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[Burning Wheel] Elves Illustrated

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
It started in this thread.

We got together and played the game yesterday and the whole idea of gods walking the earth just didn't become relevant in play.

What I liked about this game:

  • We had fun playing with the map and adding little bits here and there.
  • Storn would jump in and play NPC roles in scenes where it was just me and Jeff. That was neat, a technique I used to do a whole lot and have stepped away from.
  • I recorded the session on my shiny new iRiver and it really came out well. I'll break it down into half hour, easy to digest pieces and put it online when I have a chance. The link will show up here.
  • There was a kick-ass fight between Storn's 5 LP Swordsinger bad-ass Elf and a human woman who wanted to wrest the human tribe leadership from said elf. Storn got into that situation via a Duel of Wits concession.
  • Storn's forthcoming pictures of the PC's. Wow.
  • There's an Arthurian vibe taht I want to futz around with but ultimately veer away from. I want to play with the Arthurian toys without being beholden to any set pieces. But there is something about the early stages of humanity being united under Ar-Tor that I like and the player knowledge of what will go down does well for a game where the PC's are immortal elves struggling with grief.
  • It was a good beginning. Jeff said, "Man, you aren't sticking it to us like you usually do." Next game we'll turn up the heat a bit.

Fellas, any thoughts?
 

Storn

Registered User
Validated User
I felt pretty "stucked"... I think Jeff's PC had an easier time of it. I got in a fight with someone I did NOT want to fight. If I didn't have amazing luck on my armor roll, she could have killed me. I got saddled with a tribe of humans...

I had to balanced Maerlyn vs. Ar-Tor, allow myself to be taken prisoner (but under honorable circumstances, as my sword wasn't taken away... I would have died before that happened). I wept tears of grief as Ar-Tor almost wiped out an entire village of humans. I had to balance the mission against my beliefs, I had to let my student go in order to protect him. I had to balance Elven snobbery and arrogance vs. human ignorance.

Dude, from my POV it was a frakkin mind field. And I loved every minute of it.

I finally won a Duel of Wits!

One of the things I liked that we cribbed from Giants, was making the map as we went, as a group. Here is that scribbled, cobbled together map. Crude, but with a ton of charm. And totally wrapped me in a world that is new, yet familiar and different.



And as promised, my doodles at the table. First up is Prince Airen, Jeff's character, student and Second to my sword singer.



And last, is my sword singer, Elabrin Tanis, wielder of the Wandering Star.

 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
I felt pretty "stucked"... I think Jeff's PC had an easier time of it. I got in a fight with someone I did NOT want to fight. If I didn't have amazing luck on my armor roll, she could have killed me.
I wouldn't have killed him but I would've put her axe through your elf's sternum and given Alana a pet elf slave.

I got saddled with a tribe of humans...
That might've been my favorite decision I made all game.

Ar-Tor was setting his men to burn down a village whose chief had refused to recognize Ar-Tor as High King. Swordsinger Elabrin asked the human to show mercy. Duel of Wits.

Storn won the DoW but with a major concession.

The concession: "You want mercy, elf? Fine. You rule them. They're yours. You are chief of this nameless village of a hundred or so. You deal with them."

Here is that scribbled, cobbled together map. Crude, but with a ton of charm. And totally wrapped me in a world that is new, yet familiar and different.
I'm glad you liked the map. It worked for me too.

I like how you can see that it was written on the back side of a BW character sheet in the scan. That's cool.

And as promised, my doodles at the table. First up is Prince Airen, Jeff's character, student and Second to my sword singer.
My map = doodle.

Your pictures = art.

Thanks again for drawing and posting them up, Storn.
 

Drozdal

I forgive as I forget
My map = doodle.
I like the fact that you guys are using new character sheet (i saw it on the other side of the map). Anyway great illustrations Storn (as usual) and from what you wrote - session looked cool (at the very least).
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
The first session was decent but tonight was hot, downright hawt.

