Changing a Wise does not make sense

So the 2e rules for wises states that if you tick all 4 boxes for a wise (i.e. helping a Pass, helping a Fail, rerolling with Persona, rerolling with Fate), then you can either tick a pass or fail for a skill related to the wise, or you can change the wise.

Now I don’t think the second option makes much sense from a narrative point of view. Let’s say you are Wolf-wise. There is a situation in which you can help someone else maybe track a wolf with your wise, and they pass, so you mark the pass. Then you fight a wolf, and use a fate point to reroll a bad die. ETC, you use your wise in all four ways. So now you have established yourself as a wolf expert. And now you replace that wise with another one? Maybe Fart-wise. So now you know all about farts from out of nowhere, but whenever a wolf comes up, you’re like “what is that creature, I only have very general knowledge about it…”

This to me makes zero sense from an RP standpoint.

I’m not as familiar with Mouse Guard as I am with Burning Wheel, but one thing that stands out to me is to change the abstraction of the wise: You’ve spent all this time demonstrating your Wolf-wisdom, and now you come to advance Wolf-wise and change it to… Predator-wise. That Wolf-wisdom was actually a specific application of general Predator-wisdom – or your wisdom has evolved.

You might, instead change it to Legends of the Guard-wise, saying that that Wolf-wisdom came from legends passed down for generations regarding conflicts with the wolves.

Or… You might have spent months of play time between wolf encounters, watching this wise wallow in disuse as you steeped yourself in regret for taking it. Until you finally, finally got an advance, and then said, “Guys, this wise just isn’t doing anything for me; I’m changing it. You know what we have been dealing with a lot of? Farts (Why, I demand of you!?), so I’m changing Wolf-wise to Fart-wise.” Changing wises offers a release valve for ditching wises vestigial to the campaign.

Honestly, I suspect your looking for a solution to a problem you don’t have (in actual play). If I’m getting a lot of use out of a Wise, I’d rather advance it than change it (to something completely unrelated); if I’m not getting a lot of use out of a wise, it’s easy to say my character forget that less useful wisdom (after I’vd tried desperately to get it involved in play enough to advance it) in favor of something more useful.


You are correct from the IRL perspective on stories; it does not make sense that recurring use of knowledge causes it to fade.

You are incorrect on the narrative function and operation of the game. Players have a chance to always recall fun stories in which they were experts on a specific topic, and could opt to retain that topic as a Wise as long as they desire it. But also, players might want to shift to new topics that arise in play or signal a change in preference about what events or encounters matter for the player (not the character) by changing a Wise to something new.

The narrative function of Wises includes being an expert, but also a signal to the GM and other players about what stories a player wants at the table. Perhaps after telling plenty of recurring stories about wolf encounters, a player wants to shift away from that toward Farts. Perhaps they are growing as a cook and baker, so understanding the gastric and intestinal system matters more to their story as they grow and mature.

That’s my thoughts.


Oh, BTW, welcome to the community


That’s a really nice way of thinking of it, I like that a lot. Your wise leveled up and is now more general and therefore more widely applicable.

Hm you’re right, I am now planning my first campaign and the whole system is completely new to me.

I haven’t thought of it that way, and now that you say that, it does actually make a lot of sense. Maybe I am stuck in D&D mentality, where (the way we usually played it, at least) the DM writes a story and the players have to “beat” it, much like a video game. The feeling I get from the Mouse Guard RPG is that it leans much more towards a collective storytelling philosophy.