Do new BWG mechanics make it...worthless?

I’m new to BW (just started reading BWC when I heard BWG had come out), so please correct me if I’m wrong here. From reading the teaser PDF, BWG seems to do a lot of good things for the game. But, there seems to be some major problems that make the product mostly worthless to new players:

  1. From what I’ve heard from Luke’s interview et al. is that there are some significant mechanical changes that are incompatible with older BW supplements.

  2. BW supplements include material that most other RPGs would include in core rulebooks (e.g. magic system, monsters, and adventure generation material - did I just give away my gaming background there?)

  3. Luke seems to be disinterested in producing BWG versions of these products.

  4. Even if the BWG community tinkered around and found suitable BWG errata for the BWR supplements, most are out-of-print.
    [Edit: I just refreshed the store page and saw that Magic Burner and Adventure Burner were re-posted, so that takes a bit of wind out of my sails, but I would still like to see things like Blossoms there too.]

  5. There are no PDF versions of these products available for purchase. (I find these much more useful since you can edit in errata and store them on a tablet. Plus, you don’t need to worry about something being out-of-print.)

I just can’t get over the feeling that while BWG is a quality product (certainly worth the $25 cover price), it’s an abandoned, half-finished system that would require too much work to get ready to handle a full-scale fantasy campaign.

  1. I’d say that’s pretty much inaccurate. There are a few changes that will affect the Monster Burner (Stride, etc.), but it’s an easy conversion. The Magic Burner is more heavily affected, because magic no longer uses Will+skill, but it’s not a deal-breaker either. There’s plenty of support for how to continue using them here on the forums, and as far as I know nobody has stopped using them just because they switched over to BWG. Our group switched from BWR to BWG mid-campaign without a hiccup. The changes are nice but not particularly radical.

  2. You can easily run BW with just the BWG book. In fact, I’d say it’s a far more comprehensive book than, say, AD&D. All of the supplements, with the exception of the Monster Burner, are relatively recent, and many, many campaigns were run before they were ever written. The base book contains the basic sorcery system, Faith (clerical magic), as well as emotional magic for elves, dwarves, and orcs. The Magic Burner just gives you more options. The Monster Burner has some neat tools in it, and it’s worth grabbing if you want a monster-heavy campaign or to burn up your own lifepaths or traits. The Adventure Burner is great, but its greatest contribution is to essentially codify all the advice on how to run a campaign. It is strictly not necessary to run a campaign. That said, the game is only $25, and the supplements are similarly priced. You can grab everything ever written about Burning Wheel for about $100. That’s a bargain, especially compared to some game systems!

  3. I suspect Luke, contrary to what you might have gleaned from the interview, doesn’t necessarily see the value in revamping them, as not a whole lot has changed.

  4. Yeah, Blossoms is absolutely awesome. You’ll see thread after thread clamoring for it to be re-issued. No idea if it will happen. That said, it’s a setting in and of itself, and very tightly woven. It’s great if you want to run a campaign in Heian-era Japan; otherwise, it’s an interesting read, but there’s not much you can port to other systems. That’s like complaining that Wizards hasn’t reissued your favorite old campaign setting for 4e.

  5. PDF’s are something that the community has been asking for for a long time. Luke has been pretty clear in his opposition to PDF’s, though. You’ll get sympathy on the forums, but it’s not likely to happen.

I’d disagree that it’s in any way abandoned. I wouldn’t be surprised if Luke comments on this thread–he’s a constant presence on these forums. You need to understand that you’re looking at a one-man show who just finished revising the base game, and the previous supplements still work fine. The only thing that need to be changed are stride and weapon length in the Monster Burner (which is optional; I’ve run plenty of campaigns without it), and abstractions in the Magic Burner (I’ve never even seen abstractions used, personally). BWG was really more of “you know, this rule never really worked; do this instead here” than a major change to how the game works. Using the supplements is not like trying to shoehorn an old 3.5e sourcebook into a 4e campaign. It’s more like trying to use that same sourcebook after a couple of pieces of 3.5e errata came out.

Assuming your good faith (aka: not trolling) I’ll simply say you’re grossly off-target: Burning Wheel is in no way shape or form abandoned.

The Gold edition is just a polished, complete game and it doesn’t really need supplemental material.

If you come from more traditional games like the various families of DnD and such you’ve probably been taught (by the publishers) that a game needs to be “supported” otherwise it’s dead, and that “supported” means “a new supplement comes out every couple of months, tops”. Well that’s simply not true. That’s just a (very old and dangerous to the publisher) way to publish games.
Supplements are really supplements, not “this is a supplement but really if you don’t buy it you don’t have the complete game” types of books. :slight_smile:

Burning Wheel is better supported than most games out there, just check around on the forum and wiki.
In time all the support material that’s still relevant will be converted to BWG (if any conversion is needed).

