FLGS Quick Start

I’m on vacation, so I decided to learn a bit of LaTeX and consolidate the quick start rules I’ve been working on into a more print friendly format. Behold the fruits of my labor!

First page of FLGS Quick Start

Download FLGS Quick Start Rules

Free FLGS Quick Start rules!

LaTeX sources referenced and used:

Skeleton of Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game

I’m preparing to run an RPG at my Friendly Local Game Store – Better World Books of Goshen. I’ve been vacillating between Sword & Wizardry (Complete, or White Box), Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and the Heroes Journey.

Instead of picking one, I opted to create just what will be needed for that first session. This is by no means a complete game, but provides much of the player facing information to proceed. It is something I can print out and put in front of the players.

For more details concerning Old School Gaming, go grab Matt Finch’s free Quick Primer for Old School Games (PDF). See the following post for further Referee details.

BEGIN OPEN GAME CONTENT

Ability Scores

Ability Score Modifier
3-4 -2
5-7 -1
8-13 0
14-15 +1
17-18 +2

Modifier

  • Strength: to hit and damage in melee; feats of strength
  • Intelligence: to save vs. spell; For wizards, subtract from saving throws of spells you cast
  • Wisdom: to save vs. non-spells
  • Constitution: adjusts all HD rolls
  • Dexterity: to hit in missile; to AC
  • Charisma: to hiring; to loyalty; to parlay

Classes

Level 1

Features Cleric Dwarf Fighter Thief Wizard
Armor any any any leather none
Backstab +4/x2
Base to Hit Bonus +0 +0 +0 +0 +0
Base MV 12 9 12 12 12
Cleave No No Yes No No
Climbing 1 in 6 1 in 6 1 in 6 5 in 6 1 in 6
Detect secret doors 1 in 6 4 in 6 1 in 6 2 in 6 1 in 6
Hit Dice (HD) 1 (1d6) 1+2 (1d6+2) 1+1 (1d6+1) 1 (1d6) 1 (1d6)
Listen 1 in 6 2 in 6 1 in 6 3 in 6 1 in 6
Read Unknown Languages no no no 4 in 6 3 in 6
Saving Throw 14 13 15 15 15
Saving Throw Bonus +2 vs. death/poison +2 vs. poison/spells +2 vs. death/poison +2 vs. traps +2 vs. spells
Shield any any any none none
Spells 1 1st
Thievery 1 in 6
Turn Undead Yes No No No No
Weapon Damage, Medium 1d6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Light 2W6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Ranged 2W6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Two-Handed 1d6 2B6 2B6 1d6 1d6
XP to level 2 1500 2250 2000 1250 2500

Dice Notation

  • 1d6 – Roll 1 six-sided die
  • 2W6 – Roll 2 six-sided die, keep worse result
  • 2B6 – Roll 2 six-sided die, keep better result

Class Features

Wizard Spells

Charm Person Range: 30 ft, Duration: until dispelled, Save: negates, Affects: 1 living humanoid of human-size or smaller ; Caster is treated as trusted friend.

Detect Magic Range: 60 ft, Duration: 30 minutes; Caster senses location of magic within range

Hold Portal Range: 30 ft, Duration: 1 hour; Magically holds a door or gate for the duration.

Light Range: 60 ft, Duration: 1 hour; Target produces light as a torch (30 ft radius)

Magic Missile Range: 150 ft; A magic dart hits the target for 1d6 points of damage, no save.

Sleep Range: 240 ft, Affects: 2d6+3 HD of creatures, Duration: Referee’s discretion; Affected creatures enter an enchanted slumber

Turn Undead

Brandish your holy symbol and roll 3d6. Consult the following table. If the roll is successful, those creatures within 60 ft are turned – fleeing or cowering for 3d6 combat rounds.

HD Example 3d6
1 Skeleton 10+
2 Zombie 13+
3 Wight 15+
4 Wraith 17+

Equipment

Starting Equipment

You get both your class specific gear and an adventuring pack of your choice.

Class Specific Gear

Cleric: Mace with Chain Armor and Shield (AC 15)

Dwarf: One-handed weapon, crossbow, chain armor, and shield (AC 15) orTwo-handed weapon, crossbow, chain armor (AC 14)

Fighter: One-handed weapon, bow, chain armor, and shield (AC 15) orTwo-handed weapon, bow, chain armor (AC 14)

Thief: One-handed weapon, leather armor (AC 12)

Wizard: Spellbook (choose 1 spell, one at random), staff

Adventure Packs

Choose one of the following:

Pack 1: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, 6 torches (burn 1 hour, 30 ft radius light), 50 ft rope, crowbar, 7 days rations, and a water skin

Pack 2: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, hooded lantern with 2 pints lantern oil (burn 4 hours, 30 ft radius light), hammer, 12 iron spikes, 10 ft pole, 7 days rations, and a water skin

Pack 3: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, 6 torches (burn 1 hour, 30 ft radius light), a torchbearer (HP 2, AC 10, Move 12, Attack none, Carry torch, Loyalty 7+Charisma modifier), 7 days rations, and a water skin

Movement and Encumbrance

Encumbrance Modifier
Chain mail or greater -3 MV
Each 25 + (Strengh modifier x 10) pounds of treasure -3 MV
Excessive amounts of gear (Referee’s discretion) -3 MV

Note: Coins, gems, and jewelry each weigh 0.1 pounds. Note: Dwarves ignore the first two penalties to movement.

Description Speed Results
Sneaking MV x 10′ per turn As walking but able to move with stealth.
Walking MV x 20′ per turn Mapping and careful observation of the surroundings are possible.
Running MV x 40′ per turn No mapping permitted. Characters are automatically surprised and have no chance to surprise others. The sound of running may attract the attention of enemies.
Combat MV / 3 x 10′ per round Dashing around, battling foes, or fleeing.

Exploration

I encourage players to draw a map of the dungeon as it is explored (graph paper will be provided). Some things may only be discovered by reviewing the map.

Each turn of exploration (10 minutes), each character may:

  • Search a 10’x10′ area
  • Bind another character’s wounds (only in the turn after a combat); restoring 1d6-3 HP
  • Disable a trap
  • Move
  • Resolve an encounter

Every 3 turns, there is a 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter. Every 6th turn, the characters must rest.

Death and Recovery

When a character is reduced to below 0 HP, they must make a saving throw vs. death. Success means they are incapacitated, though any further damage they are killed outright. Failure means they are dead.

Characters recover 1 HP per day; 2 HP per day of bed rest.

Experience

While the current state of the rules does not deal with character advancement, it is something that bears discussion.

For each silver piece of treasure spent in town, the character gains 1 XP. Characters also gain XP for defeating monsters. However, the distribution of treasure XP to monster XP is about 4 to 1.

In other words, the vast majority of XP comes from treasure; plan accordingly.

Unlike many other systems, this uses the silver standard.

Checking Hireling Loyalty and Morale

Roll 2d6 and compare to loyalty of the retainer; If it is higher, then the retainer leaves.

When to roll:

  • Returning from perilous environs to relative safety of civilization
  • Exposure to a perilous situation
  • When the hiring character is incapacitated
  • When orders are given from the non-hiring character
END OPEN GAME CONTENT

Some Questions and Answers with James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games

I’ve been a fan of Barrel Rider Games for awhile; the volume of output is amazing. And James Spahn’s The Heroes Journey is a fantastic product, demonstrating how to “own” the rules that you use at the table.

I want to thank James for taking the time to respond to my questions.

Questions and Answers

I’ve noticed you’ve created quite a bit of content for Labyrinth Lord and Sword & Wizardry: Whitebox. Which of your work came first? What drew you away from the first system and to the other? Have you went back? Why?

