One of the things I love about Burning Wheel is its unapologetic imbalance. Men are not the equal of Dwarves and Elves stand alone among the races of the world. This inequality is rooted in the same tropes of fiction that our gaming experiences are inspired by. Frodo was not as potent as Strider, Legolas was superior to Borormir, and yet all but Gandalf fled before the Balrog.
My group wants to embrace this imbalance. When asked about the experience level of the group, everyone responded with something different. One player, who has played Burning Wheel before, wanted a more experienced character. Whereas another wanted a lower lifepath character to see how the advancement system works. It was yet another player who suggested the Fellowship of the Ring style group, with differing levels of competency.
So my solution to this varied response is to embrace it. I am going to give the group at character creation a pool of life paths. I think I am going to work it out to an average of 3.5 LP’s per player. But, each player has to take no less than 2 and no more than 5 LP’s. So if someone wants to play a young, wide-eye 2 LP character, he can. This also provides the room in the pool for someone to take 5 LP’s and be the old mentor character.
It will be a RADICAL departure from the standard style of gaming we have at our tables. DnD, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, even Fate all have systems based on characters that are roughly balanced against each other. This game will require more effort from me, but also from my players. People will have to realize that Burning Wheel is a slow burning game, but with time and effort, characters will advance and change. With wildly different power scale between characters, players will have to accept that mechanically they may be out gunned and focus on beliefs, instincts and traits to help define their characters early on.
I have started my Burning Wheel re-read and player handout prep. Expect more on this game today and tomorrow, as my schedule allows!