Big ol' bag of questions

Hey guys,

So this Sunday I’m finally beginning my first ever game of Burning Wheel which I will be GMing. I guess we’re jumping straight in the deep end - we’re not starting with any of the demos we’re going straight for building our own world with our own characters. Anyway I want to make sure I have everything correct and ready for when I begin so I’m gonna dump a few of my questions in one place. Apologies if some of these have been answered elsewhere or if I’m being silly but…I’m a rules pedant and I gotta know the answers. Some of them will be broad and others will probably be stupidly specific.

  1. Health tests for wounds. For wound recovery it says that you recover the first dice back when you pass the first “medical skill” test. I’m guessing this is referring to the treatment right not the Health test itself? So if I have a Midi wound and someone treats me with a Surgery test I get one of those dice back right then? Also in terms of “Let it roll” and failed treatment tests does sliding from say… a severe wound to a traumatic wound count as enough of a change of situation that the same player could try to treat me again?

  2. When finally learning a spell through its second reading does it retain the obstacle penalty it had from a failed first reading or does it go back to the obstacle found in the book? So if I originally failed the first reading by just 1 die does that obstacle penalty effect this spell forever or do I essentially fix the problem through second reading?

  3. Forte Tests. After reading through the book Forte tests seem to be used somewhat less than the other skills. They seem to be used in tax for spells a fair bit, and the obstacle for some tests involves my Forte exponent but actual Forte tests seem to be kinda rare. Can people give me examples when a Forte test would appropriate and, I guess more specifically when Forte is relevant and when Health is more relevant.

  4. Forking and stats. So very early on the book it seems pretty clear that Stats cannot Fork. I took this as working both ways. I can’t FORK dice from a stat into a skill test and I also can’t FORK dice from a skill into a stat test. Te book seems to agree with me most of the time here especially with regards to attributes. Seems to make it quite clear that Forking is just a thing for skills. However, towards the end of the book when it’s talking about using Speed tests for chases and the like it mentions some skills that I could fork into these skill tests. This seems to be a bit of a contradiction. Is it an exception to the rules or something else?

  5. This last question is more just a bit of GMing advice. One player is going to grab the Dreamer trait and have lots of cool visions. How would you guys GM this? Let the player say what he sees in his dreams or have it be a way for him to ask me, the GM, questions about the future? What about tying it into some tests? Any ideas for some cool tests I could use with this trait that could lead to some interesting complications?

Anyway cheers guys!!

Answering, from memory:

  1. No, the health test is the only test which gives you dice, treatment just allows the health test. And yes, it’s a different situation.

  2. retains.

  3. jogging or walking for a long distance (where the navigation is unimportant). Swimming in cold water without succumbing to hypothermia. Not yelling in pain as you remove a heated rock from the bottom of a lot cauldron as part of a trial.

  4. The game is quite specific as to what can and cannot go which ways. As I don’t have the book on me right now, I can’t comment.

  5. Forte tests to survive the lack of sleep from nightmares keeping him up?
    I’d discuss with him, but probably give him vagaries for free. Let him roll perception, or Dream-wise, to answer rolls of “I recognise this place from a dream, and know where the secret level is hidden”

  1. I disagree with Why. It’s the treatment roll (Field Dressing, Herbalism, Surgery, whatever) that gives you back one die. The situation does change as the wound worsens—treating a Severe wound is not the same as treating a Traumatic Wound.

  2. Yep, Ob is retained.

  3. Forte tests are relatively rare compared to some other stat tests. Forte is endurance. When you’re seeing how long a character can just be tough and hold out, that’s Forte. Long marches, days without sleep, bearing heavy burdens over a distance, standing at attention for hours under the midsummer sun, that sort of thing.

  4. Stats cannot FoRK into skills. Skills can FoRK into stats. It’s completely fine to use Forest-wise or Paths-wise or Orienteering as a FoRK for a Speed test when you’re trying to catch up to someone in the woods. You can also FoRk Brawling into a Power test for arm-wrestling if you’re willing to kick the other guy really hard under the table. You can FoRK Heraldry into Perception to try to see if the banners of House Evildark are on the field of battle.

