Monday, July 23, 2012

Burning Wheel for Fun and Profit

Well, not for profit but for research. Yes. Research! Kinda anyways.

Since the release of RuneQuest 6, I've had the feeling that it and Burning Wheel cover a lot of the same conceptual territory but obviously as different game implementations. I wanted to blog a bit about it but my BW-wise is a bit rusty and needs polished back up before I can put pen to paper or even fingers to keys so we've kicked off a Burning Wheel Gold mini campaign to get back up to speed and to have some fun along the way.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wushu With Kids

Last Thanksgiving, I ran a WhiteBox Swords & Wizardry game for my niece and nephew. It was a huge success. I recently had the opportunity to play with them again. They were very enthused about playing but had a little difficulty getting back into the groove. I took it as an opportunity to try a little experiment. What would play be like with another system?

I sifted through my collection looking for a game that would be a good match for them. I've got some great games that I know like the back of my hand but they would be a bad fit since the kids really wanted to do character creation.

I found it.

A few years ago, I tried running Wushu, but for one reason or another it just didn't work out. A tickle in the back of my mind told me to take another look - that it might be just the thing that I was looking for. Scanning the book, looking for just enough bits to get character creation started I liked what I saw. Plucking several index cards from the office organizer, I headed to the dining room where brainstorming was already taking place. In about half an hour everyone had characters made and they were raring to go.

Over the course of the visit, we got two solid gaming sessions in and again they were very good. Wushu worked like a charm.

The kids had little problem producing details in order to build dice pools. In fact, I think Wushu itself helped them articulate their imaginations. Vetoing a detail here and there wasn't as problematic as you might think. Most of the time a veto wasn't for genre emulation but for narrating victory without scene resolution. You might think that a veto would dampen enthusiasm but that wasn't the case. In fact, the vetoes seemed to have been taken as a challenges to be overcome through more description.

We took up where our WhiteBox game left off with the characters ported over. The first session actually ended with a total party kill. You also might think that a TPK would derail the fun but it didn't. They flipped their index cards over and started creating new characters.

Between sessions they worked up some pretty in depth back stories for their new characters connecting them to their old ones. The interesting part, at least for me, was that they would free play it and then talk about what shook out of that as Wushu traits.

Through the freestyle session they decided that their new characters would go to the mountain top where the first adventuring party met their demise and recover their bodies in the hope that resurrection is possible.

In the second session, the PCs found themselves accosted by forest bandits. A battle broke out on the old forest road. The adventuring party needed to keep their equipment in order to endure the journey to the mountain and the bandits wanted it.

Taking significant wounds, the bandits were barely fended off. The bandit leader himself escaped by the skin of his teeth and melted into the forest.

The man-at-arms, the wizardess in training, and the old adventurer made camp to do some recuperation from the woodland encounter. The session ended with them looking at a distant mountain range with the collective wonder of how it could be possible to get there when the road was already so difficult.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Run, don't walk on over to Grim and Perilous to check out the upcoming release of ZWEIHÄNDER!

From the site:

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim and Perilous is a dark fantasy role-playing game, loosely based on the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay tabletop system.  Set for release in autumn of 2012, ZWEIHÄNDER embraces the dark and gritty nature of old school RPGs of yore while simultaneously providing many modern advances found in today's roleplaying game industry. The finished product will be "world-agnostic", universally adaptable for any low or dark fantasy campaign (similar to GURPS).

I have little experience with Warhammer and its Old World so I really can't compare the Grim and Perilous artwork to its inspirational sources but I can say that the look and feel that we've seen so far reminds me of The Riddle of Steel. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

RuneQuest 6 (digitally) in my hands!

As soon as I saw that RuneQuest 6 was available I rushed over to RPGNow and grabbed a copy. I wasn't disappointed.

The first impression was that I was looking at an artifact of history. I own Mongoose Runequest 2/Legend and really like them. RQ6 just feels different. I somehow get the feeling that it looks and feels like the RuneQuests of old even though I've never ever seen an actual copy of the older rulesets. There are no discernible bits of Glorantha in RQ6 other than hints in the runes and rune magic. The presentation covers a wide variety of fantasy games but skews toward cinematic grittiness. For the first time reading a D100 game I get a Burning Wheel vibe. Players have lots of codified combat options, getting hurt is a dangerous thing, and willpower is meaningful. Individual character motivations (passions) are meaningful and characters at least in part learn from failure. It's one of the most complete rulebooks that I've seen in a long time, once again, making it comparable to Burning Wheel.

Check it out.