Character Burning with 1 book

After a year of enthusing about Burning Empires, ripping off its mechanics for Exalted rules and con games, and quietly passing around the comics amongst potential players, I’m finally going to run the bloody thing.

I’ve got a tutorial planned out to teach the basics before world/character burning, but I’m a little concerned the book itself is going to bottleneck our character burning time as people flip back and forth between lifepaths, skills, traits etc. That’s not a slam on the book’s organisation, it’s natural for a system of this size. It’ll just be the first big game we’ve played in a while without 3+ copies of the core at the table.

Have you guys found any useful tricks for reducing reliance on a single copy of the book during character burning? Should I be buying a pdf and printing out lifepath/skill/trait chapters? Are there online resources I’ve overlooked?

Pass the book around in a circle. Each player picks one lifepath at a time, writes down all the relevant info, then passes the book to the next guy.

Concept is key here. Before you look at the book, people need concepts. If my concept is “Noble Lord fallen on hard times, stealing to get by” then I have at least 3-4 lifepaths already charted for me. If you have a strong concept, then the lifepaths chosen become very apparent.

Now, that being said, I still used both my book and a few printouts of the lifepaths of man so that the players could split into teams while building their characters. I also had them start at the end of the lifepaths, and work backwards. I highly suggest this, as working backwards is far easier than starting at Born whatever and trying to get to their concept’s end point.

As a GM, you’ve got characters of your own to create, but remember to keep poking people about what paths their taking, so that you can get some conversation regarding lifepath choices. Making characters should be a group activity, don’t have people huddled in corners planning their guy. Talk lots about lifepath choices, or conceptual hurdles, or skills. This includes, by the way, the GM getting some advice on his own characters.

And this is really important. I’m going to bold it. Have a copy of the skills required for each Maneuver action sitting on the table, and make sure everyone has skills that are on that maneuver. Nothing is more embarassing than not being able to do a Take Action, or a beginner’s luck test because no one thought to pick up Investigative logic or what have you.

With the PDF, you could just print a copy the LP section for each player. That’s what we did around here (before we had books).


When printing the PDF, it prints really nicely at 2 pages per side (on letter-sized paper). That makes it the same size as the actual book.

Another tip, if the text/images look a bit grainy when printing, is to use Adobe’s advanced print option “print as image”.

Thanks guys, that’s solid advice. Time for me to pick up a pdf, I think :slight_smile:

Going backwards is a really good idea. I’ve been doing that for tutorial pregens and it’s made life a lot easier.