I’ve known Ryan since I was 16 years old and have gamed with him ever since. He’s a fantastic roleplayer and has an eye for chaos, good plots, and utterly intense characters. And, honestly, he’s got a level of emotional honesty in all of his RP that makes him one of the funnest people I’ve ever gamed with. Every time I don’t game with him I feel like I’m missing something. So, when I decided I wanted to do solo campaigns, I realized very quickly that I wanted to game with Ryan again. I had this pitch, an idea I got from reading Fire on the Velvet Horizon in the form of The Flammeous Lads:
Obviously this isn’t all there is when it comes to my Flammeous Lads. And that’s what stuck with me. I couldn’t unsee what I saw when I read about them. Over the months this idea grew and blossomed into a horrific picture of depravity, something so horrific that I couldn’t not say it. I wanted to throw it at a player and see what they did with that level of darkness. And Ryan was that player. And I instinctively wanted Burning Wheel to be the engine that pulled the carriage.
Ryan, in turn, wanted to make a character unlike anything I’d run before: a two life path character, mere child, in Burning Wheel. He wanted to play a child prodigy enchanter. So we sat down and tried to figure out how to do that in the system.
First off, there’s the setting: it’s based in a setting called Stardust, where there are rot zones: areas where the dead rise and become undead. A few hundreds years ago a star fell and sanctified the ground. Other stars, noticing the positive impact their sister had on the world, joined suit, and the overwhelming presence of Rot Zones retreated into regional territories. The campaign happens in a place relatively far from one of these zones, but it still impacts the world and burial rituals and all that.
Second off, there’s the problem of the cost of the trait Child Prodigy, which made it unworkable to make Ryan’s character Xellous an enchanter and a Child Prodigy. After spending an hour trying to get the math to work in the lifepaths (it didn’t), we decided that magic would not require being Gifted. But that means that magic is ubiquitous. We had to get around that, as I imagined this as a very dirty, very miserable, thoroughly umagical place. So we settled on what’s called Practical Magic; everyone has a little bit of magic, but it’s generally for enhancing stuff they already know how to do, and it’s certainly not very powerful. Nor is it easy to learn. So, while everyone can learn Uncle Chuck’s mending spell, not everyone can learn how to smooth their words in a way that makes them almost impossible to resist. Enchanting is an art taught to almost no one, and few stumble upon it. Xellous’ exceptionality would come in the fact that he started the game Grey-shaded. After removing that requirement it was a breeze to make the character.
After figuring out what we wanted to do we made a few relationships for Xellous: his girlfriend, the tomboyish Kora, and Genevieve, the older sister. All three of them liked to hunt, especially at night when their parents were asleep. The opening situation would be that, while they were out one night, they bumped into a Flammeous Lad. Xellous’ Beliefs were all about becoming a great enchanter, coming out from under his sister’s shadow, and making sure that Kora didn’t try kill the Flammeous Lad by herself, which she definitely wanted to do.
Character and situation presented, we were good to go!