Never Split the Party - Worst Duel of Wits Compromise Ever

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Never Split the Party - Worst Duel of Wits Compromise Ever is a game session report for Burning Wheel Gold. We played around the table on .

Continuing the of .

Stranger in a Strange Land

The characters made it to the village outside the monastery, and attempted to circle up someone who would know anything about the monastery. We failed, and didn’t circle anyone up. We did, however, find out that an uproariously drunk dwarf had ransacked the inn. We then went on toward the monastery without any additional information.

As we drew closer to the monastery, it became clear that it was under attack. Margaret quickly consulted the stars and divined that her sister was alive, but no longer at the monastery. Throwing caution to the wind, we quickly ventured into the monastery and determined that a rather nasty battle had occurred and there were many unwanted summonings.

We made a hasty retreat, and followed the dwarf’s trail. Eventually Margaret again consulted the stars and found that the dwarf was taking their sister back to her home – the place from which we all departed from in .


If I were at the helm, and my Player Characters (PCs 🔍) had snuck into a foreign land and failed a circles test, I clearly would’ve invoked the Enmity clause. The opportunity is simply too good to pass up.

I was disappointed about Margaret’s Astrology test before the characters went into the monastery. Margaret’s question was “Is Julia alive and in the monastery?” The response Margaret got was she’s alive but not in the monastery. Margaret rocked the test with 6 successes, 2 successes over the obstacle, and felt Margaret should’ve gotten more information.

My disappointment ties into the idea that the odds of unconditional success are small compared to the likelihood of failure (i.e. B5 vs. Ob 4). So in the case of “critical success”, I feel that the response should be above and beyond the stated intent.

It also feels as though the past two sessions and the reason for our character’s trip to the monastery has been narratively invalidated. The characters don’t have enough leads concerning the dwarf nor why he would be returning Julie to her home. So instead they will trust in the divinations and go after their missing brother.

On the Road Again - Duel of Wits

Towards the end of the session, the characters began arguing about where to go next. Chase and Walt felt that they needed to report to their superiors. Margaret and Peter wanted to push on and rescue Ryan. They were all at an impasse. So we quickly called on a Duel of Wits.

Chase: All of us need to go to the neighboring village’s military station so Walt and Chase can report. It will only take 2 days.

Margaret and Peter: Ryan can’t wait! We need to head out immediately. Walt and Chase can send a letter or something.

Table 13: Duel of Wits - Chase and Walt vs. Margaret and Peter
  Chase (All exchanges) Margaret (Odd) and Peter (Even)
Volley Action Disposition Action Disposition
1 Obfuscate (failure) 6 Avoid (success) 7
2 Point 6 5 Point 7
3 Point 5 4 Point 7 6
4 Obfuscate (success) 4 Incite (failure) 6
5 Point 4 Avoid 6 4
6 Point 4 Point 4 3
7 Obfuscate (failure) 4 3 Point (success) 3
8 Point 3 1 Dismiss 3 1
9 Point 1 Incite Hesitate 1 0


Here we have a family arguing, falling into their routines. The argument is kicked-off by both parties circumventing the topic at hand.

There is the wonderful moment when Peter attempts to incite Chase, and Margaret follows up with an avoid. Margaret has seen Peter attempt to bully Chase before, and knows it just isn’t going to work.

Desired tests dictated most of the Duel of Wits actions for our characters. As a result of this Duel of Wits, Margaret advanced her Will to B5, Falsehood to B3, and Ugly Truth to B3 (each one needed one test). She also got another test for opening Persuasion and Rhetoric. And we had a quite hideous compromise.

Compromise for Duel of Wits

Since both sides were arguing for not splitting the party, we decided the best compromise would be “Walt and Chase will report to their military supervisors and Margaret and Peter will take the wagons two days ahead and wait for Walt and Chase.”

Though the argument was among family members and “safe”, the compromise was horrific for all involved. We were going to split up even though that went against many of our core beliefs of protecting our family.