Long Term Play and the Good Death

Kahrmin Al-Thornwas the second character I put together for our Clans and Codex Campaign. He was introduced to the game March 3, 2013, and I played him until he perished last week on February 16, 2014. We had played mostly every two weeks, so the character was able to begin to shape up after long term play.

The initial character build was a 5 LP character, Born City, Student, Foot Soldier, Scout, Freebooter. I had built him as a counterpart to the other player in the game, and as a “midseason replacement” I knew that I really needed to tie the characters together. Most of my earlier beliefs were about supporting the other player’s goals. I chased a lot of different tests, and a lot of my motivations for beliefs were ways to roll some dice and watch excitedly as my abilities grew and changed over time. Our GM, to his credit, was very strict on this, and when we failed (and man, did we ever fail), we failed hard.

There were moments of hilarity when we turned to the dice to determine outcomes. We needed to quickly start a fire in a bookstore to distract the guards, and in spite of a pile of dice against obstacle 1, we failed, to our delight. There were such disasters with Climbing checks that we agreed tthe true enemy of the campaign were, in fact, sharp inclines. We worked hard for helping dice, and for FoRKs. Very, very hard (Failed that test as well).

It was great playing a character for broke, because every hardship is another opportunity to get a new belief, for more artha, so that we can roll a bunch of dice and… well, still fail. Failure became the way of the game, and it was a question of how we wanted to fail.

I look at my advancement, and note skills he learned on the way, like Falsehood, Persuasion, … and Climb. These were taken from unskilled to skilled, and led to some huge gains in fate and personna to our stats. My character was heartbreakingly close to grey-shading his Will, and I believed it. He had been beaten down, every attempt a failure, with only the slightest glimmers of hope. And yet, I had him get up, write another belief, and keep swinging. He was determined, he was going to take the hits that life had to throw at him.

At the end, facing an undead horde that threatened to overtake humankind… and wondering if maybe humanity kind of deserved it, we looked at our draining supply of fate and personna, and faced our old enemy… a 400 foot cliff, topped with a 40 foot city wall. The only way to save a city under siege. We weren’t sure if the fall would kill us or the occasional potshot of arrows from the invading army below.

Our beliefs screamed at us to do it. And so we tried. Man we tried. At the end of a harrowing linked test (Stealth across enemy lines, Speed to get up a scaffolding, Climb to scale the cliff and walls, and then Agility to avoid incoming arrows while cresting the top), I rolled the Climb check knowing a failure will send him hurtling to his death. I blew all 3 persona, I had climbing gear as a situational modifier, I had made sure that I wasn’t wearing a stitch of armour, forked in some Fortress and War-Wise, and took helping dice from my dwarf ally. I had a fate waiting in the wings.

And I utterly failed the roll. I’d like to think that my character had a chance to reflect a little, on his way down.

My dwarf ally managed to make the climb roll, but failed the Agility roll. Which led to the die of fate determining the severity of the Great Bow’s speeding arrow. A 6, which meant a mortal wound. He had no personna, having spent it to get to the wall. So he took his last few moments choking out the message we were supposed to give, before dying of his wounds.

It was a good death all around. We chose to do what we did, we knew the dangers and the outcomes should we fail, and we gave it our all. It was deeply satisfying.

Now, we’re going to try out some Torchbearer. Hopefully we might come back to the world we had spent the last 4 years building, but until then, we’re going to enter into some caverns and get our murder-hobos some treasure.

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I’m sorry for your loss…but this makes me so happy.

You made my day!

That is an awesome story. May all characters burn up so gloriously!


Great write-up. It was so easy to imagine him plummeting down.

AMAZING! Burning Wheel seem to be able to bring mundanity to epicness splendor. I’m jealous!