Actual Play – Burning Theorsa – The End (10/24/2012)

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

So much has passed

Our 53rd and final game of Burning Theorsa. This game lasted just over a year (first game 10/4/2011, last one 10/24/2012) and is hand down the best campaign I’ve played in as an adult. I qualify it (as an adult) because I still have some nostalgia harking back to two Dungeons & Dragons campaigns (Silston and Darwin, Sadric and Yalen) that I was in in middle school and high school, that hold an immortal place in my heart.

Theorsa did so many things. I mash the high drama of heart broken would be lovers, betrayal, jealousy, and hard choices with the epic fantasy of killing the dragon with a magic sword and claiming the throne. It is everything I would have wanted from a “Game on Thrones” style Burning Wheel game without the laborious travels or eacting details of their meals.

Our characters were archetypes but all of them with a twits. My character, the supposedly honorable knight had done so many horrific things in the name of love (both for his brother and the woman of his dreams) that he could no longer live with himself and turned to drink.  Moya, the powerful war wizard was proud but wanted more than anything to be accepted by her family. That her brother (who did not know they were related) fell in love with her, she eventually found the same feelings (even though they were horribly wrong) in her own heart.

The game end as I knew it would, in blood and tears.

Afon made his final betrayal, and claimed the throne for himself. In a brutal fight he nearly killed Baldric (and would have, if not for Baldric’s older sister Moya stepping in again to save him) but lost his head to the dragon sword.

In Baldric’s final moments of consciousness (before he passed out from the blood loss) Moya revealed her identity to him again, filling his weeks of slumber with fitful dreams of what his love meant.

Finally, in the end conflict Baldric tried to give up the sword and crown to the high priest Michael in order to be with Moya, but she cast him off. They had gone too far to give up the throne now.  She left him on the throne, alone and miserable.

As Moya passed by her father, the man she had always hoped would embrace her openly as a daughter, instead all she received was a nod indicating that her leaving the lands was the best thing she could do for everyone.

There were two new thrones built, one from each skull of the fallen dragons. Baldric glumly sat on one and ordered that the other be burned. He would never take a queen.

Thoughts on this game

I’m sad this game is over. Sad both because I loved playing it so much and because it ended so tragically. We won but nobody was happy. In fact, we were all pretty damn miserable, or dead.  This is saying something because I love watching characters suffer. I love seeing there emotional (and physical) bits being ground up and mashed around and then seeing what comes out of it. As our characters suffered in the story, I loved seeing how they changed. What beliefs they gave up, which ones they held onto, and what new values they adopted.

At the beginning of the game Baldric would do anything to protect his brother. He killed hundreds of people, he lied, he cheated, he nearly started a war, all to protect Aeric. At the end of the game, he gave Moya the approval, nay the command, to case a rain of fire down on the king, knowing it would burn and either maim or kill his brother in the process. That’s how much they changed. Baldric never stopped loving his brother, he just decided that killing the king was more important. How short sighted he was at the end.

This growth through suffering though, has it’s best payoff when the characters finally get a moment in the sun. I don’t care if a perfect knight becomes king, but I did love it when my broken and maimed knight raised the sword he had committed atrocities to claim over the head of the dragon and drove it into his brain, slaying the mythic beast.  And we did have those moments of amazing heroics and they were incredibly rewarding (see some of the more recent AP posts). The end though, was sour. Beautifully, tragically sour.

I loved it. It was a perfect ending to this story and I wouldn’t want to change a thing. Still, it left me sad.

Actual Play – Dragonslayers of Theorsa (10/19/2012)

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

Dragon killed.

Prophet’s power taken.

Another usurper king.


Thoughts on this game

To make this fight even possible took an incredible effort. First it was rallying the soldiers to fire every bit of siege weaponry they had at the dragons to get them out of the city. The second was Moya casting Rain of Fire with the specific intent of grounding the dragon for the duration of a fight. This gave an really epic proportion to the fight. Had those things not been done, the Fight! itself wouldn’t have even been possible.

Maybe what baffles me the most was not that we killed a dragon, but that we did it with such horrible injuries (severe and traumatic). The only thing that saved us was the repeated use (once per scene) of “gritting your teeth”. A rule that allows you to ignore a maximum of one die (per wound) of wound penalties. With that Moya was only down one die,  and Baldric two.

Fighting on horseback was was awesome. I literally rode down a dragon with a magical sword on top of a horse. How 1st edition D&D is that!

In two cases my life was LITERALLY saved by magic. In one the priest prayed for a a hindrance and the dragon hesitated when he was going to breath fire that would have meant instant death.  In another, the dragon was in a choking hands choke hold that dropped his dice pool low enough that he couldn’t get the two successes needed (thank got superficial wound) to eat my face.

Yay for OB 7 wise tests to declare that if you cut off the forearm of a prophet and attach it to the stump of your own arm, it will give you the prophet’s powers. Afon had been toying with power the whole game, and he finally got it.  And did so in an horrific Frankenstein fashion!

That Afon donned the crown and decided to claim the throne himself was another stroke of genius. He had never really allied with Baldric and Moya, this made his betrayal complete. He got to be the bad guy!

Hell yes magic swords that do Grey damage. A weapon forged of dragon steel with one purpose: slaying dragons.

Holy shit, we killed a dragon.

I think 4, maybe 5 deeds were spent this game. It was that big. Damn.

I seriously want a trait vote. So much has happened!



Actual Play – You can call me ‘Old Man’ (10/17/2012)

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

To see a live recording of this game go to:


These excited me. A lot. Especially Afon’s. Baldric has been looking for a reason to make him a head shorter since they day they met and now he finally has one. That is assuming a dragon (or two) doesn’t kill him first!

Baldric (belief): Moya is my one true love. I will convince her to be my queen.
Baldric (belief): My duty is to Theorsa, I will bring the forces of Rathmore and my father’s army together to
Baldric (belief): I pay my debts. Saleth will have his throne, but in exchange I must know where these dragons come from, and how to fight them.

Moya (belief): I will demand a private audience with Saleth and convince him to take me with him back the Kashkir once Baldric has secured the throne.
Moya (belief): My supposed “brother” has left with the crown but Aziz’s father never required it. I will help Baldric secure and maintain his seat as King!
Moya (belief): So these dragons are kind of my fault. I will find a way to at least get them away from the city, if not kill them entirely.

Afon (belief): I have the crown and I might just have an army. I will use the crown of kings to rule this fleet and take the throne for myself.
Afon (belief): I have the crown and I am heading to the army. I will bring the army back to ensure that Moya can become royalty on throne so she may have everything she may ever need.
Afon (belief):: I have Kellis and once I have learned his secrets of power, I will use my new power to take vengence on the country that harmed me.

Mikhael (belief): The King is dead and the Prophet missing. As the new King is crowned, I can best serve the Church and the Country as a High Priest. I will petition the King for this role to aid in the rebuilding of the Church.
Mikhael (belief): The dragons represent a real danger – they breathe fire and they can shake the faith of the people. I will repel the beasts back to where they come. As the nation has seen, my faith is strong.

The throne room

Baldric, Moya and Michael approached the old man sitting smugly in the Dragon Thrown. “With all do respect for my elders old man, I have come a long way to claim that throne. Do you mind telling me what you’re doing, sitting in it?”

“Waiting for you, Baldric and Moya.”

Well, that’s that! So it turns out Seleth, projecting a human form from afar was here to parley.  He told us the troops were coming, and he (in his physical dragon form) was coming with them.

Moya and Baldric both rushed to say something at the same time.

Moya: “Mighty lord Seleth, may I have a private meeting with you?”

Baldric: “Before we go to far here, before I claim the throne, Michael, will you marry Moya and I?”

Moya: “What? What? WHAT?”

Michael: “Saint Ambrose said that the hearts passion…”

Moya: “Uh, hold that thought Baldric. We agreed to be together, not to be married” (remember all, Moya is actually Baldric’s big sister, but only she knows this.)

Baldric: “Before I become king I want you as my wife, that way nobody will ever question or love. Think if it, you would no longer be a nameless night errant, you would be an Auley!”

At which point we all bust up laughing at the rediculousness of it.

North on a smuggler ship

Afon tortures Kellis to get his power out of him. The priest jumps overboard hoping to get to shore or drown trying. They both fail.

Fighting back the dragons!

Moya gets her audience with Seleth while Baldric and Michael speak of how to unite the people of Rathmore.

Seleth offers to return Moya what she had offered to him and Moya (and Kristin for that matter) gets super nervous “Woah, hold on there. I’m not ready for that just yet.” The dragon just smiles and hands her a small orb. “Break this and you will have your name again.” He looked at Baldric across the room “If that is what you want.”

Baldric and Michael agreed they needed to rally the people against the dragons to force them out of the city before their fight destroyed the entire thing.

The three of them consulted Seleth for his advice, which was to fire freaking trebuchets at it! Good plan.

So that’s what we did. Moya found the captain of the guard and convinced him to let us help the troops save the city. Baldric gave a rallying speech and Michael led them in prayer. Between all their efforts the men were gathered and given a purpose and direction. The loaded all the siege weapons and aimed all of them at the dragons. Michael handed Baldric the Iron Sword and with effort he hoisted it in the air yelling “Fire!”.  Though the weapons could not actually harm the dragons, they did harry them and get them to move their fight out of the city.

We had to keep up the attacks though. As each engine fired it was moved forward, until eventually we were using cranes and winches to lift them up on the wall and fire from there. Under a constant barrage, the dragons were held back… for now!

More torture

Cutting of fingers and drowning was enough to make Kellis collapse (not to mention the burns he had received from the rain of fire).  Afon rested as well, until his smuggler friend told him that he saw the Auley banners incoming!

Afon hailed them and was met by the ship captained by Aziz. He told him of the dragons and said they should make haste to the south, planting the seed that Aziz would be needed to aid Baldric and Moya in their fight.

Thoughts on this game

Man, so much awesome happening here. I am so excited about the next game (and since that has already been played when I’m writing this, the next game after that as well).

Yay, I got another beginner’s luck strategy roll. 4 down, only two to go. Damn… I’m never going to learn that skill! I think this is where beliefs really matter. It’s easy as hell to learn a skill like persuasion or falsehood. Just talk a lot. But getting a skill like Strategy (which also takes forever to learn if you’re doing it with practice time) takes dedication. If I had made more beliefs about being a military commander, I bet I would be there by now.

The name of this AP report is a joke. If you don’t get it, watch the Legend of Neil, it is effing funny.


Actual Play – HERE BE DRAGONS (10/13/2012)

BY THE THREE GODS! SERIOUSLY. This one goes to 11. And with that….

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

This game had so much going on. And the real AMAZEBALLS part of it is that much of what happened was while half of the characters had severe (and later due to a failed surgery roll, traumatic) wounds.  Gods damn!

To see the live recording of this game, go to: (uhh, skip the first two minutes, they are terrible)

Setting the stage

Last time Baldric and Moya had both been shot with crossbows (taking severe wounds) and were captured by Lord Brandstrat.

Afon, Michael and Rowan (Baldric’s squire) fled using the fire Afon started as a distraction.  Rowan had the crown, and things were looking grim. Here are some of the beliefs that spawned form this:

Baldric (belief): If Moya does not make it through the night, neither will her doctor! I’ll make sure he gives her the best care possible.

Baldric (instinct): Always keep my sword by my side.

Moya (belief): From the attitude about the “Red Butcher” I’d assume the king and his court have a terrible fate in store for me. Instead, I will kill the king the first chance I get, even if it kills me as well.

Moya (instinct): Never deny my magic

Afon (belief): I will gain my power. I will find Kellis and I will force him to give me the tools I need no matter what throat I have to slit.

Mikhael (belief): This is the time. Though Baldric has been taken captive and injured, I must move forward with my plan. I will mobilize the priests and together we will affect a miracle to prove to the city – and the country – that the old faith is the only true faith.

Mikhael (instinct): Never lie.

Some of those beliefs/instincts, and a few other things we knew about our characters drove the story. HARD.

I need a doctor

We started off making some surgery rolls. Moya was unconscious but Baldric was still standing (okay, staggering) with his severe wound. Before they dragged him away to a cell, he promised the doctor that if Moya didn’t make it through the night, neither would he! Yay for helping with intimidation. The doc worked carefully, which was an interesting choice, because the additional time complication if he had failed was that Baldric’s wound escalated from severe to traumatic.  Luckily with some good FoRKs, help from Baldric and the extra die from working carefully, he closed the wound in Moya’s stomach, and stopped the bleeding.  Woot.

