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Author Topic: Questions in prepping my BW game  (Read 7860 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: July 12, 2004, 06:28:48 AM »

Hello,

I'm prepping for our upcoming Burning Wheel game, which is planned to be a pretty extensive set of sessions. I'm doing this mainly by dumping as much into the soup as possible, as opposed to planning out a "story arc" step by step in advance.

But we're being pretty specific, as it turns out, in our focus. All three player-characters are elves, and pretty old ones at that (six lifepaths at least). All of them are Outriders (one a Lancer), and character creation alone put Grief in the 5-8 range across them; one has Gray Steel. So we aren't talking weenies here - these are tough, singing, scary elves.

I was startled to discover a great deal of romance, broken romance, and hatred among elves when the players wrote up their Contacts ... one of them suggested we were beginning "the Jerry Springer elvish adventure." And here I was planning on bloody carnage being the main focus.

I have a few questions, though ...

1. Do different Laments do different things, i.e., deal with different aspects of Grief? I kind of hope the answer is yes - that if you have (say) two Laments that deal respectively with the dying of the race and with the death of friends, that you aren't personally equipped to deal with killing innocents and must roll your Grief for that without Lamenting. (Or maybe try to stumble through an unskilled Lament of that sort, I dunno)

And if the answer is yes, then I can figure out most of the Laments' spheres from their names, but might have to make a master list and see if there are any holes in my understanding.

If the answer is no, then I'm a little puzzled - any Lament can help deal with any Grief-inducing experience? Seems a little funny, in that the different Lament names and associations with specific lifepaths then become merely color.

2. Can an elf who knows Lament X help another elf perform Lament X, as per the helping rules? Or is such help limited to the Song of Songs? And perhaps most importantly, can one elf Lament for another one who doesn't know that one? (I presume not)

3. Does Grief ever drop? When and how?

4. Since these characters don't correspond to the classic "quit your job, go adventurin'" model of role-playing characters, but rather are embedded in the jobs/lifestyles intrinsic to their lifepaths, their starting Resources seem a little lean. Or is it reasonable to think that Outriders really don't have much more than their steeds and weapons?

Thanks!
Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2004, 07:14:37 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
1. Do different Laments do different things, i.e., deal with different aspects of Grief?


I confess that the original intention of those rules is to allow one Lament function as the outlet of grieving, no matter what its nature. I know that is a little less cool, but I went in this direction because the Grief rules are so stringent.

Quote
2. Can an elf who knows Lament X help another elf perform Lament X, as per the helping rules? Or is such help limited to the Song of Songs? And perhaps most importantly, can one elf Lament for another one who doesn't know that one? (I presume not)


Yes, Song X can help Song X. This goes for all songs, not just Laments. Song of Songs can help any song.

I don't understand the last bit of question there. But an Elf may lament another regardless of the songs the Lamented possesses.

Quote
3. Does Grief ever drop? When and how?

No, Grief does not drop, cannot drop and will not drop. This is my reason for allowing any Lament to mitigate the effects of Grief. All a character can do is properly Lament, and reduce the effects of the Grief test (but it is still a test!), or make choices that avoid tragedy, death and betrayal.

Quote
4. Since these characters don't correspond to the classic "quit your job, go adventurin'" model of role-playing characters, but rather are embedded in the jobs/lifestyles intrinsic to their lifepaths, their starting Resources seem a little lean. Or is it reasonable to think that Outriders really don't have much more than their steeds and weapons?


I can't comment on the character's resources without seeing their actual expenditures. I find it hard to believe that 6-LP Elves are having trouble scraping together RPs for Shoes and a contact or two. While Outriders are definitely not the wealthiest characters in Elvendom, an Elven Steed and Elven Arms only cost 23 rps. And even if you were Born Wild, Song Singer, Outrider (25 rps) you could afford an Elven Steed (8), R-o-M Bow (5), and Plated Leather Armor (6 rps) and still have some good wiggle room. (Outriders, by their skills, are Mounted Bowmen.)

Perhaps you could post their LPs and resource expenditures if you're still having trouble on that point?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2004, 07:44:54 AM »

Quote from: abzu

Quote
And perhaps most importantly, can one elf Lament for another one who doesn't know that one? (I presume not)


I don't understand the last bit of question there. But an Elf may lament another regardless of the songs the Lamented possesses.


Ron means whether an Elf can use a lament to help another in a Grief test. I'd assume no, but haven't read the rules that carefully lately. Then again, if they can support each other when both know the lament, would that then mean that they can only support when both lament for personal reason instead of "just" supporting?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2004, 08:22:03 AM »

Hi,

Cool - thanks! Clarifications and reactions follow ...

We might tweak the Laments a little, making their obstacles higher if the title of the Lament seems especially ill-suited to the topic of Grief in a given instance. That's a "might," though. Let's see what the players think; one or more of them might come up with a very good suggestion about this. I do know that we won't tweak them much, and that we'll stick to your intent, Luke, that Laments are multi-topic.

