During play bookeeping, how to simplify

I’m currently planing a new BW game, probably with players new to BW

In my last game, that did not last that long due to real life reasons, I had problems with keeping track of tests made (for advancement) and artha spendings without it slowing down play. What is best practises/good tips on how to do this with a group that does not yet know the rules? Is there some good sheet I can use to record everything? Or do any of you have other good tricks for getting this done? (I’m quite new to burning wheel myself, having GMd about 5 sessions total and not played myself)

Flippant answer: The players are expected to learn the rules. Feel free to slow them down and have them log the tests.

(Hopefully) Helpful answer: in the moment, just jot down the ability, # dice, and ob on scrap paper. After the scene, go through the log and mark advancement.

Taking notes and only looking at the advancement chart between scenes or at the end of a session has worked out just fine for us so far.

When taking notes (I do this anyway for NPC names and key details), I’ll write down: skill, dice rolled (track artha dice separately here), obstacle, any artha used. You can figure out whether it’s Routine, Difficult, or Challenging later. Pretty low-fuss once you make it a habit.

When I’m running BW, I usually keep a copy of the Routine/Difficult/Challenging Table at the top of my GM notes.

You should use the sheet I made just for that purpose!


I, as GM, tend to tell my player “check off a Challenging” after they’ve rolled, but before I’ve decided exactly how to narrate their failure. I use one of the charts you can find umpteen variations of on this forum, and quickly check once they’ve finished gathering dice and started whispering supplications to whatever beings may listen.

For the other rolls, and if there was a lot of Artha spent, I take the extra step of working out if the test succeeded or not :stuck_out_tongue:

It can seem a daunting task at first, but as said above it gets super easy once you set a habit and abide by it.

What I do is write down on a scratch sheet:

The player’s name | The skill/attribute/stat being tested | The dice rolled (minues artha dice) vs the Ob | Artha Spent

If a player is helping I note similarly.

At the end of the session after we do the wrap up and earn artha for beliefs, etc. We go down the line and figure routine, difficult, and challenging.

Hope that helps.

p.s - On a separate note, keeping a list like this really helps when looking into the ‘workhorse’ reward. You have in front of you every roll that was made during the session, and can see who worked…

I love this aspect of the “write it down” approach. (Make sure to track help, also! For advancement and for workhorse.)

Thanks, looks like quite a consensus in here. I was hoping for some ‘better’ method but I guess this will have to work. I will probably end up putting some kind of sheet together to record it all.

If it helps - I recommend keeping the table for Obs and difficulty on hand. Its pretty quick to see what the test difficulty was if you get into the habit of it. This is certainly what I do.

Fridayknight: was planing on doing that already :slight_smile:

Late reply, but:

  1. I use the Character sheets from the free download: https://www.burningwheel.com/store/index.php/core-books.html or, I believe there are a few nice character sheets still at the wiki. As long as they have the little circles to log tests next to the skills. I fill in the circles that I don’t need to advance before play, so that the only blank circles are the tests that you actually need to advance.

  2. When necessary, I make little lines linking Challenging and Difficult tests, as sometimes it’s 1 challenging or 1 Difficult or sometimes it’s 1 challenging or 2 Difficult. If I see the lines linking the circles, I know that if I fill the challenging one, I can fill in the difficults as well.

  3. Print out or open up page 41 of BWG Wheel and Spokes which is also free download from the store (same link) or from countless player and GM cheat sheets from the wiki.

  4. Keep in mind that ARTHA doesn’t count for the number of rolled dice. Every other dice rolled counts (so, help, FoRKs, Advantage dice).

  5. If you’re helping, only look at your exponent and the ob. Mark that test. Forget who’s rolling how many dice.

  6. when you build your dice pool against the ob, quickly check the table and fill in the circle next to the test. If all get filled in, voila. Advancement.

It’s quick and fun, when you get the hang of it.

It’s kind of complex when you start, but there’s no getting around it… unless you’re using Roll20 with the automated character sheet.

How to memorize the Tables:

Level Difficulty for Enhancement
Challenging tests are when the obstacle exceeds the non-Artha dice. Henceforth, all rules presume non-Artha dice.
A Difficult test for 1-3 dice is where the obstacle is equal to the dice rolled.
A Difficult test for 3-6 dice is where the obstacle is equal to the dice rolled -1.
A Difficult test for 7+ dice is where the obstacle is equal to the dice rolled -2
A Routine test is anything lower than the above difficult test.

Tests Required to Advance Skills
Advancing a skill from 1-4 requires:
Routine tests equal to the rating AND
Difficult tests equal to half the rating (round up) or Challenging tests equal to one third of the rating (round up).

Advancing a skill of 5+ requires:
Difficult tests equal to half the rating (round up) AND
Challending tests equal to one third of the rating (round up).

Tests Required to Advance Stats
This follows the same rules as advancing a skill of 5+, but applies to all ratings.

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