The Adventure Burner & characters in crisis

edited August 2010 in Story Games
After playing (and struggling with) a fair amount of Burning Wheel, and then getting to play Mouse Guard earlier this year, I thought I'd never go back to the denser, difficulter BW rules.

But the new Adventure Burner is really inspiring me. I haven't made it through the whole book yet, but what I have read is solid stuff.

My favorite bit is from right near the beginning: "The game of Burning Wheel is about undertaking the role of a persona who is in crisis".

That's great character advice! Almost every BW character I've created burned or played in a game with has had goals and beliefs and relationships and all that great stuff, but being "in crisis" is an eye-opener for me. I think maybe a lot of the characters in my past games were missing that element.

Also, Luke Crane's writing in this book is great; authoritative and explanatory, but personable and engaging. I think it's one of the best-written RPG texts since Dogs in the Vineyard. (Also he has stopped over-using the word "potent", which always drove me buggy.)

Comments

  • I feel the same way - I've played Mouse Guard a bunch since the last time I played Burning Wheel and between the last game of MG feeling too constrained by the player/GM turn and the "light" mechanics and being super inspired by the Adventure Burner I'd really love to give BW another shot.
  • Agreed about the writing. I just read the section last night where Luke summarizes his group's campaign with the Storm King. I didn't totally 100% understand all of the context, but that was actually kind of ok, because it wasn't some dumbed-down, oversimplified example, it was something from Actual Play at BWHQ with a lot of history to it.

    Matt
  • But does one really need the whole Burning Wheel kit and kaboodle to enjoy the stuff in the Adventure Burner?

    I have a copy but haven't gotten to delve into it yet, so that's kind of an open question.
  • I bought the Adventure Burning without owning Burning Wheel, just to get the insight into Luke's GM/play style and to learn to run Mouse Guard better. I've only just begun reading it, but I'm expecting it to totally deliver in those regards.

    But I can also see that it may be a slippery slope that ends with the corebooks in my hands and hanging out on the BW forums.
  • Posted By: IgnotusBut does one really need the whole Burning Wheel kit and kaboodle to enjoy the stuff in the Adventure Burner?
    Yes.

    I mean, what JWalt says is true, that it can give you insight into Luke's overall philosophy and such. But really it's about BW.

    Matt
  • Posted By: DeliveratorPosted By: IgnotusBut does one really need the whole Burning Wheel kit and kaboodle to enjoy the stuff in the Adventure Burner?
    Yes.

    I mean, what JWalt says is true, that it can give you insight into Luke's overall philosophy and such. But really it's about BW.

    Matt

    Yeah, I wouldn't recommend the book for anyone who wasn't into BW.
  • Agreed. Most of the "advice" is BW-specific, like "Here's how you handle Artha". Which is way more useful than generic GM advice.

    I also really like the pre-generated characters and campaign ideas. Normally that stuff wouldn't turn me on, but the ones in the book are cool. They're almost character archetypes, rather than pre-gens.

    Also, Judd, I noticed your China Mieville-inspired city burner stuff was in the book. Nice! Wasn't there are more comprehensive version of that online somewhere? (I used to have that link saved, but my old computer died and went to computer heaven.)
  • Brian,

    Thanks. I'm glad you liked the campaign ideas.

    Yup, Mobu City's in there. I liked how it turned out all trimmed down and sleek.

    Here is the forum post, click on the mobu city tag for more threads.
  • Posted By: JuddPosted By: DeliveratorPosted By: IgnotusBut does one really need the whole Burning Wheel kit and kaboodle to enjoy the stuff in the Adventure Burner?
    Yes.

    I mean, what JWalt says is true, that it can give you insight into Luke's overall philosophy and such. But really it's about BW.

    Matt

    Yeah, I wouldn't recommend the book for anyone who wasn't into BW.

    Luke says so on some podcast or other. "The Adventure Burner won't help you with Burning Empires or Mouse Guard. It's for Burning Wheel."
  • Strictly speaking, Luke's 100% right and probably doesn't want folks mashing all his different games together into Burning Sludge (not so appetizing!). On the other hand, pretending that his games have nothing to do with each other is silly. That's like saying reading Macbeth won't help you understand Hamlet better. So I will cheerfully and respectfully ignore his wishes at the risk of a quick and violent death from ninjas sent by BWHQ.
  • I imagine you could use the AB for other games - as long as those other games are about the same thing as BW.
  • ::cheerfully and respectfully pockets Jwalt's money::
  • I'm not actually even playing Burning Wheel at the moment, but I suspect that the Adventure Burner will have good advice in it. Here's hoping it hits my FLGS soon. (Although in looking for it, I discovered a new-to-me, very-F but not-so-L GS that has a good selection of indie and board games.)
  • edited August 2010
    Having gotten through the entire book now, there genuinely isn't much in it that is applicable to other games. Some stuff about writing beliefs you could certainly use in Mouse Guard, or, I don't know, parts of the sections on Circles and Wises. But it's really very specifically about Burning Wheel and its mechanics.

