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[Burning Wheel] Spiking the Gift

Started by Glendower, October 05, 2006, 07:50:00 PM

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Character burning for the game discussed here was going rough.  We had spent the last two sessions Burning (about 4 hours per session) with not a completed character in sight.  This was hampered by the fact that we only had one set of books, and one printout of the Mannish Lifepath PDF (had I not bought that sucker it would have gone a lot slower). 

The players, Kyle, Rob, Dan, Dave and Wes, were getting annoyed and tired of putting characters together.  We had made several mistakes with character building.  I had forgotten to set exponent limits, and there were several other mistakes with skills, stats, traits and resources.  We had to go through the Steel questions about four or five times as people were finding the questions confusing.

So with all that in front of us, I saw a lot of grim, frustrated faces.  Rob and Dave were beginning to talk about non game stuff, and Wes confessed that he couldn't stay long tonight.  Kyle and Dan seemed on task, but were getting distracted by Rob and Dave. 

They were losing interest, and this evening was going to be wasted.  So I asked them if they wanted to see this game in action, running a short game with pre-generated characters.  It might make creating characters easier, as they would have an idea of how skills worked, along with the power of FoRKs and the BITs that drove the game.  They agreed.  I had the Gift printed out and ready to use, so I pulled it out. 

In retrospect, I should have done this first, BEFORE burning characters.  I also should have done the Sword demo instead, but I had five players and didn't have time to burn up one more pregen. I wanted to get into play right away

Rob took the Dwarf Prince, Dave the Elven Prince.  Kyle took the Warden, Dan took the Seneschal.  Finally Wes took the Loremaster.  I explained the setting and situation, as well as the special rules (Dwarf characters could end and start scenes, the Dwarf hall was theirs to expand upon).   

I got them to read their sheets, and explained some of the skills and traits. We then started the first scene, where the Narn delegation present their Gift. 

Dave and Wes got a kick out of playing their characters, getting into their beliefs and traits and really getting into their situation.  They had their characters argue, and then nervously itemize what they have to give to the Dwarves, while listening to the Narn present their riches.  I was excited, it looked like this plan was working!

In the meantime, the Prince was overlooking the Narn's several chests of bounty, and I decided to give the Warden and Seneschal a Greed test, to introduce the emotional attributes. 

Rob had a huge problem with the Greed attribute.  He couldn't understand how the society worked with such a crippling trait, and why there isn't a riot happening in the hall with all the riches being showed off.

I explained that Greed could be resisted with a successful Steel test.  The Warden won the test fairly easily, but the Seneschal failed.  I explained the two options to Dan, and he chose to stand and drool. 

I got a little quote from Dan here from after game. "After the Warden and Prince did some interactions, I decided to play with the beliefs and the other one which says "always appraise what I see" and "under value stuff" and also I took some creative control where I was supposed to leech the elves dry, and expanded it to the Narn."

The Prince and Warden were discussing how worthy the gifts were.  The Prince also was worried about the Warden's soldiers rebelling and running at the riches.  They also talked about the Elves, and how much better their gift will be over the Narn.  The Warden added in something vaguely threatening should the Elven gift be a dud.  Dave and Wes groaned and laughed.

The Seneschal took the tactic of declaring the gifts worthless, not befitting a prince and an insult to him.  Kyle grabbed this and had the Warden declare the Narn enemies, demanding that they face enslavement for their paltry gift.  The Seneschal disagreed, asking that they instead enter into servitude to work off of their insult. 

Rob looked surprised.  He said "I didn't want it to go this way." but didn't act on this, instead just watching Dan and Kyle interact.  I didn't quite understand what Rob meant, but he didn't say anything else.  I didn't clue into it at the time, but he disengaged from the game, reading his character sheet and playing with dice.

I thought now would be a great time to bring out the duel of Wits mechanic.  I got them to agree to terms (Warden wins, the Narn are enslaved, a loss will mean the Narn get placed in servitude), and away we went. 

