Bloodstone Observations

Following up on Bloodstone Session #4

Bloody Vs. Instead of Fight

Instead of using the Fight mechanic, I chose to have the conflict resolved with Bloody Vs.  This felt a bit anti-climatic.

I was unprepared to drop into Fight, but in hindsight really wish I would’ve.  Having a Fight running parallel to a Range and Cover could’ve increased the dramatic tension at the table — if paced properly.  In addition, the death of Felix, one of Menas’ goals, was very anticlimactic.

Lady Gwen and My Daughter

Towards the end of the game, my daughter held up a sign saying “I’m bored and tired.”  The session was winding down, so I hastened to the end.

That evening, in talking with Savannah about Lady Gwen, she said she wished her character could fight — after all that is one of the ways to interact with the system.  I instructed her to have Lady Gwen demand to be taught archery.

Lady Gwen could be a much more active participant in combat if she relied more heavily on prayers.  I believe the abstract Faith system may work against her.  An idea I have is to create a handful of Prayer cards that she can reference during conflict.

Indivisible Action Sequences

When Savannah was thinking of what prayer to have Lady Gwen mutter, there was a suggestion to choose a lower obstacle prayer — Hinderance at Ob 4-6 — so she could get away and then immediately follow-up with another prayer to help Holden get away.

There are two problems that I see. First, the Hinderance prayer would’ve needed to have been muttered as part of the Speed vs. Speed test. We could’ve retconned this, but it didn’t feel like it would help.

Second, it felt like that would run contrary to “Let it Ride” principle. Namely, if we broke the narrative into steps, Lady Gwen and Holden have been cornered. The hinderance would apply to the test “We try to get away.”

Lady Gwen can use it to get away, but Holden has failed the test. He can’t get away. The next hinderance would need to be injected into the current state; Holden is now in a Fight with 3 bandits. Certainly the hinderance would aid Holden, but not directly in the escape.

Artha Awards

Given that we are playing with 5 players, two of them being under 18, I’ve altered the way we do Artha awards.  If we have a humdrum session, I’ll award 2 Fate and 1 Persona to each character and then have the group choose a workhorse and MVP.  Players can petition for more, but must make a strong case.

If the session seems to click, and players are in character, I’ll up the base award to 3 Fate and 2 Persona.

Does it create Artha bloat? Perhaps.  Am I fully engaging the system? No.  Are we enjoying  ourselves?  I hope so, because I know I am.

Asking the Table for Feedback

I am terrible at asking for feedback concerning my campaigns.  I want to know if I’m engaging the players.  I’m usually pretty bad about folding their back stories into the main story and instead prefer to let actions generate reactions and fold those reactions back into the story.

So players that are reading this, what could I do better?  What do you want to see?

2 thoughts on “Bloodstone Observations

  1. Unless “under 18” means small child, I don’t think you need to or should change the system. Burning Wheel is not too complex or demanding for any teenager.

    If you have a humdrum session AT ALL, something went wrong. In my experience, this is just as frequently some external thing leading to tiredness or lack of focus, but if it’s game related – either the players have bad beliefs or didn’t pursue their beliefs; or their beliefs weren’t properly challenged. The first two should be very obvious when they come up, but learning to address them can be a balancing act. Some game masters don’t have the self-awareness to identify when they aren’t challenging properly, however, if you know it’s not the first two, it’s this one (fortunately, I don’t think it is).

    Looking at the post from September 26th, listing character BITs, I see mostly weak Beliefs. Their Beliefs should have changed by now, but if that’s your standard, this is a clear issue. Only Kruder and Menas have three legit Beliefs. Most of the rest are too vague, non-committal, encourage inaction over action, or, in some cases, don’t work at all and/or should be instincts.

    A good example of a passive belief among the characters: “If I don’t keep my identity on the downlow, I will be swarmed by fans.” This actually rewards the player for staying out of the spotlight and doing less, which outright sucks. A more explicit goal about establishing an alternate identity or actively attempting to drive fans away would be more interesting and actionable.

    Even worse: “I don’t want to use destructive magic, but I’m starting to feel helpless without it.” How can you pursue or fulfill this belief? It’s not actionable, so it’s not going to generate artha at all, which is probably why you feel like you need to hand out artha automatically instead of following the standard set by the system. A random stab: turn this into a belief and an instinct – Belief: “Destructive magic is my only talent – a talent I will display to anyone who stands in my way.” Instinct: “Always resist the temptation to abuse power.” That Belief is very strong and creates obvious conflict and obvious roleplaying choices as well as obvious artha rewards. What’s interesting is that the instinct balances it out. If you do go against your belief to destroy others and resist the temptation to use your power, that could get easily get you into a difficult situation, which also rewards you. And going against that Belief in a crucial moment could be a great roleplaying moment. Conflict and artha both flow and you don’t need to fake rewards.

    While being bored could legitimately be due to sheer length of the session or disinterest in the bells and whistles of the subsystems, I suspect if you get this cycle going, you won’t have complaints of boredom. It’s absolutely essential to BW.

    • The kids that are playing are 14 and 11. Both are handling the system rather well. The bored and tired comment was from my 11 year old. She saw others fighting in combat and wanted to join in. I’m going to prep a few cards for the various prayers that she could invoke.

      Some of the beliefs have changed, in particular as the characters have developed and become more well defined. That said, they are still carrying around dead beliefs.

      This campaign is pushing my GM-ing skills. There are 5 players, with 5 player generated NPCs that are traveling with them. There is a lot of bouncing the camera back and forth. I don’t typically do a lot of scenario prep, instead focusing on mapping ideas. Or creating camera still-shots that I want to see. I don’t, however, railroad towards those vignettes, instead I look to see if those still-shots can fit into the narrative.

      By giving the crutch of Artha, I’m hindering our growth as players and game masters — and I’m fully aware of it. It’s a compromise I’m making so that we can improve other parts of our gaming — namely the idea that failure should not be a road-block but instead create appropriate complications. That is to say drilling down to Task and Intent. We have some horrific habits that need breaking; Namely reaching for the dice and throwing them before we even fully realize what we are fighting for.

      Thank you for your insightful comments.

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