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Burning Wheel actual play

pemerton

Legend
My group had a session scheduled for today, but due to various vicissitudes only two of us could make it. The other attendee suggested we start a BW game with the two of us making PCs and "round robinning" the GMing.

He burned up a Weather Witch (City Born, Arcane Devotee, Rogue Wizard, Weather Witch). I decided to make a Dark Elf (with his agreement, as per the rules) - Born Etharch, Spouse, Griever, Deceiver. To earn the Grief to make the move to Griever (3 minimum) I had no lamentations, was Born Etharch, and had a history that included tragedy - my spouse died.

I've attached my full PC sheet: some highlights are my gear (the tattered clothes I've worn for the past 39 years, since my spouse died; my black-metal long knife Heart-seeker); my hateful relationship with my father-in-law, the elven ambassador in a human port city whom I blame for my spouse's death; and what I hope will prove to be a suitably embittered suite of Beliefs and Instincts, except for my tendency to quietly sing the elven lays when my mind wanders. I also started barefoot, but didn't end the session that way!

We agreed that Aedhros had travelled on the same ship as Alicia had been working on as a weathermage. Like Aedhros, she started with zero resources and no shoes, and with only rags as clothes. I asked her player why she hadn't been paid. Because bottom has fallen out of the market in soft cheese, so the cargo can't be sold. To work with this, I first got agreement that the port we had arrived in was Hardby (where the action of one of our other BW campaigns is centred). Then, as the ship master, I explained to the crew - including Alicia - that the wedding of the Gynarh (a plot point in our other game) had been delayed, and hence no one was paying for the cheese that had been brought from the green fields and fat cows of Urnst. Some were promised they would be paid tomorrow, but Alicia was told her passage was her pay! With her Base Humility, she accepted this (and earned a fate point). While this was going on, Aedhros took advantage of the distraction to Inconspicuously sidle up to the master and pick his pocket with Sleight of Hand. This earned 1D of cash (it was agreed). I then proposed to Alicia, whom I knew from the journey, that we find a room for a day or two before we rob the master in the night. She agreed.

We (the players) agreed the next scene was looking for a room for the two of us in a dodgy inn. (The standard resource obstacle for one person is Ob 1; we agreed that this would do for both of us at such a dodgy establishment.) Alicia offered to also work in the kitchens to help with board - and given her instinct, Don't ask, Persuade, where Persuade refers to the BW equivalent of D&D's Suggestion spell, this meant using her magic to get agreement. Alicia's player wanted to take time to prepare her spell, and as the GM for that purpose I thought that needed an Inconspicuous check. Unfortunately this failed, and so the innkeeper looked at her when she started muttering strange words, and so she just cast the spell. It succeeded (I set the innkeeper's Will, and hence the obstacle, at 3) and so he accepted her offer to work in the kitchen. The Tax for casting left her at Forte 1.

We agreed this gave me a bonus die for my Resources check, so I rolled two dice against Ob 1. This was a fail. We reviewed the Resources rules and had a bit of discussion and my co-GM decided that we didn't get a room and my cash die was gone (apparently the master's purse wasn't as full as we'd hoped). The innkeeper still insisted that Alicia work in the kitchen, though!

Taking back the GM's hat, I first adjudicated things for Alicia. I wanted an Ob Forte test to handle the heat and work in the kitchen; this succeeded (with Forte 1 the player was rolling 1 die; I think he must have rolled a 6 and then spent a Fate point to open-end this and get a second success). Then Aedhros re-entered the scene: with a successful Stealthy check I entered the kitchen unnoticed, and found Alicia. I proposed that we relieve the innkeeper of his cash-box (repay hurt for hurt) and Alicia agreed. Then we would take on the master of the ship. Alicia used her Weathersense to determine if a mist would be rolling in; her check succeeded, and so her prediction of mist was correct! (We'd agreed that a failed check mean clear skies and a bright moon.) She also rested (for about 6 hours) to regain one point of Tax, taking her Forte up to 2.

With the morning mist rolling in, it was time to clean out the innkeeper's cash box. We agreed that the day's takings would be 2D of cash. With successful checks, Alicia cast Cat's Eye so she could see in the dark; I succeeded at a straightforward Scavenging check so that Aedhros could find a burning brand (he can see in dim light or by starlight, but not in dark when the starts are obscured by mist). Alicia went first, in the dark but able to see, but failed an untrained Stealthy check despite a penalty to the innkeeper's Perception check for being asleep. So as she opened the door to the room where was sleeping on his feather-and-wool-stuffed mattress, he woke and stood up, moving his strongbox behind him. Alicia, being determined - as per one of her Beliefs - to meet any wrong to her with double in return, decided to tackle him physically. Of course she is trained in Martial Arts, as that's a favourite of her player! I proposed and he agreed that we resolve this via Bloody Versus (ie simple opposed checks) rather than fully scripting in Fight! I set the innkeeper's Brawling at 3, but he had significant penalties due to darkness, and so Alica - with 4 dice + 1 bonus die for superior Reflexes - won the fight easily. The injury inflicted was only superficial, but (as per the rules for Bloody Versus) Alicia had the innkeeper at her mercy - as we narrated it, thrown to the ground and held in a lock.

