Actual Play – The Gift (2/7/2009)

GM: Sean Nittner
System: Burning Wheel

I ran my play-test for the gift on Saturday night. It was great. I had a ton of fun goading the dwarves and elves to fight with each other… and amongst each other. I really hope that I get a full 8 players when I run it at DDC as it will be improved by having the last character.

The Gift is an adventure predicated on a botch. The elves came to congratulate the new dwarven price on his recent rise to the throne, but woops, they forgot a gift. A huge offence in dwarven culture.

I’m not going to go into all the details just in case someone that is going to play in the game at DDC is reading this, but suffice to say, I learned a lot.

This list of what rocked and what could be improved is actually a laundry list of all the feedback I got after the game, so its longer and briefer than usual.

What rocked:

  • The characters as written were primed to go at each other’s throats… and man did they.
  • I had a lot of fun playing back seat to the “nobility” (a.k.a. the players)
  • All of the conflicts were driven by player motivations, nothing I created or forced on them (though I did goad them quite a bit).
  • There were multiple scenes, allowing some decent character exposition (apparently in other games there game is just one big long scene)
  • The Mithril didn’t show up immediately, letting the tension build.
  • We got to see almost all of the mechanics.
  • Everyone had something to do
  • The set up was good (I set up a long table and had some rockin props, dwarven nog and elven mirrorwine, plus a throne for the Dwarven king.
  • The question “who’s got to be an elf?” was a good one at the start.
  • Though the game was all male characters, gender bending wasn’t a problem. We had an Aunt Oxen instead, no problems.
  • Everyone understood their motivation
  • Lots of juicy secrets were buried in the character sheets, a bunch of them came out.
  • We didn’t force to many of the BW fiddly bits, that improved game play.
  • There was a nice slow progression as new things were unveiled.
  • Idea for the actual game. Get two different color pieces of cloth to drape over the “thrones”
  • Players which were uncomfortable speaking over others were still engaged in the game.

What could have been improved

  • I forgot to ask the question “what are you guys looking for out of this game?”
  • There were a lot of times when the players had to ask “how do I do this?” The system needed to be reviewed.
  • Duel of Wit’s needed a better explanation. Including a discussion of how concessions work. Remind people that in arguments, usually nobody wins without some kind of compromise. Give examples of Duel of Wit’s maneuvers. When George Bush junior was asked why he was attacking Iraq he would talk about the dangers we faced in 9/11. That is “Avoiding the Topic”. When calling on reporters he often insulted them “Yeah, you, lanky!” That is an “Incite”. etc.
  • The first scene should be regimented to using simple mechanics.
  • Don’t allow Fight! until the end of the game, if there is time allowing AND the players are feeling up for it.
  • I need to push towards quicker scene resolution. What is the conflict, let’s roll and move onto the next.
  • There should be more, smaller (having fewer people in them) scenes.
  • The characters need a skill cheat sheet.
  • The mithril needs to be brought out by the second scene to give everyone time to go for it.
  • Use Bloody vs. instead of Fight! unless the players really want it (see above)
  • Ask people “are you going to take that?” a lot!

Some of that was a little redundant and/or contradictory because it was suggestions from everyone, but I think there are some excellent nuggets in there I will use.