*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 16, 2021, 03:47:24 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: [Burning Wheel] Bat-things, Spite, love, and God  (Read 5888 times)
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« on: September 10, 2004, 08:08:57 AM »

Hello,

Continuing from [Burning Wheel] Bad-ass elves in action, we played our second session! I was pretty well-loaded for this one, in terms of numerical prep.

The bad news from some viewpoints (Maura being the standout here, the Mistress of the Hairy Eyeball) is that in this, our third major BW get-together, we still had to hash out and re-calculate various aspects of character creation. This isn't a critique of the game so much as a Techniques & Creative Agenda issue relative to our group itself ... the entire concept of calculating derived scores for effectiveness values (e.g. Reflexes, skill-roots to skills) has become, to us, one of those features of role-playing design that we really don't want to do any more. I appealed to the others on the basis of pure Creative Agenda: (paraphrasing) "Look, Burning Wheel is partly founded on an appreciation of its own internal causes, in that if you have a Perception and Speed and Agility of thus-and-such values, then you'll have Reflexes of X, and that means X actions to play with." Stares and growls of "it should just give me my fucking actions then; if I want to fantasize about how my 'speed' factored into that, I'll do it and let you know." I appealed further: "Yes, yes, but that's us, try to see that such an approach is viable from other viewpoints, and that it can be appreciated as such."

The good news about this is that the Burning Wheel makes sense in every one of its causal connections among its parts. Our group is right in questioning whether the sense is necessary - in exactly the spirit that prompted Luke to begin Burning Wheel Light lark - but there is no denial that if one takes joy in the interlocking ontogenetic features of one's character, the 'Wheel delivers in spades. And after dealing with Hidden Legacy, a game design even more committed to this principle but (a) very poorly written and organized and (b) a little cloudy in the applications for some of its system, all of us are finding that the effort to get all the li'l numbers all lined up is at least not damaging our sense of tidiness. "Worth it" is a personal call, but in this game, doing this is intellectually sound, not teeth-grinding. So they all glanced at one another and spotted me a good will to get into it.

I might be a step or two ahead (Maura might say "behind") the others in appreciating this, because I had finally found "my way" of generating and summarizing Burning Wheel NPCs. This is something one has to do for games of this sort: come up with some kind of abbreviated summary-chart of necessary NPC numbers and concepts, well-suited both for creating them and for use during play. If you do the whole character-sheet thing for every relevant NPC (something I did endlessly, endlessly, for Champions back in the day), you'll either become a monomaniacal dreamer (did I mention Champions GMing?) or, upon giving up in despair, one of those wingers who ends up becoming a railroader by accident. For TROS, my method involved a matrix of names down the left and various stuff listed across the right; for Burning Wheel, it involves a little notepad with an NPC on each one. The physicality of these methods is a big deal for me; in a game like this in which NPCs' effectiveness values and specific info like Beliefs and Instincts are fairly complex, numericallly, I have to hit upon one that works before I can prep and play with any skill or enjoyment at all.

Remember the death-squad elves who went off to scour the village? (They were all Citadel-Soldiers, Born Citadel elves, fighters to be sure, more than a match for a pair of basic humans each, but not war veterans. Steel B4 or B5, mainly.) Here's their leader, who was also a part of framing the characters into the scenario, as Mablung's former commander.

Elrohir
Lifepaths: Citadel Born, Student, Soldier-Protector x2, Rider, Outrider, Lancer, Lieutenant, Captain - 391 years old
Traits: Proud, Guilty Conscience, Iron Will
Beliefs: Duty is honor, Humans are animals
Instincts: Tolerate no dishonor, Trust no politics
Steel G8
Grief 6 (it just went up from 5 right before play started, as he encountered a serious shock to his belief about humans when their Hindrance prayers threw the death-squad's attack into full disarray)

I hope people can see that this NPC's Traits, Beliefs, Instincts, and Grief are all disastrously intertwined - he's totally primed for westering after another major crisis. At the moment, he's all mortally wounded and laid up, but if he makes it through this immediate scenario, he may be an important NPC later on in a more active way.

