Actual Play – Burning Proxeria (3/12/2010)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean, Omar, Kristin and Travis
System: Burning Empires

Maneuver 4

The play by play for this maneuver is a little lost to me. A few things happening in this game, some expected, some not. I’d rather focus on the changes than the individual scenes.

One of them was that after reading the comics and in general feeling like our character didn’t share anything besides all being on the same planet, both Travis and I talked about how our characters should find reasons to ally. We also talked about the direction the game should go in and where the focus would be. The reason for this is that it felt like Travis and I were play a very different game than Omar and Kristin. We had been purposefully ignoring any worm presence in favor of focusing on our personal agendas and the latter had been hunting the Vaylen with a mad fervor. The upshot is that we agreed to bring our characters together more and to give them some more common ground. We mixed the Vaylen threat with the dangers of perfectly human politics and made a delicious sauce to marinate our characters stories in. I call it Awesomesauce.

What this amounted to in game was a lot more scenes where we came to each other’s aid. We had a firefight were all of us came together to fend off Octavia’s troops, and a building scene or two where we all pitched in. The end result was as it should be. When it came time to make the maneuver roll, we had lots of helping dice to use.

Also what we saw was that the character that had been pushing the hardest against the Vaylen (Misha) had now made powerful enemies that were gunning for her. Both Gaius and Octavia took scenes to mess with her Christmas.

All of those things made sense and flowed pretty well from the story we were telling. What surprised me, and ultimately felt like a kick in the crotch was my building scene. It was late (probably after midnight) and Shaun reminded me after my scene was partially done, that we hadn’t perused our maneuver objective at all. The idea is that even though the maneuver action isn’t played out, our actions during the game are setting the stage for it to happen. Our maneuver action had been “Take Action – Activate the Rebel Line”, whereas what we had really been doing was messing with our opposition and trying to fortify ourselves (much closer to a “Flack” in hindsight). It was also late in the game, with most of our scenes used up so Shaun was trying to help get us back on track. The problem for me was that I had started the scene with completely different intentions and it took a lot of mental torque to get my head around moving it into a scene about (or at least involving) the Rebel line…

And then I got proper fucked. I don’t usually swear on my LJ but this is a good occasion to do so. I decided to move my Scene to Gorrey’s shop where I would talk to him and then hopefully the two of us would talk to the Rebels. At least that is how I envisioned it. Instead, everyone jumped into the scene and it because a discussion of the Naven, identifying them, determining who we should show and then Omar and Travis debating if Fox could enter the scene in Iron and eventually Fox did enter and started demanding to know what was going on with the worm. In short, my building scene got clusterfucked, and it left me with a crappy taste in my mouth. Next time I’m going to demand a more narrowly defined entrance. You want into my scene? Cool. Burn a fate point and come into it. But you’ve got to remember what the scene is about. In this case it was rallying support for my court martial (which then morphed into rallying support from the rebel lines).

The game ran REALLY late (like 2:30 late) which I think nobody wanted. We were really struggling to finish it up in the end, but I think for the most part (my building scene and the fast that we forgot our maneuver not withstanding) we gelled together much better as a group, and won’t have as many delays in the future.

You want to know another thing that didn’t happen in the game? My court martial is what didn’t happen. The thing I was preparing for two weeks for. The thing I was totally jazzed about. Got too late and Fox’s conflict scene turned into a building scene instead. I get it, we were VERY tired, but I was disappointed.

What Rocked

As players and characters I think we started working together in a way that not only improved our odds but also made each other scenes more interactive. I don’t mind round robin play but I like to at least be invested in the other characters scenes (even if I’m not there). Now I am.

What could have been improved

No more scene hijacking

Remembering our maneuver.

Starting earlier. Part of what always makes us run late is how long it takes us to get the game started. My thought on this is maybe we should move the game to Saturday afternoon so we’ve got more time to hang out.

I wanted my court martial!

Shaun’s Vaylen are at their best when the are viciously beating at our beliefs (and theirs). I’d like to see more pressure from them in the Vaylen scenes.

