[Burning Wheel] My White Whale

edited February 2009 in Actual Play
Burning Wheel is my white whale when it comes to games. It was the first game to really get me excited about playing a kind of RPG that was different from D&D. It was my gateway drug, in some respects, to other games I really like.

Yet I have never played a really awesome Burning Wheel game. I've played through some one-shots, and I've been in two BW campaigns. I've enjoyed it, but never as much as I wanted to, or as much as it seemed like I could.

Two friends of mine, James and John, both of whom I play with in a larger gaming group (currently playing Deadlands with Savage Worlds), are sort of in the same mindset, so we decided to start a new BW campaign and MAKE IT WORK RIGHT DAMMIT.

For our first session, we spent so much time discussing the what and how behind what we want out of the game, and what we did all wrong in our last BW campaign, and then so much time inventing the world we want to set this game in, we didn't have time to do any playing.

We did create two character concepts, as a group, and then James and John each chose one to actually burn and play. Which was pretty cool.

Some stuff we agreed on:
  • The campaign will be short-form, three to four sessions.
  • Brian (me) will GM, but if we enjoy the game enough to continue, we'll rotate the GM's role.
  • We want to fully grok the Burning Wheel ruleset, so we'll try to a) bring game elements in slowly (Fight!, Duel of Wits, magic systems, etc) as we comprehend them in play. We will also try to stick pretty closely to the Rules-As-Written, by hewing to the default gritty, classic fantasy setting of the game, and not throwing out rules systems in favor of simpler ones (like the skill advancement rules from Mouse Guard).
  • The game will be set in a single, ancient, fantastic city. The main element of the setting will be the New City, a clean and well-maintained military fortress built over the ruins of an ancient dwarven hold; and the Undercity, an endless, lightless warren of levels and streets and crypts that extends far down into the earth.
  • The characters are searching for a mysterious group of violent insurrectionists in the Undercity.
This is probably a really dull AP, but it was such an unusual game session that I thought it might be worth posting. James' wife was perplexed that our game did not involve any game.

Mostly I am determined to play the game of Burning Wheel that I hear other people talking about, but have never experienced.
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Comments

  • Sounds like you're off to a good start! Did you guys do just the character concepts or have you gotten to the actual burning? Also, did you all come up with specific ideas for the antagonists as well? When deciding on Beliefs together, it's a lot of fun to riff off of each other - both between players; and between players and the GM. Creating these layers of conflict and unity can really make the game sing.

    There are times when my long-term game is less than awesome and it rarely has to do with absolute understanding of the game (although lack of understanding can certainly contribute to frustration!). No, for us it's usually about Beliefs. If one or more of these situations occurs, the game flounders and the passion fades:

    1. I (the GM) get too caught up in the fiction and don't give pressing their Beliefs and Instincts enough thought.
    2. A player has a Belief/Instinct that he/she really doesn't care about or find interesting in play.
    3. A player has a Belief that isn't working with the fiction right now and he/she is unwilling to put it on the backburner, so it just hangs there like a dead limb, taking up space, not earning Artha or adding to the story in a meaningful way.

    In our last session, one of the PCs who's young in her Faith was trying to get the help of the High Priestess for a difficult prayer. From a previous Duel of Wits, the Priestess had already earned the PCs loyalty as a acolyte. I was stumped for a minute trying to figure out how to press her buttons in the Statement - what more could the Priestess want? Then I realized I was focusing too much on the antagonist as a character instead of *being* the antagonist myself. I took a quick look at the PCs Beliefs again. One involved wanting to make a good friend of hers the colony's new governor. That friend is a passionate atheist. Click! In her DoW Statement, the Priestess wanted the PC to ensure that only a person of faith leads the colony. The player's eyes blazed at this and I knew I had hit her Belief right on the mark. The DoW went from ho-hum to ROCK in an instant. (The Priestess lost the DoW, btw, but with a major compromise - the PC will now try to convert her friend - let teh awesome rain!)

    All that to say, I can't emphasize enough the importance of Beliefs to a passionate game. As a player, make ones that interest *you* and then embrace them. Choose to care about them! And gun for them every chance you get. As a GM, intertwine your antagonists in their Beliefs and hit those Beliefs (and Traits and Instincts) often and hard. But your arsenal doesn't end there. Check out their Relationships, Possessions, and Reputations/Affiliations. Those are all things that you can get your fingers into and mess with. If you can get them to care and fight back, then you've just "won" Burning Wheel. :)

    Lots of luck to you, Brian!
  • Wow.

    The Burning Games have been my white whale forever. I wish you the best of luck and I'll be watching this closely to see how you fare!
  • Sounds like you've got a hot start.

    Post up Beliefs once you've got 'em if you care to.
  • Posted By: JuddSounds like you've got a hot start.

    Post up Beliefs once you've got 'em if you care to.
    Gladly. EarthenForge's advice that the beliefs are the make-or-break thing is something I take to heart. To make sure we get to the actual playin' on our next session, the two players are going to burn their characters on their own time, but we're going to work out beliefs together, maybe using the world-wide internet tubes.

