Actual Play – Fight! (12/6/2011)

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

This game was entirely composed of a one Fight! (or rather, because of the way Shaun was scripting, two fights). One Ophidian (snake woman) charged at the fallen Aziz and Baldric rushed to save him, the other lunged for Moya.

So far in the game my character is the only one who isn’t touched with some supernatural powers. No faith, no sorcery, no snake magic, etc. So it was fun for me to do the one thing that is kind of beyond the norm, that any character can do: Aristeia! It costs 1 Deed, 3 Persona, and 5 Fate and turns one skill Grey (successes on 3+ instead of 4+) for a scene. That cost always seemed exorbitantly high to me for single shade shift, but in this case it was totally worth it. My B6 sword skill, was bumped to B7 due to Eogins’ Prayer and then had five more dice added to it due to my shield and defensive stance. Then with Aristeia, all those dice turned Grey! Yes my Ob for striking was +2 but when you’re swinging a G12, that’s not a problem. I also rolled a good dose of 6’s in that fight and it wasn’t uncommon for me to have 8-10 successes (albeit broken up between Block and Strike) each roll.

My tactic: Script the special shield move: Block/Strike as often as I could. The way the move works is that it counts as both a Block and Strike, not a combined action (like a Rebuttal in Duel of Wits), which means that even if there was nothing to block, I could still execute the strike. Every 4th move (Long Sword has a speed of 3 so I could only script that move three times in a row) I would switch it up, either with a social action to inspire, or later, dropping my shield, going to aggressive stance and making a Great Strike (woot!). Because you’re not required to actually use and of your sword dice for defense, I used the +2D on Blocks from Defensive Stance and the 3D from my shield to make 5D blocks, and used the full 7D (sometimes 8 when I forked in Brawling) for the swing. Even at +2 OB, I got enough successes that I was regularly able to deliver Mark (vs. Incidental) hits and deliver B7 wounds (not to shabby).

When it appeared the tides had turned I used by 5 actions (Reflexes 5) and started with Block/Strike (1 action) Aggressive Stance (1 action), attempted to intimidate (normally 2 actions, but Aggressive stance counts as being the first action in intimidate, so it was only 1) and then finished off the last Volley with Great Strike (2 actions). I hoped the intimidate would cause the Ophidian to hesitate while I made my “set” part of the strike, but it didn’t matter. Even though the intimidate failed (they have really high Steele and Will) I got off the Great Strike. G7 plus +2D for aggressive stance plus persona = Severe Hit and since my power was up by one from the Great Strike, that meant B12 wound. Bloody.

Moya rained down all kinds of hellfire on her foe. Shards, The Fear and something along the lines of “choke a bitch”. Her complication (mechanically speaking) was that some of the spells too several actions to cast and the Ophidian interrupted at least one of them. She fell back primarily on the single action spells, but those were sufficient to injure and then scare off the monster.

Eogin primarily tried to protect himself and the child, and aid Baldric. One failed attempt at intimidation, earned the attention of the monster, but it didn’t last long. She was soon vanquished.

Aziz, stood there and panicked. A point that Baldric and Moya argued vehemently about later.

Thoughts on the game.

This was probably the longest Fight! I’ve been in, and honestly while I think Burning Wheel Gold has cleaned up fight some, it’s also made me realize that to someone who isn’t invested in the system, scripting could be VERY frustrating. What Fight! does that I’m not a big fan of is to further divide each volley into three actions. Which means if you have a reflexes of 9, you act 3 times per volley (for a total of 9 per exchange). That’s all well and good if everyone has the same understanding of the game. But if you’re just regular shmo with Reflex 4, and have 1 action per volley and then get to spend your extra action in any one of them (2/1/1, 1/2/1/ or 1/1/2) you could very easily script an intelligent move (like Block) and even have it on the right volley, but not have it on the right action. Let’s say you script your volleys like this: Volley 1: Strike, Volley 2: Strike, Block. Volley 3: Strike. (A simple example). If in Volley 2 your opponent also strikes, you would think you were prepared with a block, but ONLY if he happens to strike one the first action of Volley 2. To me, that is getting to fiddly. If you’ve spent the time to prepare a defensive action, I think it should be rewarded by at least saying it’s good for any time in that volley. Else, why not just keep taking offensive actions as often as you can because you know they will actually be playable.

There was some serious confusion about dropping out and back into a Fight! and what you can do outside Fight!, etc. I think it just comes down to this. Burning Wheel, as a system really pushes the spotlight on a single player and doesn’t do well when you involve the complex mechanics (like Fight! or DoW) with more than two contestants. Try to have a Duel of Wits with three different people arguing for different points? Doesn’t work. Multiple Fights? Yeah, you can do it, but it was cumbersome (took the entire session). I enjoyed the Fight! myself, but I think that is because I made a character that was designed to do well inside one.