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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