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3 BW Games in 5 Days

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Agent BW517-MB108 reporting for duty.

Friday night I will run a game with pre-made characters, my girlfriend, an old buddy who was manager at a gaming store I worked at and his wife.

Saturday I will run with an ecclectic group who have never met one another. The game was birthed when I facilitated character creation on a whim with a young man who I was a mentor of years ago and we've stayed in touch. When thinking about what kind of game I would run for his character an idea was spawned and all other character creation will spin off of that hub.

Tuesday the two guys I went to Gen Con with and I run our One-Shot-GM-Roundtable group in which we play games that we bought at Gen Con. I thought that would be our first BW game but life has conspired to make it my 3rd.

This is where I will report how my games went.

God save the Wheel.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Game #1

Pete - my friend for a decade, manager of a game store I worked at and now my martial arts teacher

Lily - Pete's wife and ya can talk to her for five minutes and just know that there's a gamer

Janaki - my live-in ladyfriend of 3 years whose friends all gamed when she was in school but somehow she never did, despite being a tremendous sci-fi/fantasy fan

I ran this game with pre-made characters and as Thor told me it was, the set-up was just weak.

The players weren't sure what they were supposed to be doing and I had to supply really obvious bangs to get anything going, because the whole house was built in a shaky foundation.

Pete wasn't thrilled with scripted combat but my knowledge of the system was so shaky that I couldn't really help do any convincing.

Despite all this, it was a successful game and we had fun.

We are a group of people who all trust one another and the game went smoothly with good will ruling at the table.

I set up a flashback mechanic wherein a player could role-play a suggested part of their past with me to get a handle of how their character feels about it. They each had 3 flashbacks about any topic of their choice.

Highlights:

Pete's haughty-taughty Elf acting aloof and fascinated by human customs.

Lily's character allowing herself to be possessed by the spirit of her dead wizard master in order to beat an opponent.

Janaki confronting 3 men who were burgling their wizard's tower by screaming at them in Orcish and jumping their asses, intimidating one guy to run and killing the two others with her bare hands (claws). Then she ate one of their legs.


Game #2

This game was set up for total self-destruct.

Paula - a gaming buddy I've known for ten years. We dated 7 years ago but have remained friends and have gamed with one another since and respect each other's imagination immensely.

Joe - a young man who I mentored when he was 16. I know I'd be a good mentor for him when I saw his fantasy-laden bookshelf.

Kolja - a local high school sophomore who contacted me both through the local gaming store and through the Burning Wheel boards, looking for a BW game. I've gamed with him in my Dogs in the Vineyard game (he plays

Kristi - contacted me through the Burning Wheel forums after googling Ithaca Gaming. I invited her on a good willed whim, never having met her and not knowing shit about her other than she had played in Vampire Camarilla LARP's and D&D.

Joe's character was the first-made and the game's idea, hunting down four deserters from a mercenary company, was inspired by his cold-hearted thief turned merc.

Kolja burned his own character to compliment Joe's and posted it on the BW boards and I approved.

I e-mailed Paula info on Orcs, Dwarves and Elves and though she was interested in an Orc character, she decided that she would role-play their Hatred to the point of making the game no fun for other players.

I met with Kristi and Paula at the mall and we burned up some characters.

We thought that one of the deserters could have stolen a sword that Paula's swordsmith had made for Kristi's Princess.

Paula looked at her character sheet and realized that she had made a useless artisan with no adventuring skills what-so-ever. She re-made a Captain who kicked ass, a worthy bodyguard to the Princess.

Kristi expressed surprised that I allowed her to take a princess into a game and I told her that it would make for a good story.

The Elves rocked this game's fucking world. Don't get me wrong, Kolja and Joe's mercs had their moments of usefulness and dramatic coolness but Wonderment just makes Elven singing so, so, so whoop-ass that it is incredible.

With Kolja's help I got the rules down better and actually ran some good scripted combat.

I ever managed to use a VERY abbreviated Duel of Wits to settle an argument between Kolja's bastard merc and Paula's Elven Captain about what kind of justice to mete out to a captured deserter. Good stuff.

We ran the game in a classroom on the Cornell campus and I made a map on a piece of paper and then put it onto a chalkboard. The map, with its forest, 4 cities and mountains really rocked and the world became rather fleshed out rather quickly. Maps rule and chalkboards rule even harder.

The wax pencils and the laminated Volley sheets helped with combat immensely.

We had only tracked down 2 of the 4 deserters after 8 hours of driven play. By driven I mean the travel time was done quickly with the characters reaching the next important dramatic place they chose to visit in fast order. So, we are going to play again.

Kristi said that she liked BW better than d20.

Everyone said the 8 hours just flew by.

Highlights:

Paula's character explaining to Kolja's bastard merc that killing a human was the moral equivalent of knocking down a pretty house while killing an Elf was the moral equivalent of knocking down a cathedral.

Joe's cold-hearted merc allowing an elven king to chop off his hand after trying like hell to get away from him and contemplating suicide by jumping off of a tower. Just a cool moment.

Kristi's princess walking up to the Duchess of Winterhome and slapping her across the face before beginning to sing so that the guards all fell to Wonderment and the princess's guards could slaughter them while the drooled and take the Duchess hostage.

Kolja's bastard dueling his half-brother to the death in a judicial joust.

Comparing the two nights of gaming I think the following:

* If you set up a one-shot for Burning Wheel using pre-gen characters, the Believes, Instincts and Traits are SO important that it can't be said enough. Thor and Luke were right and I was wrong. The BIT's need to DRIVE the PC's toward drama, glory and fun or else throw the characters away and start again.

