Nathanael Cole / Alliterated Games

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Burning Wheel – The “Proxies of Torch” Campaign: Initial Setup

This week I met with three new players to start up a new Burning Wheel campaign. This one is based in a micro-setting I’ve had kicking around in my head for some time now, originally established for a game that never actually started. I’ll try and give it to you in a sentence: “In a near-industrial fantasy world where most everyone lives in massive isolated city-states, wars are fought not by armies, but by godlike warriors who duel with the powers of the heavens.” Each city-state has its chosen Proxy, and when conflicts arise, the Proxies duel it out to determine a victor.

This core paradigm extends all the way down into the deepest dregs of society, where even the most petty legal disputes are resolved by official bouts between representative warrior-proxies. While the Magnificantes themselves may be chosen chosen by the gods (at least, that’s what most of the peasantry and the new budding labor class believes), the proxies further down the scale are just top class warriors with official recognition, lawyers who represent by power of combat skill alone.

Torch is one such city-state, and within the dirtiest of its wrought-iron-encrusted streets is where our story begins. They’re all part of the underworld surrounding the lowest rungs of the Proxy fights, either directly involved with the shady dealings that pervade these bouts, or directly affected (victimized?) by them.

It’s kind of like The Wire meets The Lies of Locke Lamora meets Robot Jox.

The Cast So Far…

Three of the four players made it to the first meet-up. Here’s what we hashed out in that first gathering. Two of the three are three-lifepath characters.

Josh will be playing the ex-lover of Torch’s most recent Magnificante, who died sometime before the game under mysterious circumstances. While he was alive, she was his favored concubine and as such enjoyed a minor celebrity status. Since his death, she’s become old news, last year’s story now long since stale. She believes his death was caused by wrong-doing, and now seeks to expose it, and take revenge on whoever was responsible. To do this, she’s decided to enter the ranks at the bottom as a Proxy, and try and fight her way up to the top. Epic, huh?

Max’s character is a strange one, for certain. Initially trained as a priest, he was lured into the Proxy underworld as an advisor/coach-type figure for the fighters. Darker individuals within the ranks tempted him with Powers That Man Should Not Know, which started him onto the path of Corruption and Blood Magic. Now he draws some strange power from some unknown, dark source, and uses it to “help” fighters in the bouts. I think. My notes here are a bit sketchy. Max so far is the only four-lifepath character, as it just made sense for his concept, and everyone else approved.

Adam is taking on the role of a low-ranking Magister – a glorified term for an official bout bookie. He arranges bouts, takes bets, and turns in the losing bets as taxes to the state. He was once a more influential personage, but an illicit affair with someone important’s wife coupled with discovery and blackmailing by a criminal organization have knocked him back down to the bottom.

I’m meeting with the fourth player next week to work out his details and finalize initial relationships and such.

The Kick-Off

The game will kick off in the fighting pit. Josh’s character was just in a bout with another fighter, over a dispute between a John and the Prostitute he supposedly assaulted. Josh was paid off by an as-of-yet-unnamed character to throw the fight, but whether or not she intended to do that is moot, because the fact is she just plain lost the fight. We will start play with that moment of defeat.

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