Nerdvana: I'm GenCon '06 bound!

GenCon2006 badge photoI 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.

30 Days of the Burning Wheel: Fight!ing and Killing

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 — right or wrong! — 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 — and especially when we’re not. And Luke’s right: when you’re in that state, the game just burns.

30 Days of The Burning Wheel: DO SOMETHING! Those Beliefs are there for a reason!

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.

Continue reading 30 Days of The Burning Wheel: DO SOMETHING! Those Beliefs are there for a reason!

30 Days of The Burning Wheel: once again into the breach…

Some “issues” sorta interrupted my 30 Days of Burning Wheel series I started way back in February.

But, I’ve been playing pretty regularly then (if not blogging), and I’ve got some things I’d like to write about. I hope to have one up later tonight and maybe another in a day or two with at least a couple more to follow.

See you soon…

Catching Up

It’s been a while, so I should update my status a bit:

  1. RPGs: Haven’t been roleplaying for the last few weeks due to sundry other commitments for members of the group. It’s been a nice break, but I’m anxious to get back to it and soon.
  2. Viewing: Just moments ago finished watching the first season of Deadwood. It’s one of the best shows on TV, right up there with Battlestar Galactica. It (like BSG) is a great example of what great stories can errupt when you throw a lot of characters that are full of conflict into a confined space and force them to confront their issues. To combine this item and the one just previous, I want to play some Dust Devils sometime soon. Deadwood also has two odd, almost competing effects on my speech. On the one hand, it strains mightily my efforts to rein in my pottymouth. On the other, it makes me want to talk (and blog) in a somewhat archaic and formal manner, which may permeate to some small extent this very post. Those of you who are fans of the show will most certainly know what I mean.
  3. Weather: We’re about to get our first round of heavy weather tomorrow. For those of you that don’t live in — or, rather, near as is more accurate — Tornado Alley, that might not mean much. Those of you that do know that anticipation of a big storm system is complex. Having never faced war, I’d liken it to anticipation of a battle, maybe a battle against a stumbling blind idiot god.
  4. Reading: Been re-reading a lot lately, actually, and enjoying the hell out of it. I’ve got a longer piece percolating about a handful of books with related themes that really shaped certain aspects of my personality. You’ll probably recognize just one of them, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. It’s the only one of the three that’s still widely available in print. I just discovered last week that another one is now available from a boutique publisher in my very own state who is trying to revive the author’s list. I’m sending him some money (via the wonder of the Internets) today. I’ll report back at length when I’ve received and (re)read that one.
  5. Sickness and health: After a weekend of gastronomic debauchery, my digestive system rebelled. It was a painful twelve hours but I hope to have learnt my lesson. if nothing else, it’s gotten me back on the clean livin’ bandwagon. In partial effort toward that end, I’ve joined the Mr. Bento Fan Club, enjoying my first meal with his assistance just today. See my Flickr stream (linked hereabouts) for the details.
  6. Water: My primary means of recreating or hobbifying for the last ten years or so has been through flyfishing (and other outdoor activities like hiking and birding), mostly for warmwater species (especially smallmouth bass). The unfortunate downside to liking to chase the basses, though, means that there’s precious little to do during the winter (when about all you can catch on the fly is trout, which are plentiful herebouts but stocked, not native). However, the season usually kicks off in early March with a bang: the white bass spawning run. When the water temperature hits around 56F (the exact number is in question and the subject of much heated debate) they charge up out of the depths of the local Army Corps of Engineers impoundment (i.e., big-ass lake) and up the rivers that feed said big-ass lake. The run is on. I aim to do some fishing as soon as the big weather passes, as standing in a river waving a nine-foot length of graphite is generally discouraged when lightning is about.
  7. Family: The Boy is three years old now. It goes fast, folks. Make no mistake about that. Lots of friends and family in town and around this past weekend for the Birthday Party. Much fun was had by all, not the least of which The Boy, who slept in his new tent in his bedroom that night. He’s a funny kid. He’s currently visiting The Wife’s grandparents in the care of The Wife’s parents. He’s only been away for 30 hours, but I miss him like crazy. I can’t even begin to imagine sending him off to college.

I guess that’s about it. If there’s anything else of note, I’ll let you know.