What expectations to set

I am working on getting a Burning Wheel scenario up and running in my personal group of friends as well as running one at my local game store. I have had one group try to get one started and it fell apart I feel because only myself and he knew what to expect out of the system and just what kind of game it inspires.

For those of us we enjoy this game but want to bring more people in what do you think is the key things to make sure that perspective players know before they join the table so you don’t fall flat on your butt trying to run it for them. This way I can make sure that everyone enjoys the game.

Expect Failure - Failure is a necessary part of the character experience, without failure growth & improvement won’t happen, it makes the fight worth fighting, it makes the tale worth telling.
Expect Loss - Characters might loose everything they love and care for.
Expect Struggle - Fight tooth and nail against failure and loss.

They should know that this system expects players to be proactive, and supports them in doing so. They don’t need to wait around for the GM to throw plot hooks at them.
It also expects them to take risks, and rewards them for doing so.

To add to the above:

Radical Honesty - players (and GMs) need to be open about what they want, the game simply will not function if you do not openly speak your heart’s intentions.

Most crucially in your Beliefs and Insticts (how you want your character challenged) and in play when stating Intent (what you, the player, want as the ultimate resulting outcome from a given die roll) but really though out. On the flip side everyone, especially the GM, should assume this open honesty by others and respect that. In BW you get what you ask for, choose wisely. :slight_smile:

All that stuff is important, but it is also absolutely crucial to create the campaign concept together. (If you’re running a demo one-shot, that’s different.) What is the central conflict? What races are in play? What types of magic? That stuff.

Furthermore, the #1 source of failure of BW games is going to the detailed conflict systems too early. Stay away from DoW, Fight, and R&C until you and your entire group have absolutely mastered the hub.


I’d add to expect to have to separate player and character knowledge. BW generally assumes the players have full knowledge of what’s going on, even if the character doesn’t.