Burning Sanctuary - Session 1

We met for our second session of Burning Sanctuary. Some of the players had not completed their beliefs. So we spent some time finalizing both characters and a bit of the world. This took about an hour of our 3.5 hour session.


Without knowing the players starting beliefs and instincts I wasn’t able to plan as much as I had hoped.

There was Shrewsbury Abbey (and clergy). One of the players provided beliefs related to smuggling something out of the Abbey.

I focused on writing various impressions and bits of scenery for Shrewsbury Abbey:

  • Stooped monks harvesting squash and onions
  • Moans of the injured
  • Dripping water as bloodied clothes are wrung out over a bowl
  • Chanting prayers as tallow candles crackle and flicker
  • Hushed conversations in stone halls
  • Wretched poor seeking alms
  • Unarmed soldiers walking idling about
  • Cool stones in open air passages
  • A small girl asleep under an ancient oak
  • A bell tolling

I used the above to add color to the environs. It provided a means for tredding water as we felt out the scope of the game.

Character Burning

What follows are a list of beliefs; not precise as they were workshopped during the session, but instead the notes and recollections that I’m working from. update: Having listened to the Sunday Skyper’s Burning Beards podcast, I see that they track beliefs in a forum. I think in the future, I’d track BITs using a shared Google Doc. Giving direct access to everyone. I also think it is important each and everytime to review beliefs and craft them at the start of the session to get a sense of where people want to go.

Aneúpin (aka Nye) (Welsh Scout):

  • B1: Wants solitude and to get back to the wilderness
  • B2: Needs to get possessions back so I can be self-sufficient
  • I1: Always looking for new cooking ingredients
  • I2: Always fall to the back of the group.
  • I3: Always watch the nobility out of the corner of my eye.

Raimund (Anglo-Norman Smuggler):

Old Travis (Anglo-Norman Elder):

Edmund Thatcher (Anglo-Saxon Doctor):


I’m adopting the procedure of having the players go around the table reading their Beliefs, Instincts, and Traits. It is a helpful reminder for everyone since each players BITs drives the Artha awards.

In this session we went around once to flesh out the beliefs. We then went around again to restate the more “formalized” beliefs. It was a collaboration.

World Burning

Mixing throughout character burning was some world burning. We fleshed out the primary deity and the details of the relics.

Shirat, the Illuminating Eye

Instead of using a “vanilla” Christian God, we came up Shira, the Illuminating Eye. The “Catholic” church venerates her.

Relic Smuggling

We discussed that Raimund is smuggling relics to Ranulf. The players know that these relics are Fey related. They are also being positioned along ley lines. The characters know none of this.

The Session Proper

We spent much of the session getting the characters into a common orbit.

The session drew to a close when they all noticed the Welsh men carrying out a corpse of one of the priests (Brother George). The church bell rang, raising the alarm; The abbey awoke; In the general chaos Raimund and Nye begun forming an alliance.


The NPCs introduced throughout the session:


Faith (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:

Surgery (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:

Persuasion (Ob 5) for Travis:

Stealth (Ob 2) for Raimund linked into Inconspicuous:

Inconspicuous (Ob 2 linked from Stealth) for Raimund: update: I think I should’ve made a linked test. First Inconspicuous, then Circles. Failure for Inconspicuous would mean that you are escorted Brother Michael, and the Circles would then inform his disposition.

Scavenging (Ob 3) for Nye:

Rumor-wise (Ob 2) for Nye:

Mending (Ob 3) for Travis: I’m drawing a blank on this one, but I believe it was along the lines of you aggravate Brother Michael and he assumes you are stalling.

Inconspicuous (Ob 2) for Raimund:

Persuasion (Ob 3 untrained, so Ob 6) for Nye:

Observation (Ob 3) for all:

Closing Scenes

Abbot Gerald (Vicious and Precise) insinuates the Edmund Thatcher’s miracles could draw pilgrims to Shrewsbury and bolster their coffers. The Abbot wants to talk with Edmund in his chambers.

Nye and Arnolt have their first conversation. Arnolt offers cash to Nye if he will help get some relics to Chester. The beginnings of a plan take shape. We end the session.


I am keeping a running log of what we establish via Wises and Duel of Wits. Both resolutions are manifestations of the Let it Ride principle.


I also like to reflect on the sessions that I’ve run. I have personal notes for where to go with the next session; But I’m not going to publish those at the moment.

Task and Intent

I was insistent on players providing both Task and Intent. In doing so, we were able to map tests to beliefs. This made the end of session Artha awards smooth and meaningful. The wrap up discussion concerning Artha award categories was helpful for me; We were generous in interpretation. It also felt like we ended on the same page.

An interesting note, no one earned Artha for character traits. There are a lot of parts, and I believe those traits are something that is hard to pay attention to in the first session.

Once we completed the session wrap-up, the players saw some of the reward cycle. They now have greater clarity on how to write their beliefs. They can also focus their beliefs to the immediate situation.

An interesting observation is that I think User Stories (from Agile software development) are an excellent template for writing beliefs. They have the following form:

As a ____, I will ____, so that ____.

Odd Getting Started

The players are not well aligned; I believe this is a failing on my part. The initial situation (everyone has declared sanctuary) doesn’t have enough teeth to bind them. I also didn’t lead them through group creation. update: In future first sessions, I would encourage everyone to write a belief that points to the player character to their left.

I’m not worried about keeping the characters together, but hope to nurse goal alignment.

Then again, it’s a first session. Everyone is feeling out their characters and intentions. I imagine the next session will move better.