Aedhros entered the room at this point, with Heart-seeker drawn and ready for it to live up to its name. But Alicia thought that killing the innkeeper was a bit much. So first, she used her advantageous position to render the innkeeper unconscious (no check required, given the outcome of the Bloody Versus). Then her player, wearing the GM hat, insisted that I make a Steel check to commit cold-blooded murder. This failed, and so I hesitated for 4 actions. Handily, that is the casting time for Persuasion, and so Alicia "told" Aedhros not to kill the innkeeper. The casting check succeeded, but the Tax check was one success against an obstacle of 4. With only 1 Forte left, that was 3 Tax which would be 2 overtax, or an 8-point wound, which would be Traumatic for Alicia. But! - the Tax check also was the final check needed for her Forte 3 to step up to Forte 4 (wizard's get lots of juicy Forte checks because of all their Tax - in this case from the three spells cast), which made the overtax only 1, or a 4-point wound which was merely Superficial. Still, she collapsed unconscious.

Aedhros opened the strongbox and took the cash. We agreed that no check was required; and given his Belief that he can tolerate Alicia's company only because she's broken and poor, and given that it aggravates his Spite to suffer her incompetence in fainting, he kept all the money for himself. He then carried out the unconscious Alicia (again, no check required). He also took the innkeeper's boots, being sick of going about barefoot. But he will continue to wear his tattered clothes.

A final Health check for Alicia determined that she will regain consciousness in 7 hours (ie mid-morning to lunchtime), where she and Aedhros are sitting out-of-the-way on the docks. His mind being on nothing in particular, he will undoubtedly be quietly singing elven lays. I set as homework for my friend to determine what trouble results from this, which will be the start of our next session of this game. (And will also earn Aedhros 1 fate point.)
 

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My group had a session scheduled for today, but due to various vicissitudes only two of us could make it. The other attendee suggested we start a BW game with the two of us making PCs and "round robinning" the GMing.

He burned up a Weather Witch (City Born, Arcane Devotee, Rogue Wizard, Weather Witch). I decided to make a Dark Elf (with his agreement, as per the rules) - Born Etharch, Spouse, Griever, Deceiver. To earn the Grief to make the move to Griever (3 minimum) I had no lamentations, was Born Etharch, and had a history that included tragedy - my spouse died.

I've attached my full PC sheet: some highlights are my gear (the tattered clothes I've worn for the past 39 years, since my spouse died; my black-metal long knife Heart-seeker); my hateful relationship with my father-in-law, the elven ambassador in a human port city whom I blame for my spouse's death; and what I hope will prove to be a suitably embittered suite of Beliefs and Instincts, except for my tendency to quietly sing the elven lays when my mind wanders. I also started barefoot, but didn't end the session that way!

We agreed that Aedhros had travelled on the same ship as Alicia had been working on as a weathermage. Like Aedhros, she started with zero resources and no shoes, and with only rags as clothes. I asked her player why she hadn't been paid. Because bottom has fallen out of the market in soft cheese, so the cargo can't be sold. To work with this, I first got agreement that the port we had arrived in was Hardby (where the action of one of our other BW campaigns is centred). Then, as the ship master, I explained to the crew - including Alicia - that the wedding of the Gynarh (a plot point in our other game) had been delayed, and hence no one was paying for the cheese that had been brought from the green fields and fat cows of Urnst. Some were promised they would be paid tomorrow, but Alicia was told her passage was her pay! With her Base Humility, she accepted this (and earned a fate point). While this was going on, Aedhros took advantage of the distraction to Inconspicuously sidle up to the master and pick his pocket with Sleight of Hand. This earned 1D of cash (it was agreed). I then proposed to Alicia, whom I knew from the journey, that we find a room for a day or two before we rob the master in the night. She agreed.

