I’m about to head into the first Duel of Wits in which my character’s values will come really, sorely under pressure.
To contextualize, the DoW will take place between two characters, a count and a sorceress.
The count seeks to further his standing in the realm, but he seeks to do so dishonourably, and by trampling tradition and the old ways. Through treason, high-treason, and oathbreaking.
The sorceress cares about the well-being of the count, and would like to aid his ambition, but is horrified and repulsed by his even entertaining the notion of treason, high-treason, and oathbreaking. Furthermore, the sorceress greatly appreciate the traditions of their mother-country, and venerate the old ways and the society crafted by their forebearers. The sorceress is my character.
I realize that unless I agree otherwise, the DoW cannot change my character’s beliefs, opinions, or feelings. But I’m trying to place myself in the right frame of mind for this DoW. To not be too closed off to the count’s suggestions, but simultaneously sticking to my character’s values.
So how receptive should my character be? I’m not sure where it’s fair to draw the line, when it comes to the count’s statement of purpose vs my character’s values, because DoW is designed to resolve these instances of characters butting heads.
Your help is much appreciated.
You should absolutely stick fully to your guns in the DoW. Don’t willingly give a single inch of ground before the duel, or in your Statement of Purpose. Go into it fully expecting to beat the Count into the ground and make him capitulate to your superior argument.
You’ll fail, of course. But there’s nothing more Burning Wheel than rushing headlong into a task that will surely end in failure, while your character is confident in their success.
More to the point, don’t compromise until the DoW ends and you have to compromise.
There are two ways for a character’s mind to be changed by a DoW:
- The owning player, over the course or at the end of the duel, decides that those arguments are actually reasonable, and that their character does, in fact, agree with them. In my opinion, while in real life, it is nice to keep an open mind, better player characters are painfully stubborn and will double down on what they Believe even in the face of reasonable arguments until they reach a moldbreaker moment where they just can’t anymore. But if you don’t have a Belief on the line (ideally SOMEONE involved should to go to a DoW in the first place), nothing wrong with listening to logic
- The changing of mind/beliefs are part of the explicit stakes of the Duel. This is the secret tech of the DoW system. It’s still not mind control, because you can’t be forced to agree to those terms, but once you agree to them your character can’t just change their mind back for as long as LiR applies.
In your case, it depends on the exact stakes of the DoW with the count. If mind changing is part of the stakes, it likely should be so on both sides, and in which case you should roleplay agreeing with some of his points (whether you as a player do or not EDIT: gunner above is right that you shouldn’t compromise before things are over though, just include things like “you have a point, but…”). If otoh, the DoW is just about what the two of you will do, like say you want him to stick within the traditions of the land, and he wants you to help him with his underhanded plans, play it however you feel is right for your PC. If you get blown out of the water, you can just play it as a “Fine, we’ll try it your way!” even if you think it’ll just blow up in his face.
I guess this might be a thing that I just need to accept, but I feel really awkward accepting a Statement of Purpose through which my character will just suddenly decide to turn traitor and forsake their entire value-system. It feels like an incredibly jarring change to make. I’ve been taking inspiration from Ged and Gandalf the Grey in my present portrayal of the character. Walking Away feels like the thing my character would do, that is to say, march off in disgust. But I also don’t want to be a spoilsport. I don’t have a belief about this DoW, but the count’s player does. Also the count is arguing from an incredibly weak position, having no leverage over my character, nor being in a position to give them anything they want. Am I thinking about it wrong? Should I just accept the potential 180 change of heart?
If you don’t write mind-changing into the Statement of Purpose, then your character’s mind has not been changed (unless you say so). You’ve just agreed to participate in something you might not like.
But remember, you can always refuse the terms of the DoW. By accepting the DoW, you’re implicitly saying that your character is open to having their mind changed. If your character would never agree to the terms, than demand something else or Walk Away. This works especially well in this case since your character is of higher status than the count.
Step 1: What exactly does the count want your character to do?
Step 2: Assuming you lose, your character does this thing. What rationalization does she tell herself to justify her behavior to herself.