BW - Not for Newbies?

Hey guys,

My girlfriend has expressed interest in playing a solo game with me. She has never role-played before.

My question to you all is this: Do you think Burning Wheel is too complicated for a newbie?

I really don’t want to start her role-playing experience with something as generic as D&D. I think what she’d really enjoy is the intrigue and relationships, which BW does better than any other game I know of.

Thanks for your advice!

I say do it. Use only the spokes, however, and focus on the reward cycle of earning Artha.

It’s perfectly suitable for new players, but the best practice is to offer her a handful of games to choose from and play the one she’s interested in.

Hub + spokes = easy-peasy.

In some ways it is easier because she is not going to bring prior RPG baggage to the table.

Now if everyone at the table including the GM is a noobie, that can be a little different matter.

A while back one of the forum members, Rich (Verrain), ran a one-on-one game of Burning Wheel for his wife, who was a newb. He posted some of the AP - it was such a great little game. Your girlfriend may or may not be interested in this particular sort of story, but it might give you some ideas for how things go:

Good luck!

Focusing on the basic rules will help you the most, I think that the core of the game is the “Task + Intent” mechanic. when playing other RolePlaying Games I find myself looking back to this rule going why haven’t this shown up before now.

The only other thing that I can suggest is keep the rules simple come to the table with the premade characters and don’t let them get overwhelmed. you will find that most games you can easily get pulled under in the rules and with Burning Wheel you want to get immersed in the story and the rules carry the story to the next level.

I while back I intruduced my cousin to tabletop RPGs with Burning Wheel. He really enjoyed it.

In my experience starting BW with newbies is easier than with experienced players. You don’t have to unlearn a lazy attitude to role playing and their creativity is not been numbed by flawed systems like D&D.

I think it’s a fine first game for a non-RPer. The economies are easy to see when you’re not burdened with advancement baggage, new players less invested in “winning” scenes and so on.

Write crystal-clear Beliefs with strong to-do items, make everything a versus test, and you’re off to the races.

Make sure you both collaborate on the situation! That’ll get you a lot of instant buy-in. And set it up so the situation can be resolved in like 2-3 sessions max, so it feels satisfying faster.

+1 same thing here!

Thanks for the advice, all.

Man, that one-on-one role play is damn great. It really showcases the depth and breadth of the system.

Luke, your point is well-taken. Perhaps she will not want to play in a medieval or fantasy world at all, in which case BW will be out. Too bad I don’t know of any games with a “modern” setting that doesn’t have a very specific setting.

Paul, that is a very good point on making the payoff pretty quick. That will make sure she’s invested, and (hopefully) keep her coming back for more.

Either way, I’ll keep you all apprised of how things go – or even if they go at all.

BW works just fine for modern day, just with a few skill tweaks - there was a modern-day game at BW con. The GM, I believe, had used mostly City Born lifepaths to produce characters, and it takes relatively little work to turn them into a modern equivalent. (Driving, Computers, and Firearms being a few skill additions.)

Interesting, Michael.

Though, I do remember I discussion on these boards about how firearm combat doesn’t translate particularly well.

Anyway, the topic of another post.

Thanks again, all!

I would think that if you’re sticking with hub+spokes, you won’t need to worry about the rim combat systems.

In that light, I think firearms would be fine. It’s only problematic when you start grafting it into RnC or Fight.

I used the new Range and Cover at BurningCon for UaSS and it worked pretty well. We had a really fast and fairly brutal shootout in a stairway that felt the way I always wished shootouts felt in games like Shadowrun. So yeah, as long as you’re ok with guns being scary to the point of terrifying, BW (and R&C in particular) works pretty well.

Also, a lot of the notes about firearm combat not working too well was for Burning Wheel Revised. I’m not sure if there’s been a concrete effort to do firearms since Gold came out.

The fundamentals of what [modern] firearms break in BWR Fight! has not changed in Gold. A semi-automatic crossbow, muchless a full automatic one, would do the same thing. Armor also becomes an issue.

Gold R&C might do a better job than BWR R&C, I was decidedly underwhelmed when I tried firearms in BWR R&C. Though workable I suppose.

Even deeper though, I have found that the whole concept of the PTGS was very problematic with firearms. Which makes sense as firearms are at a different level of leverage, a different class of tool. Swords for example are physical strength force multipliers by, roughly, 1/2 an order of magnitude. Bows blur the line but with firearms that sort of force multiplier makes absolutely no sense, on the dealing out end as well as on the receiving end.