A little confused about circles and resources...

Hi all,
First time BE GM trying to figure it all out. Love the game, from reading only, and it looks like it’ll be a blast to play. Right now I’m burning up the GM FoNs for our game and am a little confused about circles and resources.

The FoN I’m working on is the CEO of a mining company. She’s the Vaylen patsy during the Invasion phase. The government is a merchant league in which the various corporate concerns of the planet own shares related to their contribution to overall planetary profit (imagine CHOAM from Dune). Her company is important, but not the most important. She wants to move it up the ranks and end up the director of the board. To do it she’ll sell her soul…to the tune of engineering a disaster to kill some of her own workers and then manipulating the situation to loosen up regulations on immigrant labor so she can import some Vaylen worker organisms (unhulled) and cut costs massively, among other things. She’s the Carter Burke that gets the whole thing rolling. I want her to be rich and powerful, able to call on her company’s manpower and resources to accomplish her schemes.

I’ve got her lifepaths, skills, and traits all worked out and I think I’ve done that properly.

Circles/relationships/affiliations: She’s got 7 circles from her lifepaths and a Will of 5, giving her base circles of 2. To make her the Chairman and CEO of her company it sounds as if I have to buy her a 2-circle relationship with the President, a 2-circle affiliation with the company itself, and a 2-circle reputation within the company. Does that sound right? That would take 6 circles, leaving me 1 to add to base circles, giving her circles stat an exponent of 3. She doesn’t have to pay for her relationships with PCs. Does she also get a free relationship? That’s a bit unclear to me. On one hand she’s a character and RAW says characters get a free relationship…but on the other, she’s a GM character and benefits from free relationships with PC characters that establish one with her and from the GM’s circles reserve option.

Resources/property/tech: She has resources of 15 from her lifepaths. It sounds as if I should buy her an estate and a company facility. The world is low-index. So, if I buy her an estate for 1 resource point it gets 4 tech resource points worth of security systems, etc.? Do I need to spend more on the company facility or is it just 1 point unless I want more tech resource points? Do I need to spend a point each on vehicles (ground car, grav sled)? Are those just color unless I want them to figure heavily into the plot? If the PCs try to kill her by cutting her (color-only) brake lines or something like that do I have any options?

I could probably wing some of this…but I know the player is going to ask me pretty much the same questions as she burns her characters. :slight_smile: Any advice you can offer will be much appreciated.

The only rule difference between burning up a GMFON and a PCFON involve the resource and circles reserves. Page 113 and 119 respectively.

You will get a free relationship as per standard character burning rules, and don’t need to worry about taking a one point enemy relationship as your mandatory relationship assuming you have an inbound relationship from a PC. The rule about player characters not being relationships really has to do with the PCs not buying relationships with each other and the GMFONs not buying relationships with each other. Because of those two things, live it up and use your free relationship on the president.

Resources: Everything should be color tech except for the stuff that needs to be hard tech. You have an estate with a fleet of cars? Do you need those cars to matter beyond the “Vehicles as Color” heading on page 547? If you don’t need them you have a color fleet. Similarly, the estate should buy a hard tech security system but probably doesn’t need anything else. The same goes with the company facility. In short, buy the stuff that you need to have make rolls, everything else is window dressing.

The brake line question is interesting but it’ll probably end up being an opposed Mending vs. Drive roll (how well does the sabotage go vs. how well does she keep control of the car) with the car being color but not mechanically significant. Because of that, you have as many options as the players do. And if you suddenly need the car to be hard tech, take advantage of your resource reserve.

Awesome! Thanks for the help.

That lets me develop a 1-point complicated relationship with a wayward son and leave another point for my circles exponent. Maybe he could be the Independent Miners’ Guild PC-FoN’s second-in-charge at the IMG, the one that gives the player access to that organization. Cool!

Circles seemed to be more of a problem than resources, actually. She’s got plenty of money.