Labyrinth Lord definitely came first. I heard a few years before becoming involved in the OSR community, but dismissed it. I was still very much into 3.5 D&D and saw it as “simplistic” and “thin.” A few years later, I gave it a second look and realized what I was looking at. I was looking at a clone of the B/X D&D, which was the foundation for my first fantasy RPG, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. I fell in love when I recalled those fast, free-spirit days of my gaming youth. Combined with the fact that I had just gotten sick of the supplement glut that had flooded the market in the wake of the OGL, and I found my first love all over again.

 

I started publishing because of my wife, who is also a gamer. She said to me “If you want to keep buying gaming books at this rate, you’re going to have to make more money.” So, I used an addiction to feed an addiction. Also, right around the time I started Barrel Rider Games a new RPG had just hit the market: The One Ring. It is the third incarnation of Middle-earth to hit the gaming table, and for my money the third time’s a charm. I instantly fell in love with the game. Unlike MERP and Decipher’s versions of roleplaying in Tolkien’s sub-creation, TOR was a game that was built around the source material. Previous incarnations had felt like Tolkien’s material was bent to fit a mechanic. I was so in love with TOR that after reading the original slipcase publication I swore to myself that one day I’d get to write for the game – somehow. BRG was a kind of back door resume.

 

In both cases, it worked beyond my wildest dreams. BRG started with me just writing dollar classes and class variants for Labyrinth Lord, which I did for several years. It has grown to include material for Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry Complete, Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Starships and Spacemen (2nd edition), and a few original games like White Star and The Hero’s Journey. Top that off with my mad scheme to one day write Tolkien actually resulting in me contributing to several books in the TOR game line and parlaying that into a lucrative freelance career which includes working for publishers like Frog God Games, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, and Fantasy Flight Games, and I’m left rather flabbergasted.

 

I came to White Box after getting burnt out on Labyrinth Lord writing. As I got older even LL started to have too many fiddly bits for me. White Box’s single save, minimal classes, and reliance on a d20 and d6 almost exclusively really draw me into it. That and the fact that digest-sized books are just so much more appealing to me in terms of portability and ease of use.

 

I’ve dipped by toe back into LL on occasion, but these days I’m mainly focused on White Star, The Hero’s Journey, and White Box. Even that’s slowed, because I juggle BRG work with regular freelance jobs these days.

I appreciate that you released The Heroes Journey as PWYW, tell me a bit about the game. In particular, I’d like to know about your house rules? Do you use all of the ones from book?

I’ve never met a single gamer who played an RPG exactly as it was written. Gamers are creators by nature and we tend to be a bit of a weird bunch. It’s in our nature to fiddle, tinker, and modify things. So with THJ, I wanted a TON of house rules to show that the game could be easily modified to suit an individual group’s style. There are quite a few house rules in there that I would never use, but that doesn’t mean that other gamers feel the same – so if I had an idea for a variant rule and it seemed like someone somewhere along the way might enjoy it, I included it. Also, I wanted to encourage folks to come up with their own house rules by including so many. The game is MADE to be house ruled.

I was a bit surprised by the addition of the Jester class? What brought about it’s inclusion?

A lot of THJ’s classes found their roots on the old Dragon Magazine NPC classes. Duelist, Jester, and a few others. The Jester specifically was included because I really like them and wanted to include them. Part of the reason THJ is PWYW is because it is, first and foremost, “White Box: James’s House Ruled Edition.” It also includes a lot of material previously published, but tweaked for use with this rules set – so I didn’t feel right charging twice for something.

It seems to me the addition of damage reduction for armor creates a more rigid barrier between The Heroes Journey and other OSR simulacra. What has been your experience in crossing between other OSR games and HJ? What have you heard from others?

Reduction Value was something I hemmed and hauled on for a while. But because THJ is a game built around the idea of it being “James’s House Ruled Edition,” I included it because I like it. It helps mitigate the low hit point threshold of THJ, which allows small monsters in large groups to remain a threat. It also makes shields more viable than a simple “+1 to AC,” and reflects how armor is meant to work more accurately.

