Earthdawn driving on Burning Wheels

I’d be tempted to combine a couple of ideas here.

If each [ED]Discipline has it’s own [BW]Emotional Attribute then convert the [ED]Talents that each [ED]Discipline has access too into [BW]Skills along the same lines as the Elven Spell Songs (and priced similarly).

The [ED]Thread Weaving skill isn’t only used by caster types (Elementalist, Nethermancer, Illusionist) but by all of the [ED]Disciplines to bind them to their magic items and open additional powers that the items possess.

As for the [ED]Karma Ritual, as far as I remember each [ED]Discipline has it’s own separate version of the ritual. Again, I would advise not to make [ED]Karma = [BW]Fate but rather have the ritual be a [BW]Graduated test that grants a pool of dice which can be used that day.

Will do. Thanks.

Look at the Divine Intervention rules for Faith on page 524. If you pray for a Blessing, which gives you +1D, that’s an Ob 2 test. If you want a Miracle, that’s Ob 10. Faith doesn’t have levels, but it does have difficulty that makes some things almost impossible and other things easy. I get that advancing levels is important in ED play, but is it critical that characters level up to new skills in BW Earthdawn?

If it is, then I guess my next question is what things get you to the next level in ED?

I still think you’re trying to stick too much of Earthdawn’s mechanics into BW.

That’s a basic problem. BW is a certain game, it works on certain tenets, and it plays a certain way. ED is a different game with different tenets and a different playstyle. They are fundamentally different, and trying to play one using the other system is going to lead to frustration.

So what do you like about ED that must stay? Why do you want to play with BW rules instead of ED rules? Those are the questions that will help you, and us, tailor mechanics to your needs.

For example, making Discipline attributes/skills that somehow interact with opening and advancing skills in BW strikes me as a terrible idea. The advancement system is pretty close to the core of how BW works. Muck with it and you’re also altering the artha cycle, what motivations will drive players to push their characters into certain actions, and other fundamental aspects of gameplay. (I still don’t understand what you’re suggesting with Disciplines, by the way. Can you explain it to me a little bit more?)

Some games tie mechanics and flavor and setting together in a tight bundle. ED is one of them; extracting parts without changing the whole is hard verging on impossible. So I think you need to triage and pick which parts you’re keeping and which you’re letting go. Otherwise you should just stick with Earthdawn itself, and maybe just crib some pieces of Burning Wheel that appeal instead.

Excellent, that was my goal. :smiley:

Hmm… not sure how to respond to your first question w/o doing a long, in depth write up of the whole ED design philosophy which I don’t really want to do, sorry (I really am). I will ponder an answer though.

Until you can sum it up in a sentence or two it isn’t really a ‘genre’, a concept that can work as a guideline and fractal out into whatever decisions to be made. Distilling down that genre into a condense, articulate form is definitely your first task at hand.

I agree that translations are not duplications. The key here is to emulate/honor the spirit of ED using BWs mechanics. SR abstracted the totems to much for me, our table played up the totemic descriptions (Dogs loyalty, Rats skulking, etc) pretty heavily, and I would say that disciplines deserve the same weight. If your a Thief that seeks combat (or a warrior that avoids it) all the time thats a problem, and eventually your magically/totemically granted skills will suffer or vanish altogether until you perform the correct rituals and behave in a manner fitting your Discipline.

To be clear, my BW/SR example wasn’t meant as the direction to go. Rather (and I was guessing you had some SR knowledge) to give a demonstration of how far something can move in mechanics terms.

BTW if the final genre statement really does contain “using levels”, or something like that, then I suggest you are looking in the wrong place with BW. See Burning THAC0, where the source game is about as level based as it gets but there isn’t a ‘level’ to be found in Burning THAC0. The main reason being is BW doesn’t have them and doesn’t really handle a detailed lock-out, level progression system like that. Not EAs, not anything. It is for the most part blurred boundaries. Take for example Faith and its Obs. There is no proscription against attempting a full on Miracle even if the PC has only Faith 1. Sure you don’t really want to try do it, because of just how assured the failure is if you can’t muster anything close to even D vs Ob. But if you flat out deny the attempt you are going to be messing with the Artha and Advancement cycles in BW, which is very bad mojo.

