What is 'a great group effort' with Aura of Determination

During our last session, a character we had a discussion about what is considered a great group effort. (I am using the gold edition Revised edition version of aura of determination) My interpretation was a group effort where the odds are stacked against you. As an ST I had determined for myself that I wanted at least a high-end Difficult test or challenging test to qualify as a great effort. Or a linked test with great importance to the story.

The situation it was called in was a council meeting where my players tried to politically maneuver past one of their opponents during a speech. Although the opponent had a high willpower with circumstances less favorable for the players. The test (and every conflict they had with him) was routine thanks to FORKS and and helping dices. Social combat is what this character was build for.

What I was missing in the situation to make it a great effort, was a sense of urgency, risktaking of my players. This player in particularly tries to avoid every risk possible he doesn’t throw unless he can get a routine test. Because it was routine I considered not a great effort.

Am I being too narrow here?

What was the subject of the council meeting? What were the stakes?

How much Artha did the player put into the roll?

Part of the juice for Burning Wheel for me is staring down some horrible (and dramatic!) consequence and mustering as many dice to my side as I can. The fact that I want a routine test doesn’t mean the subject of the test is unimportant. Rather, the contrary is true.

I don’t think it’s really fair to say, “It wasn’t a great effort because you tried hard to do it.”

For me, I think it’s about the feeling at the table, more than a high numerical obstacle… Though those often do go hand in hand. :thinking:

I agree: sometimes the most significant moments turn on a routine test because the character sees the upcoming “one chance of victory” and draws deep on everything they can think of.

One possible guide is the Artha awards chart: something that would get discussed for an MVP award at the end of the session if a single player did it feels like it is a significant effort so something a little more extended/difficult is probably a significant group-scale effort.


Right on, man.

I feel like Artha investment in the test itself can be a good guide, too. If I blew three Persona in a test, it was was a big deal for me!

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I like your read. It doesn’t sound like a great effort. In the game, did he fail the test and you declined the use of the call-on?

In our games, AoD only applies to great efforts—narratively significant moments—in which the character is working with a group to overcome an obstacle.

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I’d interpret it differently based on the type of game the table wanted: one where you are measuring meaning purely by what characters care about enough to go all out on is potentially a different story from one where you are measuring it by the odds they overcome.

For example: if I want to buy a present from a cathedral for my religious girlfriend but don’t know much about these things, if I do a huge amount of research and the other three members of the group pitch in to help find the most faithful merchant, &c. is that a great group effort (because we put in lots of work) or not (because buying a present is a commonplace enough thing if no one is actively trying to break you up)?

he did fail the test and I declined the use of the call on. It didn’t feel like a great effort for the reasons I stated earlier.


The subject was a maneuver to clip the wings of a rival of great importance, But I felt like they hadn’t enough on him, a confession under presure, no futher evidence to support it. and I presented counter evidence which they decided to not adress as an obstacle. It didn’t feel like they did enough as a group to make it stick.
I felt it needed more of an effort, and the player is a real social beast, this kind of stuff is routine for him. he does this nearly every council meeting. there was no drama in the speech, nothing was really at stake except for a step towards achieving his believe. hence my call to not call this a greater effort.


Yeah. Doesn’t sound much like a great group effort to me!

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