At the moment I’m GMing a campaign about witch-hunting which is pretty fun, but I’ve been thinking about a campaign idea I’ve had for a while, and I Burning Wheel is a good system for it–with a bit of a mod.
I call the mod “Burning Commanders”. Essentially, the players are not members of a party working towards a common goal–they’re rival warlords, aiming to destroy each other.
Here are the highlights of the mod:
[li]My current model is for only black shade and human characters, but there’s no reason you can’t use other stocks and shades, it’s just my preference.
[/li][li]Players take turns building armies and attacking each other using what I call “Bloody tactics”. It’s a lot like bloody versus–both players divide their dice into offense and defense, defense successes take away from offensive successes. Each offensive success that gets through reduces the dice available for the defender by one. Repeat until a player want to retreat or is reduced to 0 dice (which results in routing).
[/li][li]Even if a player’s faction is wiped out, their character may still be alive to join another faction, become a subordinate of his or her conqueror, or a number of other possibilities.
[/li][li]Defeating other players results in gaining provinces, which is not only a victory towards annihilating your opponents, but it also increases your income, letting you build more units.
[/li][li]Each army has a “principle unit” chosen secretly right before a battle, and revealed once both sides have chosen. Principle units have types such as heavy cavalry and missile infantry that grant a +1D advantage against other types. Furthermore, each faction has unique units, each with unique traits. For example, Northmen berserkers are incapable of retreating, but reduce the number of dice the enemy have by 2.
[/li][li]After failing a retreat, a DoF is rolled for each character who was in the losing army. A 1 means they were defeated–2 to 6 means they survived but were captured. This can happen to players!
[/li][li]Every turn, if a player so chooses, he or she may draw a wildcard, a card from a tarot deck. Each suit does something different (coins give money, wands prevent you from earning money, cups result in domestic issues, swords give you free armies), and the major arcana are particularly unique.
[/li][li]A part of my setting is people called “weapon lords”. A weapon lord is someone so skilled with a weapon that they are considered the best with that weapon in the world. (Player characters can be weapon lords, but only if they have a weapon skill of 10.) These powerful allies grant a +2D bonus when leading your armies, but their favor must be earned for them to trust you.
|Unit type||Gets an advantage from||Gives an advantage to||Neither||Fleeing advantage|
|Heavy infantry||Heavy cavalry, light cavalry||Missile cavalry, missile infantry||Light infantry||+0D|
|Light infantry||Missile cavalry, missile infantry||Heavy cavalry, light cavalry||Heavy infantry||+1D|
|Missile infantry||Heavy cavalry, heavy infantry||Light cavalry, light infantry||Missile cavalry||+1D|
|Heavy cavalry||Missile cavalry, light infantry||Heavy infantry, missile infantry||Light cavalry||+2D|
|Light cavalry||Light infantry, missile infantry||Missile cavalry, heavy infantry||Heavy cavalry||+3D|
|Missile cavalry||Heavy cavalry, heavy infantry||Light cavalry, light infantry||Missile infantry||+3D|
And here are two sample factions.
The Steel Alliance – Crossbowmen, Paladins, Halberdiers, Crushers
Crossbowmen (missile infantry) – +1D against heavy units.
Paladins (heavy cavalry/pious*)
Halberdiers (heavy infantry/polearm**)
Crushers (heavy infantry) – +1D against heavy units.
The Northmen – Shieldmaidens, Berserkers, Nightmen, Jomsvikings
All Northmen units get a +1D advantage during the winter.
Shieldmaidens (heavy infantry/female***)
Berserkers (heavy infantry/death seeker****/fearless*****)
Nightmen (light infantry/assassin******)
Jomsvikings (heavy infantry) – +1D against other infantry.
*Pious units get two extra dice when reduced to 0, and can keep on fighting.
**Polearm units get +1D against cavalry.
***Female units give -1D to most units.
****Death seeker units cannot retreat or rout. If they are reduced to 0 die, they can’t run away!
*****Fearless units are immune to die reductions through traits like the Shieldmaiden’s female trait.
******Normally, you have to take a province’s field before you can take its castle, which is necessary to control a province and earn money from it. However, assassins can bypass this and attack the castle directly. Of course, this means that the defending player knows what’s coming, so it’s not necessarily better.
I’ve cooked up most of this in a short period of time, and it’s all untested, so any critique would be useful. Thoughts?