Time, scenes and failures...


In BWG the intent mechanic is based somehow on the idea that you can fail forward.

ex: You wanted to climb a wall, you failed your roll. You managed to go over it BUT the guards are waiting for you…

Adding a twist/consequence in order to make things dynamic and interesting.

This mechanic seems to be applied in BE but with the tight scene framing this could be problematic because those twist make the wheel spinning and a scene can escalade quickly into something else wich is fun sometimes but kinda go against the curriculum, if I may.
I’ve read that the GM should let it happen when stuff evolve into something but keep track of time in order to count the number of scenes allowed in a maneuver or phase…

So if I understand it right its all about using common sense and calculate how much time the intent/roll/scene has been taking in order to keep track of those for the scene framing structure. This can also means stopping the flow of imagination and creativity, that come from twist on failures, in order to say:" theres no time we need to move on to the next scene…". That can probably avoided by using closed ended consequences over open ended consequences.

Am I right? Does that make sense?


It makes sense, however it isn’t correct in a couple of ways.

The first is has to do with the nature of intent. If I say “I want to climb this wall” and I I fail the roll, I don’t climb the wall. In order to have the outcome you described, I’ll need to say something like “I want to climb this wall without the guards catching me.” The second makes the intent less about the wall, and more about the guards. The important part here is that nominally it’s the player who decides the outcome if they fail. This is not the case in some other BWHQ games (Mouse Guard and Torchbearer to be specific) but for Burning Wheel and Burning Empires the GM isn’t technically allowed to have a failure consequence that falls outside of the players stated intent.

The second relates to the scene economy. In Color and Interstitial scenes you don’t roll dice so there’s no failing forward that happens. In Building scenes there’s a hard limit to the number of rolls you get so scenes can’t escalate too far. Lastly, Conflict scenes have a hard end point (one side runs out of disposition) so again, they are limited in scope. Especially with Building scenes, it is well within the rights of the GM to cut the scene off once the third roll is expended.

The last thing is that while Burning Empires is a roleplaying game, it is much closer to a competetive wargame than many games. Between the pressure between the players and the squeeze of the scene economy, every time you pick up the dice you must be trying to further your goals or fight the enemy. Because of that, freewheeling moments of RP generally are few and far between, especially when dice are involved.

Hope your game goes well, I (and others) are welcome to help.

Thanks man! Really good insights here, it kinda confirm my thoughts as well, so I guess I get it.