Actual Play – The monsters we’ve become (5/30/2012)

GM: Shaun Hayworth
Players: Sean Nittner, Justin Dhiel, and Noam Rosen
System: Burning Wheel
Setting: Burning Theorsa

Moya bolted upright. She heard the screaming and ran outside to douse the flames!

Yep, that is actually how our game started. Krisin wasn’t here last game so we presumed she was sleeping it off. She woke however to the sounds of our ending scene last gane, notably Andon Torron being hamstrung. For her, however, what she remembered was all those people burning to death from her spell. So she grabbed a buck of water and doused the wailing man!

Unfortunately that did very little for his bleeding. Fortunately once she did this, she woke up, realized he was bleeding horribly and tried to bind his wounds, to at least prevent them from getting worse.

As she recovered Baldric and Ayernand carried the night to the surgeon’s tent. There were many men worse off than Andon, however. Men with intestines bursting out of them,  men with head trauma, and men that would be losing their legs, rather than having them bandaged.  Andon could wait.

On the way out of the sick tent Baldric asked Ayernand if he meant what he said about killing the prisoners (from the duel of wits last session). “Are you prepared to follow through on your threat, to kill every man in Andon’s army until he yields or there are none left?” Baldric hoped to find some modicum of mercy in Ayernand’s heart, but there was none. The solider didn’t have the authority to order all of the prisoners executed but it was clear that was his desire.

And that’s when things go interesting…

Moya, after she regained her senses, got word that Father Menden, the priest they had captured had been scaring the troops. They were unsettled by his religious diatribes and the suspicious he held sway over invisible powers.  The said that he had power over men’s minds… so of course Moya wanted to see him alone. “So, what are all these parlor trick I’ve heard you’re using to spook my men?” She was clearly unimpressed with him and wanted to dispel any notion that he was in fact a threat.

“The wicked are always scared in the presence of the righteous.”  Oh yeah, that was going to go well. They argued for a bit, Moya trying to figure out what his deal was, the priest refusing to take the bait. Finally she tried to scare him, threatening that he would be executed in the morning. Unfortunately he saw through her threats and peered right into her soul. He tried to hypnotize her “You can see redemption too, all you need to do is take a little step. Release my bonds.” The last statement wast a request, it was an imperative.  The priest had pulled back his hood and Moya could see that while he once bore the scarification of the three gods, all of the symbols except Argent had been burned, leaving his body a wretched victim of both the blade and the torch. His eyes though, seemed to reflect silver even though there was no moon, and they could hypnotize lesser men.

Yeah, Moya is no “lesser man”. His charms didn’t work on her, but they did convince Moya he was a threat and that he had to go. Pronto.

The tender moment

Meanwhile Ayernand and Afon bonded over digging ditches. Ayernand tried to teach the assassin something about soldiering, but mostly just barked that he was doing it wrong. So they dug ditches together and talked about what they cared about.

“Why do you follow Baldric and Moya, they are both a little crazy.”

“Moya is as close a thing to family as I’ve got. Besides, what else would I do with myself. What about you? War is coming, we could use you in the fight.”

I can’t remember Ayernand’s response but I think it was something along the lines a shrug that indicated he would think on it. And so they bonded over dreams of the future, while digging holes for soldiers to defecate in.

The not so tender moment

I was pretty fierce here. The scene starts with Moya finding Baldric as he’s looking at all the prisoners and suffering a crisis of faith over whether he has the stones to order them all executed. If he even has the will to keep leading the army if that’s what it takes to do it.

So Moya starts in with what a threat the priest is, because he’s hurting morale. And Baldric offers to kill him without any argument. The he offers to kill all the prisoners to aid the cause, explaining that otherwise they will hurt the army as well (taking food, time, guards, and a place to keep them).  Moya accuses him of losing his backbone and he agrees maybe he doesn’t have it any more. Baldric threatens to go drink, with both of them understanding that if he does, he’s giving it all up. Command, respect, any semblance of friendship.

Here’s where I played hardball. “I’ll stay sober, I’ll keep doing my job, but only if we can act with at least as much honor as Sir Torron. That spell you cast was the most foul kind of butchery I’ve ever witnessed. Men walked with skin hanging from them like sheets…” I went on. We argued fiercely and I called for a Duel of Wits.

To which Moya did something she’s never done before.  She walked away. It wasn’t a surrender, but it was an “I’m not going to argue about this right now.”  Baldric grabbed her arm and pulled her close. Close enough to kiss if despair wasn’t weighing so heavily on him

And then instincts made magic happen.

“When surprised, cast the fear.” – Moya’s instinct.

She cast the fear, which in this case made Baldric think she had cast Rain of Fire on him and that he was being burned alive. She then collapsed (from Forte tax) and everyone else wondered what the hell was going on.

“Never besmirch Moya in public” – Baldric’s insticnt.

When the soldiers rushed over to find out what he was screaming about, he lied “It’s the priest, his foul magic ensorcelled us!” And that led to a soldier trying to kill the priest, but…

The cavalry is coming

Afon and Ayernand heard it first. In the relative silence of digging ditches on the outskirts of Redvayle the first heard then felt the rumble of hooves on the ground. The cavalry approached. Afon charged into town to warn everyone, but that only caused more confusion and before we could blink the cavalry broke the perimeter and were upon us!

We ended the night with a fight. Moya passing out from tasking herself too much with magic. Baldric leading the forces to protect Redvale, but not the prisoners. Ayernand picking off torch wielders before they could light up the buildings and Afon rushing to protect Moya from being trampled in the fight.

As the dust cleared we had protected the town, but not the prisoners. They ran off in the night. A few shot down, but most disappearing into the woods.


Of all the prisoners, the only one we kept ended up being the most valuable and most useless at the same time. Sir Andon. Without his soldiers as leverage, there is no way that he will yield. The priest disappeared in the night, transforming it a raven (no real gods my ass) and flying off.

We’re going to pick up after a few days rest, as we’re ready to pack up and leave Redvale. I think we should open on the “feast”.

Thoughts on the Game

We were at a loss this game for “workhorse”, which is a first. We looked at what happened and over two sessions we really hadn’t accomplished much. We tried to get Andon to yield and failed. We tried to convince each other to change our ways or values, and failed. There were a lot of crappy rolls, and missed opportunities. It was an interesting down beat after the recent victory.

I think I’ve got my beliefs for next game:

Ayernand is a symbol, but to be loved by the people he must embrace it. I’ll convince him to speak at the feast, to embolden the troops as he accepts the mantle “Troll Slayer.”

I need a second who can command troops in battle. I’ll convince Moya that to lead soldiers she needs to know when to be one of them, and when to order them.

Afon speaks incessantly of his prowess at killing nobility. Since we cannot get to the king through Andon, perhaps Afon can do it. I’ll convince him to infiltrate the kings men and deliver our message to him.

I liked that Moya took Baldric’s behest to not use Rain of Fire as calling her a monster, because that’s what he thinks they are all becoming. He had a steel resolve when his actions were to free his brother, but now that Aeric is safe, he just doesn’t have the will to commit atrocities in the name of a boy-king who doesn’t even want the throne. I would REALY, REALLY love it if someone (read: Moya or Afon) decided that Baldric needs to be motivated and did something horrible like kidnap Aeirc and give him back to Kentigern.




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