 

As far as crossing them over with other OSR products, I’ve had little problem. I ballpark a Reduction Value on the fly and go forward. I’ve yet to have it create a genuine barrier at the table.

In most every gamer’s life they’ve misplaced or no longer possess something important in their personal gaming story. Do you have one of these? If so what is it? A little bit of detail?

This is a timely question. Over the past few years I have seriously whittled down my gaming collection. I’ve got from four floor-to-ceiling bookcases to two shelves. I got rid of a lot of treasures. The closest that relates to your question is my Rules Cyclopedia. I parted with it because as much as I love the game, I’m always going to want to run something else. I learned that even if you don’t physically own a product anymore that doesn’t make the memories any less valid or important. Besides, with the way Print-on-Demand is going I don’t think it will be long before everything is perpetually “in print” and available.

What is your motivation for cranking out OSR products? WQ:hat were some early bumps that you encountered on the way? How did you overcome them?

My motivation is built on one question: “What would be fun?” A lot of my ideas come from my long work commute. An idea pops in my head and I hold on to it, twiddle it around in my brain, and then write it. I put it up for publication as an act of sharing the fun. I’ve had a few products along the way where the fun of the concept got lost in the design, though. When that happens, I take a step back and tackle it again later or simply walk away. If you lose the fun in your work then that’ll show on the page.

What has been most surprising about participating as a publisher in the OSR?

A lot of folks in the OSR are people I regarded as kind of living gods or heroes. Eventually I got the opportunity to meet and even work with them, which was a real thrill. I figured out pretty quickly that everyone in the industry is a fanboy or fangirl to one extent or another – we’re all just ordinary people who happen to share a passion. That helps keep ego in check and makes folks a lot more approachable.

 

I’m perpetually amazed by the generosity of the OSR, both as individuals and as a community. Many in the OSR community are willing to give all they possibly can to help out a fellow gamer. It’s a real honor to be a part of that, both as a giver and receiver, and it keeps me pretty grounded most of the time.

I’ve used OSR a few times, what does OSR mean to you?

OSR is about remembering those days as a kid when you wrote kingdoms and castles on graph paper, mapped out your entire campaign on loose leaf paper, and poured through your books to discover a fresh new monster. It’s about wonder and youthful energy. It’s not about any specific game, game mechanic, or period of publication. It’s about setting aside rules disputes, grabbing a fist full of dice and just having fun. The rules in an OSR game are there to facilitate fun and when they don’t do that, they can easily be ignored or modified. When I play or write in the OSR I feel 13 years old again, bound only by what would be “cool” to do – not by some rule book.

White Box Gothic by Barrel Rider Games

I asked James Spahn, of Barrel Rider Games, for a review copy of “White Box Gothic: Adventures in Horror & Shadow” (link to affiliate program). He was gracious and sent me a PDF.

wizards hand hovering over arcane books

Classes

There are 6 classes: Monster Hunter, Metaphysician, Spiritualist, Wanderer, Dhampir, Reanimated.

The Monster Hunter reminds me of a more focused ranger. They are all around useful, but will shine when the campaign focuses on their chosen prey.

The Metaphysician feels like a multi-classed cleric/magic-user with a bit of odd lore mixed in. They learn all of their spells (divine and arcane) through transcribing scrolls, so you know they are going to be hungry for adventure. Their Foresaken Lore gives them access to all semblances of campaign back story. This is my favorite class of the bunch; They need to adventure to unlock their most potent class feature (spell casting). They also provide a conduit for the GM to narrate exposition.

The Spiritualist is creepy. The can see and affect incorporeal creatures, turn some of the types of undead, and through spiritual guidance channel the power of spirits all around them; Albeit with tremendous risk. I’m uncertain if the risk is worth the benefits; failing a saving throw with a penalty results in level drain.

