View Full Version : Burning Wheel and D&D...Burning D&D?

2008-11-26, 02:17 AM
I don't own Burning Wheel, but I've heard a whole lot about it and some of what I've heard I really like. I'd like to insert a few of those things into 3.5 D&D for an upcoming campaign. If any of the following about Burning Wheel is incorrect or not actually part of the game, I'd like to know that as well (for those of you who actually have the game).

Basically, the primary goal of the campaign is "Take Over the World". Other than that, the whole thing is sandbox. I'd like to have some player-provided ways to spice it up, however, should the need arise. I heard that in Burning Wheel, players have to write down a couple beliefs and goals their characters have. This seems like a good way to not only keep the players active during lengthy roleplaying bits (they're new to the idea of roleplaying rather than just hack n' slash, but they want to learn), but also supply me with a few plothooks or ways to motivate the players if things slow down.

Additionally, I hear that in Burning Wheel, you never "fail" or "die" so much as add complications to the situation that make things more interesting. This idea intrigues me, but I don't know how to apply it completely to D&D.

I was thinking that, perhaps, if a character is reduced to 0hp, they lose relevance to the plot. They still participate in combat in a superficial manner, but they cannot effect anything in a meaningful way. If all PCs are reduced to 0hp, then they don't suffer a TPK or a deus ex machina saving them, but rather they escape, alive, but with negative effects. Broken items, a drop in reputation, the loss of an important NPC ally- something.

Lastly, I absolutely *love* the idea of Burning Wheel's social combat system with the seven different maneuvers. I want to find a way to convert it with as little change as possible to D&D, using skills like Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, and others perhaps made up specifically for the occasion, instead of Burning Wheel's stats.

So, any tips about going about these things? I don't have the Burning Wheel books, so, for instance, I don't know how the stats are balanced for social combat. Also, anything else that would be good to add without fundamentally changing the concept of D&D?

2008-11-26, 02:40 AM
Random thoughts, in no particular order:

(Bear in mind I've only just got up and have had no coffee yet. *blear*)

1. If you want to keep true to D&D style, leave the combat intact. The thing in Burning Empires (not BW but a variation thereof) is that whenever you fight, you do so in order to achieve a stated objective (which is not allowed to be 'the death of my enemies', hence low character death rates). You could try making sure that your PCs don't get into any fights without knowing why they're fighting.

2. Adding BW-style social combat (I hate that term, but can't be bothered thinking of a better one right now) to D&D should be easy. You just need to convert the appropriate BW skill checks to D&D ones and introduce the system.

3. Characters in BW have Beliefs, Instincts and Traits. Adding Beliefs to any system is easy: just have each character list three BW-style beliefs. The trick is to attach a mechanical reward to these beliefs, like granting the character an action point every time they follow one of their beliefs and make things more complicated. (No action points for making things easy.)

Instincts are purely mechanical in nature, and so easy to add. They're essentially three little ways to break the rules that every character gets to pick. You can also hand out action points whenever a character acts on their instincts and totally screws things up as a result.

Traits are both more and less complex. Adding a list of one-word descriptors to your character is easy. Adding the mechanical effects to go with them... is too much for me at 7:30 in the morning.

3a. If you're going to use AP as a reward for following beliefs and instincts, I suggest making them more useful in general. Perhaps enchance them so that you can spend an action point to just make something 'go right for you'. You stabilise from bleeding, the enemies take you captive instead of killing you, you succeed at a skill check, the king names you his heir, all that sort of good stuff.

Alternatively, just run Burning Wheel. You're going to have to read it anyway if you want to do the social combat thing properly, and if you've got a copy of the game...