Follow-on: If she’s got a color car and they cut the brake lines with color then I can just narrate a crash scene that kills the driver and passengers but leaves my PC-FoN scraped and mad but alive? If they cut them with a skill roll then I should buy the car with a resource roll (if I need a number from its stats) and circle up a company motor pool driver for his drive skill to find out how the crash went?

(Edit)One more: I’m understanding her company relationship correctly? She can make a circles test with affiliation and rep bonuses to circle up a company lawyer or something, e.g. “This is Bruek. Get Legal on the phone.” Is 2D affiliation and rep good enough to buy this with a relatively powerful company (not the biggest, but not the smallest)?

Again, thanks for the help.

Color car / color break line cut: exactly.

Color car / skill roll break line cut: Oh, no, I mean they cut the break line with a skill roll, and she makes a skill roll to find out how the crash goes. The car never factors in. Feel free to reference the car in the vehicle section to find out how bad it is but unless /that specific car/ is a central factor to this you shouldn’t need to worry about it. Honestly, her Rep+Affiliation+2iC relationship that makes her CEO of the company means she has access to the resources of that company, which includes a motor pool. If she gets into a spot where the stats of the car themselves matter (like, if she’s being chased by someone in a hard tech car), she’ll either be caught by them or need to have tech burned a vehicular speed stat onto the color car (or just bought the car outright, maybe on the fly, following the guidelines on page 384).

The company relationship is correct. To circle up someone from your company’s legal department it would be: 6 Dice vs. Ob 2 or 3

Circles: Base (say, 2) + Rep 2 + Affiliation 2

Ob: 1 + Lower station 1
None of the other circles things matter unless you need that specific thing (if attitude doesn’t matter, don’t factor it in for example).

EDIT: on second thought, I don’t think you need to roll circles if you’re trying get a random person from your own legal department because of your position as CEO. If you want a specific person it’s circles, but if you just want some legal functionary you should just be able to have them as color. You also won’t need to circle up your heads of office because they report to you (again, due to your rep/affiliation/relationship buy-in at the start).

Great stuff. Thanks!

And some more questions for the experts! :slight_smile:

  1. Can the aforementioned FoN use her rep as head of her company in circle tests in the broader merchant league or is it only for use within her company? If not then I’d need to buy a rep within the league?

  2. My concept for the Usurpation phase FoN is an Aadau-clan queen, near the end of her life. Her final ambition is to win a big victory for her clan and live out the rest of her life in a child’s body. Capturing this world (an independent ore supplier for the surrounding noble holdings) would win her a strategically located, resource-rich human farm world inside of Karsan League space. When she takes it the Vaylen will reinforce and use it as a base to go after the surrounding areas.

2a) This is a lifepath/hulling question: I want her to be in the body of the merchant league’s chief medical officer. How she gets there is a mystery to me right now. I’ve got the LP going from Aadau Naiven to Vaishyen Caste through Vaishya then into Human Caste for Eris, Princess, and Queen. If she hulled the CMO at the Eris stage then she loses the three +1M increases she got in Vaishyen but gains the three she earned in the CMO’s body. If I hull the CMO during the game then she doesn’t get any increases. That might be okay with me, though I would definitely like the points, because I like the idea of having the CMO be human through the end of the Infiltration phase and hulling her going into the Usurpation phase as things get rolling. Am I understanding things correctly? Advice on what to do?

Follow-on question: Can my Vaylen hull anybody they want as color, as long as they’re not a PC/PC-FoN? Just circle them up, sedate them, and perform the hulling? I see the mechanics for the surgery but I don’t see any information about how you rope in the host. The CMO is my FoN so I guess I can do what I want with her but I’m wondering about others.

2b) Circles for Aadau Queen: If I take a relationship with her spymaster/second-in-charge along with an affiliation and rep with the “Vaylen invasion forces”, is that essentially the same as my CEO FoN’s company? Her plans are going to revolve around hulling key figures, taking control of the CEO FoN and the Vaylen monstrosities she hires on as mine workers in the Infiltration phase, and getting the wild semi-smart velociraptors (Alien Lifeform faction) under control by hulling or mind control or something. She needs people to help her make that happen. I’m guessing she should also buy a rep within the league as CMO so she has some pull there (and can circle up people to hull?)

  1. Might as well: My Invasion phase FoN is going to be the leader of the world’s Hammer forces. He reports to the world’s Forged lord (PC-FoN in Invasion) but hates him. I’ve got two options: 1) he’s a commoner who worked his way up to Hammer Captain and hates the FL because he’s a real noble, or 2) He’s a noble Hammer Lord who hates the FL because he’s a real war hero who doesn’t put up with all of the HL’s wigged pomp-and-circumstance formality BS. Haven’t figured out which yet but either work for me. His hatred will end up putting him into the arms of the aforementioned queen, who will drive the wedge further and finally hull him during Invasion.

3a) Circles: I need to buy him a relationship with XO and affil and rep with his “fleet”, correct? What size should those be? I’m not sure how many ships we should be talking about here but the crews seem to be pretty small.

3b) Resources/Tech: How do I buy him ships? Does one resource point get him a cruiser? Does he have to buy all of the ships? Are they just assigned to him because he’s the Navy? I don’t want a big fleet but a big ship and some escorts, maybe some fighters, would be nice. I see the cruiser is High Index and out for our world. The hammer patrol craft is on the small side. Are there other options (maybe something online that I’m missing?)

3c) We need a space battle. If my FoN owns the Human ships and Vaylen ships come they’re all on the same side. Nobody to fight. What I’d like to have happen is for him to switch sides/be hulled and turncoat but not get all of his fleet to follow his lead. Maybe how the fleet divides could be the result of a Battle of Wits or something. Don’t know how it’ll work out but that’s my vision anyway. He gets his forces and one or two ships from the Vaylen and fights the ships that are still loyal. If the Vaylen win they can land forces to complicate the battle on the ground (where the FL will presumably be fighting the hulled Vaylen eugenic mine workers and maybe the hulled Velociraptors). Any ideas how I do that? Can you lose control of part of an organization you’ve paid for with circles?

I speak about these things as if they’re done deals. They’re just my internal plans…the results of the ongoing game will dictate what actually happens and I’ve no doubt that the bad guys will have to change their plans in response to my very crafty player’s strategems.

Any help on the above topics will be much appreciated. Thanks!

  1. Yes, reputations can be used wherever it makes fictional sense for the reputation to be applied.

2a) Yes. Switching between settings with different body types (Ksatriyen, Vaishyen, Shudren, and the two human settings) dumps the stat adds. If you want her to get any of the human/vaylen stat gains you’ll need to have her in the body when she’s introduced. Of course, a six LP CMO is probably fairly well off stat-wise so starting in your Vaishyen work body and hulling that character during the Infiltration phase is a reasonable (though tough) way to do it. How you do it is up to you but for maximum power gaming you’ll want to start with all three FONs in play.

2a(b)): Yes, NPCs are color and under the domain of the GM, which means the GM can hull pretty much anyone with impunity as long as they don’t have points spent against them (no fair hulling all of your PCs relationships in a color scene, that’s going to take a builder).

2b) Yes.

3a) Yes. The size of the affiliation depend more on the fleet size. If he’s in charge of all Hammer assets than you’re looking at Hammer Lord (Hammer Captain is a ships captain). For a Hammer Lord, 2D reputation is reasonable but don’t just say “2D Hammer Lord”. Check out the Hammer Lord trait for guidelines as what the affiliation should be but you’re probably looking at a 2D affiliation.

3b) If he has a ship he needs to buy it (so you’ll need to fork over for your command ship). I’d say that a Hammer Patrol Craft is Advanced/Illegal/Restricted so it’ll be 2 rps. You don’t need to buy the rest of the ships as per the “Assigned Gear” heading on page 113. An Anvil Lord leading a squad of Lord Pilots in Iron doesn’t need to buy all the Iron for his men, a Hammer Lord doesn’t need to buy all the ships. As for size, a HPC is fine, it just means you need to pick between a fusion battery and an anti-ship missile instead of getting both. Or you can spend part of a building scene to bolt on another Ord hardpoint for the other. For fighters, you’re looking at Hammer Attack Shuttles.

3c) Start him Vaylen, have his last lifepath be Vaylen->Captain, take advantage of the Usurper trait. Usurper makes you a hammer lord and you get access to the mega-cheaty Human setting lifepaths. People can be stripped of their affiliations and reps can become infamous, so it’s totally reasonable for a split to occur, just make sure you play it all out. If I was running it, I’d say that the usurper captain was able to hull everyone in the fleet back home but those out on maneuvers were able to avoid Vaylen conscription and have mutinied against the Hammer Lord. Now you have your Vaylen side and your loyalist side, who are probably going to throw in with your PCs. If you really don’t want to start him hulled, go the Hammer Lord route to take advantage of all the stuff Hammer Lord gives you. The rest of the above still stands though.

A piece of advice: you’re playing to win. This isn’t to say you’re using GM ultra-power to beat the players into the ground and there are still times when you need to be an impartial adjudicator for Obs and outcomes, but your main motivation is to oppose the players. Because of this, play hard, start the worm in people who need to have the worm in them or hull them early (like, mid-point infiltration early for your Usurpation FoN and early-mid Usurpation for your Invasion FoN at the latest), and remember that you need to have you FoNs working together from the outset otherwise you’re going to get screwed. Don’t kick off a phase hulling your FoN, kick off the phase with naval medtechs hulling every crew that comes in for resupply.

If you haven’t already make sure you grab the character burning worksheet from the burning empires wiki here: http://www.burningwheel.org/bewiki/index.php?title=Category:Downloads

You’ve been such an awesome help! I’ll try to get all of this digested.

Imagine that…I have even more questions. :slight_smile: I’m pretty much done with the GM FoNs and am helping the player. Her FoNs for the phases are, in order, the head of the independent miners’ guild, a mob boss, and a Forged Lord.

Not a circles or resources question directly: I helped her pick her LPs for them and suggested we try to do them in six, as I had taken seven for the GM FoNs. It took me eight LPs for the Hammer Lord so I suggested she up the FL to seven. The FoNs’ skills, stats, resources, etc. seem okay but, man, they’re really lacking in the Circles department. Is that going to be a big problem? In general the PC FoNs seem less capable in some ways than the GM FoNs so far…and I’m wondering if there shouldn’t be LP parity. I don’t yet understand BE balance issues but if I’m supposed to go for the throat in play I want to make sure she has a fighting chance with the PCs (the player herself has been a tough opponent in any strategy game we’ve ever played, so I’m not too worried, but I want it to be fair).

The first two PC FoNs were easy to do, thanks to what I’ve learned here. The FL is a bit tougher to figure out. To fit him into six LPs initially we bought him into FL with Your Majesty (or whichever was needed) and skipped L-P Hammer/Hammer Lord. That fit in well with some of our reasoning for why the GM FoN HL doesn’t like him. Our basic story is that this merchant league-managed resource world is granted its independence to be a supplier of crucial ores to the surrounding noble fiefs. They’re all hands-off in its management but the world has an (independent) Lords-Pilot military. Their fealty is to the Tirkahn (sp?) and their job is to protect the world. My FoN is the HL. Hers is the FL. Her son (complicated relationship) is the AL (another reason for my FoN to be mad, as the son will inherit the FL position at some point.)

In our discussions I was thinking that the AL has a battalion sized force of Anvil (with support elements, vehicles, arty, etc.) with a little bit of elite and Iron mixed in. How do we buy that for the FL? Could he buy the son as the relationship and then affiliation and rep with the Anvil forces in order to control them? Would it make sense, in that situation, if the FL wears Iron and has his own squad of Iron that reports to him, while the son controls the rest of the Anvil forces? We pictured the relationship as strained…but the son would follow dad’s orders (though maybe not to the letter). For that matter my HL FoN will (grudgingly) follow his orders as well…at least at first.

What about a “citadel”? How much should that cost? What should it have available? Should it have ground-space weaponry?