Baldric was not so lucky. To get the bolt out of his shoulder the doc had to do some cutting. He failed his first surgery roll, the wound elevated to traumatic. Shaun described the back of his head getting wet, as the surgeon cut an artery and the blood went out the exit wound in the back and began pooling on the table. That’s the point where Baldric lost consciousness.  Then the dice did something pretty fucking miraculous. The doctor succeed in his roll to stop the bleeding, then succeeded in his roll to treat the wound, and (spending a bucket of persona) Baldric succeeded in his health roll. Fuckered up, but alive!


The people were gathering for the queens funeral. Pallbearers marched the funeral pyre around the city and would eventually arrive in the city center, where the funeral would commence.

Afon had sent Rowan north to look for the fleet. The squire would be in danger in the city and Roderick’s forces much know what happened to Baldric and Moya.  He held the Iron Crown though, convincing Rowan it would be safer with him.  Heh, heh, heh. As the funeral began Afon made his way through the crowd, pushing toward the front, to where Kellis would be. As he saw the procession approach, with Aeric by the kings side, he tried to call out to him, but Aeric could not leave the parade or be informed of what had happened.

Mikael meanwhile was leading his priests into the crowd… like a boss. While most of them had leaper’s robes on to cover their scarification, he proudly displayed his faith in the three gods. To his advantage the guards were over busy watching out for actual trouble makers than heretic priests, and just didn’t have time to worry about him.

Inside the Dungeon

Baldric heard the scraping sounds of boots on stone outside and door was flung open. Two jailors rushed in and grabbed him (as though he was going to fight back) and slammed him down on a stool.  After he was secured, one gave the all clear signal and then two royal guards, followed by King Kentigern himself stepped into the cell.

“It didn’t have to be like this. I didn’t wish for any harm to come to you.” Kind words. Easy for someone holding all the cards, with nothing to lose to say.

Baldric was finally honest with him. “It was wise of you to put us here. I came here to declare war on you, but stayed my tongue only for your late wife. The moment  her pyre was set a blaze I was going to announce myself.”

The king walked out. It turned out we didn’t have much to say. Through the bars Baldric yelled. “I have the Crown! I have the Crown Kentigern, and you’re never going to get it. That throne isn’t yours, it never will be.”

He was taken aback but seemed nonplussed “Impudent child, I don’t need that trinket. I am already the king.”

He walked down the hall into Moya’s cell. Moya had been working away at freeing her hands from the bonds so she could pull out her gag, but only got her hands loose moments before he arrived. Not in time to case Rain of Fire just then!

First he teased her.  He feigned consulting with her on her method of execution.  But after a time he stopped gloating and got serious. “I shouldn’t joke when I’m going to deliver a death sentence.” Something in the way Shaun (as the GM) said that convinced me that he meant the execution was going to be right now. Ans when he clarified that it wasn’t going to be I didn’t care, I put that little thought in Baldric’s head as well and had him start to shout down the halls (he was able to overheard the king).

Baldric shouted out a desperate plea to the king, but with his wounds, it came out as a horse whisper. “I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you the crown. I’ll call you King Kentigern, protector of the realm. I’ll give it to you if you don’t kill her.” How fucking fickle my characters are. I failed the conspicuous roll though to interrupt him, so he just started talking louder. Fucker.

The Funeral

The king left Baldric and Moya in their cells to rot.

Outside he joined the procession beside Lizelle, Aeric, and the prophet Kellis. Kellis looked like a man who never saw the light of day. His skin was pasty white and his eyes squinted in even moderate sunlight. Those eyes bulged and dashed back and forth, belying his insanity.  He wore cardinal robes that hung loosely on his frail body.

Michael had pushed closed to the front and got his priests to spread out through the crowd so their voice would be heard from all quarters. After the pomp, the king announced that though this was a day of sorrow, it was also a day to look to the future. When this torch dropped it signified not only the passing of the queen but the birth of a new religion in Theorsa. The sole worship of the Lady of Silver: Argent.

In his best Lana Kane, Michael bellowed over the crowd to interrupt “Nooooooooooope!” (well, something more priestly that that). The torch dropped, the pyre ignited and Michael started praying to ALL THREE GODS. And when he prayed, so did his priests, and soon after so did the people.  He called out that the prophet was a heretic and his false religion would not stand.  Priests were chanting. People were starting to surge against the wall of guards, and Michael strode forward to confront the false prophet… and then fire rained from the sky!


Meanwhile Moya and Baldric were still up in the tower. Baldric shouting his love for Moya thinking that she was still gagged and couldn’t respond.  Meanwhile Moya was taking a stone to scratch symbols into the rock walls of the jail, preparing to cast Rain of Fire. When she was finally ready to do it, she called down the hall to Baldric.  “Baldric, I can see the king out there… I can take him out… But Aeric is right there with him. He’ll get caught in the fire too….” After a pregnant pauses “You’re asking for permission?” “Umm, well not reall-” “You’re asking for permission not of your king. You’re asking for permission from me because if you cast the spell it might kill my brother and you know how much he means to me.” Another pause “Do it!” “Baldric. I love you.”

And in that moment we set down a path that can’t ever be changed. Baldric gave the order and Moya fired the gun. She cast her spell, wounded as shy might be she summoned every reserve (using a deeds) to bring fire and death down upon the king… and everyone in the city center. The sky turned black, the air roiled. And from the clouds came meteors of fiery death. The very first one flew straight at the king and a molten rock sunk into his chest killing in with a single stroke. The sky continued to rain down everywhere in the court.

Michael, in the center of it all prayed to the three gods. He prayed or a divine intervention to protect the people from this fire from above. And, as they were already chanting, the crowd joined in with him, praying for their own lives (and in some cases their souls).

Okay, so this is a major deal. It’s an Obstacle 8 prayer for an intercession. And it’s also one of the more overt prayers you can make. But he had help (lots of people praying) and got very, very lucky.

From out of the skies, breaking through the fiery rain, came the answer to his prayers. Two dragons, locked in combat with each other. As the dragons fought, their powerful wings and massive bodies broke up the clouds of fire, batted away the molten rocks and protected the people below from the rest of the powerful spell.

Panic Below

As the dragons appeared any last semblance of a cohesive crowd broke and people began to run in panic. The king was dead. Kellis was carried off by guards. Michael, however, instead of running from the destruction walked into the center of it. He walked up to the dais where the king stood and took the Iron Sword from his side. The hilt looked not like a hilt fashioned by man, but a lump of dense black stone, formed by dragon fire. The blade, when he drew it, was silvered, and unbelievably shark. Gingerly he drew just the faintest portion of the blade across him and it bit deep, leaving another scar in dedication to his gods.