The Wanderer is the other side of the ranger coin; with a bit of rogue mixed in. They have keen senses, will always find enough to sustain them, minor spell casting, some rogue’s luck, and an ability to scrounge through their pack for odds and ends. A clever class, with several “skill” like options.

The Dhampir is half-vampire, half-human. They are capable fighters with a keen senses and stealth abilities. A solid class.

The Reanimated is the Frankenstein’s monster class; They are beefy bruisers with a very limited advancement. An interesting take; I’d prefer to see one of these as a hireling.

Staring into the Abyss

The section on Corruption provides rules for a spiral into the corruption that afflicts the world. It’s a straight forward system with more overhead in adjudicating player actions.

Dread provides a light weight mechanic for areas of chaos and evil. There are spells that build on or mitigate the effects of dread. A useful system that a Referee can quickly add to their repertoire.

The Curses rule provides a procedure for uttering curses (eg. may your hair fall out and never grow back). It builds on the Corruption sub-system. It is a nice sub-system in that a GM can bring this out when a character wants to get “even”  with another character (PC or NPC) and wants to make sure they suffer.

Sorcery Most Foul

Some of the spells and magic items build on the Corruption, Dread, and Curses; The others build on the Gothic Horror theme.

Of the cleric spells, I find “Mask of Death” the most interesting; donning the visage of death and dread. The “Bind Beyond Death” spell of the wizard is great. It doesn’t take effect until the affected die – thus building on the sense of impending dread and doom.

I’m not a fan of “Conjure Holy Symbol”, using a spell slot to bypass the need for a holy symbol. It feels weak.

Children of the Night

My favorite creatures are the bloodraven and breath stealer. They play to different aspects of the macabre. I also appreciate the stats for a Dementor-like creature; Everyone needs a bit of judgement in their life.

OGL

I’m a huge fan of the OGL, as it requires attribution in the license. For those keeping score at home:

Section 15: Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, Copyright 2008, Matthew J. Finch Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Rules by Marv Breig, copyright 2008-2011 Matthew J. Finch.

To comply with Section 6 of the OGL, I believe Barrel Rider Games should add the following to Section 15 of the OGL:

White Box Gothic: Adventures in Shadow & Horror by James Spahn, copyright 2016.

Conclusion

Barrel Rider Games is prolific in its OSR contributions; I believe when an idea strikes they are often quick to write it down and get it out the door. White Box Gothic would benefit from additional editing. None of which detracts from its usefulness at the game table, but instead from the readability.

The PDF is missing a bookmarked and clickable table of contents (though the 3rd page of the PDF has a table of contents). I encourage Barrel Rider Games to adopt gender neutral pronouns when describing characters. I hope to see them adopt the acceptable “they” or “their” in future writings.

I also hope that once Barrel Rider Games releases the Print on Demand version that the POD includes (at no additional cost) the PDF. I have a few hard copy Barrel Rider Games books, but did not opt to pay extra for the PDF.

In the spirit of the Save or Die Podcast, I give it 3.5 Dragons. There is some great stuff to add to any campaign that features the undead.

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.

Preparation

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.

  • Aneúpin [Nye for short] (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):
    • B1: William was supposed to supply an artifact to me as part of the deal, but it’s sealed away at Shrewsbury Abbey. I’m to meet his contact there, obtain the artifact, and deliver it to Ranulf.
    • B2: I need help to escort me back to Chester.
    • B3: I will advance my status and wealth to return my family to the peerage
    • I1: While at ports, large markets, or trade fairs, always chitchat with fellow merchants and look over their wares. Prioritize the exotic and foreign.
    • I2: Never pass by a rare or exotic good without inspecting it.
    • I3: Always carry a packet of herbs to ward off the disease-ridden miasma.
  • Old Travis (Anglo-Norman Elder):
    • B1: Find the family of Clovis FitzTravis, my son.
    • B2: I want to be known for my writings, but I must learn to compose. So I will study the manuscripts of the abbey.
    • I1: When prattling on about travels always be assessing my surroundings.
    • I2: Always take an afternoon nap.
    • I3: Always work patiently when mending
  • Edmund Thatcher (Anglo-Saxon Doctor):
    • B1: I will get my sister (Adwyn) out from the control of Robert of Gloucester. I will take her to Chester and seek an audience with Earl Ranulf. (wants to improve her station)
    • B2: I have an academic interest in these relics, I know someone wants them I’m going to find out who.
    • I1: Always provide medical attention to the injured

