First thing: If you are a GM or even a player going through the book on your own and find it flat as I did you need to understand that this thing really comes to life in the space between players. I worked through character burning on my own once so I would know the road and kind of felt meh about the whole thing. With my group the whole process became organic and alive and I don’t think I’ve ever seen players take so much enjoyment in building a character.
We started out burning the game concept and wanted to do something light since my GF had never done any role playing. After a few suggestions we got really excited about doing an Indiana Jones style Archaeologists and Ancient Lore game. We decided that it would be fun to throw a couple of bookish types into adventure settings and watch as they learned to fight, use ropes and solve puzzles etc… and of course fight the bad guys. We also thought their complete lack of military and adventure skills would make a great first act as they wind up outclassed and outmaneuvered by their opponents and challenges.
So we started burning characters.
We wound up with a noble bastard scholar with the types of skills you would expect: ancient history, foreign languages etc…
My GF was very confused at first and I had to tell her several times that she could make up whatever she wanted and thought was cool. She was terrified of making the wrong choice and I had to reassure her that it was just make believe and that the only correct choice was that she thinks it’s cool. Suddely she says “I want to be a doctor, I want to bandage them and stuff if they get beat up!” So we had our city born physician with herbalism and apothecary not to mention RP appropriate language and ancient history skills. We easily decided that these two characters shared a common interest in ancient lore and treasures and thus they were friends. Our third character was of questionable reputation being a shady merchant who didn’t have any trouble with the idea of selling stolen goods. A perfect person to know if you wanted to discreetly sell off ancient artifacts without drawing a lot of attention to yourself.
the character creation process too us a few hours and we didn’t get all the way through it. resource points were only somewhat distributed and relationships and circles were explained but we thought it would be fine if we used the time in between to consider our characters and their relationships.
We went over beliefs and instincts but didn’t really write any out.
Overall I feel like the game has a ton of potential and I love that my players are actively participating in defining the game and it’s goals. They are all invested and that is the ultimate triumph of this system in it’s design.
If you are a GM or even a player going through the book on your own and find it flat as I did you need to understand that this thing really comes to life in the space between players.
Really? The BWG book was the most exciting read in my entire RPG collection of hundreds of books. It’s the only game I couldn’t put down until I’d read it cover-to-cover, twice! It totally blew my mind at the time. Just offering an alternate viewpoint.
It sounds like you’re off to a great start with your game. Make sure you get the character concepts, beliefs and instincts nailed down and concrete before you set any of the mechanics into stone. The biggest complaint I got from new players in my first campaign was a lot of wishing they’d done things differently in that sense, when doing character burning for that reason. A lot of RPG players are more used to character background and concept being something secondary to the actual activities of the game – and for this game that just doesn’t work – so they picked the most interesting choices to them, rather than focusing really hard on characters that were tied into the situation.
I’ve heard it said here on this board before, but I’ve also found it to be true: prep REALLY heavily for the first session (and get tons of player input on the world and everything else) and then after that the game kind of runs itself, with players adding to the world through Circles and Wises. I’m seeing that in my current campaign for sure. My first campaign we kind of jumped in with a weak start. The campaign situation was some far off thing that didn’t really apply from the start, and that was a mistake.
I can sympathize with the reading bit. I didn’t find it Flat - as I did “nervously making me abandon years of conditioning from other not as good RPGS”
That said, I’m envious over your first session. Not everyone gets that excited during character creation. Very ripe with adventure and hidden lore. I look forward to hearing more of this game.
What’s the big conflict that you guys came up with? What’s the situation? What’s the goal?
Remember the golden rules for writing beliefs:
one about the adventure goal - I will kill the necromancer!
one about another PC - I’ll protect the PC priest at any cost.
one that’s personal - I’ll become the strongest warrior in the
When I first read the book I was let down by all the butcher, baker and candlestick maker lifepaths. I wanted to know what kind of boring game this was where the characters were merchants or cripples etc… But I didn’t fully understand how dynamic BW characters are. Character burning means coming up with Luke Skywalker before Obi-Wan hands him a lightsaber. In most other systems getting new skills is a lot tougher requiring feats or character points that are generally better spent on other things. In BW you pick up a sword and defend yourself because you HAVE to. Then you suck at it and nearly get killed by a superior enemy. So you go back to town and find an instructor who tries to give you a fighting chance at living through a fight. This sequence of events does have a cost in game time and maybe resource dice but not precious meta resources that you need to min-max your damage potential.
So the conflict is shaping up around our noble and physician live together in the noble’s villa. He is the bastard son of a Bishop which is kind of an open secret being that the Bishop refers to him as a nephew. This is where the money comes from and the bishop and his son have very different ideas about how the course of his life should run and there’s been an interruption to the cash flow because of this. So, it’s Fortune and Glory for him. He also has an arch nemesis. The fence wants to go legit and her angle is that a share of really valuable artifacts and treasures will allow her to retire to a life of leisure and society life relieving the stresses of dealing in stolen goods. The physician isn’t quite worked out yet as my GF isn’t strong in gaming skills and we have been too busy running our household to sit down and talk about it. ASide from not wanting to lose her home at the villa I’m thinking that we give her a good reason to hate the noble’s nemesis.
