2008-01-20 Burning Wheel

I really want a BurningWheel game! I recently mentioned how impressed I was with a two player Skype game [1]. Today I was looking for reviews of BurningEmpires – a science fiction game based on a comic I’ve never heard of and I stumbled over yet another Burning Wheel game report that I loved to read. [2] And it’s a one on one game on top of it all!

I’m interested in learning about non-combat oriented games, one-on-one games, and using other media (and I’ve already tried text-only in a MUSH and I’ve seen play by post, ie. forums).

Anyway, I put Monster Burner and Burning Empires into my shopping cart, but then I started looking for copies of the books in second hand stores, investigating the websites, and checking out the comics – and eventually I wasted so much time that I reconsidered and abandoned the shopping cart. I should get a game of Burning Wheel started before actually buying any supplements.

Oh, I already bought one. The Blossoms Are Falling. Oh well.

I decided to buy the two comics that Burning Empires is based upon – Iron Empires. They’re drawn by Christoph Moeller. They seem to be available from my local comic shop, Analph.

Reading the chapter on beliefs, instincs, and traits again, I see how it can work. The hard part is getting my head around the fact that this game is so far away from the various D&D variants out there.

Belief: Three things you really believe in. Stuff that involves you in the world and leads to conflict. Example: “Lord Onishi built his castle on the lands of my ancestors. I will destroy his clan and kill all of his sons.”

Instincts: Three things you will automatically do, always. A condition followed by an action, for example. “Whenever someone draws a weapon without proper ceremonial warning, I will attack immediately.”

Traits: Simple stuff that describes your character or provides a small bonus in certain situations.

The cool thing is how you rise in power:

  1. achieve goals that support your beliefs
  2. act on your instincts when it leads you into trouble
  3. after 6-12 sessions, the table votes on new traits for characters based on past performance

As I said, it’s very alien to me. But I can see how the system encourages you to pick beliefs that draw you into conflict, because the the system rewards you for it.

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