So as most newbies here I am posting because I am running my first ever game of Burning Wheel (besides two separate games of “The Sword” that turned out quite interesting).
I have a brand new group to the system, two of them though have played mouse guard with varying opinions.
Here is this situation. We have gotten together to come up with ‘THE SITUATION’, and have each burned up characters. I have completed a detailed relationships map, showing the ins and outs of each of the character’s relationships, and the secrets that will unfold in game.
And that is where Im stuck.
Where do I start the game? Here’s what’s going on, and character beliefs.
-What’s the Big Picture? What’s going on in this setting that makes it ripe for adventure. What’s changing, evolving, declining?
Emperor Marcus Severus IV is dead. After 35 years of war, and instability for the land, Rome teeters on an edge of falling into complete darkness, or raising from the ashes to its former self.
Tiberius Severus, his 12 year old son, now wears the crown of the empire. As Emperor Severus V; at 12 has yet to receive the ‘Rights of the Magus’,and is showing no potential for ‘The Gift’ and now is deemed unworthy to rule. His mother, Porta Diussenius Severus the former Empress, is being forced to give over the thrown and the empire, to the Senate who demand they are more fit for rule of the Empire. Senator Lucius Antius Comitinus, stands leader of the group who wishes to dethrone the emperor. Lord-General Verinus Quennethir, Lord Marshall and supreme commander of Rome’s Armies marches on the city. From the north he brings with him 4 legions and is bound and determined to take the crown for his own. Emperor Severus IV, was a heated rival of his, and Verinus plans on settling the long score between their two families, with steel.
-What’s the world’s culture? What are the cultural analogs? Analogs can be taken from historical earth, current events or fantasy works.
The culture is that of late-12th century Europe and the Mediterranean. The deviation from historical reality lies in that the Roman Empire never fell, that is, until now.
-What’s the conflict in which the characters are involved? What are the sides? What’s wrong?
The characters have been given the charge of restoring the Empire, back to its former glory. They must though, recognize Emperor Severus V as legitimate Emperor of Rome and keep all of Rome’s enemies at bay, they are numerous both inside and out of its borders. They have been branded outlaws and traitors to the state by Lord-General Verinus Quennethir, Senator Comitinus; and his rebel senate.
-What physical place does this conflict take place in? What ecology, environment, place?
Medieval Europe. Towns and castles, forests and mountains.
-What’s the name of the most important place in this setting? Not the capital or any dumb shit like that, but THE PLACE where all the action goes down?
-Rome, both the land beneath their feet, and the ideal in their hearts.
-What’s the name of a faraway place that folks talk about, dream about or mutter under their breath about?
War with the north has never been resolved, and locals are speaking of barbarians on the borders. To the the east, dark shadows grow, like a swift tide of retched blackness. It corrodes the soul of the Empire.
-Who are the antagonists? Who is opposing the goals of the characters?
Lord-General Verinus Quennethir, Nobles, certain Senators, and their loyal followers
-Imagine all of the characters are standing a room/ruin/field with the antagonists or their minions. What do the antagonists want from that meeting? What do the character want from that meeting?
General Verinus Quennethir pleads to the characters, wanting their support in taking the thrown of Rome. The characters in turn, call to him for the traitor that he is, stating that Emperor Severus V is the rightful ruler, they demand Verinus’ surrender, and exile.
- Alternately, imagine the characters standing at the scene of some great disaster or calamity clearly caused by one of the antagonists. What’s the disaster? How did it happen? What are the characters going to do about it right now?
The City of Scorcaea is smoldering. The Emperor Severus V is the only cause. The Praetorian Guard, ordered by the new emperor’s hand, in a show of power, burnt the city, and all of its 3000 citizens to the ground. With this show of force, Emperor Tiberius Severus hopes to show all that he means business and his word is law. The characters must protect the empire in this, its darkest time.
During character burning, I hit home the fact that beliefs should drive the game. That they should be actionable, and be able to be tested, and resolved. Here is what the group came up with.
Sir Arxenes -Knight of Empire
B: The Empire must be ruled legitimately, and the Emperor Tiberius Severus V is the rightful ruler, I will convince Quinnethir of this, with mind or sword.
B: I will prevent conflict between Quennethir and the Emperor
Arshan -Pershan Duelist
B: Senetor Comitinus is madman, but no one believes; I must find evidence to discredit him in the eyes of the Emperor and the Senate.
B: General Quinnethir has it out for me since I embarrassed him in front of Emperor Marcus Severus; I will pick fights with his men
B: Rome must be preserved with order; I will dispose of anyone who threatens this.
Joel -Roman Sergeant
B: It is not our place to mettle in in Imperial Affairs; I will convince Sir Arxenes to leave this alone.
B: Actions truly speak louder than words, and my axe is heavier than pen; I will settle these political debates with force if need be.
Alexander -Tax Collector from Northern Borders
B: The Northern gods are the one true religion, Rome is a farce. I will protect my secret at all costs and the secrets of my northern brethren.
B: Rome must be preserved at all costs but the Northmen should end up on top. I shall use the law to orchestrate this change in power where I can, and my bow where I cannot.
Titus - Imperial Wizard and Consul
(no beliefs from player yet)
Kaazim -Morrish Slave Gladiator of the new Emperor
(no beliefs from player yet).
So here I am. The relationships of all the characters are strong, and quite twisted as well. And I have several ideas for scenes, to tie relationships, and threaten those relationships between the characters. And I have plenty of ideas for scenes involving challenging the beliefs above. Here are few:
Should I start with social interactions. Perhaps the new emperor’s mother pleading with the group to stand up for her son, THE EMPEROR, before she is forced to give up the thrown.
Should I start with battle, and Quennethir reaches the gates of Rome, the characters are forced to smuggle the young emperor out of the city, and find away to restore his power ( I really like this idea actually)
Any suggestions? Am I missing something?