So I’ve been working around the idea of trying to incorporate the setting of The Witcher with Burning Wheel. It seems to fit pretty well, and a lot of the stuff in the Codex (specifically, the expanded rules regarding Folklore and some of the alternative Sorcery mechanics) seem to lend themselves pretty well to this setting. However, there’s still some tweaking that I think needs to be made. A lot of this involves burning up new monsters, but some of it would be new lifepaths and traits for witchers.
I’ve taken a first stab at the lifepaths and traits for witchers in the blog link below:
Here’s my two early concerns so far:
I used the Page lifepath (Noble setting) as the template for the Witcher’s Apprentice lifepath. I’m not sure that the loss of 10 Resource points balances out with the reduction of a year and an additional trait point.
Part of the reason I added an additional trait point to the Witcher’s Apprentice lifepath is because I feel as though the Mutant trait that grants the witcher sight might be too expensive at 4 pts, but the mechanic is fairly powerful under the right circumstances. I used the trait burner worksheet on the Burning Wiki as a guide, basing it as a Rule-breaking Trait (5 pts) with a Rare Condition (-1 pt). It makes sense mechanically, but from a setting standpoint I don’t think it makes sense for somebody to be able to become a witcher but not be able to afford the trait that all witchers would have.
Full disclosure: this is my first attempt at any type of hacking in Burning Wheel, so please feel free to give me whatever feedback or advice that you have.
Nice! A few thoughts:
Don’t try to cover all the ground with your lifepaths. For instance, Survival is a very useful skill to Witchers, but their training doesn’t necessarily focus on it. I would let them pick it up from another lifepath or learn it by doing once they’re actually in the field. Same with Climbing.
The Witcher’s Apprentice lifepath already has Brawling and Sword. That means the Witcher lifepath doesn’t need them. In fact, I’d probably drop Brawling as a skill altogether. Like Survival, let them get it from another LP or learn it by doing.
Stuff like Folklore seems more appropriate to the apprentice LP. In the flashback to Ciri’s training in Witcher 3, we see her forced to study that stuff. I’d go with something like [u]Skills: 6: Read, Write, Folklore, Sword, Demonology
[/u]4. I’d drop the Crossbow skill. In Witcher 3, when Vesemir gives Geralt the crossbow, Geralt makes a comment about it going against tradition. Crossbows may be very useful to witchers, but it sounds like it’s a nonstandard thing. I’d say the same about axes. And honestly, Appraisal as well. Judging value sounds very useful for witchers, but it doesn’t seem like a core skill.
Sorcery seems like the wrong skill for witchers. Their magical abilities are far more limited and specialized than full-on Sorcery. Maybe their mutation gives them access to Signs instead? Make each Sign a new skill modeled on elven songs?
That leaves the Witcher LP with the skills Herbalism, Haggling, Munitions, Symbology, Alchemy and possibly some Signs. That seems right to me.
It seems like Any Soldier LP is not enough of a requirement for becoming a witcher without being an apprentice. I would beef that requirement up a bit.
I think you should represent the +1 Ob to circles tests as an Infamous Reputation granted by the Witcher trait, but see the next point.
I would model the Mutant trait on the Tainted Legacy trait. Their ability to see the supernatural sounds like the Second Sight trait to me. Maybe take a look at that? Finally, as it stands now, Witcher is the required trait and Mutant is an optional trait. I would either combine them into one trait, or, better yet, leave it as is but make Mutant the trait required to use Signs.
Maybe drop the social Witcher trait to the apprentice LP. I like the idea of an infamous reputation and an affiliation. That’s what you get for hanging out with and training among witchers. That leaves the supernatural stuff to the full-fledged witchers.
Don’t worry about trait costs. These are things you largely want restricted to witchers anyway. For witchers it’s one trait point regardless. I still think 2 traits is appropriate for apprentices, especially with a kind of good and bad required trait.
Thank you both for the feedback! I’ll have to check out the Tainted Legacy trait and work on tweaking based on the advice above, as it all makes sense. However, I do have one further question for Thor - as far as the Sorcery skill goes, I had originally looked at reskinning (mostly renaming, tbh) the existing rules for Art Magic for the witcher signs, which is why I included it in the Witcher lifepath. But I do think the elven song idea is intriguing. Do you think this would be the better way to go for handling the signs? I like that there would be some witchers who would be skilled in Igni but weak in Axii, for instance, which you kind of lose using the blanket Sorcery skill. It would also solve the other issue I had with having witches existing casting actual spells in the same world the witchers would be using a different form of magic, and it would make a clearer distinction between those two domains. I’m just not sure how well the mechanical structure of the elven songs would lend itself to some of the signs like Igni and Quen. Maybe I’d still be able to use the Art Magic rules as a guide for putting together these new skills?
I think either way could work! I immediately leaped on the elven songs idea because of what you mentioned; they tend to be strong in some areas and weak in others. I think I would actually borrow from standard Sorcery, and use Art Magic to fill the gaps. For instance, for Igni, look at Fire Fan. Maybe let it also act as the Firebuilding skill, but at +1 Ob (so lighting a campfire in good conditions with Igni would be Ob 2). Quen could be modeled on Turn Aside the Blade. Axii on the Persuasion spell, etc.
Essentially, each Sign skill would be a single spell that Witchers learn independently. Because they’re magical, the skills would be open-ended of course.
Also, Wayfarer is correct! Add the Witcher trait to the apprentice LP!