Session #2 of our “Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker” campaign (aka BBC) started out with just Matt and I, though Jaron arrived an hour into the game. In the first session, we had actually gotten a bit of role-playing in.
Given the length of this session recap, I’m going to put the observations up front. Read on if you want more.
The Artha Cycle
This is the session where the Artha cycle really clicked for me. I burned through crap loads of Artha fighting for both existing and emergent beliefs. At the end of the session, I reaped a mountain of Artha…though not nearly as much as I started with.
There was a delicious moment where, as a player, I had to decide if Margaret would truly do everything possible to track her sister down. Here I was, ready to burn Deed and Persona on an untrained Persuasion test. This precious Artha could help Margaret save her sister but wouldn’t be available for use in grey shifting Margaret’s Sorcery or Perception.
A wonderful conundrum, and once I spent the Artha, I immediately began to mechanically reconsider my character; I had spent 2 Fate, 3 Persona, and 2 Deed points on Will tests. Mercifully the beginner’s luck obstacle was so high that it counted as a Will test.
With a bit of “gaming” I hope to be able to Gray shift my will before opening too many Will-based skills. And if I do it right, I might be able to get Will-based skill tests close to the aptitude so I can then quickly open those skills as Grey shifted.
Our Wonderful Game Master
It is clear that our game master, Joe, has a story that he wants to tell. I’m curious where he thinks the story will go. However, given that this is Burning Wheel, I don’t know if the story will go in that direction.
In response to what is a strong narrative direction, I’ve realigned my character’s beliefs so they are more self-actionable. This should mean that I have greater control of my character’s reward cycle. Note the beliefs are at the end of this blog post.
Sorcery is dangerous…and I believe the GM should make a hard move. In the case of Margaret’s failed sorcery for Low Speech the garbled transmission for came out as: 50s of Paces, Permanent, Sight Origin, Destroy impetus, White element.
In my opinion, it would’ve been much worse than a single poor tiger being forever consumed by white fire. After all, given Margaret’s brother was right behind her and her family oriented beliefs, failure would’ve really hit her beliefs quite hard.
For those of you running Burning Wheel and curious what is the price of a failed test, look to Sorcery. Four of six times, it is simply be taxing (i.e. harmless dissipation), two in six times hell could break loose (i.e. garbled transmission and unwanted summoning).
Session #1 Recap
Margaret (me), Chase (Jaron), Peter (Matt) were part of a large family. And they were all gathered for their sister Julia’s wedding. In fact, Peter had spent many days enchanting the wedding cake; It was “delicious” and would grant everyone who ate it ranks in Etiquette for one test with the bride.
Margaret first divined that the wedding day would be a wyrding day; She wasn’t certain what this meant, but knew it would be terrible to have the wedding on that day. Margaret was able to convince Julia to postpone the wedding.
In addition to the wedding, there was a carnival in town as well as strangers asking around for members of the Whiteguard family. Margaret did a little investigating, and opted to cast Low Speech to talk with one of the families dogs…
Botched! Margaret instead summoned Yoltaka the Hunter of Winter. Yoltaka demanded that both Margaret and Chase protect their family, saying our bloodline was important. This could’ve been a bit harder hitting, but who expects a lesser god to show up when you talk to a dog.
Shaken by their experience, Margaret and Chase parted ways. Margaret went to butcher a pig for the wedding and Chase and his brother Ryan went hunting. While hunting Chase found a strange box with a small mouth for a key hole. We ended the session there.
Preamble for Session #2
Over the past month, I had reworked my beliefs and instincts:
- B1 - I will find and stop the family member who is committing vile acts.
- B2 - I will protect my family from harm, but I must first find out what happened to my daughter.
- B3 - redacted as I’ve since overwritten it
- I1 - Every morning, consult the portents.
- I2 - Only eat meat that I have killed.
- I3 - Always inspect the entrails of the dead.
Session #2 Recap
The session began with Margie (my character) butchering yet another pig. And then it got weird. The blood was flowing backwards during the butchering. At the homestead, Peter noticed that the water had turned into mirrors. Music began playing, quasi-tangible dancers danced, people walked backwards, and an army appeared on the families lands.
Margaret butchered many chickens, each time consulting the portents, but unsure what the day meant. The chaos culminated when the cake which Peter created burst open and hundreds of crows issued forth.
As all of this was happening, the family gathered at the homestead, except Julia was missing. Margaret, Chase, and Peter, having briefly studied the weird box, quickly ran to the fields, and saw that a portal was opening and several blind priests were trying to grab Julia.
Chase fired off a quick shot, wounding one of the priests, but not before Julia was abducted. Margaret, burning shit-loads of Artha, persuaded the injured priest that the arrow was poisoned and he needed to stay so we could give him the antidote. Amazingly, it worked.
And this is where things turned grim. Margaret jumped on him and began stabbing. The priest attempted to self-immolate. Chase shot an arrow point blank. Eventually, Margaret used the priests fresh entrails to divine that Julia had been taken to the Monastery of the Jade Flame, near the Burning Pools.
Returning to the homestead, Ryan was missing. He had went into the fields with the army and disappeared. The box, which had been hidden, was still there. With the family surrounded by utter chaos, they decided to head to town and stay in safety among the villagers. By this point, Margaret had taxed her Forte to 1 and was ready for a good night’s rest.
While traveling to the village, Margaret fell asleep and dreamt of the box and a familiar voice saying “Feed Me.” The box had white shields, and Peter deduced they represented houseWhiteguard. Chase, having already pricked his fingers on the box, decided a drop of blood would open it. Inside were four wonderous and strange artifacts: a platinum amulet, a twisted wand, a blue box, and a black glove. And apparently someone had fallen out of the sky when the box was opened.
Margaret, channeling her “Touch of the Ages” determined bits of the item powers, and quickly determined these items were powerful and in some cases dangerous.
The Whiteguard family arrived in town and secured rooms. During the evening, Chase awoke early – he was carrying the “blue box of the time lord” – and found that someone had killed village guards and set fire to some of the villages. Chase confronted the man, who claimed to be Brian, a brother of Chase. Before too much could be ascertained, Brian touched something at his neck, and disappeared.
In the morning, Chase, Margaret, and Peter went to the carnival looking for more information about anything. Margaret decided to approach a monkey and ask around. I wanted a Routine test for Margaret’s sorcery and communicating with a monkey via Low Speech. It turned out that a man of interest had talked to a tiger. Margaret and Chase approached the Tiger and Margaret attempted to cast Low Speech.
Botched! Garbled transmission. The poor tiger was doomed to be eternally consumed by white fire. We wrapped the session up there.
Session #2 Postlude
During the session, Margaret advanced her Astrology from B2 to B3, Butchery from B2 toB3, Sorcery from B4 to B5, and Forte from B4 to B5. She had burned through 2 Deed, 5 Persona, and 4 Fate points, but in doing so, it became clear what her character. I did manage to earn 5 Fate points and 3 Persona points for Margaret.
Once the session was over, I worked up some more applicable beliefs for Margaret.
- B1 - These magic items will help me find my missing family members, I must learn how to safely use them.
- B2 - I once surrendered a daughter to fates unknown, but I will now stop at nothing to protect my family.
- B3 - I will convince Peter to teach me destructive magic so I can defend myself from agents of hated Brotherhood.