Inn Witch They Pig Out

This past Sunday, we played our fourth session of the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker.  I had a blast but wanted to break down what I feel were the important scenes of the session.  This is part #1 of the session report.

Inn Witch They Pig Out

That first night, Margaret convinced the others that they should leave early in the morning and leave the old man behind.  Everyone reluctantly agreed, and early in the morning they were getting ready to leave when guards from the capital accosted them saying that Margaret and Chase were wanted for questioning by the head inquisitor in the capital.

Margaret wanted to stall, so insisted she left something behind upstairs and needed to get it.  Two guards were going to go along, but Chase insisted that his sister not be left alone.  So they went up to the room, and looked around, but the guards were getting frustrated at Margaret. Meanwhile, Walt and Peter were unsaddling the guards’ horses and having the stable boy take them out to pasture.

Chase convinced them that it might be in the old mans room — a room full of chicken feathers.  The guards reluctantly agreed, and in the room Margaret’s thoughts turned to the black glove — She didn’t know what it did other than “drain things.”  She put it on, and vanished.

Chase freaked out and the guards immediately drew steel and ushered him outside.  Margaret, meanwhile, went out to the stables and was going to cast Phantasmagoria.  As the guards came outside, Peter drew his wand and “grabbed” three of the five swords away from the guard.

Peter from atop the wagon in a meek voice, attempted to intimidate the guards into backing down.  They would have none of it.  At that point, Chase, took off running, easily beating his captors.  Peter set the wagon in motion, and Walt successfully repelled on of the guardsman who attempted to get onto the wagon.  The character’s uncle then stepped up and unleashed bolts of green energy turning three of the guardsmen into pigs.

Chase continued to elude his captors and Margaret completed her spell, but failed her Forte such that she couldn’t maintain the spell.  As Chase passed the stable, Margaret stepped out and cast the Fear.  The pursuing guards dropped their shields and ran.  Margaret was out for blood, but Chase talked her down by and they all beat a hasty retreat.


This was a fun scene and had a good cadence.  We may have been able to condense the scene into a few less “rounds” by having a clearer statement of intent.  We should all learn to lean on the “Let it Ride” principal.

I would’ve preferred that the character’s uncle’s deus ex machina wand wouldn’t have incapacitated 3 of the 5 guards.  Uncle’s action diminished the player agency of our characters; The characters had gotten into the mess and the characters should get out of it; Either by way of a Circles test or some other sequence of tests.

Into the Woods

The characters travelled towards the Monastery of the Jade Flame, opting to travel north of the Boiling Pools and through the overrun forest.  A failed orienteering test lead to a turn for the worse; A walking dead elf ambushed the characters. Chase, Walt, Claudio and Margaret were all horrified.

The walking dead quickly advanced, clawing at Margarets face (B5 Light Wound).  Meanwhile, Peter woke up and quickly reacted — passing an Ob 8 Steel test.  In quick order, Peter breathed fire on the walking dead and it was dispatched.


This also was a good scene, as we delved deeper into an unfriendly and unknown forest.  There was a sense of foreboding given that we had failed our Orienteering test.  Afterwards, the characters all worked to build sensible fortifications when setting up camp.

I feel that the sequence of actions was off for the conflict.  The GM asked the characters to make Steel tests upon seeing the walking dead.  We then immediately went into scripted Fight, with the walking dead close enough to engage in melee for the first exchange.

I feel a Perception vs. Stealthy test to detect the walking dead would’ve been a good first step.  It went too quickly from “there’s something out there” to “it’s right in my face.”  An intermediate test would’ve given help me accept that the walking dead was right in Margaret’s face (even if the test was B4 vs. Ob 6, it still offered Margaret a chance).

To be continued…

12 thoughts on “Inn Witch They Pig Out

  1. I don’t know… I think the “in your face” zombie worked for the creepy woodland setting. You just mad because you trying to bump your perception. :p

  2. The zombie was not trying to be stealthy at all and you saw it as soon as you could in the dense creepy forest. Had it tried to be sneaky and succeeded, it probably would have gotten a free attack on someone before the steel test.

  3. There is a new section in Burning Wheel Gold – Surprise and Ambush (page 461). It talks about the above scenario.

    It is likely that Margaret would’ve failed her perception test. I would’ve given a +2 Ob to the Perception test due to the lighting, and possibly another +1 Ob given that Claudio and Margaret were working on their instructions (that would’ve been your call).

    • It was not an ambush; no tactics involved. The zombie was not trying to surprise; you saw it as soon as you could. The steel test involved was a fear test at seeing undead for the first time, not a surprise test.

      • Though it may not have been an ambush, it did appear undetected (and without a chance to detect) within a few feet of Margaret and thus able to position in melee. A perception test to either drop into Range and Cover or buy a few seconds of “Hey whats out there?” preparation.

        Turning the example a bit. Imagine if we said “And I’m engaging the guard in melee.” Which guard? The one at the camp. If we were moving through the woods to approach the guard, would a Stealthy check be required? What if we weren’t trying to be stealthy? And it was dark. Would we make noise moving through dense brush? Would we ever be able to be right in front of the guard, in “positioning for melee” range, without a test. Would we let an armored dwarf get to that point? If not, why?

        Would a player ever be able to walk up to that guard with the intent of “I’m engaging the guard in melee” without the guard first having a chance to engage the system?

        The reason why I’m clinging to this pretty desperately is that I want to make sure we are entering into each sub-system appropriately and not circumventing each character’s ability to interact at critical points in the scene.

        All of that said, the scene worked, and probably would not have ended all that different. Margaret may have detected the walking dead earlier, and woken everyone up and maybe they would’ve gotten to their feet.

        I’d also argue that those who were asleep would’ve needed to script “Wake Up” as a physical action (2 actions) and “Stand Up” as another physical action (2 actions again). That certainly would’ve changed the conflict as well.

  4. Pingback: Never Split the Party – Worst Duel of Wits Compromise Ever | Take On Rules

  5. It was auto-matically detected; no opposition to success. It was like 2 feet from you, it had to engage and close it’s distance, but the point at which you could first physically see it was already closer than Range and Cover.

    ‘Would a player ever be able to walk up to that guard with the intent of “I’m engaging the guard in melee” without the guard first having a chance to engage the system?’ Yes, there are multiple scenarios where this might be appropriate (and ultimately up to the DM).

    “Wake Up” and “Stand Up” would have been appropriate however.

    Also, this reply system on the blog has issues with more than 2 reply depth, heh.

    • There is a difference between seeing it and perceiving it. I would assume the walking dead would have shambled through the dense forest to get to the 2 foot mark. Again a Perception test to see/hear/smell something moving in the woods and positioning to within 2 feet of Margaret.

      And I’m going to have to remember to test to find better campsites.

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