We (the players) agreed the next scene was looking for a room for the two of us in a dodgy inn. (The standard resource obstacle for one person is Ob 1; we agreed that this would do for both of us at such a dodgy establishment.) Alicia offered to also work in the kitchens to help with board - and given her instinct, Don't ask, Persuade, where Persuade refers to the BW equivalent of D&D's Suggestion spell, this meant using her magic to get agreement. Alicia's player wanted to take time to prepare her spell, and as the GM for that purpose I thought that needed an Inconspicuous check. Unfortunately this failed, and so the innkeeper looked at her when she started muttering strange words, and so she just cast the spell. It succeeded (I set the innkeeper's Will, and hence the obstacle, at 3) and so he accepted her offer to work in the kitchen. The Tax for casting left her at Forte 1.

We agreed this gave me a bonus die for my Resources check, so I rolled two dice against Ob 1. This was a fail. We reviewed the Resources rules and had a bit of discussion and my co-GM decided that we didn't get a room and my cash die was gone (apparently the master's purse wasn't as full as we'd hoped). The innkeeper still insisted that Alicia work in the kitchen, though!

Taking back the GM's hat, I first adjudicated things for Alicia. I wanted an Ob Forte test to handle the heat and work in the kitchen; this succeeded (with Forte 1 the player was rolling 1 die; I think he must have rolled a 6 and then spent a Fate point to open-end this and get a second success). Then Aedhros re-entered the scene: with a successful Stealthy check I entered the kitchen unnoticed, and found Alicia. I proposed that we relieve the innkeeper of his cash-box (repay hurt for hurt) and Alicia agreed. Then we would take on the master of the ship. Alicia used her Weathersense to determine if a mist would be rolling in; her check succeeded, and so her prediction of mist was correct! (We'd agreed that a failed check mean clear skies and a bright moon.) She also rested (for about 6 hours) to regain one point of Tax, taking her Forte up to 2.

With the morning mist rolling in, it was time to clean out the innkeeper's cash box. We agreed that the day's takings would be 2D of cash. With successful checks, Alicia cast Cat's Eye so she could see in the dark; I succeeded at a straightforward Scavenging check so that Aedhros could find a burning brand (he can see in dim light or by starlight, but not in dark when the starts are obscured by mist). Alicia went first, in the dark but able to see, but failed an untrained Stealthy check despite a penalty to the innkeeper's Perception check for being asleep. So as she opened the door to the room where was sleeping on his feather-and-wool-stuffed mattress, he woke and stood up, moving his strongbox behind him. Alicia, being determined - as per one of her Beliefs - to meet any wrong to her with double in return, decided to tackle him physically. Of course she is trained in Martial Arts, as that's a favourite of her player! I proposed and he agreed that we resolve this via Bloody Versus (ie simple opposed checks) rather than fully scripting in Fight! I set the innkeeper's Brawling at 3, but he had significant penalties due to darkness, and so Alica - with 4 dice + 1 bonus die for superior Reflexes - won the fight easily. The injury inflicted was only superficial, but (as per the rules for Bloody Versus) Alicia had the innkeeper at her mercy - as we narrated it, thrown to the ground and held in a lock.

Aedhros entered the room at this point, with Heart-seeker drawn and ready for it to live up to its name. But Alicia thought that killing the innkeeper was a bit much. So first, she used her advantageous position to render the innkeeper unconscious (no check required, given the outcome of the Bloody Versus). Then her player, wearing the GM hat, insisted that I make a Steel check to commit cold-blooded murder. This failed, and so I hesitated for 4 actions. Handily, that is the casting time for Persuasion, and so Alicia "told" Aedhros not to kill the innkeeper. The casting check succeeded, but the Tax check was one success against an obstacle of 4. With only 1 Forte left, that was 3 Tax which would be 2 overtax, or an 8-point wound, which would be Traumatic for Alicia. But! - the Tax check also was the final check needed for her Forte 3 to step up to Forte 4 (wizard's get lots of juicy Forte checks because of all their Tax - in this case from the three spells cast), which made the overtax only 1, or a 4-point wound which was merely Superficial. Still, she collapsed unconscious.

Aedhros opened the strongbox and took the cash. We agreed that no check was required; and given his Belief that he can tolerate Alicia's company only because she's broken and poor, and given that it aggravates his Spite to suffer her incompetence in fainting, he kept all the money for himself. He then carried out the unconscious Alicia (again, no check required). He also took the innkeeper's boots, being sick of going about barefoot. But he will continue to wear his tattered clothes.

A final Health check for Alicia determined that she will regain consciousness in 7 hours (ie mid-morning to lunchtime), where she and Aedhros are sitting out-of-the-way on the docks. His mind being on nothing in particular, he will undoubtedly be quietly singing elven lays. I set as homework for my friend to determine what trouble results from this, which will be the start of our next session of this game. (And will also earn Aedhros 1 fate point.)

