I’m about to start a new campaign of Burning Wheel, and I’m doing something I’ve not done before. Normally when I run this system, games tend to be more about intrigue and struggle. I’ve found the system to be really good at these types of adventures. After reading the codex, however, my players and I want to try and run a ‘Quest’.
The situation that I presented the players was as follows: A battle between angels has resulted in one being cast out of the heavens and crashing down into the land. Specifically, they’ve crashed into an inactive mega volcano, similar to Yellowstone national park. Their presence not only threatens an eruption of said volcano, but it has also driven out the spirits of that volcano into into the surrounding forests and townships, causing havoc.
The players have made pcs that are interested in uncovering the mysteries of this event and hoping to rectify it before their homes/families are threatened. Specifically the players made the following characters:
A human exorcist who’s lost their faith (and is also possessed by another angel)
A Great Wolf who seeks to maintain the balance of the wilds.
An Elf prince who seeks the approval of his father.
And an Orc Mother who is a captive of a human noble.
With that background, I’ll get to my question. We haven’t finalized beliefs yet, so maybe my anxieties about this game will go away once I see what they write down and can get a better sense of what I need to do as a GM to challenge them. But, as it is right now, I’m lacking a sense of how this will play out. Like, if I were playing a less interesting game, I’d create dungeons and populate them with enemies, call for skill checks to navigate the wilderness, saves to withstand the elements… But in Burning wheel, I don’t know how effective these tropes would be. I felt it was easier to challenge beliefs when I had the pcs come into conflict with NPCs directly and often. But out in the wilderness away from civilization, I’m left feeling like I don’t have that crutch. The woods will be filled with spirits, beasts of many varieties, other travelers, and of course the Angel in question, but trying to figure out how to put those things together in a way that challenges the players feels daunting to me for some reason.
I apologize if I’m not able to really articulate my difficulties well enough here. If I had to make an analogy, it feels like writers block. Not necessarily about the big picture, but about systems and challenges. I guess I’m curious about what things other veteran GMs of the game have done to challenge their players on epic quests like this. What tools do I have in this type of situation that can complicate beliefs? When I think of things to challenge the players, I keep coming back to monster encounters because of my experience playing… other games for so long.
Anyway, I appreciate any insight (or incite? ) that you all have to offer. I’m truly excited for this campaign, and I just want to make it awesome and showcase what the system has to offer to my friends.
PS: I also realize from reading other posts on the forums that this makeup of characters will be challenging to run, because they are all from different stocks. It is this way because we had trouble in adventure burning of coming up with a stock/relationship everyone was satisfied with. So to get buy-in, I let them make what they wanted and came up with a justification for why they’d know and work together in this. Just wanted to show that I am mindful of this being a potential issue going forward.