Actual Play – Death’s Door (1/31/2012)

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

Eogin (Justin’s character) ended the last game on death’s door. He had a traumatic wound would bleed to death soon if no-one could aid him. Damn… someone needs to learn field dressing!

On Death’s Door

The game started in the surgeon’s tent while the sawbones took a needle and thread to the bloody mess that was left of Eogin’s bowels. It felt a bit perfect for me witnessing it. I looked over all of Balric’s skills and not a single one of them looked like they could reasonably lend a helping die. I was helpless to do anything, and so was Baldric, and he hated it. So Baldric started doing something he’s never really done before. He started praying. Praying to Phlome to give Eogin more time. It was an interesting twist for the mostly secular knight. I’m going to play with it some more. Maybe, probably, Baldric is one of those people that get really religious when bad things are happening to him, and then will forget (or just ignore) the gods again once Eogin recovers. But maybe not. A question for the future: Will Baldric’s piety outlast Eogin’s injury?

So it came down to Shaun’s surgery roll, Ob 5. Which he hit! So, Eogin would survive, but would he recover completely? Health test, ob 5… 4 successes. Eogin would recover in six months, but a collapsed lung would haunt him for the rest of his days. Wow.

Negotiations with Dragons

This one started off a lot like the “don’t eat me, okay?” discussion, only this one was “don’t jack me, okay?” Moya caught up with the rampaging dragon-ling, Firaxis as he finally emerged from the temple into the desert. Aziz was freed from the tangle of chains, and everyone had a moment to catch their breath. Aziz rejoiced in his god’s offspring being freed, but as usual Moya wanted to cut to the chase. First, giving Aziz all kinds of grief about impaling Eogin and second, negotiating with the dragon to leave signs of his passage.

So a plan was hatched. In order that our band of heroes could follow him, the Dragon would leave a distinctive mark (clawing through stone mind you) to indicate his passage.

You’re in danger

After several days of traveling in his armor, Baldric was ready to peel the stink of sweat and steel and blood from himself and enjoy a bath. Which is of course when a stranger bearing a warning entered his tent. One of the desert dwellers, dressed all in black, covering everything but his eyes, dropped off a letter written in Theorsan but signed by an unknown hand. It read You are in danger. I can offer you help. By Feros’ bent nail! On the armor went again and Baldric tried to sneak into the camp of the Alamesh (as the messenger had identified himself as Sayid Ibn Sula of the Alamesh).

Yay for inconspicuous rolls. I almost had it too, I was rolling beginners luck and got 4 successes, I failed only because of the +1 ob from my Mark of Privilege. So Balric/Catamere met with the Alamesh and found that he had already made enemies in the camp (Balric piss people off,  no shit). The Alamesh would help protect him if he could help them.  The Alamesh had provided Sergeant Telgarn food, supplies, water, and slaves.  Her payment was over due now and she showed no signs of good faith. A deal was struck, Baldric would inquire into the Alamesh being paid and the would arrange a way for Baldric to get in a fight with the Ophidians. (Yep, Baldric’s idea of how to not be in danger).

Due to the failed roll, of course, one of the king’s men saw him entering the tent and grew suspicious. Awesomes.

I want to speak with Sergeant Telgarn

This was like an ironically funny failed circles roll. I kept trying to go to the sergeant’s tent and kept getting side tracked.

First, Eogin was awake. Baldric went to his side and rejoiced that he was alive. Eogin for the most part, gibbered nonsense about getting his book to read, it was in the study, on top of his desk. Gibbering or not, he was alive. Woots. Baldric did that thing people do when they are uncomfortable with someone being sick, so they pretend like they are going to recover tomorrow. “Ah, you’ll be picking up that book yourself, you lazy priest. I’m sure you’ll be running around in no time.”

Second, Aziz and Moya had returned. More praise for the god was needed, the boy was safe. The discussions that unfolded were great. Here was the shortened version of it:

Baldric: Praise the gods, Eogin is alive.

Aziz: (looking Baldric right in the eyes): I did it.


Aziz: I stabbed Eogin.

Baldric: (Backhand the boy with his mailed cuff): You did what?!? That man has served you, protected you, and prayed for you! This is how you repay him?

The backhand, by the way, was contested. Moya tried to jump in there and stop him but wasn’t quite fast enough, so BAM!

This led to the shortest duel of wits ever. Aziz argued that he was not fit to be a king. Baldric argued that it was not his choice, it was his duty. It was over in once exchange. Aziz acted like a petulant boy and tried to incite Baldric. The roll failed (Beginner’s luck = double ob = impossible roll) and granted a couple advantage dice to Baldric to finish off the fight with a point. I reasoned that Baldric has a younger brother, who is probably Aziz’s age, was had heard all the “But I don’t wanna” cries before. He landed a solid point “It is the man that does not want to wear the crown, that is best suited for it.”

Adding insult to injury

Sullenly Aziz left Baldric’s tent to go see how Eogin was faring. When the priest woke he asked Aziz “Are you okay?” Ohh, that was just brutal. Eogin never once tried to make Aziz feel guilty, but he didn’t have to, the boy was torn up. He tried to apologize but Eogin ensured him that whatever action he took was for the best, that the Three were guiding him.

Eogin said a prayer for Aziz to protect him… and check this out, emotional magic isn’t hindered by would penalties. So he dropped a full Ob 6 hindrance on the boy, meaning the next three rolls made against him would be at +3 Ob. Can’t wait to see how that plays out.

Aziz left the tent feeling worse than he did when he entered!

I want to speak with Sergeant Telgarn, continued.

Back in Catamere’s tent, Baldric and Moya continued a different discussion. Moya asked how Baldric was planning to get them out of this mess, but it was a ruse. She was really there to dig into him for lying when it suited him but chastising her for doing the same.

This lead to the most interesting not-duel of wit’s argument I’ve had in the game. I’m actually really glad that we didn’t take it to a DoW because I think the arguments made wouldn’t have come out as naturally as they did.

It started with a concession. “Yes, I lied and yes it was wrong.” What followed though was this cool discussion of whether the ends do justify the means. Baldric claimed that he lied to further our mission, and to keep his companions alive. It was a terrible lie (assuming Catamere’s identity) but a necessary one. Moya’s lie (to have the pirate captain stoned) was a petty one, to serve her own pride. It ended with everything being cast in a dark light. Lying is wrong. Moya is wrong. Baldric is wrong. Which begs an interesting question. If Baldric is actually in the wrong, that can he be correct when he says lying is wrong? (Ignore everything in parenthesis).

And the debate didn’t stop there. Then we got onto religion. Which was awesome. Eogin had demonstrated the power of his faith many times, enough so that it would be impossible to believe he didn’t have access to some great power. But does that mean they are gods? If you are fed milk, do you believe in the existence of cows? If the milk keeps you alive, are cows gods? That was fun times as well.

By Argent I just want to speak with Sergeant Telgarn!

As Moya crawled into Catamere’s bed and told him she was tired and didn’t want to talk anymore, he left the tent, determined to finally talk to Telgarn. Only there was an ophidian (snake woman), one of the Alamesh and two of the kings men waiting outside. “Well, well, well, what have we got here?” The ophidian asked. They had heard everything!

Based on his instinct “Always bare steel before a monster” Baldric drew his blade!

Thoughts on the game

I can’t wait for next session. Baldric has been caught red handed. Can he context the charged with a trial by combat? A noble-wise roll next game will let us know. Yay, I can’t wait.

The arguments we had were just awesome. It was so cool how much people changed.  Moya had a belief:

Baldric is a hypocrite, telling me I shouldn’t lie and then using it to further his own plans, I will make him admit he was wrong and dishonesty is a useful tool.

I think it sparked a cool change in the characters, that they understand each other a little bit more. I think Baldric is going to be less high and mighty when dealing with Moya from here out.

I did have an belief that didn’t really come up because we kind of fast-forwarded past the point I thought the game was going to start, which was one of the ophidians calling Catamere out as a traitor when Moya had run off after the dragon. I’m not sure if I could have pushed for that harder or should have discussed it more with Shaun before the game to find out if that was going to come up. I think in retrospect it was a reactionary belief rather than a proactive one.

Eogin living was very cool, it is really grounding the other three characters not only by keeping them physically by his side but also by sobering them up somewhat to the grimness of their mission and how much they all depend on each other.

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