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During the Game
Burn Bryte is player-driven. Let the players decide where their characters go and how they tackle obstacles. The dice and you decide the outcomes and consequences of their actions.
When to Ask for a Skill Roll
You do not need to call for a skill roll every time a player character attempts a task, only when a player character attempts something complicated or interesting with a reasonable risk of failure. For instance, a character hopping over a low wall outside of combat likely shouldn’t need to make a skill roll to accomplish the task, especially if there’s no time pressure to do so. If the character had a horde of enemies chasing them, then you might call for a skill roll to see if the character was able to hop over the wall without any trouble.
When you call for a skill roll, the player chooses the skill their character uses and justifies its use to you. You can reject their suggestion, but do so only when the justification makes no sense or cannot be provided. If their reasoning is far-fetched, it is recommended you allow the attempt but make the complexity of the task 4 or more. Some of the greatest memories are made when the most ludicrous ideas fail or succeed.
Setting Skill Roll Complexity
Skill roll complexity during combat is easy to determine. Outside of combat it is recommended most skill rolls have a complexity of 2 (easy), 3 (moderate), or 4 (hard). A complexity 4 task is difficult, but not so hard that a character can’t attempt the task with a d4 skill.
Complexity 5 and higher tasks are so difficult even player characters attempting the task with a d12 skill are more likely to fail than not. Reserve complexity 5, 6, and 7 tasks for only the very toughest obstacles.
Remember that increasing or decreasing the complexity of a task has exponential results on the rate of success. A complexity change of even just 1 has incredible effects, as shown on the Skill Roll Success Probability table in “Skills.”
Interpreting Skill Roll Success and Failures
When a skill roll succeeds, the character does what they set out to do. If the skill roll fails, work with the player to determine what failure means; failure is more than not accomplishing what the character set out to do.
You can choose failure results or roll on the Failure Prompts table in “Skills.” During combat you can take 1 Collapse point whenever a player fails a skill roll instead of giving a consequence. When you create a failure result, do not go easy on the player characters. Their equipment might break or they might take damage, gain a negative condition, fall in a pit, upset an NPCs, trigger a security alarms, hurt an ally, or cause equivalent harm. Even during the first session of play the player characters have vast resources and can overcome most setbacks. Don’t pull your proverbial punches.
Playing the MI
After the player characters build their ship, work with them to create one of the campaign’s most important NPCs, their ship’s magical intelligence. The MI should have a name, which could be same as the ship’s or something else entirely. The MI interacts with the player characters directly and has a personality. The being might act like a dutiful butler, worrying parent, snide coworker, or any other personality you choose, but the MI should ultimately be loyal to the characters and not harm them unless forced to do so by another entity. Most MIs have affection and admiration for their crews (even if they choose not to show it) and join in on conversations or comment on actions happening aboard the ship, though they keep private matters private.
The MI can control the ship for a majority of journeys but finer movements during combat or hazardous flights requires the player characters take direct control.
Running Combat Encounters
Combat encounters can be a big part of many Burn Bryte games. The player characters face monstrous villains in dramatic action sequences full of twists and turns (especially when the player characters fail lots of skill rolls). Make sure the game’s combat encounters are exciting and important to the story. Games with combat encounters that are too frequent and inconsequential to the adventure’s narrative can become boring grinds (unless your group just wants to blast and chop their way to glory, which is a fine way to play the game if everyone is having fun).
Create and run exciting combat encounters by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Let player characters and the creatures you control to get creative. Encourage player characters to use their skills and abilities make combat exciting and over-the-top by allowing them to try crazy ideas. Let the dice decide if ideas fail. You get to have fun too! The creatures you control can be just as out-of-the-box as the player characters.
- Use the environment. Combat is more than two sides slugging it out. Creatures hide behind terrain, hurl obstacles at each other, using objects as weapons, and so much more. Combat in a room filled with cages of predatory animals or vats of acid is more fun than combat in an empty room.
- Spend your Collapse points as soon as possible. They disappear at the end of the encounter and are the player characters’ consequences for failure.
- You never run out of enemies. You can always start a combat encounter of questionable difficulty with only a few enemies and have reinforcements show up if it feels too easy.
- Statistics are yours to change on the fly. You can easily increase or decrease health levels, the damage done by attacks, and other statistics as you need them.
Combat Encounter Building
Building combat encounters in Burn Bryte is more art than math. There are many variables that go into creating an encounter like the environment, the individual skills of each player character, and the roll of the dice.
If you’re worried about building encounters that will overwhelm the player characters, start with weaker encounters (no more than one weak creature per player character) and see how they fare. If the player characters make mince meat of their enemies, make future encounters more difficult, and if they have a tough time, wait for them to advance before ramping up the difficulty.
Object Health Levels
Normally breaking an object requires one successful skill roll, but you can give objects health levels if you like. If you go this route, nonmagical objects generally have a number of health levels equal to the number of squares they occupy. You can give magic objects and objects that are reinforced an extra health level or two as you see fit.