The Lands of Yore: The Bortola Chronicles

First Session (from The Burning Wheel forum)

Notes on the first session in the campaign, originally posted in The Burning Wheel forum.

Brief Introduction:

Was first introduced to Burning Wheel sometime around the middle of last decade by a fellow on eBay I was buying some RPG books from. Bought Burning Wheel Revised soon after that recommendation, but never played it, though discussed it with members of a D&D group I sometimes play with.

Bought Burning Wheel Gold soon after it was released. Commenced evangelical campaign with fellow role players to give it a go, even convinced another to buy it. Raved to a gaming shop owner about it for 30 minutes while visiting Sydney earlier this year. Also mentioned it to the local gaming shop. But did not play it, until now… (well actually last Tuesday night)

The Campaign Begins:

Had the day off work Tuesday. A friend comes around to play Vampire: The Masquerade (the new 20th anniversary edition) with my house mate, and I get roped into the game, fairly willingly, quickly making a Brujah biker who listens to the Beatles and gets advice from the ghost of his brother, who was also a biker, murdered sometime in the 1950s.

Afterwards, “Hey, how about we play Burning Wheel?”

Quickly burn up a character for the visiting friend (took about an hour), but my house mate is too tired so gives up halfway through burning his.

Decide to play one-on-one with the friend and bring in my house mate another time. Really just wanted to actually play the game instead of just reading it. Give the rules a spin and see what happens.

Initial impressions:

Brilliant! Paul, the visiting friend, thought the character generation rules were awesome, giving him lots of ideas about his character fairly effortlessly.

Used the simple rules from the first 106 pages. Though not entirely sure how to apply them, the action kept flowing nonetheless with very little prep time, just a brief world burning discussion. We were both a little tanked on cheap wine which may have helped.

Deadwood in Renaissance Florence

Simple summary of the setting was Deadwood set in a Renaissance Italian type city. A port city named Paccar (now Paccara) in the country of Bortoli (the brand of wine we were drinking. Now Bortola). Actually, Bortoli was a mixture of Renaissance Italian and Ancient Egyptian, with an emphasis on the Italian side, and the city itself somewhat like Firenze and Venice. The Egyptian element mostly came from the religion of the people: the worship of the Sun.

The Sun god is not prayed to, only gratitude is shown. The Sun gives us life, what we make of it is our choice. This contrasts with the religion of a nearby country, Lombardo, where the priests and people pray for miracles and personal advantage. The people of Bortoli find that despicable. Bortoli is also hostile politically with Lombardo, as the latter is supplying arms and other means of support to Kornokovia, with whom Bortoli is at war.

Kornokovia is a nation about a 12 day sea journey to the West from the port of Paccar. Loosely based on the Americas, it was formerly a colony of Bortoli before the War of Independence. That was 200 years ago and the two nations have been at war off and on ever since. At this time, the conflict is just starting to ramp up again (Changed: Still a colony but there have been several separatist uprisings. At the moment, another uprising is underway and the king of Bortola, Ferdinand III, has said he will be introducing conscription to get troops to put down the rebels.).

Just North of Kornokovia is a smallish island nation known as Eustania, loosely based on Iceland. It is famous for its beautiful women and its mead.

Danielle (Now: Luca) , the Whore Monger with a Heart:

Paul’s character has the lifepaths: Son of a Gun, Desperate Killer, Whore monger, Smuggler (Now: Son of a Gun → Boy → Lead to Outcast → Desperate Killer → Smuggler → Whoremonger).

We decided that he was involved in the slave trade of beautiful Eustanian women to brothels in Bortoli (and perhaps elsewhere on the continent) as well as smuggling items between Kornokovia and Bortoli. The recent conflict between Bortoli and their former colony has made the seas dangerous, so Danielle has resettled in his hometown of Paccor and set up a brothel, The Cat’s Paw, with his favourite whore, Maggie, selling his share of the boat he smuggled with to his ex-smuggling partner.

He also happens to be a bastard son of the current king of Bortoli. His mother (Maria Estrella Delgado) was a kitchen girl who died of the plague and Danielle was sent to grow up on a boat soon after being born (details have not yet been worked out).

Due to his previous career, he has been able to secure 8 particularly beautiful Eustanian women to work in his brothel, which has made some of the other local brothel owners jealous and worried he’ll steal their business.

Danielle is somewhat based on Al Swearengan and Maggie on Trixie from the HBO series “Deadwood”. He is in love with her, as much as he can be in love with anyone. One of his beliefs is: “I will protect Maggie to the death”.

So the opening scene of course was her being rapped up in a roll of fabric and kidnapped by four hired thugs. Danielle managed to catch up with them, and in a murderous rage sliced two down in the street, struck another unconscious while another fled. Then returned Maggie to their home.

The bodies were found by the town guard and the unconscious thug arrested. The rest of session was taken up with trying to find out who had paid the thugs to carry out the kidnapping. This involved bribing the town guard to have the prisoner taken to his wine cellar for an interrogation/torture session, who then fed him false information. Then visiting the same prisoner again in a hospice at the Sun god’s temple once he discovered he’d been lied to.

Actually one of the best parts of the session was when Danielle visited another brothel, The Golden Hare, to speak with the owner, Betrosi, who the thug falsely named as his employer. Betrosi is a smart dressing pimp with a taste for art and astronomy.

The session ended with Danielle finally getting the thug in the hospice to reveal that his employer is The Hawk, a mysterious underworld figure in Paccar.

On The Farm (not Maggie’s)

Today my house mate finally finished burning his character, which looking at the character sheet just now, realise hasn’t been named (_He’s now named Judd).

His lifepaths are: City Born → Confidence Man → Sailor → Mercenary Captain

He worked on the ship with Danielle (Now Luca) for sometime. Now he’s also off the ships and has set up a small vineyard with his wife, Carla, and four of his mercenary men: Rhombeasi, Woody (Woodaldo), Pantusso and Maloni. You may spot the “Cheers” reference.

Rhombeasi has a darker than average past that he doesn’t like talking about and enjoys drinking and whittling on the front porch. Pantusso has a skill for delivering babies and is a bit of a know-it-all (Cliff Claven). Maloni in the opening scene is being chased by the neighbouring farmer after a night of passion with his daughter. Woody is constantly pushing a pig named Cletus around in a cart because Cletus starts screaming if he ever stops and Woody says “Cletus stops me thinking about the past”.

We just described the initial scene. Currently focused on the belief, “I will get Cletus out of that damn cart so I can give him a bath and wash out that shit filled cart”. This is being reinforced by his nagging wife saying that Cletus “really, really stinks” and the cart having an extremely squeaky wheel. He approached Woody and had a brief discussion about his attachment to Cletus. A possible plan is to get both Woody and Cletus stinking drunk. Cleetus the pig is also an alcoholic. We’re probably going to play that out tomorrow. I’m pissing myself laughing as I type.

The Burning Wheel forum post


Now based on Spain, rather than Italy. And the country name has changed to Bortola. Adjectival form: Bortolian.


Simo Simo

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