Anyway, imagine all of the above scribbled in a fairly organized fashion (specific place for each "thing") on a tearaway notepad sheet about 5" x 3.5", and you have the right idea. There's about fifteen of these pages, a few of them generic ("human villager," "bat thing") but most of them a full NPC. A few of them are in there for the future, and these aren't as fleshed out yet (I can do it now, after this run).

We're now a lot better at the routines of skill and attribute use, including advancement and obstacles and all that stuff. A player or two got confused about obstacles once or twice, but that's the necessary learning curve of a game like this, I think. We still have to get more facile with Steel checks and applications and damage/armor procedures. I don't mind telling you that IMS is a bit of a bitch.

Scripted combat went fine, with a couple li'l rules about the above stuff to discover on the way. I like scripting and running multiple NPCs in it is easy - pretty much the same thing one has to do anyway, just better organized. We're not expert yet on the details, but I think we all greatly enjoy the concept, and the recent Action reaction: stump the experts threads will help a great deal.

We used the armor rules from the published book; I can't see how the download version is different anyhow, but that might be a property of effort and familiarity. I was surprised they're not spending more Artha, but then again, they've been lucky in combat so far (some very fortunate armor rolls in both directions, i.e. failure of foes' armor and performance of theirs); Gray Steel goes a hell of a long way too. So for next session it's time to get the physical and psychic heat goin', clearly.

As for this past session, what happened?

1. Our elves got into a fight with the bat-things that pursued the human and elf refugees from the village, including some very nice tactical thinking and singing from the player-characters. The fight itself was largely defined by much nastiness from Mablung's superb hits with swords, although the player's slight confusion about Obstacles might have helped a little bit. Overall, the whole fight involved some great examples of dramatic bow-drawing, maneuvering around, and "go for it" attacks.

2. They then met up with Father Jean-Jacques and the band of refugees. To recap, this is a small mountain village where a military priest (chaplain) retired to, which just happened to be deep in elven territory. Two of the villagers are the priest's staunch supporters, (Francois and Ouimette), and all of them love and trust him. The group now includes about a dozen Wilder elves who are all westering, and two elven children, Linder and Arrohirren ... who are now Grief-less and have Faith B2 apiece. Yup. Elf children holding crosses. They weird out everyone.

I really like Father Jean-Jacques:
Lifepaths: City-born, Acolyte x2, Priest (city) x2, Chaplain x2, Priest (village) - 52 years old
Traits: Faithful, Bitter, Reverent, Brave, Inspirational, Battered
Beliefs: As God wills, Death is certain
Instincts: Care for the wounded, Be sure of your kills, Pray daily
Steel G8
Faith G6: if this doesn't make you shudder, I don't know what will

(the Faith is good enough to throw Hindrance upon foes given preparation and a little support from the faithful; the villagers all have Faith B1. Hindrance is a real bastard! It's just about the only things humans have that can stop elven singing and orcish whip/Hate in their tracks)
(all this is preparatory to a major post about Faith in the Burning Wheel one of these days)

Between the villagers and the Wilder elves, the player-characters have figured out more-or-less what's going on. When the elves had originally tried to harass the humans out of their territory (I'm talking about the Wilder, local elves, not the Citadel elves who come in later), it didn't work. The Faith simply stopped them. This happened long enough for them all eventually to Grief up, especially after two of the elven children just plain decided that this priest was onto something. First time ever in all of elven history. Now they want to go to the Citadel.

Now, one elf in the Wilder group disagreed strenuously. He hadn't been born there, but had retreated there after a bad life; in fact, he's Earendur, the brother-in-law of Lodril (a player-character) who hates her guts. Maura and I talked a bit about this guy and came up with back-story, which I then enriched through prep and brought more fully into play in this session. Earendur was a Song Singer who apparently loved Lodril desperately, and pretty much mooned about it big-time when she married his brother. But then (going by her lifepaths) she decided to become a Protector and an Outrider, which pissed off the brother, yes ... but really got Earendur's goat, because it was bad enough he'd been rejected for his brother, but now that she walks away from that is, you know, like a double whammy rejection of him. Maura had already suggested that Lodril frequently had to put up with popular elven ballads written by Earendur that painted her as a heartless bitch.