    That's just my take on it. Someone else might find it a wealth of more general gaming advice.
  • So, I've played in a couple of the same fizzled BW games that Brian played in. I love BW and I've never had a really sweet game of it. I think that's weird, but I love the books and every time I read it, it makes so much sense to me. It seems like the perfect game for long-term campaign play, which is something I want to do. We have played probable 8 to 10 sessions total, and I don't feel like we've really gotten everything up an running, really singing, you know? To be fair, our sessions are short (sometimes four, but often as little as two hours of actual gaming) because we all have a lot of commitments, and we played two games, maybe two years apart, each 4 to 5 sessions, so, after two years, it was like starting all over again. I got the Adventure Burner (signed, #13, I wonder if I'm the biggest BW geek who, for all intents and purposes, doesn't actually play the game...) and I love it for consolidating so much of what I've already read on the BW forums, and including great new stuff and sample characters. But (and maybe this should be a new thread, I don't want to derail Brian) I wonder if it's crazy to think a game needs more play than this before it gets good. My thinking is, "this game is great, guys, we really just need to play it a little more and we'll really reap the rewards of learning the system," but I'd love to hear if others think that, even with a complex system, there is a limit to how many hours of play it should take to internalize, and what that limit is.

    For the record, I had fun every time we played BW (partly because the gaming was fun, and partly because the socializing was fun), so, even though we felt clumsy with the rules, it never seemed like torture to keep with it.
  • I played a fairly rocky game of Jihad about a year and a half ago. The big problem was one player who said, "Oh, I know how to roleplay, just tell me when to roll dice," and then played Solitaire on her computer when she was not center stage. As a result, she never fully grasped the combat system, which meant that she was nowhere near as effective in combat as her character sheet suggested she should be; and she never bothered to mark down skill checks, which meant she never advanced in any skills. Fortunately, it was meant to be a somewhat short game.

    There are some games where her attitude doesn't throw a monkey wrench into things, but Burning Wheel pretty much requires a higher level of player engagement in the system. I'm not sure it's measured in hours of play; I suspect it's measured in hours of study of the rules.
  • Posted By: cwilbur[...]and then played Solitaire on her computer when she was not center stage[...] There are some games where her attitude doesn't throw a monkey wrench into things
    Really? I've played with people who a)drew or b)read when it wasn't their turned. It always bugged me to no end.

    Oh, and my father always gets up to do stuff when we play board games. All the time. So annoying.

    Anyway, back to BW:
    Posted By: JaroslavI wonder if it's crazy to think a game needs more play than this before it gets good. My thinking is, "this game is great, guys, we really just need to play it a little more and we'll really reap the rewards of learning the system," but I'd love to hear if others think that, even with a complex system, there is a limit to how many hours of play it should take to internalize, and what that limit is.
    As long as you are having fun, I suppose that's cool. Still. It seems to me you don't get to play very often. If I was in your shoes (and I'm not, but IF I WAS) I either wouldn't try and play through a campaign, and instead focus on one-shots, or perhaps two- or three-parters, OR I'd use a very simple system, that you can learn very quickly and make it sing. Like Hero's Banner, DitV, Primetime Adventures, InSpectres or even The Shadow of Yesterday. BW just has too many bits and pieces IMO for casual play.
  • Posted By: Jumanji83Really? I've played with people who a)drew or b)read when it wasn't their turned. It always bugged me to no end.
    Oh, it's annoying as hell, but there are games where it only really affects her enjoyment of the game, and there are games where it's a drag on everyone's enjoyment of the game. So the trick is to invite her only to games where her lack of attention only affects her enjoyment of the game, and drive off Geek Social Fallacy #5 with a big stick when it shows up.
  • I think long-term campaign play is different in major ways from short-term or one-shots. Luke says repeatedly in the Adventure Burner that BW is designed for long-term play, and the mechanics certainly support that.

    Sometimes the answer is to put more effort into something, even if that seems strange to say about gaming. John and I have played in a couple BW campaigns in the last couple years that never took off, and I've played in one other with similar results. But I'm willing to accept that the solution isn't to give up and play a different game, it's to play Burning Wheel again, with RENEWED AND FEVER-EYED DEDICATION.

    And, lest I seem Ishmael-ish, the campaigns we have played were fun. It's just that a high bar is set by or mutual love for the BW rules.
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