Actual Play – Bring Forth the Heir! (11/16/2011)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean Nittner, Kristin Hayworth, and Justin Diehl
System: Burning Wheel
Setting: Burning Theorsa

This game was basically one big long Duel of Wits followed by a couple seemingly incidental rolls that turned out to radically effect the future of our game.

Duel of Wits

I really thought it was going to be between Kharim and Baldric, but Balric couldn’t get his interest, so it was Moya who just called out “You’re a big fat liar” (heh, takes one to know one) that initiated the Duel of Wits. And it was a big one so we used the rule that our body of argument would be our Will Exponent + Dueling Skill (rather than a roll). Our side: Produce the heir. Kharim’s: Send back your army. Boom.

It was a grueling one. Full of incites, rebuttals, points and TWO dismisses. In the end, it was mutual destruction. Both of us hit 0 (or less) BOA on the same volley and decided that we would go for both sides getting their stakes (rather than neither).

This led to Baldric having to go back outside and tell the army to please pack up and go home, nothing to see here. It was an Ob 5 Command test. Lots of help from Moya (even though he had told her not to come along…and lost that contest), and buckets of persona, Baldric hit it. But it was all grudges and bickering, to the extent that he relieved Lieutenant Shamus of his command for his inability to follow orders. Fun times.

Meanwhile inside Eogin learned of Owain’s upbringing. He was raised as a priest and took the name Aziz. His face covered in tattoos, the boy was not ready to take the crown of Theorsa.

The game ended as we set off on a pilgrimage, so the boy might complete his passage in to manhood and be ready to claim the throne…assuming we can convince him to do so. Hah! To the desert!

Thoughts on this game

Helping in long Duels of Wits makes it really easy to gets lots of different tests. Like, you can only get one test per skill but it is just so easy to say “I’m helping with this usurper-wise, then with etiquette, then with intimidation, etc”. And it fits just fine into the narrative, the skill at hand coloring your contribution. But it does seem like the dueler gets the short end of the stick as they are often restricted to a small handful of skill.

It was so, so,so appropriate for Moya to start getting beginner’s luck checks on Ugly Truth. She is the queen of Ugly Truth.

Kristin and I debated a lot on what move to script in the DoW. I’m a big fan of making the move that makes the most sense in the narrative. So if your shouting at someone “you’re a liar” at the onset of a duel, you should lead with incite, or possibly dismiss. Kristin is a big fan of playing to win. I’m either just lucky, or don’t mind the failures I’ve had, but I find I’ve done just fine playing less than optimally at a game. Despite it’s incredibly degree of crunch, I still think BW is more about the narrative than it is about the mechanics. And, so long as your cognizant of the mechanics, playing to fail in the short term, often positions you to win later (more checks, more artha rewarded, etc). I’m pretty sure, though I don’t know if I can prove it, that Luke really roots for the underdog.

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