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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 153 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Burning Wheel] up from the ashes  (Read 2677 times)
Kaare Berg

Posts: 158

« on: November 09, 2004, 06:50:58 AM »

This is a long over due follow up from my last post which had left my group in a bit of a slump. We worked our way out of this, and if there was anything to be learned from that experience it was as simple as this: Talk to your players.

Initially I was going to post each game, but it felt like flogging a dead horse and I am not very tolerant to cruelty to animals, dead or alive. So instead here is a session by session report of how my group fixed this.

but to recap the internal meta game problem: My players had messed up a clean victory and sort of turned on each other. the tone had become too serious and the out of game mood in my game had become "grudging" and for a while my campaign was at deaths door. As I said; we fixed it and this is how.

The story so far (or Up from the Ashes):

Quote from: In the chronicles of Miranna Kyle the Younger
After their return of the future king of Miranna the heroes were lauded as heroes. Such was their new renown that all the knights of the kingdom joined them at Cliffside and meditated at the Shrine of compassion ushering in a new age for the people of Miranna.

this was the follow up of Breaking the Fellowhip. It let me show my players that despite their percieved failure last session they did actually win a major victory. This helped, we then went on to:

Family Honour:

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
In these volumes the tale of the quest to restore the Roadwardens and the defeat of an old evil is told. With an entourage consisting of the flower of this knighthood the band traveled south into Trinsic. Where the heroes entered the old Warden-keep and after hard and vicious battle with draugi of both man and troll bones Tengel faced and killed his ancestor. Avenging the dead Roadwardens and redeeming himself for his past sins.

Here I removed all ambiguety and moral decision. It was a black and white "dungeon crawl" with a lot of colour and playing on player goals. We had some wonderful moments, and I relit Christian's spark (Tengel's player). We were getting there, but some the others still felt something lacked with regards to their characters.

Wizards and Honour

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
The next volumes speak of the time when Tengel was left behind in the company of Duke Bois to face his father a tale that is told elsewhere. Lead by Calem the four travelled to Mindon Lhun where the Wizard council bade them welcome. Here they learned the terror of a Morgul blade and saw that very blade turned over to Aelfric. Fleeing to the keep of the Green Knight, Liam passed his test and earned the Mantra to Shrine of Honour. Travelling through magical mist they came to the Shrine of honour where Calem used the Druidís First Rule to defeat the Archmage of Mindon Lhun.

Christian went back to his hometown, and left us happy. This game saw the return of some of my moral dilemmas, and the amazing discovery that none of my players have read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It worked much better because I was able to focus my players on the consequences of their choices without loosing the loose mirth that had infused our first sessions. Christer was convinced that Liam would die when he took up the knights gauntlet, and the IC debate between him and Calem's player, Espen, at the prospect of his sacrifice/suicide was priceless. the fact that Espen used the Druids first Rule against me was a blast.

The Price of Friendship
Quote from: Kyle the Younger
In these books the ranger Liam is forced to choose between the plight of Gorin and his long lost happiness with his wife and son. When he leads the band on a desperate rescue mission into Ram Mithren all is nearly lost when he is stabbed by a Morgul Blade and they awaken the dragon Gostiaur. Only through desperation and cunning do they kill the dragon by breaking the Dams of Ram Mithren. In the end they are rescued by dwarven Death Seekers just as their wounds claim them.

This game was intense. It was in fact sort of two games in one. the first part I spent creating a sort of safe haven for my players in Barad Calen (ancient home of the True Druids). I then created a conflict between Liam's wife Joanna and the rest. Putting Liam in the middle. This made their departure from the Fortress more poignant. I was threading a fine line here (having learned from previous mistake) but kept my balance.
As we came into the second part it all gelled. An already desperate battle became even more so in the light of the previous conflict and most importantly, despite facing an enemy they could not defeat my players had fun. Oh and they won. They also cursed Luke Crane for the Monster Burner (which one of them ordered from our FLGS then next day).

Aelfricís Gamble
Quote from: Kyle the Younger
With their wounds healed and the dwarves long gone into the wet tunnels of Ram Mithren our heroes begin the long trek south to find Liamís family. This tale tells of how Maeind the Shade of Cribannogwend interferes and sends them into a valley and a siege. Dragon spawned trolls and horrors force them into a truce with Aelfric. The undead assassin claimed a desire for death and release which could only be granted him in the otherworldly Druid Ways. Their trust in the assassin was betrayed when the murderer went for Calemís heart with the Morgul Blade. Joshua brought the killer low and shaken the Heroes faced the Guardian of the Ways. He released them for a wow to bring him justice

Here we had found our pace. A final showdown with a recurring villain and some new trolls to fight made this a though but pure fun session. This could have gone both ways, on one hand Aelfric could have been true to his word and sought death on the other he could have betrayed them. Their suspicion and lack of faith in Aelfric's redemption would have cheapened his sacrifice. So he betrayed them.
This set up the next session perfectly and here is our last game.

Law and Justice.
Quote from: Kyle the Younger
Where our Heroes find the halls of Law bereft of Justice and the Order of Druids is reborn.

For the half-elves Allan and Shea it was with great surprise they found their friends at the Shrine of Justice. Joining the quest to right the wrong against the guardian and bring justice to the shrine the two joined the group and  travelled to the Shrine village where a great feast was impromptu held in their honour. The following day they all took a refreshing swim and had a quiet time reminiscing old battles and scars
This was beatifull openeing. And the old magic was back. the fact that my players remember their characters scars and where they got them both thrill and scare me. I think this is where I went wrong in the Breaking of the fellowship game. We played intense games for over a year and they have invested much in their characters. Although flattering I'm not sure this is altogether healthy.

