The Trinity Throne Federation vs. the Peasant Republic

Aaron and I were e-mailing back and forth, trying to figure out what to play. I woke up this morning to an e-mail about wanting to play a young Ben Franklin-inspired character.

Aaron made me do this:

A war is coming. The Trinity Throne Federation is gathering its forces and will march to put down what they are calling sedition and rebellion from the common-folk who have served them for centuries. MoBu City is the heart of the rebellion, who have taken the name given to them by the Throners, Peasant Republic and made it a rallying cry.

A decade of living in an urban sprawl side by side with wizards, giant spiders, trolls, roden, great wolves, orc and every other stock of sentience in the world has fermented ideas that could very well end feudalism. Those who profit from feudalism want none of it; the human dukes, elven etharchs and dwarven princes are gathering their forces.

Trinity Throne Federation
Elves – Etharchal, Citadel, Protector
Humans – Noble Court, Noble, Religious
Dwarves – Dwarven Host, Dwarven Noble, Clansman

Peasant Republic
Elves – none, other than a few Spiteful rebels
Humans – City, Peasant (mostly), Village (mostly), Outcast, Seafaring
Dwarves – none, though many think the Guilder are playing both sides against each other, hoping to profit

In the air so far…
Elves – Villages…some say this is where the war will be won or lost. The Elders, Patriarchs and Matriarchs are listening.

Humans – Professional Soldier – The nobles have armies but the mercenaries go where the money goes. Even now, the Republic is trying to get enough money together to either purchase their own army or at least buy the mercenaries out of the coming conflict. The nobles are gathering mercenaries with piles of gold, elven artifacts, and dwarven craftsmanship.

Dwarves – Artificer and Guilder…many say these dwarves are using the coming war as a way to get more money, playing both sides against he middle and seeing which way the dice fall. So far, nothing has happened to swing the dwarves, though a threatened Artificer strike nearly killed the Dwarven Host before it even marched. But the Prince paid the strike away…for now.

Orcs – There are some Orc in MoBu City, of course but it would take a Great One to gather them and no Named has taken that title in well over a century and that was under the blessing of a demon-god of darkness and blood. The Republic has had some vicious arguments about recruiting the orc horde to its cause and so far, the orc are out of the loop.

Great Wolves – They don’t really like either side, as both are destroying the lands they desperately need to continue with their way of life but the Republicans have at least come to their packs and treated them as fellow sentients, whereas the nobles ignore them entirely.

Roden – The roden are split, as always. The Field Roden and Below Roden might very well serve on opposite sides of this war.

Great Spiders – The nobles would not bother to speak to monsters but there are Thinkers, Rogue Wizards and Heretic Priests who believe that the Republic can only truly call itself as such if they treat every sentient being with respect and offer the Great Spiders a place at the table. The problem is that the only unified society of Great Spiders is the undernest and who is going to go there to speak to the viciously carnivorous Handmaidens? The rest of the spiders are either split up into fractious hunting packs or solitary creatures in ancient trees or in isolated cliff-sides.

Others – The Dragon, the Martikora, Great Eagles, Ophidians…there are Rogue Wizards who say the Republic must send diplomats to the creatures we once called monsters. Shining Knights once saved peasants from these mythical beasts but that was a different age.

An Ode to the O’Declan’s Brewing Company

In the midst of my game-fast, I’m thinking about games past, old friends, long gone.

Let’s be fair, they aren’t that far gone.  Pete is IMing me right now and Aaron is coming over this weekend to watch UFC 145 but not having a solid excuse to sit down with them and visit fictional places makes it feel like they are far gone.

O’Declan’s Brewing Company was a strange and amazing game based in the Mieville-inspired MoBu City. The rhythm of the campaign was somewhere between Perdido Street Station and Breaking Bad. It was about two dwarves who ran a brewing company in a mad, magical city with newly immigrated giant spiders, wolves coming in from out in the country, dwarves bringing their crafts and wares, orcs and roden (rat people) living in the under-city and a fading memory of elves.

