Sunday, October 30, 2005

Burning Wheel and Trollbabe

I got my copy of Burning Wheel a few days ago and have been reading through it. Man, there are a lot of rules there. All the rules I've read so far, I've been OK with -- they haven't been more than I feel I can handle. One thing that helped a lot was getting to page 77 of the main rulebook and being told there "OK, stop reading, go make characters and play using the rules you've read so far. Learn the rest only after you've had some play experience." That's cool.

The Character Burner book is of course huge. It's a lifepath system. I haven't done anything with a lifepath system since I messed around with FATE a year or two ago, and that didn't go anywhere. So I just picked a background -- noble -- and went through a few lifepaths with him. Noble Born... Arcane Devotee... Arcane Devotee... switched to the Outcast Setting and found -- Rogue Wizard! Schweet! That's me, Rogue Wizard. (Rogue Wizards in Burning Wheel are rather creepier than the character type of the same name in Talislanta.) Neat stuff! The next day, hanging with Joe, I had him make a character and he had massive fun with it too. Now, neither of us actually finished our characters, for time reasons, but man, it was a lot of fun; it took me back to the kind of fun that making characters was in RPG days gone by.

Didn't get to play it though. Because we were planning to play... Trollbabe!

Joe handed me a Trollbabe character sheet and it was striking to contrast the huge lettering on it with the barely readable text on the BW sheet. I whipped up a trollbabe named Nelda in 5-10 minutes. Didn't know much about her at all. Just started the scenario.

The scenario was fairly simple -- a creepy cult called the Black Hands kidnapped a girl from some travelling merchants; Nelda decided to see if she could get them back. A couple of bad failures (BAD failures -- incapacitated level failures) led to a reprise of the "Naked Helpless Sacrifice Scene" comic, with Nelda starring as Retta and a Lovecraftian horror called She Who Is Not To Be Named starring as the bat-god. Well, it wasn't quite the same, but it did involve Nelda using magic to communicate with the god rather than just being eaten by her. (She ended up with a Relationship to this Elder-God-like entity, which I think rocks the world.) It ended up eating its followers, except for one whom Nelda had a relationship with as well (not a very pleasant relationship). Cool, she's got a relationship with both a cultist and his dark god!

Things went smoothly mostly because Joe had read the rules, like, 3 times in the last week, and had them cold. The conflict resolution system in Trollbabe still feels a little awkward to me, despite that, maybe because I don't have it entirely down. I don't know.

The two games are a huge contrast in the area of character background -- there's all this fun background creation in Burning Wheel, and none whatsoever in Trollbabe; hell, in Trollbabe it's even unclear where Trollbabes came from and what they are, so it'd be difficult to write a background. It's explicitly unspecified. A blank.

Anyway, wish I had had the time to finish the BW characters and play a bit. BW seemms like it'll be way fun. I would not have thought I could deal with all those rules, but all the ones I've *read* seem very simple and usable, so if that stays the same as I read more, well.... that'll be a good game. :)


Judd said...

Those are some fun games you've got on your plate. I've been itching to run Trollbabe for like, FOREVER.

Cool that you got to.

Bankuei said...

TB is teh awesome. Probably the biggest thing I like to point new players to look at is the Scene Request rules and the part about declaring Conflicts...

For example, "I'm tied up with the crazy Elder Thing about to eat me!- I declare a Conflict- 'Can I escape before it turns me into it's chosen vassal of power on this world?'"

And suddenly, as a player- you've input something cool, even if you lose the conflict. Neat eh?

Ed said...

Aha! See, that's the kind of angle I need to have at my fingertips.

Joshua BishopRoby said...

What strikes me about your side-by-side there is that we've got two schools of character design, one front-loaded (BW) and the other end-loaded (TB) and they're both fun in their own way. Starting a character without knowing their pasts in encyclopaedic detail and being empowered to make stuff up on the fly is terribly liberating. On the other hand, it's gobs of fun to fiddle with lifepaths and picking options and building a whole character that you can appreciate aesthetically on its own. Nice that we as players have options and aren't pressured into seeing one way as the 'right' way.

Ed said...

Well, making a TB character isn't honestly as much fun as making a BW character. However, "making characters" in TB isn't designed to be a ton of fun, it's just an introductory step to the fun of play. BW is designed for character generation to be a fun interesting little game in and of itself which precedes the "actual play," whereas TB isn't designed that way. I'd agree that neither is the "right" way though!

Joshua BishopRoby said...

Right, that italicized portion should have read, "they both create fun in their own way."

TB character generation isn't fun, but it creates fun play. BW character generation is fun, and it is part of the whole play experience.

Bankuei said...

Aha! See, that's the kind of angle I need to have at my fingertips.

Also- take relationships with "enemies", you get a reroll when dealing with them, and, you can also end up with situations where they die because you get incapacitated in the fight with them...