General skills contradiction

The Character Burner chapter states in respect of lifepath skills that - “If a player wants different skills for his character, he has to choose lifepaths that offer those skills” (at p 80). That statement is also repeated in the Codex (at p 399).

Well, a player does not have to do that at all, in fact the player can merely spend their general skill points on skills which are different to the lifepath skills, subject to any restrictions because of character stock.

I think this simply means that you cannot swap out lifepath skills for other skills and take those skills as lifepath skills instead. Yes, you can spend general skill points, but you cannot just say, “I think my Lord lifepath should give me the Knots skill as a lifepath skill.”

This is just saying that lifepath skills are immutable, and if you want something outside of those, you need to spend general skill points.


I appreciate that you have offered your perspective, vestibularlabyrinth. I think it probably alleviates, at least retrospectively, some of the initial ambiguity because in applying your perspective a manifestly clearer delineation arises between the purpose of the lifepath skills and the general skills. Of course it would defeat the purpose of the rule to have a farrago of non-lifepath skills lumped together under the “Lord” lifepath of the “Noble” setting you invoke because the player swaps out skills through roleplay propoundings.

Also, whilst I like that the first skill is mandatory (following on and recalling that the bwfrps is evidently heavily-skewed, situationally, toward a quest/intrigue adventure that is primed with combat encounters (the “hunting” skill being the mandatory skill) “Estate Management” is not only ordinarily a more important skill for a “Lord”, the apposite descriptor I think is “Property Management” because within that setting the ordinary, primary focus is on protecting entrusted property by developing a hobby at the Law. First rule of nobility school: Find a hobby that is going to sustain a reserve of property holdings in the land so that, in the first place, a game park exists for some hunting;-)


Welcome to the forums, Daniel!

Is there something specific you’re looking for help with? Perhaps I or someone else could answer any questions you might have?

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There seems to be a misunderstanding of the design intent when discussing required skills here. I, and anybody with an understanding of feudal hierarchy, will almost certainly agree that Estate Management is significantly more important than hunting to a skilled Lord, but the game isn’t designed to reflect what skills would be important to such a character.

It is instead designed to reflect what they actually do.

Every lord hunts, because it is entertainment, and people love entertainment. Not every lord actually manages his estate; many of them lose their estates through incompetence, ignorance or mere disinterest in work. We see this frequently throughout history, and therefore making it the required skill doesn’t make sense.

By contrast, Miller is the primary skill of a Miller because he must actually be able to do his job to survive in the trade. He doesn’t have the luxury of delegating his most important decisions, as a Lord might and frequently did.

In both cases, burning such a character should not be thought of as the process of making optimal characters who are competent at what they do, but instead the process of making verisimilitudinous characters.


Cheers Gnosego for your welcome, there’s no introductory sub-category on the forums from what I’ve observed, but I must admit that I find your question somewhat odd as nowhere in my posts am I expressing the need for the assistance of an interlocutor.

Consequently, what you’re really asking is why I have joined the BW forums, and then my answer is no great secret as I’ve reached a point where I can playtest a campaign scenario (“situation”) for one player.

Hey, vestibularlabyrinth. So as to avoid acting at cross-purposes, I think it’s important to note that I have raised no implication of a limitation in the bwfrps, and I fear I’m at somewhat of a disadvantage in contradistinction to your good position; on account I would’t pass any interpretative determination of what bwfrps is “designed” or “isn’t designed to” do or reflect (within the frps context) - at the point where I haven’t playtested running its “situational” ambit across various, divergent character lifepath settings (much less sketched the propositions on “Magic”, its “roles” and about which “contains 12 chapters detailing new magic systems, variations of extant systems and a couple of new magical powers”) prior to taking receipt of the Codex.

Notwithstanding the above, I believe you’ll find that every “Lord” manages his property to some extent. Not all “Lords” are personally involved, that’s true, however Estate or Property Management includes hiring advisers or consultants. This is because of the potency of the legal sphere into which he is born, as an inherent skill, but I accept that it’s contextual and content specific. For instance, a distinction will exist between an actively benevolent “Lord” of his estate, and the “Lord” and a relational, political “situation” with the closest contiguous, scheduled tribe neighbours to the estate, say Elven inhabitants. Then perhaps an intra- and an inter-negotiation skill would be apposite design for a political “situation” arising out of the estate or property in the Land. Nevertheless, making it the required skill (“Property Management”) meets cogent sense when considering that the inherent interests for the “Lord” of his estate is the subsistence of at least two settings of lifepath character inhabitants (peasant & villager) and the political considerations thereof expansively of his stock. I’m sure you could design (or “burn”) an incompetent “Lord” to accurately simulate the litany of property management failures in the history of “feudal hierarchy”, but that seems remarkably like putting the cart before the horse.

In any case, losing property interests is still managing property, it’s just that it’s doing it rather badly, so you’re conflating a will or trait with the skill of it. Nevertheless, contrasting skills between lifepath settings (peasant & noble) and skill types (special & peasant) can be helpful to show that, in your selection, a “Miller” is “villager”-bound and will naturally reflect the inherent skill of that station, notwithstanding an open trait that may be designed to carry a minor favour within his obsequious setting. Additionally, to my judgement the “Miller” is couched in the language of the tool, making the character an attendant to a mere technology reliant on his skill for its function, so you’re merely highlighting his unfortunate station.

Finally, if it wasn’t obvious, I do not accept that “every ‘Lord’ hunts”, unless you’re taking into account the keep’s kitchen larder;-)

Cheers, Daniel_M

It seems I was insufficiently direct previously; I will try to rectify this deficiency going forward.

That wasn’t what I was asking. What is the purpose of this topic here in the Modifications, Hacks, and Expansions subcategory?

Buzz off troll!

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I don’t think there’s any need to be rude to Gnosego, it’s a fair question, even if it’s merely a point of order.

As to your reply to me, no, I cannot agree that lords necessarily manage their estate. There is plenty of evidence of nobility doing exactly this historically (e.g. Ludwig II of Bavaria). You can mismanage your estate into the ground, but you can also lose it by simply going off partying, or by not taking the appropriate measures to defend against invaders, or any other of a multitude of reasons. It is not necessary for someone to actually try at managing their estate, especially in a system where estates are awarded by the privilege of birth, rather than any actual ability or education.

Beyond that, having a skill in this system indicates that you are at least passably good at something, not that you occasionally undertake it out of necessity, which is what you posit any lord must do because of the “potency of the legal sphere into which he is born.”
There is no such thing as an inherent skill in Burning Wheel, only Skills that the characters work to learn. Inherent ability is reflected by the Beginner’s Luck system, not Skills. In order to get the Skill, your character must actively use said skill, enough to become skilled at it (hence why Skills are called Skills and not Innate Abilities).

A Lord will hunt because it’s a great amusement and all of his fellows expect it of him. He might also, for the same reasons, be profligate with his estate. That is what the Lord LP is saying: the basic Lord is this type of character in this system. If you want your Lord to be different, he must work at it.

Luckily, because his position allows him the opportunity to learn to manage his estate, the Estate Management skill is something he can work at. So if it’s important to you that your Lord learn this skill, he can. He won’t even have to spend his General Skill Points on it.


I think it’s also best not to overlook the Lady LP. She has Estate Management as her second skill, and you can expect she’s going to be the MVP in affairs domestic.