Pete and Aaron made really brave, interesting choices with their characters that made the game sing.

Pete made his character incredibly talented and quite flawed but not broken. Cormac O’Declan was a roaring drunk artisan of fine dwarven nog. Cormac was a great artist but the other interesting choice Pete made was in his relationships. He used the MoBu City setting we created together to its fullest and had relationships with the head of the spider community.  Suddenly, he had a reason to go share nog with a giant orb weaver (the orb weaver would dip bits of web into the nog and suck on it, rather than drink).

Aaron made Nolan Quinn, who was a huge departure from Aaron’s usual paragon bad-asses; Nolan was an accountant with a gambling habit. Not only that but Aaron made a straight man to Pete’s roaring drunk artist.

The relationship between these business partners was glorious. The rhythm of the game was odd. We weren’t anywhere near the quasi-Tolkien, dungeon crawling of our Forgotten Realms game. Nolan Quinn was shot in the gut the first session and was laid up for close to a year. Violence was a huge decision as these characters were not made for violence; they were normal guys, thrown into an a violent city straining against conflicting species and cultures.

I miss that game like hell; it might be my favorite campaign in recent years.  I wish like hell we had gotten another few dozen sessions into it, to see what became of the gambler and the drunk, the accountant and the brewer, two guys trying to make their way in the big city.

I raise my nog, nectar of the gods, to the sky, spill a bit on the soil and toast the cool things we made up together that have instilled this strong desire to go back and visit them again.

The O’Declan Brewing Company and the Hudson Valley Compact

From the accounting books of the O.B.C.:

After that, 4 big things happened.

  • Nolan’s dice game with the Dwarven Prince.
  • Cormac’s gift of nog to the Red Caps.
  • Nolan’s Duel of Wits with the Great Wolf.
  • The Spiders go all Stringer Bell.

From the annals of the Hudson Valley Compact:

I watched Padraic really think about this and then, in the middle of every thing he says, “Fuck this.  I walk up to the kid and touch him on the forehead, ‘Go kill your brothers.'” He rolls for his move, puppet strings and nails it.

“Then I hand him his gun back.”

The kid get’s in one of the armored school-buses and drives away.

The Five Points Empire is done.

New Mobu City: Beards, Beers and a Bullet

BW Forum Post:

Started with Cormac at the brewery and Silk came for a visit. I like the alien, kind of stilted way spiders can talk. He was trying to convey that the numbers of spiders was about to double.


“More, Cormac…8 to 16. More.”


“8 to 16.”


Silk was dipping his webbing in the nog he was served, sucking it off of the webs. He stumbled out and Cormac tried to get in touch with the dwarven councilor. Failed.

Well, you know the pubs he frequents and you go to one after another and by the time you find him, in a ritzy pub talking to a table full of dwarven graybeards and longbeards, you are sloppy, sloppy drunk.

They started to talk and I asked him to make a health roll, ob 3. He failed, so he vomited right there.

An odd start to an odd game night. In my last foray into MoBu City I had noir to provide tropes and sign-posts. This time around I’m just not sure what media is anything like what we’re doing here. Its just odd and I like it.

Summer Gaming: And then there was 1

My summer work schedule has taken its toll on my gaming.  This isn’t a bad thing, truth is, the schedule is fantastic and it is the first time I get to work normal 9-5ish hours (most days) and work Monday through Friday.  I am fairly thrilled.

The only game that is left is The Grey Legion, our swords and sorcery Black Company-inspired Jaws of the Six Serpents campaign, in which we are forward agents, hoping to pacify a largely lawless city that is a political powder keg. Noble houses, slavers, merchant-princes, demi-gods and street gangs are all over Storn’s wonderful city of Khend.

There is also a nice banter between me, Aaron and Pete.  Aaron and Pete are people I have gotten to game with as their GM but it is a real pleasure to be able to play.

Pete and I are now living together, so I reckon that we’ll get back to MoBu City at some point and I’m sure that we’ll get our Shock: on when Janaki visits but for now, its nice to have my summer evenings free.

Naturally, as soon as there is a free spot I start filling it in my head with crackpot BW ideas, Blood & Honor or Icons but I’m going to downshift this summer, enjoy the warm evening air a bit.

How is your summer game schedule looking?

The Wheel Turns and Burns

Every once in a while I get all misty-eyed and I-love-you-man about the folks I game with.  This is such a time.

Look posted this up on the BW forum:

Five years ago today we released Burning Wheel Revised.
In five years we’ve sold over 7000 copies of BWR alone.
We’ve traveled the US and Europe promoting the game.
We’ve introduced thousands of gamers to the Burning games.
We’ve played incredibly games (that just keep getting better).
We’ve made amazing friends who will be with us for many years to come.

Thanks all for making this dream come true.
We hope to see you all at 10/10/10 so we can celebrate!

-Luke and BWHQ

And it got me thinking back on the past five years or so of gaming, looking back on AP threads.

Here is my first BW thread, I believe, 3 BW Games in 5 Days, in which I struggle with the rules, fuck up pre-game preparation, still manage to have a decent time here and there but I’m banging my head against the system. Some of my friends liked what they saw in the system and some hated the damned thing.

So, why and how did I continue playing the game and wrestling with it?

It is because, in Ithaca, I am blessed. I don’t have one group in this town. I am lucky to have a network of players and people interested in gaming, up for something new, game to try something. There are a few dozen games in this town whom I consider friends, people I’d be eager and happy to share a beverage with.

If I was gaming group monogamous, I’d never be able to play the game again as soon as one or two people hated it. I get to play games that I dig with people who are willing and eager to try them because when it comes to gaming groups, I lean polyamorous.

I don’t play PTA with Jim or Aaron because they tend to like more mechanics to sink their teeth into. I play Shock: with Pete and Janaki because we love making up worlds together and see how they turn out when we bang on them with anthropological hammers. The BW character sheets make Janaki dizzy but make Aaron sing with glee. And I full realize that I can do this because I have spent the last 10+ years gaming in this medium-smallish college town and rather than sinking one night a week into creating the perfect group of uber-gamers, I have flitted around, weaving webs and making networks of buddies.

Some I don’t game with at all, because their games don’t interest me and mine don’t interest them but we have fun IMing or having the occasional lunch to talk shop and geek out. Some are up for long campaigns, some aren’t. Some are down with the occasional one-shot once the kids are asleep, some want to game on Friday night have rocking a porch party. Some were strangers who PMed me on a forum (and some of those became great friends and others faded), some got dragged into a game I was playing with through a stagnant university gaming club and others have been friends we met under the mantle of Kryos over a decade ago.

My gaming privilege makes me wince when people post on forums how “their group would never play X game that they lust after.”

So, thank you, my friends who despite their busy lives, careers and families spend time playing games with me.

Thank you to my friends who played

the pirates,


revolutionary fast food workers rebelling against The Man,

the R&D exec and the Rogue Scientist,

the interstellar corporate agents,

the Patrol-men and Patrol-women,

the barber’s son from the Sangre,

the knight and the bastard,

the uncommon orcs,

the princess and the bodyguard,

the freebooter turned mercenary captain turned champion of humanity, the Herald of the Dawn, the Spider of the Book and the Chosen of Hell’s Honorable Brother,

the Horselord Prince, the Sheriff of Baal, the God-killers

the Elven Sword-singer and his loyal princeling apprentice,

the nobles and the jihadim,

the teen  samurai hostages to the sleeping emperor who dressed as ninja and went dancing at night,

the kids with magic out on the corner,

the Dragonborn Cleric, the Human Fighter, the Drow Ranger and the Elven Paladin,

the wolf pack traversing the World Tree in search of a new alpha,

the Barons whose lands surrounded the Hub of all Revenge,

the doomed samurai ascending a cold mountain for bloody reasons,

the cast and crew of Hare and Hound,

the Man in the Mountain,

the concubine and the dead god’s bride,

the Centurions,

Sharn’s Finest,

the cast and crew of Episode LV,

the Grey Legionnaires,

and many more.