    Burning Wheel, I will tame you, and bring you to heel. *shakes fist*
  • Yeah, Beliefs are definitely what make Burning Wheel sing. Our group found great success in following some of Thor's old suggestions about framing your Belief as a goal.

    e.x. I will locate the insurrectionists by finding their family and making them suffer.
    I will bait the insurrectionist spy from the Lord's court into revealing himself by setting up a sophisticated ambush at the royal ball.

    It's also to important to have at least 1 general Belief which is easy to mine for Fate such as "I will obey orders from no one." That's such an easy Belief to Bang Fate will be overflowing.
  • Just a thought about this:
    Posted By: BWAFor our first session, we spent so much time discussing the what and how behind what we want out of the game, and what we did all wrong in our last BW campaign, and then so much time inventing the world we want to set this game in, we didn't have time to do any playing.
    A few years ago something shifted in my thinking. It occurred to me that when we "play" an RPG we are sitting around making stuff up. And when, to prepare for a game, we sit around making stuff up in terms of world or characters, we are making stuff up.

    In short, some switch got flipped, and it all became play. My playing has been better for it. I'm willing to take the time, as a player or GM, to indulge in sitting around making stuff up with my fellow players without any sense of disappointment or impatience. This made the prep session more fun, and it paid off in spades because some games (not all), really benefit from having a real sit down and brainstorm session. In a Wicked Age, Primetime Adventures and others clearly should not have a prep session ahead of time. Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, HeroQuest in Glorantha are, in my view, all games that require them.

    But the key is, for me, it's all play.

    I would really make sure to invest as much shared character creation time as you can. There's no reason to not consider it play.
  • Posted By: Christopher Kubasik
    I would really make sure to invest as much shared character creation time as you can. There's no reason tonotconsider it play.
    I hear you. It *is* all play ... sitting around James' basement discussing imaginary characters is fundamentally the same activity as sitting around James' basement rolling dice to see if the imaginary characters can sneak aboard the ship. Either way, I'm not at work, or watching TV.

    But the part of play we are anxious to get to is the second, more gamelike part. I share your enthusiasm for a first session that is centered around character and setting creation. But two such sessions would make me a little antsy.
  • Oh, me too!

    But, full disclosure: In the Sorcerer game I GMed last year (THE BROTHERHOOD) and the Sorcerer game I'm GMing this year (TRAVELLER: HOLY WAR) I ended up with two sessions of character creation.

    Nailing down the setting, getting all the player to feel invested in it and get a grasp on how their characters plugged into the system simply took that long.

    I felt antsy -- I felt like I was failing my players. But you know what? The players felt great about it, and all the work paid off for last year's game, and seems to be paying off for this year's game. So I'm assuming if that's how long it takes, that's how long it takes.
  • Hey man,

    Just wanted to wish you the best of luck and offer one comment. Three to four sessions is too short. Shout for six or seven.
  • edited February 2009
    Hey Christopher,
    Posted By: Christopher KubasikA few years ago something shifted in my thinking....some switch got flipped, and itallbecame play....
    I would really make sure to invest as much shared character creation time as you can. There's no reason tonotconsider it play.
    I remember when that switch flipped.

    Paul
  • My new BW campaign went to ground for a couple weeks, due to non-gaming circumstances. But we are back on this week.

    Prior to that, we played our second session. It turned out to be mostly expository information. The two characters were reunited .. the younger one had been imprisoned as a youth, and raised by the overlord/conqueror race (think Saxons and Celts, or whatever fits). The city is under the grip of a terrorist/insurrectionist campaign by a mysterious entity or group (the Black Hand), and Umit / John's guy has returned to the Undercity of his birth to mine his old street connections to find the bad guys. Surhan / James' guy is all grizzled and cynical, but has agreed to help his long-lost nephew. The backdrop is a city almost in the grip of civil war.

    The two characters' beliefs were a little fuzzy going into things, but the players have firmed them up. We consulted the internets, where there is a lot of good advice about writing beliefs.

    Per Judd's suggestion earlier, below are the final beliefs for the two characters. Any advice on these, or good ways to bring the awesome based on them, would be appreciated.

    - - -

    Umit Theobald (John's guy): A native of the Undercity, raised by the military conquerors who dwell in the New City. Has gone AWOL to return to the mean streets of his birth and capture the Black Hand [main bad guy].

    Beliefs:
    -- The Witches' Council can't be allowed to use this act of terror to justify a pogrom. I'll return to the overcity with the Black Hand... or his head.
    -- Surhan [the other PC] can't see the big picture. I will show him that we're up against a greater evil than he knows.
    -- The Saxons nee our help to defeat the evil Watu [a neighboring empire], but they must respect us. I'll prove my worth, and, thus, my people's.

    This character has a good range of skills, including combat and social skills, but nothing extraordinary.

