From a message board conversation with my frequent game design collaborator Nathan Ellebracht, on how he'd change the Burning Wheel game to suit our particular group's style. Be warned! Highly technical content, understandable only by gamers who other gamers think are "too much."
attributes will be derived similarly to how they already are. Steel
and Circles start with a base of B3, and like with stats, backstory may
justify an increase up to B5. Health is still the average of Will and
Forte. Mortal Wound is still the average of Forte and Power, plus 6.
Superficial Wound is still half Forte rounded down plus 1. Hesitation
is still 10 minus Will. I'm dropping Resources, Reflexes and Stride.
I'd prefer to just use coins or other concrete currency to deal with
money issues, the Speed stat will be used instead of Reflexes, and
nobody uses Stride for anything anyway.
You get a number of trait
points equal to 1/4 your character's age, rounded down. Make up the
traits you want your character to have, funny accents, personality
quirks, likes and dislikes, that sort of thing. Any trait like that,
where it's just about how you'll play your character, costs 1 point. If
you want a trait that can occasionally give you a mechanical advantage,
like +1 dice to a roll, then that will cost up to two more points,
depending on how "powerful" you want it to be. No more than two
mechanically-modifying traits per character at creation. You can gain
additional traits in play by roleplaying them, provided the group
agrees. Additional traits are awarded at the end of the session when XP
is awarded. You can also gain additional traits either temporarily or
permanently as a result of disease or injury or a particularly traumatic
experience. Such traits are awarded in play. Traits awarded in play
usually decrease the exponent on a stat, attribute or skill.
get a number of skill points equal to 1/2 your character's age. Skills
are things your character can do that not everybody else can do.
Reading might be a skill in a setting where not everybody is literate,
but if the setting is such that everybody is expected to be able to
read, it's just a general ability that can be handled with a Perception
stat roll. Define your skills based on your character concept and the
setting, and determine which stat or attribute works best as its root.
If two or more stats work best as the root of the skill, use their
average, rounded down. It costs 1 point to buy a skill, they open at
1/2 their root value rounded down. You can buy the first advance on a
skill for 1 point, the second advance for 3 points, and the third for 6
points, but no character can advance a skill more than three times at
character creation. We'll use the Beginner's Luck rules for getting new
skills in play, more on that when I talk about XP and advancement.
Property, gear, relationships and starting cash are determined entirely by backstory, character concept and setting.
Wound, Superficial Wound, and Health all work differently. Your MW
exponent is your max Hit Points, and the Hit Points you start with.
Superficial Wound is your base soak value. When you take damage in
combat, you subtract your SW from that damage, then subtract whatever's
left from your Hit Points. There are penalties for being wounded, from
+1ob, to -1d, up to -5d. Players can distribute those penalties
anywhere within their HP range they wish, provided they are in order.
Your character is incapacitated if any base stat roll would be out of
dice due to penalties or when they run out of HPs, whichever comes
first. A character that runs out of HPs is dead, unless a Persona Point
is spent, in which case, they are incapacitated.
is a matter of making a Health roll. You can make a Health roll to
recover HPs once per "narrative day." The number of HPs you recover is
equal to half the number of successes you roll, rounded up. The Health
attribute is affected by wound penalties, but can never drop
below B1. Recovery rolls can be aided by having someone else use a
relevant skill; their Obstacle is equal to the number of dice the
wounded character has lost, at least 1. Success means the wounded
character gets an extra die with which to make their Recovery roll.
are not determined at character concept, but are created and placed "in
play" in play. Players can have one Belief "in play" at a time, and
they should be addressed directly to what's at stake in the scene or
scenario they are presently involved in. Beliefs can and should change
as soon as the scene or scenario changes such that new things are at
stake and previous issues are resolved. They are basically "This is my
goal in this scene." If you can say, "I can't let X happen," or "I have
to Y," you've stated your Belief. Beliefs should be specific to the
scene or scenario, but not too specific. "I have to kill this
sonofabitch" is a valid Belief. "I have to damage this guy with my
sword" is not.
Rewards and advancement are also pretty
significantly changed. You earn Fate points for playing to your traits,
no more than one per trait per session. Those Fate points are awarded
at the end of the session. It's basically a checklist, verified by the
rest of the players; did you use your accent, did you play that limp,
that sort of thing. You can also earn a Persona Point for playing
traits, if you play those traits in a particularly interesting or
impressive way; for example, substantially changing the story's
direction or having everybody rolling on the floor laughing at it.
Those Persona points are awarded when the impressive use of the trait
occurs, and you can't nominate yourself for it.
You can also earn
Fate points for playing your Belief, but to earn it, you have to play
it in an interesting or surprising way, or in a way that the GM or other
players particularly like. If you make someone say, "That's cool," or
"I didn't expect that," or you play your Belief in a way that helps the
GM open up new plot possibilities or create interesting future
scenarios, you've earned your Fate; one per Belief, per scene or
scenario. You can also earn a Persona point for playing Beliefs, but
only if you succeed in your stated goal. If the stakes of the scenario
(relevant to your Belief) remain unresolved, or if they're resolved in a
way that's contrary to your character's stated Belief, you don't get
that point. These points are awarded when these things occur.
points are plot or campaign rewards. When a major plot point is
resolved, or something epic happens to substantially change the
direction of the story, it will probably be worth a Deeds point. Like
the other artha, it will be awarded when it happens.
tracking skills for advancement every time they're used, we'll
distribute three kinds of XP at the end of the session. For
convenience's sake, we'll use their names for the three kinds, Routine
XP, Difficult XP and Challenging XP. The GM (probably me) will award
these points based on what happened in the session. Generally, it'll be
about 20 RXP, 5 DXP, and 2 CXP per session. You can distribute those
points to your skills or stats how you wish. Skills, Stats and
Attributes advance according to the normal advancement rules, so a B1
skill needs 1RXP and either 1 DXP or 1 CXP to advance, we'll just use
their table. Figuring that up at the end of the session shouldn't be
When you want to learn a new skill, you have to open it
up with a Beginner's Luck roll, and you have to use BL for those rolls
until that skill is learned. To learn a skill after it's been opened,
you have to spend a number of XP points on it (of any variety) equal to
10 minus the root stat(s) value of the skill. So if you want to learn
Mycology or something, and it's rooted in your B3 Perception, you have
to open it by rolling your Perception with a double obstacle (beginners
luck), and then spend 7 XP points of any variety on it, and when you do,
you no longer roll beginner's luck, and your skill is opened on your
skill sheet with the same value it would have if you bought it at
I also intend to make combat a bit more
traditional. We'll use Speed rolls to determine initiative and order.
Damage will be just a straight number derived from your Power and the
weapon's base value. Armor will add to your soak value."
Interesting food for thought.