  5. Dreamer can work however you want. The obvious way is that you give the player dreams that are hints for the future you have planned. The “advanced” way is to let the player make some somewhat vague, cryptic statements about the future and you, the GM, make it come true somehow. Dream-wise or Omens-wise or the like to interpret dreams if fine, but if you do this every time he has a dream it gets boring and test-mongery quickly. I’d just let the dreams happen. Acting on them is the fun part, and also where there should be no shortage of tests.

Can I be annoying and really focus on question 4 here. I seem to be getting a be seeing a lot of confusion and contradiction about this. The section in the book about speed does mention the use of FORKing much like the examples you provide Wayfarer. These all make perfect sense to me to be honest.

Yet in other places the opposite seems to be said. For example page 361 says “there are no FORKs for Steel”. The same is said for Resources on page 368 and it is said even more explicitly for Circles on page 381: “You may never FoRK into Circles. Circles is not a skill. FoRKs are only for skills”.

My search of the forum has also come up with similar conflicting info. There are threads about Forking into Beginners luck tests…some say it’s okay, others say it’s not.

Is there are proper hard and fast ruling I can use here? I hate to be a stickler for contradictions but it would help. The real world reasons for FoRKing a relevant skill into a stat make sense to me (FoRKing brawling into a vs power test for example) but maybe there’s a sensible in game reason why FoRKs are for skills and skills alone…to give skills another clear advantage over stats for example?

Anyway thanks again!

No. The book is confusing, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Luke admit that his writing goes back and forth on it in posts here.

There seems to be a relatively strong indication that nothing forks into attributes—Steel, Circles, Resources, Faith/Greed/Grief/Hate. I think that’s what p381 is about, and then it just got overzealous and overstated the rules.

This isn’t some deep, fundamental part of the rules. You can be more or less liberal with FoRKs and it’ll all work out. The real reason not to allow stats to FoRK is because it’s just too obvious. Yes, Power FoRKs into just about all fighting. Speed FoRKs into all moving. These aren’t interesting, particularly because everyone has them. You can only use something relatively unique to your character as a FoRK.

Yeah I understand what you mean. It’s not gonna be stupidly common that my players will have skills that are relevant to fork.

I’ve always ruled that you can’t FoRK into a Stat test at all. Mostly because, if you have a relevant skill that you could FoRK into a stat test, you should probably be testing the skill and not the stat.

I’ve always played that, in general, you can only FoRK into skill tests, and only with other skills (my reading of the FoRK section backs this). That you are allowed to FoRK into speed tests in the chase subsystem (which always seemed like the clunkiest subsystem to me) was exceptional enough to be explicitly called out in text, under its own heading.

I also thought that you have technically already FoRKed the Stat into the base Exponent to open the skill already, and that’s why you cannot FoRK as you are already relying on a Stat.

Only skills can be used to FoRK. They’re fields of related knowledge. Likewise, only skills can benefit from FoRKs.

Cheers to everyone so far. Actually got around to character burning for the first time last night and we had a great time.

Looking forward to playing soon. Based on the beliefs of my characters I can see the game going quite persuasion or dialogue heavy early on. Thinking…if things happen as expected to maybe end the first session with an exciting Duel of Wits. However neither of my PCs are actually any good at persuading anybody. I know it might be bad game to put my players in a DoW that probably can’t win but based on beliefs and relationships set up right now I can see it happening. Plus if they can get even a minor compromise out of it I’d be happy.

Quick question - if my players test Point (and other relevant actions) unskilled presumably this counts as say…an unskilled persuasion test? So in a standard test every 2 successes would knock of 1 body of argument? Moreover, as it says Stats may help Stats presumably one of my players can give the primary player a dice i.e. they’re helping Will with Will?

EDIT - Thought I’d add something else to this. When making a Point (with a skill or otherwise) do I assume its an open test and therefore treat it as a Routine test or do I use the current body of argument as the Obstacle. Guess it’s the former because otherwise it would be to easy to get challenging tests from it.

Yes, it’s an unskilled test following the Beginner’s Luck rules. Hence, as you say, you effectively halve your successes,¹ and yes, stats may help stats.
¹ (There is one exception: no double ob penalty for Avoid.)

Check the interactions table and the description for each action – if it’s a standard test and the description does not give an obstacle, it’s an open test and counts as routine. If the description tells you what the obstacle is, use that instead. For versus tests, use the successes rolled by your opponent as the obstacle.

I don’t think you ever use the BoA as an obstacle. You just roll and subtract successes from it.