    Surhan Tahir (James' guy): Bookseller and aging lieutant in a large smugglers gang. Resents his place in the larger gang hierarchy and wants his shot at the big time.

    Beliefs:
    -- Birol [head of the gang] and probably his son have threatened The Family by allying themselves with The Black Hand [the main villain of the campaign]. To save The Family I must overthrow Birol the Suk.
    -- Once I'm in charge of The Family I will need a loyal lieutenant familiar with the Saxons. I will begin testing and grooming Umit [the other PC].
    -- The Big Face Gang is my only family and the most important thing in my life. I will always put the good of The Family above my own interests despite the fact that they have mistreated me and ignored my talents.
    -- The Dwarves are not gone. They are bidding their time and will reclaim The Undercity when the time is right.

    This character is pretty well-rounded in terms of skills and resources, and has an important and unfriendly relationship with the son of the current gang boss. (His fourth belief is sort of a "color only" belief .. the Undercity was created by an ancient race of dwarves that have long since gone MIA).
  • BWA: In ref to your first post, I can totally feel your pain. I have yet to experience a fantastic Burning Wheel game, but dear god, there have been so many false starts. I even posted about this once in a community, and Judd Karlman stepped in and offered to run a game. It started good, but even that one died after two sessions, much to my deep lament.

    One day, one day, I will get a fantastic game of Burning Wheel. First order of business: spread the word to my group.
  • We just finished a nice story arc with our Burning Wheel game (think Gangs of NY meets The Wire meets The Lies of Lock Lamorra), which lasted about 10 sessions and ended with a Gangs of NY style street brawl, complete with drummer boys. Its nice to see beliefs get resolved and new ones emerge. I'm looking forward to resuming this story soon.
  • Posted By: NPCBWA: In ref to your first post, I cantotallyfeel your pain. I have yet to experience a fantastic Burning Wheel game, but dear god, there have beenso manyfalse starts. I even posted about this once in a community, and Judd Karlman stepped in and offered to run a game. It started good, but even that one died after two sessions, much to my deep lament.

    One day, one day, I will get a fantastic game of Burning Wheel. First order of business: spread the word to my group.
    Curse you, grad school for decimating my gaming week!

    Sorry, man.
  • NPCNPC
    edited March 2009
    Posted By: JuddCurse you, grad school for decimating my gaming week!

    Sorry, man.
    Some day! I've tried to re-create that character in a variety of games since, too, and none of them are quite what I'm wanting. I really hate it when a character idea gets envisioned, but never quite fully fulfilled.

    We should try it again, soon. My Burning Wheel need is still craving more.
  • Posted By: NPCPosted By: JuddCurse you, grad school for decimating my gaming week!

    Sorry, man.
    Some day! I've tried to re-create that character in a variety of games since, too, and none of them are quite what I'm wanting. I really hate it when a character idea gets envisioned, but never quite fully fulfilled.

    We should try it again, soon. My Burning Wheel need is still craving more.

    If I don't get classes I want for the summer semester we will talk this summer.
  • Posted By: Judd

    If I don't get classes I want for the summer semester we will talk this summer.
    *Does fiery happy dance*

    Keep me posted =)
  • edited March 2009
    Session three was last night. It went pretty well. The two characters did some investigating-type stuff, and, for the most part we managed to run it by the rules, rather than "just" role-play it. One of the players (James) did an opposed persuasion test to convince an NPC to set up a meeting with a crime lord, and later he did a Circles test to find out where a stash of dwarven hooch was. The other player (John) took a back seat somewhat, but he rolled helping dice, and they both used FoRKs well.

    One thing we're trying to do that seems to be in the spirit of BW (and story games in general) is using rules ONLY when it counts, and making sure that it DOES count. So I'm trying to be better about explicitly setting stakes. The characters were trying to get across town for the big meeting without attracting the attention of the city watch, so I made it clear what would happen if they suceeded and what would happen if they failed. On another test, John decided to forego rolling altogether, since we couldn't decide what failure would look like aside from "game-ruining".

    A few comments / questions:

    -- In a test against an NPC with which a PC has a relationship, should he get bonus dice?

    -- Giving out mandatory Workhorse and MVP artha awards seems forced in a game with only two players. But that leads to less artha overall, and they blew through most of their starting artha in last night's game. Should we just give each character a persona point at the end of each session? (In addition to other, earned rewards, that is).

    -- Some APs and posts I've read suggest that there is a lot of dice-rolling and testing in most BW games, but we don't have so much of that in this one.
  • Posted By: BWA

    A few comments / questions:

    1) In a test against an NPC with which a PC has a relationship, should he get bonus dice?

    2) Giving out mandatory Workhorse and MVP artha awards seems forced in a game with only two players. But that leads to less artha overall, and they blew through most of their starting artha in last night's game. Should we just give each character a persona point at the end of each session? (In addition to other, earned rewards, that is).

