Actual Play – Burning Theorsa – The End (10/24/2012)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean Nittner, Kristin Hayworth, Justin Dhiel, Andrew Eckhart
System: Burning Wheel
Setting: Burning Theorsa

So much has passed

Our 53rd and final game of Burning Theorsa. This game lasted just over a year (first game 10/4/2011, last one 10/24/2012) and is hand down the best campaign I’ve played in as an adult. I qualify it (as an adult) because I still have some nostalgia harking back to two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns (Silston and Darwin, Sadric and Yalen) that I was in in middle school and high school, that hold an immortal place in my heart.

Theorsa did so many things. I mash the high drama of heart broken would be lovers, betrayal, jealousy, and hard choices with the epic fantasy of killing the dragon with a magic sword and claiming the throne. It is everything I would have wanted from a “Game on Thrones” style Burning Wheel game without the laborious travels or eacting details of their meals.

Our characters were archetypes but all of them with a twits. My character, the supposedly honorable knight had done so many horrific things in the name of love (both for his brother and the woman of his dreams) that he could no longer live with himself and turned to drink.  Moya, the powerful war wizard was proud but wanted more than anything to be accepted by her family. That her brother (who did not know they were related) fell in love with her, she eventually found the same feelings (even though they were horribly wrong) in her own heart.

The game end as I knew it would, in blood and tears.

Afon made his final betrayal, and claimed the throne for himself. In a brutal fight he nearly killed Baldric (and would have, if not for Baldric’s older sister Moya stepping in again to save him) but lost his head to the dragon sword.

In Baldric’s final moments of consciousness (before he passed out from the blood loss) Moya revealed her identity to him again, filling his weeks of slumber with fitful dreams of what his love meant.

Finally, in the end conflict Baldric tried to give up the sword and crown to the high priest Michael in order to be with Moya, but she cast him off. They had gone too far to give up the throne now.  She left him on the throne, alone and miserable.

As Moya passed by her father, the man she had always hoped would embrace her openly as a daughter, instead all she received was a nod indicating that her leaving the lands was the best thing she could do for everyone.

There were two new thrones built, one from each skull of the fallen dragons. Baldric glumly sat on one and ordered that the other be burned. He would never take a queen.

Thoughts on this game

I’m sad this game is over. Sad both because I loved playing it so much and because it ended so tragically. We won but nobody was happy. In fact, we were all pretty damn miserable, or dead.  This is saying something because I love watching characters suffer. I love seeing there emotional (and physical) bits being ground up and mashed around and then seeing what comes out of it. As our characters suffered in the story, I loved seeing how they changed. What beliefs they gave up, which ones they held onto, and what new values they adopted.

At the beginning of the game Baldric would do anything to protect his brother. He killed hundreds of people, he lied, he cheated, he nearly started a war, all to protect Aeric. At the end of the game, he gave Moya the approval, nay the command, to case a rain of fire down on the king, knowing it would burn and either maim or kill his brother in the process. That’s how much they changed. Baldric never stopped loving his brother, he just decided that killing the king was more important. How short sighted he was at the end.

This growth through suffering though, has it’s best payoff when the characters finally get a moment in the sun. I don’t care if a perfect knight becomes king, but I did love it when my broken and maimed knight raised the sword he had committed atrocities to claim over the head of the dragon and drove it into his brain, slaying the mythic beast.  And we did have those moments of amazing heroics and they were incredibly rewarding (see some of the more recent AP posts). The end though, was sour. Beautifully, tragically sour.

I loved it. It was a perfect ending to this story and I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Still, it left me sad.

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