Is this right? I just make up stuff based on these first pages?

Hey, everyone.

I just read the first 74 pages of the Burning Wheels, and it’s gorgeous. I’ve been playing D&D for ages, and we’ve forced RP into it to such a degree that, while we’ve been having great RP games, there’s really very little resemblance between what we’re actually playing, and the actual D&D ruleset. So Burning Wheel seems like an amazing alternative.

My question, though, is after the 74 pages, it kind of says to just… go for it. Don’t read anymore, just make characters and do.

Obviously, the rest of the book (I’m buying it, so don’t judge me for acquiring the PDF otherwise so I could get it immediately! :P) is for the rest of the nitty gritty details. So it seems to me that we’re supposed to just make up our own skills and stuff, and sort of… run with it? To start with, anyway.

What it actually says is “I strongly urge you to make a character.” You’ll actually need the next 281 pages to do that. (It’s not as bad as it sounds!) The PDF really isn’t playable, but it gives a full idea of how the rules work.

It’s something of a legacy from the days of Burning Wheel Revised, when the rules and the Character Burner were in fact separate volumes.

Ah - so it does!

I’ve been reading it over, and having a hell of a time making my character :confused: From reading the beginning, it really made it look like the Burning Wheel was designed to be able to be usable in many different contexts, many different medieval settings anyway.

So I’ve been trying to convert my existing pathfinder character over - I really couldn’t care less about the stat block aspects, it’s the person I want. We’re thinking, since we’re practically not using the D&D rules anyway, that we might be able to move the characters over and use them in this existing setting.

The more I read, the more difficult that appears to be. >.> I’m getting there, though, I think… maybe.

Hi Khana, Welcome to the Boards!

BW has a strongly implied setting, namely, strongly European medieval. It’s easily hackable up to early 1800’s, I think. Particularly if you use Human lifepaths only.

The nonhuman lifepaths are designed to emulate Tolkien’s Middle Earth (and after having played every single Middle-Earth RPG ever made, it’s my opinion that BW gets it closest in feel to the source material)

As for playing with the first 74, try lifting a character off of the Crucible subforum. There’s tons there, and they’ll give you the number mechanics.

You can play with the first 74pages, if you make sure that the intent and consequences are clear when you roll. Want to kill somebody? Ignore armor, weapons and damage rules. You roll your weapon skill in a versus test with your enemy. If you win, the enemy is dead. Period. That was your intent.

The key is in having the opposition declare intents like: capture, disarm, injure, run off, drive back, etc. to avoid every single roll be life or death.

At some point, you can start adding in subsystems. Maybe try Bloody Versus, where weapons, armor, shields, etc influence the rolls. That’ll lead to some injuries. So read the Anatomy of injury chapter then.

It can be a very organic progression, until you eventually incorporate all.

The 3 main conflict subsystems are quite similar in some respects. Try Duel of Wits first. Then Fight! then Range and Cover. No hurry.

My advice is to start with an all human group, no Sorcery, no Faith, no monsters. Some nice fighter-types and build up from there. It takes a while to grokk everything.

If you like podcasts, try Shaun Hayworth’s Fire in the Garden, where he goes in depth into every chapter. or check his YouTube channel for examples of gameplay. Try his Olengrav videos:

And this forum is an excellent resource. Ask away!

Here’s the question I’d ask: you say that what matters isn’t the stat blocks, but the person, so what do you mean by that? What is it about the characters that you wish to preserve? Burning Wheel isn’t terribly flexible when it comes to what other systems see as “character abilities”, but when it comes to emulating a particular type of character, it’s much easier.

What I’ve found, though, is that doing a character burn is very much a discovery process for me: I’ve set out to make a lot of characters, and none of them turned out exactly how I was expecting. “Oh; I didn’t realize you were a gravedigger.” “Oh; I didn’t realize you don’t actually command all that many soldiers–most of them come from your second-in-command.” “Oh; I didn’t realize you started life as a coin-clipper in the cities.” It’s a system where characters accrue sediment from their life experiences, and that shapes them.

In your position, I’d try my hand at messing around with the Mannish lifepaths. Create a few characters without thinking of the end result. Just pick a starting point and go to the next option that seems interesting. Once you have some experience, you’ll get a feel for how the whole thing works, and you’ll be better able to make a specific type of character.

