Ragnarök now?

25 March, 2008 at 9:56 am (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel, game mastering) (, , )

The actually final session of the BW game.

Scene 1

Halvard is woken up by one of the crew members telling that Leif’s men have left. Some organising later everyone (including still somewhat befuddled Mori) are on their way back to the village. Halvard gets a roll to detect the ambush ahead; success. The group is divided into two: Brunhildr and Halvard both take 10 men. Mori hides before battle, as per the relevant trait and accidentally chooses to hide in a bunch of bushes where some warriors of Leif were hiding. Mori tells the plans of Halvard to the men, who happen to include the hunter/guide/tracker who helped in discovering the ambush site, and they use a bit of archery to carry the message forward.

Scene 2

Halvard and his men have taken a position below a rocky cliff (the best position for an attack, certainly). Bruhildr and the rest have likewise moved onward. Two arrows are let fly, both from behind them, one to the general direction of both groups. Brunhildr and the 10 rush towards the location of the hidden archers, who promptly try escaping across a river and taking Mori with them. Arrows are let loose, two out of the three perish, one escapes (that would be the guide) and Mori survives, but is just a bit cold.

Scene 3

Halvard and his ten rush the hillside and are promptly forced into hiding behind the rocks that are large enough for that by a flight of arrows and spears. Since Burning Wheel doesn’t have a mass combat system, I improvised and used the rules for ranged combats (Range and cover) with relevant adjustments. Some tense rolls are made with the defenders getting and keeping the edge, though Halvard does manage to sound his horn to notify Brunhildr about their location. Whenever they get successes that are not used to give more dice to them due to their location, I give wgaztari two choises: Take hits or have your men perish. The trick is that Halvard is well-armoured, which gives a fair chance of the arrows doing nothing at all. Some rolls are made and the situation looks grim: The defenders have position worthy of 3 dice which gives them an edge of two dice over Halvard and his retinue. They win another round. One of Halvards’ men dies and Halvard gets a nasty hit to torso. It goes through the armour. A midi wound: Very nasty -2 dice to everything. Steel roll is a failure, which means that an ordinary man would swoon, run screaming, beg ofr mercy, or just stand and drool and bleed.

Halvard, the gloryhound, instead yells “For glory!” and rushes forward. Steel close, practically suicidal maneuvre, unless one has absurdly high steel. Deeds artha, which basically let one double the dice pool used or reroll all failures, are used. End result: About 16 dice (10 is maximum for skills, 8 for human stats) are rolled. Halvard’s men run behind him. Few uneffective arrows or spears are let fly but after that the enemies rout. A massacre ensues, only Leif and few others manage to esape. Halvard gives chase.

Scene 4

Brunhildr and the men accompanying her discover a small ambush of theirs with the aid of Mori, who also fuzzes around with some poisons. There are few well-positioned men who try to stop their advance; end result of the sorry attempt is one dead defender (the rest escape).

Scene 5

Halvard and his men catch the fleeing Leif. A spear to his back, after which Leif grovels and is then slaughtered by Halvard. All PCs meet again. There are rolls made so as Halvard could recover from his wounds; failed treatment implies a permanent -1 to some stat; in this case, forte, which is kinda nasty. Mori doesn’t suffer any significant consequences due to his icy bath.

Scene 6

Halvard and Brunhildr go to meet Nässla, with the hearts of Nifur and Leif safely along. Gilla’s been fine. There are two plates of food ready; Brunhildr eats, Halvard does not. The food is, naturally, poisoned, but more on that later. The fire used for cooking and such is smoking profusely.

After some fumbling it becomes clear that Nässla is willing to tell who killed Halvard’s father for the small price of Nifur’s heart. Leif’s heart is evidently of no value to him.

Nässla consumes the heart, seems to change somehow, throws some random herbs into the fire, which fills the entire hut with smoke. Steel tests are rolled: Gilla (played by Thalin) miserably fails while Brunhildr and Halvard both make it and don’t panic. A brief exposition ensues: Nässla was the one who poisoned Thorvald as a punishment for him consulting a pitiful pretender Grímr instead of a competent witch (Nässla). This heard from the hut’s entrance. Halvard rushes out to find that Nässla is there no longer; Brunhildr finds the panicking Gilla (who can see her aura and is more than a bit scared of her) and gets out.

One of the Nässla’s magpies craws something about the village and flies that way, guiding the characters.

For the record: Nässla never left the hut. This trick partially stolen from some Icelandic saga that I can’t name right now. They are good reading, full of drama and with a taste of the fantastic here and there.

Scene 7

Meanwhile, in the village, Mori had a bit of fun with a drug of his that makes people very impulsive and prone to, say, violence. I adjudicate this as a poisons test: Achieving Obstacle 4 means some deaths, 5 much killing, 6 minor fires, 7 major fire, 8 a totally devastated community. The fun part: I give Thalin the ability to get two extra successes if Mori gets caught bloody-handed. Thalin can make the call after rolling. Test result: 5 successes. Thulen makes it 7.

Brunhildr, Halvard and Gilla rush to the town. The entire place is burning (even the few wheels of any carts that might have been there). The mead hall has crumbled. Mori is standing atop the ruins, laughing/giggling in an unhealthy way. “Gilla, what do you see?” quoth Brunhildr. “He is no human.” sayeth Gilla. Brunhildr uses her bow and Mori falls off, an arrow protruding from his torso. Halvard and Brunhildr rush there. Some futile questioning ensues, followed by a summary execution of Mori by Halvard (with spear, not Nithingr).

Scene 8

Grímr is discovered in the ruins of a burning building. Some treatment after it is clear he will survive (albeit scarred by the flames). Some more exposition by the coughing Grímr: Thorvald did indeed ask him to divine the future. He is not actually much (or any) of a witch, so he could only give his best guess that something nasty was coming.

Not much after that was Thorvald found dead. Soon enough came Nifur.

Time paradox aside: Thorvald asked Grímr to predict the future. He said something bad was coming. Hence, Nässla poisoned Thorvald, which was a bad thing indeed, and hence predicted by Grímr. Or maybe the prediction was about Nifur and there was no time paradox.

And everyone lived happily ever after

In the distance, a ship with the body of Thorvald in it is burning.

The poison that Brunhildr ate was mind-affecting one: Brunhildr now has an instinct to guard every witch. (This is totally realistic.) Nässla is healthy and young again.

There is a bunch of scattered norsemen around with no leader and little hope. The winter is coming.

Mori is dead; Loki or Hel will no doubt enjoy his company.

There is a would-be-assassin and no doubt more than a few very angry people who would do almost anything to kill Brunhildr and Halvard; they slaughtered many men.


Personally, I am fairly happy with Burning Wheel. This is my first successful game with it; a solo game with Nakano didn’t go too well beck then. Next time I’ll be using the rules much better and not cut quite as many corners.

Traits worked well; I am confident in being able to use anything similar to any game after this. Instincts had some effect; beliefs didn’t work well. They were what the folk at BWHQ call proto-beliefs since they tended to not have a concrete statement of action in them. Most of the blame is mine to take, of course, but part goes to the character sheets not having sufficient space for them.