Thank you, my friends for joining me in trying odd games, playtesting others and all in all making up cool shit.

State of the Table

MoBu City: This remains catch-as-catch-can with me and Pete.

The Gray Legion: Storn is excited to run Jaws of the Six Serpents and we are running a Black Company riff, particularly the Erickson comment on the books, saying that they are “Vietnam War fiction on peyote.” That is the vibe this game is going for. I am excited to play, excited by the concept and I’m intrigued by the system.

Danger Patrol: We have one more game of Danger Patrol left and then the Friday night group is at loose ends. We aren’t sure what we will be doing. I am half-tempted to run Dresden Files or see if J.C. will run it. I am also tempted to forgo the long and difficult group dialog and just say, “I am going to bring a damned game and we’ll play it and have fun. Enough with this democratic discussion crap!”

We were going to be playing Jaws but Storn moved that game to the Tuesday slot, so we could take a break from both Bee Dubya and 13 Cities.

Sorcerer 2289: This Thursday will be the last game of our Sorcerer campaign with Christine and Bret. With Bret leaving town, I am wondering if I could wrassle up another player for a Thursday night game of something. I’ll talk about it with Christine post-Sorcerer.

And that’s my gaming table, right now. How about you? What are you playing?

An honest man in MoBu City

Thread on BW forum

A funny thing happened in tonight’s game. Pete asked me what we could use the Die of Fate for and I went over its uses.

In the game, Rifkin has gotten the crew back together. He has tossed Cerwin into a dry well to ween him from his addiction to Orcs’ Milk and Circled up Samarra to replace Teleki, the crew’s former gossip-finder, answer-man and researcher. Samarra went out to ask really dangerous questions as her first job for the crew and I know that she is going to get the wrong people on the Shadow Council’s attention.

Was she followed back to the safe-house?

Die of Fate, on a 6 she was followed.

@ the Table

Friday Night Science Fiction: This is our Friday night game of Diaspora and it is going well.

I want to get in some spaceship combat and some platoon combat and then I will give more detailed play review of the game as it worked for us at the table.  The cluster creation has made a setting that is dense with adventure-stuffs.  That said, another few sessions and we will have to talk about flipping it to Chapter 2 or think about moving on to a different game, declaring this mini-campaign complete.

I have been meaning to write up the going’s on from our last game, in which we used the social combat rules to hire a crew for our newly salvaged New Ovidian battleship.

13 Cities: This was a solo game with just me and Storn but when the Friday night game went kaput and it was just me, Storn and Pete at the table, Storn suggested we head back to our shared setting.  Pete is a wonderful addition to this game.  He get’s where we’re going with it and contributes wonderful and surprising tidbits.

At the end of this current chapter, the 13 Cities will end up being changed irrevocably.  Once we find out what happens to the setting, we will start a chapter from the point of view of the often mentioned but never met God-Killers, most likely an assassination team sent to the 13 Cities to kill them a deity.

MoBu City: This is the game that has suffered at the hands of me and Pete being busy and tired come evening time.  The game was just getting good, with Rifkin, Pete’s former convict gathering his posse of thieves to do a big heist, something that could rock the city and incite gods, sorcerers and demons.

We need to get back to this fucking game, man.  Dag.

That is about it.  Dominion, Formula De and Ticket to Ride are all waiting for some play.  I ran a session of Mouse Guard with some housemates but I’m not sure it had momentum necessary to pick up further play.

What is happening at your table?