Procedures

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.

  • Sun
  • Water
  • Time
  • Knowledge
  • Labor
  • Forethought
  • Augury
  • Law
  • Written Word

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.

  • Edmund Thatcher became a local celebrity through his miraculous healing of one of Robert Gloucester’s men (Roger FitzWallace).
  • Travis spent time fixing up the Abbey, always conspiring to gain access to the scriptorium and its books. He learned that Brother George had a key to the storeroom.
  • Nye focused on gaining his equipment; Things went awry when he sought the help of several fellow Welsh men.
  • Raimund was busy tracking down his contact and laying out an initial plan to smuggle out some “holy” bones.

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.

NPCs

The NPCs introduced throughout the session:

  • Gwyir – a Welsh traveler and spokes person for 3 other Welsh men. They have sought an evening respite at Shrewsbury Abbey; They are not wealthy. They came with a wagon of wool.
  • Abbot Gerald (Vicious and Precise) – Abbot of Shrewsbury
  • Brother Michael – contact for Raimund
  • Brother George – oversees the storeroom.
  • Brother Ferand – tends the kitchen
  • Brother Albert – an elderly monk with one eye blind from cataracts

Tests

  • Faith (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:
    • Task: Seek guidance for the surgery to come
    • Intent: Gain guidance
    • Consequence: Brother Albert, the chatty old, will mark you a blasphemer.
    • Result: Success. A glowing nimbus and a bead of sweat forms on Edmund Thatcher’s brow.
  • Surgery (Ob 4) for Edmund Thatcher:
    • Task: Stitch up this severe wound
    • Intent: Get him healthy and on the road to recovery and even ingratiate himself to Earl of Gloucester.
    • Consequence: He’s a bannerman of Gloucester and Gloucester will find out about it.
    • Side note: The player rolled 3 successes. But one of them was a 6 and was the dice from astrology. With the open-ended dice, they got the 4 successes.
    • Result: The bannerman is on the road to recovery. And Brother Albert is extolling the virtues of a miracle.
  • Persuasion (Ob 5) for Travis:
    • Task: Persuade the abbot that this place is falling apart and you can help clean it up.
    • Intention: Ingratiate himself with the abbot so he can gain access to the books
    • Consequence: You draw the ire of the Abbot and he assigns someone to watch over you.
    • Result: Failure
  • Stealth (Ob 2) for Raimund linked into Inconspicuous:
    • Task: Moving through the abbey without being seen
    • Intention: To observe each monk.
    • Consequence: You draw unwanted attention as it is clear you are singling someone out.
    • Result: Success, one over OB, so the linked test gets +1D.
  • Inconspicuous (Ob 2 linked from Stealth) for Raimund:
    • Task: Mingling without drawing attention
    • Intention: To find Brother Michael without drawing attention.
    • Consequence: You are unable to find the brother as he is out-of-town. This one was weak. I was thinking perhaps a Circles test.
    • Result: Success. Raimund finds Brother Michael.
    • Side note: I really should’ve called for an Inconspicuous test then an Observation test.
  • Scavenging (Ob 3) for Nye:
    • Task: Find something that could be used to pick a lock.
    • Intention: With a tool in hand, he’d pick the lock to get into the store-room.
    • Consequence: you draw unwanted attention. Opted not to test.
    • Result: The player stepped away from the test.
    • Side note: With the Ob set, the player backed down. Instead going towards Rumor-wise
  • Rumor-wise (Ob 2) for Nye:
    • Task: Poke around a bit regarding these Welsh men’s mode of operation storeroom
    • Intention: I want them to help me bust into the store-room
    • Consequence: These Welshmen are very bad news; burn down the Abbey, mass murder.
    • Result: Success. These Welshmen are ready to help.
  • 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.
    • Result: Success. Travis has begun ingratiating himself with Brother Michael.
  • Inconspicuous (Ob 2) for Raimund:
    • Task: Pull Brother Michael aside to talk
    • Intention: Determine what and where the relics are that Raimund needs to smuggle out
    • Consequence: You are deep in conspiring and someone stumbles upon you.
    • Result: Success. The players.
  • Persuasion (Ob 3 untrained, so Ob 6) for Nye:
    • Task: Convince the Welsh men that there are valuables in the
    • Intention: Get them to help me bust into the store-room
    • Consequence: They’ll help but its going to escalate into the abduction/murder of a priest. abduct/kill a priest.
    • Result: Failure (untrained got 5 successes).
  • Observation (Ob 3) for all:
    • Task: Looking into the evening.
    • Intent: See if they spot the people leaving through the sally port.
    • Consequence: You don’t see the events transpiring in the courtyard.
    • Result: The players see four men carrying the body of another.
    • Side Note: I wasn’t sure how to proceed. The party was not coordinated in their effort. So I called for individual tests.

