Helping dice from NPCs for Circles test

Short Version:

Can non-player characters give helping dice to player characters making tests?

Long Version:

This relates to a session in this campaign we played today:

Background Info:
Judd was sent into town to get “pig tranquilising herbs” by his wife Carla. At the herbalist, he met an attractive young woman from the far off land of Hanryo (based on our world’s Korea) who has become his girlfriend. He’s now planning to start a new life with her, and ditch the nagging wife who’s been taking him for granted.

However, when Hanna (the Hanryo lass) arrived in Paccar (the port city where the action is taking place) she was ripped off by the owner of the guesthouse she was staying in. The owner is also from Hanryo and has connections to local Hanryo gangsters.

Basically, she left a chest in the room with her academic scrolls, clothes and other valuables in it. After going out for awhile and coming back, the lock had been changed on the door, and the owner denied her ever having stayed there and all knowledge of the chest.


So Judd’s new girlfriend has asked Judd to help get back her stuff. I threw him some free leads, but he also wanted to make a circle test to see if he could meet a fence that might give him some more info on the whereabouts the chest and its contents and also on the operations of the Hanryo gangsters.

I made it an Ob3 test: Base Ob1 + 2 Ob for uncommon occupation

He has Confidence Man as a previous lifepath, so perhaps he’d be able to find someone he used to off load stolen merchandise to.

However, his Circles is only B2, so he got help from his 3 NPC lackeys/mates who also have criminal backgrounds.

The crux of the question is: Does each NPC that helps add a helping dice (so a total of 3 extra dice)?

Are NPCs even supposed to be able to help with Circles tests?

Relevant Quote from Burning Wheel Gold:

“Players may have their characters help one another in the game. When two or more characters are acting together, only one player rolls. His character is considered the primary character for the test.”

(Page 35, Burning Wheel Gold)

“Characters who share similar Circles may help one another for Circles tests. If you do not have similar Circles, you may not help.”

(Page 381, Burning Wheel Gold)

How we played it:

I was generous, and gave him the three extra dice for a total of 5. He failed with only two successes, so he indeed did run into an old contact who he used to get rid of jewellery to, but it turns out that Judd had given him some fake jewellery and run off with the cash in the past (over 10 years ago, before Judd became a sailor), so the fence, Mouse, wanted him to pay off his “debt”. He gave Mouse his horse to clear the debt, and then Mouse gave him some info on another fence that might have received the stolen goods.

Yes, there is no mention of NPCs giving helping dice in the above quotes, but I thought it was in the spirit of the rules.

Bonus Question:

Would you ever give an advantage die for a Circles test for anything other than reputations, affiliations, named NPC or a linked test for a wise?

Cletus and Woody:

Unrelated update on the campaign: For those interested, Woody was last seen running off to the west, with Cletus the pig squealing with glee in his cart, yelling something about “The Pig Crusade”. He may return later with his army of pigmen.



Short answer: Yes.
Qualifier: Only if they have the right circles.
Bonus question: of course, that’s the basic advantage system.

Cheers Luke :slight_smile: