General Points and the General Skill List

Hi! I have tried searching the boards and Google but haven’t really found an explanation.

In the character burner, when you select life paths, you get a pool of points and a set of skills to purchase those skills with.

I also understand that the general points can be used with the general skill list. What can the general points not do though? Are there skills general points just cannot buy?

Certain skills are restricted. Those restrictions are listed in the skill description. For instance, Ages of the Etharch is restricted to Elves only. You must be an elf to buy that skill with general points. Alchemy is Men only. You must be human to buy Alchemy with general points.

Some skills, like Arson, say they are restricted during character burning (Arson is limited to men and roden during character burning). This means characters of other stocks can’t open them with general points during character burning, but can learn them in play.

Aside from the few exceptions, you can buy any skill with general points. See Spending General Skill Points​ on page 88.

Is it correct by me then to think of the general skill points as an extension of what the character I’m burning has gone through in their life paths? Things that could’ve been learnt but isn’t really defining for that life path?

I think that’s a fair way of looking at it.

Another quick question I’d rather put here than make a new thread for is where the roots for the different weapon skills are? I’ve tried to find what they are rooted in but it’s not in in the appendix or the skill list, since that only lists “appropriate weapons”?

It can also be things the character learned that weren’t really part of a lifepath. We all pick up some oddball things. Maybe the innkeeper knits or the farmer’s father was a soldier who taught him to use a sword.

Another thing that showed up when I tried to burn some characters was that I, while I understood that “appropriate weapon” really could just mean stuff like “knife” or “swords” or “spears” etc, I cannot for the life of me find out how I’m supposed to figure out how to find the root stat for those skills? I know it’s probably detailed in the Fight! rules but I’d rather play just with the spokes to begin with (as is recommended) but I would still like to have a weapon-skill?

Edit: So it turns out that these skills are actually just in the general skill list, it just wasn’t clear to me when I looked up the Appropriate Weapon entry

Yep. Appropriate Weapons is “your choice of any number of weapons skills, taken individually, with the usual rules.”

That’s not quite accurate. “Appropriate weapons” means weapons that are appropriate to the setting, character concept and life paths. This is of cause highly subjective, but for example the Lance skill probably wouldn’t be “appropriate” for the foot soldier lifepath at least not unless the character had another life path the justified it. Depending on the setting ranged weapons might not be appropriate for a knight or sword might not be appropriate for a non-noble. There’s no predefined limitations, but it’s not quite a free choice.

General Skill Points are a great way to showcase a hobby or expertise in your profession (especially when you back it up with BITs).

Thanks for all the answers!

Another question then that is partially related to the first one; I was burning a test character that was to be a butcher in a village in the woods. The scenario was that a group of villagers had decided to band together and drive out a troll, that had pestered the village with demands of tribute. However I got stuck on giving the butcher a set of skills!

The focus would be, I imagined, how these villagers could challenge and outsmart a greater foe (the troll). While the flavor for the character was that he were a butcher, the interesting die rolls would not be about butchering.

Is it correct then to just skip the butchering skill entirely and instead add things like weapon skills, ways for a villager to survive in the wilderness and ways to confront the troll in different ways than just brute force? In other words, isn’t it better with the focus in mind to give the character adventurer skills?

The life path system for a 3 or 4 LP character means I would probably have to choose fitting life paths to get those ‘adventurer skills’. It it still takes a chunk of points though, to get a character to have exponent 4 (nominally trained) in ie butchering (the profession of the character).

How many points should I spend on flavor when the game will focus on something entirely different?

My experience is that regardless of what the game is nominally about, it often de facto becomes about whatever skills the characters took in character burning. As I’ve told my players many times, if it’s not on your character sheet, it’s intangible, and may or may not ever come up in play.

As for butchery, I can think of multiple ways that that particular skill could be useful in confronting a troll. Ply him with your finest cuts of meat until he lets his guard down? Efficiently dispose of the remains once the deed is done? (Monsters are listed as Ob 5 in the skill description.) Also, if your planning on not being flat broke, it’s useful to have an actual trade of some kind for Get a Job purposes.