We're getting the skill system and how skills are learned and taught. It is really nifty.

But beyond that:

The town where Storn's Sword-singer was nursed back to health a century ago after a battle. The human knights there worship him as a god and study pictures of his sword stances as sacred texts.

Then the first night in the Black Citadel, ruled by the Black Duchess who had attempted to overthrow Jeff's Princeling's father some centuries ago turned to blood as the Princeling stepped in front of a blade meant for a human. Great stuff.

A marriage, an exile, a fostering to a (the?) dragon, and a new Duke of the Black Citadel.

More specifics later.

I'm spent.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
And my battery was low so the shiny new iRiver didn't record.

Shit.

Anyway, more on the game's going's on later.

Shit.
 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Storn - playing Elabrin Tanis, wielder of the Wandering Star

Jeff - playing Prince Airen, the White Prince

Black Rock Village

The first part of our adventure took part at the village Storn named, perhaps subconsciously (or consciously?) picking up the name Black Rock from the Dictionary of Mu that stole it from my buddy, Tom's D&D game. Black Rock Village was where Storn's Sword-Singer was nursed back to health after his battle with the Demon.

He invested no traits in being scarred and no Beliefs in finding the Demon, so the creature remains shrouded in mystery. Though I dropped a hint when we were there.

But Storn's PC is an elf and he had stayed in this village over a hundred years ago. Now a knighthood had been formed, from a child who used to watch the Elven Sword-Singer practice his sword forms. Theknights, The Knights of the Fallen Star (Storn's character's sword is the Wandering Star, as he is often called), had a manuscript with his poses written out in crude cryptograms.

Storn did some swords teaching and earned the Instructor skill. We took our time and figured out the system for teaching and learning skills. It is nifty as hell - it really is.

Helping dice help you learn. Dude. What a great way to get tests and more than that, what a great way to encourage throwing your lot into every conflict you can.

Jeff's Princeling tried to teach a local boy his Song of Bonding among the black basalt standing stones that gave the village its name but he failed his roll and it didn't take.

Storn made a Mend roll, wanting to help the humans put up a barn, being of use during his month long stay in the town as a swords tutor to the knights there. We decided the roll was about how the people there would grow to see those who carried a sword. Were they to see swordsmen as people who belonged with the common folk or had they no place there?

Storn succeeded and now we know that as Black Rock grows, it will have a culture of knights and lords who spend time among the common folk.

This was a restful time, almost carefree. But they were headed to the Black Citadel, the calm before the storm.

And, I know I can threaten the hell out of this idyllic place or have an NPC be a Knight of the Fallen Star and Storn and Jeff's characters will come running.
Storn succeeded, so as Black Rock grows, it will grow in that direction.

We are building a world with PC's who, if they survive, will see this continent grow with the centuries.

The Black Citadel

I was originally going to make the Black Citadel a great Black Oak tree fortress but that elven tree city is so damned old that I totally forgot about it. While looking at the map and the Black Citadel's proximity to Dragon Mountain, I thought that the Black Duchess should have a close relationship to the Dragon.

Plus, playing Dragons is fucking fun. They are the greatest NPC's ever and I'm a sucker for putting them in any fantasy game I run.

So, the Black Citadel became a place with a red dragon on a black field, made of volcanic stone and draconic gargoyles on the towers.

The Black Duchess had an older daughter who was out ranging and a younger son, just Jeff's Prince's age.

Backstory: Storn's Sword-Singer was the Duchess' Second, her padawan learner, whom she had also had a love affair with. When she sought to usurp the White King's power, the Wandering Star left his lady-love and went back to his King, rather than help his lover and Sword-mother.

Ouch.

Storn wanted a handmaiden of the duchess who had known him back in the day but failed the roll. Enmity clause. I decided the Duchess didn't want to engage her former student and lover and her handmaiden would spit all of the bile at hime, allowing the duchess to remain cool.