Afon, found the guards that were carrying Kellis and attacked. In the confusion they heeded his threats without much resistance. He kidnapped the prophet and made for his smuggler friend on the shore.

Destruction above

As the dragons came soaring through the air they crashed into the castle itself. One swipe of an armored tail crashed into the tower that held Baldric and Moya, and it began listing over. The door to Baldric’s cell was splintered by the shifting of it’s frame and Baldric was free. He ran down the halls but found Moya was not so lucky. There was a way out for her, but only through a whole torn in the wall of her cell by the Dragon’s, which loomed over a three story drop on the cobblestone streets below.

Baldric wrestled a sword from a guard and used it to batter open the door to Moya’s cell. The were together again, bleeding horribly from savage wounds, and in a tower that was about to collapse with dragons outside fighting over the city, but they were together, and Baldric smiled. “Do you trust me?” He asked in a horse whisper, and then grabbed her and jumped out the window, sword in hand, landed on a dragon and rode it down to the ground where they tumbled off and away to safety.

Wait, they did what?

If you’re like me and you’re reading this AP post, something in your brain just broke. Baldric, with a traumatic would no less, leapt out of a building with Moya in one arm and a sword in another, landed on a dragon and – MIND BLOWN. How is this possible? What game are you playing.

Well, I kind of felt the same way. All along our characters have been very mortal. Yes, they fought a dragon, but there was three of then in good health, and it was a baby dragon. And they didn’t even really kill it, A bigger dragon did.  So, in what crazy world should they be leaping on dragons?

For me this was a matter of accepting that, at this point, we had turned it up to 11. We were setting stakes on spells like “killing the king” and praying for divine intervention. Even though this was incredible heroics, there are the kinds of incredible heroic’s Baldric can do. In fact I started the thing saying “I want a bloody versus against the dragon, my stakes are that I ride it down to the ground safely, er safely-ish.”  Shaun noted that it didn’t really have an intent, as it didn’t know I existed and my sword couldn’t really harm it, but allowed me to roll sword just the same to use my blade to find purchase in it’s scales and hold on until it was safe to drop down from it. Sometimes Shaun is a nice GM.

Taking then throne

After that, Michael, Baldric and Moya regrouped in front of the keep and badgered the captain of the guard until he let us into the throne room. “Fine, you want to play king? Go ahead. I’ve got a city to protect!”

As the entered the throne room, the saw it there, the giant dragon skull throne, and it it sat an old man. “I was wondering when you were going to get here…”

Thoughts on this game

As befitting the campaign ending, we saw our characters do amazing things. We killed a king, we summoned dragons (sort of), and we escaped a collapsing tower despite nearly mortal wounds. I like the way the game is ending, and I love that we’re pulling all the stops (read spending deeds and persona like candy) to see it happen.

Shaun has been waiting to drop the dragon bomb on us forever. He was giddy as a school boy when he got to use the intercession to do it. Fuckin dragons!

On that note Shaun has talked about a second Theorsa campaign, set in post-dragon apocalypse Theorsa. Every time we mentioned two dragons outside he said “well, two so far…”

Damn, wounds are awesome ways to get challenging tests!

Damn, wounds make all my wises go away. Hate being stabbed in the noble-wise!

Actual Play – The Red Butcher Falls! (9/12/2012)

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


It’s worth setting the stage somewhat with our beliefs. They of course led to our doom.

Moya: Baldric can’t be trusted armed when he meets the king. I will insist that Baldric (and afon if he goes) be unarmed for our audience.

Baldric: Moya has been distraught since we passed through Redvale. I’ll take her to a ball to lighten her spirits.

Afon (instinct): Protect My Family With Steel.

Mikhael: The True faith must rise once again, I will organize a movement to re-assert the dominance of the true faith.

In the case of Afon, I actually highlihted his instinct because this the was the first time it has really come to the surface. What does Afon do when his “family” (read Moya) is in danger and helping her would put him in equal danger?

A gift for the king

Last game Baldric pulled off a pretty rough circles test to round up the king, which in truth was to gain audience with him. My goal was that Baldric would have a chance to treat with him civilly, and a present to honor his fallen wife, seemed like a good way to do it.

So, here’s a cool thing. Shaun has really been hinting at something for a while. The premise of our game is that an evil usurper took the throne by force. That is certainly the prevalent belief far to the west, where our character’s hail from.  What Shaun keeps dangling in front of us though is that a lot of people, good people, believe the king was right in his actions. The old king was weak, was frittering away the wealth of the kingdom, and needed to be replaced. It reminds me a lot of the creation myth from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, only we’re playing the Pure. Kentigern isn’t happy with duchies in open defiance of his sovereignty, but he’s not a horrible person. In fact, he has some divine cause, to protect Theorsa from an evil that comes from the west. Like say, a dragon… that oh, I don’t know, Moya accidentally summoned and convinced to fly east.

We met with the king, but before doing that Moya and Baldric had to have their obligatory fight. Only this one was really a harmless lovers’ quarrel (or at least it seemed harmless). Moya: I’m not going to wear this dress. Baldric: You must wear a dress, we have an audience with the king. Moya wins the argument but offers a concession instead.  Fine, I’ll wear the dress, but you can’t bring your sword! Ouch. What’s the harm in that? The would surely take Baldric’s sword from him at the castle before allowing him to see the king anyway. Fine, he’ll give up his blade. OH MY GOD THIS WAS SO TERRIBLE…. just wait.

In the presence of the king, it was finally confirmed that Aeric (Baldric and Moya’s brother) would marry the king’s daughter Liselle. Not only were they clearly in love, but they would also bind the divided kingdom together. A master stroke by King Kentigern. Initially I hopes to speak to the king in private to see if there was anyway he would surrender the throne without bloodshed, but that seemed impossible. Instead, we seized the opportunity to speak with Aeric. Kentigern granted us a private audience with his future son in law.

I should probably mention a few more beliefs at this time:

Moya: I will help Baldric convince Aeric to leave with us and if he refuses, I’ll work with Afon to take him away by force.

Baldric: I must find Aeric and prevent his wedding; I’ll show him the Crown of Kings and demand, as his rightful king, that he not marry the daughter of my enemy.

Afon:  Aeric is a traitor and I respect that, but I need to take him out before he moves against us. I’ll move him into a position that will make it easier for me or Baldric to kill him.

