7 Reasons Why I’m Excited For Burn Bryte

7 quick thoughts on Burn Bryte, the Roll20 exclusive RPG

Feel The Burn

Roll20 is probably one of the most well-known Virtual Tabletops around, and on July 7th they are releasing their exclusive RPG system called Burn Bryte. A ruleset created by a VTT company seemed like a pretty novel approach to RPG development, and I took some time to dive into what has been released so far about the system. Here are my 7 reasons why I was excited enough to pre-order the $50 starter set. 

1. Designed For Virtual Tabletop Play

I have spent countless hours trying to get a VTT setup for numerous adventures and campaigns. If you go outside the bounds of D&D 5E or Pathfinder the out of the box support from a VTT is especially lacking. Having this system be designed from the ground up for VTT should hopefully mean less work for me to do on the back end, and I can focus on just running the game. This should also make it easier for my players to keep track of their characters, and all the various rules and components of the system. 

2. Ability To Break The Rules

While I am happy that the creators of Burn Bryte have stated the game can be played entirely analog, the the ability to 'break the rules' of a traditional pen and paper RPG opens up a lot of cool possibilities. A game could have dice outside of the standard sizes (a D15 perhaps), or make it easier to comprehend a narrative dice system like Genesys. Yes dice rollers exist and could do something like this already, but this allows for a 'funky dice' system without worrying about if your players will need an assortment of third party apps or buy special dice to be able to play. Unusual dice mechanics are just one of the ways that a system designed for VTT play could break the mold on how RPGs are expected to be played. 

3. Unique Resolution Mechanic

The resolution mechanic of Burn Bryte is pretty unique, and I'm interested to see how it will play out at the (virtual) table. Burn Bryte is a skills-based system, with each skill assigned a dice size that ranges from D4 to a D12 to show your proficiency with that skill. The larger the dice size assigned the better you are at that skill, similar to Savage Worlds.

Where Burn Bryte takes a twist on this mechanic is that instead of having a set target number you roll a pool of dice, determined by the difficulty of the task, and must not roll a double in order to succeed. The harder the task, the more dice you have to roll, with the dice type determined by the skill you are using for that particular task. Difficulty starts at a 2 dice pool, and can go up to 7 or more dice being rolled at once. This does mean there is an large amount of dice you would need at the table to run this game in an analog setting, with each player preferably having 30 or more dice to cover all possibilities. Again this goes back to the idea that this system was built from the ground up for a VTT environment with virtual dice.

It may sound complicated at first, and hard to instinctively wrap your head around, but I think there is an elegance here to it's uniqueness. There's no math required here, just look at the dice rolled and tell me if you got a double (or more) of any number. There becomes a point where some tasks are simply impossible to achieve if you are not trained high enough, try not rolling doubles on a 5 difficulty check when your skill ability is a D4. I am a big fan of as this as encourages players to make sure they have all their bases covered and makes the character choices and differences meaningful. There comes a point when a halfling rogue simply can't break down a reinforced door with a lucky roll that the goliath is having a hard time with. It encourages creativity and variety to every challenge.

4. The Adrenaline Effect

Combat in Burn Bryte has important mechanic called The Adrenaline Effect. In a one-off skill check the DM simply sets the difficulty on a scale from 2 dice (easy) to 7 dice (insane), but things change drastically when combat breaks out. The first action that a player makes in combat starts at a 2 dice complexity, and then each successive action the player takes increases the dice pool by one. The player can keep making actions as long as they keep succeeding on their rolls, with big consequences for a failed action. This introduces a press your luck concept where the player has to make a decision on if they really need whatever action they want to do next, or if the consequences for failure are too great to risk it. 

5. DM Does Not Roll Dice

Tying into the dice mechanics is that the DM almost never rolls dice. I know this is a controversial opinion (which I intend to fully cover in a future article), but I for one love rulesets where I don't have to roll dice, and can instead focus on the story happening at the table. As soon as I saw this spelled out on James Introcaso's blog covering the core mechanics, I knew I was on board. 

6. The Setting

Let me just be upfront here, the Burn Bryte setting sounds awesome. Adventures take place in a galaxy called Olaxis, which is currently in crisis mode from a strange calamity called the Burn. The Roll20 announcement post describes that:
Olaxis is the last galaxy in the universe. A bright orange existence-consuming phenomenon, dubbed the Burn, surrounds and slowly closes in on Olaxis, wiping out entire solar systems as it makes its slow, inevitable advance.
While Fortnite might spring to your mind when reading the description, what I am seeing is the element that drives every good RPG setting: conflict. Right off the bat I have ideas for conflict that can drive my sessions; scarce resources to fight over, doomsday cults that try to enforce their strange dogma, and organizations that don't have to pretend to worry about future generations with their unethical practices. 

There are some serious moral quandaries here as well. What choice do the players make when a planet is going to be consumed by the Burn, but there is only enough time to save a few of their favorite NPCs who live there? Who do they save and who do they leave behind? It's questions like these that make Burn Bryte an awesome setting to play in. 

7. Spaceships!

What is any good sci-fi adventure without spaceships? I always love giving my players some type of ship as a home base; be that of the sailing, air, or space variety. A ship provides them a place to relax after a mission, spend their hard earned cash to upgrade, and have a very tangible view of their place in the world. It also gives me something to threaten that they feel attached to, and a destroyed or damaged ship is a great way to get the party to truly hate any BBEG. 

Final Thoughts

There is a lot more to Burn Bryte than I can cover in a single post (at least one you would want to read in single sitting that is). I haven't even touched on the non-human characters, the Story Paths System for character advancement, or the Nova points that encourage you to use skills you are not good at. I am excited to get my virtual hands on Burn Bryte when it launches on July 7th, and hope it lives up to my expectations.

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on Burn Bryte and if there is anything special you are looking forward to trying out. Be sure to subscribe to the blog as well!