Ah! So I suppose that as long as it is on the character sheet the player can try to use it to their advantage in terms of finding a way to tie it into a problem. If it’s not the solution in itself it can possibly be used to aquire a solution?

I know that the way skills work is backwards, the story and challenges spring from the characters and theit abilities. Characters aren’t arbitrarily shoe horned into a pre written story if you want a really good BWith game, right?

But where do you draw the line of what becomes just a little too disconnected from the conflict the characters are written into? Or is that still the wrong way to think about it? We as a play group will find ways to let even the most exotic skills, for some particular focus, to get a moment to shine?

With 3 LPs it’s also quite reasonable to bring a trade skill or two up to B3 and say “I tried but I only sorta had the heart for this profession.” :wink:

Another trick is to make up a wise related to your old profession (usually with general points). A smith with Sword-wise gets a bit of a specialization, but also a skill she can apply even when pounding out weapons isn’t a big feature of the current campaign arc.

But, yeah, certain LPs like Squire, Hunter, and Criminal are definitely more “adventure-friendly.” (As they should be.)

I guess my question would be why you chose a butcher in the first place. If it was because you wanted to play a character who was outmatched by the troll and had to come up with a clever way to defeat it, I’d pick the skills that make sense for a butcher and try to come up with a solution that fits those skills.
If that’s not really the spirit of the game, and you want a character with more traditional adventuring skills, why not play a hunter, or a member of the town guard, or someone else who would have more of the kind of skills you are interested in?

Edit: To put it another way, if you are considering minimizing your Butchery, why play a butcher?

I guess that is a very fine point! The answer would be that I would have to make the Butcher as much a butcher as he can be and then just let things happen around these villagers trying to tackle this difficult task and make it an interesting conflict of a personal goal and the difficulty of getting there?

Note that the “Right Skill, Right Time” artha award is for players finding ways to use weird or seemingly useless skills at key moments.
Not having the skills you need for a given situation is also a great way to learn those skills.

Having said that, I usually prefer to make sure I have at least a couple of the skills I think I’ll need to effectively pursue my Beliefs. Weak characters can be fun. Completely useless characters, not so much.

BW works when you make characters and set up the big picture of what’s going on in the game at the same time. A game in which someone makes an ancient Elven lord and someone else makes a village idiot is going to go strangely. If half the group expects court intrigue and the other half expects to play hard-bitten mercenaries in a border fort you’ll also end up with odd stuff.

So if you’re playing a game about unprepared villagers dealing with a troll and that’s what everyone’s playing part of the fun is finding uses for butchery. Or not; sometimes you just have useless skills. But if you have a game about fighting a troll and then you make a butcher for no reason and no interest in playing a butcher, you’re just making your own life hard.

Also, when making a character with 4 LPs or even 5 I usually have only a very small number of skills at 4+. Most are going to be in the 2-3 range, and many are there to be FoRKs or helping dice. And you’re going to be bad at a lot of things without those FoRKs or help from someone else. Adventuring is actually a very varied and difficult job that most characters can’t do alone.

After all, “The Brave Little Tailor” used his sewing skill to sudue the giant that terrorized his village.

In addition to creative and fairytale-like games of tricking trolls with meat, If one character takes a butcher or chef and the other takes a wizard, it would work fine if the story arc was more akin to Downton Abbey than Caves of Chaos. Burning Wheel can pull this off where other games have to rely simply on free-form RP at the table. The wizard is trying to host a dinner for the soon to be arriving archmage and the butcher character needs to properly prepare the evening dinner or else said wizard won’t be receiving the requisite funds for his dungeon expansion. Or the wizard has captured and killed a dragon and he really needs the butcher to properly prepare the carcass for the wizards experiments. “Don’t damage the madula oblongata!”