New Skill: Macgyvering

After a few request to use a few ordinary items to a different end, I have decided to let one of my players open up the Macgyvering skill. Ob setting is a bit rough. Because what is a ordinary or menial task of Macgyvering. For the moment, I listen very carefully to the intent/task and give an arbitrary Ob. based upon how hard I perceive said task to be. Though I would like to have a least a loose standardization for the Ob’s.

Does anyone have any ideas?

You can link Scavenging into this right?

For sure. It wouldn’t make much since if you couldn’t.

What exactly has the player used this skill to actually do?

Well, so far we have had the following things happen with this skill. All prefaced with linked scavenging skill. (Side note, setting is a post apocalyptic America.)

First was an early detection system around a cave the player was bedding down in for the night. He scavenged some vines for rope, and some foliage for camouflage, and had in his possession a bunch of crushed aluminum cans. (Ob2)

The next day he was trailing some bandits that had robbed him into an industrial building. Scavenging some old chemicals and containers and combining some black powder he already had, he forked in munitions to build a makeshift bomb. He could have just made it with munitions but he choose Macgyvering. Since he wanted to tests towards advancement. (Ob4 I would have let this ride as a 3 but the chemicals he had found were rather old and not nearly as potent as they should have been. Though maybe I should have just made it a disadvantage die?)

After losing his pipe, he decided to make a new one out of a snorkel, and avocado and an ice pick. Which was a brilliant nod to half backed that earned him humor Artha. I would have given him the test but he took the character trait smoker. It was a DoF roll to find these items as it was very specific which he got. (Ob2)

Just a couple of examples off the top of my head that have happened so far.

The idea is compelling, but this reminds me of the old Traveller skill Jack of all Trades. It makes me wonder if this skill is something that could be overused.


I am concerned about it being abused. Kinda looking at it as a cross that bridge when we come to it. At the moment, I just have to trust my players not to abuse it, and tweak the skill as it needs tweaking. Which is something I warned the player might happen as the skill was used more and we got to see how it interacted with the system and the narrative.

If your reaction is “you’d have to be crazy to try that!”, I think it’s a candidate for the skill used. Modify failure consequences accordingly.

I see now. It’s because you’re playing in a modern or post-apocalyptic setting. In BE, it’s called Jury-Rigging. And I was thinking about it recently. I really don’t like that skill as written, though. I’d change it to “create one piece of technology that holds together for one use (either a test or conflict).” And base the obstacles on the type of tech created.


That is pretty much what I have been doing with it. My biggest worry is not being consistent with my Ob setting. As for the one use, it has been implied that it’s only one use by the nature of the skill, but I will make sure to clarify for my players. Also, I would have based the skill off jury rigging if I had known about it. I have only recently discovered Burning Wheel, and with the limited number of table top players that I know in my new area I haven’t had much time to branch out into your other products.

Question for you. Do you think I should continue with the linked scavenging tests, or should procuring the materials be part of the skill itself?

Also, on the one use subject. How do you (or anyone) feel about allocating extra success to extend it’s uses further?

Thanks for popping in and discussing this we me. Major kudos for being dedicated to your player base. Thanks for the awesome system!


Why not use the appropriate crafting skills for what they want to make?

Well, this is more of a make shift I need to pull something outta my arse quickly type skill. I see crafting as actually using legitimate tools and materials to create whatever you may be crafting with at least good craftsmen ship. Whereas Macgyvering is more of, I have this, this and this, and I need to do this. Using whatever is at hand to accomplish the goal.

To limit abuse, you should keep it to one usage per test. And Scavenging should not incorporated into the skill. Keep it a Linked Test.

Are tools required?