Widow’s choice

If you want to play in this one-shot, let me know and also tell which characters you would like to or be willing to play.


A drama game with focus on character choices and relationships.

  • Saturday 23rd or Sunday 24th this month, probably starting around 12:00 Norwegian or 13:00 Finnish time.
  • Estimated playing time is 4 hours.
  • Up to five players, but four would be better and two the absolute minimum.
  • Rules system is Burning wheel. Pregenerated characters, with maybe a possibility to do one by oneself.
  • Prior knowledge of the rules system is a benefit, but not a requirement. The characters are simple and we will be sticking to the core mechanics (hub, spokes) without the extended conflict rules, but maybe some resources or circles.
  • One-shot, but I run extended campaigns and plan to run further one-shots in the same game world and maybe even the same village, so further play is possible. Rules systems that have been in use: homebrew, homebrew OSR, Burning wheel, D&D 5, Pathfinder 1.
  • Voice via Discord, other gameplay via Roll20. It has character sheets which handle some of the fiddliness of advancement and rolling.

The one-shot builds on the following adventure modules by Stuart Marshall on the Dragonsfoot website, as well as on the developments and events in my campaign play, of course.

  • The spider farm: Read this for more information on the farm and the Reyn family. Very minor spoilers in the way of hidden treasures to people who play D&D in my world.
  • Melford murder: Reading the character descriptions in this blog post or the adventure module will spoil the murder mystery, which has not yet happened in my campaign world, and might or might not happen. Your choice. For this and other Burning wheel games spoilers are not a problem. You are expected to keep player and character knowledge separate. Most of the characters are described in the adventure module.
  • Shrine of the Oracle: Reading the shrine part is safe, but will only provide some peripheral context for this game, so not of much use. Note that of the sibyls only Mishpat is still alive in my campaign. The dungeon part contains spoilers concerning the dungeon in question.


Near the village of Melford there was a farm, where Ulayah Reyn kept giant spiders and gathered their silk. Some cultists captured him and many of the workers. The rescue attempt failed and Ulayah is presumed dead or worse.

Ulayah was about to marry Deborah Snaid, a local milliner, who made fine clothes from the silk. He also left behind an orphan, though already an adult, Heri Reyn. Both of the women were devastated by the occasion.

Some time has passed. Deborah is running out of money, while Heri is miserable. Deborah was about to visit the now-empty spider farm, when she was captured by goblins (that had attacked the farm earlier, but had been repelled). Goblins spoke about the spiders as their gods and that there would be vengeance if the blasphemy were to continue. Deborah was left in a ruin, rescued by mercenaries who killed lots of goblins that lived there; but yet more are supposed to live in the Spider woods.

Will Deborah, or someone else, set up the spider farm again? And what happens to the people whose fates are entangled in the matter? (The possible matter of the goblins will not be resolved in this game.)


The characters are divided into key, involved and peripheral (and distant). Key characters are excellent player characters. Involved characters are good players characters, too, but not quite as central. Peripheral characters are unlikely to play a large role, but might make an appearance, and a dedicated player might put one into focus. Distant characters are a part of the extended relationship map, but will almost certainly not appear, or at least be important.

There is a simple relationship map available at https://kumu.io/tbrander/mernua

Good player characters are marked blue, green characters might be important, yellow ones are unlikely to matter much, and the gray character is dead. Characters are linked if one of them has a mechanical relationship to the other, one of them has a belief about the other, or if they are family.

Key characters

Deborah Snaid, 51, is an accomplished seamstress and tailor. She was born and lived much of her life in the city of Heatherleigh, where her daughter Sanya still lives. She considers herself to be better than the locals, though the current events have taken priority.

  • Issue: To restart the farm or not? If not, how to make the ends meet?
  • Issue: To get over the sadness or not?
  • Professional skills, social skills.
  • Sympathic towards Heri.
  • Respects Brad Jennings, but does not love him.

(reserved for a player) Heri Reyn, 24, is a depressed woman suffering from crippling social anxiety. In her youth she lived with her father, the deceased Ulayah, who protected her from the outside world, maybe even too much. She lives with Brad Jennings, who puts her down constantly due to lack of respect. If only she could find a way out, but she could use some help in the task.

  • This might not be the emotionally easiest character to play.
  • Problem: Crippling social anxiety.
  • Problem: No self-esteem.
  • Some skill in reading, writing and miscellaneous skills.

Involved characters

(reserved for a player) Brad Jennings, 43 years, grew up in and near the village of Rashtan, and has done much: trapping and farming before moving back to the village, after which he acted as a barber, before finally becoming a shopkeeper in Melford. He enjoys the genial interaction with customers without all the blood, but keeps his old tools and skills ready for emergencies.