I suggest that you read through some of the combats in the Arena sub forum as well as checking out the Crucible. You can learn a lot from reading how others have done things before you. I have spent some time learning from them myself, and it was a huge help (no to mention, a fun read)

You mentioned changing game systems around before. I caution you that burning wheel, although it lends itself well to hacking on some levels, on others even the simplest hacks can lead into a major game break if you aren’t really familiar with the rules. (I too have hacked and house ruled my way through many games that seemed to lack something) Burning Wheel is really a great system, and everything you need to play is in the Gold Edition Book and here in the forum.

There are other books that you can buy, but they were written for the revised edition (still highly useful though), and you don’t need to have them to play in gold. For me the greatest thing and the hardest thing for my old D&D group to adjust to is no modules! Absolutely nonexistent. This game is totally sand box, stories are completely driven by character actions and player desires. No invisible walls forcing character direction, no limitations on how the story plays out, no experience points, no leveling up (no levels), you want to get better at something, keep doing it and push yourself to greater challenges. It’s Great!

For those same reasons I would be more concerned about creating new characters rather than trying a straight transfer from your pathfinder game. Or perhaps, getting the spirit of that character into a new one. A 3-5 lifepath character isn’t going to be able to live up to what you had before (chances are it took your group quite some time to build your characters up to where they are now in pathfinder).

However you do it, welcome aboard!

  1. Download “The Sword” from the PDFs section of the store (or the Hochen characters from the wiki). Take the characters in there and ditch the beliefs about the original scenario.

  2. Find a simple scenario online or in your own collection. Boil it down to some key scenes.

  3. Read the boxed text at the start and have the players make new Beliefs as needed

  4. Play using the first 70-odd pages of BWG.

I love Jennai. I wrote her backstory, and it just flowed like water - her lifepaths, to use the jargon around here. She is a skilled (in certain very limited respects) person who bears enormous emotional trauma from certain past experiences, and generally refuses to accept that she’s anything but wiser and smarter than everyone else, because she knows the “truth” of the world, from those experiences.

In the game, she’s been tried and tested in ways that D&D simply doesn’t account for, but we don’t care, as a group - the dice can go to hell, she’s growing and learning, in her own way. Her, and the other player, both - he, too, bears a storied past. The two characters, despite their profoundly different worldviews, have managed to forge a unique, trustworthy alliance, against a foe that’s too distracted by coin to realize its greed has inspired a need for vengeance.

We are loving this story, these characters, this world that the GM has crafted. The problem is, we’ve gotten to the point where it’s got absolutely nothing to do with D&D anymore. We go whole sessions without rolling a single dice (aside from maybe bluff, or other social-type checks). We toss aside the rules if they don’t serve the plot constantly.

On seeing Burning Wheel, it made us all - every single one of us - grow wide-eyed in wonder at the possibilities. D&D is failing to hold these characters and this world together - we’re doing it by sheer force of will. Stubbornness. Dedication. Fire, if you will :slight_smile: I’d love to find a way to complete and expand this story with the Burning Wheel mechanics, and we’re well on our way to doing so. I’ve read all day, and I’m pretty close to having rebuilt her.

Since we’ve pretty much already been running this world by sheer willpower, by off-the-cuff rules judgements, I’m thinking, after we playtest Burning Wheel a bit with new characters, get the feel of it, we should probably be able to switch it over. Or even just incorporate certain components, as a replacement for the D&D rules we’ve already ditched.

Just be aware that “the dice can go to hell” is not a mindset that works in Burning Wheel.

Well, you obviously have a handle on your character and the story so far, so I doubt you’ll have a problem comming up with beliefs and instincts for her. (Just pay close attention to how they relate to artha and the game.) The Lifepaths can get a little bit tricky first few times out as you have to navigate them to get what skills and leads to other lifepaths you need as opposed to just choosing a class and having a skill-set from that.
I either start with a lifepath and let a character grow from there, choosing whatever looks interesting and following the next logical step in its life. Or, I start with a concept (best way) look at what the last lifepath before the adventure begins should be (knight, sorcerer, bandit, priest, farmer, ect) and then see what I need to do to get there (going in reverse, so to speak).

However you do it, you can post your characters (and a bit about the game they are in) In the crucible forum, I’m sure you can get some feed back and helpful suggestIons from the community.

We began our first BW campaign by converting our experienced D&D characters over. When doing so, you can’t really rebuild them from LPs. You should use the Monster Burner method and just make the PC as she is now. I (and am sure others, too) will help you rebuild her.

Go post the D&D version now in the Crucible forum. Then I can post the BW version for you to riff on.

