The accompanying question is, What is missing from this list?
I’ve posted the Birthright list of actions for reference. Which of these are reasonable choices to keep, and which can be removed? More importantly, what needs to be added?
While we were working on the URBAN game, Joe and I had some debates about the magic system. We were attempting to create a system like that in DQ, with multiple colleges of magic, but with a kit-of-parts kind of spellcasting, where you could put together different elements to create your spells. For example, “Conjure Fire Propel” which would give you a fireball. (It would also give you a flamethrower, or a firebolt, or anything else similar).
I felt that what we had was far too limited, which I likened to having a box with only 8 crayons, rather than the big box of 64. All the subtlety and nuance was lost because magic was reduced to a few large, crude strokes. Yes, you can create any color by mixing the colors you have, but there is a better starting point if you have more choices. There’s more ‘in-between’ with a larger starting set, more variations and possibilities.
On the other hand, DQ has less than a dozen skills (omitting weapons & magic), but there’s a lot of flexibility within that form. D&D did it with just four classes for years. And GURPS is worthless, with a skill for every niddling little thing. It seems to flatten everything out (though I’ve never played GURPS, so that is mostly an outside observation).
The list of possibilities needs to be larger than the player’s designs. The list needs to be broader than what one player can maintain or accomplish. (You cannot be a Fighter/Magic-User/Cleric/Thief.) But at the same time, it needs to be broad enough that it carries a sense of empowerment, and that the possibilities can be encompassed with some assistance. A character with a couple of skills in DQ has things that he can do, even if he doesn’t do them very well, yet.
Mostly, I think that the list needs to serve to engage the imagination and to suggest the possibilities of the things that this character will be able to do.
Birthright allows you to do only three Actions a realm-turn. This limits the scope and the interest, at least to some extent.