Sunday, July 1, 2012

Adventure Burner not so hot

I really wanted to like "Adventure Burner" it being the final book to complete my set of "Burning Wheel" (at least for now). It has been a bit of a "Unicorn" having missed out on it two years ago at Gencon. I spotted Thursday and put on my list of things to pick up, but wanted to scan the whole hall before committing. When I came back Friday it was "sold out". Therefore when I spotted it Origins a few weeks back, I snapped it up. It being one of the few purchases I made at Origins I had high hopes (see prior post for the Old School bust at Origins, of course at its heart Origins is a boardgame convention). Unfortunately Adventure Burner did not meet the standards of the other Burning Wheel books. Most of the other books have been thought provoking with a lot of open endedness, and hooks for adding in (Magic Burner is my favorite). Not Adventure Burner, Three adventures, a bunch of NPC to specific to be of much use, and rules errata for the main book (which should have been its own internet download, but may account for the high sales rate at Gencon). And the introductory adventure, the worst of the worst, an ugliness know to my old school buddies as the "loot fight".
A scenario of four adventurers uncovering a magic sword a dwarf, an elf, a mage and a ratman, each with his own use for the item. Can it be solved via wicked roleplaying, to avoid mass interparty slaughter? No according to the scenario this is not possible. Even though they suggest a reasonable solution in their explanation, they also explain that all the NPCs will act like dicks to prevent it. Their soultion the so-called "test of wits"(more like nit-wits) a dice rolling contest leaving one player the victor and every one else to go home crying, and not involving any actual thinking on anyone's part. All in all a sadistic adventure designed to give players a railroad ride down the mindfrack express. If this what your offering as an introduction, I'm giving your game a pass. I like my roleplaying about adventurers banding together to overcome the trials of a hostile world, not carving each other to bits. The other adventures? A small village were the guy who summons you to help actually wants to sacrifice you to his evil god (not one of my favorites), and a reasonably straight foward micro-dungeon which is far too short (Tony Dowling's map is however the highlight of this book).
*end spoiler*
 No other adventure hooks, no broad campaign settings, no dialogue what makes a good adventure anyways, just these. After reading this I had to go back and reread the other Burning Wheel books and see if I had missed the inner darkness in these as well. Nope, they are solid offerings and expansive in nature. I think the Burning Wheel mechanics are a solid game system (although the baroque style makes them a little hard to understand), and I actually think having character motivations makes for roleplaying opportunaties. However, I think that substituting "roll playing" for roleplaying and letting the dice descide how you act on you beliefs is a bad idea (might as well play a real dice game like craps and park you brain at the door). It is for advocating this sin that I must give "Adventure Burner" the thumbs down. Burning Wheel can be played just fine without it (OK you might want to peek at the rules revisions, but skip the rest of it).


  1. So instead of letting the dice determine outcomes, you should have the player who talks loudest and fastest win all social disputes?

  2. Being capable of talking both LOUD and Fast I am inclined to go with that :) Actually I think a rational discussion with an agreed upon middle ground is the way to go but the art of compromise does seem to have been lost in our win-lose culture. RPGs are a good place to learn and practice the art of compromise and negotiation in general. However, the adventures proposed by Adventure Burner are not (3 and 4 edition D&D with their diplomacy checks suffer from some of the same issues).

  3. Actually to avoid the "loot fight" Old school often resorted to a winner gets first pick dice rolling contest. However, we did not disguise it as an actual roleplaying moment just a straight dice roll. For players which played together often a loot rotation was also common, so the player who picked last, got first pick the next time. 4e Living Forgotten Realms avoids the issue by allowing multiple copies of the same loot so everyone can take that “must have” item. This has resulted in some “silliness” when half the party shows up armed with that certain shadow killing artifact grade weapon, but at least they are not fighting over who gets it.

  4. I can't find this book for sale in any of the usual places. Interested in selling yours?

  5. Kirk,
    Unfortunately the collector in me says that even though I didn't like it much I must keep it. Burning Wheel has come out with a new edition, so if your just looking for rules I'd get that. Otherwise keep your eyes peeled for a copy on e-bay, or you might be able to request it at


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