Sunday, February 19, 2012

Burning Wheel Part 3: My Playtesting of Burning Wheel

Soo.... I decided to run Burning Wheel.

For twelve people.

For those of you who have run Burning Wheel, start laughing. For those of you who haven't, I'll provide an example of why this is funny. Most of you who read this blog are at least familiar with Dungeons and Dragons. One of DnD's hallmarks is its flexibility.  You can do pretty much anything with the system. It's part of the reason why DnD is the flagship RPG of our hobby. They say to only have six people max, but, to be honest, DnD can be run with as many people as you'd like. At some point it gets impractical with one DM, but that doesn't stop the system from operating.

Not so with Burning Wheel. It is fickle, and requires very exact specifications.

As with everything in my life, I found this out the hard way. I adapted "The Sword" to 16 people with the help of the Adventure Burner's premade PC's, and tried to run it. Gah, that didn't work.  People got bored when only two of them could enter the Duel of Wits (which I didn't even understand properly, it turns out), so I did what normally would work in DnD.

I sicced a dragon on them, without reading the text block. As a DM of many years I figured it would be fine. Terrifying, but fine. So when the dragon incinerated half the party with one good blast,  I realized I'd made a mistake. The rest of the time the surviving party was trying to get away from the dragon with the sword. Ultimately they failed, and left the sword to the dragon.  I'd gotten the Fight! and the Duel of Wits rules wrong, and had pretty much flubbed up everything.

And yet, from what I could understand of the system as I ran it, this is exactly the type of system I want to run. I like the systems we ran. The brutality of the system just  makes... sense. Fighting a dragon was what I'd always imagined it to be: a terrifying experience that required running and the shitting of pants. Maybe it was the Mortal Kombat in me, but I liked the finality of it all. I'm not sure if Burning Wheel is for everyone.

In short, I loved it. I'll be running another playtest in two weeks. But this time it'll be with just FOUR people. I'll be running the Demon scenario from the Adventure Burner, for those of you who are curious.