My acting still sucks. I can play maybe one or two different characters. Improving this is a matter of practice. Ouch.

I can now GM in a game with actual (emergent) story, even if preplanning one is out of the question due to my distaste for knowing what will happen. I can also run a game with epic enough events; Gastogh and Cryptic would be happy, now, and the Dragongame could have worked.

Next task is to update the character info on wiki. Then, chargen for Thulen’s game.

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On giant-slayers and fiery visions

21 March, 2008 at 8:56 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel, game mastering) ()

This was supposed to be the last session. Actually was the second-to-last one. The game started with the confrontation with the giant.

Scene 1

Nifur is moving towards the ambush site, at first followed by Halvard, who then lets the giant take some distance and blows to a horn to warn the people that the giant is coming and of the direction the giant is coming from. The relevant roll is successful and people duly warned.

These people include Mori and Brunhildr, of whom the latter stands guard next to the corpse with Nithingr and the former, having no time to poison everyone with a good meal, decides to go for toxic fumes. I rule the feat as absurdly hard, obstacle 8. Thalin, in spite of his generally good luck, manages to fail the roll (but gets a challenging test towards advancing poisons), which manifests as Mori accidentally inhaling some of the fumes and, after a brief struggle, falling unconscious. Thalin gets to play a soldier. To be more precise: A bowman ambushing the giant. This one just happens to be the one whose brother Brunhildr killed in a duel and who seeks revenge.

Scene 2

Brunhildr stands next to the Thorvald’s body. Nifur is near the valley and jumps down. Halvard runs to the scene. A tactics roll is made to determine if Nifur jumps to a pit or such; alas, that is not to be. Brunhildr runs towards Nifur, Nithingr on hand, and cuts the giant’s leg badly, making the giant fall and getting away from it. Nifur fails a steel test and some scewering is done; a dead giant lies slain, bleeding profusely. Brunhildr gets the hatred of Mori, as a result of the killing.

While this is happening, Halvard commands the people who were hidden around the valley and armed with javelins or bows. They are about to shoot/throw as the giant falls. Halvard yells: “Don’t shoot!”, and a single arrow is fired towards Brunhildr. It hits her armour, harmlessly glancing off. (This is a pity; the scene would have been beautiful if Brunhildr had died.)

Halvard demands to know who shot at Brunhildr. One man points at the character played by Thalin who is the shooter. Thalin’s NPC points back. Dice are rolled; Thalin gets far more successes than I do. The other man is hence one of Leif’s and thus can’t be trusted. Some accusations and such after, the man is thrown off the edge by Halvard, who manages to calm the situation before any further fighting is done. The man survives, Brunhildr tosses him around more than a bit, but doesn’t get any answers.

Scene 3

Mori’s awake. One belief of Mori was linked to Loki, who is linked to fire, so I decided this to be an excellent moment for including some drug-enhanced visions. I left the details to Thalin, which was possibly a mistake, since he didn’t seem all too eager to share them. Message: Go and cause mayhem. A lot of it.

The player characters are all more-or-less present. There is some discussion about eating the giant or immediately going to the village, but since it is dark and Nifur is nigh-inedible without suitable cooking (Brunhildr tries), the plans are postponed. Halvard gets Nifur’s heart from Brunhildr and further gets Nithingr, as Brunhildr feels it brings bad things to the one wielding it.

People are asleep, save for some guards. Mori sneaks to Thorvald’s corpse and takes the heart out. The relevant rolls are quite successful so nobody notices this (ever, as it happens). Mori is blessed by Loki: Opens a new skill at G2 (intimidate, but revised to be soothing platitudes which is essentially a form of flattery) and gains a version of the lawbreaker trait: Around Mori, fires and shadows act strangely. Mori, too, sleeps.

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The end is near

14 March, 2008 at 4:31 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel, game mastering)

Some Wednesdays ago was the second-to-last session of the Burning Wheel game. It might have been possible to make it the last, but the price would have been significant. There has been some time between the game and the write-up, so details are very much not present.


There was a short summary of the recent events due to the significant break. I have a bad habit of forgetting details I don’t consider significant, but at least Thalin seems to remember them and think they are valuable. Makes one wonder…

I started generally ramping up the consequences of rolls in this session; since the end is nigh, significant rolls to any effect are unlikely to totally spoil the play for anyone and they add some tension to the rolls.

Scene 1

Mori (Thalin’s char) is in the village, hears that Leif and some others are preparing to go and rescue (more-or-less) Gilla Brunhildrsdottir from the clutches of the evil witch. His response is, as normal, to poison them. The game is approaching the end so I try to have many rolls have pretty high stakes; as in, fail the roll to poison them and you will be caught and clearly be guilty. Of course the roll was successful. (Though some fate artha was used). Leif and his best warriors are enjoying a fine diarrhea.

Mori also finds out that all the crew members are busy preparing the ambush site.

Scene 2

Halvard, Brunhildr and the five warriors are near the village. Brunhildr starts moving towards the ambush site while Halvard and the others go to the village, meeting Mori on the way. Leif’s fine plotting that resulted in sending all Halvard’s men away does not bear fruit. There is some dialogue, almost a duel between Halvard and one of Leif’s men, inspiring speech from Halvard to the (not too friendly) audience, and orders to get Thorvald’s body moving. Halvard also manages to lose Grímr’s trust by being a bit secretive about Gilla and not good enough a liar to pull it off. Halvard starts moving towards the ambush site. His men carry Thorvald’s body in hiding and use another way.

Brunhildr arrives at the ambush site and talks to the crew members. They are not very happy at her having “deserted” them to do some petty quest. I have trouble playing them properly because the hostility is due to the sword and the in-game justification is a bit too shoddy. Idea of the sword is good, but I am not sufficiently skilled at playing the effects.

Brunhildr starts moving back towards the village to find Halvard.

Scene 3

Mori seeks Nifur (the giant), finds him after some wandering, tells about what is happening everywhere, and heads back towards the village.

As it happens (damn these coincidences; credit goes to Thalin, more-or-less), Nifur happens to meet Halvard (but not his men) while Mori and Brunhildr meet elsewhere in the woods.

Mori and Brunhildr wander towards Nässla’s hut for some time. Brunhildr gets suspicious about how long it will take (she should be at the ambush site); dice are rolled. It is draw, so I let Thalin decide from two options: Either Brunhildr notices Mori has been misleading her and is within an arm’s reach but she doesn’t have time to get to the ambush site or that Brunhildr does make it to the ambush site in time but Mori was not obviously misleading her. Thalin dutifully avoids the issue as well as he can, eventually arriving at the latter decision.

Scene 4

Halvard and the giant. Halvard leads Nifur to the village first (Nifur goes and immediately checks the temporary tomb, finding it empty, which ought to be suspicious), then start moving towards the ambush site. Nifur knows what is there.

