I'm getting BE soon - tell me of the awesome!

My birthday is this Sunday and it looks like a certain someone got me Burning Empires and Bloodstained Stars (I was told so I could look out for them). I’m pretty excited, as I’m a big BW fan (and plan to even run it again in a few months), but I don’t know much, really, about this game.

So, BE-heads, tell me of the awesomeness. Tell me what games you played with it and how the system created awesome game play, how the background sang to you, how you swooned…(okay, that’s too much, but if you fail your Steel roll…)

Also, how different is it than straight BW Revised? I also heard it took ideas from Burning Sands, which I have, so, what were they?

Hiya Mencelus

I played Burning Empires properly for the first time just a few weeks ago. Previously I’d played only a single game of the Fires Over OMAC demo scenario at a convention. You can read a frothy description of my initial experience here.

Pithily, it rocked. Paul B’s advice to “play faster” drove us to have 4 corking Maneuvers in 7 cracking hours of BE gaming. Game on.


I looked at some of the things you linked - awesome! This may end up as the game I offer to the group next (it will now be this or an All-Wizards game set in an Earthsea-ish world). Seriously, that actual play was spot on cool.

It’s a hard game to play. It demands a lot of its users.

But I think it’s very rewarding. Folks who play it testify that it changed their gaming habits for the better.


Demanding game is right on.

I wish I knew how to speak wiki because I’d add something to that entry that Thor mentioned: Have your players decide before each maneuver what bite-sized thing they want to try and accomplish within the maneuver. IMO it’s like pointing at a to-do item on a Belief and saying “this maneuver, I’m gonna try and do that.” This is in really stark contrast to what players typically want, which is to fully leverage every resource available to them. So their maneuver goals, without guidance, are more commonly “use all my scenes to my advantage.” That’s a problem if they don’t have a clear idea of how to use that advantage.

I learned BE before BW and I think it improved my BW learning curve by a lot. But BE is IMO also much more authorial than BW. I feel like BE is a “Chris Moeller Emulator,” putting players in the position of playing Chris deciding at a very high level how to shape a chapter of one of his comics, or what trouble to get his characters into. I would have to say that any of my players who ended up drinking the BE Kool-Aid became better players precisely because they got themselves out of character-ownership mode and into storyline-ownership mode, even in other games. And those who wouldn’t or couldn’t make that transition? BE is a very tough game for them, and they make it hard for everyone else to have fun with it (see the “use all my scenes to advantage” problem above, for example).


Paul, I think you just neatly summed up why some of my players are having problems with BE, and why it’s dragging the whole group down. Thanks.


Yeah, working on that - the group is playing SOTC now, and I’ve got it planned for 5-6 sessions, so, that ought to be enough time to get them trained. To be honest, they took to the “player-authorship” of things pretty quickly, though they are still getting used to it of course. We’ll see next session, which is next weekend, if they’ve got it fully. I told them right at the beginning that “I don’t plan poop - I only look at the stuff on your character and create the “plot” from that.” This took a bit for them to get, but once they did during character creation (and saw the reward in terms of Fate Points and story stuff) they dug into it.

For me, then, Fate is sort of like training wheels for Burning games - they ought to be ready, I think. Only question is, which game? BW or BE?

It’s confirmed - I’ll have BE in my hands sometime next week. Muhahahahaha…

If your players are into FATE (and especially games like Starblazer Adventures and Diaspora) I think they’d dig BE.

It’s interesting to see how people react to BE. My lite-indie loving guys hated what they called “crunch” ("You’re not going to make me actually read this rulebook, are you!?!?) and my Dnd guys were turned off by the player authorship stuff (“Aren’t I screwing myself over if I write this Belief?” Well, yes, but how do you expect to get Artha? "I go sit in a bar somewhere).

For totally new people I typically go: MG, than BWR, than BE. For Dnd guys I’d do BW first (they like the character design stuff).

At least, that’s the theory.

BWR also has super tactical fightin’ rules that D&D people will be able to engage with. It’s not the same tactical angle as D&D, but it’s still all about owning dudes with your tactical cunning.

This is what I’m hoping for. Deeply. I THINK we’re heading that way, though there’s a chance they’ll want to do Diaspora first, then BWR for a change of genre, then I can steer them back to BE. Or BE as the sci-fi game after our SOTC campaign finishes. We’ll see. I’ve got plans, people, plans…