D&D General Birthright game : how to handle a cultist outbreak ?

zebby

Explorer
Hi ! I need the hivemind's help, inputs and ideas.

I run a birthright game, for my son and his friend. I don't have much knowledge of Birthright in general, but the game is going well up to now.

My son is a merchand king and his realm is harassed by pirates from the sea, an evil kidnapping dwarves kingdom from a side, desperate elven allies who are pleading for military help vs orcs on the other side, so he's under pressure and have lots of thing to do, and too little ressources to do it. So all good on that side.

Problem is my other player. he's paladin, leading a theocracy.

Here is al little info on the geo-political realm he owns. He have an Answheigh-thing (big bad monster) forest/province up north, which is leading raids and stuff, being a nuisance as it should.
He have an ally north east, the sea in the south and west. Northeast, an bad guy country and him are in a kind of stalemate and they cant afford to really hit each others openly.

Southeast are 2 countries, one bigger hostile and one is Switzerland, caught between 3 country that hate each other. But that leaves him in a weird, easy position to deal with. He leave some military up north to death with the monster and the military stalemate from the same province. Which means he can pool all his ressource toward the southeast to attack and expand into the neutral country. He will overpower it in 2 or 3 domain turn, and can keep expending as he wish after, since nothing threaten him ... so it'll quickly unbalanced the game compare to the my son's realm who is hard pressed on 3 different side.

Problem is, being a leader of temple holding, he is spreading his faith around and have huge taxes income outside of his country, including from my son's realm. Since he had an ez time defending his country, he quickly focused on his holdings and is considerably ahead of my son who's focusing on politcs and his neighboors alot more. So, I dont want to pull the same trick twice and have pirates harassing him too, and I wish to have a more 'personal' story woven in, so I though some evil cults could rise up to fight his spreading influence.

But I struggle on how to handle it. If a cult 'base' is within the bigger enemy country southeast, he'll just send in 10 units to kill the cult ... and will take the country at the same time. So, I wish to seperate the cultist forces from the countries where they pop up and have them as some kind of neutral units focusing him because of his religion. I decided to build 4 different cults tied to the main story. So I have an idea of what I should do. I struggle into how to implement and execute it in game.

To give you an idea, right now if I handled them like I do the pirates, I'd annonce him that he lost money to a raid of an unknown force. So he need to gather info (1 action), find their base of operation probably with a scout (2nd action) and send enough units to deal with the threat (3rd actions + a fight). Which is good, but ... thats it, the cult have been dealt with, and I feel like it's not enough, considering the pressure the other PC is dealing with. So I wish I could find a way for the cults to represent a military pressure on his country


Should I just decide that the cultist have secret bases in his country, and that each cult pops out 2 or 3 units and siege a city ? How would you handle that cultist outbreak and bring it into the game in a new way that would be enough of a threat that he have to deal and strech his military might a little bit ?
 
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Cruentus

Adventurer
Hmm. I'm not a Birthright player, having only read the materials a couple of times, but as far as cultists go, there are a couple of ways I can think of to make them interesting.

1) Have the "cultists" be an offshoot of his own theocratic system. A wandering preacher who has been preaching a similar but different angle to the same religion that has gathered a following (which could be large - towns, villages, who knows). This makes the uprising be in his own domain, and requires a little more finesse than just attacking and wiping them out - or he could do that, but what is the repercussion? Nothing? A breakaway segment of the population? Military or clerical support from another country?

2) Have the cults infiltrate and take over some of his theocratic (or bureaucratic) positions, slowly siphoning off money, which they're putting toward a ritual to summon some other creature or monster to further their aims. This could get into more of an adventure type thing, but it could also impact his income and require some investigation to figure out what is happening, who is doing it. Meanwhile, other countries can be using it as an opportunity to attack, raid, etc.

With regard to the neutral country, what is the downside for him of taking it over? Could they be resistant to his rule? To his theocracy? A different neighboring country could rush in and take the other half, automatically setting up a constant front to have to address, which could cause other fronts to open. And why not pirates as well? This country is being militant and its attention is everywhere, let's take advantage!

I don't know how these might work mechanically in the game. I'd be interested in hearing a bit more about how you run the domain turns and what they mean for the players, etc.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I suggest that you dont make the Cult Evil but do make them a new Sect in the Paladins Provinces who is Agitating against the existing Temple / Law Holdings. You might want to make it a Sect in the Paladin own faith who is preaching Pacifism rather than Smiting! or you could make it a Druid/Witch faction who wants to bring back the old faith, or even just a rival who wants to take over.
If they're not evil the Paladin cant just use force to destroy them and needs to come up with some other strategy
 

zebby

Explorer
Actually that's not a bad idea. I like the angle of a pacifist sect. I just created a sect of his own faith leaded by one of his lieutenant, but she's a warrior and want to be seen as a reincarnation of some warring hero.

Having the same, but an ultra pacifist sect might be fun. I think I'll make the warring sect agitate and actively take over his temple, but the pacifist sect I think i'll just give temple holding to them out of the blue. Without having them agitating as the population gets turned over alone, he might not want to react harshly if he realise it's his own population wish and not some 'enemy' attacking him. And I'll start by the holding in the other PC's realm or his allies realm, so his 1st reaction won't be to simply attack him.
 
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