Lifepaths: Intention vs. Use

When choosing lifepaths in character burning, we are required to take the first (or occasionally second) Lifepath Trait and Skill but are free to spend our skill points on any of our lifepath skills, and Trait points on practically any Trait we can afford as long as we have at least opened our required skills and purchased our required Traits.

This has lead to some character burns using high skill/trait/stat lifepaths with desired leads while only taking the minimum required skills and traits from them.

How much importance should be placed on the lifepath title?

Hi all

In my opinion you should open all skills that are relevant to each selected lifepath that are appropriate to the setting, e.g. if a character took foot soldier without taking appropriate weapons twice would be asked why not?


As much as you like, I’d say. Just because your character was a midwife at some point, that doesn’t mean she was a good midwife, or even a barely competent one … In other words, give the rules their due; the rest is up to you. Or, well, up to your table, if you start twinking out your guy until they feel the need to heckle you.

I’m inclined to agree with Kai/Bobo here. The flexibility of the character creation system lies in the ability to invest skill points into what you wish within reason, as opposed to prescribing everything for you. I love character burning for this reason. Theres only so many options for your lvl 1 class in DnD for example, but a vast amount more in BW even with only 2 life paths. If you really wanted to avoid min-maxing (other than the inherent things in BW that are against it and the suggestion that the group boos the powergamer), simply house-rule that you should spend idk at least 1/2 (tweak as needed) of the skills from a lifepath in that life path.

Sometimes a burn is hard enough without having to heavily invest in LP that only made it in as a lead to bridge two settings you needed for your concept.

Conceptually, it likely means your character did something they didn’t really give a crap about for a few years of their life. Instead, they focused either on something they did previously that they enjoyed more in the past (prior LP skills), or focused on their next steps to get out of that LP (later LP skills).

Consider the people in real life who work a job they aren’t fond of, to pay for school (and the bills), because they have something different they want to do. Now, they obviously will try to keep their job while they pay for school, but I am sure you have seen the minimum competency people can skate by for YEARS on. And when push comes to shove, they’d rather spend time developing skills for their next job than the ones for their current job.

Heck, one of the biggest offenders of the “just here for the skill points” LPs, student, makes total sense that you’d spend its skill points on the things you’d learn in other LPs. After all, you are there to study for SOMETHING, right?

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So true, Kyle. How many folks working at Starbucks are really, really devoted to being the bet barista that they can be? And how many are there that took the job until their acting gig happens?

Also, sometimes a lifepath may provide opportunity to learn a variety of different things, but just because you don’t apply yourself to all those different things doesn’t mean you aren’t dedicated to the vocation, it just means you’ve chosen some path within that vocation.

Also, consider if we applied the same logic to traits, that one should buy most of the traits a lifepath offers, you would rarely have any points to spend on non-lifepath traits…