The SWORD for 6 players?


been a long time since I’ve GMed a game…but in a couple of weeks I’m introducing BW to some of my wife’s Improv friends and their husbands. 6 players!

One of them is a librarian and Toronto’s Sherlock Holmes museum (who woulda thunk?). Anyway, i’m very excited to run these noobs through the wheal.

Any ideas on introducing two new characters to the SWORD scenario? I was thinking of grabbing the wizard and the cleric from the Adventure Burner scenario, changing their BIT and slipping them in.

What do you think?

If all goes well with the demo we might run and actual campaign. But it might be set in a Victorian setting - foggy england. Anyone ever do this? Any tips for handling firearms and low tech? can you easily use the rules in Burning Empires?


Stormsweeper’s Ludovic makes a great 5th. See the thread here:

It was mentioned that his beliefs might need to be edited to be a bit to be more direct, iirc. As for a 6th, the cleric might be the way to go.

I’m not sure about using a Victorian setting, though I’m sure someone else could point you in the right direction.

Burning Empires’ Firefight will be beyond the scale of your Victorian game, but you might be able to hack serviceable firearm rules for use in Fight! from the Jihad supplement.

Six players is tough.

Maybe play…D&D?!


Don’t make me go back! I hate d&d!!!

I don’t think all six will be regulars when and if we get started. Anyway…I will go with the a the cleric and and the knight from the adventure burner.


My advice: run two sessions of 3 players each.

I would go for Hochen myself; even though it’s stated as five players max I’ve had no probs running for the full six.

the other option that you can do is if you are able to break that 6 man group into two groups of 3 and run the sword twice. You won’t be disappointed I have ran it three time some with the same players and they have all been different. That way you can see who is interested in the system. Plus then you don’t have to force the scenario to be something that it isn’t.

Hey Guys,

I haven’t had any time to post my experience running the SWORD with noobs since our last session, so here goes:
The session went well. My wife’s improve friends had a lot of fun.
I had so-so fun. To me they seemed too goofy and jokey for my tastes. Sounds lame, I don’t know, I like roleplaying games to be more violent drama than farcical comedy.

Here are some examples of scenarios where I was confounded by the players.

[li]Robbard had the sword (this happened very quickly at the beginning of the session with a speed test and no one wanted to come to blows over it…yet) , and the group was trying to make it back out to the surface. A failed Below-wise test meant that they were attacked by a Hunter Seeker spider. The first thing that the dwarf’s player character does is say, “Oh, Snuggles, my long lost Spider Pet.”[/li][/ol]

WTF? I was so dumfounded, I didn’t know what to do, so I just said yes. It was deflating for me. Anyway, in hindsight I should have called for an animal training test to determine whether the pet would heel or not.

[li]Later on, at the surface Robbard made a run for it, and elf tackled him and wrested the sword from him. Then Elf and Dwarf got into a duel of wits. They made all sorts of crazy shit up like, dwarf’s uncle Dvalin and the Elf father were actually lovers and that there is a better sword at the elf citadel that the Dwarf clans would want more than the SWORD. They both broke off from the duel because they were in agreement.[/li][/ol]

I found it so annoying that they making up such stupid fiction.

What do you do? Maybe I should drink some more before play?

We are playing Trouble in Hochen on Saturday. Hope it’s more metal than the Sword was.


Writing new details into the fabric of your world is what Wise tests are for. If they manage a High Ob test, let the ridiculous stand. On a failure, you lay down how it really is.

As for the Spider pet, I would just flat out deny that one. Were I feeling odd/generous I would call for a high Ob Circles test to see if that really was his spider pet or a spider that just looked like him.

I would just have said no to the pet spider. Or, to be more accurate, Snuggles is trying to sink its fangs into their mid thigh. What are they doing about it?

If if they want to “yes and” each other’s comments in a DoW I’m fine unless they’re just using that to deflate conflict. In which case, I would tell them that this is a game fueled by conflict and their improv instincts constitute blocking in this context.

Despite what a lot of people on the internets say, I think RPG play and improv theater have different sensibilities. (Speaking as someone who’s done a lot of the former, and a middling amount of the latter)

Snuggles the long-lost spider is a great time for “Yes, but…”

“Yes, he’s your spider, but he’s gone feral and mad from the hardships of living in this dungeon all these years. He’s wild! Roll your Persuasion to remind him of who you are. Fail and he’s going to wrap you up and eat you just as he would a filthy Roden.”

The elf and dwarf history is not a Say Yes. Those facts need to be established by successful tests such as Elf- and Dwarf-history, Family-secrets-wise, ancient swords-wise, etc.

These rolls are the difference between storytelling and gaming.

Players don’t have infinite authority to create new fiction. In fact, in BW it’s an entirely optional (and unwritten) aspect that they have any authority.

When the dwarf claims the spider is a pet, the GM is perfectly justified in saying, “No, it’s not.” Maybe there are no pet giant spiders in this world. If this is a Great Spider then it’s ridiculous; they’re not pets, they’re people. Or “Sure, you had a ‘Snuggles’ but this sure isn’t him.” At the very least the GM also has authority over the fiction! You can say that a particular spider is an enemy to be dealt with!

During the DoW again I think players were given too much free reign to just make things up. I could make up powerful magical artifacts and piles of treasure over the next hill, but the GM’s job is to say no, there’s not free stuff lying around. Say Yes is an important element of BW, but there’s the overlooked GM’s responsibility of saying no, too. Say no to things that are impossible. Say no to things that violate the fiction of the world, including the basic premise of the game. This is about the sword being important; you can’t just arbitrarily declare it not all that important after all!

When BW was first developed GMs needed to be taught to say yes. Saying no was just assumed. I don’t think anyone thought that one day GMs would need to be told how to say no.

I always took it to mean just say yes or set the obstacle. (Although saying no does make sense in some circumstances.)

I have the “say yes” movement take wrong turns like this even at my own table. What it looks like happens is that the mentality of the player was such that they knew you were going to be practicing this skill as a gm. That burning wheel does have a mechanic in the wises that allow pcs to exert some level of control onto the world, and unknowingly ruined the fun that you were after. I wouldn’t be discouraged, Burning Wheel has many different tools and mechanics that have been built into it to help GMs support the story that they are telling while also at the same putting mechanics into the players hands that would allow them to influence the world.

In extended play you would probably see a different experience as the BITs will be all of their own, if not in the first session it will turn around pretty quickly after the first end of game session where you call out each player and talk about their beliefs and how they did with playing to and against them.

Thanks brother. Can’t wait to run Trouble in Hochen this weekend.

Keep in mind that they’re just doing exactly what you’re supposed to do in improv theater games. They don’t realize they’ve stepped into a knife fight.

Shouldn’t the “say yes or roll the dice” for the giant spider be, “roll a circles test Ob. 10 (failure means you your loving embrace of the monster means automatically wound up in a cocoon?” Or “say yes” that the spider is indeed the pet? There is a habit, borne of D&D style gaming that only heroic feats of combat are legitimate dice rolls. Rolling a crazy circles test on a giant spider is no more illegitimate than rolling a miraculous bloody vs.