Baghdad Life Paths?

Hi all-

I have BWG on the way but after years of being a fan of the system, I still haven’t played. I am joining a group that switches games every few sessions so I will finally get a taste of playing a character in Burning Wheel.

However, my gf has expressed some interest in role-playing games (she took to board game like a fish to water) and I am developing a scenario to run her through one-on-one.

It is going to be set in a Baghdad-like city that is considered the center of the world. Huge population, hub of trading between east and west and I am looking for something of an Arabian Nights feel. I can go on and on about the ideas that are coming to me fast and furious but first I want to make sure I am not biting off more than I can chew. Are there BW life paths with Middle Eastern/Central Asian focus?

I did some searches before asking. :wink: Thanks for any help!


There aren’t but how different would the paths be? What roles are in the Middle East that aren’t in the West? What roles can’t be updated with a simple name switch and skill swap?

If you can isolate those particular LPs that are missing, then it’s much easier to fill in the gaps.

Just had my response disappear due to user error. :stuck_out_tongue:

One of the areas I am thinking of is the emphasis on Baghdad as a center of learning, science, etc. in its heyday. I can re-purpose the Scholar but I can also create new LPs to represent the more varied roles played in the world of academia in this city. If I have enough roles I guess University or Academia would be a decent sub-setting?

And I guess the same goes for assassin guilds, mercantile houses, guilds, etc., which I see as all playing a large role in the city and all of which might be more insular than their Medieval European equivalent. So again, I can re-purpose LPs or create new ones if I see unique roles I want filled.

I guess I was looking to avoid the work of looking at every LP and tweaking for this setting. Slacker that I am. :wink:


Your work here will benefit the slackers to come.

One the wiki, lots of stuff worth looking at, especially “Conan of Persia” for Baghdad style stuff. Saddleborn and Rohirrim are worth a look for Mongol modelling.
It’s probably really worth adapting stuff from Jihad, Blossoms, etc to the Gold Ed rules where they might suit your setting.

If you don’t already have it the True20 supplement “Tales of the Caliphate Nights” is a brilliant reduction of an Arabian style system. Do yourself a favour and pick one up while they are still easy to get. IMHO it is the best Arabian treatment for gaming I’ve seen.

The magic burner’s Death Cult setting could be re-purposed for Hashashin, with a few trait swaps. As could the College of Magic setting. I’d maybe get a feel for the kind of character she wants to play, and then focus on tweaking the paths she’s interested rather than doing a full scale conversion.

I’m finding more and more that while the temptation is to make whole new LPs and such to meet a setting difference, most of what really matters is the situation you set up and the Beliefs and character concept.

Instead of trying to adjust LPs ahead of time (lots of work that maybe she won’t pick those LPs), focus on the situation, get something you’re both excited by.

If a skill set seems off, swap one or two skills as appropriate to the setting.

Then consider giving a skill point or two appropriate to the setting and LPs in question (“Villagers get 1 point in Desert Survival and 1 point in Path-wise”) or an Affiliation (“1D Thieves Guild Affilation”)

It’s also worth considering if the culture is going to be based on:

  • Pre-islamic times (Polytheism! Temples! House/Clan/Tribal infighting!)
  • Pseudo-Islam, and if so, what type? Is it progressive to women’s rights (“women can own property, women can divorce!”) or oppressive? What are it’s schisms and how does that play out in the city?


All great advice. It makes a lot of sense to just adjust things as they become important. My first inclination is to create everything up front but I would rather focus on the story we will be telling. I will definitely look at the D20 suggestion.

As for some of the interesting stuff, first, I am trying to bring in the fantastic to some degree. There are dwarves and elves and magic though low fantasy.

There is a Mongul/Arab culture that rules an empire and unlike in real history was unable to topple “Baghdad” as it is carved into a mountain. :wink: However, as part of the treaty that settled the war, “Baghdad” adopted pseudo-Islam but with a host of revered elders that bear a striking resemblance to many of the gods worshipped previously. This is always a source of tension with the horselords and there has been unrest in the city in the past when the ruler was too orthodox in the enforcement of pseudo-Islamic laws.

Anyway, I will continue to talk to the gf and see what sort of story she wants to play out.

The city setting for humans has a huge list of Lifepaths. Should work fine.

If it’s your first experience with the game, I would suggest just using the standard Lifepaths and then immediately doing a Trait Vote before play begins. Focus on tweaking the character’s traits only to reflect the Persian setting, not altering the character in any way the player sees fit. I think this would result in a Persian-flavored character with the least amount of headaches.

Also, I might suggest waiting until you’ve played a couple sessions before GMing that solo campaign for you GF. It’s not that difficult to GM, but it can be easy to miss some of the deeper implications of the BITs until you’ve experienced them directly in play. Up to you though. I’d just really want to focus on presenting the best play experience possible for a player completely new to RPGs. ^^