What neither Baldric or Aeric knew was that if he couldn’t win his brother over, Afon planned to kill him right then and there. I almost wish I lost that Duel of Wits!

We decided with no hesitation that as soon as Balric put on the crown (which was a big deal itself, he had never worn it before) that this was a BIG DEALTM. Baldric’s stakes: Call of the wedding and side with us. Aerics: End the war and bend knee to the king. Damn! Aeric lost with only a minor concession, that he would delay telling the king until after the funeral.  That worked well enough, Baldric intended to declare war on Kentigern then.

“Howdy king. Thanks for your hospitality, I’m ruining your daughter’s wedding, and declaring war on your over the body of your dead wife.” – Baldric, a nice guy. 

Sorting out the sordid solutions.

Afon could tell which way the wind was blowing and wasted no time after the meeting with the kind finding safe passage out of Rathmore. He found an old smuggler he had done work with in the past and made a deal to get us smuggled out of Rathmore should things go south. As if there is any other direction on my fucking compass!

A ball fit for a queen

Baldric’s big event finally arrived. His host, lord Branstrat, had promised a great ball in celebration of the upcoming nuptials and to welcome House Auley properly. Remember, he showed up on the scene from a failed circles roll.  Baldric believed he was truly and ally, and hoped to find more supporters of the true king the crowd.

As a matter of “letting it ride” and because we went straight from one event to another, Baldric and Moya showed up looking splendid. Moya in a beautiful dress provided by the lord, and Baldric without his sword.  (heh, that rhymes). They were introduced and Baldric began cavorting, while Moya hid away with the military generals talking “shop”. Baldric still thought this was every ladies greatest wish, to have a ball in her honor, to dress up in a beautiful dress, and to dance with the man she loves. Moya had, uh, other ideas. The entire thing made her feel uncomfortable and exposed. Although not as uncomfortable as she would be soon.

As the night went on Baldric tried to hob nob with other nobles and flush out one that might be loyal to the throne. He found one, (or so he thought, another failed circles roll, this one was Ob 8!) and they started drinking together to celebrate their upcoming victories. Now, Baldric drinking is a bad idea in the first place.

Instinct: Always drink in excess

But it gets even worse when the man you are drinking with is poisoning you. And EVEN more so when you offer to drink for the priest, who has sworn abstinence, who was also being poisoned.

Thats when the world started getting fuzzy

In a grand gesture, before all his guests, lord Branstrat finally revealed his intentions. To deliver Baldric and Moya to the king… in chains. “Guards. Seize them!”

Well, that went over like a lead balloon. Moya, surprised, cast The Fear and scared off most of the guests, but only long enough to startle folks and cause confusion.

Afon, who did have his sword was quickly on top of one guard and getting stabby.

Mickael, a man of the gods, snuck out with the guests, but stayed in the doorway so he could overhear what happened.

Baldric, who didn’t have his sword, rushed lord Branstrat and put a broken beer stein to his throat to intimidate him.

By that time the guards had re-oriented themselves and had their crossbows trained.  Moya cast shards at both of them, Baldric threatened the lords life, and the guard pulled their triggers.

Crossbow bolts to the gut suck something fierce in Burning Wheel. B8 wounds. Ouch. Also, poisoned. Double ouch.

The Aftermath

Baldric, still conscious dropped the makeshift shiv and ran to cover Moya (not conscious). Afon, knowing Baldric’s squire Rowan held the crown on his person, persuaded him that he could do no good hear, and to flee into the night with Afon.

Thoughts on this game

There was so much awesome terrible in this game. Almost all of it because of failed circles rolls. The missing a sword thing was brutal. Even with the crossbowmen at a distance and armored, I’m convinced that Baldric’s G7 sword skill could have won that bloody versus. As it it was a close match (Moya only barely lost the contest) but I think we could have turned the tables had he been armed. And Baldric knows it too. Besides, you know, dying, he is hella mad about that. And more, that he trusted one of Kentigern’s lords.  This is the first game I’ve played in a while where I KNEW what my beliefs and instincts for the next game would be the instant the game ended.

Belief: The cause is lost if an Auley does not claim the throne. I’ll get word to Afon that he MUST deliver the crown to Aeric, tell him our plan, and convince him to claim the throne as King of Theorsa.
Belief: If Moya does not make it through the night, neither will her doctor! I’ll make sure he gives her the best care possible.
Belief:I trusted the Brandstrat when I never should have. I’ll apologize to Moya for my foolishness and heed her council regarding how to act against the betrayer.

Instinct: Never trust the word of a Kentigern Loyalist.
Instinct: Always keep my sword by my side.
Instinct: Always drink in excess.

All but the last instinct are new. This was a major game changer for Baldric.

Right now Baldric and Moya are both down -3 dice from severe wounds. Assuming the doctor can treat them they will only be -2 and both will be conscious. There is still hope yet for Moya to kill the king with fiery death.

That reminds me, when treating with the audience, we found out Moya has a nickname. The Red Butcher. Rough.  I am SO voting that on as a reputation next trait vote.

I don’t think Shaun was making any of this happen, but it really needed to happen. For this story to have teeth our protagonists needed to be cut down just before they made their triumphant stand. Brought to their knees, so they would have to decide if it was still worth fighting for now that things seem so hopeless.

Actual Play – Death on a White Horse (9/7/2012)

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

Arriving in Rathmore we discovered the queen had just died. But that was last session. This session, we jumped into Rathmore with both feet. Check out these beliefs

Baldric: The queen has died. I will pay my respects by offering a white steed to the king.

Moya: Baldric’s been sober but he’s still ruled more by his emotions than his head and now is not a good time to tip our hat. I will accompany him everywhere and contain him, by force if necessary.

Afon: Aeric is a traitor and I respect that, but I need to take him out before he moves against us. I’ll move him into a position that will make it easier for me or Baldric to kill him.

Mikhael: The True faith must rise once again, I will organize a movement to reassert the dominance of the true faith.

Yeah, we knew were going to get in trouble, starting with my first “Noble-wise” roll to declare that when a royal woman had died, her widower is traditionally gifted a white steed. What a terrible idea for someone with B1 resources.

Here’s some of the remarkable things that happened

Afon was suddenly in his element. He first found an old safe house for us to whole up in, then caught up with an old smuggler who agreed to sneak us out of Rathmore if things went badly.

