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Author Topic: 3 BW Games in 5 Days  (Read 6863 times)
Judd
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« on: September 16, 2004, 02:58:51 PM »

Agent  BW517-MB108 reporting for duty.

Friday night I will run a game with pre-made characters, my girlfriend, an old buddy who was manager at a gaming store I worked at and his wife.

Saturday I will run with an ecclectic group who have never met one another.  The game was birthed when I facilitated character creation on a whim with a young man who I was a mentor of years ago and we've stayed in touch.  When thinking about what kind of game I would run for his character an idea was spawned and all other character creation will spin off of that hub.

Tuesday the two guys I went to Gen Con with and I run our One-Shot-GM-Roundtable group in which we play games that we bought at Gen Con.  I thought that would be our first BW game but life has conspired to make it my 3rd.

This is where I will report how my games went.

God save the Wheel.
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Luke
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2004, 09:43:27 PM »

alright, so two down... how'd they go?!

-L
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2004, 12:09:20 AM »

Game #1

Pete - my friend for a decade, manager of a game store I worked at and now my martial arts teacher

Lily - Pete's wife and ya can talk to her for five minutes and just know that there's a gamer

Janaki - my live-in ladyfriend of 3 years whose friends all gamed when she was in school but somehow she never did, despite being a tremendous sci-fi/fantasy fan

I ran this game with pre-made characters and as Thor told me it was, the set-up was just weak.

The players weren't sure what they were supposed to be doing and I had to supply really obvious bangs to get anything going, because the whole house was built in a shaky foundation.

Pete wasn't thrilled with scripted combat but my knowledge of the system was so shaky that I couldn't really help do any convincing.

Despite all this, it was a successful game and we had fun.

We are a group of people who all trust one another and the game went smoothly with good will ruling at the table.

I set up a flashback mechanic wherein a player could role-play a suggested part of their past with me to get a handle of how their character feels about it.  They each had 3 flashbacks about any topic of their choice.

Highlights:

Pete's haughty-taughty Elf acting aloof and fascinated by human customs.

Lily's character allowing herself to be possessed by the spirit of her dead wizard master in order to beat an opponent.

Janaki confronting 3 men who were burgling their wizard's tower by screaming at them in Orcish and jumping their asses, intimidating one guy to run and killing the two others with her bare hands (claws).  Then she ate one of their legs.


Game #2

This game was set up for total self-destruct.

Paula - a gaming buddy I've known for ten years.  We dated 7 years ago but have remained friends and have gamed with one another since and respect each other's imagination immensely.

Joe - a young man who I mentored when he was 16.  I know I'd be a good mentor for him when I saw his fantasy-laden bookshelf.

Kolja - a local high school sophomore who contacted me both through the local gaming store and through the Burning Wheel boards, looking for a BW game.  I've gamed with him in my Dogs in the Vineyard game (he plays

Kristi - contacted me through the Burning Wheel forums after googling Ithaca Gaming.  I invited her on a good willed whim, never having met her and not knowing shit about her other than she had played in Vampire Camarilla LARP's and D&D.

Joe's character was the first-made and the game's idea, hunting down four deserters from a mercenary company, was inspired by his cold-hearted thief turned merc.

Kolja burned his own character to compliment Joe's and posted it on the BW boards and I approved.

I e-mailed Paula info on Orcs, Dwarves and Elves and though she was interested in an Orc character, she decided that she would role-play their Hatred to the point of making the game no fun for other players.

I met with Kristi and Paula at the mall and we burned up some characters.

We thought that one of the deserters could have stolen a sword that Paula's swordsmith had made for Kristi's Princess.

Paula looked at her character sheet and realized that she had made a useless artisan with no adventuring skills what-so-ever.  She re-made a Captain who kicked ass, a worthy bodyguard to the Princess.

Kristi expressed surprised that I allowed her to take a princess into a game and I told her that it would make for a good story.