I'll re-phrase the question that Eero re-phrased. Let's say that we have an elf who knows no Laments at all. He or she is Grieving, here comes the roll.

Along comes the elf's elf buddy, who does know a Lament. Can this elf sing the Lament in order to reduce the first elf's chances of increasing Grief?

Elf #1: making Grief roll, not Lamenting
Elf #2: not making Grief roll, but Lamenting

Again, I suspect not - it's too easy just to keep a group of Lamenters wailing away in the background as you do tons of horrible things and never yourself Lament.

I'll do a double-check on the expenditures. The player who commented on this does occasionally tend to miss an arithmetical corner or two.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2004, 08:41:03 AM »

Quote
Along comes the elf's elf buddy, who does know a Lament. Can this elf sing the Lament in order to reduce the first elf's chances of increasing Grief?


HELL NO.

However, the Lament-knowing Elf can help his friend. This situation is perfect for the grieving Elf to take the first test toward learning a Lament.  The situation is applicable -- he's got something to lament and someone to teach him how. So, under the sorrowful direction of his companion, he could test his Will at double obstacle penalty and earn a test against his Will aptitude toward learning the Lament.

"Go ahead, scream a little. I know it hurts..."

-L
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2004, 08:51:21 AM »

Excellent! That's the answer I thought would make most sense.

Any examples of Grieving elves from actual play would be most appreciated.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2004, 07:33:50 AM »

Here's an actual play example:

An elven delegation consisting of a Prince, a Loremaster, a Sword Singer and a Ranger visits a Dwarven Hold to open up negotiations with a recently coronated Dwarven Prince.

In the course of the negotiations, the Ranger goes mad. He hates Dwarves and feels they are treacherous. Dealing with the Dwarves goes against his Instincts and Beliefs. Already an Ob 1 Grief test. Quite possibly an Ob 5 Grief test because the Ranger feels his companions are betraying his homeland. (I, in fact, was going to go with the Ob 5 test, but the Ranger player just ran with it...) The Ranger's Grief is B7, so the Ob 1 test wouldn't affect him, and the Ob 5 would be a Difficult test toward advancement.

The Ranger feels so bitter and betrayed as negotiations draw to a close, that he hatches a scheme. He manages to divert attention away from the imminent agreement and cause enough suspicion and mistrust for the Elves to decide to leave quietly in the night.

The Dwarves catch them and arrest them in the great hall as they are making their exit. The Ranger slips away. He attempts to assassinate the Dwarven Prince and fails. (That's an Ob 4 Grief test; a Routine test for his B7 Grief. Routines don't count for advancement after exp 5.)

To his amazement, the Ranger watches the Dwarven and Elven Princes bond over the threat to his life. In fact, they become fast friends and agree the Ranger must be stopped. Elf and Dwarf take up the hunt looking for this wayward soul.

Betrayed by his friends (I let the Ob 5 Grief test from above ride), the Ranger loses his mind and all hope. He assassinates his longtime friend, companion and leader, the Elven Prince. He takes an Ob 7 Grief test (another Difficult toward advancement).

The Loremaster and the Sword Singer then take Ob 6 Grief tests as they have been personally betrayed by the Ranger. (I held off on the Ob 8 test, I sensed more coming!) The Loremaster has a B3 Grief, so she notches a Challenging test. The Sword Singer has a B7, he marks a Difficult.

The Ranger is caught by the Sword Singer who slays him. In fact, the Ranger's last word was "Traitor!" as he spit into the Sword Singer's face.

Now the Sword Singer is up for some Grief! His BITs were all about protecting the Elven Prince. He failed. Utterly. He gets the Ob 9 "Hopes and dreams have come to naught" test.  A Challenging test for this tortured soul! Also, he had to kill his friend who's mind had been twisted to the side of darkness. An Ob 7 test. Another Difficult.

The Loremaster notches an Ob 3 Grief test just for watching all this murder take place. And an Ob 4 for losing her two close friends. Hell, I threw in an Ob 1, too. The Ranger lied to his companions and caused this strife.

So the final tally:
Ranger, B7 Grief: Three Difficult tests toward advancement (the third is from his Mortal Wound). If he had lived (gah!) he would need 1 Difficult and two Challenging tests to advance to B8. Not bad for one session!

Loremaster, B3 Grief: 1 Routinte, 1 Difficult and 2 Challenging tests for the session! She only needs two more Routine tests and that Grief goes up. Routines are inevitable, so her Grief is going up shortly.

And the poor Sword Singer, he takes: two Difficults and a Challenging. He needs 4 Difficults and a 2 Challengings total to advance. He is precariously close to advancing that Grief!