Baldric tried to buy a white horse but we have no damn money (and thanks to a Linked test failing, they were even more expensive than normal because they are so rare). So, Moya stole it.  But didn’t just steal it, she tried to seduce the horse trader, that failed and he started getting handsy. We weren’t sure how far he was going to go, but alone, in the dudes shop, after hours, who knows. She cast shards on him and shit was on! To get out and not make it obvious that she had taken just that one horse, she set the stables on fire, freed all the horses and rode off on the one we need. This kind of extreme, almost out out of nowhere violence, got me thinking about the tools we have to respond to failure consequences with (see below).

Baldric found a sympathetic noble to give them lodging. Or so he thought, a failed circles roll meant he had machinations to do us in and server our heads to the king.

Mikhael found that followers of the old ways (following the three gods instead of just Argent) disguised themselves as lepers, and hid from the guards and clergy. In a rousing speech (which damn, really was rousing), he united them to turn against the false prophet when he called for them.

Thoughts on this game

B0 resources is rough. That’s what Moya and Baldric were reduced to after the failed roll. It’s also a bit too abstract for me to wrap my head around.  We explained the failed roll as being too far away from my lands to offer the horse seller enough for the horse. But since the roll failed and the sale didn’t go through, I’m not sure how my resources were actually diminished, except perhaps to realize that they really weren’t there in the first place. “Oh, what do you know, now that I look at my ledgers, I’m broke. Huh.”

Murder Hobo-ing. It’s not something we frequently do in Burning Wheel. But here’s my long thoughts into why it actually made sense in this case:

Murder in the name of… nothing.

Something happened in our last Burning Wheel game and I think it illustrates why so many player characters commit actions we find reprehensible.

So, we wanted something , in this case a horse. We really needed this horse, or at least my character said we did. We tried paying for it, but didn’t have the requisite resources to make that happen, so we left empty handed.

One of the other characters went back that night to get that horse one way or another. First, she tried to seduce the horse-seller. When that failed and and he tried to take advantage of her, she tried to intimidate him. When that failed she set his stable on fire, released all the horses and rode off on the one we wanted. Somewhere in the middle of that she also attacked him with magic, giving him some superficial wounds.

Assault, arson, and grand theft. Those were just the crimes by today’s standards. But add to that the things which a person wouldn’t feel proud of: seduction, intimidation, manipulation, lying, etc.

And it’s not like any of those are out of place in Burning Wheel, not per se. I mean we’ve done worse for sure (mass murder comes to mind) and I felt very justified in it. But this to me seemed excessive. So I was thinking on it so more and it came to me that Moya (the character) performed these actions because she wanted a thing (the horse) and didn’t have any other idea how to get it.

And that is what interests me. How reliant PCs become on base, violent solutions to problems reflect directly on what options they have available to them. If there had been a rich uncle to borrow from, or a legal claim to make over the horse, or a way to gather up the money, or a way to find out what else could be traded for the horse, I think the characters would have pursued any number of those before resorting to stealing the horse and causing collateral damage in the process.

The issue, as I see it, was one of familiarity. Our characters were in a new place with no connections. We didn’t know anyone, we didn’t know what resources or options were at our discretion. In some ways, I guess that reflects well on our situation. In a new place, out of our element, resorting to criminal activity reveals just how desperate and alone we were.

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).

Actual Play – Woops, wrong Dragon (8/1/2012)

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

We picked up right where we left off; Baldric, Afon and Roderick pondering over a map of Theorsa planning a feint. Moya trying to make herself scarce after depositing the “body” of Father Menden, and Father Mikhael going to find his priest to burn. Yay!

Never script feint

I should know from my MANY lost Duels of Wits that feint is a bad, bad move. To often it is countered with Point and destroyed. Well, it seems some old dogs never learn new tricks. Baldric and Afon, with the Duke’s aid planned a strategy involving Rolf leading a force to the south to dupe king Kentigern into thinking we are trying to reclaim that the duchy of Beldyn, all the while circling around the Great Glacier on boats we hope to get from Kashkyr with soldiers we hope to rally from the loyal provinces. That was a lot of hope and maybes and depends on. And what did it hinge on: A beginners luck strategy roll vs. Ob 4.

Fuck my life.

Shaun, being the merciful GM that he is, deigned that one roll was not enough to determine the final result of our war against Kentigern. There were other “linked” factors, like if we get the ships, if we rally the troops, and how hard we fight at the gates of Rathmor (the capitol). So he opted to consider this roll a linked test, which will add +1 ob to our later challenges. The feint will fail, but that does not necessarily spell defeat of our forces.

An empty cell

Meanwhile Father Mikhael had to excuse himself to get a good burning done. He went down to the dungeons but found the cell empty.  A guard told him that Lady Moya had recently visited the heretic and found that he had died from his wounds.  This did NOT please Mikhael! He sent a soldier backup up to speak with the king and inform him of what happened.


Just as the soldier arrived, cowed by the fervent priest, Moya also arrived to report on…things. Poor soldier. He was in the extremely unenviable position of reporting on the the priests account of Moya’s actions…in front of Moya. Yeah, he got a verbal lashing from the lady knight, as a curt dismissal from his king…who he only now realized was his king. Go-go gadget crown, go!

After he was dismissed Moya saw the plan, and really didn’t like it, because you know, she’s smart. Actually she liked the plan (it was hers after all) but didn’t like the idea of sending Rolf to do it. The devil in the details. Baldric took her aside, I imagine one some grand balcony overlooking the keep, and asked her to put the plan aside for a moment and tell him what happened with the priest.

“You’re not going to like what I tell you.” Moya warned him.

“I’m used to that.” Baldric reassured.

Then she fessed up about the priest, her desire for his spellbook, and all. Yay, Baldric’s first duty as king. Decide between his lover (who had broken the law and his specific decree that the priest must burn) and the zealous priest who would be a formidable enemy should he turn against the crown. Ah Baldric, always thinking with his loins.

He assured Moya that he would take care of Mikhael and that she should probably give him some room to do so.  Moya went back to not liking the plan, and Baldric set out to go make things right with the priest.

Define a heretic

Baldric and Mikhael got another chance to have words. Yay for having falsehood trained! The man suffered horrible wounds, and received inadequate medical attention. He died. It’s unfortunate, but lets move on.  Luckily, it worked.