Well, I figured Earendur had taken the Dark Elf path of Spite, gave him two stints as a Griever, and no elf like this is gonna give a shit about Grief and going west. Nope. When his village wife (who looked just like Lodril, ew!) hit 10 and got ready to go, he killed her, mounted her head on a stick in the elven village, and then hit the caves, singing his Lullabye of Sorrow and eventually conjuring up the bat-things out of pure Spite. They are a lot like Chiropterans in the Monster Burner except more combat-vicious and very, very evil. When Lodril killed one of them in the fight, it recognized her and died laughing ... Earendur now knows she's here ...

I really enjoyed the fun of role-playing between the war-scarred, bitter, yet wholly committed priest and the utterly uncomprehending Immortal/First-Born elves: "We are in the hands of God." Pause. "What?"

What's up now are these issues:

1. The westering elves are going, no matter what; it was kind of nice for the player-character Amore to Lament for them, which doesn't change their Grief from 10 but at least gave them the spine to go travelling west instead of just sitting there and wasting away.

2. The priest and his people are staying right here, although they recognize Earendur as an evil being and are willing to gut it out, whatever it takes.

3. The kids want to go to the Citadel, for all sorts of reasons that aren't yet apparent.

4. Earendur wants to um-whatever to Lodril. He's sick with love and hate, and I don't even wanna know what he'd really do if he got his hands on her. And he's got the firepower, terrain, and magic to do it.

Oh yeah!! We have lots of questions about Routine actions and advancement, especially for Grief. Are we correct in thinking that once you have exponent 5, Routine actions are pretty much glossed over for advancement? This is a concern in this game, because Routine Grief is common so far - as in, ten times or so in the last session. I am considering a cumulative impact for these, if they happen thick and fast enough, such that ten things which rate a Routine Grief each, within an hour of in-game time (these are just vague estimates), might be considered a single Difficult Grief event. Luke, is this something you do, or would it be a house rule? I mean, we all like the idea that the player-characters are hardened as hell, but it really is pretty grim in our scenario - I'm seeing the players wince enough to wonder whether the cumulative interpretation might be using once in a while.

Also, how do you get advancement for stuff that typically helps, like Song of Songs? Helping doesn't roll, you just assign dice over (as with FoRKing, just with different one die/two dice cutoff). Do you treat it like Grief, just cross-referencing on the table? But then what's the Obstacle to use on the chart? Is it the same as the roll that you're helping?

Anyway, play is sporadic but is becoming more regular as the crazed summer schedules among the group settle down into the more routine fall schedules. I don't know much about the eventual length of this game, as either we'll finish with this specific scenario (bats, Earendur) or continue after its resolution with the kids going back to the Citadel, or some other fallout/continuance scenario as the players see fit.

One of these days, I'm going to post a big ol' thing about the fascinating "triangle" of Sorcerer, Burning Wheel, and The Riddle of Steel.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Luke
Member

Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2004, 07:40:57 AM »

Hi Ron,

Great stuff. I was talking to Dro last night and he asked me, "Did you see Ron's post?"

"No, I haven't been near a computer."

"It's great stuff, I was amazed. He has village priest with a G6 Faith."

::SHUDDER::  "Oh my god, that's freaking insane!" I laughed.

So you got me.

Anyway, it sounds like most of the hitches your players are encountering are just basic functionality/comfortability stuff that ya get in a game as complex as BW.

Factoring attributes and IMS is done once for players and falls into the background after a session or two.

One thing about BW though, is that as you said, it's not for nothing. All of that "complexity" rewards you in the end as it's all tied together with the good stuff.

On page 53 of the BW, second paragraph down, "Once a skill is 5 or higher, Routine tests no longer count for advancement."

I know that says a "skill", but the intent there is for all abilities to fall under this rule. So your players aren't giving their character's their due. The little stuff, they just watch it coldly. But the big stuff... it still penetrates the skin.

I don't know about cumaltive Grief tests, and I'm reluctant to give it the nod because of the precedent it might set. But I d encourage you to turn up the heat by involving the situations surrounding higher obstacle Grief tests.

To answer your question more directly, on page 188 of the BW I talk about granting tests as rewards for "surviving" situations overall. There is no reason this philosophy can't be applied to Grief tests. Setting an obstacle for the session and rewarding players with it at the end of play: "Oh god that scene was brutal! Everyone note an Ob 5 Grief test -- it was just so twisted!"

