Actual Play – Burning Conspiracies (3/25/2009)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Burning Wheel

Last night we picked up the Burning Wheel game after missing a session (maybe two). We started late and ran late on account of doing a trait vote.

Genn started things off by trying to gain insight into the dragon’s desires, such that he could use his weaknesses against him. Genn failed the circles roll however which invoked the enmity clause between in him and the dwarf Sigrun. This played out in the form of Sigrun giving dwarven nog to Genn and consequently getting him immediately drunk. In his stupor Genn revealed, or at least hinted that the dragon was not dead and that he felt really bad about Faenor being dead, especially as he was probably the cause. Genn got his information but earned the mistrust and (if these drunken allusions prove true) the hatred of the Dwarves. Currently because of the Oath Faenor swore to Genn they will continue to serve him, but if Sigrun finds out the truth Genn will be marked as a oath breaker and enemy of the Steeltoe clan.

Meanwhile Captain Luke took stock of the command quarters and found that his battle plans had been stolen. He inquired to his fellow captain Leon Musgrave but also failed his circles roll. He found Leon drunk with his men and was told that while Leon couldn’t share anything with him, the rosy cheeked runner saw many things during the battle. The runner told him how he saw the supposedly injured Gavin Perinolde flee at great speed from the infirmary tent and return sometime later with a large parcel in his possession.

Jordan’s clock is ticking to save Jamie, and he just keeps hitting walls. Uther, after hearing that Jordan’s body had been infused with the foul magic of orcs and that demon blood now coursed through his veins had to make a decision. Trust the man who has already proven himself an unstable element and a liability to the Silver Hand or locked him up where he could do no more harm. Regrettably he chose the second. Uther tricked Jordan into disarming himself and summoned eight member of the silver hand to detain him. Jordan looked pained and as he summoned the light around him to fend of his detainees he said with a hurt voice “All you had to do was ask.” Uther winced not only at Jordan’s cutting remark but also at the power of the light within him.

Genn, waking up in the mud, managed to drag himself back to his quarters and prepare for his journey to the Dragon. He packed more clothes than food, which will haunt him soon enough and made it to the Dragon’s lair. Miffed at being awoken so early the dragon was instantly irritable and became even more defensive when Genn mentioned the orb of fire. Unhappy and seeking satisfaction, he has sent Genn off to fetch him some food.

Luke confronted Gavin and interrogated him, shaking him from his hospital bed and revealing that beneath his blankets he had the Alliance battle plans, guilty as charged. Without remorse for his wounded state, Luke grabbed the knight by the throat and dragged him back to Arthas.

Confined to Uther’s quarters, Jordan made another plea for aid in curing his taint. He tried to woo the ladies of the Silver Hand and with them the other members but fell just short and earned a wrap on the head for his efforts.

What rocked.

All of the central conflicts right now are really exciting me and I can’t wait to see how they play out. Jordan vs. the corruption. Jordan vs. Uther. Jordan vs. everyone who would hurt Jamie. Oh… and if he remembers, Jordan vs. the traitor. And I’m pretty sure as he agreed to do Genns bidding against his own good judgment, we’ve got Jordan vs. Genn. Luke, however has the traitor on his mind and will continue to peruse Gavin till he finds out everything. We’ve also got a Luke vs. Uther rivalry as Arthas’ number two. Finally with Genn, there is now Genn vs. the Dragon, Genn vs. Uther (man everyone hates Uther), Genn vs. the Dwarves (if it comes to that), and Genn vs. Leon Musgrave. The killer thing is that these are all going on at the same time, many of them interlocking.

The system continues to spur on great scenes. I love the task/intent/consequence/negotiation mechanic. It means fewer rolls, but each of them with MUCH more significance than in most games.

Despite being jacked in several ways it seems the players are having a really good time. I’m always concerned when I jack a player character as I know I have a real personal desire for character masochism that other people don’t necessarily share.

What could have been improved

I really should have had Uther talk to Jordan first rather than just jump him. The thing I didn’t want it to become was a social contested roll or a Duel of Wits. That can certainly come, but I want Jordan to encounter some difficulties than he can’t talk his way out of, not can he conscionably break his way out of. The goal here is to make him make a tough decision: Sit back and let horrible things happen to Jaime or take action and have to work against the Silver Hand, further confirming everyone’s belief that he has allegiance to no one but himself. My goal isn’t to kick him out the Silver Hand but rather to make his affiliation full of tension and mistrust. So, my hopes is that on his next attempt Jordan is able to break free of his custody, but that he has to hurt and/or disappoint the Silver Hand to do it.

The game went WAY too late. We were falling down by the end. I decided that as the game has taken a shift we needed to do a trait vote. It’s an important part of the character progression but it takes so damn long. I think in the future I’m going to do a trait vote the moment a belief is changed and someone gains a persona or deed for it. That way we won’t miss people’s accomplished beliefs nor will it take so long to do in the future.

I screwed up Jordan’s faith advancement (again). It was early on and I calculated his difficulty on a vs. test as the number of dice his opponent was rolling, not the number of successes he got. So I gave Jordan a challenging faith test (8 ob 15) when it should have been a routine one (8 ob 5). buffaloraven , I hope you’re not too bent for me ret-coning that.