The follow up conversation thought was a bit trickier. It didn’t come to a roll, so I’m not confident it will stick yet, but it was very important to Baldric that Mikhael NOT conflate Moya’s sorcery with heresy. The father defined heresy as spreading the word of false gods, or a false faith. YUP, not something Moya does. We’re all good. So they made an agreement that Mikhael wouldn’t go sending soldiers off to do is bidding, but that we would find him a suitable attendant. A page from within the keep to tend to his temporal affairs while he focused on the spiritual health of the troops.  Yay, pages. And Baldric needed a squire too. Huzzah circles rolls.

Captain Rolf is not amused

So it was Afon’s job, as the only one that Rolf actually likes (go figure) to convince him to go lead this feint, of course not with the forces he actually needs to take back the duchy, because we need those for the attack. So, best case scenario, he is vastly out numbered by the kinds men and probably dies. Worst case scenario, the king sees through the ruse, dedicates no forces, and Rolf and his small contingent are left twiddling their thumbs while a war rages on on the other side of the continent! Yeah, no wonder he wasn’t excited.

Afon told him not only that he was going to do it, but that he was going to do it with a smile. He tried to convince him of the value the feint would have and left with Rolf accepting the duty, but mad as hell at Afon for selling him out. (A very nice compromise I thought).

Finding help

Mikhael could see the way the wind was blowing. Fighting was going to break out and he was more than a little unprepared to be part of it. The attendant we rounded up was really more bodyguard than manservant. Man, just thinking about that makes me itch for another fight.

Baldric needed something much more finessed. A squire that knew about all the knightly duties, but that was also trained in the court and knew how to relieve the king of his beverage without making a fool out of anyone.  The fact is that Baldric can’t keep himself sober, and when Moya does it, it turns into a bitter brawl between both bed-sharing bannerets.  So he found Rowan Daultry, the nephew of Sir Daultry, the loyalist and sell-sword they met in Kashkyr.

Woops, wrong dragon.

Here comes the fun part. Moya convinced Aziz (no reason to call him Owain any longer) to try and summon Seleth (you know his god) so that she could make a deal with him. Well, you know how these things go. Burn this incense, use these special wrongs, face North by North West, and pray and awful lot. And some times they work, and sometimes they…



Did I mention…


Moya thankfully negotiated her way out of being eaten on the spot, but only by sending him east to eat up the countryside there. Yeah, I’m sure no ill could come of this.

Thoughts on the game

The pacing was a bit slow this night. I think we were all kind of tired. Also, it seems after such a major ordeal last game (Baldric being announced King) it made sense to have a more mellow game. But in the last few moments Moya and Aziz brought the game full tilt to OMG HOLY SHIT DRAGON AWESOME.

I can’t wait for Moya to come back and give us a report on what happened, or you know, not, and have us find out later. Good stuff no matter what.

I think “he’s not your friend anymore” are really bitter stakes for Afon to accept. Which is funny given how mercenary he is. But that the thing, he only forms a few bonds, so he was pretty hurt when this one was broken. Yay for the vagaries of Duel of Wits.

I so, so, so have my next scene planned for the next game.  It involves Baldric, Afon, Rowan (the new squire), a wheelbarrow full of timber and hunting a priest. Yay!


Actual Play – King Baldric! (7/25/2012)

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

So yeah… that happened.

We opened up the game as Moya and Baldric, some what sheepishly entered Duke Roderick’s hall. The duke was there, his eyes filled with rage, and staring balefully at Aziz (the once and future king, er not). “Baldric. Moya. Good, you have arrived. The king has just informed me of something. You must talk him out of this foolishness.”

Only Baldric had already agreed to this foolishness (the night before when Aziz beat him soundly in a Duel of Wits… fuck, why do I always script feint). And in telling his father that not only did he know, but also supported Aziz’s choice, he turned the dial from “steaming mad” to “boiling over with wrath”. “You knew about this? This is folly!” He raged.

We were all playing it pretty cool though still. Baldric pointed out that people don’t listen to what is right, they listen to what they believe. Moya was rightfully the commander of the troops but they didn’t accept her. Kentigern has no claim to the throne, but people accept him. It isn’t fair, but it’s the truth. The king needs to be someone the people will respect and more importantly, someone with the will to claim the throne. Aziz might win them over if he truly wanted to be their king, but he doesn’t and because of that he’s doomed to fail. And so are all of us if we try to put him on the throne.

And then something I didn’t expect to happen, happened. It was a single versus test. My ugly truth vs. my dad’s intimidation. His stakes were “If you support this folly, then you need to accept the crown”.  Mine were “uhhhh…. uuhhh…but… you’re the next in the line of succession for the crown…” Guess who won? He slapped that crown right out of Aziz’s hands and it rolled slowly and landed with a thud at Baldric feet.

It was Moya who acted first, grabbing the crown and holding it up. “This is your, my king.”  FUUUUUUUUUCK!

Introducing father Mikhael (played by Andrew Eckhart)

Meanwhile other things, awesome things, were happening down below. Father Mikhael had been summoned by the Duke to render doctrinal judgement on the priest Father Menden. The priests talked for a time in the dungeon, Mikhael was polite and brief. He calmly left to tell the duke, which later turned to telling the king, that the heretic needed to burn at the stake.

Yay, my first job as king was to try and protect a heretical priest. The outward reason was that he might have useful information. The true one was that once you start burning one person who uses magic in a way you don’t like, it doesn’t take much until you decide to burn others *cough*Moya*cough* for the same thing.

And again Baldric lost that DoW as well. Looks the the priest is going to burn…

Or not

While the men stayed in the Duke’s hall to discuss strategy (and what a bad strategy it is) Moya made haste to the dungeons…. where she found Mended awaiting his judgment. “Look, I just want your spellbook already. Give it to me and I’ll get you free.” Yay, I love misguided beliefs. Moya believes so entirely that faith is bullshit, she assumes that a man who can turn into a raven and invade the minds of others MUST be a wizard and therefore he MUST have a spell book.

I’ll tell you what this guy can do for sure… and that is lie his ass off. He did so, and convinced Moya that yes there was a spell book and if she got him out of here alive she could have it.

You know that guy in Monty Python: Search for the Holy Grail who pushes a cart and yells “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” She took him to that guy! And I swear, I was amazed that nobody said “I’m not quite dead” because that is exactly what Mr. traumatic wound, never properly tended to was… not “quite” dead. But it was good enough for the worker, and he put Mended on the cart leaving the keep!

Next up: ships from Kashkyr, sending soldiers to their doom for an impossible feint, and summoning a dragon, oh MY!

