Hidden Best Lifepaths?

Obviously Burning Wheel lifepaths aren’t inherently better or worse than each other, it’s always dependent on what the character and setting are, but also, obviously, some lifepaths are better than others. What are the lifepaths that you learned were better than they seemed? I basically only use humans, so I’d love to hear the surprisingly good ones for the other stocks

Country Wife: Every Wife lifepath is really good, but only country wife gives you mental and physical points, along with the ability to take the skills from any number of lifepaths that fully set you up as a character, and the ability to make a three lifepath augur

Taskmaster: Hard Hearted, Booming Voice, and it leads to Master Craftsman! Why? I’m not complaining but why? Mr Crane, is this an accident?

Tinkerer: Mending and Scavenging are two of the most useful skills for a poor character, and 2 spare trait points is really rare, for good reason

Alewife: Domineering Presence is maybe the best trait in the entire game, it Leads Court, and Mending and Administration are game changers (Born City, Alewife, Courtier makes a ridiculous debater)

Apprentice Artisan: Locksmith is really good, and really hard to have on your skill list. It also gives a ton of skill points

Prince of the Blood: if you allow it, Born Noble, PotB, Bishop is completely broken

Baliff: It’s really short, gives a lot of skill points, has no prerequisite lifepaths but born noble, and provides really good FoRKs for those bounty hunter type characters

Military Order: It’s not obvious, but this is a way to build knights waaay more interesting.

Soldier Apprentice: Short, a really good skill list, and a Call-On for Power

Soldier Herald/Bannerman: From Peasant or Slave to Court in 3 lifepaths with a solid group of skills for either, depending on the character

Seafaring Engineer: Engineer, Munitions, and Artillerist will basically always FoRK into each other. Really good for making those mad scientist types, but only generally useful through Student or Journeyman

Bondsman: Most characters can use it to get access to whatever handful of skills they can’t get through their lifepaths, and Lucky is obviously broken

Harem Slave: Numb is so broken it’s not even funny

Deranged: Possessed is probably the best trait for getting artha every single session, along with getting a free supernatural trait

Poisoner: This is the other easy way to make it from Peasant/Slave to Court really fast, and who doesn’t love poisoning their enemies?

Smuggler: Not only is it really good on its own, it’s one of the requirements for freebooter, and it doesn’t share any skills

Researcher: Death Art on the skill list without any bad lifepaths on the way. Born Slave, Thinker, Scholar, Researcher was the first 4 lifepaths for my last evil necromancer

Death Cultist: Zealot and Suicidal are amazing, and it gives you access to spy


Vagrant! 2 trait points with no restrictions and good leads means you can buy a lot of great out-of-LP stuff


I’ve actually used that! I’m an absolute sucker for Grave Digger (my personal favorite lifepath) or Desperate Killer (I’m an idiot), but that’s a good thing to keep in mind


Rogue Wizard is incredible. Can be entered via Born -> Neophyte Sorcerer or Arcane Devotee etc. -> Rogue Wizard, has 3 trait points (one of which can be used to take the amazing Aura of Fear), 8 skill points and 24 resource points (decent), and both an M and a P stat point. I took it twice on my sorcerer.


Well I coulda told you that! Rogue Wizard a second time is better than basically any lifepath for a wizard lmao. I’ve actually nerfed it at my table, and it’s still one of the best lifepaths, regardless of what you do to it

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I was looking, trying to make a good range and cover character, and I realized that Veteran is actually a lot better than it looks. It’s long and doesn’t give a stat point, but it’s the only lp that puts tactics on your skill list, so you can actually put points into it, and stubborn is a Dt that gives you +2d to your body of argument if it’s in defense of one of your beliefs, which they basically always will be. If you go through freebooter, you’ll also have all the FoRKs in the world for DoWing soldiers


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