This was, by far, one of my favorite sessions. If you set your BITs right, you can have some very dramatic play.

hope that helps,
-L
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Luke
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« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2004, 07:34:05 AM »

Here's an actual play example:

An elven delegation consisting of a Prince, a Loremaster, a Sword Singer and a Ranger visits a Dwarven Hold to open up negotiations with a recently coronated Dwarven Prince.

In the course of the negotiations, the Ranger goes mad. He hates Dwarves and feels they are treacherous. Dealing with the Dwarves goes against his Instincts and Beliefs. Already an Ob 1 Grief test. Quite possibly an Ob 5 Grief test because the Ranger feels his companions are betraying his homeland. (I, in fact, was going to go with the Ob 5 test, but the Ranger player just ran with it...) The Ranger's Grief is B7, so the Ob 1 test wouldn't affect him, and the Ob 5 would be a Difficult test toward advancement.

The Ranger feels so bitter and betrayed as negotiations draw to a close, that he hatches a scheme. He manages to divert attention away from the imminent agreement and cause enough suspicion and mistrust for the Elves to decide to leave quietly in the night.

The Dwarves catch them and arrest them in the great hall as they are making their exit. The Ranger slips away. He attempts to assassinate the Dwarven Prince and fails. (That's an Ob 4 Grief test; a Routine test for his B7 Grief. Routines don't count for advancement after exp 5.)

To his amazement, the Ranger watches the Dwarven and Elven Princes bond over the threat to his life. In fact, they become fast friends and agree the Ranger must be stopped. Elf and Dwarf take up the hunt looking for this wayward soul.

Betrayed by his friends (I let the Ob 5 Grief test from above ride), the Ranger loses his mind and all hope. He assassinates his longtime friend, companion and leader, the Elven Prince. He takes an Ob 7 Grief test (another Difficult toward advancement).

The Loremaster and the Sword Singer then take Ob 6 Grief tests as they have been personally betrayed by the Ranger. (I held off on the Ob 8 test, I sensed more coming!) The Loremaster has a B3 Grief, so she notches a Challenging test. The Sword Singer has a B7, he marks a Difficult.

The Ranger is caught by the Sword Singer who slays him. In fact, the Ranger's last word was "Traitor!" as he spit into the Sword Singer's face.

Now the Sword Singer is up for some Grief! His BITs were all about protecting the Elven Prince. He failed. Utterly. He gets the Ob 9 "Hopes and dreams have come to naught" test.  A Challenging test for this tortured soul! Also, he had to kill his friend who's mind had been twisted to the side of darkness. An Ob 7 test. Another Difficult.

The Loremaster notches an Ob 3 Grief test just for watching all this murder take place. And an Ob 4 for losing her two close friends. Hell, I threw in an Ob 1, too. The Ranger lied to his companions and caused this strife.

So the final tally:
Ranger, B7 Grief: Three Difficult tests toward advancement (the third is from his Mortal Wound). If he had lived (gah!) he would need 1 Difficult and two Challenging tests to advance to B8. Not bad for one session!

Loremaster, B3 Grief: 1 Routinte, 1 Difficult and 2 Challenging tests for the session! She only needs two more Routine tests and that Grief goes up. Routines are inevitable, so her Grief is going up shortly.

And the poor Sword Singer, he takes: two Difficults and a Challenging. He needs 4 Difficults and a 2 Challengings total to advance. He is precariously close to advancing that Grief!



This was, by far, one of my favorite sessions. If you set your BITs right, you can have some very dramatic play.

hope that helps,
-L
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Judd
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« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2004, 03:32:27 AM »

Elves in this game just rock and reading this thread has renewed my interest to get this game on the table.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2004, 06:25:07 AM »

Hi Luke,

Am I understanding properly in thinking that you roll for elf characters' Grief after the session, rather than during play itself?

This puzzles me a little, as Grief + Lamenting seem to me to be awesome opportunities for scenes and role-playing.

Best,
Ron
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Luke
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« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2004, 06:37:05 AM »

No, it's an in-session thing. In the particular example I gave, things were coming so hot and heavy that I was forced to make mental notes of the Grief to be doled out later. The players were a collective juggernaut in that session, and I was mostly sitting back and watching.

-L
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rafial
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« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2004, 05:06:09 PM »

As an aside (and correct me if I'm wrong Luke) but Grief tests don't involve rollling any dice.  The obstacle of the Grief test is just used to determine the level (Routine, Difficult, Challenging) of the test for purposes of advancement.

The only rolling you'd do would be to see if you successfully Lament (thus potentially reducing the level of the Grief test you must record).

Or have I completely misunderstood?

Ron, you may also have been aware of this, I just noticed up above you mentioned "rolling for grief" which didn't quite jive with my understanding (or you may have been referring to rolling for the lament).
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taepoong
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2004, 12:35:00 PM »

You've got it correct, rafial.
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