As for the official supplements, I can speak for myself: I had just finished buying all the BWR set before BWG. I’m starting a campaign these days and I’m using the Adventure Burner (almost zero mechanics there, can’t become outdated) and I’m using the Magic Burner for Summoning and for Enchanting. I’m not using the Monster Burner right now because my campaign is city based and low on monstrous content, but I’ll use it in the future, you just need to correct a couple of trivial bits. Heck, I’m even using my old BWR Character Burner to pass around for character burning since we only have two BWG books: the lifepaths aren’t that different, it’s perfectly good to browse and fish for character ideas.

Nah, life’s too short.

Thanks for the solid info guys. I’m pretty interested in seeing what BWG has to offer, but I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t throwing my time away on something that I really couldn’t get the most out of.

It mostly taught me to look for a system that’s more self-contained. :smiley: But generally, if a system needs a supplement on monsters (for instance), it means there’s not many to be found in the main rulebook; so you can see where I’m coming from.

There really aren’t monsters in the main book, other than orcs and dwarves and elves. That said, each of these stocks is set up for use as characters–they’re not “stock” monsters at all. You could have an incredible campaign fighting nothing but orcs, and it wouldn’t get boring. You’ll want the Monster Burner if you’re running a monster-heavy campaign. There are plenty of player-built monsters on the wiki otherwise. But if I recall correctly, doesn’t AD&D have a separate book for monsters?

The Monster Burner does have a wide variety of monsters in it, but it also has rules for creating monsters, lifepaths, and traits. All useful stuff.

The Magic Burner essentially breaks down how the sorcery system was designed and helps you create your own, if you’re so inclined. It also has a variety of alternate magic systems, like demon-summoning, talking to the dead (both use Summoning), enchanting, Death Art (necromancy), etc. The basic sorcery system and all the spells are in the base book, and this is NOT in any way a required book unless you want to try out those alternate systems.

The Adventure Burner is, as said before, essentially a compendium of wisdom on how to run a campaign, the logic behind various rules, strategy for Fight and Duel of Wits, etc. There’s very little in terms of new rules or expansion here. That said, many find it the most useful of the supplements.

The rest are essentially campaign settings, and it’s not fair to expect those to be rolled into the main rulebook.

BW supplements aren’t like D&D supplements. There’s no “ok, I’m rolling a fighter, so if I want all the feats I need to get this book, and this book, and this book…”

Have you ever read "The Most Dangerous Game”? :slight_smile: It is like that, there are innumerable campaigns to hew out without leaving the core, without stating up a single “monster” to the extent that is the Monster Burner. Keep in mind that for most of BWR existence the Monster Burner was actually a Burning Wheel Classic book.

  1. BW supplements include material that most other RPGs would include in core rulebooks (e.g. magic system, monsters, and adventure generation material - did I just give away my gaming background there?)

Burning Wheel is a toolbox. It all makes much more sense if you look at it that way, rather than a monolithic game.

For example there isn’t a “magic system”, there is a backbone (the Hub and Spokes) onto which you can plug any number of magic sub-systems (Rim) to create the setting/tone you want. Prefabbed sub-systems, of your own design, or a tweak inbetween. The core books come with a few prefabs. The Magic Burner have a number more, and help you if you are looking to roll your own. But it isn’t actually a required book to do so. I fashioned a very workable one, that is quite different than any other, before the Magic Burner existed.

Burning Wheel Gold is everything you need to play the game, but if you can buy the Adventure Burner too. Yesterday I received both books, and wow. I don’t know which one is better. :slight_smile:

There are a few monster stat block in the back of BWG, there’s also a fair number of monsters developed here in the forum - also, there’s a “Burning THAC0” supplement floating around that has write ups for a bunch of classic monsters.

Here’s the thing, you get a lot more mileage out of a monster in BW than you do in adventure-path D&D. D&D runs a little like a video game, where the party chews their way through so many fights that supplements are useful for providing variety. BW runs a bit more like a movie - if you think back the LOTR movies, or Willow, there’s plenty of adventure, but only a few actual “fights”, all of which are fairly serious affairs. A tough monster like the Martikhora can give you a lot of mileage, not least because sentient monsters can engage in duels of wits. A single runaway daemon can power a campaign.

Frankly, humans are much more interesting! In D&D, ordinary villagers are almost mechanically irrelevant. Except in large numbers, they’re no threat to the players whatsoever, and there’s no mechanical backing for any sort of social pressure.

Part of the role of supplements, frankly, is to give people something to buy and read when they’re not playing. D&D characters have a set career path - earn XP, and you get to become whatever prestige class takes your fancy. So books of prestige classes to support every player fantasy (undead duellist! gravity mage!) make sense. In BW, the relationship between adventure and advancement is much more intimate - the adventure is shaped by the player goals, and the PCs are shaped by their trials.

In D&D, you can become a master wizard by sailing around on a ship and fighting sea monsters with a whip, or by crawling through crypts and fighting undead. In BW, becoming a renowned swordsman is an adventure in itself. So it tends not to need supplements (particularly modules) in quite the same way.

