Actual Play – Paying my taxes! (8/10/12)

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

I really, really love it when beliefs make your course of action disastrously obvious. Here were his beliefs:

Belief: Justice must be served. The false priest will burn.
Belief: A female wizard is not a witch. I’ll command Mikael to accept Moya.

Here’s what happened:

Moya admitted that she let the heretic priest free (last session). I think she might have told Baldric why but he didn’t care. All he knew was that father Mikael MUST NOT KNOW she did this (or he would want to burn her too) AND that priest still needed to be burned.

Stuck in this situation, Baldric had one solution, which was to lie to everyone except for the most untrustworthy person he could imagine. This comprised his encounters with the PCs

Moya – Not so much lie to her as not tell her that he was going to honor the letter of her deal (that she let the heretic go) but not the letter, as he planned to find the escaped priest and burn him.

Father Mikael – A flat out lie. “The heretic died from his grievous wounds and Moya took him to the body to be disposed of.”

Rowan Daultry (Baldric’s new squiare) – Come with me kid. You’re my squire and you’re going to see a lot of ugly things. This is the just the first of them. Oh… and make sure to make me look good in front of people. That’s your REAL job.

Afon (here was the awesome moment of desperation) – I need you to do what you do best. Hunt down a man and help me kill him. If it makes you feel any better, he’s a priest. I think his reaction was “finally“.

This wen’t predictably horrible. In the end everyone figured out what everyone else had done, but nobody had admitted anything. Mikael and Afon almost came to blows (which would have been cool if they had) and the priest ended the session not trusting any of us. I can’t remember (I’m late in writing this post) if Moya ever found out what happened, but even if she didn’t, the damage was done wtih Mikael.

Spectacular scenes

We did have a GREAT scene after the fact though. Mikael cornered Baldric on a balcony to ask about the heretic. He had received his ashes from Afon and consecrated them, so he knew the heretic was burned alive (Yep, we did that). Mikael asked Baldric if he had lied to him, and used the analogy of a accountant needing to know their clients finances. My reply “I may not tell my accountant about every expense I make, but I DO pay my taxes!” That and referencing the urn of the priests ashes I think pretty much told Mikael that Baldric was indeed faithful, but that his methods were not going to make the priest happy.

Another fun scene was Baldric’s discussion with his new squire. He has admitted that they were going to do a terrible thing, but thanks to a successful circles roll, Rowan wasn’t going to run off and report his actions to the priest, at least not immediately. While they were building a pyre together out in the woods, the conversation however turned to brothers. Rowans brother serves Duke Galen. There was a time when Galen and Roderick’s alliance was on very shaky ground. Baldric posited a horrible hypothetical situation. What if Roderick and Galen could not reconcile and went to war? What if he was serving Duke Roderick (who Baldric reminded him was his father) and met his brother on the battlefield…what would he do then? An impossible question foreshadowing the fear Baldric has that he will have to kill his own brother.

Oh… one more. Mikael and Afon… they were having this chase to find the priest first. The whole thing reminded me of a slapstick chase where Mikael kept arriving at a scene the moment Afon had left. The scene seems liked it have had some animated chase musis from the three stooges playing. When the father finally had caught up with Afon, they had a confrontation that quickly turned to threats (as it does with Afon). “Go home now priest. You don’t want to cross me.” And, unarmed, and fully believing that Afon might just stab him, the priest wisely backed off.

Moya was in the mean time trying to set things right with Aziz. She felt pretty bad about pressuring him to summon Seleth, especially since she pressured him to do it. In a nice way of continuing a thread she started long ago, Moya offered her services to Aziz (well really to Seleth) once this whole thing is done. The pressure of everyone finding out she’s Baldric’s sister I think is overwhelming.

Montage travel-scene

Wanting to move the action to Rathmore we did a montage of us traveling east. Why of why couldn’t R.R. Martin just do that?!? Anyway, we did a montage scene of traveling through Redvale, Moya discovering that Menden’s “spellbook” was a holy symbol of Argent (and being plenty infuriated because of it), and then finally to Rathmore… where we found the city in mourning… the queen had died.

Thoughts on this game

The whole chase scene seems a little farcical, but that bit of levity was nice in an otherwise very serious game.

I really dug getting to have some time with Baldric’s squire, and showing him some of Baldric’s inner turmoil.

I like the idea that even if someone now your “squire” in the fiction, you still have to roll circles to see if they will will be there for you. Just like in Burning Empires how you can have any color tech you want, but have to roll resources if you want it to do anything mechanically. I like the idea that my squire may always be present, but he won’t necessarily help (and or will possibly betray) if I fail the circles roll. Eventually (after enough circles rolls) he becomes a relationship and and we get to figure out if he’s a friendly or antagonistic one based on the way those rolls went.  That is a very nice way for the mechanics to play out in the fiction.

The queen is dead? Aeric is getting married to the king’s daughter? And we’re here to crash the party? This should be spectacular… and kind of terrible. One question I have though is how all the narrative pieces will fit.  Like, one part of me says “call out the king now” but I think that will short circuit some more interesting social exploration in the game (hah… BW is a fucking social mapping game!… someone will get that).

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