For those who don’t know, Burn Bryte is Roll20’s science fantasy game currently in it’s play testing phase. It was written and produced by James Introcaso with additional design by Jim McClure, Kat Kuhl and Darcy Ross. It’s designed by Roll20 for Roll20 which makes it very interesting to fans of the platform. I have yet to play through the one shot included in the beta test but I have gone through the compendium and created a character so we’ll talk about that a bit today.
The premise of Burn Bryte is that there is that there is a strange wave of some kind of energy, called the Burn, that is slowly engulfing the galaxy. Several worlds have already fallen victim to this wave and many more are on the cusp as it threatens to destroy every world. There are no explanation of this and no known way to stop it. This adds a sense of doom to the game and story, a sense that no matter what, the end is nigh. But it also creates the opportunity for hope. Hope that the Burn can be stopped or reversed, and hope that all the species in the galaxy can work together to find a solution.
Reading through the compendium and looking at the species available to use for characters I got really excited. Each species comes with it’s own interesting history and abilities. A lot of work was done to create a galaxy with history, and mythos. To the point where it would be interesting to play in this galaxy during other eras from it’s past, some of which are briefly outlined in the compendium. It’s obvious this wasn’t rushed out, they’ve been working and refining the game for a few years and it shows with the depth of the races and their backgrounds.
There are 5 races to choose from right now in the beta test. Hopefully at some point there will be more but for now it seems like 5 is more than enough to experience everything you want with the game. I won’t go into the full history and descriptions of the races but I will outline them a bit.
The Ino are a race of feline humanoids who seem to be designed for espionage and manipulation. Their society is largely xenomorphic as well and they control a large portion of the galaxy.
The Kith’uk are a bug like species akin to beetles whose home has been destroyed by the Burn. Though friendly, because of how they survive in packs, they tend to be destructive to the ecosystems of other planets and are largely turned away from landing on another planet when they are in large numbers.
Peacecraft are huge sapient mechas that were designed by war and desire peace. Their creators used these mechs to kill each other so that all that remained was a planet of Transformer like sentient machines. The cool thing with these guys is another character can climb inside and drive them like Gundam.
Ror-nan (the species I chose to use for my character) are made of 100,000 tiny bugs. They have a hive mind that lets them work together and take any form. Their planet was also consumed by the burn which left the Ror-nan that were able to escape disconnected from each other so instead of one hive mind there are hundreds roaming the galaxy.
Ulran are made of a type of crystal, and as they get older this crystal hardens. They were the first to harness magic to use in the creation of space craft. Because of this they make excellent pilots.
The interesting thing is there are no classes. Those of us used to games like D&D and Pathfinder might be a little unsettled by this but it works. It allows you to create a character in your vision. It truly is a character centered game with the players driving the story through their rolls. Having no classes lets you create a character based solely on the attributes of it’s race and really letting it be whatever you want it to be.
When I first started to build my character I used the character creation section of the compendium (obviously). For the most part I didn’t have much problem figuring out where to put what but there was a lot of jumping around from section to section in the compendium. This caused a bit of frustration, probably due more to the fact that it’s on the website and I had to keep going back to the menu to look for the section I wanted rather than using a book I’ve gone through hundreds of times. There was a bit of a learning curve and a bit of “but what is this? How do I use this in gameplay?”. What I came to realize was that those parts I was confused about weren’t part of the character creation process. For the most part it was a relatively pain free process for someone who had never done it and had no guidance form anyone while making it. There was a bit of trial and error and some looking and rereading of things to figure out where I was supposed to get the information I needed, but to me it seemed a lot easier than someone trying to build a D&D character without ever having done it. The only difference is when you build a D&D character the chapters in the books follow each step of the process, race, class, background, equipment, etc. The Burn Bryte compendium isn’t set up that way which caused a bit of the frustration. Though the links in the text helped.
The nice thing about the process though was there was no rolling dice to choose abilities score. Skills are separated into 3 groups, Mental, Physical, and Social. The type of dice you use for any of the sub-skills in those groups depends on what you chose for your culture and home world. The different types of Borders, Diversities, Economics and Densities associated to those cultures will change the type of dice you use for your skills.
Next you choose your story path. This is your character arc. There are 5 different story paths to choose from, Create Masterpiece, Discovery, Mentor, Student, and Temptation. Completing each phase of your chosen story path will give you additional abilities or add dice to certain skills. I find this really interesting. It plants the story firmly in the players hand, they have more control over their character’s progress and fate than one would sometimes find in a typical RPG. Of course you don’t need to stick to one story path but personally I think I would choose a maximum of 2.
After that it’s just a matter of purchasing your equipment and detailing your backstory. Again I like that players aren’t restricted to the equipment they can have based on a class. If you can afford it you can buy it.
Overall I found the character creation process relatively quick and painless. It also lends itself to creating an interesting story for your character. I found myself thinking about what my character would be like based on his species and then why would he be trying to create a masterpiece. You aren’t beholden to falling into any stereotype with these species because they are quite literally alien to us. I’m excited to play Burn Bryte now. Mostly because I finally get to step out from behind the DM screen and be a player. The world, sorry, galaxy that has been created is diverse and colourful. It has every opportunity for the kind of adventure you get from typical RPGs with the added sense of impending doom. I’m hoping that when Roll20 does the full release of the game they will include more species and story paths to choose from. There are references to races that aren’t available to use for character creation but for testing purposes there is plenty to choose from with enough options to make really interesting characters. If you’re a Pro or Plus subscriber I recommend checking this game out. Give it a shot and see how it plays for you and let Roll20 know. It would be great to start seeing a DMsGuild type scenario with creators making adventures and character options for Burn Bryte. There’s a whole galaxy of stories out there for us to play around in and the options seem limitless for creating something special.
Have you played Burn Bryte, what did you think? Let me know in the comments.