The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm

A funny thing happened when I played a few games of Burning Wheel in the Forgotten Realms.  Friends would contact me online and tell me about the games they always wanted to play on the Realms.  Jason was one person and getting to boot up a one-on-one game with him a few weeks ago was really rewarding.

These are the folks with the old Forgotten Realms maps push-pinned to their walls and ceilings when they were a kid.

Daniel was another and he blogged about it and blogged about it again:

Hal Whitewyrm is the character that got away, the one character I really wanted to play and never got the chance to.

Hal Whitewyrm is a half-elf bard living in Highmoon[1], in Deepingdale, in the area known as the Dalelands. He has somewhere in his heritage a trace of weredragon[2] blood which gives him orange eyes. He’s a joyful fellow who honestly loves adventuring.

Hal is the character I created back in the early 90s, when I first started to get into AD&D in high school. He’s the character I would constantly recreate during class, the one I would write short stories about, the one who was my avatar in the world of high adventure that are the Realms. He was a shallow character concept[3] with cool orange eyes and a weredragon girlfriend who existed mostly in my 5-subject spiral notebook in story after story. And I loved it.

I just never got to play Hal. My D&D group played Basic D&D/Rules Cyclopedia and we had a fairly regular schedule, so, little time to try out new ideas. Then we played less and less, then I moved, etc. Aside from the fact that I used the name as an email address for some time, I have not gone back to this character in over a decade. Which is why I surprised myself when I answered Judd’s question about what character I would play in a Burning Wheel Realms game as follows:

* I’d play the character I’ve carried with me for years, Hal Whitewyrm, a half-elven bard with weredragon blood in his ancestry (weredragons are a race of female-only shapeshifting wyrms from the Moonshaes – see the thread there?). He’s the guy I wrote stories about in my teens yet never got to play. Hal is all about the romantic journey (as in literary genre, not mass market Harlequin titles), facing adventure in a large world, ideally of the legendary danger kind, with fast friends at his side, a love life to look forward to, and death around him to put it all in perspective. Think Aragorn’s journey, but with a bard who also deals with issues of identity.”

Wow, I’d never really put those ideas into words before but yeah, that’s what Hal is all about for me: exploring the high fantasy romantic character arc; less about killing monsters and taking their stuff, more about zero-to-hero who saves the princess and loses friends along the way.

I’m kind of fascinated.  I’m not sure a successful game of BW is possible from this spot.  The expectations of setting and character are pretty intense and that interests me.  Playing Hal as a Burning Wheel character is going to mean that what it means to be Hal is going to be challenged.  Hal is going to go through the fire and in doing so will be changed.  Even the character creation (or as we say in BW jargon – character burning) is going to leave Hal different than the guy Daniel dreamed up.

The back and forth with Daniel during the process of burning up Hal was fun and kinda interesting.  BW’s lifepaths have a way of taking what you thought the character might be and adding wrinkles that you hadn’t expected.  The tough choices of the Wheel start immediately.

I’m intrigued to give the Obsidian Portal a shot and play around with different online methods of play.  We’ll stick to play-by-post but maybe we’ll want to give some skype or G+ stuff a shot.  We’ll see how it goes.

For now it is an excuse to write a little every day, hit the heavy-bag, so to speak.  My hope is to wake up and make a short post here and then hit on a few stories that are in danger of getting angry with me.  Don’t want stories angry with me, when that happens they stop talking to me all together.  I can’t have that.

Here’s the first post if yer interested in such things.

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6 thoughts on “The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm

  1. Very enjoyable read so far, thanks for sharing. Obsidian Portal has a decent mobile format too so reading on an iPhone works well. Will follow to see how the adventures of Hal & his crew pan out. Oh, loved the 10′ pole comment & recruiting Hal as a Henchman, very old school D&D :)

    • Thanks for reading. I’m glad its readable to someone who isn’t me and isn’t Daniel.

      I’ve heard that about OP’s mobile format.

      Glad you liked the ten foot pole comment. Reading over the FR grey boxed set brings it out of me.

  2. So far, I’m loving it. We haven’t hit the dice yet, but the system is making itself felt in the setting a lot for me. I’ll blog about it once I can put it better into words.

    Also, all of our interactions on the first day of play were done using the OP mobile interface on my iPod Touch. Frankly, it was that new feature that opened up OP for me, as I’m rarely at the laptop, but always have my iPod or phone with me.

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