Brad appreciates people who work hard. He does not feel Heri Reyn is one of these people, but keeps her in the house due to his former friendship and business relations with Ulayah. He keeps telling to Heri that she is not trying as hard as she should, yet she does not learn, much to the frustration of Brad.

Brad is also in love with Deborah and intends to do something about it any day now, when he gathers his courage.

  • Relationship stuff with Deborah and Heri.
  • Question: Does he conform to the social reality about the relationships, or force others to conform to his? Does he learn of this?
  • Medicinal skills, observation and rumours, plus a healthy mix of various other stuff.

(reserved for a player) Lena Wyke, 27 years, is an ambitious inn-keeper, who co-owns the inn with her brother Gerrit. They have a deformed idiot brother Mipp they keep hidden in a broken farmhouse, but visit every now and then.

Lena is quite bitter about Gerrit getting all the honour and spoils of their inn-keeping, while she does all the work. She has been talking with her friend, Magdalene Colerre the beekeeper, about the matter, and even radical ideas have been aired. In short term she would be satisfied in having more money or power; King’s head inn’s business will go down if Deborah’s fine clothes will stop attracting the rich from Heatherleigh, so she needs to get Deborah back to her senses or to secure independent sources of wealth and influence.

  • Out to improve her lot in life, maybe at a cost to others, maybe helping others in the process. A potential fiend.
  • Strong social skills, reasonable professional skills.
  • Magdalene is a scary, if unreliable, ally.

Mia, 8 years, grew up as a common child of the spider farm community. After its destruction she wandered from farm to farm, helped and begged. One night she seeked shelter in an abandoned farm, found an intact cellar, and climbed down. She stumbled in the darkness, found webs, was swarmed with spiders and bitten.

She awoke up in the farm, with a dreadful, deformed man-like creature tending her. He turned out to be Mipp who lives down there; but nobody is allowed down, and she must stay hidden if others come here. She was sick and delirious for some time, seeing strange visions of deformed, colourful  spiders eating at her, and indeed there were some visitors in the building (she will recognize Gerrit and Lena Wyke when she sees them).

It turned out that Mipp, in spite of the dreadful appearance, evident dumbness and lacking social skills, is very good to Mia. She visited him every now and then. And she could speak to and understand spiders.

  • Wants to help Mipp, Heri and Deborah.
  • Little in way of skills or abilities due to age, but can speak to spiders.
  • Has a gothic friend of significant power and huge weakness.

A former works(wo)man at the spider farm, whom you can create as a new character. Four lifepaths, exponent cap 5, mostly or only peasant and villager lifepaths, nothing magical. Tie the character to others via relationships and BITs. Some other custom character might be fine; ask if you have an idea.

Peripheral characters

Gerrit Wyke, an inn-keeper, the brother of Lena and Mipp.

Mipp Wyke, 25 years, a mentally and physically deformed sibling of Lena and Gerrit. He has walked down some very dark paths, but has now discovered light in Mia.

  • Low stats and very few skills, but some magical powers and treasures.

Marieka, a woman constable (as the village guards are called) who had a tryst with the travelling dragonborn noble Charirastrix, and does not want to believe she is in early pregnancy. Wants Melford to be a safe place; making the goblins angry would not help in that.

  • Mechanically strange due to conversion from modern D&D.
  • Only hostile social skills, but some wilderness and broad, if shallow, combat skills and strange languages.
  • The general representative of the village constabulary.

Felona Vedane, 29 years, a cosmeticist married to Tom Vedane, but who plans seducing Brad Jennings. The current marriage is not a happy one.

Tom Vedane, 31 years, a jeweller married to Felona.

Magdalene Colerre, a beekeeper but not only that. A dark one.

Reiner Vogg, 37 years, a livestock keeper with orcish blood. Attracted to Marieka. Misses his daughter Savula Vogg.

The spiders at the farm are big. They at least used to live in a pit covered with wooden bars.

Irene Yar, a local smith with connections, but also more than that.

Distant characters

Savula Vogg, 14 years, a new sibyl (priestess) of the Oracle, a minor local deity, not terribly far from Melford.

Mishpat, the elder sibyl of the Oracle, famous for her great beauty.

Sanye Snaid, the daughter of Deborah Snaid at Heatherleigh, and priestess of Mother earth.

Charirastrix, the noble dragonborn sorcerer who has traveled away.

  • Player character; use only with permission and would require conversion.

Ulayah Reyn, dead.

Harold the hedge mage in the village of Rashtan occasionally bought spider venom for alchemical use or as an ingredient in magical inks.

Widow’s choice

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