Beliefs and Instincts (September 2013)

Burning Wheel Headquarters Beliefs and Instincts
Listed here are a series of thoughts we’d like to share about what we do, how and why we do it.

  • We make games. Primarily we make roleplaying games, but regardless of labels, we make games that are played together with friends, face to face.
  • We are not a company. We are a collection of friends dedicated to a rather mad hobby.
  • We fucking love roleplaying games. If you ask us, you’ll hear us go on and on about how and why we love them.
  • We make games when we are moved to do so. When considering a game, we actively seek to shut out other external considerations like schedule, money or trend.
  • We make games we want to play and we play them as much as we can before releasing them. Corollary to that, we play by the rules we design, and design our rules to be used. A game cannot be experienced through reading it, and though our games often come in the form of books, they are no exception to this truism. We hope you play them.
  • We are game designers first and put game design above all else. We love the medium, the concepts, theories and practices. Through our designs we also participate in a cultural conversation and thriving community. We hold the pursuit of and conversation about game design above politics, identity, fashion or money.
  • Each of our games is an attempt to say something new about the art of roleplaying games and game design in general. Each of our games is an iteration of the last, built on the experience of players at the table in an attempt to advance the state of the art in a small way.
  • We speak through our work. Our thoughts, concerns and questions about the world around us are expressed in our work. Rather than editorializing or explaining, we prefer to let the work speak for itself. If you disagree with ideas presented in our games, it is our hope that you design a game to express your own concerns.
  • We believe that a creator should be solely responsible for the publication and distribution of his or her work. To sign over that responsibility is to give another entity power over your ideas. Abdicating that power has proven inequitable for creators. We retain the rights to our work and ensure that any creators who work with us do so as well.
  • We love our fans. We thrive on hearing about how you play, and talking with you about our games and games in general. That said, and this is a hard thing to say, we make games for us, not you. We hope our games will challenge and fascinate you, not cater to or coddle you.
  • We are unconcerned with popularity or convention and will sacrifice a great deal in service of a compelling idea. Though it’s painful to admit, we accept that our games will likely never be popular with a broad audience.

We make compromises every day.

  • We understand that an imperfect game in your hands is better than a perfect game buried on our hard drives. We do our best to make complete, playable games, but deciding a game is “done” and releasing it is always a compromise.
  • We make physical books and goods. We understand that this comes at a price to the world at large. Paper, glue and ink have externalities like labor, fuel, water and waste chemicals. While this doesn’t sit easily with us, we believe the benefits of printed matter compared with purely digital media outweigh these costs: archival quality, efficiency of use and clarity of presentation are primary considerations. Also, we fucking love books.
  • Game creation is one part of our lives. We have jobs, hobbies and relationships that must coexist with our passion for making games. While we have all made sacrifices to bring you these games, it’s important to acknowledge that the games are part of a complex whole, and not the sole focus of our lives.
  • We do not make a living making games. We price our games in an effort to maintain a sustainable practice and we attempt to pay contributors to our games fairly. Whatever is left over is reinvested in future games and outreach efforts like conventions.
  • We exist in an inequitable world and we are privileged to make games and be a part of a massive ongoing conversation about art and design. And while our games or ideas will not change the world, we strive to participate in the gaming culture in an equitable way.


We hope you share our beliefs, but we respect those who do not.
Thank you for reading—and thank you for a decade of amazing games, stories and people. We are truly honored to have shared these ideas and beliefs with you.

Extra Rotam Nulla Salus
—Burning Wheel Headquarters