I just finished running my first BW game. We ran The Sword. And I got four questions that sum up my doubts.
My players all came from D&D or GURPS background, so we had half an hour discussing how the system works and why there wasn’t information on level or class or detailed weaponry. At the end I discovered that I had to tell more about how the mechanics of the game could be used in the storytelling and what was available to them as tools to shape this. This, I think, was my first doubt. How do you handle this?
I began telling the basics about the BW philosophy and how Beliefs change and mold the game and create a path where we can create the narrative together. I think it was clear enough but not just clear to make them understand that they could (and should) put some creativity into the history. Just the fact that the adventure starts from nothing was confusing for some of them, but nonetheless they started chatting.
The beginning was really good, with the players (after I explained to them) playing very intuitively their BITs. The elf and Roden were very good at roleplaying and made really awesome comments about the sword and its roots. There was some kind of discussion and persuasion and intimidation all of the same time, and while the characters were arguing, there was a moment they stopped, waiting for my guidance. This was the moment I asked if someone wanted to do any test to convince who would get the sword.
The dwarf said he was going to get the sword and started walking towards it. The elf then tells me that he wanted to Persuade the dwarf ForKing Oratory and following his Belief (about uniting everyone, to some extent) to convince him that they had to talk through it. At the same time, the Roden wanted to convince everyone that he was the guide and so he would guide the dwarf to the sword (that was just a few meters away). The human tried to sneak past them.
I got very confused by the order of things so I had to elect who was going to act first. This was entirely my decision, based on what I thought was most important to happen first in the scene. I supposed I couldn’t ask the dwarf to make two tests, either.
So, my first question is: how can I escalate who acts first if they are in a heated up argument? How can I decide if the dwarf needs to make a Will test to not be convinced by the elf first and then by the Roden?
After this, they decided to go to inspect the sword. They started arguing again about the background of the runes on its inscriptions. The elf, always thinking about hist father’s claim to the sword, asked me if he could use Song of Merriment to calm everyone down and then get an advantage to steal the sword from the pedestal and run away while the others where in wonder. I couldn’t immediately answer it, so I went to the Wonderment rules and supposed that, if the other characters failed the test, they would be Hesitating for sufficient time to the elf make it (Will test, IIRC). The other players couldn’t agree to that. They said that even if they were in wonderment, they were not blind and would see the elf stealing the sword. I couldn’t get it clear so I said yes to the elf.
So, my second question is: how do I deal with Elven Songs in this situation? It was not a Fight! nor DoW, so I couldn’t get things right. The rules of Wonderment are clear in how much time people stand in wonderment, but not if the elf must continue singing after this or can simply use this moment to do something nasty. And besides this, again, I just let the elf do the action because he was the one that was asking to do things. The others were just arguing.
Well, the elf run. I just gave him an edge over the others. The other characters were so unlucky that no speed test could make to the bastard elf.
Then, my third question: if the elf is running from everyone at the same time, how do I make the test? Everyone Speed vs. Elf Speed? I got confused on how to resolve conflicts between more than two characters. The same happened when they were all arguing and I couldn’t do a 4-person DoW.
That’s the way I handled and them all failed miserably. The elf just ran into the darkness of the tunnels.
As I didn’t want to finish the adventure since at this point there was no DoW or even a Bloody Versus, I asked the players if they wanted to do something about it: a circles test to call a friendly Roden, some Tomb-wise or Below-wise to try to find the route to the exit and surprise the elf etc. At this point, I thought that the Let It Ride rule applied very well and the characters couldn’t really reach the elf by chasing it. After a DoW between who (the dwarf or the Roden) would lead, they decided to find the exit.
The fourth: was it a right decision, to let them find the elf by another means? Or I should let the Let It Ride continue trough here? I didn’t want to finish the adventure.
I told the elf that he was lost. He won the Speed test vs. everyone but failed a Perception (the char. does not have any wises so I thought a untrained Perception roll would fit) to find the exit in the labyrinths of tunnels; contrary to the Roden, who ForKed some skills to find the way to the exit before the elf. It was a separate test but I intended to make the chasing party to intercept the elf at some point - they won the test the elf failed, to find their way through the tunnels. I don’t really know if this was correct but it seemed right to me.
So, the party crouched beneath some tunnels and appeared just a few meters in front of the elf, when he was just about to escape to the exit. Some yelling later, the elf (that had the sword) charged at the poor Roden, who, after a Bloody Versus, got a Severe wound and failed the Steel test. The dwarf was very angry and tried to intercept the elf, who was quickly running to the exit - and failed. Miserably. The elf then, ran away from them to the exit and to the end of the adventure.
All this time the human player was not so intrigued with the sword - I think he was more tied to the first belief ("…if I don’t pay off my debts. I’ve got to get paid in this venture!) and tried to scavenge for other treasures inside the place. He asked for a test and, in the heat of the discussion, I couldn’t simply give him the opportunity and forgot about it. This was a big mistake because for the rest of the adventure the human gambler was not so active. Maybe I could have suggested him that, even if the elf got the sword, the other players had to pay him - asking for a Resources test with help; giving him a scene that was absent from the other characters and the sword didn’t make sense to me. Of course, after the lucky elf slashed the Roden, there was no arguing about anything.
Sorry for the long post! I’m happy that we got to finish the story, albeit it was a little flimsy.