Scene time

I am a bit confused by the usage of the word scene in BE. Typically I expect a scene to be something fairly substantial lasting for close to an hour or more. However, the scenes that are talked about in BE sound like they are much shorter than that, with the obvious exception of conflicts. This all makes it seem like a single maneuver could easily take less than two hours. When you consider that a colour scene could be as simple as a player describing how cool the look as the enter the court and attract the attentions of all that are present. A building scene apparently involves one player and one die roll typically, though I believe that the player who has the focus can invite others to join their building scene. Yet, even this sounds like it could take less than five to ten minutes. Is this correct? I need to know (partly because I’m running BE at a convention next month and I’d hate to royally screw it up).

As a side note, the Infections mechanics remind me of a turn sequence that you might find in a CCG. Each player gets their turn and they may only take a certain number of actions. Is it really meant to be that literal? I can see where limiting the scenes a player has to get things accomplished will add to the sense of impending DOOM!!!, but I want to be certain that I’m not reading this chapter all wrong.

Hi Craig,

Are you talking about time at the table (as opposed to time in the game?) Scenes in BE are of variable length. Color scenes are just a minute or two. Interstials, maybe 5 minutes. Builders, 5 minutes up to a half hour depending. Conflict scenes usually last 15 minutes to an hour depending.

As for the rigid scene structure – YES, that’s how this game is played.


Building Scenes can involve up to three rolls. But they can and should also involve color descriptions and playing your character. In Burning Empires, with the Let It Ride rule, three rolls can take you pretty far.

Anyway, you’re right, it’s entirely possible to do a maneuver in about two hours. Our main playtest group was very good at it. We generally managed two maneuvers in each of our sessions, which tended toward 4.5 hours or so (with somewhat regular breaks for discussions about how a particular rule was working or not working).

However, no other groups to our knowledge have managed two maneuvers a session. If your group does it, we want to hear about it!

As for each player getting their turn: Our feeling is the best way to approach this is to internalize the scene rules and then forget about them. Mark off the scenes you are using as you go, but it’s generally best not to announce, “I’m taking a Building Scene!”

It’s also not strictly necessary for all the rolls in a Building Scene to be used back-to-back. It’s perfectly fine to cut back and forth between two or three characters’ scenes. Or one character’s Building Scene and another character’s Interstitial, then back to the Building Scene. It’s all cool.

So you have a lot of flexibility, and you don’t need to use the scene structure language. The only real requirement is that each player MUST get his Color, Interstitial, and Building or Conflict scene in each Maneuver.

Yes, I did mean table time. Wow, this is hard to wrap my brain around. Rigid scene structure is certainly an interesting idea and I get the reasoning for it, but wow, such short times to play a scene! I’m so used to running eight hour games. It just makes this seem like some thing that isn’t quite and RPG and not quite a tactical miniatures game. To me this really represent a new type of game, again it’s very interesting, but totally different from an actual RPG. Should it even be called an RPG? Does it need it’s own genre name?

What makes me uncomfortable is that it seems to encourage meta gaming. Nothing drives me more nuts as a GM (and most of the players I know) than a player who decides to take an action based purely on their knowledge of the games mechanics or of another players actions. Is this something that isn’t a concern in BE?

On the plus side, I’ve discovered that I rather like the setting. That may have something to do with reading things like the Kerrn having the trait “It’s not easy being green.” It also appeals to my love for Power Armor akin to Land Mates in Appleseed. So, I’ll not muck with the setting one bit. It did occur to me that Infection is a perfect mechanic for waging an Epic battle between Jedi and Sith in the time of the Knights of the Old Republic.

OOOH, say, I just struck me that this system may actually make it possible for me to run a game where I have 4 Human players and 4 Vaylen players and they directly compete via Infection for control of a planet. Has something like this been tried? Is it possible? Given that the GM has the option to describe colour, building, and interstitial scenes where the NPCs are taking actions that the PCs wouldn’t know about, but which the players could find entertaining. I’ve tried this sort of thing with Hong Kong Action Theater!, but it has always been very tricky. These rules may actually make it possible and I think that’s a convention format worth exploring.

One thing that you will find with BE is because players set their intent at the start of scenes, the scenes tend to be much quicker. This is because you don’t have to spend time trying to find what the scene is all about which occupies some 80% of traditional RPGing. Instead, this is agreed and put aside very quickly. When everyone knows whats the issue and where the scene is going you can play much harder and faster than you would normally.

For example, in a traditional RPG, if you were looking to convince a servant to betray her master, it would involve discussing it with the other characters, planning how to do it and then some colour stuff leading up to it. In BE, a player has the authority to pretty much do all the stuff before the interaction as a part of the intent (or if necessary a quick color scene) and then leap straight into the argument.

The question is one I have seen before and is a good one in many ways. However, it does irritate me. Burning Empires is a game that involves roleplaying. Lets not be segment this niche hobby. Instead embrace it and celebrate the differences :slight_smile:

Metagame thinking is problematic in a traditional RPG as the rules only translate words into action and the GM has a healthy amount of discretion. This result is that players look to abuse the rules to create unbalanced effects on the narration and then GM’s agonise over whether to get out the big stick and veto it or respect the rules.

In BE, metagaming is not an issue to the same extent. The rules are setting out an explicit social contract and are balanced at all stages. Players who use them wisely should be applauded and the GM can feel happy that in return they can use the rules to wail on that said character to their heart’s content :slight_smile: