First Time GM Questions

Hi BW Forum!

This is my first time on here and also my first time running BW game.
I wanted to get your opinions on getting started, specifically about how much prep i should have?
I built out the foundation of the story I’d like to run, but I’ve also heard it’s best to prep as little as possible and instead allow the players to build the world around them.

I don’t think any of the players I’m going to run with are on here so I think I can elaborate a little more.
The planet’s core has gone cold and it’s stopped rotating. Its population, though, found a way to keep it’s core active with science but the only way to further fuel this is to mine an element from a neighboring dwarf planet. The story line is basically one of geopolitical strife where the body controlling the mines for all intents and purposes have the most power. The main bodies are this overlord group, the resistance, and lastly a religious group who believe it’s the planet’s destiny to die out because the gods have willed it so. I’m imaging plot lines on both planets with interactions between the different groups.

I guess what I’m asking is if this is too much? Should pull back on the story, or is this just good?
I still have a ton of minutiae stuff to figure out, but let me know what you all think.

I appreciate all the help!


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It’s possible to do this setting in Burning Wheel if you make your own lifepaths or get really good at recontextualizing the quasi-medieval stuff out of the box. This would make a very fine setting for Burning Empires with little or no modification.

The trick with BW is that the “setting” is pretty tightly interwoven with the mechanics. It’s tough for beginners to separate character creation from everything else. If you’re already comfortable with the system, fudging it is easy enough, but nobody starts out that way.

It sounds like a cool story. You might want to grab the Burning Empires PDF and just omit the Infection conflict and run it as a belief-driven BW campaign. That will give you access to all the sci-fi elements and stuff. That’s probably easier than trying to reskin BW. It’s the same game at the end of the day; everything you read in BW and Codex will hold true, but with a lot less work.

Lastly, in my opinion, don’t scale back the story. Find the right game for it. BW/BE may or may not be that game, but if you have a cool idea stick to it.


This is incredibly helpful Owen, thanks. I didnt know about Burning Empires, but it seems really cool. I’m definitely going to purchase the pdf next time i get paid. At the very least i could use it as a jumping off point.

thanks again


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Oh that is a straight Burning Empires set up…


this is super exciting & very encouraging. i’ve got about of month or so to prep—can’t wait to get started. thanks again to you both for the help. also, thanks luke for bw in its entirety(?) haha

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Be sure to let us know how it’s going, maybe in the Burning Empires section.


For sure! I play at my local comic shop in brooklyn, so I’m going to run the question of BW vs BE by my group to see what they would prefer to play.

I did sort of get some bad news recently—because there won’t be enough time between the end of our current campaign (Monsterhearts) and the holidays, we’re pushing this campaign to early next year.

I’ll definitely update you guys once I have some things set in stone.

thanks again for the help Owen


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