    3) Some APs and posts I've read suggest that there is a lot of dice-rolling and testing in most BW games, but we don't have so much of that in this one.
    1) Nope.

    2) I've run games with just two people and it has always been clear where there is a Workhorse and an MVP. Keep in mind, artha doesn't come from on high but from the group. Read what the Workhorse and the MVP mean and talk it over with your buddies. If no one got it, no one got it and that is okay.

    3) Roll the dice when you all feel the need.

    One thing I am seeing is that in your stakes setting, there might be a problem.

    You don't say what happens if they succeed and if they fail. They state their intent and you, as the GM, state what will happen if they should fail. Does that make sense?

    And man-oh-man you will get better BW wisdom from the BW forums.
  • Couldn't you also request an advantage die if the nature of your relationship gives you an edge over the NPC in the test?

    - Colin
  • Posted By: SteerpikeCouldn't you also request an advantage die if the nature of your relationship gives you an edge over the NPC in the test?

    - Colin
    Yup, you could request it, but it isn't an automatic thing and the GM is under no obligation to hand it over.
  • Posted By: BWA-- Giving out mandatory Workhorse and MVP artha awards seems forced in a game with only two players. But that leads to less artha overall, and they blew through most of their starting artha in last night's game. Should we just give each character a persona point at the end of each session? (In addition to other, earned rewards, that is).
    As Judd said, if nobody earned one or the other, that's OK. No one gets it. But they are very useful awards. Is one player consistently getting MVP and the other consistently getting Workhorse? Maybe it's time for the player who always gets Workhorse to get a spotlight session!
  • Posted By: Judd
    One thing I am seeing is that in your stakes setting, there might be a problem.

    You don't say what happens if they succeed and if they fail. They state their intent and you, as the GM, state what will happen if they should fail. Does that make sense?
    The "what happens if we win" part was pretty well-understood by everyone. Re-stating it helps me make sure I understand what they're trying to do. And, on one occasion, revealed that the players were not in agreement over what they thought they were doing.
  • Re: Workhorse and MVP awards

    We've played BW before, and these votes were never an issue with a larger group. But with just two players, it did seem awkward. We decided to forego them for last night's session. Which was fine, but now they have no Persona artha left.

    We had discussed being a little loose with artha in this game, mostly to get the hang of tracking it and using it. But no one really did anything worthy of earning it. I guess that should push us toward hitting those beliefs more dramatically.
  • Posted By: BWA

    We had discussed being a little loose with artha in this game, mostly to get the hang of tracking it and using it. But no one really did anything worthy of earning it. I guess that should push us toward hitting those beliefs more dramatically.
    It happens but if it happens twice in a row, it is time to start re-writing their beliefs, especially if there were lots of conflicts; they believe something is worth fighting for that ain't on their sheet.
  • Posted By: BWAI guess that should push us toward hitting those beliefs more dramatically.
    I can't tell from your post where the beliefs came into play. How did they come up? Did Umit try to prove himself or Surhan go after Birol? Tell us.

    Also Surhan's third belief about the dwarves doesn't seem to have any teeth. Its not just that the dwarves are still around, its what he plans to do with that situation that will make for interesting play.
  • My group has had a number of problems with beliefs... some people don't want to keep changing them. others have background information that does not help them earn arthra but informs their play, etc.

    What i have found was never helpful was telling they were doing it wrong.

    some group are very tight. your belief is written and if you don't hit that exact belief you get nothing. other play it lose, that you write big beliefs without right now goals and recognize goals with artha as they are fulfilled.

    make sure that you dial it to where you want it. make sure that persona artha gets out there! if they do not want to hit their beliefs hard then help them out. seriously. you can attempt to play the game "right" according to the forums or you can play "right" according to your table. playing for your table is more fun.

    also award persona for traits if they apply. as gm make them apply. have NPCs treat people according to their traits. even die traits and call-ons.

    also remind players, gently, that they can have a pool of beliefs, to keep track of them if they want and to show case three of them at a time. which three beliefs mean the most right now? those are the ones you will get artha for, note them ahead of time. it is not in the rules, but it is is also not forbidden by the rules.

    When I play, I wirte big beliefs with small actions. I change atleast two beliefs each session. normally it is because I fulfilled one of my goals. sometimes that goal is stymied, so I change it and move on. many other players don't like this type of play. I do not think they shoudl be punished for it. it is our table and we can do what we want!

    just make sure you get that artha out there!

    Jason
  • Posted By: noclueI can't tell from your post where the beliefs came into play. How did they come up? Did Umit try to prove himself or Surhan go after Birol? Tell us.

    Also Surhan's third belief about the dwarves doesn't seem to have any teeth. Its not just that the dwarves are still around, its what he plans to do with that situation that will make for interesting play.
    Surhan did ping two of his beliefs in play:

    -- Birol [head of the gang] and probably his son have threatened The Family by allying themselves with The Black Hand [the main villain of the campaign]. To save The Family I must overthrow Birol the Suk.
    -- Once I'm in charge of The Family I will need a loyal lieutenant familiar with the Saxons. I will begin testing and grooming Umit [the other PC].

