In Which They Find Their Tub

Note: This post has content disclaimers.

In Which They Find Their Tub is a game session report for Burning Wheel Gold. We played around the table on .

I had a very of the . In the Wedding and a Wyrding session, I was in character and engaged with the system at the character level. In the 3rd session, I was much more Jeremy and a whole lot less Margaret.

Sifting through the Intent

Working with Margaret’s belief - “These magic items will help me find my missing family members, I must learn how to safely use them." - we engaged the rules looking for someone that would teach Aura Reading to Margaret. There was a bit of table discussion about the scope of the Circle’s test. Should we find someone able and willing to teach us OR simply someone able to teach us.

The above was a classic case of defining intent. Finding someone able and willing was clearly more challenging. So our Circle test was simply “Find us someone who could teach Aura Reading to Margaret.” Once that step was resolved, we’d work at convincing the contact to teach us. In this way, breaking down the intent into discreet steps reduced the obstacle for the Circle test; Which follows the wisdom:

Small successes are easier to achieve in one step than large ones.

To the Circle

Peter successfully circled up someone. The character’s had found an eccentric professor emeritus of the college of magic…and he was a gnome. There was an extra success to the Circle test, and Joe, the Game Master (GM 🔍), gave us the option to find a gnome. Peter’s player, Matt, named the gnome Claudio, so future efforts to circle him up would be easier.

The characters had their potential mentor, but needed to convince him to teach them Aura Reading…and do so on the road. Peter, Chase, and Margaret had decided that pursuing Julia’s captors was more important than waiting the approximate two weeks required for instruction.

As a group, we began to wheedle through the interaction with Claudio. There was role-playing as we started to negotiate the agreement. Margaret and Chase wanted Claudio to come along on the adventure, whereas Claudio wanted money up front, 3 meals a day, and a room in an inn each night. I’m sure we could’ve setup a Haggle test, but as a group we opted to invoke a Duel of Wits

Duel of Wits

Claudio’s statement: “I will come with you, and teach you Aura Reading, but will get a share of any spoils, 20 silver up front (2D resources), a donkey, a cart, 3 paid meals a day, and a room in an inn each night."

Chase and Margaret’s statement: “Travel with us, and teach Aura Reading to Margaret."

The initial disposition was Claudio 6 (5 Will + 3D Haggling) and Chase/Margaret 5 (4 Will + 3D Haggling). Each side began scripting. Jaron and I knew our characters would be devastated if they lost without concession; However, we assumed we’d get a minor compromise.

So Jaron and I approached the Duel of Wits strategically. We both wanted some tests for Chase and Margaret’s various skills, namely Haggling, Falsehood and Ugly Truth.

Table 12: Duel of Wits; Claudio vs. Chase and Margaret
Volley Claudio's Action Claudio's Disposition Chase and Margaret's Action Chase and Margaret's Disposition
1 Obfuscate (failure) 6 Obfuscate (success) 5
2 ? 6 3 Point (success) 5
3 ? 3 Obfuscate (failure) 5
4 Avoid (success) 3 Obfuscate (failure) 5
5 Avoid (success) 3 Point (failure) 5
6 Feint (failure) 3 -1 Point (success) 5

The actions selected by Joe in the Duel of Wits gave form to Claudio’s character. Claudio was a gnome who simply wanted to talk with people, though he didn’t care so much about the subject.

Henry Peter, Chase, and Margaret welcomed Claudio, and informed him that they would be leaving in the morning. Claudio wanted a little more time to get his affairs in order, but capitulated.

The next morning, we stopped by Claudio’s shop and saw his make-shift cart. A hastily repurposed tub.


There was quite a bit more going on than simply finding the professor emeritus tinkering gnome.

Chase’s resources were depleted as he found himself unable to pay for an inn. Taxed resources to B0.

Margaret divined that Julia was in greater danger than Ryan.

Margaret circled up, with enmity, a butcher willing to buy the ceremonial dagger.

Margaret and Chase were able to sell the ceremonial dagger for 30 silver (3D resource dice).

Henry Peter failed to raise bread and suffered a bit of tax.

Henry Peter, with help from both Chase and Margaret, was able to secure traveling gear. Both Chase and Margaret were able to raise their resources to B1.

And we found a doddering crazy old man who had fallen out of the sky, who claims to be the characters' uncle. This particular subplot had best resolve quickly, because as a player I do not want another campaign where we are saddled with a crazy old man.

Margaret successfully tested for her first reading of Flame Breath; She would begin practicals in 2 months.

I should’ve spent one more Persona point on a Perception test so that Margaret would’ve had the best shot at getting a difficult Perception test.

Chase was the workhorse, ensuring that we were able to secure funds.