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.

Precedence

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.

  • The Four Clovers are a band of Welsh rebels; They despise the English. They are destabilizing England. (via Rumor-wise)
  • The relics are three leg bones from the Abbey crypt. These bones are in a prominent spot.
  • At temples of Shirat, at least one brother or sister maintains a nighttime vigil for Shirat’s return.

Observations

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 join them. I also didn’t lead them through group creation.

I’m not worried about keeping the characters together, but hope to nurse the aligning of goals.

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

Further Work on Beliefs for Burning Sanctuary

Building on a previous post for our Burning Sanctuary campaign, we are continuing our belief workshop. Here is the second round. The player also provided extensive details and reasoning.

Beliefs

  • Belief 1: I successfully assisted William FitzAlan’s escape. He’s pledged loyalty to Ranulf and making his way to the Welsh Marches. William was supposed to supply an artifact to me as part of the deal, but it’s sealed away at Shrewsbury Abbey. I’m to meet his contact there, obtain the artifact, and deliver it to Ranulf.

The preamble of this belief is helpful; The heart of the belief starts “William was supposed…”. We can discard the leading two sentences and have the same resulting belief. Those two sentences are very helpful as a GM for our first session.

Belief 2: It’s too risky to transport this artifact alone back to Chester. Too many patrols. Too many desperate deserters turned bandit. There are a lot of refugees at this abbey. Maybe some might help escort me back to Chester for food, a little pay, and the promise of steady employment.

There is a lot of background, which is again helpful. At present, this is an opinionated placeholder for when other character beliefs materialize.

Belief 3: I will advance my status and wealth to return my family to the peerage.

An excellent Artha mine; It informs all other beliefs. When acting, the player can frame task and intent with this in mind.

Instincts

Instinct 1: While at ports, large markets, or trade fairs, always chitchat with fellow merchants and look over their wares. Prioritize the exotic and foreign.

  • Did I cram too damn much in this instinct?

I love the intention; I’m uncertain how this will play out. There are implications in training a skill – Merchant-wise – but also in pulling the character into an unwanted action; Especially if there is something that targets their other instinct.

