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Author Topic: Starting a Burning Wheel Campaign  (Read 1274 times)
Claymore
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« on: July 01, 2003, 07:22:29 PM »

Abzu asked me to post some notes as how I converted my existing 4 year campaign to Burning Wheel. The most recent system used was The Riddle of Steel (the campaign started using GURPS, then moved to a homebrew Runequest, before going over to TRoS).

Our first session started with the group converting their characters over. We have 6 players currently (the seventh is on active duty, US Army). We just started up the newest campaign and 3 players are playing new characters, with two character being carried over from the last campaign, and one player playing his main character's squire, formally an NPC (the other original characters will be converted at a later date, when the $#& really hits the fan ;-). The first 3 were no problem. They were burnt using the standard BW rules and came out quite well. All were human with the exception of a 1 character that was a dwarf (both the player and I had a great time making the character up :-). I burnt the NPC and now PC, mostly by the book, although I added a few points to add a trait, and will probably give the character a few new skill points as the character had been in the background since the campaign started and has played a strong role throughout the saga.

As for the two experienced characters, one came out solid, with only a few additional skill points being added to round the character out. The other we had a bit of a problem with. He started the campaign at 16, an escaped slave of a neighboring kingdom. An interesting character, but not one simulated easily (competently). We simply ended up giving him 7 extra points, which made him happy.

Some of the characters had been converted from RoS, the others from GURPS. Converting from RoS to BW is quite simple, the attribute scale is the same, but stats tend to start a little higher. What I do when converting characters over is rather than trying to do a full system comparison, I burn them using the lifepath system (which is QUITE GOOD), including the time spent in the campaign (mine has spanned about 6 years) and then tweak from there. Keep in mind when you are re-creating the character the lifepaths assume a "secure development" of the character. A lifepath does not consider hard-core life and death gameplay experience. Just compensate with a few points here and there where appropriate when bringing the character over, eyeballing any possible problems (which will be few). Skill based systems represent more of a problem, a character may not have enough general points to buy every non profession skill he might possess. Just adding a few general points should do the trick.  

As some of you already know, I'm adapting The Riddle of Steel's combat to Burning Wheel, instead of the current scripting rules. I'll also be making some minor changes to the magic rules; in my campaign it is much more difficult to cast magic in civilized areas, the flow of magic is disrupted making sorcery more difficult. They however, are a work in progress.

Burning Wheel does and excellent job at bringing existing characters from other RPG systems into the game, provided you have a clear concept of what the character has done all his life, not just since he entered play. Some players have even been inspired to write 3-4 paragraph histories of their characters, which can be quite entertaining to read (question Luke, is there any fundamental game balance problems with awarding newly burnt character 1-3 extra traits points for a solid, well written background to accompany their character sheet?)

One small problem I’ve had with character lifepaths is the lack of a few key Feudal entries. I want to see a Yeoman and Petit Sergeant (although the cavalry soldier path could be substituted for a Petit Sergeant in a pinch) paths under village setting! You could use Guard+another path for a Yeoman, but it stretches it a bit much for my tastes. I have some notes which I might post in a day or so concerning Yeomen/Petit Sergeants, when I get some spare time.

Well, that’s the start of the latest chapter in my ongoing Saga. I hope to have an update this weekend after we play on the 4th. Good Gaming all!


-Claymore
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Luke
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« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2003, 08:01:02 PM »

Wow! You make it sound so simple. If the translation between RoS and BW is really that easy, I am very excited. (BTW, I am honored that you chose to translate your campaign into BW. I am in esteemed company!)

To answer your question regarding character histories: A trait point reward is great, but 3 trait points is a lot. Perhaps if you restricted it? Only Character Traits? But 1 or 2 traits reward should be plenty, especially if you allow the player to combine that with their lifepath-earned trait points. I usually award OOC stuff like histories, letters, petitions and dreams with a couple of artha points.

Regarding magic: Have you played with the Abstraction rules yet? Casting Abstractions can be incredibly difficult and dangerous to the unwary wizard. If you restricted sorcerers to only abstractions-- no "distilled spells" allowed-- you would definitely be limiting the scope of their sorcery (while also giving them a lot of freedom of action).

If you have suggestions for lifepaths, let me have them! There are NEVER enough lifepaths. I would love to add them to the collection at bw.org.

thanks again, I can't wait for the game report!
-L
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Claymore
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2003, 10:18:40 PM »

Quote from: abzu


To answer your question regarding character histories: A trait point reward is great, but 3 trait points is a lot. Perhaps if you restricted it? Only Character Traits? But 1 or 2 traits reward should be plenty, especially if you allow the player to combine that with their lifepath-earned trait points. I usually award OOC stuff like histories, letters, petitions and dreams with a couple of artha points.


Okies, one to two points should work fine, but I'm inclined to allow the players to spend the points on whatever traits they wish. BTW, I like how you added the bit in the Artha rules about gaining points for role-playing your traits in unfavorable circumstances, which I prefer quite a bit over your previous (stage time) view. My players will still be reluctant to pay for traits that have little use (or a hindrance), but the new artha rules I think give value to the lesser traits, and fit what was always my own personal interpertation of the negative traits. Bravo!  

Quote from: abzu

Regarding magic: Have you played with the Abstraction rules yet? Casting Abstractions can be incredibly difficult and dangerous to the unwary wizard. If you restricted sorcerers to only abstractions-- no "distilled spells" allowed-- you would definitely be limiting the scope of their sorcery (while also giving them a lot of freedom of action).

If you have suggestions for lifepaths, let me have them! There are NEVER enough lifepaths. I would love to add them to the collection at bw.org.

thanks again, I can't wait for the game report!
-L


I have reviewed your new abstraction rules, and I do like them quite a bit. They also fit into my style of campaign (we always used a homebrew Ars Magica type system with gleams of S. John Ross's Unlimited Mana rules), reguardless of the actual system run. However I have both spontanious and learned (formulaic) magic in my world, so I intend to use both sets of rules.

What I am working on is a Obstacle penalty to increase the casting spells under certain circumstances. In my world, magic is fading. Many people don't truly believe in it, very few people can wield it, and large civilized areas disrupt the flow of magic, making it harder to cast.  

Here are some example modifiers:

Casting a spell in the middle of nowhere: 0 penalty

Trying to cast a non blatant (the effects are not immediately visable) spell in a town, +2 Ob

Trying to cast an blatant (vulgar) spell in the middle of the city in broad daylight +4 Ob

These modifiers would only affect the obstacle and not the tax check.

-Claymore
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Luke
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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2003, 10:31:16 PM »

speaking of artha:

http://www.burningwheel.org/pdf/ss_cs_artha.pdf

here's a modified single page character sheet with the new artha descriptors on it. This is a rough draft and may change before I formally post it to BW. But it looks good for now.
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