Saturday, August 23, 2014

Burning Characters

Brandon warned me it would take all session, but I didn't believe him.  I should have known he knew what he was talking about.  We gathered at 6:00pm and started the slow process of burning our characters, with only a brief pause to devour Joel's fantastic chili.  What I thought would take an hour or two tops ended up taking almost 5 hours and we probably could have still talked about the game setup for another hour.  Burning characters in the Burning Wheel game, especially for novices, is a lengthy and time consuming process.

That's not so say it wasn't fun.  It was a blast.  Not only did we create characters with real depth, but we fleshed out the game world in the process.  It was like Dungeon World on steroids!

As for the premise of the game, we came up with a healthy mixture of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, which hits that Burning Wheel sweet-spot perfectly.  Set in the world of the Midnight RPG, we established that it's been over a thousand years since Izrador last attacked the civilized world.  He is a myth, a legend used to scare children into going to bed.  We've all forgotten about him.  All, that is, except the elves and a few of the most elderly dwarves.  One of the characters, a dwarven artificier by the name of Thorin, is cast out of his clan for spreading fear about the possibility of Izrador's return.  He travels to Riismark where he knows that Prince Olaf Dale is a stalwart defender of the wall, that last defense against the forces of Izrador in ancient times.  The wall has fallen to disrepair and the great houses have turned their attention from the wall and the defense of the realm to worry more about petty squabbles amongst themselves.  In Prince Olaf, Thorin finds a receptive ear.  The Prince has decided to send his second son, Calder Dale, his nephew, the War Wizard Arvidus, and his spy master, Daschell north to  the wall to ascertain it's readiness and state of repair.  Travelling with young Prince Calder will also be Thorin the dwarf, who has doubts about the wall and the human great houses, and Rysdan, a man with a troubled past but who has served the Prince admirably and has a few "special" skills.  They are to inspect the wall for physical deterioration and interview the defenders to ascertain their state of readiness.

That is where we will begin actual play when next we meet (which is looking like its going to be over a month away.  Such is life with a busy group of players).  The character's beliefs are currently tied into reaching the wall and completing the inspection as well as finding evidence that Izrador is currently on the rise.  None of the characters, save Thorin and Daschell, actually believe that Izrador is real, let alone a threat to the kindgoms of man, so finding evidence of Izrador will be a real eye-opening experience for them.

I look forward to actually playing the game.  Based on how much fun it was to just create the characters, I think the game itself will be spectacular.  We are aiming for an epic journey with just enough action sprinkled in to keep things interesting.

Everyone in the gaming group was very receptive to the rules, though there was the occasional grumble about the complexity, which is to be expected.  It was a nice surprise to have a couple of the group members even more prepared and having more knowledge of the rules than I had.  The process of character creation would have taken longer, I'm sure, without the patient guidance of  our GM, Brandon, whose experience with Burning Wheel really showed.

Great job by all and I can't wait to meet again and get the ball rolling.