Actual Play – Take the Power Back (10/19/2013)

burning empiresGM: Jonathan White
Players: Sean Nittner, Bret Gillian, Dwight Frohaug, and Colin Booth.
System: Burning Empires
Planet: Gundalas Vert

Game Description

The worm owns the planet, and a last vestige of freedom fighters posing as Vaylen have a plan to take it back—or destroy it trying. The roles are switched in this endgame conflict. Gundalas Vert is a garden planet controlled by the Vaylen and their hold is strong. You thought you’d found the weakness in their defenses but new intelligence has revealed they’ve been on to you this whole time, playing with you as a child would a toy. Can you find the strength inside yourself to pull off the plan despite the odds or will you flee the planet to save your own ass? Maybe you’ll end up just another victim of the worm, strapped down to an operating table, waiting to be hulled. May Ahmilak guide you to your destiny.

Answer to most of these questions was:

Nope.

Before the game

On the subway into Burning Con John Stavropoulos, Kristin Firth, Rachel Walton, Jeremiah Frye, and I all talked about our proposed gaming schedule for the day. It doesn’t make much sense to plan too far ahead for burning con since priority and butt-in-seats determines who gets in what. Also, it was nice to riff off my fellow con-goers and hear their thoughts on the offerings.  After some discussion it was clear, hands down the game to play was Jonathan White’s Burning Empires game.

Character Creation/Completion

The dudes and I sat down, Jonathan read the scenario introduction to catch us up to speed and then we picked characters and finished them off.  Xavon, our noble leader. Willem, his loyal cousin. Vynss, a noble who had fallen into crime, and Ro, the infiltrator.  I dig characters with messed up lives, so I nabbed Vynss Undrago (Born to rule -> Hostage -> Criminal).

Beliefs. Jonathan had our first belief written, our 2nd had two choices, and our 3rd was up to us to fill in with some guidance. Vynss looked like this:

  • Xavon is leading us to our deaths; I will wrest leadership from him to see us survive this debacle.
  • That worm Villiback took my family; I will find them in his house and bring them home with us for treatment.
  • We’ve been discovered. I’ll find out who knows our identity and silence them.
  • I will never hurt my family. (The Family trait belief)

As per the discussion over on G+, I think these beliefs (and those of the others of course) created a compelling drama between our characters, but ultimately led to our downfall. We should have been trusting each other instead of in-fighting. That division is what gave the Vaylen what they needed to destroy us.

Highlights of Maneuver One

After ascertaining that Vaylen couldn’t help but gloat about toying with humans (thank you Alien Cultures-wise) Ro, Willem, and Vynss broke into a secure garden estate to ease drop on two of the Vaylen FoNs… and failed the final infiltration roll. Result: They knew we were watching, played dumb, and fed us a story full of lies to trap us further.

Ro, trying to discover some lost high index terraforming technology failed a circles roll, and was asked to come to an unknown island on the planet for security clearance.

Trapped alone by his “friend” Coshi, Vynss was offered to swap bodies and to have one of coshi’s children. When he refused, Coshi persisted, and an epic duel of wits began. Coshi sought to reveal Vynss (even though the character didn’t actually know he was human) and Vynss tried to convince him to share the ceremony in private, aboard their hammer (where he would corner him and stab him in the face). I was outmatched for sure, but the dice were generally going in my favor until one fateful turn. Point (Vynss) vs. Obfuscate (Coshi). I had six success. Jonathan rolled four with one six. He spent fate to open it up and got THREE MORE. I had two sixes, opened them up and got nothing. If I had won the DoW would have been over and I’d have Coshi on the ship. Instead… I lost horrible and escalated to violence!

Xavon, seeing his command disintegrate before him, took his Hammer into orbit, abandoning his brothers in arms, who, in his mind, had already abandoned him!

Willem was trapped in a room with Villeback, who planned to corner him and stab him in the face.

Ro was trapped in a room to await some unknown horror.

Highlights of Maneuver Two

First off the awesome thing was that we burned through our scenes, rewarded Artha and even had a maneuver two!

In a short but brutal fight Willem put a few blasts from his jack laser rifle into Villebacks shell. Moments later we saw Villeback pulled from his human body

Vynss captured Coshi and dragged him onto his Grav-Sled, with the intent of using him as a hostage, but Villeback had taken Vynss’s family hostage displayed on every view screen on the planet, a ruse of their upcoming execution. Vynss fell right for the trap and pushed it full throttle to his family (or where he thought they were).

Untrained for artillery fire, Xavon took his Hammer (by himself) out of orbit and opened fired on the two cruisers that were guarding the disc above.  Destroying them both in a fiery hail of fusion cannon disruption!

In the end, our mission was doomed, may the prophet guide our souls.

BurningCon 115

Thoughts on this Game

We had a really intersting discussion about my second belief “That worm Villiback took my family; I will find them in his house and bring them home with us for treatment.” If it’s known that the Vaylen can’t be “cured” then would people still believe it’s possible? Would they still try? Would they still try? What if it was family? Would other respect them as hopeful or condemn them as naive?

Our characters were doomed to fail. There’s a good question here of should we just have abandoned our beliefs (and maybe gone for Moldbreaker) to try and win or play them through and know that our character’s personal victories (or losses in this case) would come at the expense of humanity?

I really liked that we got two maneuvers in a session. It definitely showed the progression of the game in a way that would be much less fulfilling than a single maneuver.

That point vs. obfuscate destroyed me. I yelled “Nooooooooo” like Kirk/Spock wailing “Khaaaaaaaan”. That was the moment of defeat for me. After that it was just telling my Black 2 Aftermath.

Bret put up a great discussion of the game as well on G+