Just be sure that this reward isn't actively punishing a player for involving Grief in the game. And make sure you can justify why it ain't no Routine test.

Lastly, page 54 of the BW describes Helping and Advancement. The helper doesn't roll, but he gets a test just as if he had rolled. Number of dice rolled vs the obstacle indicates the for advancement test taken.

can't wait to hear about our magic triangle and your thoughts on faith,
-L
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2004, 08:44:01 AM »

Hi Luke!

Thanks for posting ... I was feeling lonely ...

Quote
On page 53 of the BW, second paragraph down, "Once a skill is 5 or higher, Routine tests no longer count for advancement."

I know that says a "skill", but the intent there is for all abilities to fall under this rule. So your players aren't giving their character's their due. The little stuff, they just watch it coldly. But the big stuff... it still penetrates the skin.


Yeah, I get the part about ability/skill; didn't mean for that to be an issue in the post. We've been playing it by the rules, with Routine Grief (e.g. killing someone, for these player-characters) just sliding off them.

Quote
I don't know about cumaltive Grief tests, and I'm reluctant to give it the nod because of the precedent it might set. But I d encourage you to turn up the heat by involving the situations surrounding higher obstacle Grief tests.


Oh don't you worry. This stuff is old news to me. It's just that the players really want to use their Laments and are kind of itching for Grief tests. So the precedent you're worrying about is more a matter of player demand.

Quote
To answer your question more directly, on page 188 of the BW I talk about granting tests as rewards for "surviving" situations overall. There is no reason this philosophy can't be applied to Grief tests. Setting an obstacle for the session and rewarding players with it at the end of play: "Oh god that scene was brutal! Everyone note an Ob 5 Grief test -- it was just so twisted!"


That oughta do it - it's a slightly more metagame version of my cumulative idea, and thus under a bit more control by group consensus. And again, trust me, there will be no possible risk of the situation not being twisted enough.

Quote
Lastly, page 54 of the BW describes Helping and Advancement. The helper doesn't roll, but he gets a test just as if he had rolled. Number of dice rolled vs the obstacle indicates the for advancement test taken.


Ah! Which is good, because that's how we decided to do it ... that's also nice because stuff like Song of Songs 3 can rack up a bunch of Routine tests and eventually hit 4, etc. Stuff at low levels is awesome for helping, both in terms of effectiveness and in terms of enjoying watching them advance.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Luke
Member

Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2004, 08:57:04 AM »

I was away this weekend -- actually taking a break from the Wheel. Erin took me around and showed me off to all her super genius friends at a series of soirees in Cambridge. It was very collegiate, very academic.

Everyone was asking me about the game, or at least about what they'd heard from Erin. I explained, most people got it. I happened to have a copy on hand in case any one didn't. Of course, the one time I had a captive audience that didn't quite get it, I left my bag in the car. Such is the life of a nerd: to be half understood.

Anyway, I missed you, too:

Quote
Ah! Which is good, because that's how we decided to do it ... that's also nice because stuff like Song of Songs 3 can rack up a bunch of Routine tests and eventually hit 4, etc. Stuff at low levels is awesome for helping, both in terms of effectiveness and in terms of enjoying watching them advance.


Think of helping and advancement tests almost as a nuturing relationship in BW. The helper is very much sponging up the expertise of the helpee, but without requiring the time of instruction. However with helping, there's the risk that such immediate involvement could cause trouble for the helper. At least I hope so!

When you use the helping rules, I strongly recommend that the helping players physically hand their dice to the acting player. This simple ritual helps keep players involved and it allows all to see who helped and who didn't! I'm always amazed how this small act really galvanizes the table. Helping goes from, "yeah, yeah, I help her", to "I'm helping! Here's my help!"

fun stuff,
-L
Logged

Judd
Member

Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2004, 10:56:24 PM »

Quote from: abzu


When you use the helping rules, I strongly recommend that the helping players physically hand their dice to the acting player. This simple ritual helps keep players involved and it allows all to see who helped and who didn't! I'm always amazed how this small act really galvanizes the table. Helping goes from, "yeah, yeah, I help her", to "I'm helping! Here's my help!"


The act of actually handing someone the dice is such a huge deal.  It makes a monstrous difference.

