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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Jun 2018

    Default Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    I have recently heard good things about The Burning Wheel, and it has piqued my interest, especially seeing that it is from the same house that published Mouse Guard RPG, about which I have also heard good things. I'm thinking that it might be my next RPG-related purchase. What has people's experience been with the system? Would you recommend it?

    Seeing as the book is some 600 pages, it would seem that its crunch is fairly heavy, is that accurate?
    What kinds of characters does the system reward? Which does it punish?
    Does it have a magic system? How does it work?
    What sort of story is it intended to tell? How much influence do players have over it?
    Does it have attributes? Which ones? How are they used?
    Does it have classes/professions? How narrow/wide are they?

    I could keep asking questions, but this seems too much already. So if you'd kindly share your experience and answer some of these questions, I'll be very grateful^^

  2. - Top - End - #2

    Default Re: Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSandman View Post
    Seeing as the book is some 600 pages, it would seem that its crunch is fairly heavy, is that accurate?
    It's relatively crunchy, yes. Though the complex subsystems are optional. The game is designed with a "hub and spokes" model. It's recommended that you stick to the hub and then add the spokes in later when you need them and are more comfortable with the hub. For example, there's an elaborate mechanic for duels, but there's also two different much lighter ways for resolving fights that work fine if you don't need the increased granularity of an extended duel.

    What kinds of characters does the system reward? Which does it punish?
    It strongly encourages characters with deep seated beliefs about the world and a desire to pursue those beliefs. The game doesn't work if you don't have that.

    Does it have a magic system? How does it work?
    It has several, based on if you get the supplemental codex or not that adds things like "Art Magic" "Death Art" "Blood Magic" and so on. In the base game you have a list of spells with difficulties. You buy spells at character creation. You roll to see if you cast the spell or not, and then you roll to see if you suffer "tax" from casting the spell, where tax is a sort of spellcasting fatigue that makes subsequent spellcasting more dangerous to cast until you've had a chance to recover. If you fail a spell you roll again to see how badly it goes wrong ranging from "harmless fizzle" to "summon a god" or "permanently destroy all air around you in a 500 mile radius". Spellcasting is powerful but extremely dangerous.

    Some human characters can also have access to Faith magic, which is basically divine miracles.

    What sort of story is it intended to tell? How much influence do players have over it?
    Every character has three "beliefs" which can change between sessions. Things like "The Duke of Provence has done me a grievous wrong. I shall not rest until I am revenged upon him." The players have control over writing these beliefs, and the GM is playing Burning Wheel wrong if they do not focus the game pretty much exclusively around these beliefs. The story is about whatever the players decide is important to them, through their beliefs.

    Does it have attributes? Which ones? How are they used?
    Perception, Will, Power, Agility, Speed, Forte are the main ones. And then you also the secondary attributes of Steel, Health, Circles and Resources. Non humans will have an emotional attribute such as Greed, Grief, Hate or Spite. Some humans will have Faith instead of one of these, depending.

    The first ones determine how many bonus points you start a new skill with. Sword, for example, is rooted in Agility so your sword skill starts as half your Agility. This also affects how long it takes to learn a new skill in play. You also get some derived statistics from your stats, how hard you are to kill, for example, is derived directly from your Power and Forte. How hard you hit is derived from your weapon and your Power.

    The secondary stats only affect themselves. Steel is how resistant to being shocked or scared you are. Health is how quickly and well you recover from being wounded. Circles is your skill at finding allies. Resources is your wealth.

    Emotional attributes all function a little differently, but the common factor is they increase naturally over play based on how much you lean into that race's emotional arc and the character ends if they hit the max in that attribute. Elves waste away from grief, orcs go insane and start attacking everything in sight until they die, dwarves go mad with greed and lock themselves away in their vault with all their treasures, etc.

    Does it have classes/professions? How narrow/wide are they?
    No classes. You make characters by tracing your character's life from birth until shortly before play starts by picking lifepaths, which represent what your character was doing for X number of years, getting their starting skills etc from that. A bog standard knight would be something like "Born Noble > Page > Squire > Knight" A character I played once went "City Born > Street Thug > Bandit > Desperate Killer > Duelist" There's an extensive skill system in the game so it's perfectly viable to have a character that's a baker or a cobbler or whatever. If you want to have a Burning Wheel game that's about your cobbler's feud with a rival cobbler you can do it.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Jun 2018

    Default Re: Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    Thank you for such a complete answer! That's very helpful^^

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anonymouswizard's Avatar

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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    A thing to note is that character creation is not balanced in the slightest. Nonhuman characters get several bonuses, including higher stat pools, access to unique items, bonuses from their Emotional Attributes, and potentially better lifepaths. They do get some drawbacks: the corebook doesn't include the dwarf magic system, elves pay a lot more skill points to be versatile magicians (although less Resources points), Orcs have to give up most of their Hatred to perform magic, and of course the Emotional Attributes can be crippling and take your character out of the game if not managed.

    Even among one stock (read: race) as a general rule the more wealthy the lifepath the more the character benefits, at the potential cost of taking more time (not much of an issue for elves or orcs, and not that much of a problem for humans and dwarves). Which means that yes, a noble will just have more stats, skills, traits, and resources than a commoner. The only balancing factors are: the higher your stats and skills the faster they advance, and that the lower your social standing the more likely you've picked up negative traits that'll give you more Artha.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Jun 2018

    Default Re: Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    How much does that imbalance affect the game after character creation? Can you just play with it or do you need to be careful lest some characters have an impeded ability to affect the story?

    Also, is this Artha some sort of plot-affecting score? (Akin to Fate's Fate Points or Chronica Feudalis' Ardor)

  6. - Top - End - #6

    Default Re: Sell me on The Burning Wheel

    Quote Originally Posted by MrSandman View Post
    How much does that imbalance affect the game after character creation? Can you just play with it or do you need to be careful lest some characters have an impeded ability to affect the story?
    It's recommended that you make characters of the same race, and with the same number of life paths. More life paths equals older and more competent, generally speaking. You can play around this if you know what you're doing, though. Imbalance isn't as big a deal in some games, though, as the game is supposed to be about pursuing what matters to your character. A prince may be more competent as a character than a peasant, but theoretically the prince is dealing with things that matter to the prince and the peasant is dealing with things that matter to the peasant so the imbalance doesn't matter. In practise, of course, it's still a game played in a group so some overlap is inevitable, which is why not going to extreme imbalance is recommended.

    Also, is this Artha some sort of plot-affecting score? (Akin to Fate's Fate Points or Chronica Feudalis' Ardor)
    It gives you various bonuses on single rolls. Fate Points, Persona Points, Deeds Points. The harder to get it is the better the bonus it gives you.

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