Playing BW in an established setting

I have owned Burning Wheel for many years now, but I have had little opportunity to play it. I ran a game set in Tolkiens Middle Earth back when I first purchased BWR, and we had some fun with it, but a plaayer in my group decided he didn’t like the game and he haas been a major obstaacle in getting my group to play it. He’s a good friend of mine, but he’s a bit of a traditionalist and he doesn’t like the way BW does things (like social combat, intent-based resolution and stuff like that), and he simply doesn’t want to play it.
This year he is moving away though, and I plan on getting my group interested in Burning Wheel Gold.

Ok, thats the background out of the way. Now to my actual question:

I’ve read that many people do campaign-burning or world-burning before playing BW, and seem to have a lot of success with it. I’m not opposed to crafting a new setting before playing in it, but I have a lot of other fantasy rpgs whose settings I absolutely adore, in which I’d very much like to set Burning Wheel campaigns.

What is essential to take into account when starting a BW campaign in an established, published setting? What steps can I take to make BW work for me as a GM and the players when starting a game in a published setting?

Guessing from your name, are you german and talking about Aventurien?

These are my thoughts:

[li]Use only what you (the group) like and ignore what you (the group) don’t like.
[/li][li]Burn your world as a group in the same way as if you were making your own (choosing what details you want to explore).
[/li][li]During “world burning” and during play ignore the canon and insert your own ideas. (Most of your world should be created by the group as you play, whether it is based on a pre-existing universe or not.)
Sorcerer & Sword, by Ron Edwards, has very good ideas on how to create a setting during play.

Hi! Here’s a great analysis on how to adapt a pre existing setting to a story now campaign by Ron Edwards, though it’s not specific to BW I think it’s applicable:

Regarding “world burning” it says that you should do what the group likes and what you are all interested in, characters should not be adventurers (like in almost D&D campaing) nor should they necessarily make a team, they would be playing individual people who live in that setting and are affected by what happens in it

Actuallt I’m Norwegian, and I’m talking about Drakar och Demoner Trudvang. :wink:

Everyone else, thanks for the replies, good stuff. I own Sorcerer and Sword, so I’m definitely going to re- read it!

I would only add that once play begins the Setting is just a tool that the GM uses to focus play on the Characters’ Beliefs and Instincts.

This is actually very important to keep in mind. Though I think the setting itself and exploring it is a vital part of our groups roleplaying experience. In the words of Ben Lehman:
“In Simulationist play, the core of play isn’t about a challenge at all. Rather, it’s about a celebration: Hey, this! This is awesome! Let’s see how awesome it is! Wow, that was awesome! The thing itself isn’t challenged – it has no chance to be tested or to fail.”

The Monster Burner and the Magic Burner have some advises about creating your own creatures and magic systems, so you can use that. If you don’t want to put too much work on it, try not to diverge from classic western-european fantasy settings.

IMHO try not to force a style of play that differs too much from BW, for example: I love the Eberron setting, but the fast, hack and slash, adventuring kind of style that proposes isn’t adaptable to BW, where it’s hard for a character to have heroic abilities, abundant access to magical items and wounds are cumbersome and deadly.

Does it mean that you can’t play adventurous characters in BW? Not at all! But one of the main points about this game its that the consequences of the character’s actions are deep and meaningful, and more often than not, scarring.

Stay cool :cool:

Yikes, this article is neigh un-readable. What I could understand from it I enjoyed though.

Ron never uses one syllable where 10 strung together and borrowed from another context will do. But he’s saying some good stuff about the tension between exploring a setting in play and prepping a plot before play.

I’ve used BW to play and run games in several established settings, including LotR (of course), Three Musketeers, Game of Thrones, and Final Fantasy 1. It’s not that hard, you just have to decide with your players what elements of the setting are flexible and which are set in stone. For example, in the FF1 game I kept the broad outlines of the plot the same, and made some decisions about Garland, Princess Sara, etc, but left a lot of the setting open to PC exploration.

How did you handle Maesters in Game of Thrones?

Student -> Scribe -> Doctor/Physician

or get Scholar in there somehow.

Also a special Trait that gives you an Affiliation with the Maesters Order(? forget what the organisation especially is called…)

I was pondering going the trait route. But an affiliation with The Citadel wouldn’t really be enough to represent the reputation maesters have over all Westeros. Maybe reputation and affiliation? How many points would that be though?

I’d be tempted to make ‘Citadel Training’ a trait with a C-O or Dt ability for Wises in addition to an Affiliation with The Citadel; then ‘Chained’ a trait for those who reached the rank of Maester, giving Reputation and such.

So Citadel Student and Maester Lifepath? The first giving Citadel Training (possibly not as the first trait) and the Maester giving the Chained trait?

Most individual maesters won’t have much reputation outside the area he serves in, as he’s generally just residing in the keep of his lord. It’s the order itself that’s extremely well known and while people will easily recognize you as a maester (what you are) they won’t necessarily know who you are. When it comes to really well known maesters it would be people like the Grand Maester and perhaps those that serve the wardens. In my view it would be enough to have an affiliation, and then add on some reputation if you serve someone very important.

I see it as much harder to give the masters all the knowledge (skills) they need without making them older than they have to be. A mix of a couple of good traits and newly created lifepaths, as been suggested, sounds like a good solution.

I think they could get plenty of the skills they need from the existing LPs. I made a Maester-inspired character. He wasn’t GOOD at anything, but nobody in BW is really good at anything. He had enough points to open the skills he really needed though.

Further, I think that Maesters aren’t all boiler-plate. Some are good at healing, some are more bureaucratic, etc.

That is to say that the existing LPs seem to work (IMO) but a trait would be useful. But if that trait isn’t built into existing LPs, then you wouldn’t get enough trait points, I don’t think. Especially if you had a C-O trait.

I haven’t really checked the lifepaths so I can’t say for sure how good or bad you get. Maesters are supposed to be really competent in quite a few areas though. While there are some small variations between them (maester Luwin has studied magic, for example) there are a quite a deal of subjects all maesters need to learn in order to serve (healing, ravenry, warfare, economics, history etc). As you say they won’t have to be great at everything, but I wouldn’t consider someone that has just opened a skill to be maester material either.

As for a new trait that was one of the reasons I felt like creating a special LP could be good, so you could introduce the trait easily. The other reason would be to give easier access to the skills maesters can learn. Skills involving healing, ravenry, smithing and warfare aren’t that easy to get together and you’d probably want to make that possible if you really want to emulate the Westerosi setting.