NB, for the HL, we’re saying that there is a “beanstalk” for transfer of raw materials and replacement workers (after quarantine) to the “highport”. I’m going to spend resources on a portion of that “highport” as my station, our HQ and also where the fighter wing lives. The merchant-league council also has offices and meeting space up there. That makes it a neat strategic target, but also makes it something you don’t want to blow up because of its strategic value to both sides.

I guess that’s all for now. TLDNR: 1) LP parity for PC FoNs vs. GM FoNs if the PCs seem weak? 2) Forged Lord circles as regards controlling the Anvil forces. 3) FL “citadel” costs and capabilities?


It took you eight to get to Hammer Lord? You can do it in an easy six (Born, 3x Hammer whatevers, L-P Hammer (Hammer Setting), Hammer Lord. Also, Forged Lord should be 7 LPs or should expect to be a little bit underwhelming on the numbers side. That aside, three circles points just for being born and Forged Lord, plus the pure molten sexyness that is the Forged trait. Also remember that regardless of numerical advantage, the Forged Lord is the Hammer Lords better in the peerage. Between the Your Majesty trait, it’s a doozy of a trait and her overall boost from being Forged might make things rough for you regardless of numbers

Forged Lord should take the son as a 2iC and go through the standard path. Remember that she will own all ground-side assets (via her 2iC relationship), and nominally own all space-side assets due to her position. The Forged Lord is basically the Secretary of Defense with the Hammer and Anvil Lords being Combatant Commanders.

Citadel should be color, with a hard tech security system and Ord scale weapon system. And a fusion battery or three. Re-read your technological color section about what needs to actually be burned.

A little addendum to the first answer. Burning Wheel HQ (and by extension Burning Empires) doesn’t care about character balance. Beliefs, artha and system mastery count much more than numbers. As I mentioned above, you’ve got the numbers superiority in terms of circles, but you’re totally screwed if she uses her position to get your (honorary and not by birth) nobility stripped (that would be a phase goal of “Force a Figure of Note Out of Play” in case you were wondering).

Great stuff, as usual. Thanks! (Edit: Understood on the HL/FL issues you mentioned. I’m considering them and figuring out how to handle them.)

I’ve been trying to fully grok all of the relationship stuff and think I have a better handle on it now in terms of what your circles stat gets you access to. I am still a little confused about how that stuff applies to my Usurpation phase vaylen FoN.

The backstory I’m working on she’s the (relatively new) chief medical officer of the world. I’d like to say that 18 years ago she was the young, brash medical technician that was pivotal in detecting and defeating the vaylen invasion of a border world. The human host did, in fact, do this…only she got herself hulled before all was said and done, by the vaishya running the hulling show during that invasion. She made a rep for herself as the “Savior of Govinda” or some such and continued her medical career. When the CMO of our current world was recently killed (no accident) she applied for the job and was hired. So now she’s here and she’s an Aadau queen by now. She wants to take this world no matter what and she’s in a good position to do it.

Can I do all of that narratively (it matches her LPs) or do I need to do something to achieve it?

She’s has LPs in the Vaisha Caste and Human Caste settings. What can she test circles and get? Only vaylen?

I was going to buy her a rep and affiliation with the “Vaylen Invasion Force” and a relationship with her second-in-charge in that group to give her access to cronies, technical assistants, etc.

I was going to buy her a rep as the “Savior of Govinda” and a rep and affil with the world’s medical establishment and a second-in-charge (the establishment’s Chief of Staff).

And that’s it. Do I need something else?

What should I buy her?

A tankful of naiven for sure. One point, according to the book.

I was also thinking I’d like to have her own a prototype “hulling detector” that doesn’t really detect vaylen but can generate a false positive with the right secret keypresses. Maybe later she can manufacture them in bulk or something. One point for that? Or do I have to use the technology burner to do it?

Does she have to buy a surgical suite or can she use the open facility if she has the affiliation? I’d only buy it if I want a secret one, correct?

Any other suggestions? Thanks!