I should have known this from Luke's Poisonous Ambition and the Dwarves V. Elves games at Gen Con but I hadn't internalized it despite both of them telling me repeatedly.

* Both nights were good nights of gaming but the second night worked because the players were really invested and committed to their characters. Janaki mentioned that she can't wait to game again in a game when the group all gathers and makes characters together so everyone can work out everyone's relationship to one another. Yes, she rocks and she is right.

BW Thoughts:

The game rocks. It is as simple as that. I wouldn't use anything else for a fantasy campaign right now and I can't wait to tweak and bend it to some other ideas I have. I'd use it for samurai, Midnight, anything even close to Tolkien inspired and use the abstract magic rules for an all-wizard game.

I have one game to go with the admittedly weak one-shot but I'm going to run it, see how Jeff and JJ take the game, see exactly where the holes are and how it works and how it fails.
 
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Burning Luke

i burn worlds
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Highlights:

Paula's character explaining to Kolja's bastard merc that killing a human was the moral equivalent of knocking down a pretty house while killing an Elf was the moral equivalent of knocking down a cathedral.

Joe's cold-hearted merc allowing an elven king to chop off his hand after trying like hell to get away from him and contemplating suicide by jumping off of a tower. Just a cool moment.

Kristi's princess walking up to the Duchess of Winterhome and slapping her across the face before beginning to sing so that the guards all fell to Wonderment and the princess's guards could slaughter them while the drooled and take the Duchess hostage.

Kolja's bastard dueling his half-brother to the death in a judicial joust.
Love the highlights! Sounds like really good stuff. That joust must have been hair-raising in the script!

Paula's elf comment cracked me up.

Also, Joe's Merc vs the Elven King sounds like a perfect place for a Duel of Wits.

thanks, Judd!
-L
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Further Thoughts on Game #2

One little thing I did that really busted this game wide open is draw up a map of the surrounding area. I drew it on a piece of scrap paper and then put it on the blackboard of the classroom we were in.

The players thought about the map, talked about the map and fleshed out the world in the process. A map with 3-5 cities, a forest, some mountains, a river or two (oops, forgot a river in this one) really gives the players something to chew on sometimes and I feel that this time it was a huge help.

Looking back on my gaming life, I realize that I have always drawn little maps with my fantasy games, wanting that map of Middle-Earth in the front of the Lord of the Rings vibe.

I believe that is yet another thing that I have been doing for years that was in Sorcery & Sword.

Anyway, just a post in support of the vague but fun fantasy map.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Game #3

Tonight begins with a trio of guys who upon returning from Gen Con vow to meet once a week in a round-robin-GMing group in which we run a different game every week, all one-shots, each of us taking a turn in the GM's seat.

This week was my week.

Jeff and I waited for the third gamer, JJ, and discussed death in RPG's. Jeff is more lethal than I am and we debated the issue. I said that there often are good alternatives to death. Jeff disagreed.

I changed the Beliefs and Instincts for this game, hoping to give them some more direction but not changing anything else in the game at all.

The game had two PC's, the Necromancer's Son and the Prodigy.

JJ - played the prodigy

Jeff - played the Necromancer's Son

Jessi - latecomer who took the Elf.

Prodigy:

Beliefs

I am this tower's rightful heir.

I will be the finest wizard of my generation.

Danger quickens magical learning.

Instincts

Think big, think HISTORY!

Solve problems with magic.

Strive to learn.

Necromancer's Son:

Beliefs

I will be the Prince of the Warlocks

Death is not the end.

My pain defines me.

Instincts

Examine the dead.

Build my dark princedom.

Use people as necessary.


They've known each other and have gamed with each other for a long time and they ran with it. The prodigy used his magic to impersonate his dead wizard master and get close to the queen.

The Necromancer's son agreed to help with the charade in order to get into the vaults where there was his dad's tome of magic.

Then our friend from Boston swung in and I gave her the Elf with the same old boring Traits and Beliefs. She's a great gamer, as the man, Pete, who ran that Elf before her but those Beliefs and Traits I wrote were just PLAIN boring.

Damn.

It ended with them studying a book from the Necromancer's tome in order to summon wizard's spirit and bind it to the prodigy, who failed a crucial Will test and was possessed.

It ended with the Wizard trapping the other two in his vault, calling the witch-hunters and telling them that the Necromancer's Son has gone evil and needs killing and is getting help from the elf.

It was a Resevoir Dogs-inspired total party kill, a bloody clusterfuck. They all died from Witch-hunter's bolts and the Witch-hunters were all sealed in the wizard's vault with no way to escape.

A fun one-shot.


Thoughts

* I still don't think I fully have scripted combat down but I'm close. Systems don't come easily to me and I grok them best when I get to play a bunch and see others play. I might just call some friends over to run combats or just run a few combats with my girlfriend in order to get the hang of it fully.

* Burning Wheel rocks and I know just the setting I want to use for it. Hells yes.

* I'm glad I jumped in and got immersed for a while. The game #2 is going to finish up in a little half-session on Sunday evening.

* This system is much crunchier than I am used to lately but it all comes together beautifully. If someone described this system to me I'd tell them that I'd hate it but in play it somehow adds up to become something more than its component parts. Lovely.

* I look forward to running many more games of Burning Wheel.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
tetsujin28 said:
And that is?
I've got this old city called Marsui that I made up ages ago and I'd like to run adventures in it for an extended period of time. I used TRoS for it last time but I think BW is next.
 
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