Campaign Changing Gears

I have been running the Enemy Within Campaign using Burning Wheel but setting it in the historic Holy Roman Empire at the outset of the 30 Years War, but with demonologists and Cossacks instead of orcs and Neanderthals instead of Skaven.

The game has just finished Death on the Reik. It is next on to Magdeburg instead of Middenheim to run Power Behind the Throne. I am thinkiong I may want to try and employ the Infection Mechanics of Burning Empires to model the city wide machinations of the game.

What do people think of this, am I mad? What should I be considering? I am guessing that the players may be up for a slaughter given that they won’t have skills needed for the infection mechanics rolls. Though between campaign beats, I give the players 6 months of training/practice time. So they may work towards opening such skills before they arrive.

What do you guys think of having such a switching of gears in a game?

Can that sort of shift be done? Yes.

The answer to whether you should do it in your game starts with this question: what was discussed when your table first gathered?

I have had great fun with a “low-level protagonists suddenly uncover a massive threat” campaign where everyone is invested in the challenge of using the inadequate resources they have to stay above water until they can gather what they need to make progress. Equally, I’ve seen games end with an accrimonious TPK because players were all having fun being street-level characters and suddenly got sucked into a fight they couldn’t win.

From your description, your table is ill-prepared for many of the chunks of plot: was that possibility discussed and agreed when you did the initial “what shall we play?” session? If not, I would be very wary of shifting gear/focus/tone/&c. without warning.

If the players are already aware that getting tangled in stuff that they might not be able to handle is a possibility in this campaign then I’d suggest throwing some IC hints in of what might be coming before you get to the Training/Practice montage, so players can have the fun of deciding if the optimal strategy is being mediocre at something new or focusing on blitzing in one area they are already good at.

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Yeah, I will have to talk through it with the group. Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes.

You raise some good and substantive points.

The adventure as written has a sort of infection mechanic of trying to convince people of the existence of skaven in the original campaign material. If I recall, the movement of the meter is just the output of the beats of the scenario. Employing Infection mechanics would give more articulation to the beast and more direct interaction with the plot on another level.

Look at Paris, 1648 and the Mood and Bread rules. While the core systems are different in BW and M&M, the spirit of what those rules attempt is closer to what you’re after, I think.


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