I’ve occupied my commute by listening to the Sunday Skyper‘s Burning Beards podcast. I have fast become attached to the trials and tribulations of Fandril, Flint, Ulfkell, and Slate.
In episode 38, after a battle to a stalemate, the spiders pinned the dwarves. One spider begins parlaying with Flint. Having earlier spoken about ghosts, weird dreams, unseen spirits haunting Flint enters the parlay; Flint requests that the spiders let them pass if they promise to come back and talk with the mother spider tomorrow.
The GM presents a great complication for Flint’s failure. But I was wondering what other consequences could someone inflict?
First complication, Flint was invoking his Oddly Likeable character trait. . This would be something I’d put in the crosshairs. If you fail, you’ll shift Oddly Likeable to just Odd
Second complication, Flint has been blathering about spirits and such. On failure, you’ll gain an infamous reputation “Speaker of Nonsense.”
Third complication, they’ll let you leave, but you’ll need to leave reassurances. Their first request is Fandril’s dwarven mail.
Fourth complication, they’ll give you what you want, but as you’re leaving they’ll spring a trap, picking off one or two of you.
Burning Wheel offers minimal guidance, but frames how to approach test failures; Namely look to their intent and push against that. I know when I’ve run Burning Wheel, I sometimes forget to press for intent before rolling the dice; I find it more difficult to establish intent after a failure.
Look to Apocalypse World for a bit more nuanced guidance. Below is a quick summary:
- Separate them.
- Capture someone.
- Put someone in a spot.
- Trade harm for harm (as established).
- Announce off-screen badness.
- Announce future badness.
- Inflict harm (as established).
- Take away their stuff.
- Make them buy.
- Activate their stuff’s downside.
- Tell them the possible consequences and ask.
- Offer an opportunity, with or without a cost.
- Turn their move back on them.
- Make a threat move.
And remember, after every move ask: “what do you do?”
A failed move/test should push the fiction in a direction that demands a response and further risk.