Character Burning with only 1 book


I have a few people who are interested in playing Burning Wheel. What I find daunting is getting all their characters made. I have 1 book. I don’t really want to have them all come over and sit while 1 person peruses the gigantic lists of lifepaths, skills and traits. How can I get them burned without that sort of sluggishness?

Another group is online, and they don’t own the book. So perusing the lists isn’t even an option.

What’s your experience?

Here’s an unofficial Gold character burner, though you have to use the book to unlock it. There’s been no official Gold burner as far as I know. Having that can actually speed things up handily for players.

Burn as a group. Ask people for their general concepts and then do the lifepath picking yourself (then getting the other players to accept your LP picks). I do suggest having a second book for the skills/traits portion of the evening, but you can make due without.

All things being equal, I do suggest having at least a second book for play. Asking one or two people to pick up a copy is ok, especially since it’s a game that benefits from system mastery on both sides of the table. I’d argue that for any game though, as having a dedicated GM copy while still giving other people the option to read the game text is never a bad thing. Doubly-so for the online group.


I’ve had success with this method in a 1x1 online game with a player who didn’t own a copy of the rules. I don’t know how well it scales to larger groups.

Have you already run “The Sword” or another demo scenario?

It’s alright but not ideal. However, I suggest doing this (or, really, something similar like directed lifepath selection) with new people regardless of how many books you have to keep from getting too bogged down in lifepath selection.

BW is a game that really relies on understanding and using the system. If players can’t read the rules they’re going to have some problems. The Hub and Spokes pdf helps, but it’s still going to be hard.

I think a good idea is to sit them down together and play a demo like The Sword, do a dummy run of character burning on of the Pregen PC’s and run them all through that process together, then play a The Sword, then let them burn up characters together.

We put together our first crew of 4 characters in a couple hours with two books without the benefit of a run through. Would have been a touch quicker with it. Much quicker with the use of the online character burner.