Higher Magic Setting Using Burning Wheel? Anyone done this?

Hi Guys,

I am trying to transition my group from Pathfinder over to Burning Wheel, and I want to use a campaign setting we created together. The campaign setting has quite a bit of magic in it. Magical creatures, magical constructs (golems, golem suits in a particular part of the city), magical pollution (magical essence, which is essentially this setting’s crude oil), etc.

The implied setting of BW is one of low magic I think. While I personally LOVE the implied setting, I am looking for options for adapting BW for use in a bit more… well dungeons and dragons style setting as opposed to a Tolkienesque setting. I don’t mind maintaining the usual grittiness, but I am looking for a way to bring those elements together under BW.

Can this work?


Hi Mike,

Yes, it can absolutely work! Download Burning THAC0 from the Wiki. It’s got a ton of useful advice. There are also quite a few threads here on the forum under the Burning THAC0 tag.

Seconding Thor’s enthusiasm.

I went ahead and created quite a few D&D creations in the BW vein here: Kublai’s D&D Magic Emporium.

Also, Kublai and I once worked up aD&D-esque lifepath setting for experienced adventurers.

Awesome, I had forgotten about those!

Thanks very much guys, you thoroughly rock.

Truly you are gentlemen and scholars.

Oh Man! This stuff is gold guys. Pure gold.

One thing we’re toying with to do the Pathfinder setting is to make low level magic a bit more common. Sorcery, whether traditional or Art of Sorcery, is already plenty powerful, but lowlevel common magic is not in the basic system.

We’re thinking about having a seperate skill for Practical Magic. Perhaps called ‘Cantrips’ or similar… identical to sorcery, to grant practical magic.
Then a weaker version of ‘Gifted’ to grant access to it, at the cost of 2 trait points. Gifted also allows you to use pratical magic.

Many characters have two free trait points and a general skill point. For that investment they can learn enough magic to replace a few skill categories in a pinch.

We might need to limit the number of starting schools a bit, since gaining access to schools of magic equal to lifepaths might be a little over the top… perhaps 1 school for each general skill point you put into it or similar. Perhaps ‘Practically Gifted’ only ever allows you to learn 2 schools of magic.

If you don’t have the Magic Burner, Practical Magic allows Sorcery to be tested instead of a skill catagory (a “School”). You also have to test for Tax at the same obstacle as the skill, though there isn’t the same risk of burning yourself out. It doesn’t grant as much raw power (going into a fight with Sorcery instead of Axe, Sword or similar is not really an advantage… you will either choose not to roll or get taxed fast), but it does grant a lot of flexibility.

The reasoning behind the seperate skill is that it would get kinda annoying for the full fledged sorcerer to be able to use his exponent 5-6 sorcery for spells and a whole bunch of skills… while only investing in one skill.

The MaBu had some simple rules for effects for Folklore skill on magic, and I was thinking I could try to adapt that kind of idea for magic to a Gloranthan BW game.

One idea was to simply let people FoRK Faith, an important part of Glorantha, but reducing the scope of Normal Faith rolls to the Powers each god represented, e.g. Orlanth has Wind, Movement & Mastery. What this failed to do was account for non-thiests.

Another idea I toyed with was a Folkmagic skill, that you could use to FoRK into any skill you learned from a lifepath in burning. That really favoured high skill paths though, as one general skill that could FoRK into tons of skill was a bit overdone. Then I thought you could offer traits for worship of gods or spirits, buying one of those traits gave you access to the kinds of power that fell in that gods purview, for Yelmalio that would be Light, Truth and Fighting. Then you could involke and effect with your Folkmagic as a FoRK for skills you might need during a scene. So a Strength spell might work as a FoRK to a Lock attempt, a Light Spell as a FoRK to Observation, a Truth effect as a FoRK in a DoW, etc.

I never got around to doing a Gloranthan BW game, Instead I’m still running RQ.

For cantrips and other fluffly spells, is it an option to just “Say Yes”?