Actual Play – Into the Buried Temple (12/13/2011)

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

The guards dispatched (see last session) we entered an ancient temple that had been buried under the sand. Soon we found the water, a torrent of it pouring through an underground river! We also found slaves. Kashkyr men and women in shackles, malnourished and abused.

We freed them but they were too afraid to run, afraid of their masters. Some exploration led us to understand that the river ran down into the lower levels of the temple, so that’s where we went… the fast way! Down the river.

A not so grand plan made worse by Baldric loosing hold of the rope when Owain was climbing down, sending them both down with more than a few cuts and bruises.

Thoughts on this game

Shaun did a nice job of letting the failed power roll (to allow us to get down safely) keep the story (and the party for that matter) moving along by allowing the others to pass safely and putting the pain on the two involved with the roll. I’m a big fan of the “condition” result from failed rolls that Mouse Guard uses (tired, hungry, angry, injured, etc) and unfortunately all Burning Wheel has is injuries, but in this case an injury was very appropriate.

That has me wondering if maybe those status conditions (which Lady Blackbird also uses, as well as Dresden (consequences) and to Cortex+ (damage), though with the last two it is granular rather than binary) and a good ideas for other games. I like being able to say “if you fail this roll, you’re going to be frustrated, that’s +1 ob on all social rolls and tasks that require patience and concentration.” Frankly there is no reason you can’t have that in BW, but I can also see not wanting to lay it on too thick, less the characters walk around as giant list of conditions and modifiers. I think there is a balance in there somewhere that would be fun.

I really appreciate that our group isn’t about doing the smart thing as much as they are about doing the thing that will drive towards story now. When I suggested we dive down the river, I knew it was a bad idea, but I also knew it took us to where the action is. I also assumed it might put us on our asses surrounded by our enemies, but still, that would be story, and that story would be awesome. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have fellow players that would rather dive head first into adventure then spend hours planning.

I’m not sure why this resonated with me so much, but the moment we interacted with the slaves Baldric was all “I’m not about that!” I started writing beliefs the next session that I was going to set them free. Oddly very Daenerys Targaryen of me/him. Character thing or player reaction? Hmmm.