What do all you Burning Experts think about the possibility of a one-shot built around Orc PCs? We’re going to be doing our annual Diana Jones Award game day here (where we play all of the DJA nominees), and I’m thinking something like three Orcs, one Named, exiled from their clan in a dark city reminiscent of Lankhmar. They obviously are at each others throats in Beliefs (“I will take the Named’s head when this is over,” “I will lead us back to the clan,” etc.), but they’ve just gotten a bead on the Eye of their god Thagrosh (or whatever), and are going to go steal it from the temple/nobles/dungeon and then decide what to do with it.
Pretty cliche, but cliche works, I think. Why not run the Gift or Trouble in Hochen or one of the other scenarios? Well, I think most of the people who will show up to this will have played one of those, and I’d rather do something fresh, and Orcs are cool.
So the question: I’ve never played with Orcs before. Anything to watch out for? Any punch-up notes for the above (hastily-concocted and Gift-like) scenario?
You know what might be fun to see at a con? A character burning session. Character burning is great fun, and the way it puts ideas in your head, really sells the game. And orcs are incredibly easy to burn, thanks to the tight lifepaths.
When I first got my BWG book, I showed it to a couple friends who had never even seen BW before. They burned up two orcs on the spot, and I ran them through a very short scenario. (An orc soldier went AWOL from the Legion, and stole a dire wolf in his escape. The PCs tracked him down and there was a brief Fight scene.) All in all, we played about 3 hours, character burning included. They had an absolute blast, and were hooked enough to launch into a full blown campaign that is still going today (though not with orcs anymore).
Huh. That’s an idea with promise. I was looking over The Heist last night and thinking I may just run that, but burning up some Orcs could be fun, too, as long as we could keep it to 45 minutes max. I’ve never actually run BW before, so I may go for the pre-made scenario still, but you’ve got me thinking.
You might want to whip up some “quick-burn rules”. Something as simple as a page with tables that figure the averaged attributes, the PTGS, etc, could go a long way towards expediting the process. For the rituals of blood and whatnot, just make a short-list of the ones that can be used in combat. One of my players in the afore-mentioned test game chose a ritual that took two and a half exchanges to cast. He managed to get it off before the end, but he missed a lot of action.
I’m been playing BW for two years now, and burning a character takes me about 3 days. Also I’m very lazy and get bored during the process. I have not yet found a game where I like to make characters, I don’t know why.
If the con event was advertised as being a character creation tutorial and short one-shot, those who dislike character creation wouldn’t have to worry about signing up.
However, it is significantly easier to create a character for a one-shot than for a full campaign. You have very little invested in the character, and so have free reign to experiment however you like.
“Poisonous Ambition was a playtest of a large scale (25 or so person) Orc clan scenario based on Burning Wheel. No dice, just factions, beliefs, and traits. A lot of fun but the rules are still in a rough stage. I have no idea when or if it’s slated for wider release. I just played in it so better answers would required Luke or someone else on the inside of the Burning Wheel crew.”
Sounds like fun. Luke, I’d like to try to run that freeform here in Aus.
Incidentally, next January is the 30th anniversary of the first recorded con freeform, a Traveller game with ~250 players as Passengers and Crew of a Starliner.
If you’re lucky enough to have players who know a little about Orcs, try really leaning into Hatred. I mean, that BE-style tension between game-winning teamwork and goal-achieving selfishness is cool, that’s absolutely a good way to run most any game, but for Orcs you can do something a little weirder. You can bring in a tension between game-winning teamwork and making the world feel your pain. Trust each other and return in triumph with the Eye of Thagrosh? Or smash the Eye, reveling in Hatred as divine wrath descends upon the whole human city, burning you alive together with thousands of your victims?
It’s been a little while, but it was something like being the last survivors of a clan of orcs and there were a bunch of different factions all wanting different things. There were some fantastic people in that game and it was a lot of fun. I think we managed to wrangle up about 18 people (out of 20 possible), so we had a pretty full crew.