The Hub, The Spokes... and Magic.

BWG says, when starting play, to use only the Hub and Spokes rules. I’m down with that. I played The Sword a few months back and added in Bloody Versus… and even that was too much for a bunch of new players. Luke has made it clear on many posts that you can handle any conflict, even swordplay, using just the Hub and Spokes. And I believe him. Use only those rules and the key elements that make Burning Wheel what Burning Wheel is can come out and shine. Everything else really does need to be built on top of those basics. And this is a great way to learn those basics, learn the game, and have a great time doing it.

The one thing that’s throwing me off is magic. It seems balanced with many stopgaps. (Will Dice, for example.)

I’m wondering, from people who advocate using only Hub and Spokes in early play, or who have used only Hub and Spokes in early play, whether the same logic applies. Spells, after all, are included in the Character Burner section, so it’s implied you really don’t need to read past Life Paths to be able to build and use a sorcerer. I’m just wondering if there’s value in digging into the sorcerer chapter. Or, if I’m once again being tempted to overthink this. That, in fact, just rolling magic, exploding 6s, and not sweating everything else is exactly the way to play early games.

Please Note! I’m not looking for ways of simplifying the material found in the Rim. If you want to advocate for how to make the Rim material work or it isn’t that hard – I appreciate your desire to help, but I’m not interested in that. I am, again, looking for words from people who advocate using only Hub and Spokes in early play, or who have used only Hub and Spokes in early play. That’s what this thread is addressing.


Treating sorcery like any other skill will work fine, although I’d take some time before the campaign begins in earnest to define what the idioms of sorcery are in your campaign (i.e. what it can and cannot achieve, and how), as well as some sample obstacles for sorcerous tasks (e.g. turn a character invisible, cause fire to rain down on one’s enemies). I’m sure you and the other players will have some ideas about what kind of effects you’d want to see in the game–just run with those at first.

I would recommen not using Sorcery or using that particular bit of Rim. Freeform magic tends to be the hammer that turns every problem into a nail in my experience.

Walk me through this: No magicians as PCs at all, then? I haven’t dug that deep into Burning Characters yet, so I might be misunderstanding you. (I had assumed that one could burn some young sorcerers with a few of the spells listed in the Man section.)

Or are you saying, even if I can burn up some sorcerers, “Don’t do it!”

My preferred solution for lightweight-ish BW is to grab Practical Magic or Art Magic from Magic Burner (it’s a Revised book, but that doesn’t affect most of the subsystems therein). Both are semi-freeform but much more defined in scope, power, and effect than just trying to wing it. I find them about as complicated as Circles, whereas core-book Sorcery is more like learning Range & Cover.

Not at all! But if you use sorcerers I think you really need to use the rules for it even if you use nothing else from the Rim.

Art Magic is a whole lot more user-friendly, but it also requires more understanding of a la carte casting rather than a small spell list. And it requires an out of print book, so not terribly helpful.

Oh, I picked up all the books years ago. (Noble Knight games, I think? Or maybe some long term work on Amazon.) But I did get them all.

Like I’ve said in recent posts, I’ve been circling BW for a while!

Thanks for the info.

I’m still looking forward to Luke or Thor popping in on this. I think it’s fair question – Hub and Spokes alone, per the book – with Magic. What’s the best way to do it?

For what it’s worth. I suggest becoming familiar with the Sorcery Chapter (499 - 521) to get a good feel for the mechanics (any mage player should do the same) a lot of those won’t come into play with versus tests but it’s always good to know.
When playing the hub and spokes the spells are used as written to be the task of your intent.
You do not want to “water down” the consequences of failed spell casting either, so using the Failed Casting section (509) is important too.

It should be relatively easy to do this. Simplyify the spells to single tests, keep most of the spells as direct mechanics (this spell makes you invisible, this spell throws fire that burns people), and roll with it. Turn Spells into skills that you declare Intent with and roll to see what happens. And let the players know that the actual Spell mechanics are a lot deeper, richer and have more consequences involved. As for long-term play, I think using the magic mechanics means using the Rim rules.

I asked a similar question a while back:

I think I’d go with the nine effects of Art Magic, use a versus test where applicable, and a standard test using the Obs listed in the Art Magic chapter. Hope this helps. And as Luke advised me, don’t overthink it, just try to have fun.

That was my thought as well. Task and Intent to determine the Ob and being clear on the consequences of failure.

I would recommend restricting players to Elven Spell songs as a start. The rules for using them aren’t as in depth as other magic idioms, their effects aren’t game breaking, and you don’t have to deal with tax or unwanted summoning or anything.