Saturday, April 24, 2010

Burning Wheel

Burning Wheel is an interesting game written in 2002 by Luke Crane. I recommend it for a good read, if nothing else, but as with my D&D posts, this isn't abut the game itself, but about creating a character. First, though, some stuff about the character creation system. Burning Wheel uses a lifepath system; you choose each portion of your character's life, from birth until when your character begins play. The number of lifepaths your character gets is based on the power level of the game your GM wants to run; for absolute novices, you could go as low as 2 lifepaths, while veterans could go up to 5, and even more potent characters could start with more. Each lifepath gives you points for skills and traits,; some skills and traits are required, while some are just recommended. Also, each of the four races provided in the Character Burner book has at least one special trait; Dwarves have Greed, Elves have Grief, Humans have Faith and Sorcery, and Orcs have Hatred. These traits shape the way each race is played, and are defining factors. Unlike D&D, the characters aren't necessarily mechanically balanced; that is left up to the players.

So, here we go. I've decided to make an Elven character, and to go with 4 lifepaths; that gives me a decent amount, but not an overly powerful character. I want a character who can handle himself in a fight, so I'll aim for a martial career as his final lifepath. So, let's start with the first lifepath. I generally don't play characters from the nobility, so let's try that out; I'll take the Born Etharch lifepath. Etharchs are the nobility of the Elven world, so my character was born to privilege. This lifepath takes up 25 years, and give me 5 General skill points (which can be spent on any skill), as well as 2 regular points, with Elven Script, Etiquette, and Sing. For traits, this lifepath gives all standard Elf traits, as well as 2 points of traits, one of which must be spent on the Etharchal trait. It also gives 10 Resource points.

Moving on, the second lifepath is Attendant; this is essentially the squire of the Elven nobility. This also takes up 25 years, and gives him +1 to his Physical Stats pool. It gives 4 skill points, to be spent in Etiquette, Ride, Brawl, or Sword. He also gets 2 trait points, one of which must go to Calm Demeanor, and 15 Resource points.

As his third lifepath, my character will take Second; this is essentially training to become a Sword Singer, a specialized Elven warrior. The Second path takes up 35 years, and gives +1 to his Physical Stats pool. He gets 8 skill points, to be spent among Song of Bonding, Sword, Knives, Bow, Mending, Riding, and Mounted Combat. Again, he gets 2 trait point, one of which goes to Lesson of One, and 15 Resource points.

Finally, I'll take Sword Singer, but from the Protector path grouping; lets say my character, feeling a sense of duty, spent his time as a Sword Singer in the Elven military rather than training for a noble's guard. This takes up 31 years, and like the previous 2 paths, gives him +1 to his Physical Stats pool. He gets 10 skill points, to be spent between Sword, Armor, Shield, Knives, Brawling, and Song of the Sword, and 1 trait point, which goes to Sword of the White Towers. Finally, he gets 10 Resource points. Totalling the age up, it comes to 116, and the table for Elven ages means that his Mental Stats pool is 9 points, and his Physical Stats pool, with his lifepath bonuses, is 18 points. Mental points are divided up evenly betweel Will and Perception, while Physical points are divided between Power, Forte, Agility, and Speed.

Now, the Elven trait that really defines a lot of what an Elf is is called Grief. Grief is a result of having to watch the rest of the world age and die, while you remain young - the only things that can kill an Elf are violence and an excess of Grief, which causes an Elf to waste away. An Elf's Grief starts at a level determined by a series of questions in the Character Burner book, and if it hits a high enough level, your character just stops doing everything except feeling grief, and wastes away.

There are some derived attributes from other statistics. Health is one; it is the average of Will and Forte, rounded down. It can be affected by a series of questions in the Character Burner, but let's forgo those. Mortal Wound is the average of Power and Forte, rounded down, while Reflexes is the average of Perception, Agility, and Speed, and Steel is started at B3, and affected by another series of questions.

Finally, we have Beliefs and Instincts. Beliefs are what drive your character, and the more specific, the better - so, since I want my character to be a disillusioned Elven warrio who is living among huans to find a sense of himself, let's make one of his Beliefs 'With my own people I am lost - with man, I will be found'. You can have up to three Beliefs as a starting character. Instincts are in-game mechanical triggers that tell how a character reacts to a situation - they tell the GM 'this is how my character will always react in a situation'. Things like 'Always treat others courteously' or 'Never work quickly' are Instincts, and they beat anything a GM can do.

So, at the end of it all, the character comes out like this:

Aelazair, disillusioned warrior

Lifepaths: Born Etharch, Attendant, Second, Sword Singer

Age: 116

Stats: Pe B4, Wi B5, Ag B5, Sp B4, Po B4, Fo B5

Attributes: Ref B4, Ste B7, Hea B6, MW B10, Hesitation 5, Grief B5

Circles: B2 (+1D minor reputation among his former army, +1D affiliation with Etharchs)

Resources: B0

Skills: Elven Script B4, Etiquette B4, Sword B4, Song of the Sword B4, Bow B3, Brawling B3,
Knives B3, Mending B3, Riding B3, Sing B3, Song of Bonding B2

Gear: Elven Sword, Elven Plated Leather, Elven Clothes, Elven Shoes, Printed Volumes, house

Traits: Etharchal, Calm Demeanor, Lesson of One, Patient, Sword of the White Towers, Nimble

Beliefs: Among my people I am lost, among man will I be found; Killing should be the last option among civilized people; Help should be given to those who ask

Instincts: Always act courteously; Never work quickly; Always keep my blade handy

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