BW Revised existed for years without Monster Burner, Magic Burner or Adventure Burner.

  1. BW supplements include material that most other RPGs would include in core rulebooks (e.g. magic system, monsters, and adventure generation material - did I just give away my gaming background there?)

I think you’re misunderstanding - the core book has rules and advice for making adventures and rules for Sorcery and Faith magic - the supplements give you additional systems and advice to work with.

While the core book doesn’t give you monsters, a) BW adventures aren’t typically monster-to-monster dungeon crawls and b) if you get the core system of stats and wounds, it’s pretty easy to make up monsters.


The core book has a small selection of monsters, actually.

Ass Kicking Lizardman!

You can also make monsters really easily by coming up with an Ob to defeat them and/or a skill level for special skills (e.g. B4 claws) they may have. Then you stick to the Versus/Bloody Versus mechanics (state intents and outcomes). At its easiest, you could say “there’s some goblins in the cave- it will be Ob 4 to defeat them.” Then players choose a skill, FoRKs, helping dice, etc.

Clearly, the OP never played BW or read the supplements.

BWR supplements are 95% (or more) compatible with Gold, assuming that the resting 5% is easily upgradeable.

To beat on this dead horse a little more, I think it’s helpful to say exactly what books are for.

The core book (or books, before BWG) give rules for creating Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs, sorcery, faith, skill and spell songs, runecasting, running a campaign, and some sample characters and monsters. Most of the conflict is likely to be with humans and human-like opposition, so the character burner will give you most of the opposition you need. And if you want something else, it’s not too hard to wing it. You can play a complete campaign with this, and even with the other books I’d say this is 90-95% of what I use.

The Monster Burner gives a larger stable of premade monsters, but a big chunk of it is advice/rules for making new monsters or, in more detail, new stocks and lifepaths. You also get four new major races: Roden, Great Wolves, Great Spiders, and Trolls. I don’t think I’ve ever pulled a monster from the Monster Burner, and while I’ve used it to make and price new traits, most of my use is for the new stocks. I like Roden, in particular, a lot. How much alteration does this need to run with BWG? Not very much, really. I haven’t paid careful attention, but I think you can get away with using it almost entirely unchanged.

The Magic Burner gives you a bunch of alternate magic systems. Only one, Abstraction, a kind of freeform version of the core Sorcery type of magic, doesn’t work right with BWG, and the tinkering to fix it is ongoing right here. The other magics seem to me to work just fine unchanged. The thing is, you have to have a use for the various added magic systems in your game. I’ve had Art Magic come up a lot and used Death Art occasionally to make foes. I like Practical Magic, but I’ve never used it. It’s an interesting book, and I love Art Magic, but it’s not necessary by any means even if you play in a game full of sorcerers. (In fact, it recommends that you pick just one type of magic for your game. While I’ve used more than one, it does get crazy if you try to toss them all in.)

The Adventure Burner is not really about mechanics. It has some sample adventures that should work fine with minimal tweaking for BWG, some advice for Fight! that doesn’t work anymore with the new addition, and the majority of the book is general advice on how BW runs and how to plan and execute games. That’s still the same regardless of edition. In fact, quite a lot of it isn’t really tied to BW. You could take its advice and, with a little work to get players to play along, improve most other RPGs.

Also, don’t forget that Luke is ALSO working on non-BW projects, including the Dark Crystal RPG… Which said, as work for hire, is money in his pocket sooner than a comparable BW project…

Tho there are still a good number who would like to see a BE version of Jihad.

after reading BWG I would say that moving to it from the BWR like going from the D&D rules cyclopedia to the AD&D 1e. just the other way round :stuck_out_tongue:

BWG is more intuitive and ‘simple’ (as in streamlined and focused). so, no biggy at all.

i love it and want to run all kinds of stuff with it.

Funny actually, because I was just thinking of how tight BWG is compared to other books I’ve got. It’s got everything you need, and while supplements are nice, they aren’t necessary (hence the name - which some other companies have seem to forgot).

In any case, I’m running BE now, and I’ve an idea to FINALLY run my “all-wizards-on-a-monster-infested-island” campaign that’s been floating in my head, literally, for some years now. Having read the book a bit now, I can’t see what I’d need past the main text (it’d be NICE to have, say, the MB, but it isn’t really a big issue; same for the MB).

Okay, so Luke has said that he’s not doing anything with BW (as far as further supplements, or even future BW versions)–ever, now that BWG is out, the rules give sufficient information for me to just extrapolate new creatures, etc. etc. etc. that would be in supplements anyhow.


My copy of BWG is on the way, and I"m listening to the Jennisodes webcast where Luke says he’s bored with designing RPG games and wants to move on to other projects…and I have to wonder… ?

I’m not sure where you’re getting that. Luke has said there are no current plans for updating them. That doesn’t mean there might not be an update in the future. BWG itself doesn’t really have any content that was previously not in BWR.