Turns out, the handmaiden had a brother who had died in the war and if Wandering Star had been among them, maybe her brother would still be here.

Storn's PC and the Duchess got into a Duel of Wits, while that happned, young lord Serev and Prince Arryn got into mischief.

Turns out, there's a human locked in the highest tower, the duchess' son confided in the White Prince. They snuck past the guard to see him. His name was Gorgos, a human knight who had stealthed his way into the dragon's mountain in order to steal his treasure but got caught.

The dragon had kept him alive to figure out how the human had snuck in and what exactly he had stolen. Having no luck getting information out of the human, the dragon turned him over to the Black Duchess.

Duel of Wits: Gorgos wants the boys to free him and go with him on an adventure to sneak into the dragon's lair again.

The White Prince wants Gorgos to tell him how he got in.

Jeff won but with a major concession. They let Gorgos free but didn't have to go with him, though the knight whispered to them how he had gotten into the lair.

They returned to dinner just as Storn's conversation was over. Was it a DoW or was it just a heated conversation? Huh, I'm not sure. I only know that it ended with Storn offering the Duchess his sword as her's. She accepted him as her sworn vassal and knight, though no oaths were sworn and this would be a big deal as the game progressed.

And then things got bloody.

Quite bloody.

The two young elves thought they were heroes. They had, after all, gotten the information out of the human.

The White Prince told the Black Duchess that her prisoner was free and she sent out her knights.

"If you find the prisoner, kill him. We are done with him."

But Jeff didn't want that and rolled a command roll to get the knights to listen to him rather than her, to have mercy on the knight.

I had burned the Duchess up earlier that morning. I reckoned she would try to steal Jeff's character away, especially since his Song of Bonding had FAILED and technically, that song having failed, Storn's PC wasn't yet his true Sword-father.

She was a bad-ass swords-woman and a great hero but really not such a great leader. Looking at her character sheet as Jeff's young princeling beat her and made the knights listen to his reason, I realized why she had lost the war and perhaps why Storn's PC had left. She was a shitty leader. It was right there on her character sheet.

The Wandering Star found the thief in the kitchen, loading up on bread, and brought him alive to the feast hall. The Duchess took up her sword to kill the human. In a bit of scripting that could've been handled better but was still solid, she struck at the human and Jeff's character interceded. She struck him in the leg, dealing him a mortal wound.

She called for her finest healers. Her son cradled his new friend in his lap as he bled, possibly to death. Elabrin Tannis took her into another room and asked her what the hell she was doing.

Four months went by.
 
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Storn

Registered User
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Judd is not done with the AP report of the last session. I will just jump in here to say that it was a total blast and very heartwrenching. I did manage to get a couple of doodles of NPCs done at the table as we played. Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

First up is Cham. Cham is a Black Rock villager (and no, Judd, I had no Dictionary Mu in my head when I made up the name, I was thinking of the song/movie: Bad Day at Black Rock). Cham is the human that Prince Airen tried to teach the Song of Bonding to...



Next is Alana, our fiery redheaded ax amazon who almost did in Elabrin Tanis last session. Thought she needed a picture. She kinda disappeared in this session after the fight between the Black Duchess and Prince Airen. However, her experiences at the Black Citadel court... it will be interesting to see how she filters that as she goes back to Ar-Tor to reclaim her small remaining tribe. I'm sure we will see her again.



And lastly, ah... what can I say. Savana, the Black Duchess herself. Elabrin fell right back in love with her, his swordmistress, teacher and mistress of his heart. And more... but I'll let Judd spin out the tale further before commenting. Such a flawed character, such a catalyst for disaster... she was really the engine that drove this session. I really darkened up her lines in Photoshop to reflect that Black thematic. I think I nailed her personality down in this pic, I'm really happy with this one.

 

Paka

Or call me Judd
Validated User
Thanks for the pics again, Storn. Wonderful as always.