The Elves rocked this game's fucking world.  Don't get me wrong, Kolja and Joe's mercs had their moments of usefulness and dramatic coolness but Wonderment just makes Elven singing so, so, so whoop-ass that it is incredible.

With Kolja's help I got the rules down better and actually ran some good scripted combat.

I ever managed to use a VERY abbreviated Duel of Wits to settle an argument between Kolja's bastard merc and Paula's Elven Captain about what kind of justice to mete out to a captured deserter.  Good stuff.

We ran the game in a classroom on the Cornell campus and I made a map on a piece of paper and then put it onto a chalkboard.  The map, with its forest, 4 cities and mountains really rocked and the world became rather fleshed out rather quickly.  Maps rule and chalkboards rule even harder.

The wax pencils and the laminated Volley sheets helped with combat immensely.

We had only tracked down 2 of the 4 deserters after 8 hours of driven play.  By driven I mean the travel time was done quickly with the characters reaching the next important dramatic place they chose to visit in fast order.  So, we are going to play again.

Kristin said that she liked BW better than d20.

Everyone said the 8 hours just flew by.

Highlights:

Paula's character explaining to Kolja's bastard merc that killing a human was the moral equivalent of knocking down a pretty house while killing an Elf was the moral equivalent of knocking down a cathedral.

Joe's cold-hearted merc allowing an elven king to chop off his hand after trying like hell to get away from him and contemplating suicide by jumping off of a tower.  Just a cool moment.

Kristi's princess walking up to the Duchess of Winterhome and slapping her across the face before beginning to sing so that the guards all fell to Wonderment and the princess's guards could slaughter them while the drooled and take the Duchess hostage.

Kolja's bastard dueling his half-brother to the death in a judicial joust.

Comparing the two nights of gaming I think the following:

* If you set up a one-shot for Burning Wheel using pre-gen characters, the Believes, Instincts and Traits are SO important that it can't be said enough.  Thor and Luke were right and I was wrong.  The BIT's need to DRIVE the PC's toward drama, glory and fun or else throw the characters away and start again.

I should have known this from Luke's Poisonous Ambition and the Dwarves V. Elves games at Gen Con but I hadn't internalized it despite both of them telling me repeatedly.

*  Both nights were good nights of gaming but the second night worked because the players were really invested and committed to their characters.  Janaki mentioned that she can't wait to game again in a game when the group all gathers and makes characters together so everyone can work out everyone's relationship to one another.  Yes, she rocks and she is right.

BW Thoughts:

The game rocks.  It is as simple as that.  I wouldn't use anything else for a fantasy campaign right now and I can't wait to tweak and bend it to some other ideas I have.  I'd use it for samurai, Midnight, anything even close to Tolkien inspired and use the abstract magic rules for an all-wizard game.

I have one game to go with the admittedly weak one-shot but I'm going to run it, see how Jeff and JJ take the game, see exactly where the holes are and how it works and how it fails.
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Judd
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Posts: 1641

Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2004, 07:39:36 AM »

Further Thoughts on Game #2

One little thing I did that really busted this game wide open is draw up a map of the surrounding area. I drew it on a piece of scrap paper and then put it on the blackboard of the classroom we were in.

The players thought about the map, talked about the map and fleshed out the world in the process. A map with 3-5 cities, a forest, some mountains, a river or two (oops, forgot a river in this one) really gives the players something to chew on sometimes and I feel that this time it was a huge help.

Looking back on my gaming life, I realize that I have always drawn little maps with my fantasy games, wanting that map of Middle-Earth in the front of the Lord of the Rings vibe.

I believe that is yet another thing that I have been doing for years that was in Sorcery & Sword.

Anyway, just a post in support of the vague but fun fantasy map.
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2004, 08:51:21 PM »

Game #3

Tonight begins with a trio of guys who upon returning from Gen Con vow to meet once a week in a round-robin-GMing group in which we run a different game every week, all one-shots, each of us taking a turn in the GM's seat.  

This week was my week.

Jeff and I waited for the third gamer, JJ, and discussed death in RPG's.  Jeff is more lethal than I am and we debated the issue.  I said that there often are good alternatives to death.  Jeff disagreed.

I changed the Beliefs and Instincts for this game, hoping to give them some more direction but not changing anything else in the game at all.

The game had two PC's, the Necromancer's Son and the Prodigy.

JJ - played the prodigy

Jeff - played the Necromancer's Son

Jessi - latecomer who took the Elf.

Prodigy:

Beliefs

I am this tower's rightful heir.

I will be the finest wizard of my generation.

Danger quickens magical learning.

Instincts

Think big, think HISTORY!

Solve problems with magic.

Strive to learn.

Necromancer's Son:

Beliefs

I will be the Prince of the Warlocks

Death is not the end.

My pain defines me.

Instincts

Examine the dead.

Build my dark princedom.

Use people as necessary.


They've known each other and have gamed with each other for a long time and they ran with it.  The prodigy used his magic to impersonate his dead wizard master and get close to the queen.

The Necromancer's son agreed to help with the charade in order to get into the vaults where there was his dad's tome of magic.

Then our friend from Boston swung in and I gave her the Elf with the same old boring Traits and Beliefs.  She's a great gamer, as the man, Pete, who ran that Elf before her but those Beliefs and Traits I wrote were just PLAIN boring.

Damn.

It ended with them studying a book from the Necromancer's tome in order to summon wizard's spirit and bind it to the prodigy, who failed a crucial Will test and was possessed.  

It ended with the Wizard trapping the other two in his vault, calling the witch-hunters and telling them that the Necromancer's Son has gone evil and needs killing and is getting help from the elf.

It was a Resevoir Dogs-inspired total party kill, a bloody clusterfuck.  They all died from Witch-hunter's bolts and the Witch-hunters were all sealed in the wizard's vault with no way to escape.

A fun one-shot.


Thoughts

* I still don't think I fully have scripted combat down but I'm close.  Systems don't come easily to me and I grok them best when I get to play a bunch and see others play.  I might just call some friends over to run combats or just run a few combats with my girlfriend in order to get the hang of it fully.

* Burning Wheel rocks and I know just the setting I want to use for it.   Hells yes.

* I'm glad I jumped in and got immersed for a while.  The game #2 is going to finish up in a little half-session on Sunday evening.  

* This system is much crunchier than I am used to lately but it all comes together beautifully.  If someone described this system to me I'd tell them that I'd hate it but in play it somehow adds up to become something more than its component parts.  Lovely.

* I look forward to running many more games of Burning Wheel.
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2004, 10:35:52 AM »

Awesome Judd, sounds like the new Beliefs helped tighten the game a bit.  If it's not too much to ask, could you do a compare and contrast as to how this new round of beliefs affected the game as opposed to the old Beliefs?

Also, I don't want to keep harping on your BITs, but Taepoong does it to me all the time, so I think I'll share the love.

Specifically, I'm looking at your Instincts this time. Honestly, most of these Instincts are Beliefs. The only really tight one I see is the Necromancer's: Examine the dead.

Taepoong and I have talked about it in the past, and we agree that the best way to make sure that you've actually got an Instinct is to put it in an If/Then statement with specific mechanical effects.

So: If I see a dead body, then I Assess.
If confronted with combat, [then] I assume Aggressive Stance.
If there's a cave-in, then I Push the youngest to safety.

You can use Always or Never statements as well, though you have to be careful with these and make sure that you are describing a mechanical effect:

Always cast Facets Carefully and Patiently.
In the deep tunnels, always Assess (listen) at every junction.
At the first sign of combat, I always Draw my knife.
Never Work Quickly.

If you always make sure characters' Instincts are tight and narrowly focused, two things will happen: one, it will be easier for players to use those Instincts in play, and two, it will be easier for you to incorporate conflicts where those Instincts generate complications for them (and thus allow you to award them Artha).
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Bill Cook
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2004, 11:29:22 AM »

It sounds like instincts are macros. And action-oriented play targets.

Paka:

You are, like, a gaming freak! I wish I was able to game half as much as you. (Turns green with envy.)

Your one-shot playtest group of rotating GM's is exactly what I'm trying to put together in the DFW area.
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2004, 12:47:12 PM »

Quote from: bcook1971
It sounds like instincts are macros. And action-oriented play targets.


Absolutely, that's one level. I think of that as the Mechanical level.

In a way, what the BITs really do is help the group to establish the Social Contract.

At the mechanical level, my Instincts establish with the group that "my guy" functions in a slightly different way than the baseline rules. He's so aggressive that he actually starts combat in Aggressive Stance, even though other characters have to take an Action to do that.

Or, he's so cautious in the deep tunnels that he Assesses at every junction, even if I don't actually state that when it comes up.  In fact, that's so important to my character that if we all forget and suddenly turn a corner and run into something dangerous, we'll back up a step so I can roll my Assess to see whether I became aware of it.

Then there's what I'll call the Character level. This works on the principle that "Actions speak louder than words." Instincts are the most primal, compact way of telling everybody at the table what your character is about. Sure, my character has a few Beliefs that do that too, but those are more of a big picture thing. If my dwarf has the Instinct, "If there's a cave-in, then I Push the youngest to safety," that tells the entire group a lot about who my character is and what he values. First, he's careful and aware of the dangers that come with being underground. Second, his first thought is to protect someone else, not himself. And third, that someone else is the "youngest" meaning that he puts some sort of value on youth (and the group might rightly come to the conclusion that since he's the oldest dwarf in the group, and has taken the "Husband" lifepath, that this Instinct stems from a desire to protect children).

Finally, there's the Story level. On this level, the Instinct is a direct statement to the GM, "I want to showcase this aspect of my character." If I have the cave-in Instinct, I'm telling the GM that I want at least some of the game to happen underground in caves or tunnels, and I want to have a cave-in.

Anyway, that's Instincts as I see 'em.
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Luke
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2004, 01:40:28 PM »

WOW!

Pete, you're fired.

Thor, you're hired!

-L
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Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2004, 01:47:04 PM »

Quote from: abzu
WOW!

Pete, you're fired.

Thor, you're hired!

-L


Hey! I thought I was already hired?! ::grin::
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Judd
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Please call me Judd.


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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2004, 02:01:46 PM »

The past five days have been unusually gaming busy.  Its been a bit much, even for me but I feel I am getting a handle on BW.  I don't learn systems quickly and my ideal method is to be a player in a game and learn as I go but that's not going to happen here, so I immersed myself.

It went great.

Thoughts like Instincts vs. Beliefs and such are exactly why I post this shit, to catch my mistakes and learn the thoughts behind the rules.  Now I think I get Instincts.  Cool.

The round-robin GM gaming group has been really great.  

At some point I'll post our first night of Elfs madness.

I hope to give the Pool, Nine Worlds and Prime Time Adventure a go before too long.

It was a good five days of gaming.

Thanks for the thread feedback, Luke.  Very cool to hear your take on it all.
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taepoong
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Posts: 120


« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2004, 04:18:25 PM »

Quote from: abzu
WOW!

Pete, you're fired.

Thor, you're hired!

-L


B..Bu... Bu... But!

Oh, Thor! You're in trouble now. >o[

 I think you've assimilated a little too much of Nestore's Beliefs!
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Abzu yelled at me and called my old sig "silly."
Thor Olavsrud
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2004, 05:00:39 PM »

Quote from: taepoong
B..Bu... Bu... But!

Oh, Thor! You're in trouble now. >o[

 I think you've assimilated a little too much of Nestore's Beliefs!


Ha! I hope not. He's one of the most evil characters I've ever played.

Anyway, I fully acknowledge that my Instincts are usually crap until you start needling me. It takes a bit of give and take to get that Instinct just right.
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rafial
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2004, 05:16:09 PM »

Thor, that's some damn fine advice on Beliefs vs. Instincts, whomever originated it.  Some text very like that ought to appear in BW(rv)
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