first dwarf's heart, and clay, sand, and silt to fashion his flesh, and obsidian for the eyes. He then created a total of 8 dwarves, and used fire, lightning and rain to give them life. The dwarves appeared in the continent more than 3000 years before the dwarves, and only started recording a written history around the time of the humans' arrival.

Note that cerilian dwarves can eat rocks and earth, if nothing else is available. On the other hand, they don't digest milk and seeds, and have problems digesting fowl, bread, honey, corn and some fruits. Pigs and eggs are taboo.
That's amazing.

I wasn't expecting anything this radical.

I wonder why people don't talk about this all the time.
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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by NPCDave » Mon Jun 18, 2018 9:43 am

The setting was incredibly well done. But it came in just as TSR was undergoing a self-implosion. It had its advocates(like Rich Baker) during the WotC acquisition but plans for a relaunch with a metaplot set of adventures was set aside and the setting was mostly abandoned. 3rd Edition launched in a different direction and I think most of the fans eventually moved on.

A lot of players didn't look at it because it was heavily marketed as a wargame with RPG elements. That was a throwback to OSR but there weren't many OSR players playing 2nd Edition and looking at new settings.

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Re: Are Birthright's dwarves customised to the campaign setting?

Post by agathokles » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:34 pm

Indeed. The setting is very detailed and has excellent art and production values. However, it suffered from the problems mentioned by NPCDave, plus it was difficult to sell, most likely, since it focused a lot on rulership and wars -- the geographic supplements, for example, while well done are typically focused on a PC taking over the dominion as its new ruler. So, its appeal to people not into that specific kind of campaign was certainly limited, even though the setting itself is excellent also for a non-dominion focused game. Aspects such as the demihuman races, the awnshegh, the Orogs and the other humanoids, and even the giants and dragons are all customised, creating a setting with a significant tolkeniesque feel (elves as distant and otherwordly, dwarves pitted against militaristic Orogs, a shadow from the east which is actually related to an ancient evil god that was vanquished in battle with the contribution of several races, etc.) that is not typical of D&D.

On the other hand, while it is so customised, there is no specific theme beyond rulership and war (compare with Dark Sun's themes of ecological disaster and extreme environments or Ravenloft's gothic horror theme), since dominions and wars can happen in any setting. As a result, Birthright had to compete with more established settings such as Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk, and didn't make it.

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