Heating up the Kindling


So this weekend, I’m starting up my Burning Empires game. We’ve already gone through world-building and character creation (mostly, some people still have to finish up a few of their Kern bodyguards and stuff) so this is going to be the first play session.

I’ve never run BE, but I’ve been in a few demo games and run a few Firefight exercises. I don’t believe anyone else has actually played the game (maybe 1 guy has goofed around with the system like I have). So there are a couple of concerns that I have.

  • I’ve got a pretty good idea about what I want to do for the first session, I’ve got a pretty good idea about where the Vaylen are going for the first phase and with all of that, I think I can get the game started with a bang (well, in the infiltration phase, it’s a quiet, stealthy bang). However, I want to balance this with the fact that everyone (including myself to a large degree) are learning the rules for the first time. Everyone gets to do a Building scene at least, so everyone gets a chance to do basic tests, but those first two major conflicts are going to be pretty important lessons in how to run an extended conflict. This is also pretty key to selling the game in general. If people get frustrated with the system, then they’re unlikely to maintain interest. Are there any general suggestions for how to run “teaching conflicts”?

  • In the process of world-building, the players oganically decided that they have a war-world and that they’re going to take their lumps in the first two phases and then power back for phase 3 (seriously, Vaylen dispos are: 21-23-13 and the Human side is: 13-17-24) As part of that, two of the PCs are a general and the cotar fomas. They’ve got a lot of military goodness, but they’re going to be a bit restricted in the first two phases. Now, while it’s only right and fair that they stay out of the limelight until they get a chance to kick some butt, I do want to make sure that they stay somewhat engaged and that they have a chance to do stuff and get a chance to try out an extended conflict (and in their case, it’ll be a Firefight) at least once before we reach the invasion phase. I’ve got a few ideas (military exercises between Church and State), but I’m mainly asking for suggestions about working very un-subtle characters into the very subtle early phases.

Despite my trepidation at running a new campaign with a new system, I’m pretty jazzed with what people have come up with and I’m looking forward to getting things rolling. I just want to make sure I can get everyone on board for the ride.


Hey Tom! This sounds exciting! I’m sure you’ll do well.

Just make sure you come into every session with a plan, a goal for what you want your characters to accomplish during the session. Then consider the different things they’ll need to do to make it happen.

Also, consider scenes that might help you lay the groundwork for your next objective.

The key thing to keep in mind is that you, as the GM, really need to deliver adversity by going after your goals. Because of the structure of the game and the ability of players to set scenes, it can be easy to let the players push their goals, provide some adversity in their scenes and call it a session. Don’t let that happen! It just isn’t satisfying. You need real villains, and that means pushing their agenda hard.

The Infiltration and Usurpation phases can have lots of firefights! big and small… they will just not be against battle cruisers full of Kyshitren (spelling?).

Thye will be against:

Attempted Coups (sponcered by a Vaylen smuggler hoping to get in a sympathetic military force…)
Rebel Groups (unwittingly destabizing the planet right before the invasion!)
Raids on Secret Cults that are looking to turn the people away from the Humanitas Churhc, thus you can curry favor with a powerful faction).

Etc etc… you get my point. They are generals! they should be pushing (in character) for problem resolution by military might, for all problems, even the ones that really diplomatic. Think of the Cold War, generals were always planning for War, even though it was a game of spies, and there were a number of non-direct confrontations, where one side would suppoer a junta, a take over, or a small group and the other side would counter them.

The more they (the army and the generals) use their forces the more they can justify their existance. by the time the Invasion phase come (poor sorry Vaylen) they may well have a Cadre of Loyal Veterans to call upon. They may be out of power and living in the hills with hidden tunnle like fortress (after they are forced from power by the super Vaylen Usurpation Machine).


Just as a follow-up, the first play session went pretty well. We stumbled around through a few scenes. Tried to have a DoW and then realized that there wasn’t really any conflict. And then we had a couple of real DoWs where most people didn’t get what they wanted.

My biggest mistake was that I didn’t read up enough on DoW. My Figure of Note is basically the Surgeon General of the planet (which is called Schadenfreude incidentally). So he’s got a fair amount of medical skills and law skills and a good admin/bureaucracy and he also has persuasion. But DoW has lots of options that don’t use Persuasion as a base. He doesn’t have Intimidation or Oratory for example. That really hurts because he’s only got a few basic DoW maneuvers. He didn’t flat-out lose any duel (and, in fact, his Body of Argument even started out lower than his opponents in both cases), but he really needs to stay out of the line of fire. He needs to do more building scenes where he really puts the screws to the PCs with paperwork.

My second biggest mistake happened after the game. I should’ve walked back to my car down the street and not the treacherous, unlight sidewalks, where I tripped over a stump and fractured my elbow. Ow.

Anyway, we’re running again next Saturday and people seem to be getting into the groove of things. I’m hoping we can do a Firefight or do something to get the Governor-General involved a bit more.


I understand your (DoW) Pain. ( I have never fractured my elbow but it sounds like it is painful .

In regards to the DoW, until you play, you don’t realize just how powerful they are! Then… well it makes social confict mean allot more. Make sure yu throw your wises in there… and try to intimidate a few times… your character will learn!

get well… hope you did not hurt your dice shaking elbow!

(he -also- stomped us with his Flack)