Actual Play – Ash Wheel Wednesday (2/25/2009)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Burning Wheel

Another great Burning Wheel game last night. We started late as two of the three players had obligations that held them up, but nevertheless had a great session.

We opened with Captain Luke in a private meeting with Leon Musgrave, the veteran from the Perinolde army. Leon wanted Jordan to instate him as captain of the Perinolde forces, as the men were clearly useless without their leader. Luke wasn’t really opposed to this, per se, as it gave him more standing with Arthas, but he wanted a spy. They dueled and Leon won with a minor concession. He’s not going put his own neck out to gather information, but he does know the soldiers and will relay the rumors they spread back to Luke.

Genn met with his number two and told him that he would have to lead the Gilnean forces in battle, he needed to go on his own epic quest and recover an artifact of the Dragons. Genn is a damn good liar and managed to convince his number two this was a good chance to prove himself.

Then the battle raged… and an epic one it was. The orcs were fortified with the edrich might of their warlocks, the suffocating darkness of their black magic, the hatred that burns in them fueled by Mannoroth’s blood and the aid of the Wrathguard demon. The alliance had the aid of Luke’s strategic mind, his well trained wizards countering the demonic magic, and the forces of Perinolde as well as Gilneas at his disposal. Luke managed to recover some of the ground he had lost in the previous day’s massacre. If he can manage to rally Uther’s forces, and possibly the Dwarves who have thus far only allied with Genn and not show force in the army, he might turn the tide of battle in his favor.

Strange things are a foot inside the alliance encampment however. The captive was attacked by a wounded soldier, a torrential storm broke out, briefly stalling the battle, and new banners have been seen on the battlefield. The orcs seem to represent not one, but three clans.

Returning from their discussion in Corran’s Dagger, Jordan and Jaina were met by Genn, before he left for his personal journey. The discussed the merits of Uther’s guidance over Arthas and with a whole lot of subterfuge and feigned concern for Jordan’s beliefs he convinced Jordan to drive a wedge between the two commanders. It was a pretty cool Duel of Wits, we saw again that incite is hard to pull off and when it backfires, it backfires big. In fact, I probably just should have had Jaina (who was the audience) leave after that epic failure, but it was fine as is.

Jordon then confronted Uther, told him that Jaime was not what she appeared and asked for his mercy. Initially untrusting of Jordan (for pretty much EVERYTHING that Jordan has done), Uther had to concede that if she was a human she deserved mercy at the very least. Jordan, Uther and Jaina have formed a temporary alliance to help Jaime. They will be directly opposed by Arthas, Leon, and possibly Luke, we’ll see.

Just as they were leaving however, Jordan told Uther than he had been corrupted by a demonic influence! Wow, that rocked the giant in his boots. Also, Luke found that his battle plans had been taken, offering anyone who had them a huge advantage in the next encounter. Dun dun dun…

What rocked

This sounds boring I guess, but all the regular stuff. I loved watching beliefs collide and mash into each other. I really dug that people were diving into their stories with drive and direction.

The fight is feeling very World of Warcraft like. Huge forces clashing, demons being summoned, champions on both sides, large scale magical effects, etc. I think we’re doing the setting justice.

We’ve got some shifting sides, with Arthas being the shiftiest of them all. It makes sense, he’s technically in charge, but he’s also the youngest and most impressionable (read “easiest to manipulate”) and I can’t wait for the players to use him as a weapon against each other…. I just figured it out. I think Arthas is Sylar… Hmm… think on that some more.

What could have been improved

I had some stuff I wanted to see come out and realized I was probably pushing a little too hard for it. There is a traitor in the midst and I think that should ratchet up the tension and paranoia but what I think I wasn’t being considerate of was that the players already had some pretty concrete agendas that they wanted to (and should be) fulfilling. It’s not a big deal, I’ll just keep lacing the story with extra bits that will eventually come out. As Uther said “patience is a virtue.”