I Thought Burning Wheel Gold Was All I needed?

Alright I’m a bit stressed out.

I just ordered my copy of Burning Wheel Gold a couple days ago and I was super excited about it.

I was especially happy that it was all in one book as opposed to being spread out through several core books.

Unfortunately, I recently read that BWG doesn’t explain magic in it. I’m a bit worried. Is this accurate? Because I’m not in the position right now to have to buy MORE books.

BWG has Sorcery for Men, Spell Songs for Elves and Rituals of Blood and Night for Orcs, so there’s magic in there. The Magic Burner (which was written for BWR) contains new forms of magic and is overall more advanced, but there’s definitely enough magic to use in BWG (even more if you want to count Faith).

Alright, thank you. I was worried. I was under the impression that the entire mechanic was chopped out only to be added back in later for a book. If I can get 100% out of the game with JUST BWG and not NEED other books, that’s fine. Thanks for the speedy reply!

Some of the Mannish Lifepaths have the skills enchanting or summoning skills, whose rules are not explained in BWG. The enchanting rules are available free from the Burning Wheel Wiki, and you could replace summoning with sorcery (whose rules are explained in BWG) and be fine.

The core rules have Faith and Sorcery for Men, spell songs (and the more mundanely practical skill songs0 for Elves, rune casting for Dwarves, and rituals for Orcs. The Magic Burner adds some more options, but they’re very much optional. It’s worth noting that Faith and Sorcery are entirely optional for Men as well and you can have an entirely successful game without them, either because you decide to have a no-magic setting or because no one takes magical lifepaths. And standard rules restrict all those extra magical options to Men, really. The other races still use their own magic.

And for completeness, the Monster Burner gives Roden (rat men) Faith and Sorcery as well, but Great Wolves and Great Spiders have their own forms of magic.

In my experience, unless you really want your game to be very high magic or about magic the core sorcery rules are the right fit.

I just didn’t want to feel like I was losing out by purchasing BWG and not BWR. I really appreciate the explanations!

In purchasing BWG you are far ahead. If you later pick up MaBu or MonBu they are simple enough to swing over BWG if you’ve become familiar with the rules.

Are there pdf versions of those available? Like I said, I’m short on cash so the thought of having to buy MORE books to get the most out of this is kind of a shock. I imagine pdf copies would be cheaper.


But, you can get a ton of mileage from just the core book.

As has been said, you don’t need the Magic Burner. It’s strictly optional—not in the “you can make do without it” sense, but in the “you can very well decide these rules don’t apply to your campaign anyway” way. It’s a bunch of magic ideas with rules. Very cool, but definitely not always what you want anyway, and certainly not something I’d ever throw into a first campaign. Get used to the core rules first before tinkering!

For my money (and yours!), though, BWG is a steal at $25. It’s everything you need for years and years of gaming with no gaping holes for you to plug with money. (The closest thing to an exception is the lack of monster-making rules, found in the Monster Burner. But I started by making up monsters as I pleased and it works fine. BW is usually about more human-scale opposition anyway—although I suppose it doesn’t have to be.)

Don’t feel like you have to get any more books. In my experience BWG is all you need on it’s own to run campaigns with. That goes even for the long run but especially when you’re first starting out.

So just relax, wait for your copy of BWG to arrive and you’ll see for yourself how you don’t need to worry!

Haha alright you last two did a great job at absolving my fears.

One question to Wayfarer though. How are monsters handled without the monster burner? As a DM from the days of D&D, slaying hordes of monsters usually made sense for certain stories/settings. I realize that BWG isn’t a hack n’ slash, but if I wanted to add monsters/dragons, how is that dealt with?

Again, I realize that’s not the point of Burning Wheel. But every now and then, a dragon really spices things up!

You actually can have a great time with monsters. There are a bunch included in the core rules, and you can use them to inspire further monsters. You only need full stat blocks if you intend to use them in Fight, however. Plenty of combat is Versus or Bloody Versus, and you can really come up with just a single combat skill and its value. Just decide how tough Mr. Monster is and go with that value. Or there are monsters that are non-combat challenges: you need a Stealth Ob (or an Observation value) to sneak past the dragon and loot its hoard, perhaps Climbing to scale the sides of the pit before the slavering jaws of the beast snap up your feet, or a variety of social skills to fast-talk your way around the lumbering troll guarding the bridge.

The Monster Burner gives rules for designing monsters and new lifepaths, but you can burn monsters without that advice. I rarely go through the full burn effort for one-off monsters or anything that’s not going to be in the spotlight, like random encounters. (Note that random encounters work poorly in BW, in my experience, but you might want to check out Burning THAC0 on the wiki, and also maybe mine it for some monsters!)

I’ve never had to use full stats for a monster, after a year of gaming, and that’s not because my campaign has lacked creatures. It sounds odd, but there really is another mindset in Burning Wheel - the interesting thing isn’t the monster as a whole, but how it serves as an obstacle to the characters’ beliefs.

Unless Magic and its various forms are going to play a huge role in your game, I wouldn’t worry about the Magic Burner. As others have said, there is plenty in BWG.

Also, there are a bunch of fan created monsters on the wiki and forums. Tweak and reskin as needed. In truth, monsters are mechanically just collections of stats, skills, traits, beliefs, and instincts just like everything else. You can make up your own without the Monster Burner, though it provides a lot of helpful guidelines, new lifepath settings, a bunch of examples, and a lot of pre-built traits.

I’d modify this. Unless it’s very important to you that your characters use magic with a very different flavor and set of mechanics than are included in BWG you don’t need the magic burner. I’ve had necromancers who work by the power of plot, enchanters who are assumed to enchant off-screen, ritualists who had nothing to do with rules anyone else wrote, and they were all fun. Then I got BWG, and while Death Art and Enchanting are cool and well-written, I didn’t need them.

The same is true of the Monster Burner. The real reason to get it, in my mind, is for the stocks and lifepaths. The Roden are great for many campaigns and the Great Wolves and Great Spiders are bursting with flavor that inspires me, but you absolutely don’t need them. You don’t even need Elves, Orcs, or Dwarves! There are all-Men, no magic historical campaigns, and they can be totally awesome.