We had a few scenes with the White Prince while he healed. He persuaded the Duchess' house knights that she had done wrong and the Duchess herself, realizing full well that she could very well die or be exiled, sought to tidy things up for her young son and daughter.

Her son she fostered to the Dragon, because Jeff's PC had bonded with the boy and its just cool. I love playing the John Gardner inspired Dragon when I can.

Her daughter she tried to marry to the White Prince. "If you marry her, there will be no war, no bloodshed."

Meanwhile, the White King was called for war and the Duchess' head. Elabrin went into a high stakes DoW for her life and he lost big, leading the armies to do the deed. Elabrin said he would be an army of one and went out to bring her head back.

He did bring it back, though it was still on her shoulders.

*cool scene with the dragon, cool scene with Elabrin and the Duchess, the long march to the White Citadel where the Duchess' daughter and the White Prince are to be married.*

I'm strapped for time. In the end, they were married, the Duchess was exiled and though Elabrin wanted to go into exile with her, the White King rather cruelly sent him to be the Black Duke and rule over the Black Citadel. The newlyed couple were sent to a small fort called Dawnwatch, on the shore between Dragon Mountain and the Black Citadel.

Ar-Tor was said to be still warring in an attempt to gain his High King's crown.

The next game could very well take place some time after this one ended.

One year, one decade...we'll see.

Should be fun.
 

Storn

Registered User
Validated User
*cool scene with the dragon, cool scene with Elabrin and the Duchess, the long march to the White Citadel where the Duchess' daughter and the White Prince are to be married.*
Jeff rocked the confronting his father scene. Prince Airen really made an amazing plea to keep Savana alive, the marriage cementing White and Black citadels and avoiding war. I just backed him a bit... although that line about "he will no longer be my student, but I welcome him as a son (as he is marrying my daughter, that I just found out about)." was a lot of fun to say.


Storn wanted a handmaiden of the duchess who had known him back in the day but failed the roll. Enmity clause

-and-

They returned to dinner just as Storn's conversation was over. Was it a DoW or was it just a heated conversation? Huh, I'm not sure. I only know that it ended with Storn offering the Duchess his sword as her's. She accepted him as her sworn vassal and knight, though no oaths were sworn and this would be a big deal as the game progressed.
I think this needs to be expanded upon a bit. In the war between Black and White citadels, some 150 yrs ago... (as Elabrin is 233, Airen, 85, hadn't been born yet)... Elabrin had to take his King's side, leaving the Duchess and fighting against her... which was heartbreaking to both of them. The outcome of that war was to demote then Queen Savana to Duchess. So, she had gone to war with the White King once already... and came close to causing a second!

So. As an apology, he offered his sword back to the Duchess. But that White Citadel interests was, were and still paramount in loyalty. Unfortunately, the Duchess put that to the test in very short order.

Bluebook request: By the way, Judd, I SO want the handmaiden to be Black Duke Elabrin's second... his castellana? Major-doma? Not sure what to call the 2nd in command. Was her name something like Marirth? Blanking... I have written down on the notes you have with my character sheet. But I think the Enmity Clause will have her loyal to the IDEAL of the Black Citadel, but trying to undercut Elabrin command over her people. Which Elabrin will be quite aware of... but sees it as penance for the things he has had to do against the Black Citadel. weeee! Such fun! All this courtly intrigue. Love it!

The newlyed couple were sent to a small fort called Dawnwatch, on the shore between Dragon Mountain and the Black Citadel.
Oh. As soon as the Black Citadel is somewhat settled, I know one of the first things Elabrin will want to do is to visit Dawnwatch. I had NO face time with my newly found daughter, I got to step into being a father and see if my former student is treating her right!!! <g>

Also. Just so you can prepare... Elabrin will SO make a bid to adopt the Black Duchess's younger son (who is not mine)... so he will eventually inherit the Black Citadel. It is a way I can make restitution to my beloved exiled Duchess. So I think I have a Dragon to deal with in my future and I'll need Prince Airen (Arryn sp?) help.
 
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