And during the next session

Our intrepid heroes shall confront a giant over the corpse of a dead hero. Or maybe they will be poisoned and die a painful death while the giant feasts. Who knows?

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A heroic quest

21 February, 2008 at 9:27 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel) (, , , , )

This is the last AP post for a while; real life gets in the way of gaming for at least two weeks, possibly for longer period.

AP report

Last session, everyone ended up resting in the same place. Rare.

Scene 1

Everyone wakes up. Brunhildr is at -1D on everything due to fever; significant, not fatal. The day started with the repercussions of the previous day’s rumour-spreading by Mori. To wit: Brunhildr gets told that Mori is present and the he was telling certainly very exaggereted stories about Halvard having sold her daughter to a witch. The “certainly very exaggereted” part was due to Halvard being close enough to hear. ksym gets artha for Brunhildr flat out trying to punch Halvard righ then and there. Well, being in fever and not having any brawling skill are not conductive to successful punching. Halvard has the instinct to always hold his spear ready; there is an opposed test with Brunhildr’s sword skill, with the end result being her sword at his throat and some warnings to not mess with her daughter.

The little incident done with, there is discussion about taking a trip to retrieve a particular toy and to prepare a trap for the giant.

Scene 2

Halvard talks to Leif (back at the village). Some threats, some genuine getting things done. At the ambush location. There is some planning done and other boring bits. Mori does not get near enough to really listen. Soon enoug, Halvard, Brunhildr and five loyal mooks (but without the red shirts) start their great quest. Brunhildr is still is mild fever, so I get an excuse to ask for a roll on complications. Depending on the speed of travelling, ksym must make a health test. Obstacle 1 for 8 days, 2 for 6 days, 3 for 4 days total. The time that remains is there for Leif to further any of his plots. Halvard is the leader; wgaztari sets the obstacle at 2. Stakes: Success means no complication and a cured disease; failure means that Brunhildr gets a trait like “hacking cough” or such and permanently loses 1 health. Nothing crippling, but not good either (and ksym would get artha from that pretty easily). Successful roll again spoils my clever and oh-so-planned consequences for failing. Given that, the seven happily adventure in the wilderness.

Scene 3

Meanwhile Mori enjoys a week of time without the two watching over his actions. He pays a visit to Nifur; after that, the giant knows about the trap and the fact that Thorvald’s actual body is likely to be involved. He also hears about the sword.

Mori goes to check on Gilla (as asked/ordered to by Brunhildr or Halvard). I play Nässla, let ksym play Gilla, and give a magpie to wgaztari, who is not very good at playing inhuman sentient creatures without warning. He doesn’t screw up, it just sort of falls flat. A matter of experience, certainly. I’ll try to give the two others the hard creatures to play, from this on. Anyway. The relevant events: Nässla doesn’t much care about Mori. There is some interaction between Mori and Gilla, who has been doing okay.

Mori does yet another trick: Some disguise to look like Leif going alone to the woods. He succeeds and hence someone spots Leif going alone into the woods.

This’ll have wider implications; I started a thread on Plotstorming about it. (Nice site and has monthly writing contests that I have sadly neglected.) There is likely to be some spoilers in that thread, so my players should be certain they want to be subjected to such if they intend to read it.

Scene 4

Inside the mountain. The trip there is promptly skipped. Brunhildr fixes for armour with untrained mending roll (when any armour die show a 1, that location’s armour loses one die; the earlier duel had cost Brunhildr a few armour dice). I give Thalin (usually plays Mori) the monster book open on troll brute. “Can you play this?”, after which I quickly explain a few things and give the troll an additional belief: “I must have my father’s sword; I will use the humans to get it.” Said troll has will and perception 2 (2 is almost retarded) and no social skills beyond intimidation.

There is some roleplaying as Mori brilliantly plays a moron who tries to manipulate humans. Good times. I kicked the process a bit forward when it seems Thalin was not getting on with it (hope I didn’t step too much on his toes). They enter a large cave with a stone statue of troll holding a sword. Brute, Halvard and Brunhildr dahs forward; Halvard gets less successes, falls behind (the troll has 5 speed; ouch). Opposed strength checks between Brunhildr and brute to grab the sword (the stone-like troll also resists with G6 strength; brute has B8 and rolls well). At this point we enter the long form Fight! subsystem. The five companions simply aid in positioning tests of Halvard and Brunhildr (I can’t be bothered to script and play out their actions unless either char commands them, which they did not do, though I informed them of the possibility a couple times). Long fight short: ksym is bothered by bad dice rolls and Brunhildr getting superficially wounded. Brunhildr and the ancient troll who soon wakes up grapple on the ground, with Brunhildr actually resisting (not bad at all). There is a number of ineffective attacks against the stony skin (mail equivalent). Halvard scares/convinces the brute to attack the ancient former troll king (brute does so with a throw, lock and defensive actions). After this Brunhildr, who grabbed the sword and was hit for her troubles, slays the troll. I give both characters a deeds point for getting the sword and killing the troll; deeds is the most powerful form of artha in the game.

Observations from the fight: It is chaotic. It tends to get dirty with people panicking, locking, running away, etc. It takes time. ksym doesn’t enjoy the chaos when the dice are not on his side. I hope the sword that kills every human with a single strike but that also severs one’s contacts to all humans and such fixes that. On the sword. Stats visible in the BW wiki (I have also updated the characters a bit). Whenever you kill someone with it, it corrupts one relationship, affiliation or reputation of yours. After those are done it gives the GM pretty free reigns. Brunhildr killed once with it (the troll king who used it enough to no longer be a king) and lost the respect of the ship’s crew, who no despise her for whatever reason I come up with. ksym got to decide what was spoiled. He enjoys this curse and even said I am brilliant for creating it. Thanks, ksym. I am pretty sure I stole it from somewhere, though.

The aftermath of the combat: The brute suddenly becomes quite worshipful of the two characters. It even follows them some time outside the cave and maybe even follows after them if I ever need to introduce an extra troll to the game. Trolls turn to stone in the sun, which kind of limits their options, though.

And that was it.

Miscellaneous ramblings

I assume the game will take a session or two to finish, after which Thalin will GM something. At this point his idea is wuxia with homebrew system. Up to change. I have a character concept ready for the wuxia game, if that is what happens.

In other news, I’ll spend two of the three forthcoming weekends prepping some random person for math. Matriculation examinations are coming up. This will show how much of that stuff I have forgotten. Probably a lot. Specifically: No or extremely limited internet access during the weekend. My grandmother doesn’t have internet.

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The nature of scheming

17 February, 2008 at 1:33 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel) (, )

Another short session. Also, Thalin’s schedules change which changes our gaming schedule into an unreliable, yet hopefully surviving, one. Regular gaming is important and I am not happy with the change. This’ll be brief report. We played on Saturday, too, though there is likely to be a break until the next game happens.

Actual play

Half a day in the fictional timeframe. Artha flowed a bit slower this session. I seem to need some time to get into the zone properly and can notice the effects in play. Not a good thing, but won’t go away without practice.

