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[Universalis/Burning Wheel] Playing a game to set up another game

Started by Glendower, September 13, 2006, 06:56:12 AM

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In order to play Burning Wheel, I needed a setting.  I looked at all the settings currently out and thought to myself "I want a setting that everyone is invested in.  Something everyone knew."

So Dave, Wes and Kyle showed up and I suggested a short game of Universalis.  I explained the purpose, we were going to work through the Tenets phase and play out a few scenes in Universalis to create a setting to play Burning Wheel. 

There were raised eyebrows, but everyone understood.  I had played Primetime Adventures with them previously, so they compared this to the pitch session prior ot the series being played. 

Here are the Tenets that we came up with:

Sword + Sorcery Epic
Divine Intervention (Angels and Devils)
World at War
High Magic
Dying Empire
Ice Age
No Common Languages
Limited Resources
Religion Fading
Vampire King
Play stil occurs with any # of players
Air Ships
Anti-Magic Extremists
Players encouraged to suggest direction of play
Lost Lore

Our first scene detailed the world.  Bolded text indicated things we spent coins on as facts or components.

Locked in an Ice Age, two huge glaciers sandwiched the nations to a narow band along the Equator. The North Wall and the South Wall were as tall as mountains.  We focus in the City State of Cold's Reach.  It was Near the North Wall, and had a Powerful Military.  It contained a Citadel and Warlord.  And it was preparing for war against the Orc Servants of the Black Blood.

Second scene:  Across the Cold Wastes, we are introduced to the Republic of Ashtoria.  It is run by Wizards, and only those with Magic Talent are full citizens. The Republic's most powerful stronghold is the Hidden City of Ice Throne.  Ice Throne is located Under the Ice, and is a Democracy of Powerful Magi

Third scene: Next to the Lifeless Sea is the Large Dwarven Hold of Coldstone.  Coldstone is a Major Trading Hub and is partially buried under the North Wall.  It is Ruled by Clan Matriarchs.

Kyle confessed he was pretty tired, we all were, but we did like the tenets and some of the locations we were building.  We decided to call a hold on Universalis and start building their Burning Wheel characters.  I set up a 5 lifepath limit.  They all opted to be human, and decided to all be from Cold's Reach. 

Kyle went for a Noble Born Knight, though he vowed not to be a squire.  He ended up going Born Noble - Groom - Cavalryman - Knight - Captain.  Kyle enjoys playing capable, martial characters, and he was really getting into the stats and strategy of his lifepath. 

Both Wes and Dave went for spellcasters, though both took slightly different paths.  Dave went for Born Noble - Arcane Devotee - War Wizard - War Wizard - Sorcerer.  The second War Wizard Lifepath choice was an interesting one.  Dave told me that since the the city state was preparing for war, it struck him that they likely wanted their fighting mages well trained. 

Wes however, took a different tack.  City born - Arcane Devotee - War Wizard - Scholar - Sorcerer.  Easily the oldest character at 40, Wes saw him as a distinguished patriot, a veteran of a war fought several years ago. 

Everyone agreed how amazing it was to use Universalis to put together the world.  Once the world was sketched out, the Burning Wheel characters began to fall into place.  The lifepath Character Burner began to put meat on the bones of these characters already.  Dave and Wes began to talk about the "old vs new blood Magicians".  We began to discuss a mission of diplomacy, the Wizards heading to Ashtoria with the Captain to appeal for an alliance against the Orc armies. 

Sadly we ran out of time, so things were placed on hold until next week.  I got everyone thinking about their beliefs and instincts for next game, when we finish burning characters. 

I have a few questions here.  I noticed that Universalis' site suggests doing exactly this to make settings, and I was wondering how successful it has been in doing this.   I'm worried about the effects on the two games, and whether or not one will ruin the other.  I really want everyone to be on the same page with this game, and since both rules are pretty new for me it's been a struggle to figure stuff out.  Is there any suggestions on how to proceed from here?  Is there any danger zones I should keep an eye out for?  I'd appreciate any assistance!
Hi, my name is Jon.


Fantastic.  I think this is one way where Universalis can really shine.  Often times first time players of Universalis (as with many shared authority games) tend to take their authority in a more silly direction.  Knowing, however, that what they create now will actually have meaning later in the other game has proven to be a pretty good way of keeping things well grounded.

What do you think about continuing to intersperse Universalis sessions within your Burning Wheel campaign; using Uni to move the BW meta plot forward, develop what the orcs are up to, a succession crisis in Cold Stone, or other macro elements that could either wind up being incorporated into your BW character's adventures or just serve as "news from afar" to give the world a bit more depth?

I don't know of any "danger zones" but one thing to keep an eye on (and possibly create a Uni Gimmick to deal with) is what to do if the two overlap.  If a BW character gets introduced into a Universalis scene...what happens?  I can think of alot of ways to handle it that are probably equally good...but its likely a good idea to settle on an avenue in advance.

Thor Olavsrud


Very cool stuff! I've never tried using Universalis for world building for another game, but the process is similar to the way I set up my Burning Wheel games, so I don't think you'll run into any problems. I hope you continue to keep us posted on how this works for you. And Yikes! Two wizards. Very potent.

Out of curiosity, had any of you recently read Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World series (starts with The Anvil of Ice)?


Hey Jon,

Sounds really awesome. Keep us posted! I, too, was going to suggest Ralph's back-and-forth play suggestion; I've never played either game, but it seems like a good idea. Don't know how well it would work, though.

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