EDIT: Ah, I see NoClue has mentioned that very example. Yeah, it’s a good one. :wink:

Really the only proscriptions in BW are at the Trait level (and even those are waived at times and relatively limited), and trying to implement the full depth of ED’s tree with that is going to become onerous because Traits aren’t built to be that fine grained (they grant access to entire magic systems, sometimes multiple magic system for a single Trait). If you are going to try do that I urge you to take a hammer to the tree and squash it flat, or don’t even lay it out in a fixed hierarchy at all. EDIT: And group lots of what are different Circles together differentiated by Obs. You’ll still get strata even though the barriers are softer, like my example with Faith 1 and Miracle.

Down that path; The Magic Burner has Enchantment rules for distilling out a Trait from a source to transfer it into another host. I suspect that’ll be a good start for the Gaining Power Via McGuffin Hunt that ED runs on. No need for those…umm…whatever those points are in ED for binding with an artifact (Bennies by another name), to be explicit mechanic. The effort is in finding the thing and then successfully transferring the Trait. The Artha economy is about the closest BW equivalent and you’ll be burning up plenty of those to succeed.

Raising most of a characters skills to a certain level provides access to the next circle/level.

ED’s dice resolutions system is, uh, colorful. None of us like the curve it produces. We’d rather use a dice pool system, and BW is the only dice pool system I currently own a copy of. I also like the system elements of BITs, advancement, and the idea of the duel of wits.

Why disciplines? They are core part of ED. PCs talents (magically sources skills) are granted by living/acting/following certain beliefs that are governed by their discipline. The world is written with the discipline organizations (forges of the weapon smiths, guild halls of the warriors, covens of casters, etc) having a big place in the history/culture.

Call me negative, then, but I don’t think you can weld what you want together successfully on a BW chassis. Something has to go.

One more idea: what if you require all characters to have a Belief about their Discipline? You could give everyone an extra Belief slot for it if you’d like. Then make artha a part of the setting, not just a game mechanic. The characters are fueled by following their Discipline because they get artha from it. It’s not perfect; they can rely on other Beliefs, and you can get artha from breaking away from Beliefs as well, but it’s a start.

I don’t think a mechanical aspect to Disciplines is a good idea, and I think keeping Circles is a worse idea. What you can do, though, is open up the scope of skills for those in the appropriate discipline. Someone following a martial discipline might roll Sword to kill a dozen enemies without breaking a sweat instead of to try not to die in single combat. A thief might be able to pull off something approaching true invisibility with Stealthy rather than just sneaking. I think what you want is something of a wuxia sensibility in the game, though the degree is of course up to you and meeting the tone of the ED game.

The rest is just color for now. Make BW work and see how it goes as written before bolting more systems onto it.

Which is all kinds of Not BW, in a Breaking Core Cycles of The Game way. :frowning:

After more thought about this, and rereading your posts, it looks like you are mixing up genre, setting, and mechanics into one big ball. If you can’t separate out the mechanics (circles/levels in particular) from your goal I’m fairly confident this is doomed.

There are things that are going to have to be set to the side for the hack to work (as others have said). Since I’ve played EarthDawn (nearly two decades ago) I’ll put in my thoughts.

Pick and choose what is important. What elements of EarthDawn are important to you - that you just can’t let go of… And I’ll go ahead and say Torchbearer might be a better fit? Since EarthDawn was really just a way to have a D&D world with built-in reasons for exploring “dungeons” (aka Kaers) and other D&D stuff like character levels.


Keeping the Karma Ritual is totally fine. I mean it was just a way to use XP to buy Karma anyway - it didn’t give Karma, just converted XP to Karma. So I’d just use it as something the players would have their characters do to access their Artha, after they have earned it in the same way as they normally do in Burning Wheel. So then it adds some interesting-neat EarthDawn color.

Disciplines (aka Classes) have to go. You could totally call somebody an “Elementalist” or “Sky Raider” or “Troubadour” or whatever, but again this is probably just going to have to be a color thing. Keep the LifePath system if you are going to use Burning Wheel. So the Village Born > Village Guard > Duelist character is a “Swordmaster”.