I have also seen this phenomenon over in my Dogs in the Vineyard campaign but the first place I noticed it was at Luke's Dwarves v. Elves game at Gen Con during our big debate.

Anyway, just wanted to step up and vouch for the act of gamers handing gamers their help dice without entire de-railing this thread.
Logged

jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2004, 05:47:47 AM »

Wow.  I wouldn't have thought that the act of handing over dice would be considered such a big deal.  I have to confess that we didn't play it that way.  The person helping rolled her added dice in conjunction with the acting player's roll.  Then the results were pooled.  We have a long history of player assistance and sharing dice.  For us as a group it's more satisfying for everyone to participate by rolling the dice rather than swapping them around.

Julie
Logged
Luke
Member

Posts: 1359

Conventions Forum Moderator, First Thoughts Pest


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2004, 06:04:32 AM »

Quote from: jrs
Then the results were pooled.  We have a long history of player assistance and sharing dice.  For us as a group it's more satisfying for everyone to participate by rolling the dice rather than swapping them around.


Again, not to derail: Having each participant roll is equally effective. I've found that most players don't thrill on rolling just one or two dice. Hence the "give me your help in the form of dice rule." But really, either way is fine -- so long as everyone is participating.

Julie, I assume you're one of the players? What's your take on the game so far? Which character are you controlling? What're your BITs? What are you hanging up on, if anything? Whaddya like in play?


-L
Logged

Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2004, 06:28:35 AM »

Hello,

During play, I contemplated having the dice get passed from the helper to the helpee, and rejected the idea, in order to give the helper something active to do. This group is perhaps the helpin'-est bunch of players ever, based on our experiences with HeroQuest (then Hero Wars) and with Sorcerer, which both involve a lot of inter-player rolling and results-augmentation. Ever since we played Dust Devils, in fact.

So as a group, we like the idea of lots of stuff hitting the table at once, in several places, and then looking across all of them to see what happens or (depending on the game) to manage various things from there.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Keith Senkowski
Member

Posts: 725

On A Downward Spiral...


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2004, 10:17:46 AM »

Hey Ron,

Question about the game.  Did you develop a setting for it or just extrapolate (did I spell that right?) from the Life Paths and make something on the fly?

Keith
Logged

Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2004, 10:50:16 AM »

Hiya,

Extrapolated from the Lifepaths and went on the fly from there. Two clarifications, though:

1. I've been saying for a while that there is a lot more Setting implicit in the Lifepaths than most people seem to be realizing. I do not think the Burning Wheel text is "setting-less" by a wide margin; there's more to work with there in Setting terms than you can find in a lot of books with 100 pages devoted to setting.

2. "On the fly" does not necessarily mean during play, but rather to a discussion among ourselves for establishing some points about the setting. This culminated in pulling some near-random fantasy supplement off the shelves and finding a map with the right kind of terrain, and using that for the relevant area. We are by no means adopting that map entirely nor using any aspect of the setting its based on; it's a limited geographical reference only.

Best,
Ron
Logged
jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2004, 04:18:20 AM »

Quote from: abzu
Julie, I assume you're one of the players? What's your take on the game so far? Which character are you controlling? What're your BITs? What are you hanging up on, if anything? Whaddya like in play?


Hi Luke,

I'm playing Amarie.  I just noticed that Ron's been spelling her name wrong.  (Ron, where did "Amore" come from?  Makes me think of a brand of convenience food.)  Here's her BITs:

Beliefs:  Everything happens for a reason, Truth can always be revealed
Instincts: When talk isn't called for, sing; Early riser; Always make evening rounds
Traits: Poised, in addition to all the relevant Elf traits

So far, I've really enjoyed the scripted combat, and I also like that skills can advance as they are used (even though I think the method of tracking advancement is a bit twiddly).  Both of these elements remind me somewhat of Swashbuckler, a much beloved game that I haven't played in a long time.

As Ron already mentioned, the main hangup for me and the group as a whole has been the lengthy character creation which has been exasperated by the fact that the characters were initially devised some *two* months prior to actual play.  Now that we are hopefully back on a regular gaming schedule, we'll be able to get over that initial set back and get on with the game.  

Julie
Logged
Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!