I Ran Omac today. Hoo-boy.

It was rough. By which I mean, not bad–but rough. I felt really prepared for the game, but it did not go as smoothly as I envisioned. Three of the four players had a good time (the fourth wasn’t signed up and wandered in not knowing what BE was), but I was flustered throughout the whole session and felt hard-pressed to know where to go from one moment to the next.

Reading the book everything seems matter-of-fact, but playing it was akin to going into battle after only having read a combat manual. I had 4 GM characters that I had to have act, plus pay attention to the player’s scenes so I knew what was going on and could react.

I felt that I was setting Obs arbitrarily a lot (“this seems like it’s, hmm, Extremely Difficult”) and trying to figure out whether or not a roll was versus or independent. I don’t think this is a failing of the system, but a lot of my brainpower was going into those things and that surprised me in an unpleasant way.

Building scenes were hard for me. I didn’t want the game to lag, so I jumped in, having Kodiak Alpha Recon & Infiltrate the Kerrn warrens (linked tests, failing the infiltrate so he was more like trapped), and then attempting to (close combat) capture Fazia Grizzly but failing, so he was captured instead. I didn’t know where I was going with this, I was just playing off of Kodiak’s Beliefs. This wasn’t necessarily bad, and interesting play and story came about because of it, but I just felt overwhelmed, in over my head, casting about.

Should I always be trying to Link tests in Building scenes? I wanted them to play into the larger conflict but I didn’t know what conflict I was building toward! My Building scenes just felt kind of weak and I guess I felt a little weird creating my own scenes and rolling for my NPCs. I suspect this is a feeling that fades and I don’t think the players felt it was strange.

Our firefight was confusing and a little boring; I’m not sure we did it totally right (we just had appropriate linked tests from building scenes become dice for the Dispo roll; is this correct?). In a building scene a PCFON wanted to create some sort of security-hacking system to help invade Danica’s prison; he hadn’t included it as color and a quick flip to the SS&S chapter basically only talked about security systems and not security-hacks, so I had him create it in his building scene and it was a linked die to the Dispo roll in Firefight for the prison invasion.

Our Duel of Wits went better.

Anyway, I’m not complaining about the game; I feel I didn’t do it justice, but it was still kind of fun. My take away: perhaps I didn’t prep enough, but I wasn’t sure what to prep for. I read the sheet and characters a million times and spent hours scouring the net & wiki for BE advice.

It also occurs to me that this is a con demo and I should give it some leniency; it’s a deep, deep system and we brought in near everything at once to a tableful of BE newbies (me included). I still definitely think I’d have fun in a campaign game. It’s hard to jump into new characters and situation, and much better, I’d think, to all burn a world and characters together and go from there.

All in all:

–an OK time.
–I’m a little discouraged that in the future I could run BE well (con or campaign), but I still want to try.
–my head is still kind of spinning.
–I should say that I’ve never played or GMed Burning Empires before. Usually this doesn’t deter me from running a game (hence the fact that I ran it) but in the future I’m thinking “I need to play BW or BE before I run them”

What were the players saying about the Obs? Were you asking them so they knew they had input on the Obs, too? They are arbitrary, but group arbitrary.

The players didn’t say anything bad about the Obs. I hadn’t realized they were group arbitrary. The Obs issue isn’t really a big one to me; it’s certainly not something that I think would trip me up if I ran the game again. Still, I wish it had a MG-like Ob factoring system. That shit is state-of-the-art.

Burning Empires is the P90X* of RPGs. It is incredibly demanding, it will put new demands on every RPing skill you’ve ever developed, and it will leave you sore.

Stick it out and it’ll leave you lean and ripped!

  • The secret behind the P90X system is an advanced training technique called Muscle Confusion™, which accelerates the results process by constantly introducing new moves and routines so your body never plateaus, and you never get bored!

Hansel, it sounds like you did a great job. It’s a tough game. You’ll get better at it the more you run it.

Posting that did me some good. After evaluating the session, flipping through the book, and re-listening to the Have Game, Will Travel review, I’m still really stoked about BE and not discouraged about our game. Thanks!