Idea for an introductory Fight! scenario

Greetings everyone! This happens to be my first post, so, well, hi and thanks for all the rule clarifications!

So… My gaming group has been exclusively (and obsessively) Pathfinder for a couple of years now, with the same friend always hosting and GM-ing. He is eager to give up the GM mantle for a while and actually play a character, and I’ve been trying to dabble as GM to give him a much needed break (and also because running a successful campaign still remains in my bucket list, but that’s another story). While I can enjoy D&D and pathfinder, I’ve never considered them a completely satisfying experience, and I’m always eager to try other systems. Plus, there’s no chance in hell I could run a PF game challenging enough for that merry band of min/maxers.

I’ve had a few disastrous attempts with FATE, which convinced me that the game just wasn’t right for them. I’ve been also reading Burning Wheel Gold, and the more I read (reread, nowadays), the more I like it as an option for my group. However, since we’re grumpy old me set in our ways, I really need to sell a new game like BW to them, and that means selling them on the Fight! mechanics.

Way I see it, the time it takes to generate characters plus starting a scenario and building up a conflict gives too much space for me to loose them before getting to the part I think they’d really enjoy. So instead I’m thinking of building a combat ready scenario, with pregenerated 5/6 lifepath characters (also to give me a chance to practice character generation). I am actually thinking of something a la “The Game of Death”, a simple motivation, a few escalating conflicts in a row, and trying different configurations: PC’s vs NPCs on equal footing, PC’s vs hordes of mooks, PC’s at a disadvantage, PC’s vs one Big Boss. Almost as if it was a BoardGame. In a way, I’m trying to do what is suggested in the book, gradually introducing systems, but I’m starting on the other end (the end that my group will probably enjoy the most).

So, of course I would appreciate any insight more seasoned players might have on prepping something like this, but mostly I have one specific question, which is the following: I will create characters according to the lifepath system, but I feel I should give them way more Artha than a starting character, or else they won’t be able to really experience (or survive) combat. How much would be appropriate? 3F and 3P? Should I give them a Deeds point?

thanks for reading!

If you’ve never run BW before, I highly, highly recommend running “The Sword”. I generally do not recommend using advanced systems the first time around, but if you’re adamant about that you can drop a monster or two into the scenario and have them use the bloody versus rules and the Fight! rules. Should only take about 2 hours to run it, and if your party has fun you can dive into character burning and set the game up for the next session.

BW doesn’t do hordes of mooks very well in Fight unless you lean heaviliy on the helping rules and treat extra mooks as +1D. For the same reason, PCs versus one big boss tends to work not so well; either the boss is untouchable and no number of PCs will change it or the boss is vulnerable and will get dogpiled to death in short order.

Trying to use BW’s Fight like a fight in Pathfinder will get you a less fun game. A lot of Pathfinder combat is intended to be resource attrition, where there’s really no risk of defeat but there is risk of using spells, consumables, and HP that will leave you more vulnerable in subsequent fights against more serious foes. BW is much less like that. You don’t have all those consumables, and the death spiral is pretty vicious: taking any wound is brutal and makes it much more likely that you’ll lose, so combat will often end at the first blow struck or with one side virtually unscathed and the other beaten to a pulp. Mowing down scores of trash orcs doesn’t work.

Where Fight shines is combat, mostly with even numbers, of relatively closely matched opponents, or uneven opponents when one side’s goal isn’t a straight defeat.

For more traditional “kill a bunch of enemies and feel good doing it” fights, I recommend a simple test. Having your knight hack through ten hobgoblins to get into the evil wizard’s lab is Ob 3. Fail and you still kill the hobgoblins, but you get slightly injured and arrive too slowly to stop the spell from being cast.