Scene 1

Mori and Halvard leave Nässla’s hut. Mori goes on to manufacture a pretty nasty poison (causes a B10 wound, which kills weak characters and even the strong will be utterly unable to succeed at anything for a long time and will need help to survive without permanent injury; giant would actually notice it), while Halvard goes to the village. The stakes for Mori’s roll were that failure indicates that the poison is very easy to notice, makes the cause of death obvious, or some such. The poisonousness was not even a question. The poison’s actual effect, in addition to fatal wounding when the target sleeps, is to seemingly age the target. Maybe actually, if the target happens to survive. The herbs for this were gathered a some time ago and the roll was pretty successful, giving a bonus die to this roll. Some artha was also used.

On his way back to the village, Halvard is kinda-sorta-almost ambushed. One arrow from the woods, and that one is not particularly dangerous. I intended it as a warning, but wgaztari interpreted it as an attack. Leaves some options open for me. Halvard took the arrow, intending to later investigate the matter.

Scene 2

Halvard in the village. He tricks Gilla (Brunhildrsdottir) to come with him, which takes a bit of effort (a good roll or two). She gets pretty scared of the magpies, claiming that they are not natural. wgaztari actually succeeds at a pretty hard orienteering test (unskilled) and manages to find the way to the witch’s hut without any help from the magpies, which would have a forced a new steel test on Gilla and had all sorts of potential amusing consequences.

Once inside with Gilla and Nässla, I get to use one of my favourite GM tricks: Assign players whose characters are not there to play the NPCs. I play Nässla, let kysm play Gilla and Thalin gets to play one of the birds (the other is not present). Gilla is persuaded to stay with the witch due to it being good for the village and other reasons. Nettle gives Halvard what was bargained for: Vague direction, guidelines to go to a mountain with lots of caverns. There is a former troll king there with a sword that will be able to slay the giant. Halvard leaves.

Scene 3

Brunhildr and her retinue are looking the the ambush position. They see the giant walking towards them and promptly hide. Brunhildr sends the competent tracker/hunter (named Varg) to track the giant’s tracks, in order to find out where it came from, with orders to come back at night if the trip would be too long. Brunhildr further wants to send one of her men to follow the giant towards the village; this is a circles roll to find someone capable of following the giant. Success: Find someone who can do it and not get caught; failure: find someone who should be able to do it but is not quite good enough and does get caught (is what I tell to ksym). Successful the roll is. The others get as comfortable as they can without fires (which Nifur could notice).

Brunhildr is feeling somewhat sick (due to Mori’s herbs) .

Scene 4

Mori goes talks with the giant. Some information about giant-slaying swords is shared, as well as the body having been a fake. Dice get rolled, just in the case of the soldier following Nifur identified Mori. A tense roll, but Mori remains unidentified. Mori first goes to the village (no Halvard or Gilla there) and then towards Nässla’s house.

Mori encounters Halvard, there is some paranoia from Halvard’s side, who threatens Mori with a spear. Thalin rolls steel, fails, Mori runs screaming through the dark woods. This is a chase situation; Halvard is eventually victorious with some artha burned. There is an interrogation; Mori has falsehood, Halvard no interrogation skill, which leads to a quick defeat on Halvard’s side. Mori must compromise a tiny bit (as opposed to spilling his dealings with the giant); Halvard trusts him, for now. The compromise was that Mori told Halvard that the giant wants to eat Thorvald’s heart to gain the strength Thorvald gained from eating the heart of Nifur’s father. After this bit of exposition, the two return to village.

Scene 5

Leif and Halvard interact in very brotherly manner, with Leif implying that Halvard raped Gilla. There is some further talk, too.

Brunhildr hears of the traitor (identity unknown), tells everyone to keep quiet, fails the roll that would have made it so, implying that at the next opportunity someone will tell about the existence of the traitor and probably more, sends a messenger to get Halvard, some loyal men and specifically no Mori. Messenger finds the Halvard, makes his request, which which Halvard agrees to. He picks some men, Mori comes with him, messenger questions, is denied.

The man who tracked the giant returns and can approximately tell where the giant might be, but didn’t get that far. It can move pretty fast over long distances. This was not a roll, but possibly should have been. I just find it boring to roll dice when player characters are not the target and found no way to translate this test to a test for any PC.

Scene 6

At Brunhildr’s campsite everyone meets, happy as ever. Mori is inconspicuous enough to not get Brunhildr’s attention and goes spreading rumours among the men, mostly about Halvard having sold Brunhildr’s daughter to a witch. Mori fails in being discreet enough so that people would not remember who originally spread the rumours.

Halvard admits to having sent Gilla help an old man and tells what he knows about the sword. There is some negotiation about who would go about getting it, with Brunhildr not being very well and all. I could have asked for duel of wits, but decided that this is pretty much a foregone conclusion and thought the dialogue as mostly elaboration.

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As the witch wills

12 February, 2008 at 10:12 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel) (, , , )

This session was shorter than the previous ones due to wgaztari’s university stuff.


Game starts as everyone gets up, with a bit of retconning due to Mori first visiting Nässla and only then going to sleep.

I neglect to mention several rolls and both gains and expenditures of artha. They are a legion; artha is flowing as it should, dice get rolled often enough for my tastes. Thalin wants more. Maybe so.

Scene 1

Brunhildr and Halvard wake up. Brunhildr goes bathing in a nearby stream. I resist the urge to do the classical scene at this point, which might have been a mistake. I may get another opportunity. Anyway. After getting back she goes to get some food. ksym (plays Brunhildr) asks where Leif is. Of course he ust came in and is taking food at the same time as ksym is. Brunhildr very accidentally knocks his food to the floor (ksym gets fate artha for playing thug and moving the story forward). Leif is outraged. One of his soldiers challenges Brunhildr to a duel (this happy event involves  Brunhildr’s instinct to punch anyone who touches her without warning; she misses, having no brawling and soldier having some; this involved a roll). The soldier is pretty good at what he does: Relevant numbers are solid (black) fours, including stats and weapon skill. Not quite in league with Brunhildr, but still potentially deadly.

The duel was fought along more-or-less historically accurate model. I assume the “less”. A cloak was set on the ground. The one to first step off it, drop blood on it, be disarmed or dead loses the duel. In this particular case, this allowed using the rather elaborate Burning Wheel Fight! rules and disregard positioning, as both combatants preferred their weapons. I asked ksym if he wanted the long form combat; he did, though struggled a bit with it. When dueling, ksym quickly noticed how damn important armour is for survival and how frustrating it is to use a sword against an armoured opponent (the opponent used an axe and had lighter armour than Brunhildr). I once allowed ksym to probably save his character by expending a persona artha; this was a minor breach of the rules, I would handle it in a different way if the situation came back again. After a number of attacks clinging of armours and everyone noticing just how chaotic the combat system really is, Brunhildr managed a successful disarm. The opponent rolls steel due to losing a duel to mere woman and fails it. He stands and drools. Some witty banter and one attack on head that is handled by armour, Brunhildr gets a choice: She can slay the opponent then and there. It is clear that she did after having won. It breaks no rules but certainly will give her a fierce reputation. Result: Off with the head. Ksym gets fate and persona artha (IIRC, at least fate). A lot was used in the duel, too, so net effect on artha was probably mildly negative. This is one of the good gaming moments and I got to give ksym artha as a recognition.

