So, I haven’t blogged much about RPGs lately, but I HAVE been playing on a pretty regular basis, mostly Burning Wheel), of course. Tonight’s session of our Into the Wilds old skool campaign was especially awesome. I wrote a REALLY long actual play post on page 9 of that thread, so I won’t repeat it here. I’m working toward earning the “scheming” trait for my character. It’s fun!
I’ll have a more extensive post (or series of posts) coming in the next few days as I assimilate what happened to my brain at GenCon, but suffice it to say for now that GenCon was mentally and physically exhausting and one of the best times I’ve had a in a long time. Period.
There are photos from GenCon taken by Dro and Tim from a couple of the games I was in (Burning Wheel and Burning Empires). The Burning Wheel game was one of the highlights of my RPGing career. The Burning Wheel guys (Luke, Thor, Dro) were super-nice and really made us feel welcome at GenCon, going out of their way to include us in stuff. Thanks, guys!
I got my GenCon 2006 badge in the mail today! W00t! My trip to GenCon got thwarted by house repairs last year, but this year nothing’s going to stop me. We (my friend Tim and I) also bought our plane tickets last night, too, so I REALLY can’t NOT go this year.
If you look closely, you can see my two favorite event tickets, too: (1) Luke Crane’s “Fires Over Omac” Burning Empires session and (2) Luke Crane’s “Inheritance” Burning Wheel session. Tim and I both are playing in both sessions, and we’re really looking forward to the Luke Crane Experience ™.
P.S. GenCon people: your website SUUUCCKKKSSSSS!! Seriously. Hire some serious usability experts next year to redesign the information in your site, not just tart it up.
In a recent post on the BW forums, Luke said something that’s had me thinking: “If you are playing Burning Wheel and you enter into Fight, you must be prepared to die. (And you must be prepared to kill, but that’s assumed for all roleplayers, which I think is sick.)”
There IS a sort of assumption in roleplaying that killing is just something that PCs do. It’s rarely — if ever — questioned and even then it’s usually in something like a horror game where the PCs are “regular” people. It’s not always something that you need or want to worry about, sometimes when playing an RPG it IS just about killing things and taking their stuff. But, sometimes it’s about more than that.
In our current BW game (desert people working to overthrow the evil sorceror king dictators and restore the rightful prince to the throne of their oppressed and enslaved people), I’ve been searching for something to back up my character’s Belief about whether or not he’s evil (really quick: he used to be a membe of one of the sorceror king’s elite assassin/spy cadre, but saw the light and is now working to overthrow the sorceror kings).
The Belief is “I have done evil things, but I am not evil.” Yeah, I know it sucks. I’m still working on that Belief, because it doen’t really convey what I’m after — which is a way to externalize (through the mechanics of the game) an internal struggle, specifically, whether it’s possible for Khasid to turn to the good side after a terrible life and a career as a killer. He has to come to terms with the fact that he needs to put those skills to use to fight for good instead of for evil. Can he take the same actions — though for different reasons — and consider himself “good” now? Is it the act or the intent that defines “good” or “evil”? Or is there some grey area?
Those are the internal things that I have this character struggling with. I don’t know that it IS possible to deal with that explicitly in-game without some whining and moaning via “pure roleplay” (something I’m not always very good at). But BW makes me want to be a little more serious and examine things a little deeper than some other RPGs that I’ve played (Note to Martin: I won’t specifically slag D&D here!).
Luke’s post has inspired some good discussion (on the BW forum and amongst my group via email) about the role of combat in RPGs and specifically of Fight! (the BW combat system) in BW. I’m not sure I agree with his contention that “[t]he mechanics in Fight (and Armor and Injury) are about one thing — killing and surviving an attempt on your (character’s) life. Burning Wheel — the entire game — is about this struggle.” I think he better expresses it in this quote a little later in that post:
The implicit objective in every Fight is survival — humiliation and murder are sister satellite goals — but it is your very life that’s on the line in these conflicts. Will you die for what you believe in?… The game is not about random murder. It’s about being forced into this situation by your Beliefs â€” right or wrong! â€” and laying your life on the line.
I think we flirt with that state in our BW game. We can definitely feel it when we’re there â€” and especially when we’re not. And Luke’s right: when you’re in that state, the game just burns.
So, we’ve been playing the Burning Riddle of Steel Wheels game for several months now. It started as a Riddle of Steel game that we converted to BW. The name is tongue-in-cheek and has many variations.
It’s been one of the best games I’ve EVER played in (in 25 years of off-and-on roleplaying), though it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride. I’d like to point out some of the things we’ve done right and some that we’ve done — and continue to do — wrong.
The first is: in a player-driven game the players have to freakin’ DO SOMETHING.