Yeah. Even with 2v1 Burning Wheel Fight! can get really confusing, especially with positioning. That said, BW isn’t about Fight!, its about conflicts that create other conflicts and change the characters at their core. It’s possible to run something like what you described wherein you start with Fight! mechanics. However, I would do something more like The Hunger Games or Battle Royal in which you pit the PC’s against each other in a strictly combat scenario. Of course, enterprising players could take advantage of opportunities to use the social conflict system or other mechanics. This way, most players will be fighting one on one. Just make sure to make every fight different; be it terrain, weapons, or conditions.

Also, if they want challenge, give 'em 10 red dragons level one :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for the replies!

About the Sword, I have considered it, but I kinda feel my friends wouldn’t react so well to having beliefs scripted for them and them having to play them so ardently. Also, it kinda highlights an aspect of play that, personally, I find crucial but way to subtle. These guys usually get heavily invested in their PC’s, and while raw power is more often than not the motivation behind their character builds, after those are done they really play the part, even to the point of inconvenience. So I kinda think it would be hard to convince them that BW’s belief system adds to their play experience, though it surely would. (I also think that the advancement system is genius, but again, unless they have that proverbial carrot of “be more awesome in combat” dangling in front of them, I’m not sure it would be an easy sell.)

Regarding one on one fight situations, yes, I am aware those are not the ideal BW Fights. That’s partly why I would start with one on one, so they get a feel for Vanilla Fight!, and afterwards if they get overwhelmed by mooks or sweep the floor with a boss, they would understand it as an uneven battle, not as a broken system. Rest assured, I do not mean to emulate the pathfinder experience. Personally, I’ve had serious mood killing experiences with liberal use of magic in that game. Nothing more anticlimatic than teleporting out of a battle to fetch more powerful magic items.

Rather, I’m trying to find some common ground to start with, and then build a game from that. I wouldn’t be so concerned with stating from a pathfinderesque feeling if BW wasn’t a fantasy game (which was also the main reason I hadn’t tried it before). On a related note, I do feel it is important to have a system where you can have uneven battles play dramatically. I hope it is difficult but not impossible to do with BW.

… any opinions on starting Artha?

One quick fix: you could still use the scenario of The Sword, just use leading questions to help players write their own Beliefs.

“Why must you claim the Sword as yours?” (Sword belief)
“What other character are you most tied to? What must you never forget about them?” (Party member belief)
“What is the rule you live by?” (Ethical belief)

Those actually correspond to the three Beliefs that each character in The Sword has.

I think most people recommend The Sword because it’s an incredibly simple setup that highlights Beliefs.

I think you’ll have a bad time of it if you try to sell your friends on BW primarily with “Hey, look at this game that has this cool combat mechanic!” Burning Wheel is about the Beliefs, first and foremost. If they aren’t on board with the Beliefs, then you’re playing the system under false pretenses. If they think it’s a game primarily about becoming more awesome in combat, they’ll be very disappointed with it in the long run.

So, my advice on starting Artha is to go with the standard 2 fate and 1 persona. That’s enough so that they can get a chance to use it and see what it does, but not so much that it won’t seem important to them to earn more. Show off earning and spending Artha, and how that works - it’s a much more important thing to sell them on than combat.

FWIW, I think this is a great idea. But trim it to 4 LPs and set it up as a pvp brawl. We used to do this ALL the time. People loved it.

Here’s how I’d do Fight with Mooks: Mooks provide one or two helping dice to one or more focal characters. Killing one helping die worth of Mooks takes an exchange worth of Physical Action. For any that aren’t killed explicitly by the end of battle, roll a Die of Fate to see if they were mortally wounded in the chaos, if anyone cares. Use the same thing for NPC helpers on the PC’s side.

(and if it’s just a horde of mooks without any real focal characters, then just use a versus test).

Our standard has always been 4 Lifepath characters with 2 Fate and 1 Persona each. If anyone wants to play a mage type they must become familiar with the rules that pertain to their character’s magic use.

I would consider a tournament game where as many of the pc’s skill could be tested as possible. This could give you a good mixture of game mechanics as well as a feel for what each character can do as well as what they need to learn.