Con/One Shot Scenario

I’m thinking about coming up with a Torchbearer scenario to run at Burning Con. I was hoping to get some advice/guidance on making an adventure to fit within a 4-hour slot especially if I’d like to see the players finish/nearly finish the adventure.

I know for sure I’ll need to limit the size of the adventure. Less obstacles, of course. Any good rule of thumb for a number of obstacles to aim for?

And I figure I’ll need to try and limit conflicts since they can easily use up a lot of time.

  1. Come with pregenerated characters. The ones from the book work just fine, but come up with your own if you wish. Give them equipment–the works. Definitely leave the Goal blank. You can go ahead and give them a Belief and an Instinct or leave those blank as well. I tend to like filling them in because it gives each character more of a hook.

  2. About 8 to 12 rooms/areas and 4 to 6 problems (not obstacles, problems!) should do you.

At Gen Con, I ran an adventure that has 10 areas and 4 problems (though lots of potential obstacles). Three different groups (most of them with no experience or knowledge of Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard or Torchbearer) finished it in between 3 and 3.5 hours. The one that went 3.5 hours went through three conflicts, two camp phases and a full town phase.

I’m committed to running a one shot at Furnace (which is my Burning Con replacement) this year. It’s about a dwarven hold that was abandoned but aside from the event write up I’ve got nothing yet.

I’ve run Thelon’s Rift, from BW Adventure Burner.
pre-gens with Goal blank.
intro in media res: “you’rer running in the woods, close to the cave entrance. You’re chased by bandits. Who carries the corpse ?” (we had a 5-10 min of backstory chat then)
A clean 4 hours adventure

I’ve run Blossoms are Falling scenario very successfully for the past three years, a Mountain of Monks, but I’m thinking of switching it up. I really like the idea of running a Burning Empires scenario but I’m not sure anyone would be interested as for most people not familiar with BE it would involve a bit of a learning curve.

I have one I used:

An art collector wants a map to the Temple of Hee Soi Lo Tal, home to a lost sword of great historical value, a relic of the HeeSoi Interregnum. Has a lead that an alchemist had a rendition of this particular map. However the rub is the alchemist lives in the forest of the goblins/kobolds. He’s got okay directions to the place, but not exact.

Getting there entails an Ob2 Pathfinder check. Failure = Meets goblin/kobold patrol.

Next you find the mouldering remains of the alchemists cabin. It’s roof is falling in, and a tree has blocked the doorway.

Inside the cabin, you find a stairway down, and nothing of note other than lots of molded furniture…and a decaying hatch going into a basement.

In the basement, you have a hay covered (and that hay is rotting) floor. You have a dark corner, some barrels (surprisingly good repair). One of the rotting boxes is marked “Explosive, do not eat”, but it’s contents are damp and unidentifiable.

Failing a search check in the dark corner summons some giant rats out of a small nest under the stairs. They can be driven off, or killed rather easily.

Searching the barrels reveals one is a cover for a manhole down into the alchemist’s real lab. This is in surprisingly good condition after the rest of the building being so dank and rotting. There is a staff on the wall. The top of the staff has a human hand with claws on it, held as if it’s grasping thing. A large table with alchemical reagents in little bottles and such lines the walls. There are 4d worth of alchemical treatises on the bookshelf here (Liquid Portals are like Onions, The Life and Times of Brook Bobnight, and 1012 uses for Elderberry Nectar). The hammock hanging here is still in good repair. Oh yes, there is also a Septagram (7 sided star) scrawled into the dirt and filled with quicksilver (which could be taken…but that breaks the magic).

Arcanist checks on the star or staff indicate the staff is a key to go through a portal atop the star. A margin of success greater than 1 reveals that the staff is named Oniondelver and can be used to “go deeper” with a greater power source (of course, placed in it’s clawed hand).

Using the staff while in the star takes the user (and anyone else in the star) to a room with 3 pink/purple crystal coffins. There are 2 which are closed with rather well preserved looking elves, and one that’s part open with a desiccated corpse of the Alchemist himself. The closed coffins can be opened as well. The elves all have 1d of cash on them (silver) and alchemist has a broach worth 5d to the art collector (being a relic of the HeeSoi Interregnum), but any merchant will pay 2d for it. A single doorway leads out of the room. The staff can be used here on the similar star (but with no quicksilver) to go back to the lab. There is no glow to the coffins.

The longish hall from the coffin room leads to a room with many softly glowing pink purple crystals dangling from stalagmites and growing out of stalactites. In that room, a rather large crystal troll dwells, obviously unable to pass back down the hall at this point. The door entering this room is a bit up the wall, with carved stone steps leading down to the floor. Close observation reveals many shards of those crystals on the ground, and the troll actually eats the crystals. A troll is clearly too mighty to outright fight for the players. Go really far out there describing his size, and danger. Remind people of the killing is my business rolls, etc.

The minimum of what the players need to do is get one of the crystals on the ground, take it back to the lab, and use the staff again on the quicksilver star, and that will port them to the “Art Gallery”. They can trick the troll, flee after grabbing a crystal, or even possibly figure out a way to get him out of the dungeon. That part is up to the characters. This encounter will almost certainly result in capture though if done poorly. Adding troll wise to a pre-gen is not a bad idea for this issue. These crystals all glow with dim light

Art Gallery: An unfinished room with several rectangles marked on the wall as a location for art are laying about this room. There is also a couple pedestals with actual art on them (a 3 pack statue of a tree worth 4d and a 4 hand statue of a ancient sun god that is worth 5d). Red beams fill the air around a map (suspended in solid glass). Interrupting the beams summons 3 imps which attack the party.

There are parts for the beam trap in the corner still in their boxes. Examining the directions (in Dwarven) explains that the beams are harmless light and describes a service harness with diagrams in Dwarven. The diagrams are pretty abstract. It involves prisms lined up being in the shape of a 7 sided harness. Some sort of crafting roll would have to be made to make such a thing in the dungeon, but it could be done. If done, it would allow the retrieval of the artifact without triggering the beam. The glass the map is in protects it. It makes the map 2 pack to carry. Breaking the map out could damage it and anger the collector.

Monster Gazetter: Goblin/Kobold (As Kobold in the book). Giant Rat (As Giant Rat), Crystal Troll (as Troll), Imp (as Harpy without outside of combat)

Treasure: Supposed to be bulky as hell and cause a hard choice or two. Don’t forget that pathfinder test going back if they don’t have a cartographer

Camp Count: The party camped 2x before getting eaten by the Crystal Troll

I think BE makes for excellent one-shots. In that form, I deemphasize the strategic game and let them really dive into the scene structure.

oh, by the way, speaking of BE con scenarios… :rolleyes: