I haven’t done more than glance through the Burning Sands PDF, and I’ve only flipped through Burning Empires. Here’s where I stand: I’m interested in taking Burning Wheel to the stars. I understand that Burning Sands is Dune in space. Burning Empires seems very detailed and it’s another feudal, semi-fallen space setting.
The problem is I’m not interested in playing the later Dune books or worm invasion. How easily is BE divorced from the setting? Can the lifepaths and tech rules be cribbed and the implied setting reworked so it’s about flying around in your beaten-up cargo ship smuggling, or maneuvering among the other lords so you can get what you want? Is Jihad better for it? Are both too inextricably linked to their settings to split apart?
I guess my question is this: if I want to run Firefly, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, The Gap Cycle, Honor Harrington, or the Vorkosigan Saga using BW, should I use Burning Sands, Burning Empires, put in a lot of work to make my own appropriate lifepaths, or give up? I don’t need the settings of those, mind you. Think more "small-time smuggling/shipping; optimistic exploration; rag-tag refugee fleet; political maneuvering involving miners, pirates, aliens, and police in space; the age of space-sail, or… wow, the Vorkosigan Saga covers a lot of ground, doesn’t it?
It would be a lot easier to do with Burning Empires than Jihad. Jihad is very specific. You play out the Jihad between book 1 and book 2. The lifepaths are very setting specific and there’s no real support for ship to ship combat because the setting doesn’t support it. Space flight is controlled by a monopoly.
BE is much more flexible in this regard. You’ll have to cut out a bunch of stuff, but I don’t think you’ll have to add much, if anything.
That was my feeling. BE’s lifepaths look like they cover a good range of space. I’m okay with keeping a fair amount of the idiosyncratic fluff (I remember reading the way piloting spacecraft requires an implant, which requires you to be bald, which creates a whole culture of wigs, as pretty neat), but do BE LP and tech rules play nice with BW rules? Is it easy enough to excise the scene economy system? Does Firefight act as an interesting supplement to Fight/RaC, or would it be either/or? Did DoW get changed enough that there are incompatibility problems?
I gave Jihad a slightly more thorough read, and I think its fluff is too locked-in. The lifepaths are very specialized.
In Burning Empires, the whole invasion framework is pretty firmly tied to the specific setting, and the scene budget wouldn’t make as much sense without the invasion framework. So yeah, you’d have to rip out a lot.
If I recall correctly, the lifepaths create characters that are more powerful than in BW. Doesn’t mean you can’t still use 'em, but it’s something to be aware of, I guess? Or I may be misremembering, I only played the one campaign and it was years ago.
Higher exponents, higher stats and more skills for the same number of lifepaths, and so on. As I recall, it’s slanted toward the assumption that the PCs are pretty dang important movers and shakers at a planetary level, not just your random peasant with a beat up old sword and a thirst for vengeance, so they have abilities to match.
Again, it’s been forever since I played. Don’t take my word for this.
A speed read of Burning Empires’ lifepaths doesn’t seem to back this up. There are nobility and peasants, just as in Burning Wheel. The skills and traits, and points for buying them, seem fairly similar to BW too. The big difference seems to be that resources are much lower, and circles are allocated, and spent on reps/affiliations.
That wouldn’t matter if all you’re doing is stripping out the skills and traits and slotting them into existing BW lifepaths.
Having said that, not having played BE, I would be interested in how the difference in resources and circles plays out. Would the Gear system work with BW?
LOW resources? Really?
That doesn’t gel with my recollection of the campaign I was in at all. We all had palaces or iron or robot bodies or were kingpins of vast criminal organizations. My character had a space ship, and not a small one. I needed a relationship with the captain to make that work, too. (I was the “owner aboard”, which I think was the name of the lifepath.)
Maybe it worked out in some way that didn’t involve resources. Or maybe it was just us.
As long as everyone’s using BE lifepaths and equipment lists it should work out, then. Is the equipment list expansive enough for a general-purpose campaign? I assume so, given the variety you can get in an invasion campaign, but I’d like to be sure.
Honestly, I’d use the Burning Wheel as the base lifepaths, and do some rough adjustments for damage and stuff from Burning Empire, as well as ships and such. You’d need something of a rough hybrid between the two no matter what you did, if only using BE as reference.
Funnily enough, I was thinking that, strip away a few things, and BE would be awesome for Traveller. Say, use the BE rules plus the technology creation, then just use the setting nad maps from Traveller. Hell, both settings have nobles and a bureacracy and what not; they can’t not fit.
And frankly, the only thing I can see taking from BWG is Fight!, because if I were stretching the setting to include laser swords, well, it’d be more satisfying than Firefight.
That said, Firefight’s perfect for most battles in Trav, since it’s mostly guys gunning anyway. Only real wrinkle would be how to do stats for lower tech weapons (shotguns in space).
Aye, that too. Actually, that’s one of the things that makes me realize the BE would work for many thing - the Tech Burner is really, really flexible. As I said, my only issue would be reconciling the Tech Levels of Traveller with the Tech Burner, ships and the like. Using BE WOULD have one interesting effect; the economy for Traveller could finally be made sensible. Seriously, as written in almost all versions, it isn’t economically feasible to carry regular freight OR passengers; the only way to survive would be to do speculative trade (which is a whole other level of broken as it gives too much wealth for little risk) or crazy missions. Which I guess was the point.
BE would fix all of that, since it’d be background concerns, or at the most, a way to replenish Resource dice, which would leave all the silly calculations out.
Hmm…I think…I think I might actually take a swing at it. A very small conversion project.
Question - what to use for the Marines? Army and Navy are amply covered. Actually, what to use for Scouts as well? Or ought I to come up with a few lifepaths (and other that Resource numbers, I assume the MB would be useful for that)?
They operate at a slightly higher level of abstraction than what I was looking for in a more personal game. I merged in a lot of the Skills to BWG (in this area Signals, Cryptography, Security Rigging, Security, Sensors, and …I believe Smuggling) list then added a couple software specific Skills (Data Manipulation for sifting, generating and hiding, Hacker for changes and attacking) for VR. Took the existing rules, which are fairly short, and instead took out a bit of the structure (that BE really needs more of) and built them into standard BW style Skill descriptions.
P.S. BTW to anyone attending Burning Con, I’m dusting off my SR hack and bringing it. I’ve written and am testing out the scenario in the next few weeks. Will have a total slash & burn redo of Streetfight!, which I’m hammering on with experienced game playtesters over the next couple months. I tried to clean up the old version of Streetfight! to send out to people that have requested it, just saw no quick way to get it where I could bear to foist it on anyone. I could run it. I have, even with total BW noobs in a Con slot, and it was OK. Brought a good sense of being in modern personal combat, pushing around opponents and the Oh Shit factor but it didn’t move fast enough and wasn’t accessible enough IMO. Too many fiddly bits, concurrently running hacking/VR with it wasn’t as coherent as I wanted, and other stuff. So decided a redo-rethink level of iteration was in order.
Won’t be making Burning-con but please continue with your Shadowrun hack. Bought 5E on PDF. Not particularly impressed, but with Shadowrun Returns released I am rearing for pen&paper Magic meets machine!