Fight! test cheese

In our game tonight, we had the following test cheese take place. A missile weapon had the advantage, and a character tried to “push”. Since the range made it +5Ob, this was an instant Challenging Power test.

It seems like the same logic could work for virtually any Fight! related stat or skill. For example, need a challenging missile test? Get in a fight with someone using a knife and try to shoot them when they have advantage. Similarly, you could easily manufacture difficult or challenging agility tests using a weapon you’ve never used before.

Is there anything aside from the penalty of being hurt by the person you’re fighting to prevent this, or is this an understood and accepted part of the Fight! system?

BWG pg. 45: Series of Rolls = One Test

Or, if this is about trying to prevent any challenging tests in Fight! Why the hell do you want to? Let people make nigh impossible rolls and record their just deserves on the sheet. If they succeed, bully for them, if not, hope you weren’t standing in the way.

It’s not about preventing challenging tests in Fight! It’s about thinking that getting to B7 or B8 Power in a few weeks worth of combat isn’t very satisfying. It also just feels like power gaming as opposed to role playing.

As an aside I believe that Task and Intent are still in effect even when interacting with a subsystem such as Fight.

If I want to push, that’s my intent - to push him back. I then need to explain how I’m doing that.

If the task does not match the intent then that action does not necessarily stand.

Well, if your dudes are lucky enough to spend a few weeks(!) fighting for their lives and doing stupid stuff like trying to shove a dude from crossbow range, and if at the end of those weeks of lethal stupidity they are not dead… I do not think it is surprising that they would be crazy buff.

If you are letting six highly-skilled PCs gang up on one goblin and calling it Fight instead of bloody versus or just “Okay, you killed a goblin, what next,” and then letting them script nonsense instead of fighting… Perhaps you should reconsider that course of action?

Taking risky actions in Fight in order to get tests is a time-honored tradition. As long as the fight is for real, the extra risk of being stabbed balances the test. If the fight is not for real, it shouldn’t be a Fight.

As GM, pacing is your responsibility. You can say “No, that’s not a fight, it’s Bloody Versus.” If the fight starts out legit but halfway through it becomes clear that there’s no further risk and the players are just drawing it out so they can fail at high-Ob Pushes, you can say “He surrenders” or “Ten minutes later, you’re cleaning the blood off your weapons when the Baron’s men run up. How do you explain yourselves?”

If this is happening every fight, up the difficulty. If your players are okay with taking a knife to the gut in order to score a Challenging test, so be it. If there are fights every day, either this is a really important, really high-tension period of time (in which case lots of tests is appropriate) or some of those should be narration or bloody versus, not conflicts.

I generally find that getting shot with an arrow is enough to dissuade people from making those situations.

And were I the disadvantaged character, I’d probably be more likely to script a Charge than a Push. Yes, it’s going to be a Challenging test, but if you make it, you’ve completely removed the opponent’s advantage.

But I honestly see nothing wrong with it. Burning Wheel is the sort of game where “gaming” the system makes for interesting play.

It’s one of the tensions in the game: Do I go for that challenging test in the Fight, and thereby risk having my face cut off, or do I aim to win the Fight? If the player character doesn’t feel that opting to go for an Agility test, a Power test, a Speed test, and two or three tests to open Boxing, Brawling and a weapon skill in a single Fight is a significant risk to life and limb, then I would encourage the GM to get serious with the physical opposition s/he is bringing to the table.

One of the features of the system is that smart players can get the tests they want… if they’re willing to live with the consequences of failure.

Some players at BWHQ are notorious for such gaming of the mechanics. So it’s totally a legitimate way of playing BW.

Some players at BWHQ are notorious for such gaming of the mechanics. So it’s totally a legitimate way of playing BW.

If it’s not a problem to game tests that way, then why is Perception set to only advance on successful tests?

There seems to be a real dichotomy between stats that are easy to advance to a certain level (Speed, Power) and stats that become extremely difficult or impossible to advance after a while (Forte, Perception).

Perception was open-ended in Revised, they decided that it was too easy to get the successful tests needed with Perception with it being open-ended, so now it’s still rolled, all the time, because you can game tests for it. It’s legitimate because it only counts on successful tests

Also, I want to clarify something, was this ‘cheese’ you’re talking about, something that happened just the once? Or did everyone do it? Because if it was just the once, that isn’t cheese, that’s a completely legitimate test made under the Fight! Subsystem

Also, I want to clarify something, was this ‘cheese’ you’re talking about, something that happened just the once?

In fact, it was an attempt to knock a guy off a horse from bow range, a legitimate goal with a very cheesy side effect.

I think part of the motivation for making Perception the way it is, and Lbtddbtd touched on it, is that there’s so many skills rooted in Perception that the folks who know (I.e. BWHQ after many hundreds of hours of experience) were finding that Perception got tested a WHOLE LOT. Beyond that, all wises are rooted there so not only are you testing it a lot but you’re also essentially setting your own Obstacle with a wise. It’s one thing to game the system, but that’s just tossing softballs.

