Burning/The Far Hinterlands

Last Saturday I played the second session of the Burning Wheel campaign MadJay Brown started with me, Michael Miller and Rachel E.S. Walton. It was a great session, and not just because I’m finally in an ongoing BW game that is actually ongoing.

We decided on Mannish stock, with Spirit Binding and Faith the only types of magic available. Somehow this pointed us to western Asia for cultural inspiration: Mongol, Tuvan, Rus, and Turkish imagery with dashes of Shintoism and Africa here and there. The result is the Hinterlands, a far-off corner of the world, and therein the village of Five Roads, where our first session took place.

Our PCs are three siblings — same father, different mothers. The world as a whole has been rocked by some Great Disaster involving the spirit world and the spirit binders, and so the common folk are very wary of those marked by the spirits — and our PCs happened to have recently been marked by the spirits. As the sessions begins, each of us is facing difficulties due to how our spirit marks have impacted our lives, and on top of this our wayward father seems to have re-entered the picture and is somehow tied to the Order of the Five Pillars (sort of the jedi council of spirit binders).

I’m playing Omak, a simple farmhand for whom the spirit-mark has meant the alienation of the woman he’d intended to marry. Michael is playing Khenbish, a loyal initiate of the Order. Rachel plays Goat, a rogue for whom the spirit-mark is simply serving to complicate an already complicated life (when you’re a crook, never date a cop).

We opted to start as 3LP characters, so no one was throwing down a whole lot of dice for the few tests that were made this session. Thankfully, failure in BW is generally even more fun than success, so scrounging for dice was a joy. In the first test of the campaign, I failed to bind a spirit attacking two men on the road, resulting in one death. Rachel also lost a Duel of Wits that resulted in a great compromise that drew our three siblings even closer together (at least in terms of proximity).

It was a wonderfully tight 2.5-hour session. Jay excels at putting the pressure on, pushing hard on our beliefs like a good BW GM should. It’s also a wonder to see how BW always manages to bring the character drama to the forefront; the BITs-Artha cycle is such a great engine for driving play. BW fanboi alert!

I’m really looking reared to the next session. I’m also happy to see how gaming via Hangouts is exceeding my expectations. I wish I had started sooner.


4 thoughts on “Burning/The Far Hinterlands

  1. My first BW character was also Mongol inspired named Kunbish. We must have been working off the same name list. That was when I learned that spending 5 skill points to grey a skill might not be the best use of scarce resources. Live and learn.
    You are braver than I starting with 3LP. Your fail tolerance is high.