I’m looking at transitioning a group from Torchbearer to Burning Wheel, and the biggest conceptual hurdle is going from the (very elegant) Mouse Guard Pass/Fail advancement to this crunchy, wonky difficulty table.
The question I’m putting to you is: why?
I can see definite differences between the systems. Both require the character to push their skill in order to advance, but Burning Wheel doesn’t actually require FAILURE, just challenge. Which, after a long hard grind in Torchbearer, is a welcome change.
But why is the difficulty table so inconsistent? It seems like the fraction of dice needed to make a test difficult fluctuates between 50% and 80% as you go up in dice. Is there a reason for this? With most games I would just house rule it into something simpler, but I have learned to give BWHQ the benefit of the doubt.
This is actually my second time writing about this. I think over a year ago I asked a similar question and didn’t get an answer that was any help to me. We tried BW, and things went off the rails with paperwork pretty quickly. My group seems to like everything about the game but this table! I do really like BW and BE in theory and would like to play them. So please, if you have a lot of experience with these games, can you help me out with the following:
Is there some reason not to just make the Routine/Difficult cutoff “Half, round up”? Does increasing the cutoff after 6 dice somehow improve the gameplay?
Is there a super-secret, genius design rationale for why the table is the way it is? Sounds facetious, but I’m serious. Part of me just assumes this is a rough patch in an otherwise ingenious system that got smoothed out in Mouse Guard. The other part of me wonders if it was a deliberate design that has some emergent property I haven’t discovered yet.
Really, any insight you can provide as to why the system works this way (instead of more like MG/Torchbearer) would be a huge help in getting my group to fall in line to try the game. Thanks in advance.