How much of a role should the GM take in world burning?

Hi there! I’m new to the forums, having only purchased Burning Empires earlier this year, and having only just finished reading the thing. However, from what I’ve read, I think it looks fantastic, so fantastic I’ve started a PbP on rpgnet. However, we’ve got to the World Burning and I’m a little concerned that I may be importing too many of my traditional GMing ways to the game. Simply put, so far (I’m hopeful this will change) I’ve sort of dominated the brainstorming and discussion, but I’m not sure if I should be playing so active a role.

The book says that “yes, the GM is a player too, in case that wasn’t clear” (or words to that effect), so I’ve been joining in with the discussion and even the voting, but I’m worried that my enthusiasm may have led me astray. You see, on looking at the example of world burning at the end of the chapter, it looks like Luke is just prompting the players to justify and expand upon their choices, rather than getting a vote himself. He challenges a couple of calls and expresses his dissatisfaction with some of the decisions, but he never actually votes. Am I doing things wrong? Should I be sitting back, letting the players create the world with only minimal input from me? And if they take factions, do I get to pick a faction that interests me?

For reference, here’s a link to the relevant thread, though as you can see, we haven’t gotten too far as yet.

Thanks in advance. :slight_smile:

Hey there and welcome!

It’s perfectly ok for you to join in the discussion and to vote. It has to be fun for you too. As long as everyone is clear that you don’t pull any extra weight in World Burning because you’re the GM, it should’nt be a problem.

If you feel that you’re dominating the brainstorming and discussion though, you may consider pulling back a bit. It’s well and expected for you to have an opinion, but your players have probably grown up with the idea that the GM creates the world and the players just go along. That can be a tough habit to break, especially if the GM is in there and mixing it up, and can lead to the players taking a passive role.

Does that help?


P.S. If you haven’t read it already, this page of the wiki has some great advice for first-time BE GMs and first-time players.

Yes, that’s a great help. Thanks! Since it’s sort of connected, I had one other query: is it normal to have PCs working for the other side? In the example of world building, one of the players does so, and throughout the book there are plentiful examples of players screwing each other over. Is this expected behaviour? It just strikes me as a little odd - I see it all the time in traditional games, but in a game like Burning Empires which is seemingly designed to create an explicitly adversarial relationship between the players and the GM, it seems a little strange.

The examples are there for precisely that reason – you see the behavior in other games and players are likely to want to carry it over into Burning Empires. So it’s got to be addressed.

Of course, one of the best tactics the GM has in his arsenal is to turn the players against each other and get them to use their conflicts internally rather than externally. So there is legitimate cause for those examples!


I think a really good way to use the game is to force the players to decide between helping themselves, harming each other, and/or helping each other. My favorite GMFONs are the ones who are actually pretty upstanding citizens – they’re just on the wrong side of the fight.

I guess if I was putting together a list of good themes for BE games, “loyalty” and “consequences” would be on that list.


Ah, cool. Okay, that makes sense - thanks for the help. And I’ll have to try some of these sneaky GM strategies. :wink:

Well, some of your players read here too. :smiley: Of courses, I’m pushing for some conflict between the PCs as well.

Elgorade aka Doug aka Armadillo