We went slow through this, we were learning the process.  I have to say that it was a lot of fun, though they both took a long time to come up with what they had to say, and when they did speak it was a rather long monologue.  Certainly Dave and Wes were into the exchange.  Rob, however, left the table to sit at a nearby sofa, looking either bored or tired. 

Eventually the Warden won, but barely.  I forgot about compromising.  However, Dan had the Seneschal order the "worthless" gifts be placed in his chambers for further examination.   It was kind of a compromise, and Dan remarked that it was what he was after in the first place.  I was pleased, Dan was really getting the character's beliefs and things were coming together. 

Rob got up from the couch and wandered back over to the table.  He said something to the effect of having the new Narn slaves be placed in the arena to amuse him and his guests.  He then had the scene end, start at the Arena, but he said that the Arena was closed, and then ended that scene and restarted it back at the audience chamber.  I don't know why he did this.

Wes had to leave, so he got the Loremaster made a History-Wise roll to come up with an "ancient Dwarven Mine that might contain Mithril".  I said it would be a tough, high obstacle roll, and introduced the artha mechanics, allowing him to spend points to influence the roll.  He did, and got a huge amount of successes.  He then told the Prince the location of this mine, and then "fell upon his sword in shame for his failure".

After Wes left, the game died.  Rob began to talk to Dave and Kyle about out of game stuff, and that was about it. 

It was disappointed with the session.  There was some good play happening, but it kept getting interrupted with out of game chatting.  I don't know what the problem is, and I don't know how to find out. 

But if we can't get the Gift off the ground, I'm worried about what kind of train wreck our own game is going to be. 
Hi, my name is Jon.


It really sounds like two players aren't interested.

So, I reckon your choices are to get together with the folks who are interested and play BW with them or play a different game that will connect with the two players who are being disruptive during BW.


Whaddya think?


Sounds like you've got some issues in the group. As Judd said, it could be that they're not interested in BW at all, tired from a ridiculously lengthy character burning process or something else.

I suspect the first or the third option. Either they're not down with BW or there's something else going on and it isn't BW at all. Character Burning doesn't take 10 hours. Not for four people. The fact that it was dragging on seems like an indicator to me that they weren't really into it.

I could be wrong, but that's what my gut tells me!

Ask them! See what they say. Also, see if they'll play The Sword.


Yeah, I say play The Sword. There are some good fifth characters to find on the BW forum.

Also, the whole confusing slave arena setup sounds like Rob wanted to test out the Fight mechanics. Maybe I'm wrong.

It seems weird that Rob would just withdraw when the game took a different turn. You know him better than we do...maybe he was expecting a fight, but didn't know how to invoke one?


Big thanks to both Judd and Luke for replying, as well as Memolith.  I especially find it awesome that the creator of the game just gave me his $0.02 on my group's play!  This forum is awesome.

I followed up with some conversation.  Rob didn't discuss last Tuesday, but he assures me that he wants to play the game, and said that what he's seen so far is interesting and engaging.  He did express frustration at not being clear on the rules, and wanted to read through the rule book to get a better handle on how to play. 

Dan and I spent the weekend talking about the game, and hashing out some of the rules.  He even spent a short amount of time (around an hour) burning a second character, one he was way more excited about.  Having a second person with some knowledge of the rules will be an asset in going through the learning curve.

I also talked to him about Forge theory, specific to Creative Agenda.  He's totally getting into it. Man, it's really nice to finally have someone to discuss and argue all the ideas here face to face!  We spent hours dissecting previous play sessions, using the Creative Agenda and Big Model Theory to make some sense out what went right, what went wrong, and why.  It was good stuff!

There's a session tonight, and I'll open things up for discussion on how we're doing, then suggest trying the Sword as another attempt to grok the rules.  I'll post an AP this evening to report how it goes.
Hi, my name is Jon.