'The Sword' Wth Two Players

Hello all. I’m looking to introduce some new players to The Burning Wheel. I decided it would be best to run ‘The Sword’ for them to give them an overview of the mechanics. I haven’t run this scenario before, however, so I have a couple questions.

I’m running the session with two new players. I’m looking for a 3rd and maybe a 4th, but I’m going into this assuming that I’ll have just the two.

The question I have is about the pc’s beliefs. Some of the characters have beliefs specific to another PC. Specifically, Robard has a belief about the dwarf: “That dwarf cannot be trusted…”

In the hypothetical situation where one player picks Robard to be their PC, and the other doesn’t pick the dwarf, what should I do?

The way I see it, I can do a few things: I can change Robard’s belief before play, or I could run the dwarf as an npc. I’m kindof leaning towards the latter, since running the unselected pc’s as npc’s gives me some more levers to push and pull. I just want to make sure this is kosher, since I don’t know if this was the intended way to run this scenerio.

Thank you for your time.


@Mark_Watson ran “The Sword” for me and another friend. We played the Dwarf and the Elf with the Roden as an NPC, and it worked really well: even though we didn’t escalate to conflict, having the possibility one of us could negotiate a two-vs-one fight made a more interesting dynamic than a straight one-on-one face-off. Apart from making a pre-gen into an NPC, I can’t recall if/what Mark changed.

My read on the Sword is that the intended way to run the scenario is “expose the players to the idea that BW is all about conflicting beliefs and definitely not collecting loot or being teh bestest fighterz evar.” So, I’d consider anything that adds a new set of levers precisely what you should be doing.


Whilst “The Sword” will sing better at 3+ players, all I did was drop the Human (as the least connected), and have the NPC Roden be “themselves” (their Beliefs are solid on that front), and play the angles.

I seem to recall that I also ran “The Sword” solo a few times, again as a BW-teaching demo.

It was as I was forming up a BW group, and, due to scheduling, I couldn’t get everyone together. There, I think I just let them pick whichever character they wanted, and saw where they pushed it.

If memory serves, there again, dropping the Roden / making them more background worked, as they are a great 3rd / 4th character, but I’m not sure they’d work as well in a 1 - 2 player one-shot.

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Thank you for the replies!

I never considered taking the human out, but it does make sense. I do think I’d like to run one as an NPC for sure. Especially if neither player wants to play the Roden, I think having them haggle the guide over the price for service is just too interesting to cut out.

I don’t know, it’s a lot to think about. In some ways, this is somewhat harder than doing character’s from scratch.

Regardless, I think I’m going to continue trying to find 2 more players, because I think that’d be the optimal way to run this.


I’d be up for playing, if there’s an offer.

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