Playing without the Vaylen?

Let me start off by saying my group and I (GM) have played about nine sessions or so, and have a blast every time. We’ve stuck to the Burning Wheel rules and try to keep everything abstract and fast-paced. We’ve shunned the “Fight!” mechanics as well as “Duel of Wits.”
On our first session, we burned characters, I laid out the setting and basics of gameplay, and we went at it. Everyone had a great time. No playing a demo or messing with the system in-depth.

I’ve integrated a little hook that has intrigued all of them: the concept of time-travel. While our first few sessions have taken place in 10th century England, we’ve jumped into the 12th. Not a distinguishable change in the setting of the world, but the relationships they forged during their time have had a huge impact, and now they’re seeing the repercussions of their actions.

That said, this time-travel thing has been brewing in my head, and the real story I’ve had building up is set in a sci-fi era. I wanted to treat this fantasy setting as the tutorial for everyone to get their feet wet, but keep the same characters, same story, same setting, and hurl it into the future at least a thousand years.

Since Burning Wheel remains a primarily fantasy role-playing system, I did some (minor) research and saw that Burning Empires was the same mechanics my group fell in love with, just in a sci-fi setting.
I purchased the book, and after going through it a bit, I see that the Vaylen are a huge part and seemingly integral in gameplay. I’m not too sold on it. While I can work something like that in a sub-plot, I want the story to be very character-driven, since everyone is loving the personas they embody. I really was looking for more material on creating new planets, ideas for governing bodies, and ways to integrate technology and firefights. I looked at those chapters more extensively than the rest, and it seems I can integrate them, but am I doing it for the wrong reasons? Can I just use the world, alien-species, and technology burner for my own purposes? Will it be broken? Or is there somewhere I can find something using the core BW system with some sci-fi elements that I can add on?

Burning Empires seems to be an entirely different game that I’d definitely be interested in tackling in the future, but there’s so much to be done with our campaign for now. While the question still remains as playing without the Vaylen, any tips on transferring a fantasy BW game to a sci-fi setting would be helpful.

Thanks in advance guys!

You can play human on human violence. It’s cool.

Any ongoing progressive threat that can be described by the three phases would work just as well.

My favourite BE campaign had human-only Figures of Note. The Vaylen were important in the background of the world and came up as an important sub-plot, but they were never central to the story.

I have a write-up of the game on here somewhere. Let me link to it… There we are. Some AP of that kind of game. It works.

Heck, the Infection mechanics could work for, well, an infection. Imagine a superbug designed by one of the superpowers during the Cold War getting out. The pieces change a bit, but it would work. Actually, most movie disaster scenarios would work.

Hot er Burning War perhaps?

Just about any “Us vs Them” situation could be done with the basic mechanics. You just need some form of progressive plot, two sides along it, and figures of note.

Thanks a lot for the assurance everyone! I think I know just what to do to keep this story progressing smoothly. Human-only figures of note sounds just like what I needed. I guess I need to look more into the Infection mechanics since I glazed over them. As long as a different type of enemy fits the bill, and won’t destroy the engine of the game, I’m up for toying with an infection idea.

Like Aramis said, name aside the Infection mechanics are designed to cover any larger-than-the-players overarching plot development. As long as you keep in mind that Infection is solely used to describe events beyond the scope of direct PC/NPC interaction with no real added setting baggage, you should be able to use it for anything. You may need to change a few Infection skills, or at least make quick table rules about them, but all in all nothing should be broken

I concur with cathexis: the overall mechanic is abstractable, just change the skill lists for the infection mechanic.

Keep in mind: you don’t need both sides to have the same skill list, either, nor to have a full three phases.

Taking, for example, the asychronus situation of the crew of the Serenity vs the Alliance…
Crew Take Action Skills: Data Hacking, Stealth, Piloting, Inconspicuous, Ugly Truth.
Alliance Take Action Skills: Data Hacking, Sensors, Administration, Propaganda.
Crew Conserve: Stealth, Inconspicuous, Commerce, (Circles at double Ob), Trade-Wise
Alliance Conserve: Administration, Propaganda, Ugly Truth, Conspicuous.

If you do go asychronous, however, keep in mind that balancing will be harder, and that the goals must be focused properly to match.

The listed maneuvers are focussed on an invasion of some form, where both sides have similar goals and waypoints. The list would work almost perfectly for a Jihad game.