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
That afternoon they travelled to Candlekeep the home of the Druids after the fall of Calen Barad. Villagers celebrated them on their way and they came to open gates and a royal reception. Yet Calemís Druid Staff caused consternation, but in respect for the laws of hospitality our heroes where not confronted by this. An austere but filling banquet was held and new clothes provided.

Espen knew of the Druid and Mage realtionship, yet he made no attempt to hide his staff. Here his character's belief in personal freedom drove the rest of the story into the invetable conflict. He felt such a law was injust and he fought it. Whether this is nar or sim I do not know, but it is someting I've learned here. thanks y'all.

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
The next day saw the heroes summoned to a private council chamber where the Lord of Law, Lord Baran plainly told Calem that a mage carrying a Druidís Staff was a violation of the Conclave of Sundering and that he had to relinquish the staff or face the consequences of this crime; death. Calem, advised not to speak of his master Allanorn, tried to defend his position, but the gates of the Candlekeep were closed and he was given until the next day to prepare his defence.

Everyone of my players backed Espen, I was inspired by this thread about mysteries, so I quickly escalated the conflict. Leading to fact finding here:
Quote from: Kyle the Younger
In the Candlekeep Library they found many books from the days before the Sundering of the Orders and Joshua employed his meagre reading ability to find the mantra of Justice. While Calem tried to find anything to defend his point the others went to the hall of law, following an educated guess that the Stone of Justice could be found there. There they saw the preparations for the trial and it was the inquisitive Joshua who found the hiding place of the stone. Unfortunately nothing could be done to retrieve it unnoticed as it lay in a hidden chamber under the floor.

This was basicly colourfull info dump. They had all the info, just lacked the final key fact to cement their descision. It came here:
Quote from: Kyle the Younger
As night fell they met to hold their own council, trying to find a way out of this predicament. Calemís plan to use magic was foiled when Joshua told him of the wards placed all around the Hall of Justice. It was Liam who reminded him of the Druids First Rule, ďDo not depend on magic.Ē Before further plans could be laid the shade Maeind appeared and the reason for his interference became plain. He offered help for an oath that the companions would not enter his realm unbidden. Grudgingly they swore the oath and learned the secret.

The oath cost them alot. Like Espen said:" we might be fighting the big evil, the shadow, now, but this guy is a good second." They cut their deal with the devil.
Christer has over time felt that Liam as a character is starting to loose both appeal and ability to participate in what has become more and more political game. Therefor he had asked for an out that left Liam alive:

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
Then Maeind broke Liamís will. Joanna, Liamís seeress wife and little Gorin his son where hiding in Cribannogwend, the home of Maeind. Forbidden to seek his family Liam sought the refuge of his chambers. Unknown to the others Maeind came to him and offered him to join his family at the cost that he could not leave until Maeind let him go.

I now made his eventual departure a question for the others. They know not of the deal offered, and will fear that Liam gives his Will to Maeind for his family. Sweet.

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
With no choice but to face trial, the Heroes marched with their friend into the Hall of Law and there the riddleís and portents fell into place. Having stated that the Staff was his by right Calem stood tall as the Lord of Law readied to sentence him to death. At this moment the mage spoke the Mantra of Justice and the Stone burst from its hiding place shining its light on all present. Furious at this denial of law the Baran still sentenced Calem to death, but the executioner stayed his hand, and when the Mailed Fist of the Law stepped forward this man struck him down. The hall was in uproar but the Lord of Lore and the Executioner spoke up for the companions and the Lord of Law was proclaimed false and chained.

Victory. I felt this was important to take the sting of what was to come.

Quote from: Kyle the Younger
Leading a procession from the Hall, our heroes sanctified the Shrine of Justice, freeing the Guardian of the Druid Ways and his love from their bondage to great acclaim amongst the gathered. Allanorn came, summoned by Shea, and grumpily told them well done. The remaing lords of the druids pronounced Calem Grand master of their order, much Allanornís mirth, and a great feast was held. The feast ended when Liam said his farewells and left. Unknown to all Gorin waited in the woods and together they left our tale for now.

Naturally they were elated, so elated that Christer struggled with getting them to listen to him when he wanted to narrate Liam's goodbye. He did, and it came as a suprise to them and the scene was great, with Calem offering "If you are too tired to continue let us carry you for a while", and other poignant goodbyes.

Jon added a scene to the end where he narrated the meeting between the old friends Gorin and Liam in the darkness outside Candlekeep and this opened up more doors for me.

It feels good to be back posting again, it's been too long. What I've left out of the above have been all the discussion internally among me and my players. It was a long process. I've scoured this forum looking for inspiration. I've found it.

I has also occured to me that the plot I so grandly spoke about here has sort of vanished as I move more and more towards NAR style of play. It has morphed into a sort of framework in which I use my players motivation and character goals to build the individual stories based on their actions. Overall I move things forward. One of the players just asked: "when we've restored all the shrines what then?" I have an idea what will happen, so I just smiled cryptically. I'll let you know.


Posts: 120

« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2004, 09:00:12 AM »


Great stuff!

Abzu yelled at me and called my old sig "silly."
Bill Cook

Posts: 501

« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2004, 09:29:32 AM »

Good grief. Your playscript has a sweeping, epic quality. I particularly like the courtroom showdown; that's not something I could have conceived.

Liam's conflict between aiding the fellowship and returning to his family is interesting. And the undead assassin. And the Uatu-style shade. It feels somewhere between Tolkein and Moorcock.

Very cool.

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