Circles and different stock

Page 379 of BWG says that you can only circle up someone if you share an LP or a setting with them, a consequence of this is that characters cannot use circles to find NPCs of different stock. This has made life really hard for players playing Elves and Dwarves in our predominantly human setting. How do you guys handle this? It would be one thing if they could try, but always fail (there are some great xenophobic ways to play that), but as I read it they aren’t even allowed to try.

What do you guys do when a character is “out of their element”? Do you let Elves find Humans through circles?

In general, no. I approve of Elves finding other Elves in non-Elven places, but not finding non-Elves.

If your non-human PCs spend a lot of time in human settings, perhaps they might get a trait voted on adding a human setting to their circles.

They can also try to circle up an elf or dwarf who knows the human who they want to reach.


Or, having a relationship to a different stock with someone as your contact person. “Councilman Janus -10 RP - old friend, well connected within the cities of Men”. etc.


With great power comes great curb-stomping by the system in the name of Balance.

Also, it’s great fun to make things difficult, not generally a hassle. Once they really deserve it a trait through the vote ought to be the way to go, giving them access to maybe one or two “settings”, but I’d let that be the result of lots of work.

How would this work for an exiled elven bard or dwarven adventurer? Or any non-man who operates outside of their homeland? Are they denied the use of the Circles mechanic aside from bringing in improbable elves and dwarves?

So in setting up a campaign, it’s worth considering how to handle circles issues. They can also be an issue if you take a bunch of human PCs out of their home territory.

A true exile is in a pickle wrto circles. He has left all he knows, and he isn’t established yet in his new homeland. That sounds like a good focus of play, otherwise, perhaps the character concept is wrong.

If the character’s background suggests he SHOULD have some human circles, figure out a way to get a trait during character burning. Do elves commonly spend time among humans in a way that they might earn some human circles? Create a new life path, or add a trait to an existing life path.

The GM could also grant characters a bonus trait, the elf’s bonus trait could add a human setting or two to circles (and then use disposition and such to increase the Ob if you feel like, say, city setting might make the elf’s circles too easy).

In short, deal with the issue during character/world burning.


What I was thinking was that the exiled elven bard, by a combination of his exiled trait and bard lifepath, would have access to characters that an exiled bard would know: noble patrons, court poets, noble ladies, etc. (in essence he’s trading elvish for Mannish Circles,for his Bard lifepath only). The dwarven adventurer trait would work similarly: access to Mannish adventurers, town peddlers, and monsters from the tombs (assuming he adventures outside the precincts of the dwarven homeland; again, only for his Adventurer trait).

Why not give those lifepaths access to the a variant of the 4pt Connected trait, “Cross-Racial Connections”. I would work fine, bought like any other trait. Just add it to the lifepaths you think appropriate.

Luke’s character Varda has a trait (I want to say it’s Power Behind the Throne) which gives the elf access to dwarven Circles in the Kingdom of Rockhome.

You’re right of course. It probably works best to use traits for expanded Circles so as to keep to the Circles RAW. In my case, I just used the RAW using common sense (and a little artistic license) and was too lazy to add the traits. :slight_smile:

It’s also worth remembering the amount of setting coded into the life paths.

So we know dwarven adventurers go out in the lands beyond.

But they really don’t integrate themselves into the non-dwarven cultures, they remain outsiders.

The PC dwarf who takes a trait at character burning, or earns a trait during play is a rare and special exception, something worthy of play.

“Adventurer” earns the Dwarf a minor contact in an outside culture. In our home game my Adventurer PC’s contact was a gnomish lass to whom he’d sworn an oath to marry. It could easily have been a poncey elf or a cunning wizard or a thieving hobbit. Hanging out with such riff-raff is a sure sign such Dwarves are to be shunned.

Hmm, where do you see minor contact for Adventurer, the trait description grants an Affiliation, which explicitly does not expand circles.

The important thing to note however is that it’s a single contact, not access to circles. I personally would allow out-of-setting (cross-stock or within stock) circles rolls if the character in question had a reputation or affiliation to support it and it made sense within the context of the game.

Another issue here, and I’m sure there’s many posts about it, is using Circles away from home. Adventurers aren’t the types to stay at home, and they (like exiled bards and dwarven adventurers) would presumably meet people as they live their lives.

I just skimmed through the rules… They are actually totally silent on the issue of circles away from home. AdBu doesn’t add anything there (but does mention voting on traits to reflect PCs expanding circles through play). On the other hand, Resources does mention “Home and Away”.

I really take that to mean that circles are intended to be pretty universal.

On the other hand, back to the original poster’s question, they don’t cross racial boundaries without special traits because those are different settings.


I should look at the text first. Yeah, it gives an affiliation. I knew I bought one and freebied the other. I guess I bought the relationship with GM permission.

The thing is that in the Character Burner, it’s pretty clear that the scope of your circles is limited by lifepaths and such. That being said, I would think that just hanging out in a new place for any length of time, you would start to create a network. I think it’s reasonable to use Circles wherever, as long as you have some type of connection to the place (or some ability to create a connection, via relationships, groups, titles, reputation, etc.), but at an appropriate increase in the obstacle.

Right on the money. As long as you can come up with a plausible reason why someone you know might be around, it’s kosher, even if you’re far from your home base. Being away from home is actually covered by affiliations and reputations, since only affs and reps of significant scope will be available to you if you’ve traveled far from home.

In any case, as MrKrastokin sagely points out, we assume that characters have a life outside what we see “on stage” (so to speak). You meet people at the market, in the tavern or while walking your dog. Of course, if you want someone that feels very strongly about you (willing to die in your stead, for instance–a very Specific Disposition), that explanation is probably not going to cut it. You’re going to need someone with a stronger connection to you. That’s where the rules, the game fiction and your imagination intersect.