A Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting that revolves around noble birth and political intrigue.
Nobles and most players in this setting are "descendants" of dead deities and their divine bloodlines can give them awesome abilities (or totally useless ones if they are unlucky). Also their blood ties them to the land in which they rule by some sort of "strange magicks" so if they are successful rulers they can increase the strength of their bloodlines.
The game also features rules for managing your domains (lands, temples, guilds etc.) and also for large scale battles. The battle system is a simplified version of other wargames and it uses cards. (hey! they are cheaper than miniatures!)
The game is set in the world of Aebrynis, specifically on a continent named Cerilia. There is only one plane linked to this world and it is a darker version of the reality called Shadow World.
Cerilia in general is, despite still being an obviously fantasy setting, a more grounded and realistic take than most D&D settings, with a focus on medieval politics, intrigue, and logistics. Monsters are generally rare and uncommon, with most of them being unique creatures and huge challenges rather than entire races meant to be beaten for loots. It isn't truly grimdark in the same way as A Song of Ice and Fire, though. In many ways, Birthright can be considered the D&D setting that most closely adheres to the trope of "Medieval European Fantasy" - and yes, that is actually an entirely separate trope to the "Standard Fantasy Setting" trope. In fact, the idea is so clearly invoked that Cerilia is very strongly based on the Great Britain subregion of Wales, which mostly shines through in the native language of the elves.
Notably, "blooded" creatures can literally bond with the land, with good and just lords or cruel and capricious tyrants seeing the nature of their governments reflected in their Holding. Such Holdings can include sources of religious, temporal, and magical power; the latter are called "Source" Holdings. Every "blooded" person doesn't necessarily genetically inherit their abilities; it can be handed off to a chosen successor via a religious rite called "Investiture" before death or, more darkly, stolen in an act called Bloodtheft by an enemy who strikes a Blooded being through the heart.
Humans in the Birthright setting can come from 5 different cultures, thus adding a bit more personality (and stat bonuses) to your characters. They are:
- Anuireans, a culture based on the English and French during the 100 years war.
- Brecht, culture based on the Hanseatic League.
- Khinasi, culture loosely based on the Moors.
- Rjurik, a culture based on a mixture of medieval Scandinavian and Celtic peoples.
- Vos, culture based on Dark Ages Rus.
Playable Non-Human Races
- Elves - Sidhelien as they call themselves. They are often at odds with humans and other cultures due being the colonized original inhabitants of Cerilia before humans migrated there. Some elves actually originally sided with Azrai in the great war, but only the most rage-maddened stayed with him to the end, most elves switching sides in horror when they saw the depths of his depravity. They are magical creatures related to the fey, and have a completely non-theistic society that worships no gods.
- Halflings - Originally hailing from a parallel universe called the Shadow World, they live amongst other humans, often hiding their origins since the Shadow World is closely associated with Azrai. They've lost the ability to travel freely between their old realm and Cerilia proper, but can still feel when Realm spells are being cast... and when they're being worked by those tainted by the blood of Azrai.
- Dwarves - Strong but isolated, the dwarves of Cerilia are most notable for being denser than other dwarves: they resist bludgeoning damage, but they fear water because they sink like rocks and only the strongest of them can swim at all.
Non-Playable Non-Human Races
- Goblins - Smarter than the average goblins. They even have their own states and a fallen empire. This race represents the entire spectrum of goblinoids; goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears are all recognized as "goblins," just coming in a wide array of sizes.
- Orog - Ancient enemies of the surface races and dwarves, completely replacing orcs in this setting. Notably more patient than their kinsmen, and therefore more frightening.
- Awnsheghlien - Singular "awnshegh," literally elfish for "blood of darkness." Not really a race. They are creatures who once were scions of the tainted Azrai bloodline and the evil workings of that corruption turned them into truly powerful monsters, the strongest of which run whole kingdoms. Not all of them are actually evil, with a few of them being neutral and pretty-alright lords in their own ways, but most of them fall into darkness and the strongest of them almost always are because they have few compunctions about bloodtheft. Most D&D monsters are instead unique awnsheghlien, with a few creating less-powerful "henchman" monsters through mating with other beings. For instance, rather than an entire race of hydras, there's only the Hydra, and the hydrakin that occasionally spawn from blisters on its body to stalk its habitat for prey. Some are animalistic, and some possess keen and frightening intellects.
- Ehrsheghlien - Singluar "ehrshegh," literally elfish for "blood of light." Similar to the awnsheghlien, but derived from bloodlines other than Azrai and generally less malevolent and involved.
The seven old gods died in a big battle at a place called Deismaar, and their power were transferred to warriors at the battle. The luckiest became the new gods and the others got to be scions of the different bloodlines. One bloodline was spawned for each of the perished gods and they grant powers according to the god it once belonged to.
The seven bloodlines are the following:
- Azrai - the god of darkness, deception, and evil; the other gods sacrificed themselves to destroy him.
- Anduiras - patron of Anuireans, he was the god of law and justice.
- Brenna - patron of the Brecht, the goddess of commerce and fortune.
- Basaïa - patron of Khinasi, goddess of light and reason.
- Masela - patron of the now extinct Masetians, she was the goddess of the sea.
- Reynir - patron of Rjuven, god of the hunt and nature.
- Vorynn - the god of magic and former patron of the Vos, but they left him for Azrai.
The system mostly uses the standard aD&D classes, with a few exceptions
- Bard: They can only learn illusion, divination and enchantment/charm spells, but are some of the only spellcasters in the setting who don't need to be part of a bloodline or have the backing of a deity or Blooded creature.
- Druid: They have some special powers, like move silently. Technically, the non-elf ones are special priests of a nature god called Erik.
- Magician: An illusion/divination specialist mage. They can only cast 1st and 2nd level spells from other schools. Storywise they can't access true magic because they are not scions of a bloodline.
- Wizard: Only blooded characters can become wizards, who are capable of using realm magic, magic that affects whole domains.
- Guilder: a Brecht class that serves as a middle-class merchant/trader/adventurer. Strong in skill selection.