Scene 2

Before the fight breaks out two important things happen. First: Halvard and Leif bet on the winner. Leif loses, gives Halvard a loan (one PC actually has a resources exponent to use again). Mori returns to the hall (catching the attention of two magpies due to failing a foraging roll; lame consequences), succeeds at inconspicuous (nobody pays significant attention to him). He flirts with Gilla and poisons the gobletful of mead (or something) that the winner of the duel is to drink. Nothing lethal, just something that will cause a mild fever for some days. ksym first intends to not drink it, but decides to go with it after I bribe him with a point of fate artha (slight breach of the rules, but stealing an idea from FATE/SotC is generally not a bad idea; worked fine this time).

This is an opposed test: Poisons versus health. Mori’s poisoning is successful with two successes over Brunhildr’s health test. I read this as giving -2D on everything for one day and -1D on the second. Both players agree. ksym burns a point of fate artha to open-end the one six rolled and reduces the effects of the disease to -1D for the next day due to mild fever. Both players are happy.

Pretty eventful morning, I must say. When Brunhildr gets back and talks to her daughter, it becomes clear (dice are rolled to find this out) that Mori was there and talked to her (about her seeing spirit or spirits, among other things). The poisoning is not discovered. All players know, of course. It’s fun.

Scene 3

Next in order: Gathering information. Halvard and Brunhildr have a cunning idea of setting up a trap for Nifur the giant. It involves finding a suitable place for ambush, which involves finding someone who knows the local area very well. This is a circles roll. Halvard gets Leif to help as it is for common good. Brunhildr also asks around. Helping dice are a powerful thing; success. Failure would have meant that the hunter who knows the area like his backyard just tragically lost his brother by Brunhildr’s arm. Failures complicate, not block. Too bad the roll was successful.

Halvard asks around for someone who knows about giants and gets directed to a witch who lives in a nearby spruce swamp with a nasty reputation. That’s Nässla. He, too, gets two magpies following him. Gets fate artha for throwing one with a rock; misses, though Nettle doesn’t really appreciate it, which probably did not show enough. Mori found out the magpies serve or report to Nässla.

Scene 4

Halvard knocks on Nässla’s door. Mori opens it. Situation is somewhat interesting. There is some subtle unhospitability on Mori’s part and lots of negotiating with the witch. Halvard wants to know about the giant; Nettle promises to tell where and how he can obtain a weapon suitable for slaying it, for a price. Namely; to bring Gilla there and make sure she remains there. This after Halvard didn’t want to give Nässla his strength.

A note on OOC talk: I explicitly asked players if they want a magical weapon in the game; wgaztari wasn’t particularly keen on magic in general, but okayd the sword, assuming it is not very flashy. Well, I can guarantee there will be no threat of that. Our senses of aesthetics seem to be quite compatible. Good.

Halvard further asks if Nokkonen knows about his father’s death. Answer is flat-out yes. Price: Halvard’s strength. Nässla does accept the strength of someone else, too (Leif is the most likely target right now). Halvard leaves, Nässla orders Mori to accompany him (and make sure Gilla really gets there).

Meanwhile: Brunhildr and some men start seeking a suitable place for ambush.

Notes and some minor spoilers

There is likely to be some retconning, namely: Did ksym order his men to keep Mori away from Gilla? Did she leave her armour to be repaired or take it with her?

There is a chance that Leif’s men will ambush Halvard on his way back. It would kind of fit, but would,on the other hand, be dramatically a bit unsuitable when thinking about the possibility that Leif is taken to Nässla and his men attack after that, which I would prefer. I have not decided yet. Time’s running.

There is a significant chance that Brunhildr and the others meet a giant. The giant. This for two reasons: First, if they fail a suitable roll, I can use Nifur as a consequence; second, other Brunhildr will be less active for significant time (one and a half sessions) and that is not good.

Gilla will not be too willing to meet the witch; if nothing else complicates the matters, she will see some aura on the magpies. I assume she will be taken to Nässla regardless.

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Appeasing the giant?

5 February, 2008 at 9:51 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel) (, , , , )

I’m pretty busy with schoolwork for the time being, so pardon the lack of interesting posts. They’ll be back sometimes within three months, I hope.

These AP reports are now linked from actualplay.com, which seems to be a bit slow right now. Link: http://actualplay.com/actual_play_directory.php?id=661

Session report

Second session of the pretty fast-moving BW campaign. The scenes may not be in actual order they were played in, but the continuum of any given character should work. I jump pretty quickly between players and detailing that after the occasion is next to impossible.

Scene 1

Mori, Thalin’s char, goes herb-gathering. To be more precise, he wants to gather an herb thatwhen prepared successfully, in addition to killing someone, will also age that someone in appearance. I set the foraging difficulty at 3: pretty hard. I don’t know if that kind of poison exists or anything, but it was reasonable enough a suggestion from Thalin, so there it goes. Consequence for failure would have been encountering Nässla, Mori’s now-bitter witch mentor, who had just gathered what Mori was looking fo. That way the herbs would still have been available and I could have introduced a relationship and some potential conflict. Alas, Thalin succeeded at the foraging roll with the help of bonus dice from herbalism and poisons-skills. Mori gets the material for said poison and decides to meet Nässla, first getting some eggs he was supposed to deliver before getting on the raiding trip.

Nässla would have commented the lack of eggs, had Mori not went to get them.

Scene 2

Halvard (played by wgaztari) and Brunhildr (by ksym) activate a bit later. Brunhildr wants to find his family and asks about, getting the response that only Leif (Halvard’s brother) knows where they are. Halvard tries to get her mother to talk with no effect and to eat with some small effect. I felt like I was blocking a lot there. I definitely need to keep my mental image of who has done what out of the way of good gaming. Blocking isn’t fun.

Leif comes in and is engaged by Brunhildr and Halvard. It is quickly discovered that he was visiting the dead Thorvald and has no excuse to not let Halvard visit him, too. He asks his guards to stay at the house; what evil could come to him with his brother, they great hero, at his side? I did this for two reasons. The first was to give Halvard the opportunity for some bloody-handed murdering. It was interesting to see if such would happen. The second was to imply that Brunhildr should also be left behind, which did happen. This was done solely to ratchet up the tension: Would she do something stupid to get to her family?

Scene 3

Halvard and Leif get to the cellar that is used to “store” Thorvald. Some knocking, Grímr (Brunhildr’s husband) opens. The cellar is small, lit by a total of two torches. Thorvald lies on a makeshift bunk atop some barrels (reminder to self: always barrels or chests, never boxes). He is covered by various herbs, put there by Grímr. Their purpose is to keep the body in shape, to keep the smell down and to keep rests away. Death was not by violence. The players fixated on solving a murder mystery, so they’ll get one. Gilla Brunhildrsdottir is sleeping in corner wrapped in a heavy cloak.

