Actual Play – Burning Wheel Warcraft Wednesday (12/3/2008)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Burning Wheel

I can’t believe I gave Shaun at This Modern Death a hard time for being a Luke Crane fan boy. Oh the irony. I’m totally in love with this game.

Last night entered the third (and probably final) hero entered the story. Captain Genn Blackstone of Gileas, who lead the armies into the Dark Portal and BACK again! (Or at least, that is what the world believes) We decided to ramp up the mechanics and bring in the Duel of Wits, not once but twice. Sweet!

What rocked:

Characters were driven by their beliefs, instincts and traits. Everyone was rewarded a nice handful of Fate Artha for perusing their BITs! Because we reviewed the Beliefs and Instincts both before the game and after the game I think it helped up stay focused on what matters to the players and allowed their beliefs to change in a very organic manor.

Captain Genn decided to go hunting… and came back with a YETI! I couldn’t believe it. He had a B2 hunting skill. Since he was using his men, he could flush it out (+1D for advantage), on horseback he could move faster than it (+1D FORK riding) and he was an expert with the heavy crossbow (+1D FORK from crossbow). He threw in a Persona and raised his pool to 6D vs. OB 5. He shoots, he rolls 4 successes but 3 of them were 6s, he drops the Fate to make them open ended and POW, he hits it dead on. The War Hero returns to the camp with a bloody Yeti head. Huzzah. The obstacle was awesome, we never thought he had a chance. The narration of the scene was cool. The outcome was amazing.

Dual of Wits! Two of them. The first was an impromptu court marshal overseen by Captain Genn and Uther Lightbringer. Jordan faced off against Sergeant Aaron, a man full of rage. The Duel was vicious and both men want to see the other destroyed. Jordan won but only by the thinnest of margins, and in the end submitted to a public beating in order to see the sergeant stripped of his rank (see below). The second was between Captain Luke and Paladin Jordan over the movement of troops. These are both PCs and the characters are old childhood friends who have taken different paths in life, somehow ending up together again but now as rivals. They argued in front of Arthas whether the army should make the prudent move of restocking their supplies or strike out against the orcs immediately to save the knights that had been captured. Again, Jordan won but just barely. His body of argument was reduced to less than half and he had to make a major concession of leaving the foot troops and most of the camp behind, which allows the army to restock but means that the forces will take greater losses recovering the men.

A public beating! Jordan, for killing a soldier was sentenced to a public beating to humiliate him in front of the soldiers. The Sergeant, however took the greater blow. He lost his rank and the respect of his troupes who were all assigned to latrine duty to learn discipline.

Trait vote. The Paladin Jordan that was anything but “Disciplined” lost that trait, but had it replaced by “Vindictive”. Similarly, the political climber gained “Penny Pincher”. Good times.

Player contribution, the players really drove this story. I put in the seeds of conflict but there they took it was up to them. I really like having the loose framework of following Arthas’s campaign but that not being the major focus of the story. In many ways I feel like the characters ARE on a train, but we only see their passage when we take the time to look out the windows, all the interesting stuff happens in the dining car.

My killer (or not so killer) intro video. I took a three minute clip of 13th warrior when the small village was being attacked and mixed “O Fortuna” in instead of the movie audio track. I played this video as the intro the game. This is what happened last night, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t honorable, it was savage and bloody and muddy and strange. They all attacked and then, as if on cue fled back into the woods, disappearing like smoke in the wind. The only part that sucked was that my laptop was freezing up and having buffer problems. My bad for trying to play it off the network.

Is this good or bad? I was talking so much, having such a good time, I lost my voice. Whisper for the win.

What could have been improved:

We had some downtime looking up rules. This is improving however as we all become more proficient with the system. It is organized to be read and less so to be referenced. Luke did include summaries at the end but I often find I need to look up the rule anyway. So long as this isn’t frustrating the players much, I don’t mind. I feel that I am really learning the system rather than just winging it.

A lot of time to start and wrap up. We spent a lot of time in the beginning reviewing the characters (specifically beliefs, but other bits as well). After the game we did the same review as part of the Artha awards. It was fun and reminded me of what BITs (Beliefs, Instincts and Traits) aren’t coming into play that should be, but it did take a while. I’ve thought about awarding Artha in game, but this post ( confirms for me that I’m doing the right thing by awarding it at the end.

Some DoW confusion. What happens when you Obfuscate vs. a Rebuttal? Who speaks first? How do you play that out? Does loosing an Incite really give your opponent advantage dice equal to the margin of error (it was 8D in our case due to a botched Incite roll, Avoid the Topic, Will 6 and +2 OB from the Thick-Skinned trait, which seems over the top)? How liberal are GMs with FORKs? I was open to almost any idea that included a clear using of the skill. Debating with Oratory, while FORKing in Doctrine to speak the religious ideals and Philosophy to talk about the decisions we make as men define who we are, all seemed very reasonable to me. Some however, like using seduction to impress the village women who had no say in the outcome I cut because, while some villagers might swoon, the judge officiating the hearing was utterly unmoved by that (he even has a belief that says so).

I need to make a cheat sheet of the character’s BITS, affiliations, relationships and reputations so that I can remember to bring them into play and challenge them. I think the game was full and didn’t need to see EVERY thing on ALL the character sheets, but there were some omissions that I need to rectify quicky.

All said, I can’t wait till Wednesday. The hunt is on!

3 thoughts on “Actual Play – Burning Wheel Warcraft Wednesday (12/3/2008)”

  1. Definitely a good time on my end. I really like what you’re doing with FoRKs, so don’t change that on my account. 😉 It’s a lot of fun to see a trait which doesn’t get used often (like firebombing) help me out in a debate.

    Also, I was pretty sad that my perception was so low and had been considering raising it. Not after last night! My 6 Will more than makes up for some low starting exponents!

  2. Obfuscate vs. Rebuttal:
    Test for the Obfuscate as normal. The only result that matters here is if the result is good enough to affect the next volley – Rebuttal only “goes off” against a Point or Dismiss.

    This only applies to BW, BE has different rules that I forget off the top of my head.

    1. Cool. Thanks. We had an Obfuscate vs. Avoid the Topic last night and the whole processes was much smoother this time. My fabricated ancient dragon lore trumps your dwarven upbringing!

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