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Grading the Burning Wheel System

How do you feel about the Burning Wheel System?

  • I love it.

    Votes: 19 21.8%
  • It's pretty good.

    Votes: 13 14.9%
  • It's alright I guess.

    Votes: 6 6.9%
  • It's pretty bad.

    Votes: 12 13.8%
  • I hate it.

    Votes: 4 4.6%
  • I've never played it.

    Votes: 31 35.6%
  • I've never even heard of it.

    Votes: 2 2.3%


I’m glad to hear this. I just picked up a copy of The Burning Wheel along with a one day pass to game with Luke et al. at Burning Con in October. I’m looking forward to digging into it soon.

I’d previously only ever perused a copy to get a general sense of the game. But not too long ago, I played in a Mouse Guard game run by @Manbearcat , and I’d like to give BW a shot.

@Autumnal please keep posting your thoughts as you make your way through the book.

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I’m glad to hear this. I just picked up a copy of The Burning Wheel along with a one day pass to game with Luke et al. at Burning Con in October.
Sounds like fun!

And for anyone looking for a BW one-shot, allow me to recommend this one:
The bridge
A situation for two Burning Wheel players and a GM.

Background: A river runs through the Welkwood, dividing the Elven kingdom of Celene and the human lands to the east. It was once traversed by a great stone bridge, crafted by the Elven shapers and a sign of friendship between the two peoples. The Elven bards would greet travellers and welcome many of them as Elf-friends. Seventy years ago, Ansley the Lion of Fax - lusting after the jewels of the Elves - led an incursion over the bridge. In the conflict the bridge was ruined. The Elven Protectors have left it in its fallen state, its stones lying in the long grass and the water. The Elves have retreated to their havens and citadels; and while the people of Fax now repent of Ansley's deeds, they lack the funds and skills to rebuild the bridge themselves.

PC 1: Dagoliir (Age 170 years; Born Wilder Elf, Song Singer, lead to Citadel, Bard, lead to Paths of Spite, Griever, Deceiver)

Will B6, Perception B6, Agility B6, Speed B4, Forte B4, Power B4, Spite B6,

Reflexes B5, Steel B5 (hesitation 4), Health B6, PTGS (Superficial B3, Light B5, Midi B7, Severe B8, Traumatic B9, Mortal Wound B10)

Resources B1, Circles B3, Reputation (+1D) as the last bard of the fallen bridge

Skills: Sing B4, Lyre B4, Elven Script B3, Conspicuous B4, Oratory B5, Persuasion B4, Song of Soothing B4, Sleight of Hand B3, Sword B3, Bridge-wise B3

Spellsongs: Song of Songs B3, Song of Merriment B3, Verse of Friendship B4, Tract of Enmity B5, Sorrow of Truth B3, Rhyme of the Unraveller G6

Traits: Charismatic, Deceptive, Vocal

Lives in the foundation hall of the ruined bridge, on the eastern side of the river; wears Elven clothes but goes barefoot; in the hall are Dagoliir's Elven lyre (+1D), Elven sword and the finery of their former office.

Beliefs: The ruins of the bridge exemplify the ruin of the world - its stones shall lie where they fell, and it shall never be rebuilt!; I will never forget Ansley's betrayal - it's better that I suffer than the humans prosper; I tire of living in squalor and solitude - why do none of my kin relieve me of my vigil?

Instincts: Always greet those who arrive at the river bank - and lift their purse if I can!; Always point out what is flawed; Sing the Rhyme of the Unraveller when anyone tries to build.

PC 2
: Tripp (Age 35 years; City Born, lead to Noble, Bastard, lead to Soldier, Scout, lead to Peasant, Peddler, lead to Outcast, Strider)

Will B5, Perception B4, Agility B4, Speed B4, Forte B4, Power B4

Reflexes B4, Steel B5 (hesitation 5), Health B5, PTGS (Superficial B3, Light B5, Midi B7, Severe B8, Traumatic B9, Mortal Wound B10)

Resources B0, Circles B2, Noble father (the grandson of Ansley) who denies and despises Tripp, Infamous reputation (+1D) among the nobility as the bastard great-grandchild of Ansley the Lion, Affiliation (+1D) with the brave and sturdy woodsfolk of the Welkwood

Skills: Stealthy B3, Foraging B3, Orienteering B2, Observation B4, Mending B2, Sing B2, Etiquette B3, Haggling B4, Persuasion B5, Soothing Platitudes B4, Family Secret-wise B2, Forest-wise B2, Bow B3, Axe B4

Traits: Bastard, Blank Stare, Glib, Happy-Go-Lucky, Loner, Dreamer

Wears the clothes, boots and cloak of a traveller in the woods, and soft leather armour; carries travelling gear, a knife in a belt sheath, a kit for mending, a run-of-the-mill axe and a superior quality hunting bow (+1D).

Tripp has been visited while dreaming by the ghost of Ansley; and Ansley has described how, as the Elven Protectors routed his warband, he hid a pouch of Elven jewels in the foundations of the bridge.

Beliefs: It is a great life, wandering through this wonderful wood; I am not my ancestry; Ansley has visited me for a reason, so I will find the jewels that he cached.

Instinct: Whistle as I walk; Always offer a cheerful greeting; Never start a fight.

Additional setting details: Over the past 70 years, the river's course has shifted and the place where Ansley hid the jewels is now a couple of feet under the water, below Dagoliir's dwelling-hall. The jewels are a +3D fund.

As well as the stones in the river, there are also Dagoliir's old shoes. He lost them wading through the river during the battle 70 years ago. Being Elven shoes, while they are wet and damaged they can be mended.


Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
There’s one of the funniest forward references in the chapter on beliefs, instincts, and traits. Each of these interacts with Artha, some kind of power points.

Beliefs: “Players manipulate their character’s Beliefs and the situations of game play in order to earn artha. Artha is discussed in detail in the next chapter.”

Instincts: “Like Beliefs, Instincts can be used to earn artha. See the next chapter, The Artha Wheel, for more about that.”

Traits: “Traits are more mechanical in nature than Beliefs and Instincts, but they too can be used to leverage artha. And, as you know, that’s all discussed in the next section, The Artha Wheel.”

Start of the next chapter: “You’ve heard so much about it, and here it is: artha.” As someone who once wrote “Don’t be a jerk about this.” in a character creation chapter (in Dark Ages: Vampire, about characters who technically comply with the rules but are wildly inappropriate for a particular chronicle), I’m a really big fan of such touches.

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I tried that, it totally was a "meh" at best. IMO, Not that interesting to run.
Have not run; but as a player was a blast to play. Really helped me focus what I wanted to "do" in the game.

One thing I felt very strongly though was that it was not a "we are a party/team/clan that are all dedicated to the same end goal, but just with different complimentary power sets" trope of most D&D campaigns, at least as I've played in the past. Sometimes/often our PCs were approaching situations orthogonally at least, and some times diametrically opposed. And Burning Wheel can handle it! (and we all stayed friends after) But it did take a shift in my expectations. I gradually reduced attempts to "get us all on the same page" and instead leaned hard into my BITs and let things build dramatically as appropriate. Made for a much more satisfying game by the final fourth session than the first session.

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