I’m making a list of Burning Wheel Skills That Will Save Your Ass for the the benefit of some newbie players. Here’s what I have so far: Observation, Persuasion, Inconspicuous, Scavenging, Field Dressing/Herbalism/Surgery, Mending. Anyone have any other suggestions?
Fire building, Orienteering, Foraging and Hunting.
I’d think Stealthy before Inconspicuous -it’s the situations where you’re actively being searched for where you’re most likely to regret not having the skill you need. Falsehood, also, is probably the most common item on my players’ Beginner’s Luck lists.
Ditch Digging, Soothing Platitudes, Arson, Survival, Tactics, Streetwise, Command, Knots, Climbing, Disguise, Etiquette
Streetwise (assuming you don’t spend all your time hugging trees or hiding under rocks)
Wises (of which Streetwise isn’t technically one) - my rule of thumb when creating a character is to have at least (Lifepath Count-1) Wise Skills opened
One of BW’s secret killer apps is that you really can’t cover all the critical skills. Not even close. Instead, you’ve got a toolkit with a saw, screwdriver, wrench and drill… but no hammer. So you’re either going to have to avoid nails or find ways to deal with nails with the tools you have.
It’s also game-dependent. The killer app skills for being a noble with an estate are quite different from the skills of being an itinerant adventurer, and neither one covers exactly what it takes to be a leader of a peasant militia.
Knives & Martial Arts.
Close and script “Lock, Lock, Lock” or “Stab, Stab, Stab” or variations on those themes.
Here’s my general rule - have a combat skill, have a social skill, have a job/craft skill, and have 1-2 Wises.
Aside from what folks have said already:
Falsehood, Inconspicuous, Ugly Truth, Read, Cudgel
is Vs the GM’s Test-Mongering-Wise?
Obviously, I’m being sarcastic, but there is a serious comment buried in there: the most important skill to playing Burning Wheel is being good at working the system.
Ditch-digging? I’m not sure I foresee too many circumstances for that, but I could be wrong…
You’d be amazed how often the creative application of Ditch Digging can get your character out of a jam.
Preparing trenches for Range and Cover? Stopping forest fires? Diverting floods? Creating stumbling traps?
I guess I can see it.
But what sort of thing did you have in mind, Thor?
All of those things. Plus digging out of a cave-in, mucking out an obnoxious blacksmith’s latrine so he’ll fix your armor, digging a new well for a drought-stricken village, digging your way out of prison, etc. It’s a great skill for providing help to Fortifications, Trapper, Prospector, Excavation, Soldiering, Firebuilding, Arson, Farming, Carpentry, etc.
in our Burning THAC0 game, Kublai’s cleric and Fourth Horseman’s dwarf are constantly looking for ways to solve our problems with Ditch Digging and Excavation, respectively. They manage it with some frequency.
It comes in handy when you have to dispose of all those bodies, as well…