There is some exchange of words between Leif and Halvard; Leif manages to insult Halvard for the third or fourth time; Halvard tries intimidating him, but only wins his disdain (failed intimidation without the skill). I’m not really happy with this roll; the consequences of failure should have been more tangible. Leif leaves the cellar.

Scene 4

During all this, Brunhildr does some scounting of the area, mainly about where the giant went the last time. I was floundering, no roll to make, nothing interesting happened. After that (possibly after some out-of-game spurring of ksym; encouraging the players to do something is a thing I do, for better or worse) Brunhildr gets sneaky and decides to just randomly wander to where her family might be, in the hopes of somebody getting out of the hidden place and revealing it. Her (unskilled) inconspicous roll is successful, which means that she happens to see Leif coming from the cellar, walking to her direction but not noticing her. (Failing the roll would have meant that she bumps on Leif some distance from the location and looks suspicious skulking thereabouts; I stated as much to players.) Brunhildr calmly walks past him, “accidentally” pushing him a bit (and ksym gains artha for playing his character as the thug she is).

Brunhildr enters the temporary crypt. There is a happy reunion, which I am uncomfortable or unable to play. I need to practice more. Getting comfortable with emotional scenes is a matter of playing (or living) through enough of them. Anyway. It is found out that Leif has been bringing gifts to Gilla Brunhildrsdottir, who has something of a fever (and is still deep asleep). After some time Halvard and Brunhildr leave.

Scene 5

Mori grabbed some eggs from the livestock that currently resided in the great hall. None asked pointed questions (inconspicuous). He went to Nässla’s hut, which is sort of small. Nässla is there cataloguing his herbs. I mentioned the herb Mori just had gathered were some Nettle was throwing away due to them being old, but Thalin didn’t catch on. It probably won’t become relevant, given Thalin didn’t make it so. Maybe it was intentional.

Nässla asks Mori to make food. The materials have been waiting for him all the time. They look like it. Mori chooses to go to the village yet one more time, searching for other foodstuff this time. Some inconspicuous linked to (successful roll gives a bonus die to the next relevant roll; failure adds difficulty; exactly succeeding does nothing) falsehood later Mori returns with new foodstuff and wants to appease Nässla by making a fabulous dinner. This is a bit suspicious, given how the relevant contact is characterised by rivalry or hatred. I set the difficulty at 3; Thalin makes the roll. Nässla is pleased with the food and doesn’t throw too many cutting remarks on Mori’s way. Maybe, just maybe, Mori can win over his former mentor.

Nässla tells Mori to get Gilla to him. She has shown some talent. Mori gets on the way, arrives to the village, where all the PCs are together (rare enough an event even without me arranging it whenever possible). They all decide to go see Gilla and the late Thorvald to see if Mori can tell why he died and possible even to treat Gilla, though Brunhildr is not delighted at the idea of Mori doing anything to her.

Scene 6

Gilla is still asleep. Mori investigates the corpse, Thalin rolls poisons with maybe some dice from fields of related knowledge such as assassination-wise; success and Mori discovers the reason of death with Thalin deciding how it came to be; failure and the same happens but the reasoning Thalins gives is the wrong one; I tell both of these to the players. Thalin is successful (not a big surprise given Mori’s grey poisons skill). Successful roll and some narration after: Thorvald was killed by poisoned barb disguised in an amulet. Poison was very rare due to being foreign. I got to check the name with Thalin but I think it was something to the effect of “maiden’s kiss” or “tears”. Grímr recalled some foreign trader who sold furs and some suspicious material visited but left quickly after being shown general dislike. Suspicions are thrown on Leif.

Thalin was a bit uncertain, possibly thinking that he maybe was overstepping his bounds. I might have contributed to that with my body language, as I had not expected him to seize quite as much authority on the fiction as he did. Worked out well in the end.

Brunhildrs specifically asks Mori to keep away from Gilla. He doesn’t do that, of course, but checks her health as the others are discussing something else. Failed inconspicuous and he gathers some attention. I don’t remember if there were any notable consequences. A bad roll, overall.

Leif ordered Grímr and Gilla to stay there, but Halvard orders Gilla taken away (with no little pushing from Brunhildr and Mori). Brunhildr carries her away. Before that, Mori grabs some herbs and fails sleight of hand against Grímr, who is not pleased and recommends Brunhildr to keep Gilla away from Mori.

On the way to the hall Gilla finally wakes up. Halvard continues on, Mori stays between. There is some confusion, greetings, and finally Gilla tells to Brunhildr that she has occasionally seen Thorvald around his body. He seems to be full of hatred or fear. Actual talking has not happened.

Scene 7

The giant is coming. Everyone knows this. Preparations happen with great hurry. Halvard and the others dig up a grave to get a replacement body to offer to the giant in place of Thorvald.

That’s pretty severe breach of all possible laws, but nobody is complaining, as long as the giant is tricked.

This asks for command rolls to get the people dig and do it before the giant gets there. Brunhildr and some men go get two chests of treasure so that Brunhildr still has tiem to help with organising the digging project. Far too many successes are rolled by wgaztari, which means there is plenty of time to get the body done (linked test). Halvard gets Thorvald’s equipment. Disguise is done. Again, many successes. Well disguised. Things look promising, don’t they?

Scene 8

Mori sneaks away to meet the giant (this probably happened earlier, but it doesn’t really matter that much). Upon meeting (no rolls needed because Nifur the giant is a relationship and they can generally be found when requested), Nifur picks Mori up. Mori divulges the main points of the plan, but also asks the giant to not kill everyone quite yet, because there is about to be a battle between the two would-be-leaders and this is likely to weaken the settlement and also warns about two formidable warriors (that would be Halvard and Brunhildr). Mori also asks the giant to not harm any young girls (that would be Gilla), because he needs one of them. Giant more-or-less agrees. Mori wants to know why Nifur is after Thorvald’s body, and Nifur says that Thorvald killed his father an he is here to pay the debt back. One can see the forming of a magnificent bastard PC, which I guess is the archetype Thalin gravitates towards. Insufficient gaming experience with him to be certain.

After the deal with the giant, Mori gets back in and starts cooking for Gilla.

Scene 9

Here be giants. Nifur enters the village. Parley time. First we roleplay a bit of negotiation, me as the giant and Brunhildr mostly speaking for the village. Time to roll out Duel of Wits, the extended social resolution in BW. No participant has haggling (Mori has but is inside), Nifur has will 5 against Brunhildr’s 4. I recruit Thalin to help the players with scripting and give him a cheat sheet (given that Mori is not involved). I script (plan three actions ahead of time what Nifur does) first and then let the players discuss, answering any questions they have. I don’t change Nifur’s scripts based on what I hear (that would be cheating) but do script to the best of my ability. Round by round, everyone declares their actions and they are cross-referenced in a handy table. Small part of dialog is mandatory. The stakes are that this confrontation determines how much treasure the giant will want; base obstacle is 3 (formidable), -2 for total victory of players, -1 for partial, +0 for draw, +1 for Nifur’s victory, +2 in case of total victory to Nifur. End result is that Nifur barely wins; Nifur retains one dice out of the five he started with. Also: DoW without relevant skills makes rebuttal a poor choice. Resource obstacle: 4. Quite hard.