Burning Blades on a Dark Ship!
 

pemerton

Legend
Burning Blades on a Dark Ship!
I wondered if you (or anyone else) would notice this!

Does BitD have a redemption or punishment (in the thematic, not procedural) element to it? I did deliberately build in my Elven lays Instinct to allow for this.

That said, I don't know whether an opportunity will come to pass - that will depend on what my co-GM thinks. You may have noticed that in one short session of play he managed to manipulate his way into two difficult and one challenging Forte test to take Alicia's Forte from 3 to 4: I don't know if this leaves the cognitive scope to also ponder the tragic possibilities of Aedhros's fate!
 

I wondered if you (or anyone else) would notice this!

Does BitD have a redemption or punishment (in the thematic, not procedural) element to it? I did deliberately build in my Elven lays Instinct to allow for this.

BitD does indeed have a punishment element to it and any individual Crew will often have at least one redemption element to it:

PUNISHMENT

* When PCs accrue their last Stress box, they mark a Trauma (Cold, Reckless, Haunted, Obsessed, Viscous, Soft, Unstable, Paranoid). This is a new xp trigger as well as being an area of potential complication. 4 of these and your character is forced into retirement (at which point your Stash is basically your "Score" which determines how your retired gangster lives...a pauper or upper middle class). This is just like if your Nature is depleted to 0 in Torchbearer.

* As Heat accrues, Wanted Level goes up. The only way to remove Wanted Level is for a member of the Crew to do time in the clink; Incarceration. Incarceration takes this takes the character out of broad play, but it opens up the Prison Claim Map (where Scores regarding Claims - these are persistent assets that help the Crew 0 are opened up to the Crew). At the end of your "stay", you make an Incarceration Roll (Tier in d6 to determine its impacts on the PC - Harm 3 or Trauma - specifically and if any gains - like a Claim/Rep/+Faction w/ someone - happen for the Crew).

* You have Friends, Contacts, Allies, Vice Purveyor, and your Crew. Your Friends, Contacts, Allies, and Crew all grow throughout play. If your Vice is Obligation (like a ward your protecting or a church or an orphanage or the plight of the underclass), that further complicates things. These precious things are all in the crosshairs all the time. Them being in the crosshairs is as much a party of play as your legacy/trek up the power ladder.


REDEMPTION

* Characters will change in the course of play. Cruel, callous characters may suddenly commit to a shocking act of sacrifice or kindness...kind characters might become coarse (or worse).

* Characters who have an Obligation to help someone vulnerable or unfortunate (perhaps because they're burdened by a past misdeed) might put in sufficient work to see the object of their Obligation rise in station (eg going from Tier 0 to Tier 3 in the course of play...which is a massive rise).

* Characters might "jump on the grenade of Incarceration" for their Crew because their history of work on Scores/Entanglements was the primary causal factor for the Crew's Wanted Level increasing.

* A Cult or Smugglers might bring about better circumstance for the common weal (or stop some terrible force dead in its tracks even if they were the causal mechanism for setting that terrible force on its course).

* xp triggers reinforce this.

That said, I don't know whether an opportunity will come to pass - that will depend on what my co-GM thinks. You may have noticed that in one short session of play he managed to manipulate his way into two difficult and one challenging Forte test to take Alicia's Forte from 3 to 4: I don't know if this leaves the cognitive scope to also ponder the tragic possibilities of Aedhros's fate!

Its a good question!

In case you're curious (in any of the conversations you see it), like in AW, Harm governs physical health. Harm plus your Prowess is the analog to BW's Forte in BitD (if you want to resist a physical complication, you roll Prowess which is 1d6 for each of the 4 Action Rolls under Prowess - Finesse, Prowl, Skirmish, Wreck - that you have at least 1 Dot in). To recover Harm, you spend a Downtime Activity (you have 2 by default except for when you're "At War" and then you get 1 + you can spend Coin 1:1 for more DTAs) to Recover. You start a 4 clock, and your Physicker rolls their Quality (or your Leech rolls their Tinker) and you get 1 Tick for 1-3, 2 for 4/5, 3 for 6. Once you fill your healing clock, reduce each instance of harm on your sheet by one level, then clear the clock. If you have more segments to mark, they “roll over.” The Cutter (Fighter) has 2 playbook moves called:

Battleborn
You may expend your special armor to reduce harm from an attack in combat or to push yourself during a fight.

Vigorous
You recover from harm faster. Permanently fill in one of your healing clock segments. Take +1d to healing treatment rolls.

So a Cutter w/ Battleborn + Vigorous + 4 Dots in Prowess in a Bravos Crew that has Forged in Fire (+1d Resistance Rolls) + would have "max Forte" in BitD.
 

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