Good Initial Situation for first time player one-on-one?

Hey Folks,
So I’ve got a colleague at work super keen on trying out table top roleplay / storygames after I described to him the possibilities. He is right into fantasy and ‘dark’ settings, is an avid reader and has had loads of videogame experience, and really enjoys the potential of strong character development and mechanics for dramic tension rather than simple fight!s.

Sooooo, I didn’t want to jump him straight into charburn (though he has some cool character concepts and setting ideas floating about), but rather play a session with pregens and established starting situation to showcase the hub mechanics and ‘roleplay’ conversation in general. I initally thought the Sword, or the Gift with the other characters as NPCS, but it seems to contrived somehow. Maybe an ‘adventure starter’ from the ADBu? Normally I just jump in with the old standbys, but one-on-one with a newb? I want to showcase the epic cool of our hobby y’know?

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

One thing that helps a lot of new RPG players is relating the game to a familiar work that they enjoy. Here’s an example of teaching BW using Game of Thrones as a setting (Judd also started a forum thread about it). I really like his approach of giving the players a few simple choices to tailor their pregens, using reputations and the like.

I say, jump on his cool ideas and use those, If that’s what he’s excited about. If they don’t directly suit your needs, use them as a springboard.
Say, pick or make a couple of characters who are prominent figures in the setting and find a reason for them to be having an honor duel or some such. Burn them up with his ideas as guidence, and let him choose which one is his.

I’d either:

a) Do what SeaWyrm suggested and sit down with him, agree upon world-burning and initial situation stuff, then burn up a few characters and let him pick one


b) Sit down for world-burning and initial situation stuff, and then burn up a throwaway character for a 1-2 session prelude which leads up to the initial situation

Option B lets the player do a test run without worrying about long-term harm to his character, and supplies ways to spice up or affect the initial situation.


Thanks for the helpful replies folks! I think I’m going to do as you suggest Odie, and make the throwaway character based on the situation burned together and see if a ‘template’ from the AdBu fits a prelude character (maybe a relationship character?) Play a few quite focused scenes top introduce the core concepts of the game - task and intent / BITs / Artha / LiR and see if he’s up for a full charburn of the character he REALLY wants to play.

I’ll keep you all posted!

In a recent interview, Luke mentioned just writing one belief and choosing one skill and running with that. I think you could expand it and have them choose: a martial skill, a social skill, one trait (just limit it to character), and maybe an instinct and use that. If they’re new to roleplaying, the last thing you want to do is scare them off by the number of rules. Just get them into the basic idea and get them excited.

If you are fortunate enough to have the AdvBu, there’s a whole section talking about one-shots. Basically, pick a simple situation such as “the orcs invade the village”. Make it a one-act story. Find ways to zero in on all three Beliefs, since you only have one character. (Or, even better, have them pick one Belief to start, let them pick a second Belief after a couple of scenes, and have them pick a third Belief after a major event happens in the scene.)

I would pick maybe 4-5 skills, and give them ratings. Make it clear that skills are tools for the situation. You don’t even have to give them obvious martial or social skills. If they’re thinking, they can find ways to use the skills they have.

You know what would be interesting? If they don’t mind having a “hard mode” character, burn up a 2 LP character in the setting. They won’t have many skills to track, and they’ll be in a dramatically powerful position. It’s also a great way to showcase the fact that Burning Wheel doesn’t hamstring characters who have low skills.

Ok! So we burnt up the situation as per the AdBu and came up with a Struggle (with a little intrigue thrown in) which was cool. We had already discussed the loose setting so there was enough colour to hook the characters into the small scale picture.
I went with the ‘prelude’ character option, using the paradigm of one goal-oriented belief (what do you want), one instinct (this always happens when) and one die trait and a few character traits. He also got to choose the whole NPC Triangle skill thing (primary 5D, secondary 4D, tertiary 3D), using a martial/social/actiony skills choice plus a few wises. We played three very focused scenes, hitting his core belief with a difficult choice in each using the Hub mechanics. He succeeded and failed, he played his instinct to get him into trouble and used traits to colour the situation. He invoked the enmity clause, mustered his resources, earned and spent Artha and had blast! He found the mechanics intuitive and rewarding.

So the next night shift we burnt a full character! Strongly tied to the prelude character - a major relationship. More to come :slight_smile:

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That sounds awesome! I think I might steal that procedure for intro-ing people to the game.

One-on-ones can offer great freedoms. There’s no reason why your player couldn’t jump from skin-to-skin, going off on tangential adventures when he sees fit.

For instance, he’s now played this prelude character, whom you will control now that he’s an NPC, I imagine. Well, what if the PC gets him to agree to do some task for him. There’s no reason your player couldn’t play that out himself, while the main action is put on pause.

We did this on a large scale all the time at BWHQ. The players taking over NPCs sent off on side missions by the main PCs. It made the world incredibly rich and gave really long campaigns (5+ years) a bit of freshness without re-starting a new campaign.

I cannot believe I never thought of something like that before. That’s so simple!

chalks it down on the list of things to try