During this all Halvard went to ask for Mori, but failed a conspicuous test and didn’t manage to get his attention before too late.

Halvard orders the body brought to Nifur, who promptly picks it by, rips the armour off, pulls out the man’s heart and swallows it whole. Pretty hardcore. I should have asked for steel tests here, but, alas.

After that is the payback time. Resource test tells if Nifur is satisfied with what he got. Halvard gets all the treasure they looted or traded for, puts his meagre possession and contacs in play to get some extra stuff on top of that, but decides to not use the village’s winter stash. Mori is hired to prepare some food for the giant, which is a linked test. Mori fails, which implies +1 Ob which means obstacle 5. Not gonna work. Dice are rolled. Artha is burned. 3 successes. The giant is not happy. He shrugs, grabs a few chests and lumbers off with them. Nobody attacks.

Scene 10

Mori succeeds at cooking to win Gilla’s favour. I am a bit uncomfortable playing out a seduction with one of my best friends and getting tired, so the detailed discussion is glossed over. Thalin rolls persuade to get Gilla’s trust, but fails, which means that Gilla succumbs to fever and sleep before anything happens.

Everyone goes to sleep, Mori in his own cottage.

Spoilers and other stuff my players might not want to read

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Prep for Burning vikings, plus spoilers

28 January, 2008 at 11:03 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel, game mastering)

Once upon a time, Phil asked how much people prepare for their games. Here it comes (again).

If you happen to play in the game in question, read at your own responsibility and only if you think it won’t spoil your fun and with the knowledge that if the players don’t officially know it, it is up to change.

I mean that. Don’t read unless you are certain it won’t spoil your fun.

Rules aka crunch

Starting out with the short part. I have statted Nifur the giant once, just to get a feel for what the might be like. I don’t use those stats anymore. Statting out Nifur took some time, mostly because I am not used to monster burning, which stands for bad guy creation, for which there are rules in Monster Burner.

I also have written down the beliefs and instincts of all NPC relationships. This counts as rules-prep, but is a fine reminder of how intertwined rules and everything else really are, when constructed properly. Writing these took around an hour in train from Tampere to Jyväskylä, but it is done now, and they only need refinement in the future.

I might write down full stats for Leif, because there is a significant chance he will be engaged in martial or social systems. Maybe even this Tuesday, if I actually have time. The last lecture ends at six, so not much hope for that.

Story-wise, which means the spoilers

An acute reader might have noticed I don’t particularly enjoy pre-plotting stories or building intricate mysteries. I am assuming you have read my previous post, otherwise this will probably not make much sense.

All of the dispositions and relationships here are part of the relationship map I built. I’d be happy to make it public, but there are a few complications. Namely, I don’t have a scanner here, the map is written mostly in Finnish and it is written in my handwriting, which is not exactly clear. It takes the better part of an A4 sheet. Sketching it took maybe an hour in total.


Originally the giant was supposed to be after his brother Thorvald, but since seeing (as opposed to reading, and entire different, but no less evocative, experience) Beowulf and wgaztari having seen Beowulf, I decided to go another route. Thorvald had killed Nifur’s father sometimes in the past (it is known that Thorvald has adventured in the north and killed a giant or few) and eaten his heart to get his power. Now Nifur can’t do the deed, and decided to eat Thorvald’s heart instead. As a bonus, he gets to fill an oath to slay his father’s killer, which he evidently has sworn. Or maybe he is just bullshitting.

Nifur, in addition to being three times as tall as a man, strong enough to slaughter anyone with a good hit of fist, tree of rock, has nice powers. Inspired by Daniel’s post on game weather, I decided for weather to change according to Nifur’s mood. This gives a few perks:

  1. I remember to describe the weather.
  2. Nifur can’t sneak up on anyone, which someone is bound to use against him.
  3. Angry Nifur is hard to shoot due to raging winds, which prevents slaughter by hitting him with 9 good hits, which would be between 27 and 18 shots that hit, depending on the skill of the archers.
  4. Smart players will catch on the thing. If one likes solving mysteries or puzzles, this might make him happy. Thalin may be such a person. wgaztari appreciates movies like 6th sense and the Prestige, so he might, too. No idea about ksym.

Nifur is also quite impervious to physical violence. Nifur’s function, design-wise, is to put pressure on the entire situation. Nobody has time to not act with the giant eating all food, leaving none for winter.

Grímr and Gilla

The husband and daughter if Brunhildr, respectively. The ones who have not yet been seen. To be honest, I originally did not include them because I had no idea how to play them. Bad me. No cookie. Now I have, which means they might be encountered.

As currently stands, Leif has effectively separated them into some cellar, which is cold and pretty heavy, hence perfect for storing Thorvald without excessive rotting or munch-fests by random giants. Leif personally bring food to them, accompanied by few loyal guardsmen. Circles roll to find this out is at least obstacle 2 (3 if during particular session, 5 if immediately). Other skills may be useful. Finding one of the guards whose duty is to guard the entrance during Leif’s visits is +1 to previous for Brunhildr, +2 for the others due to differences in social status. Pretty brutal difficulties. Failure might be a warning to not meddle in the event, and someone watching after you (but still getting to know the proceeding; dice bring complications, not roadblocks) or something else. Sneaking to see where Leif goes is okay, but he will have some observation skill, which makes it risky. Complications obvious. Negotiating would likely take a Duel of Wits, which wouldn’t be easy, either, given no PC has true dueling skills.

However Brunhildr gets in contact with her family, they’ll be happy to meet her again. Leif has been bringing gifts to Gilla, which none of the family members are likely to approve. This puts more pressure on the PCs to actually do something about Leif. I want to know what they will do. Grímr is content in keeping the cellar fresh and rats away with relevant herbs. He does want Gilla out of there, though. The cold is not good for her and she is getting delusional, which actually means that she can see dead people see the auras of people, including that of Thorvald, who is still sticking around. Undead Thorvald is a possibility if the game gets slow and I can’t figure out anything more appropriate.

About Gilla; if she gets in contact with Mori and I am bored, there is the possibility that she falls madly in love with him. Take that, ambivalent and uncaring poisoner dedicated to Loki. The seeds of a fine tragedy, especially given the distrust Brunhildr has towards Mori.

Nässla, of whom more next, also wants Gilla as an apprentice to replace Mori, who is a lost case, in Nässla’s opinion.


Nässla, also known as Nokkonen, Nettle in English. Male (I should confirm, but won’t due to laziness; I’ll check before the game.) witch, Mori’s mentor, knows his poisons and a few other tricks. Nässla was defined as hateful/rival relationship, which translates to him not appreciating Mori’s adventures on high seas, into which he was forced. Doesn’t matter. Nässla thinks of him as a failure, but intends to make maximum use out of him before the eventual discarding. Fetching Gilla, who has shown promise, would be such a task.