The game is VERY gamey, and that means the players do a lot of dice mongering, Shaun needs to do the same. In the last maneuver he rolled 6 dice and I rolled 11. This was entirely due to the fact that we felt comfortable describing actions to justify helping and FORK dice, where as Shaun looked at his action and then determined which skill, FORKs and helping dice were appropriate. We should all be on the same page about this. This probably needs some more table discussion.

22 thoughts on “Actual Play – Burning Proxeria (3/12/2010)”

  1. I’m starting to feel about this game like alec is about Agon (probablly a little less so)

    I’m loving the story. It’s great. The characters, at least as of last session, where really interesting. And something I want to keep hearing about!

    But the game…it’s not doing it for me. The Burning stuff that I like is there and kind of a muted background ‘yay,’ but a lot of the gamier aspects of the game make me go ‘meh’.

    And yeah, the scene hijacking was annoying.

  2. Shaun here.

    I’ve been thinking about this for a few days now, and there are a couple of things that I think can be addressed.

    Yeah, I need to hit BITs harder. Just something I need to work on. Also, I probably should have called out the building scene clusterfark, but I think there was more going on than just everybody jumping on it.

    Building scenes are having a tendency to get bloated. They lose focus. Yeah, there’s a 3 roll limit, but that doesn’t mean that all 3 rolls need to be made. I feel like we’ve been coming into them with a clear idea of something to get done, and then when that gets accomplished, we fish around for ways to make a couple of extra rolls. If you accomplish your scene in one roll, let it go. Or, if you want to be gamey, which isn’t a bad thing, then the scene needs to be framed in a way to make the thing you want to accomplish the last roll in the scene.

    I think that this is, in part, what happened with your scene. You were looking for support for your court martial, and after your first roll (if I remember correctly. I may not.) I reminded you about the Maneuver intent, and the scene lost focus. That was in a large part my fault. My intention was to steer you toward using your last couple of rolls to make contact with the Rebel Line folks, but I didn’t make that clear, and then everybody kind of jumped in and all hell broke loose. So, for my part in that, I really do apologize.

    As for the court martial, I’m a little torn on it. It sucks that it didn’t happen last maneuver. But, you know what? Nobody involved had a Belief about it. That sucks, too, and I think that one of you having that could have pushed the conflict forward, possibly in a way that you could have called for the scene instead of waiting for Omar to do it.

    Lastly, it may be helpful for folks to read through this (, as it’s got a lot of good advice about BE play in general, as well as some of the things that we’re running into at the table.

    Now, all that being said, if y’all aren’t having fun, I’d rather switch games than just stop playing. I have a good time with this group, so I’d rather do something we all enjoy if the majority aren’t having their space-boats floated with BE.

    1. Rolling out so I can’t write much, but two things about the last sentence.

      1. I know my criticism can come off as rough, but it’s not a complaint. I’m enjoying this game a lot and looking for ways to make it better.
      2. If we were to end it I heartily agree, I love gaming with you guys.

    2. Okay, back from lunch.

      I really agree with you on the building scenes. We try to get three rolls for advancement more than we try to have a scene focused on something. I’m going to start opening up my scenes with an intent, e.g. “This is going to be a scene about Locke gathering support for his upcoming Court Martial.” That way we all know what direction the scene is going (PTA uses the same format).

      As for the particular clusterfuck, it was late, we were all a little out of it and we all just started throwing shit out there. None of it was bad per se, just way to much for one scene.

      Regarding the court martial, I think there are three beliefs about it. Fox had (going from memory so this could be wrong): “The hammer wastes our resources, I will taper there excesses” and “I will make Locke understand he needs me, even if I have to use fear to do it.” For Locke, I know I’ve got one along the lines of “I will get and edge over Fox.” None of those specifically mention the court martial but they are all leading us into it.

      Your right though, it’s a big enough deal that we should have a belief specifically directed out of it. He’re going to be mine. “I’m going to use this farce of a preceding to bring an inquisition of the 10,000 circles down on Fox.”

      I started reading wiki page you linked and it looks like a lot of people are having the same trouble getting their heads around the game as we are.

      1. The forum post about playing fast really applies, too. Playing like we need to get through two Maneuvers, regardless of whether or not we actually make it through 2, would probably get the session done earlier. On top of us just needing to sit down and get to playing instead of bullshitting for an hour before play.

