Eloy’s gaming progress report for February 2016:
WARNING: Suuper long post, rambly and ranting in places. Proceed at your own risk…
1) Just finished Richard Rogers ‘s Apocalypse World 2E PbP. Fantastic end. Sweet and Sad. Triumph and tragedy. After 3 months, it needed to end, but as with all good games, you’re kind of wanting it to stop and at the same time, you’re sad to see it go. Did character epilogues and that is really the best thing ever. Epilogues. You get closure and then are ready to move to something else. Very high quality stuff from the MCs and the players. Had the privilege of playing with a group of awesome people. This was a blast.
2) A Song of Ice and Fire game has picked up again. Had a nice fight, and managed to win. The system is interesting and deadly, but does have some failsafe mechanics in place to avoid the game being too much like GRRM’s writing. I.e. instant death can be avoided. Sometimes, at least. The plot is meandering a bit though (so again, it’s a lot like GRRM). I think we’ve gone a bit too much off to left field. I hope we can get it back on track, as it was very interesting last semester, when we started.
3) Have played 5 sessions of Dogs in the Vineyard, run by Dan Maruschak . I’ve internalized the mechanics, so that fades into the background . Now I’m struggling with the real meat of the game: the interaction of the character with his religion. How far is he willing to go to do what he thinks is right? Where does he draw the line between what is written in his holy book and what he thinks is right or wrong? How do my own beliefs parallel or contradict what this guy is supposed to believe? Why am I even exploring this? How much do I portray a fictional character in a fictional 19th century and how much do I portray my own 21st century beliefs? I can see why this game is so controversial. There can be some serious bleed here.
4) Mouse Guard game is now on hiatus, due to GM having to work related travel until May. Dunno if I’ll pick it up again. I love the concept of MG, but it’s Burning Wheel light. Tastes great, yes, but it’s less filling. The conflict system is nice and simple, but I despise the damage system. The whole Condition track system seems really arbitrary. For an otherwise well established procedure game, this part feels jarring. .. just give them a condition whenever you feel like it… Dunno. Don’t like it.
5) Finished 6th session of Burning Wheel last night. It’s really singing. One player staged a “Red Breakfast”. No wedding, just… breakfast. He poisoned the lord of the keep, made it look like the foreign ambassador did it… then the PC who DID put the poison in the food stabbed the ambassador to death, claiming he was defending the lord of the keep, who prompty expired right there at the table. Bodyguards tried to bodyguard… PC’s intervened. Death and mayhem ensued…
I love how I prep for 15 minutes, sometimes 30 min, and it all goes out the window within the first 5 minutes of play.
I keep encountering people who obsess on how hard it is to play Burning Wheel, mechanically. Okay, I’ll grant that Fight!, the combat subsystem, is difficult to understand. Range and Cover, the missile combat/seizing a position subsystem is even more Byzantine. Injury, particularly wound recovery is also obscure.
But people seem to ignore the fact that you should engage the subsystems infrequently, and that most of the game is the Hub, or core of the game, which is 70-odd pages long, and FREE in pdf format from Burning Wheel Store. The Hub is mechanically super simple.
What most people don’t realize is that Burning Wheel is difficult to play because of BELIEFS and Intent and Task and embracing interesting failure. THAT is what drives the game engine. That is the part that is difficult to understand. How to write a belief, what it means to write a Belief, and how does it drive gameplay. That goes coupled with Intent and Task. Articulating what your intent is in a given situation is what helps the GM what the ‘failure’ condition means. Understanding that ‘failing’ can mean ‘success at a cost’, as any good Indie player should, is key. The wonderful part is how easy BW makes figuring out the ‘failure’ condition… it is given to you by a well articulated Intent.
It took me a couple of years reading forums and listening to podcast of actual play to grok Burning Wheel. It took a friend of mine (an experienced roleplayer, who I also happen to consider one of the brightest people I know) a year playing the game to really get it and internalize it. It is the most fun gamemastering I have ever done. It feels just like being a player. You never know what’s going to happen next. No rails. No rails at all.
So, really. Subsystems too hard? Hell, you can even hack that. I’ve used MouseGuard conflict with BW, with elements of Torchbearer, with a simple tweak to damage mechanics. Simple, fast and works seamlessly.
6) Got inspired by Paul Beakley ‘s posts regarding The One Ring, and the replies from a bunch of other brilliant people who’ve hacked the game to make it less… railroady. I’m getting an urge to read through the published adventures, turn them into a bunch of AW style fronts, and just run TOR sandbox style, improvising just like in my BW game.
I really LOVE TOR mechanics. Just close enough to Burning Wheel, but the combat system is absolutely brilliant. It also has the Player Turn/GM turn structure, but I prefer TOR’s implementation better than MG or Torchbearer.
7) Non gaming related (but close)… was conviced by a friend, and by recent internet posts to check out Stephen King’s the Dark Tower novels. I’ve read the prequel comic books (and those are VERY good) and I’ll confess to having read the last chapter of the last book some years ago, out of curiosity (and loved the ending… which a lot of people seem to hate. It seemed perfect to me.) So, on his advice, I’ve downloaded book 4 (Wizard and Glass) as an audiobook and have started from there (rather than from book 1). Having read the comics, and listened to Book 4 synopsis of the first 3 books, I fully understand what’s going on. It’s going fine so far, but I’m just starting. Let’s see what all the fuss is about….
8) Backed WAAAAY too many RPG kickstarters in February. I’m having second thoughts about at least 1 of those… it hasn’t ended. I’ll probably downgrade my pledge. For the rest, I’m confident I’ll be using them sometime in the future.
9) Also reading Everway RPG… Figured a very simple way to add dice mechanics to this diceless game. Probably blasphemy, but hey! I don’t really like diceless games, and it seems to work fine, with no changes to character creation or stats needed!
How about you? What have you been up to?