EarthDawn Circles (aka Levels) really don’t work. Plus ‘Circles’ is already a jargon-word in Burning Wheel for finding NPCs. I’d just drop the idea of Levels entirely - they just wouldn’t really work - unless you went the Torchbearer route!

The Talents (aka magical skills) thing was always just color anyway. At least that is how I remember it. EarthDawn Talents would be a combination of Skills for some and Traits for others in Burning Wheel. So just describe things like picking pockets with a hint of magic, “the purse is levitated to your [nearby] waiting hand”. And so forth. (For people who haven’t played EarthDawn it wasn’t actually levitation, it was just a way to magic-color the skills - the character still had to pick the pocket).
EDIT: I suppose you could also add in some of the more magic-y skills like, f’rex, Fireblood. I’d probably make it a Trait that allowed access to the Fireblood skill (essentially an instant Surgery use), instead of giving all characters access to spells. Or do something with Thread Weaving (see below) and use a Linked Test from Thread Weaving to Surgery to allow instant use of it.
EDIT: or the more obvious answer would be that magic-skills could act like Elven Spellsongs.

Magic/spells/sorcery: again I’d just color the in-game talk to include Weaving Threads. Spells already take multiple actions in Burning Wheel anyway, so it fits - they are Weaving Threads. There is a method in the Magic Burner that could mimic Spell Matrices, as well as other forms of spellcasting! Sorcerers have to deal with Tax in Burning Wheel, unlike in EarthDawn, keep Tax anyway.

Magic items were neat. I remember all the characters having a Thread Weaving skill to bond to the item - you could keep that if you want to. I’m sure you could do that stuff with magic items and not worry too much. I remember having to do quests to “unlock” the item’s magic and Weave Threads to them - cool stuff.

So, yeah, mostly color stuff in interesting EarthDawn ways is my solution I guess. Huh. Or get Torchbearer and hack it.

I do not know if this conversation is still alive, or the project is still going on? This interest me, because I find that the fluff, metaphysics and background story of EarthDawn is simply one of the most inspiring of the high-fantasy genre… and it’s the only happy post-apocalyptic setting that I know!

Here is how I see things…

  1. Each discipline got a skill (of the named discipline), and there’ s a OB to achieve some things… like emotional magic. Wind Catcher would be a, say, OB 4 Air Sailor power.
  2. A character must achieve a Rank (“Circle”) to gain accesses to some talents… So, some talents are just available to the PC who achieves those Ranks… there is 5 of them, right? Acolyte, Journeyman, Warden… I don’t remember exactly…
  3. You gain access to these Ranks by playing the game, achieving missions, etc… The Ranks are narratives rewards for playing the game…
  4. Using Talents would drain Karma, which could be ruled as some sort of Ressources (can be taxed and thus recovered with Karma Ritual…)… Say, you test Karma each time the Discipline Test is equal to the Talent OB or lower (when you succeed more, you don’t get taxed…). The OB could be 1 + Margin of failure…

… how would that work? So you are not obligated to convert every talents from the previous edition, only the ones that you need… Could be harder | more difficult to burn the first LP and the different races | stock though…

The conversation is long dead, but that’s never stopped interesting ideas.

Thinking on it now, and with little knowledge of Earthdawn, perhaps the ideal system would be something like skill songs and spell songs for everyone? You could easily allow a couple of skill per character to be magical an open-ended with magical flavor. Sprinkle in some spell songs for the more overtly and necessarily magical stuff and you’re good.

You could make Circle into a reputation or affiliation. It only comes in three gradations then, but it has system meaning. Or even just have it as a series of traits that evolve normally during trait votes. Set up the criteria for “circling up” and then vote on when and whether characters have met them. It still is an obvious prosthesis on the BW rules, but at least it’s workable and still close to the original.

Is there a compelling need to include karma and tax it? You could just have “you’ve exhausted your supply of magical power” as a consequence of failure on using a magical skill and avoid making a new system. Or just use tax as in Practical Magic.

I still ponder it. Since the initial post I’ve run a little Torchbearer which has given me even more of a taste for BW. And Earthdawn still needs a new engine. If I have actual progress I will post it here.