Halvard’s and Leif’s mother (who needs a name) was cursed (probably poisoned) by Nässla due to the village not showing him the respect that is his right. They dared to use another witch, the pathetic [Grímr/Grímr’s dead mother], to cure Thorvald. Of course the mere meddler failed for reasons totally unrelated to whatever Nässla definitely did not do to him. Not a chance of that having happened. Not the slightest. Anyway, Nässla made the woman pay for her disrespect. Framing Mori for the deed would be far too great an opportunity to pass, though it is made a bit more difficult by the fact that Mori was not present when the lady entered her stupor. Maybe Nässla will come up with something clever.

The plot

You just read most of what I have planned that might happen. Note the lack of specific plotline. If players fail or succeed at some stuff, they will get some consequences. I feel the situation surrounding Gilla and Grímr may be even too tight. Game will show.

BBEG, mandatory random encounters

Nifur may be taken as a BBEG, as may Leif and Nässla. Mori has potential to become one, as does Halvard, and even Brunhildr, to lesser extent. Heroic sword skill and the belief that one is better at using it than any man may end up in blood.

I might throw some happiless animals as random encounters due to failed foraging, tracking, etc. rolls. Probably not, but I do have stats in the Monster Burner, if using them becomes an absolute necessity. I don’t foresee that many battles in this game, but maybe the players will surprise me.

That ended up being a rant. I am getting tired. Good night. Good something else for those who live elsewhere.

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Burning vikings: First session

28 January, 2008 at 4:58 pm (Burning vikings, Burning Wheel)

First session report. Yay. It gathered a bit of length.

Originally I intended for the people to have forgotten the returning party, but decided against it, because everyone has a relationship or two in the village, and everyone having forgotten the PCs and others would feel awfully contrived.

Overall, I am satisfied with the fiction and very rusty with applying the rules. The problem is not knowing the rules, but rather being in the right mindset to apply them. BW works best when the rules are used a lot and becomes dead weight if they are avoided.

What follows is is a scene-by-scene overview of the game events. Scenes are not actually mechanically intertwined in BW, but they are an easy way of recalling the session.

Scene 1

Brunhildr (ksym’s char) and Halvard (wgaztari’s char) have some potentially interesting beliefs: Brunhildr wants to have her daughter Gilla to marry someone worthy (Halvard Thorvaldsson qualifies) while Halvard doesn’t want a dishonourable wife, and Gilla Brunhildrsdottir is the daughter of a woman who has gone raiding, which is forbidden, and of a man who can’t take care of himself, which is dishonourable, and whose parent was a witch, which does not help the situation any. I wanted to know how the situation starts.

Scene: The ship is approaching the village where everyone has lived in. Brunhildr and Halvard are discussing the matter. Mostly Halvard stalls, so nothing conclusive is achieved.

Soon enough, a fishing boat is seen. The village itself is located in the far end of a fjord (the game happens either in Norway or an analogy thereof), but few families live close to the sea proper. They can alert in case of incoming attacks and fish in the open seas, as long as weather allows it. The longship approaches and fishermen tell them to get away while they can due to a giant. Doesn’t work.

Not to self: What if they had decided to get away? I kinda trusted them not to, because they knew what the game was about, all their relationships and some beliefs are tied to the village, and the ship doesn’t have that much supplies left. I should probably more clear on this not even being a choice.

Scene 2

Approaching the village, a large shape can be seen walking towards it. Ship’s navigator/captain spots it (none of the PCs can navigate, Brunhildr has some skill in seamanship). This is where I should have asked for steel tests all around, but didn’t, for some peculiar reason. My bad. It is decided that the ship will not be brought near the village. Few men are left to guard it and the rest take a hike (in armour, naturally) towards the village. Mori (played by Thalin) snuck away a bit earlier (instinct: always inconspicuous), but the rest catch up on him due to his low speed (not a roll, I didn’t feel it was important enough). Mori decides to hide and manages to do so with his B1 stealthy +1D from darkness versus the perception B4 of Halvard. I gave Halvard a bonus die for help, which is a breach of the rules, but a shipful of people are worth a bonus die in this situation, IMO. Mori got a routine test for stealthy, Halvard and Brunhildr one towards evidently opening observation.

Scene 3

At the village. Weather becomes windy and there is sleet raining. Gotta love autumn. The giant is seen (another opportunity for steel missed), probably drinking something from a barrel. PC’s go forth (Mori joins the party) and leave their men to wait. They get to the giant, who is discussing with Halvard’s brother, now named Leif, but unnamed in the game. Giant notices Mori, who pretends to fail at sneaking (this would have been a fine opportunity to roll for acting or such, but, alas). The other PCs are likewise noticed. When talking as Nifur the giant, I stand so as to look down on the players. I also try talking more slowly than usual. My first attempt at this theatrics stuff. Hope it somewhat works.

Nifur is straightforward at making his demands: Dead Thorvald’s body due to a blood oath, the treasure the vikings got from their raid and a good meal’s worth of meat, which amounts to a couple of cows. The cows are brought immediately and the rest promised tomorrow. The giant leaves.

Scene 4

Halvard gets the door open via communication. Inside there is some conflicting and sharing news with Leif, Halvard’s brother, who has taken power in the village. Mori mingles with the crowd. Brunhildr seeks her husband and daughter to little effect (should have been a circles roll, dammit), but does find out they are guarding or taking care of the dead Thorvald. Halvard meets her mother, who stares into nowhere and recognises nobody. I make a point of staring past the players when playing her.

Scene 5

Brunhildr send some men to unload the ship and carry two chests (out of five) to the village for the giant’s ransom. This might actually have happened before he went looking for his family, but that is a minor problem. Leif holds a “feast” in Halvard’s honour, mostly to showcase they have preciously little food for the winter. He insults Halvard pretty severely. Halvard walks away, as do his men.

Scene 6

Halvard orders his men back to the feast. Mori goes wandering. Halvard goes to sleep a short while thereafter. Brunhildr asks Leif about her family, hearing that they are not to defend against the giant, but rather keep the corpse in good condition. Leif also insults Brunhildr, IIRC. Brunhildr organises watches for Halvard and then goes to sleep.

Scene 7

Mori goes to his small hut, which incidentally is not located in the village proper. Someone’s been using it, probably as a hunting cabin, but also kept it in fair condition.

Next post: Preparation, spoilers, secrets.

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BW characters visible online

25 January, 2008 at 9:53 am (Burning vikings)

We actually managed to create the characters and write them down on character sheets (which have far too little space for beliefs and instincts, which is a huge shame). They are all linked from my BW wiki profile.

We also played for a session’s worth, on which I will write a more comprehensive post when I am not taking a break between a lecture and a demo. In addition, I have built a mental relationship map, which I should sketch on paper and maybe even put online. A great way of preparing, it is.

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