FORKs in play

Some questions about FORKs

  1. Could say, a navigator with a b5 navigation FORK astrology, sea-wise, island-wise, sail-wise, boat-wise, and pirate-wise to his navigation and then roll 11 dice to navigate pirate infested islands at sea with the boats rigging as markers for direction and the stars to guide him? (assuming he doesn’t get murdered for munchkinisms.)

  2. Can you only FORK skills that are listed under a skill as “FORKs” or can you roleplay in pretty much any FORKed skill you want?


(Also, this is probobly in the book somewhere, but I suck at finding things.)

In our game we let people use whatever FoRK’s seem appropriate at the time, using the ones listed with each skill as the suggested type of skills that could be useful.
Personally, I’m against gaining more dice from FoRKs than you have in the skill that you are using, so I would cap your B5 off at a B10 total (including all FoRKs and Extra Time advantages).
I don’t know if that is cànnon or not, but it does follow the limits on “Casting Carefully” (Carefully pg. 512) and seems like a resonable way to keep the B2 (weak) skill from being treated like a B5 (expert), but then that could just be another game mechanic used to keep mages in their place,
(in which case I will have to adjust my way of doing things.)
The Imp at the top of page 37 makes it pretty clear that the player suggest what he can FoRK through rollplay, and the GM arbtrates which are and are not applicable.

I don’t have my book in front of me, so this might be all lies, but I don’t think you can just arbitrarily dump everything that makes even the smallest bit of sense into a skill roll. When FORKs are called out in the book, I interpret that to mean “This always applies as a FORK unless the GM can think of a really good reason why it shouldn’t right now.” For everything else, you flip the logic (and soften it a bit): “You can never automatically apply other skills as FORKs, but you can if you have a good reason why you can right now.”

So for everything a your player is trying to FORK, ask her “How does this help your character?” Push her to be specific. If she can’t? Doesn’t count. If she repeats herself? Give her a Stare of Disapproval and tell her to roll the dice.

Incidentally, this is a great way to tell if the player should be FORKing or Linking. Using your example as an example, when the player asks “Oh, can I FORK in sea-wise for this navigation test?” You’ll then ask “How does sea-wise help you right now?” She may then respond with something like “Oh, because… uh… because maybe there’s some really shallow banks that are uncharted and I can tell by the subtle changes in water motion and color that I should avoid those.” Do you see what the rub there is? Our fictional munchkineer is not just using her character’s knowledge to help her roll better, she’s rectroactively establishing a fact that let’s her use her character’s knowledge to help her roll better. This doesn’t mean you should say no, it just means you should recognize that the player is declaring an additional action which makes this a Linked test. This is lovely because it gives the player a chance to get that extra die, but makes it a little more risky. It simultaneously disincentivizes the tendency to add dice just because you can and reinforces the standard Burning Wheel incentives of giving the player additional tests to check off and letting them create the world for themselves.

… that was longer and rantier than I intended, but I can’t be fucked to edit it now, so hopefully some of that helped.

There’s no rule that says he can’t do it. (I severely doubt that “Casting Carefully” is meant to apply to skill rolls in general.)
And why not, after all? If he’s so invested in being able to drum up eleven dice, then let him drum up eleven dice - and maybe there will also be some challenges that call for eleven dice to stand a hope of succeeding. Sounds exciting! I imagine tremendous, crashing waves, far and distant shores, strange seas under strange skies - all kinds of awesome stuff.
(Hm… can he still use astrology and sea-wise when sailing strange seas under strange skies? Maybe not! That could get interesting. He’ll have to open some new wises before he can be a hotshot navigator again.)

  1. You can FoRK to your heart’s content. If you do it all the time you’ll never advance. If you never do it you’ll fail a lot of rolls. This is a feature of BW, not a bug.

  2. The suggested lists are just suggestions. They are neither always available FoRKs nor exhaustive lists. Go with whatever makes sense in the game at the time.

Yup, everything I said was lies. twists the mustache that appeared out of nowhere

Don’t get in the habit of allowing your players to bullshit, or as we call it “FoRK bitch,” every skill into a roll. FoRKs are meant to be open to interpretation. The game works much better with them in play. But sitting and listening to a player say “and…and…and…” is exhausting and boring. FoRKs can only be used if the related element is actually in play. You don’t get to invent things like boats and islands as you’re describing your intent/task.

In general, the system expects 1-2 FoRKs per roll. More than that drags on the game, but also note that fewer FoRKs can also hurt the players. So be sure to give hooks and opportunities for FoRKs but don’t stand for a reading of Leviticus every time a player wants to roll.


… but truth begins in lies.

Thanks to all for your responses. FoRKing seemed a bit awkward in some of my games, and I wanted to clarify those things.

Happy Burning