It’s also worth pointing out that, unless they have a skill of 5 or higher already (unlikely except in a 5 LP campaign, IME), getting Routines–for many skills, and especially for those used in DoW and Fight—is way harder than getting Difficults and Challengings. Remember, 1 test per skill per conflict, and it’s the hardest one that you keep.


I don’t understand why you find it cheesy that someone should get credit trying to do something really hard, or that the character in the fiction would learn an appropriately hard lesson from trying to do something rash and stupid.

You seem to be worried that someone will be just trying to get the challenging tests, not caring about the character or the fiction. Sometimes you’ll get a player like that, but there are two things that will keep this from ever being a successful strategy for long:

  1. You should only be using Fight when Beliefs are on the line. That guarantees there’s more that matters than just the tests and it also guarantees that the character doesn’t get into a ridiculous number of Fights - most of the time conflicts will be simple Versus or Bloody Versus tests and the story goes on.
  2. A character who consistently takes stupid risks to get Challenging tests in Fight will die and/or end up getting a stat capped really, really quickly. It’s not a viable long-term strategy, even if you’re well armored and pretty good at Fighting.

Also, if I may, you seem to be wont to make more of these corner cases than is there. Like the old saying goes, if you are looking for fault, you shall surely find it.

Getting knifed is nothing to scoff at.

I interpret that rule a little differently. According to p. 45 (of the PDF since I haven’t gotten my copy of gold yet):

Now that could be read to say that you can only record tests below the highest difficulty if the character would advance immediately, but it seems to make more sense if you say that you can only record the test immediately if the attribute or ability would advance. I suppose I could see it going either way though, so any clarification anyone else can provide would be appreciated.

Perhaps I should take a step back and explain the situation a bit more so we can figure out if there was a better way.

First, it was my character, Gottfried, who earned the cheesy OB 7 Power test. I view it as cheesy because usually an OB 7 test is a matter of life or death, but it really wasn’t in this case. It just happened to be that difficult because the guy was too far to push.

The scene was Gottfried and friends wanted to set an ambush for the Lord Protector of the Realm. He had once been our companion, but at the end of the last campaign he attained his new position and left us behind. In fact, he sent us into exile. He then either conspired with the roden or was incredibly incompetent, resulting in roden overrunning our capital city. On a more personal note, he asked us to return to help save the kingdom, scapegoated us when we failed to prevent the roden invasion, threatened us with execution for our failure, and is now specifically threatening to murder one of the party members for being a wizard.

Gottfried has an admittedly simplistic view where the best solution to murder is more murder, so we find a likely time and place where we think the Lord Protector will travel lightly guarded, disguise ourselves as bandits, and wait.

Unfortunately, the first group to come through is dressed in heavy cloaks, and we can’t figure out who they are from our ambush location. As a split second decision, Gottfried decides he is, after all, dressed as a bandit, so why not give them a generic threat and use the confusion to see if it’s the Lord Protector’s party or just some random merchants?

It turns out to be some random merchants, so Gottfried’s goal is now to just get the heck out of there. The merchant’s ultimate goal is to get out of there without risking their own lives, but they probably wouldn’t object to killing Gottfried on their way out, since he is a bandit, after all.

We used the Fight! mechanic to resolve this, at which point Gottfried decided he could get away easier if he first shoves them off their horses, getting him a challenging Power test in the process. However, since we have very well defined goals which don’t necessarily end in the deaths of the other party, and it’s not a critical scene, perhaps a Versus or Bloody Versus test would have worked better. Any thoughts?

There are two scenarios laid out in that rule:

  1. If you need only one test to advance, and that test comes up during a series of rolls.
  2. Anything else

In the first scenario, you take the test immediately. In the second, you record the highest test. Yes, even if you need two routines and nothing else, you still mark it as Challenging if that’s the highest test. Sucks to be you.

Luffa, that’s totally not a Fight. As a GM, having been told that your intent was to get away clean, I’d ask how you were doing that. If you said “I shove them off their horses and run for it,” I’d have replied that you were outnumbered and outgunned, but if you really want to, it’s Ob 5 or 6 Speed (because it’s less about whether you can shove them than about whether you can get close enough to do so) and failure means you get shot with a crossbow. Still want that meaty test? You can have it. But I’d suggest a different task for that intent, hey?

I’ll take it a step further:

Gottfried’s goal is now to just get the heck out of there. The merchant’s ultimate goal is to get out of there without risking their own lives

There is no conflict whatsoever in this situation. As a GM, I would have Said Yes to everyone getting away. Nothing is at stake, so nothing gets rolled.

In other news: Zelbinian is my new favourite person

A good indication of when you should not use Fight! is when you can throw ‘just’ into a sentence. Also, as Peter said, both you and the merchant want the same thing “To get out” it doesn’t involve you hurting each other.