We played our first session of Burning Empires tonight. We’re all new to the game. The first time felt disjointed and didn’t really flow that well.
For me one concern seems to be a lack of cohesiveness to the story. It seems with 3 beliefs for each character, and 4 characters, we could have 12 different plot lines all going in different directions. For example, I gave a help die to the Anvil Lord plot to recon the space station, and now I have a scene where I am going to go look over the books at a mining operation in order to work on my belief about increasing profits. Its almost a ‘what does that have to do with anything’ feeling. What am I missing about how this all plays out?
If it was a fantasy setting (I haven’t played Burning Wheel either), I’d say ok everyone give me a belief why you’re in this mercenary company defending the city. To me it seems the characters need a shared belief, or even a belief tied to the FoN for that phase. Let’s say the FoN for that phase has a basic idea of what he wants to do for the next session, then everyone writes a belief pertaining to that goal. This would keep the story flowing, everyone involved, and actually going somewhere. The whole ‘just work your beliefs’ seems to fail, I don’t want a Seinfeld story about “nothing”, which is characters just going about thier lives, pursuing their own beliefs, with a random help die from friends, - I want a story about characters fighting off a Vaylen invasion.
Looking over the book again, it seems we might have missed creating a Spotlight, which seems to focus play more, but are there any in game mechanics supporting this? p406 Spotlight: A figure of note who is featured in this phase should very much be the center of attention. He should be the focus of conflict, the center of the web and subject to all manner of stress and duress.
Actually reading further, I know we chose a phase objective but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. Seems to me we need to spend more time developing the objective, and then the players focus their scenes on accomplishing that? I wrote down 3 character beliefs, but they don’t directly tie into the objective. As characters do we each actually have that specific phase objective? How did we decide on that objective in character, is this just somehow we all amazingly happen to be working towards it, or does the FoN just color us all in on it, and then we help him accomplish it, rather than run around fulfilling our own beliefs?
On a smaller scale I have the same questions for the manuever. Almost seems like there should be a FoN by manuever, with the same question of how do we all tie ourselves together in on it. I mean would be easy if we were a secret cabal of 4 higher-ups who were dedicated to stopping the Vaylen, but I’m just a merchant trying to get rich and go attend high class parties. I have a few conflicts built into my beliefs, but nothing about the phase or maneuver objective, much less heading out to stop the Vaylen.
I definitely see we missed a bunch on focusing play, and hopefully the next session will be a lot tighter, but any hints/suggestions/answers would be appreciated!