    Most of the session involved a meeting with Birol the Suk (and planning for it). At the meeting, he planted false information that we all agreed will blow up in his face in the next session. So that went okay.

    He also "tested" Umit (the other PC) on two occasions, but both times it fell flat, mostly because Umit didn't realize he was being tested. Maybe he should have been explicit ("Hey, John, my guy is gonna test your guy here to see what he does...")

    The character's belief about the dwarves is actually a fourth belief, thrown in mostly for color. James wanted his character to have a quirk ( a delusional belief that the dwarves will return), so he added an extra belief and instinct. they don't realy generate artha, so that's why they're "extra".

    Umit (the other PC) didn't really do anything to act on any of his beliefs. I guess that is an indication that they are too broad, or that the game situations are not meeting them.

    John (Umit's player) actually emailed us this morning to say that he felt like his play was disappointing, and he'll try to be more dynamic in the next game.
  • Posted By: khelekWhat i have found was never helpful was telling they were doing it wrong.
    It's not like that .. I know the thing you're talking about, but this isn't a case of me being all gung-ho for BW and dragging people along. The game has three players, and all three of us are into the game, and specific about playing BW in such a way that it works like we feel it *can* work.

    To that end, we do spend more time than we might otherwise in making sure we're bringing the rules to bear, and using them correctly. But it's very collaborative.

    Your comment about changing at least two beliefs per session blew my mind. Blown!

    That seems extreme to me, but maybe its good advice for our game. Changing one belief every game would definiitely lead to more artha generation.
  • Posted By: BWA
    It's not like that .. I know the thing you're talking about, but this isn't a case of me being all gung-ho for BW and dragging people along. The game has three players, and all three of us are into the game, and specific about playing BW in such a way that it works like we feel it *can* work.

    To that end, we do spend more time than we might otherwise in making sure we're bringing the rules to bear, and using them correctly. But it's very collaborative.

    Your comment about changing at least two beliefs per session blew my mind. Blown!

    That seems extreme to me, but maybe its good advice for our game. Changing one belief every game would definiitely lead to more artha generation.

    BWA -

    Mainly the "You're doing it wrong" comment was that don't come back from the forum and tell the players that they people at Story-Games, or the BW forums, or where ever, said that they made the beliefs wrong and that they will not work. Even gun-ho players don't like it. I am not saying you are doing that, but i have seen it happen when the forums come at you a 1,000 miles an hour and your trying to jack your games up a notch. We have had people in our BW games told with good intentions that they were writing their beliefs wrong, or not phrasing them right. those conversations never turned out well!

    ymmv on changing beliefs, I would encourage players to change them as often or as little as they want. I loke changing my beliefs. my characters wake up and devide what they are doign today. other people's characters plug one belief "forever." just make sure the players have the freedom to make it work for them.
  • It really depends on the type of beliefs you've got.

    In our orc game, Rich tended to have beliefs about accomplishing short term goals, so he would change a belief every one or two games or so as he accomplished them or changed them.

    Jim, on the other hand, made Beliefs that were more of a slow burn, more philosophical things that drove his character and he generated more Fate artha, while Rich tended to generate more Persona. Jim's swap out cycle for Beliefs, probably ran longer, more like five sessions or more and he probably has a belief that he had at the first game, I'd think.
  • Posted By: BWAJohn (Umit's player) actually emailed us this morning to say that he felt like his play was disappointing, and he'll try to be more dynamic in the next game.
    I'd probably help him out with a band of Saxons inviting him along on a raid of the watu village, or something. If he says yes...awesome, make it about whether or not he impresses them with his prowess. If he declines...awesome. Launch a DoW with stakes revolving around him losing or keeping face with the clan.
  • For the guys who want to maintain some continuity with their Beliefs and/or are sketchy about constantly rewriting them, a thought (you've probably already read this elsewhere): Write the Belief in two sentences. The first sentence is the ideological statement, and that won't change. The second sentence is the to-do item ("Goal" in Mouse Guard-speak), and that's the one you update. So you can keep checking in on the unchanging first half -- and earning F (and moldbreaker P!) when you push toward it in a general way -- while making sure the second half is fresh and ready to earn you some P.

    p.
  • Our game is progressing pretty well. Tonight's session was fun, and using the rules is coming more naturally to us. As you get more used to forcing yourself to "go to the dice" you grok the mechanics more.

    We did all observe that tonight's game felt very D&D-ish, which puzzles me a little. John still hasn't found much grounding for his character yet (a conflicted ex-soldier torn between two cultures), so James' character (a manipulative and somewhat ruthless gangster) ends up driving much of the action.

    James' character ended up coming up with a number of somewhat hare-brained schemes involving lying to the crimelord and trying to get his hands on some dwarven nog. That had a D&D/Savage Worlds quality to it, in which the intended gritty/heroic feel is replaced by something more cartoonish.

    We also ran a couple of combat encounters between the PCs and an old lady smuggler and her thuggish son. They came up in a circles test as people who had some nog, but they developed into the primary antagonists of the session. (Which was great, since it's nice to have random NPCs become central to the story, even as comic relief).

    Still somewhat spooked by the complexity of Fight!, we are using bloody versus tests. Combat using those rules also has a D&D-like quality to it, with the "one round" back-and-forth between combatants, and general resistance to injury (although that later part may just be the low combat skills of the PCs and the people they were fighting). It definitely flows differently than the full-on combat rules.

    What I'm thinking through now is whether this is anything meaningful in my ongoing quest to "get" Burning Wheel, or whether it was just one game. Tonight's game *was* fun, but it was fun in the same way that a good night of, say, 3rd edition D&D with a good group is fun.

    Most of the Burning Wheel advice one gets is (rightly) focused on beliefs in play, and I can tell that we are still not really using that interface to bring the awesome.
  • Posted By: BWA...all observe that tonight's game felt very D&D-ish, which puzzles me a little.
    Why puzzled? I like your answer:
    Posted By: BWAMost of the Burning Wheel advice one gets is (rightly) focused on beliefs in play, and I can tell that we are still not really using that interface to bring the awesome.
    Burning Wheel without the beliefs is going to feel like...a game without beliefs. If you're having fun with that, awesome! You can do that. If you want to bring beliefs into play, Awesome! You can do that too. If you want suggestions on how to do that in your game, I'm sure folks here could come up with interesting ideas based on the beliefs you've sketched out above.
  • edited April 2009
    Posted By: noclue
    Posted By: BWA If you want suggestions on how to do that in your game, I'm sure folks here could come up with interesting ideas based on the beliefs you've sketched out above.
    Yes.

    Having a thread for help on Burning Wheel on the Story Games forum is a bit like taking a bicycle into the ocean but yeah, there are folks here who will gladly help, myself included if bringing those beliefs to the forefront is what you want.

    What kind of artha is being handed out and for what?

    Can you name a scene that you have framed that addresses the beliefs above?
  • Yeah, I guess I really should post at the BW forums, which I have done in the past. One of the other players, John, was planning to post an AP there, though, and hasn't gotten a chance to, so I keep returning to this one, so as not to inundate any given forum with our one little game.

    Artha awards: I gave out a fate point to Umit (John's character), because one of his instincts is to speak up when someone casts racial slurs, and he did so in a high-level meeting with the dangerous crime boss. I have another fat point to Surhan (James' character) for playing his belief of "testing and grooming" Umit (the other PC), since he managed to convince Umit to do a few things he didn't want to, and also kep a key piece of information from him for most of the session.

    At the end of the game we decided on MVP and Workhorse awards ... MVP for James, whose character's goals drove most of the action, and workhorse for John, whose character ended up doing a lot of the work.
    Posted By: JuddCan you name a scene that you have framed that addresses the beliefs above?
    That's a great question. Most of the scenes revolved around the character's beliefs and the NPCs named in them, but my scene-framing could be more aggressive. I throw a fair amount of action at the PCs, in the form of "Suddenly, Murgo and Fat Mustapha are at the door, demanding you open up!", and that sort of thing, but since I can't answer more explicitly, I guess I need to do a better job directly engaging the PC's beliefs.
  • Brian,

    Over how many sessions has it been with the sole artha flow as one fate for each player + the MVP and Workhorse?
  • First session: Creation / discussion only
    Second session: "Exposition" scenes, more creation, no artha
    Third session: No artha awards! Not even MVP/workhorse
    Fourth session: 2 fate points for playing beliefs/instincts, 2 persona points for MVP/workhorse
  • I would recommend handling all of the Artha awards at the end of the session. Once play is done have every player go down their list of Beliefs and talk about things that they did to hit those beliefs during play. Also discuss what beliefs they didn't hit and make a note to your self to frame a scene next session that sets the missed belief up. Do the same for Instincts and Traits.

    I switched over to this method recently for my Burning Wheel Thieves game and have found that first off this took a lot of the onus off of me as the GM to keep track of giving out Artha while we play and I can focus more on playing hard against the player's BITs instead. Also the end game review really provides the whole group with these nice summations of where each character and player is currently inregards to thief BITs. Also this has doubled the amount of Artha per session I am giving out.

    - Colin
  • That sounds like a great technique, Colin. Thanks. I will try that in the next session.
  • I've skimmed, I'll admit (sorry--kinda busy), but I haven't see you speak about Trait artha (Fate), specifically Character Traits.

    In one four-hours session, recently (last night), I've been awarded 3 Fate for 2 character Trait pings and a Belief ping (I argued breifly for one more) and the MVP Persona (a really tough scene, where I had to be a hard-ass to my guy's daughter, as the lesser of two evils... and thus also got a new Char Trait of "Hard Hearted"). From what you posted just above, I'd say the artha flow is WAY too slow.

