First things first I’m having a blast running my first Burning Wheel campaign. It’s mostly going fine and we’ve had some great sessions. In fact my first session was probably the best session I’ve ever had of any roleplaying game ever. It all worked so well. My players played out their traits and beliefs perfectly. They made some rolls that got them into trouble. We even had a Duel of Wits at the end which, might sound quite complicated for the first session but actually worked really well and set things up for later sessions.
Anyway on to my actual problem. I’m struggling with simple combat a bit and I think I’m combining systems that shouldn’t be combined when just running the game with simple Intent and Task tests. I get that in simple combat I can just do a relevant versus test. Sword v sword. Sword v Brawling…whatever is appropriate and I guess I could apply the advantages and disadvantages that are listed in the Bloody versus section right? Give a player an extra die because he has the longer weapon? Increase the ob because the opponent is armored. I also really like Bloody Versus. It’s not very complicated and describes quite nicely how it links into other systems like wounds for example.
The issue I had was in a combat situation that didn’t involve a versus test - namely one player sneaking up with his bow and shooting someone. I’ll tell you how I run it and then how I think I probably should have run it and why I have issues with both. This may end up being quite a long post so…apologies in advance.
How I ran it:
PC has passed a stealth test and is now looking through the window of a cabin, bow notched (it’s an instinct) and he can see a “bad guy” about to murder a hostage. He decides to shoot the bad guy and, even though we weren’t using range and cover I assume he’s at optimal range and say it’s ob 2 to hit. In hindsight I should have made him be clearer about his Intent - did he want to kill this guy or just knock him down. He passes the test and has a few extra successes. I know missile weapons have no add but I assume extra successes can be spent to pick a location just like with a melee weapon. He moves his shot to the less armored head. Bad guy rolls the one armor dice he has for his head and fails so the hit goes through. Player rolls the Die of Fate to see what kind of wound he does. I then cross check that with the bad guys stat block to work out that he got a midi wound and mark it on his sheet.
So this worked fine I guess but it was cumbersome and I guess completely over the top for a random mook.
How I think I should have ran it:
PC decides he wants to kill or injure the guy and lets me know. I set an obstacle based on his intent. Lets say he wants to kill the guy. I let him know that because he’s never done that before he’s at a disadvantage. He’s scared or nervous because this will be the first person he’s ever killed. Also the guy is armored so that’s another increase in ob so I let the player know that the final ob is 4. If he fails he’ll alert them to his presence and the poor hostage will get killed. He makes the roll and passes and the guys dead. No more messing around with armor dice or the die of fate just straight up dead.
Here’s why I’m not sure about the latter method. I quite like the idea that you can mean to just hurt someone but accidentally kill them in the process…that you can have an intent but once you start swinging a sword or firing a bow you might not do exactly what you want to do. This seems to be how things worked in the Sword demo that’s floating around youtube where Luke is the GM. Two PCs are squaring off in a bloody versus duel and one player gets a crazy amount of extra successes. Luke seemed to imply that the player had no choice and HAD to spend those on extra damage pretty much killing the other PC outright. I really liked this and sums up what I’m saying. You can try to knock the guy unconscious but you might hit him too hard. You can try to kill the guy but you might just graze him with your shot. I guess the important thing here is that…for random mooks like this it’s probably okay to give my players there intent and apply all these wound rules for important conflicts?
Second issue. After the shot and my other player beating up another bad guy with a round of Bloody Versus, they ended up with the first bad guy tied to a chair. Both my players have awful will scores and are currently terrible at persuading people to do what they want. However, with this guys severely wounded it enabled my players to actually pass a persuasion test. In effect if I didn’t use the wound mechanics at all and just said the guy was subdued or whatever they would have no chance in passing any will based tests. What I’m asking is, is it possible to offer up wounds as an intent? For example, rather than messing with the die of fate or extra successes could I simply say, “okay you want to injure this guy. Cool that’s ob 4 and if you succeed he’ll get a midi wound?” or would you recommend actually using the DoF in this instance just to see how wounded he ends up?
Okay rambling nearly over. My main questions are:
- Out of the two examples above which do you think makes the most sense?
- Do my disadvantages make sense? Increasing the ob for armor in normal versus tests? Making it harder to kill vs wound because it’s psychologically a bigger thing? Giving a player an extra die in a simple versus test because they have a bigger weapon?
- Lastly, what do you think about using wounds at all for random mooks and, more importantly, what do you think about the lack of control in how much damage a PC actually does?
Okay thanks guys, and thank you to anyone who actually reads all of this!!