Burning Wheel is a pretty flexible game. Besides character generation, the rules past page 74 are kinda like “telescoping” stuff: the intent is that you use them sometimes, when you want the detail, and use simpler tests other times when you don’t. An argument can be played out using a simple versus test or a Duel of Wits scene, for instance, depending on how important it is overall.

When we (my wife and I) play, we use the “hub”/“spokes” chapters for like 90% of stuff, only occasionally dipping into the “rim” part of the book. So our gaming is mostly simple tests. The rules don’t “fade into the background,” as some people (particularly those used to 80s/90s RPGs) like to say, because they’re front-and-center when big dramatic stuff happens; but handling time is very quick and we never have to dust off any play aids besides our notes.

Other groups make much more extensive use of the detailed subsystems, e.g. because they like tactics or enjoy the visceral blow-by-blow feel of a full-on Fight scene (BW is pretty great at doing both at once!). They make much more extensive use of the back half of the book. The game’s very easy to tailor that way.

That is very helpful! I’ll have to do that, as soon as I’ve got time - so probably tonight. I’m already pretty confident that, with a few forced trait/LP changes, I was able to “burn” her, as you guys say, pretty well. I’ve got 4 beliefs, though - gotta figure out which one’s gotta go.

Thanks very much! ^-^

Edit: Also, the “dice can go to hell” mindset sounds like it should work just fine with Burning Wheel. Partly because, what I mean by that is actually built in the rules, basically. The idea is just that, it’s the story that matters, not the mechanics. So, for instance, there’s the… what’s it called… roll or say yes thing? Only roll if failure would be significant to the story, not just because you’re using the skill? Stuff like that. Or, using the dice during situations based on the situation - if I understand correctly, you can handle conflict by either just RPing it out (fairly insignificant), using a simple versus thing (more significant), or going whole bore on the thing (I haven’t read those rules yet, but the BOOM! Gotta do this right, kind of situation!) Right? That’s what we’ve been doing already in D&D - that’s what I meant by screwing the dice.

Yes, you only go to dice when both success and failure matter. This is very true. But mechanics do matter in BW, lots. They will limit the player’s choices and restrict your decisions, which will put stress on the character and take them to unexpected places. It’s not that story trumps mechanics in all respects, just that mechanics are used very mindfully as to their effect on story and the player choices they create in play.

Hmm. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out, then, huh?

Our present plan is to get practice with the system by mass converting either whole characters (as in the case with Jennai), or simply utilizing the character concept to create a fresh character more organically with the system, as well as outright making completely fresh characters from the BW system.

Then, we’ll playtest BW bunches, while continuing to play the not-really-D&D game we’ve already been playing. The Sword, of course, will be the first playtest. I figure best to use fresh characters properly burned in its system, to test it out properly. Then maybe screw around with other scenarios.

From there, I expect we’ll have a solid enough grasp on the system to decide what it is we’ll use and how.

I’ve got to say, though, while the stuff in BW is absolutely not compatible with the worlds we’re presently using, it’s nonetheless fantastic and interesting stuff. Grief, Greed, and Hatred in particular look really interesting.

For The Sword you don’t want to make characters at all. Use the ones included with the scenario. You definitely need their beliefs to make it work and it plays best with the balance of strengths and weaknesses built into them.

I agree.

This is extremely true. The meat of the scenario is in the characters, not the situation. Without the characters, it’s just this:
“You’re in a cave. There’s a sword. Now what?”
That’s it. That’s the entire scenario. It’s the way the characters have conflicting stakes in the situation that makes it interesting.

Here’s a video of Luke Crane running it at a convention.

Re-read “Roll The Dice or Say Yes” for the situations where you are allowed to ignore the dice. I’ll quote the important bit here from the rules themselves, though Vincent’s quote is the best description: “… and it reveals a fundamental rule in Burning Wheel game play: when there is conflict, roll the dice. There is no social agreement for the resolution of conflict in this game. …” Conflicts, especially those rooted in beliefs, must be resolved via the rules. A ‘say yes’ moment is usually one where there is nothing on the line, not when failure is insignificant. I’ve said yes to Ob 5 and 6 tests that had no pressure, and I’ve had people make Ob 1 climbing tests where being quiet really mattered a lot.

In the end, Burning Wheel isn’t designed with “the story” in mind. It’s designed around a cycle of creating conflicts, resolving those conflicts, and seeing where that cycle takes your characters. When Luke talks about “… the story is going somewhere.” he’s talking about the events going on at the table right now.