For my part the players are going to find more than they bargained for: not merely ancient lumps of rock and metal but functioning items with military applications. Items which get stolen Golden Idol style from the players.
I’m still not parsing what the goal of the adventure/campaign is, and without a clear statement, it will be very hard to unify your PCs. Isn’t there a single threat that all PCs must address or else terrible things will happen?
The realistic/historical lifepaths are awesome because they bring the medieval world to life. So much fantasy is so fantastic as to be almost silly - when you have a party of a warlock, lycanthrope, half-vampire demon-slayer, nobody’s special. When you move away from high concept demolition derby, it’s all about the characters, and ordinary, relatable characters are really useful in that regard. There’s a ton of non-fantasy, non science-fiction literature sold, what the hell do they write about? Most of the time, all this high concept stuff is a substitute for a personality.
Duel of Wits is amazing in this regard, you can have a really nail-biting tale of people making hard choices, without magic and even without physical combat! The local bishop is making a policy decision that will ruin the village, what do three brave youths do to save their culture? No violence at all (except perhaps at the climactic showdown, where the humiliated bishop tries to drown one of them in the mill pond).
But… I’m with Kublai. It sounds a bit like you’ve created some interesting characters, but without any focus.
Beyond busy with the holiday plus setting up a home for a mantis shrimp.
Goal and direction for narrative momentum will be forthcoming. We just hadn’t got around to it yet. We were on the cusp but things petered out around resource points distribution and BITs werent really nailed down. I expect the point of conflict to be the main goal next session.
I really don’t like OTT concepts for characters. I have a hard time believing that most people can get into the headspace of a seriously different race or culture. I have read Joseph Campbell as well and I believe that stories and characters that lack essential elements that we can connect to fall flat. Once upon a time I read J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 comments in which he pointed out that fans always asked for far out aliens but whenever he created one nobody liked it. Even the Olympians had human weaknesses: greed, lust, jealousy etc… This was the point of the problems Silk Spectre had with Dr. Manhattan. He was transcendant in a way that she was not which led her to fall in live with Nite Owl because they could relate to each other’s humanity. So, wading through fatigue I’m trying to say that i agree with you. Relatable, understandable characters definitely drive narratives in a much more satisfying way.
What people here are trying to say to you is that usually we generate the situation first, then the characters. Burn the characters first can make things a little hard later.
Yes, why is it important for them to do the tomb robbing? Other than getting rich, and I assume it’s verboten, but did the ancients have magic lost to the current age? Has the church outlawed such magic? Is there the plague/apocalypse/Big-Bad coming & the stuff hidden in the tombs hold the key to stopping it.
I had a campaign idea to run a few years back for D&D, where a King outlawed wizardry and sorcery. He and his advisers sent parties of adventurers out to slay wizards and bring back their stuff to be destroyed so no-one could use it. Of course, they were using the players as pawns to bump off enemies and collect lots of magical stuff, starting with the small fry and working their way up. The original situation was the PC’s being withchunters in a kingdom with an underground culture of sorcery, but there was a secret undercurrent that eventually would come to the surface.
As an aside, how do you make a tank proof from their smashy little limbs?
House a small species =p
My guest is a G. Viridis which only gets to be about 2.5 inches long. I feel sorry for the hermit crabs. (/queues The Lion King: Circle of Life)
Anyway thanks for the help everyone. I definitely understand the reasons why you would perfer to generate story elements in a certain order. For our part the players got really excited about their characters and they were really into the lifepath system and all of that. In the end i’m happy with it. We stumbled through it and I expect things to go smoother as we learn and get comfortable with things. We will go back and tighten it up this friday. I hope everyone (in the US at least) had a happy 4th.
I got the bug home yesterday and acclimated him to my reef tank. Now hes in a Critter Keeper in a corner of my tank. My fiancee looked for him all evening but when I came home he stuck his head out and checked me out for a while then apparently went to bed because we didn’t see him any more.
We got the conflict sorted out and it happened a bit retroactively from character concepts. Our Scholar and Dr are fascinated by history and want to get their hands on objects from the past. The scholar wants to be famous and hates his nemesis Hawthorne and feels as a scholar that he can make a name for himself digging up the past. So one day a relic makes its way to town out of the mountains: a concrete piece of proof that there’s something up there no one knew about. Now it’s a race to the ruins between Hawthorne and the PCs.
lots of potential. The Dr loves plants and is always wandering off. Im going to put the players into a position where they are way better off cooperating with Hawthorne than competing with him. The fence is torn between old habits and trying to go legit. Encounters with Tribals. Its gonna be an adventure =)