Hello my friends,

It’s that time again… PAX East time! The Burning Wheel crew will be in Boston this weekend to bring you all manner of excitements (if excitements are RPG books and cards).

We will have Torchbearer, the Player’s Deck, FreeMarket and the Burning Wheel.

We’re partnered with Rad Adam of Dungeon World, Meg and Vincent Baker, Joshua AC Newman, Epidiah Ravachol and Emily Care Boss. Look, a map!




You can find Adam, Thor and Luke in the Cuttlefish theater on Saturday at 12 noon for our presentation on Modernizing Fantasy RPGs.

Luke is speaking with Ryan Dancey and company about tabletop RPGs on Friday at 3 in the Cuttlefish.

And Adam will be playing the role of the anarchist upstart with Mike Mearls and company on Friday at 7:30, also in the Cuttlefish.


We’ll be running demos as much as we can. Hope to see you all this weekend.

News and Updates

Follow Luke and Thor on twitter for updates. Don’t follow Dro for any reason whatsoever.

Burning Con Is On!

Hello, hello!

Burning Con is happening right now.


In case you missed it, here’s the schedule for this year. So many amazing games happening!



See you at 440 Studios!


Vincent Baker’s Burning Con 2013 Art

Check out Vincent’s awesome illustration (and my hideous treatment) for Burning Con 2013! Vincent has done the art for the past three Burning Cons now. Each illustration features elements from each of the hosts’ games.


Burning Con 2013: The Pentaclagon!

Welcome to Burning Con 2013!
Once again, the event will be held at the labyrinthine 440 Studios in lovely Manhattan on October 18-20th. Our hosts this year are Jason Morningstar (Fiasco, Grey Ranks), Jared Sorensen (Inspectres, Lacuna, Action Castle), John Harper (Lady Blackbird, Agon), Vincent Baker (Apocalypse World and other games people play incorrectly) and Luke Crane (Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard).

The astute among you might have noticed that we’re skipping right over Burning Con 4 and heading right for the big 5! Welcome to…THE PENTACLAGON.

Date: October 18-20th
Price: $50

Register here.

Continue reading ‘Burning Con 2013: The Pentaclagon!’

Torchbearer Kickstarter

Hello friends,

Our Kickstarter campaign is ticking along nicely. Thank you so much for your support. Backers should have received access to the character creation rules by now and we’ll have more announcements starting early next week. Best place to follow along (aside from Kickstarter) is Twitter, Facebook or G+.



Torchbearer Launch, Sign and Stamp


Hello friends,

We’re launching our Kickstarter on Wednesday May 1st at 12 PM, New York Time. It’ll run for 30 days.

We plan on releasing 200 signed and stamped books, but we’ve limited the initial lot to 50 books to ensure that our friends across the globe get a shot at scoring one.

We’ll release another lot of 50 signed and stamped books on Thursday, May 2nd at 9 AM for our European friends. We’ll release another lot of 50 on Friday, May 3rd at 7 PM for our Australian friends.

We’ll release the final lot of 50 at a time to be determined by us based on demand.

Thanks again. We’re looking forward to getting this game into your hands.


-Luke and Thor

Torchbearer Kickstarter

Adventurer is a dirty word. You’re a scoundrel, a villain, a wastrel, a vagabond, a criminal, a sword-for-hire, cutthroat. Respectable people belong to guilds, the church or are born into nobility. Or barring all that, they’re salt of the earth and till the land for the rest of us. Your problem is that you’re none of that. You’re a third child or worse. You can’t get into a guild—too many apprentices already. You’re sure as hell not nobility—even if you were, your older brothers and sisters have soaked up the inheritance. The churches—they’ll take you, but they have so many acolytes, they hand you kit and a holy sign and send you right out the door again: Get out there and preach the word and find something nice for mother church. And if you ever entertained romantic notions of farming, think again. You’d end up little more than a slave to a wealthy noble. 

So there’s naught for us but to make our own way. There’s a certain freedom to it, but it’s a hard life. Cash flows out of our hands as easily as the blood from our wounds. But at least it’s our life. And if we’re lucky, smart and stubborn, we might come out on top. There’s a lot of lost loot out there for the finding. And salvage law is mercifully generous. We find it, it’s ours to spend, sell or keep. 

Torchbearer is a riff on the early model of fantasy roleplaying games. In it, you take on the role of an adventurer seeking his or her fortune. To earn that fortune, you must explore fornlorn ruins, brave terrible monsters and retreive forgotten treasures. However, this game is not about being a hero. It is not about fighting for what you believe. This game is about exploration and survival. You may become a hero. You might have to fight for your ideals. But to do either of those things, you must prove yourself in the wilds. Because there are no jobs, no inheritance, no other opportunities for our deadbeat adventurers. This life is their only hope to prosper in this world.

Torchbearer is part of the brand of games Burning Wheel HQ has been producing for over ten years. So like all of our other games, this is a game about making difficult choices while exploring the world and your character through the game rules and systems. And like all of our games, the heart of the experience is about how your character changes when faced with adversity.

This is a hard game, not a simple one. There are many moving parts and it’s not possible to experience the whole game in one or even two sessions. But if you’re ready to sink your teeth into a good game that will reward you for mastering the system over 10 or 20 sessions, this is the game for you.

The Game

Torchbearer was designed by Thor Olavsrud, our long-suffering editor. It’s based on our 2008 game Mouse Guard. It shares the same core system and concepts, but it adds a layer of complexity in the form of resource management, turn structure and conflict.

In the spectrum of BWHQ games, Torchbearer is advanced Mouse Guard. It’s not as complex as Burning Wheel or Burning Empires, but it’s certainly more involved than Mouse Guard or even FreeMarket. From a broader perspective, it’s Basic D&D on Hard mode.

The Book

The book itself is a 200-page letter-sized hard cover with a four color cover and black and white interiors. We’re breaking away from our traditional digest-sized book as a bit of an experiment. We want to see what it feels like to publish a big ol’ RPG book. And of course it’s an homage to all those great AD&D hardcovers.


We’re using Kickstarter this time because we are out of money for this project. We’ve spent it all on art and editing. To go forward, we need you to tell us if you want to see this game in print.


When you back this project, we’ll send you a PDF of the introduction to the game and the character creation rules so you can prep your dungeon delvers and be ready to go as soon as you have the full rules!

Burning Con FINAL Schedule

Here’s the final schedule for Burning Con 2012.

I emailed it to you along with an update. Check your inbox/spam filter!

Final Schedule Burning Con 2012

Burning Con Scenario Prep

I know you’re all at home busily prepping your Burning Con scenario, so I put together a list of best practices and advice. I hope you find it useful.

Here’s list of basic things you need:

  • An idea of the scenario or situation.
  • Characters. GMs for all games should provide characters*
  • Provide all game materials. Be sure you have the right amount of dice, cards and anything else you’ll need.
  • At least one twist—something new that changes the starting dynamic—but not more than three. Frex: You find a magic sword and must decide who gets it…and then you have to find your way out of the dungeon.
  • Notes, sketches and rough stat blocks for your villains, opposition and monsters
  • Attitude: Be bold, be confident. Players are sitting at your table because they’re interested in your vision. Impress them.

You need a strong idea for a scenario to keep everyone on track during play. Provide characters so you can get right to playing. A scenario that only answers one question can be boring. Be ready to throw in a new element that ratchets up the tension even further (but is, of course, still tied to the characters Beliefs/Goals/purpose etc). Lastly, your scenario will run more smoothly if you have a rough list of obstacles, stat blocks, problems and potential opposition. It won’t all come into play, but it’s useful to have.

What not to do:

  • Don’t sit back and expect the players to do all the work. As the scenario runner, it’s your role to mix up the action and provide unexpected turns.
  • Don’t overprepare. Don’t plan such a detailed scenario that you’ll never hope to finish it in one sitting
  • DO NOT setting dump. If I catch anyone saying more than one minute of world or setting info, I’ll be very angry.
  • DO NOT explain the rules. Demonstrate the rules in small chunks as the game progresses.

Running RPG scenarios is easy. I’m excited because we have so many great players and scenarios. See you all next Friday for the party!

Any questions? Email me at


*Except for In a Wicked Age. Don’t get your mocassins in a knot.


Burning Con 12 is less that two weeks away. We had a last minute surge of registration. That means if you haven’t submitted a game, I need it ASAP. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll refund your registration.
In happier news, I’ve reorganized the priority system to be clearer than last year’s version. I’m assigning you your priorities now.
In a few days you’ll receive an email that contains your priority, a provisional schedule and the address of the Friday night party. If you don’t receive that, please email me (
Thanks for your patience! More updates soon!