    Some quick advice, from my (admittedly limited) play experience:
    * Have an Instinct that you will fairly often eschew, to create complications, for that Fate ping. (You award Fate for FOLLOWING an Instinct? Odd...)
    * Stay in character--USE those character Traits like sledgehammers, at times--and be sure to remind folks for the Fate pings ("Well, ya see, I'm so Paranoid that I...").
    * Never skip MVP/WH/Trait vote. Ever. Sometimes no one gets any--a fairly level and even (and maybe even slow or dull) session CAN happen. But then ask yourself why no one had a chance to be shine, or to save the day--did they even get tests? Is the story flow pushing against Beliefs, to force action (or make to make painful decisions)?
    * Remember that it takes 5(!)Deeds, and a bajillion Persona and Fate, to get ONE stinking epiphany. And realize that, very often, you can't focus artha expenditure into the one skill or attribute you really want or need to make the epiphany worthwhile. So that means you're looking at a LOT of accomplished goals, aided masses (or maybe just individuals), Trait and Instinct pings. At the rate you're going, you MIGHT epiphany in one aspect in, oh, ten years of play. :)
    * Be smart about how you approach test dot acquisition. Sucks to wipe off five Challenging when you finally get your two Difficult, to go from 5 to 6 (or whatever the precise math) in a skill.

    Artha, as I see it, is supposed to be flying like fan mail. Someone should get at least a Fate, and ideally be forced to spend a F or P, in EVERY SCENE; or you're just wandering around the "real" story that your Beliefs are supposed to tell, or you've got Instincts that are irrelevant or uninteresting to you. I probably spend more time looking at my BITs section of my character sheet than at any other section--Stats, Attributes, Skills, Weapons, etc combined. Why? Because I'm ALWAYS asking myself how to drive them, how to ping them, how they can inform the story or complicate a situation.

    And don't forget about those test dots! Look for Difficult and Challenging tests--if you're doing the above, then you should at least have the artha to give them a shot; and failure is FUN in a good BW game. Look for diversity, because you can't get more than one test dot award in a given scene (or maybe even less often, for some). One trick ponies advance VERY slowly, in general--the swordsman will rarely ever get better at Sword. But the swordsman who is also acrobatic (and using it) and is also a fast-talker (and using it) and is also observant (Assess) and is also willing to swap out to the knife once on the inside will surely be dot-rich, in but one session.

    Anyway, sorry if I wandered off thread a bit, but the main thing I wanted to say was in the first paragraph of this post: be your characters, and that means be ALL of them: Traits, Instincts, Beliefs, and your suite of Skills. After that, it's just a matter of driving to a diversity of conflicts, to engage all of your attributes and so-forth.

    HTH;
    David
  • My artha does not fly as fast and furious as David's does. Comparison to PTA doesn't work for me. BW is a game made for a long haul, very long, years long. It is okay to have easy-going scenes where folks don't earn artha. PTA is a game of limited scenes

    But two+ sessions with two fate and then the end-of-chapter artha seems a bit slow to me.
  • My target is 2-3 Fate and 1-2 Persona per player per session. That's my guideline to let me know if I'm running the game right or not.

    Techniques for handing out Artha:

    * Mouseguard-ize Character Traits: We're doing this in our Jihad game right now and it works quite well. Basically you have these CTs without a lot of mechanical umph to them in BW RAW. So try this: Let players "invoke" them for an Advantage die (1 max, just like regular Advantage rules), or let them "invoke" them for a +1Ob and 1 Fate. In either case, have them explain how the CT is helping/hindering their effort. If they take the +1Ob and they lose, use that to inform the consequences of that failure.

    * Aim for Moldbreakers. This is pretty much my secret sauce for getting BW to run itself (along with handing over the detail reins via Wises). Look at each character's BITs and aim them at themselves. Extend that to aiming the characters' BITS at each other: you'll end up with hot DOWs and Fight!s and moldbreaker moments.

    * Personally? I prefere real-time Artha for Fate generated by chasing Beliefs and for letting Instincts and Traits get in your way, as well as Personal for moldbreaker moments. I save right place right time, MVP and workhorse for post-game. I know real-time Artha is a point of contention, and it's not how BWHQ runs things, but right now I'm getting more juice from shortening up the economy than I am making folks recount/rationalize their Artha after the fact.

    p.
  • Posted By: Paul BMy target is 2-3 Fate and 1-2 Persona per player per session. That's my guideline to let me know if I'm running the game right or not.
    Also, there is some burden on the players in being aggressive in pursuing their Beliefs. I have totally seen players write Beliefs that they think excite them but then play a character who would be getting artha if they had written the beliefs they actually wanted to play towards.

    Artha being handed out is also up to the players in being aggressive. The burden is not just on the GM.

    Just sayin'...
  • Judd: Totally agreed.

