Geek Girls Rule! Review of Burning Wheel
From Burning Wiki
The review: As I said a few weeks ago, the Mister and I have been doing some one-on-one gaming using Burning Wheel by Luke Crane. Burning Wheel is not actually designed for one-on-one, but it works well for it. Character creation is less time intensive than GURPS, and resembles Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, in that you get certain skills for choosing certain “Lifepaths,” an analog to careers, as opposed to going over a huge list of skills and kind of losing your mind over all the neat stuff… Not that I’ve ever done that or anything. Now, coming up with a character concept and trying to reverse engineer it backwards to where you would have had to begun for that Lifepath can be a bit of a pain in the ass, but it’s hardly insurmountable, or really anything more than a minor annoyance.
However, unlike Warhammer FRP, you are not completely useless as a new player character. As much as I adore the world of Warhammer, the frustration of trying to a get a first level character to anything resembling useful drives me absolutely bonkers. In Warhammer FRP, a first level healer can’t even competently bandage a simple scrape, a first level fighter is lucky not to stab themselves in the foot. My brand new Burning Wheel character held her in own in several fights, without armor, something you’d expect of any character who had devoted her life to assassination as an art form. This does however, lead me to the one thing that drives me crazy about Burning Wheel so far.
I am not a fan of the combat system so far. Hell, I’m not even sure I can accurately describe it in order to convey my disgruntlement. You take the number of attacks and divide them up among three turns, blindly, unaware of your opponent’s intended actions. You have a limited number of types of actions you can take, although your descriptions of how you achieve them are unfettered. It just makes me a touch cranky, particularly waiting for the Mister to finish sorting out his attacks. I get itchy when combat hits and am not enamored of anything leading to delays. Besides, I do not agree that the blind response adequately mimics actual combat.
I do really like the fluidity of the world. And I love that Burning Wheel has the Monster Burner, that allows you to play monstrous races as player characters. I also like that each time you use a skill, that contributes to its increase, even if you don’t succeed, as opposed to leveling where, as the Mister and friends put it, “I just killed a bunch of goblins, now I can swim and speak Elvish better!” I’m sure I’ll discover more likes and peeves as I play it, but for right now while Burning Wheel is crunchier than I’d choose for anything I would run, it isn’t crunchy enough to run me off. And there’s no alignments. Woot!