        1. Yeah, I’m totally down with that. Playing fast and purposeful sounds great. The one caveat is that if someone is floundering to figure out what they want to do, allow them to put their scene and jump to another to give them a minute to figure it out.

        2. Okay, finally read the entire Wiki article and a good chunk of the forum posts. MAN. A lot of good stuff in there. I absolutely want to talk next time before game about here’s the player’s main goals and beliefs. How are the GMFoNs going to fuck with those?

          Also, it looks like we’ve been cheating on the Maneuver rolls. At most we can get helping dice from two other characters.

          I really love the idea that there are no Vaylen we can oppose in the first phase. Let’s talk about Gaius getting caught and jumping hosts so the rest of the maneuver we’re firmly entrenched in non-Vaylen conflicts, with the Vaylen threat looming in the background?

          1. Where are you getting that you can only get helping dice from two characters from? As long as a player gives the person rolling for the maneuver a helping or linked test die during the maneuver they can help on the maneuver roll.

          2. There are a couple examples where they show the dice cap as 15 dice (21 with deeds). The breakdown as far as I can tell is this

            6 (Exponent) + 3 (Persona) +2 (Two FoRKs) + 2 (2 Helping dice from a player with a 5+ exponent) + 2 (2 more from another player) = 15

            I could be breaking that down wrong but the math appears in a number of the posts.

          3. Could you link some of those? Except for a couple specific cases in firefight, the only restriction on the number of people helping is one skill per player.

          4. Yeah, I can’t find that rule anywhere in the book. However, people may only help with one of the listed skills for the maneuver, and you can only FoRK with the listed skills and appropriate wises.

            I did realize that I read the GM infection helping rules wrong. I thought I needed to have my FoN’s in scenes together. No. It’s any scene. As long as they show up. So, expect bigger dice pools from my side. Hehe.

          5. ” Then the players realize there’s precious little they can do to affect the Maneuver roll. Assuming exponent caps of 6, two FoRKs, fully optimized help dice from two participating FoNs and the maximum 3 Persona, you’ve got 15 dice to roll. That’s it. It can’t get any higher. (You can get up to 21 dice if you use Deeds; reverse-engineering that math is left as an exercise for the reader). ”

            That’s the fifth paragraph from the wiki page linked above. Their working under the assumption only FoNs can contribute helping dice. This isn’t true. Any player can.

          6. If mechanically the game is supposed to be roughly equal, then allowing any number of player to give helping dice puts a strong advantage in the hands of the players. The GM only has three Figures of Note, and thus can only draw helping dice from them, so it seems reasonable to me that the players would have the same limit. Even if it isn’t just the FoN, I think it’s fair to say they are limited to getting helping dice from two people.

            That or give the GM more NPCs (non-FoN) that can help on the maneuver roll.

          7. Well the GM can get helping dice from his relationships (pg. 431). He’s still limited to one skill per player, player in this case being the FoN. So, the FoN can get helping dice from three characters, the FoN making the roll can get help from one of his own relationships plus the other two FoNs or their relationships. So the GM rolls with help from three skills. Five players is the max and the player rolling can’t get help from their relationship. So, players have a max of four skills available the help and they have to work during the maneuver to get them all. The GM just needs to have his characters appear during the maneuver.

            The GM also has a further advantage. With his flexibility in skills available from being able to get relationships on the fly and hull character, he is more likely to have eligible characters with the skills needed to help.

            I can’t find where it says five is the maximum number of players, but I don’t think more than five is practical.

  3. A couple things, first in your building I wouldn’t let anyone in who you didn’t invite or didn’t have an instinct that would place them there. If someone wants to respond they can do so in their building scene. I would make an exception if it’s possible to immediately oppose what is going on without being physically present, like say using signals to jam communications. Otherwise, it’s your scene you call the shots on this.

    The second thing is remember it’s OK to spread out your three rolls. You could use one roll in your building scene then later on make a linked test and related test in another characters building scene, or even conflict, assuming you were invited to be there.

    Granted there will always be exceptions. BE seems to be a game of exceptions.

      1. Just checked the book. That’s not in there. I don’t know where that rule came from, but it’s not listed in the Artha chapter.


          1. Also, check page 289 of the hymnal, regarding breaking up building scenes, and having multiple people take builders at the same time.

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