    I forget that sometimes, since I have players who are already pretty aggressive/proactive about BIT-chasing. So I suppose the passive-voice form -- "it's my guideline to let me know if the game is running right or not" -- is more appropriate.

    p.
  • Posted By: Luke WheelHey man,

    Just wanted to wish you the best of luck and offer one comment. Three to four sessions is too short. Shout for six or seven.
    Seconded. Especially if you want to ease into the game systems (by which I mean to say, get out of the "shallow end" where you use the simple systems for all resolution.

    That doesn't mean you have to think about having a really long campaign, or a never-ending campaign, and in fact, I think "six or seven" sessions as Luke suggests is probably the right way to think of the expected lengths of your "novella" type things (i.e. a pair or a trio of thematically related adventures or something like that).

    But you're not going to full feel comfortable with the rules after six or seven sessions, in my experience. All Luke's games (that I've seen so far: BW, BE, MG, and played: BW) are deep from a rules point of view. Learning the rules themselves may not be all that complex, but putting them in play effectively is not a simply learned task and one that takes time and patience.

    My group played for a year on an almost weekly basis, and we ended up feeling that we didn't have a really good handle on how to put the rules into practice that worked for us.

    With Luke's games, I think it probably makes sense to firmly separate in your group's collective expectations that "learning how to play the game" maps one-to-one onto "the adventure we're about to play". These two things will almost certainly not be the same length of time, nor should they necessarily be, and if they did end up being the same length of time, I'd be very surprised.

    Think of it like chess: you wouldn't expect to learn to really have fun with chess after your first game. Or second. Or third. And so on.

    So -- the right length of play for a good arc to get you started is I think as Luke suggests: 6 to 8 sessions. Gives you a session or two to burn up characters, a session or two for rising action, a session or two for climactic actions, and a session to warm down and debrief.

    But if that works for you, you'll want to try that again, adding in more rules. Then again, adding in more rules.

    It will probably help you if you clearly set out a plan ahead of time for each "adventure" what rules are in play and which are not. Don't succumb to feature creep: if someone suggests "hey, let's just try out this Duel of Wits thing tonight", the best response is, "let's play the way we agreed, and then talk about it, and if we want to stick DoW into the next adventure, that's cool".

    Luke cautions people again and again and again that they should learn the game in stages. And they don't listen. And they come away unhappy.

    I have a feeling that partly this happens over and over again because people have a mental picture of the "campaign" as their one and only opportunity to learn to play the game in its entirety. Best if you don't think that way. Explicitly. Formally.
  • Posted By: David Artman
    * Stay in character--USE those character Traits like sledgehammers, at times--and be sure to remind folks for the Fate pings ("Well, ya see, I'm soParanoidthat I...").
    See, that's an awesome example of how different people and playstyles can groove with Luke's games. I have found from my play experience that the best moments we had with BW were when we payed no attention whatsoever to staying in character.

    All the tactical, rules-heavy gritty moments were all "My character does that", and "ooh boy, you can get an extra die if I help you out this way", and etc, etc.

    This really helped us keep the rules away from moments that were fun to roleplay, and clearly signalled the moments when it was time to "roll dice".

    We're finding that this mode of play is serving us well as we're currently playing 4e. Very similar mode, very similar fun.

    But whatever works for fun at your table.
  • I know not a thing of Burning Wheel (oh alright I know the books are pretty and some of the terms but that's it) so I'll comment on something completely different:

    That ancient city of yours sound awesome, Brian! (consider it yoink'd)
  • edited April 2009
    Posted By: JuddAlso, there is some burden on the players in being aggressive in pursuing their Beliefs. I have totally seen players write Beliefs that they think excite them but then play a character who would be getting artha if they had written the beliefs they actually wanted to play towards.
    Yes. I think this is exactly the problem John is having with his character. The guy he invented is not really the guy we are seeing in play. Thus, his beliefs don't come out like James'.
    Posted By: viktor_haagBut you're not going to full feel comfortable with the rules after six or seven sessions, in my experience. All Luke's games (that I've seen so far: BW, BE, MG, and played: BW) aredeepfrom a rules point of view. Learning the rules themselves may not be all that complex, but putting them in play effectively isnota simply learned task and one that takes time and patience.
    One caveat: This is not my first BW game. I've played one-shots, and run a campaign.

    That said, I agree. In fact, our original plan was to play 3-4 session, and we've already done that, with no plans to stop. So I expect the outline you're suggesting is probably just what we'll end up doing.

    I do agree with you about using all the rules at once. That's what I did in my first BW campaign, and it was a big mess. Per my original post in this thread, the three of us are very explicit about introducing rules-sets slowly. So far we haven't used Fight!, Range and Cover, Duel of Wits, or the magic system at all.
    Posted By: DeBracyThat ancient city of yours sound awesome, Brian! (consider it yoink'd)
    Thanks. It was a product of mutual creation.

    We also have a wiki set up to document the city as it evolves through play. Which is a whole other topic.
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