BurnBryte is the first Table Top Roleplaying Game made for the virtual tabletop system of Roll20! The team of James Introcaso, Jim McClure, Kat Kuhl and Darcy Ross all collaborated on making a game that scales up with your players by story choices and comes made to interact with this web based TTRPG platform.
Just like how Amazon, Netflix and Apple TV went from streaming other peoples’ content to creating their own shows; Roll20 has gone from hosting D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Pathfinder and other TTRPGs to making one of their own. They are promoting BurnBryte by producing its own liveplay game, now in its second season!
This show, streamed on Twitch and released on YouTube has Celeste Conowitch as GM with players, Eugenio Vargas, Naseem Etemad, Lysa Penrose and Joey Bara. Celeste Conowich is famous in TTRPGs for her long running podcast, The Venture Maidens, her writing for Wizards of the Coast D&D content and her modules on the DMs Guild.
BurnBryte is a science fantasy TTRPG with unusual game mechanics that do not rely on violence to advance either the game or the characters. It is set in Olaxis, a universe that is burning at its borders and full of adventure within. We here at Game Industry News are going to play the game and review it in an upcoming article but first we interviewed Celeste Conowitch to get insight on how to play the game.
GiN: You are a DM for the Venture Maidens Podcast, a D&D adventure that has been running for five years. How is that different than being a GM for Burn Bryte?
Conowich: Its worlds apart! And not just in terms of genre. DMing Venture Maidens is full of delving into the familiar while GMing Burn Bryte is exploring the new. As a GM of Burn Bryte on Roll20, I am constantly uncovering new ways to explore the game alongside my players. It is an exhilarating feeling to be at the forefront of a new system.
GiN: In the Character Creation Podcast you said, “It (Burn Bryte) is very symbol oriented and uses geometry that works in this new generation.” Can you go into this more?
Conowich: Absolutely. For this conversation in particular, I was talking about the Burn Bryte character sheets. What I love about the mechanical pieces of Burn Bryte is the seamless experience of how it is integrated into a Virtual Tabletop. For example, the character sheets have lots of bright colors and bold shapes that communicate a science fantasy experience quite visually. You are prompted to use the correct polyhedral dice by simply clicking on the shape. It’s streamlined, appealingly makes sense, and just looks so sharp.
GiN: How would you describe the “Story Path” mechanic to someone coming to this game from D&D?
Conowich: I’ve described it as a leveling mechanic that encourages you to explore your character through ‘B’ Storylines. Story Paths encourage players to create personal growth that fills in the spaces between the larger campaign narratives. To learn and grow (literally in power), you have to make time to explore your character’s personal journeys. The story path mechanic gives both players and game masters a concrete way to build in that exploration. It works similarly to the D&D milestone leveling system, where you gain new powers as a reward for addressing story beats. Those story beats just happen to be on a personal level.
GiN: How would you describe the “Story Path” mechanic from someone coming from a Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game?
Conowich: I would communicate most of what I did for a D&D player but incorporate a little more about the larger narrative. PbtA games are very much driven by lots of character choices in the moment to alter scenes. The Story Path system works a little bit differently because it’s all about working with your GM to lay the foundations for a personal narrative. Burn Bryte emphasizes taking time outside of game sessions to have candid conversations between players and GMs about evolving story paths. Story Paths give your players a lot more power to decide what they want to explore at the table, without the pressure to be continually answering that question from moment to moment.
GiN: This is a new game. In closing what advice would you give for someone who would like to run this game, but hasn’t played it yet?
Conowich: I would recommend just giving it a shot! This is one of those games where the best way to understand it is just to play it. I highly recommend playing through a short adventure like Trapped At the Edge so you can get an instant feel for the system. The design time has done such a good job providing direct and helpful instructions on managing every piece of the game. If your experience is anything like mine, the minute you grasp the rules, the inspiration for more adventurers will flow like an unstoppable force. There are just so many exciting parts of Olaxis to explore!
GiN: Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. Good luck with your game design, podcasts and GM, DM and player endeavors!
Conowich: Thank you!