Ah Burning Wheel – Part 1

So let me begin this series with a moment of creepy honesty.  I am a Burning Wheel fan boy.  No just a normal fan boy, but a tattoo-having might have scared Luke Crane by cornering him at Gencon with my rabid fandom crazy fan boy.  So you might want to keep that in mind as we go through this re-read series.  It has established itself as my favorite RPG system since my first read through, when I bought a copy of revised.  I am unashamed of my love of this game, and I hope that it comes through loud and clear in these posts.

So that being said, let’s dig into Burning Wheel.  My hope is that through this series of posts, I can collect my thoughts on Burning Wheel Gold (BWG) and distill the rules into a 2-4 page rules cheat sheet for my players.  I am 20 pages in to my dissection at this point, and just reading over the main mechanics of the system.

BWG’s core mechanic is simple.  It is a die pool system, where 4, 5, and 6’s are hits.  You are rolling against an absolute difficulty, which is the number of hits you need to succeed at the task.  Absolute difficulty means that a task, once its difficulty is established never changes.  A lock that is obstacle (Ob) 3 to unlock it, is always Ob 3.  Whether your lock picking skill is 1 or 10, you always need 3 success to overcome it.  Granted, the situation might change benefiting or hampering your character, but the root Ob is static.

Two things stand out to me after reading this section.  The first is the need to engrain in my head and the heads of my players to ask the Ob before they roll.  Ob’s are absolute, so they need to be established, as does the intent of the player/cost of failure, before dice hit the table.  Up until that point, the player has the ability to back away from the test and examine a different approach. 

The second thing that caught my attention is a rules change from Revised to BWG.  Perception tests are no longer open-ended.  Open-ended rolls are rolls where each 6 on the die generates a new die for the test.  It made perception tests very strange to adjudicate in previous games.  I will have to point that out to my players who played in my last game.

Well, I off to read more BWG and write up a bit more for the Outland’s Gazetteer.  


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