Beliefs evolution question

Greetings everyone!

First, I have not -yet- played BW. I can’t wait to propose it to my group, or find another one if they are not interested :D.

I have a question regarding the “evolution” of Beliefs… When do you change them? Once they have been tested? What if they’re never tested? And is there, how can I say this, “penalty” for changing beliefs? The way I understand the game, Beliefs (along with Instincts and Traits) are the Core of the Game : on one hand, The GM builds encounters, designs plot twists and builds the world to suites these beliefs, and on the other, Artha is rewarded to the player for challenging, living, breaking the same beliefs… so… how do you manage the evolution, change, etc. of Beliefs?

Thanks a lot!


Generally, players should be changing at least one Belief every session. That’s not always the case, but it’s the average, in my experience.

Evolving a Belief to a Trait happens during the Trait Vote, which is usually every 6-12 sessions or so.

There’s no penalty for not playing a Belief, aside from the lack of Artha. BW is heavy on carrots, but light on sticks.

Ok, so basically, you keep your beliefs until the GM offer you a situation to challenge them, and, if I’m following, if at least one belief of every character is not invoqued during a session, either the GM is not doing it’s job, or one of the player is taking too much room… is that it?

There’s no cost or penalty for changing beliefs. If a belief isn’t working out, you can rewrite or replace it freely. Generally the time to change them is at the beginning or end of a session.

If you don’t think you can engage a player’s belief effectively, or if as a player you see some beliefs lying dormant, speak up. The advice in Adventure Burner is that if you were just about to challenge that belief, like this very session, you should tell the player to wait. Otherwise, change that belief.

Sort of. The player’s responsibility is to pursue Beliefs. If you want revenge against your brother’s murderer, you’d best be seeking the fiend out and trying to stick a blade in his belly. The GM’s responsibility is to make completing a Belief difficult. Maybe the murderer is a powerful merchant, with many guards. Maybe she’s your late brother’s wife, who is caring for their small daughter. Maybe it turned out your brother deserved it. Either way, you get rewarded with Artha for fighting for your Belief, or for going against it in a particularly powerful way.

Once the Belief is either resolved or rendered moot, it should be changed.

Edit: Also, what Alex_P said :slight_smile:

… I know it’s all roleplaying, and these are the things I will probably see in play, but do you have any exemple of going against a belief in a particulary powerfull way? Either a transcript of a game, or a moment in a online session (on youtube, for example?).

In any case, it is clearer for me now :D, thanks ton!

Check out the stickied threads about Si Juk in the actual play section. Luke is a master of using BW mechanics to create interesting things in play and loves to go after protagonists’ beliefs hard, and Rich steps up to the challenge wonderfully during their sessions.

Also, download the (free) Beliefs chapter from Adventure Burner. It has a lot of great commentary on how to write useful beliefs and work with them in play.

Oh yeas I just read this 1 on 1 session between Luke and Rich this afternoon! Yet I was so taken by the story itself that I did not paid attention to the mechanics! I will re-read with that in mind… thanks, gentlemen!

Not exactly. You keep your beliefs until you decide they are no longer driving the character or they are resolved. I’ve had some players keep all three for several sessions, with all three being challenged EVERY session… but because they were not RESOLVED beliefs, there was no need to change them.

If a belief drives play, there’s no need to change it as long as it remains fun and story-relevant, and nothing more pressing calls to you.

One tip I’'ll add:

As a new BW GM don’t begin the first session with the intention to challenge each Belief for every player in that particular session. Instead, look for plot synergies where you can hit more than one Belief simultaneously.

Then, over the next few sessions, keep building those synergies and adding Beliefs and new challenges into the mix. Eventually, you’ll be hitting most of the Beliefs, most of the time, your game will be rife with conflict, and much fun will be had by all.