Instinct 2: If in the presence of a rare or exotic craft good, appraise and/or experience wonderment (as per Dwarf Wonderment minus “I must have it”)

  • “I must have it” doesn’t square with my characters ethos belief (trade must flow > personal gain). It might be interesting to replace it with “I must know more about it! / I must find out where you got this!”.
  • Concerned that the GM might think this is soliciting for steel tests. This is such a good and fitting flavor instinct for this character that I’d be willing to forgo some or all steel tests for it. Wait, do instincts automatically bypass tests?
  • I’m making this much harder than it should be, aren’t I?

There is a glorious intention here. Some refinements:

  • I must always know more about rare or exotic craft goods.
  • Never pass by a rare or exotic good without inspecting it.

I’m disinclined to allow for something that mirrors Dwarven Wonderment and the associated Steel tests. The instinct can aim towards that emotion, but I feel that for dwarves this is an important separation.

As the game progresses, I think trait votes can begin to subsume the instinct into something that is very much an analogue to Dwarven Wonderment.

Also, my understanding of instincts is that they do not bypass tests.

Instinct 3: Always carry a packet of herbs to ward off the disease-ridden miasma.

  • There, an easy one. It’s based in character history, requires a piece of gear, and will probably mess up a sneak test or twelve.

Pure awesome!

Traits

  • T1: Paranoid (Smuggler req, char)
  • T2: Distracted (Merchant req, char)
  • T3: Ambitious (General, 1pt, char)
  • T4: Tolerant (General, 1pt, char)

In the previous go round, the player gave notes about being an ambitious smuggler. But didn’t have the Ambitious character trait. Now the character is Ambitious.

Working Through Beliefs for Burning Sanctuary

I’m working with a first time Burning Wheel player. He sent me a rather lengthy email about his character for our upcoming Burning Sanctuary.

I think some of this might be helpful for those considering Burning Wheel. With the player’s permission, I am reposting these questions.

Beliefs

As expected, he provided a rather lengthy section on beliefs as well as some reasons behind those beliefs.

Proposed Belief

  • I need to retrieve this <artifact, promissory note, message, military intelligence, etc?>that was confiscated by the Abbey and deliver it Ranulf de Gernon
    • Leaving this vague for now…
  • Serve Ranulf until it becomes clear that he can’t advance my status or finances any further or you catch the eye of a superior lord.
    • Does only one of the first two beliefs need to exist or is this okay as is? The first belief exists nested in the second.

Response

I love the specifics of the 1st belief. To strengthen it, it needs to incoprorate a reason. Why is he delivering the McGuffin to the Earl of Chester? What does he hope to gain?

With that in place, the player can remove the next belief “Serve Ranulf until it becomes clear that he can’t advance my status” and focus on something else; perhaps an ethos belief.

There is more discussion about other beliefs as well as guiding-light discussion. All told an excellent bit of work from the player.

Character Problems

I loved the “Character Problems” section. At this point, he is the first player to share the nature of his beliefs, instincts, and traits. In doing so, he begins to give shape to the campaign.

Question

Is it inappropriate or gamey to start with a relationship with a major player when you’re just a reputable village tradesman? Should the relationship be with some courtier or middle rank instead?

Response

I love the relationship with Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester. You spent your resource points (as per the rules). For 15 resource points, you could have a relationship with King Stephen or Empress Matilda.

In spending the resources you are telling me and the table that you want Ranulf de Gernon to play a role in the upcoming campaign; And you want to have guaranteed access to him (and starting with an amicable disposition).

Question

Why not just go from merchant to magnate for the fourth lifepath instead of smuggler?

  • It would make more sense for Ranulf to work with a respected merchant magnate, likely with court experience, then to work with a lowly merchant smuggler.
  • However, it seems more interesting to me to start small-time with B2 resources and work up instead of just having a huge B6 resources immediately. The smuggler can do more things outside of social and financial situations. Seems more flavorful as well.

Response

I agree that it will be more interesting to start with a small-time B2 resources and claw your way up. It also adds complications to Ranulf de Gernon, Earl of Chester. He has a relationship with someone ill-reputable.

It creates an asymmetric and unstable relationship – a relationship in motion.