Thoughts on this game

Wow. I can’t argue, being forced to take the crown is very cool. Especially when it means Baldric may very well have to face his own brother (who he loves) in battle to claim it.

Balls, I’m never going to have Oratory or Strategy trained in time. Beginners lucking whenever I can, but I’m still a long ways off.

I just love the impossible mess we’ve created. There is no way to cleanly unravel this. If we take the throne, we all find out Moya is Baldric’s half sister. If we don’t everything we’ve fought for is lost. If we take the throne, we’ll destroy Aeric’s dreams, but knowing the hot head, he’ll probably challenge Baldric to duel, and killing his own brother will break Balric heart. We’ve gone to far to turn back now, but there is no answer that won’t end in pain and suffering. I FUCKING LOVE THIS GAME.

Actual Play – We all have secrets (7/18/2012)

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

Gaming on time. No rescheduling. It’s amazing. Well, it actually wasn’t all that smooth, mostly because of me trying to get the kids in bed, packing them up for a trip, having to cut out for 10 minutes one time to move locations, and 20 minutes another to take an important phone call. But other than that, things went swimmingly.

That actually illuminates something I really appreciate about Shaun and Kristin (and Justin). We interact as people first, then as gamers. When life happens there aren’t any guilt trips or pressure to compromise for the game, instead we reschedule, cut game off early, start late, or in my cause last game, take some significant pauses in the middle. For some groups, that dynamic would be frustrating, but more and more, I find I want a group that is flexible and doesn’t freak out if game is interrupted. If I want non-stop gaming on a schedule I’ve still got plenty of cons to get that in.

Where’s my son?

The first scene wasn’t what I expected. Baldric and Moya has two conflicting beliefs (I know, big shock there):

Baldric was born to lead this army to victory but he and I need to come to terms with whats happened. I will convince him to put aside his feelings for me, stop drinking, and lead this army to victory over the usurper!


I can’t allow my dishonor to soil Moya’s good name. Only a few guards were present for my indiscretion. I’ll silence them before rumors can spread.

I deserve these chains. I’ll face my punishment with courage and honor.

Moya lead the army into the Duke Roderick’s keep and told him all was well. He was happy about the victory at Redvale but was immediately distracted at the absence of his son (Baldric for those coming late to the party). She told him “Baldric is with the troops” trying to dissuade him from investigating further, but the duke missed his son and persisted. “He’s with the prisoners” Moya finally relented.

When Baldric and Rolf were released from the prison caravan and brought before the duke, the trial I expected was summarily cut off. It boiled down to “we’ve got bigger problems than worrying about you killing a prisoner.” And done.

A royal wedding

One of those problems was a letter, rather an invitation from King Kentigern, sent to all lords in the realm, including those he was at war with, inviting them to his daughter’s wedding in Rathmore.

Something about the daughter’s name looked familiar and it was Moya that suggested maybe this woman Aeric was in love with. Sure enough, after searching his room thoroughly, she found one of the letters left behind, confirming their love. Ah people in love, don’t the do such wonderfully stupid things.

Of course were Aeric to marry into the Kentigern family, that would destroy the Auley families image as being loyal to the true king. Kentigern, in one master stroke would destroy the rebellion without ever having to raise his sword.


Oh… and a province in the south that was loyal had fallen to Kentigern’s seige. We were now surrounded on both sides by duchies loyal to the usurper.

Double balls.

Rolf and Afon – Thick as thieves

Afon escorted Rolf to his cell and shared a certain amount of sympathy with him. Rolf was just trying to protect his own soldiers, after all. And that’s something like protecting your family after all. And yeah, he believes Moya is a witch who has ensorceled Baldric, and possibly the duke. And Afon is closer to Moya than anyone else, but you know, maybe Rolf just needs some time to come around with her.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown

After the hall had cleared Baldric consulted with his father. “Now is the time to act. We need to stop that wedding, and take the throne in one fell swoop. I know he isn’t ready for it, but it’s time for Owain to claim the throne.”

Roderick wasn’t much thrilled with the idea either but he agreed that it must be done. Baldric excused himself to find the once and future king.

So what happens? I’ll tell you what happens. Baldric goes to convince Owain/Aziz to announce himself as king of Theorsa… and the little twerp convinces Baldric instead that nobody will ever follow him, the Auley family (Baldric’s family) has a legitimate claim to the throne, and one of the Auley’s should don the crown! Holy crap, that is what I love about Burning Wheel. You can believe something all you want, but if someone wins a Duel of Wits against you, they convince you to do otherwise. As a player, I would have never accepted those terms at face value… but Aziz fought HARD to stomp on my belief (about him taking the crow).

Great, just great. King Auley.

Still my aching heart

Moya approached Baldric in his quarters. He was in a perplexed mood. “I know what you’re thinking. I should be in the dungeons know.”

“Baldric, you fail at mind reading class. I came to tell you ‘I’m sorry.’ What I said after you killed Andon wasn’t true. I just said it to hurt you.”

That left Baldric MORE perplexed.

And, pretty much to my surprise, the debate started again, but this time both of us were pushing hard (as apposed to the typical Baldric in pursuit and Moya trying to evade him). We both wanted something, and we both wanted it NOW.  Moya wanted Baldric to clean up his act and lead the troops. No more lovesick fawning, no more drinking, no more giving up command. Baldric wanted Moya to profess her love for him and accept him openly. Moya protested, there were secrets he didn’t know, things that would change how he felt. He had to wait until they took the throne for them to be lovers. Baldric countered, there were things she didn’t know. There were secrets that would be revealed much sooner, and he needed to know that she loved him before they were announced. We all have secrets.

Another brutal duel of wits. This time though, we both lost. Both hit 0. And we could choose from there, what do do. Either we both loose, Baldric goes on drinking and pining and Moya keeps her distance, or we both win: Baldric gives up the bottle and Moya shares his bed.

WINNING! Crazy as Tom Cruise or Charlie Sheen, because it was all great… until we all find out Moya is Baldric’s sister. Awkward.

Thoughts on this game

Wow, so much happened. Baldric was in chains at the start of the game, and with his lover (consenting lover even) at the end.

Afon’s loyalty is really in question. Siding with Rolf will be interesting for the future.

Moya. I feel sorry for Moya. The only way she gets to be happy is to be miserable. I think it’s an oldest child thing.

And since this AP report is being written a week late, all I can say is “By Argents Tits!* Wait till the next one comes out!”

* An expletive in the Theorsa setting.