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Thread: Jumping from good ol' DnD to BW

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    Default Jumping from good ol' DnD to BW

    Hi all, new Burning Wheel-potential-GM here. I've been reading a friend's BW Classic book, and I'm hooked to the core rules of the game (not sure how different those are in the revised edition).

    My main question is: how to make the transition from DnD 3e to BW as smoothly as possible? I'm not planning on converting a campaign, simply doing this after the current one is over. And in order to reduce the amount of potential responses and better narrow down what I'm looking for, I'll say it now: yes, reading the rules is one thing I can do, I know

    What concerns me the most with the switchover is that BW seems to play differently than DnD in term of adventure structure: in DnD you generally have the hook, the quest, completing the quest (usually delving through dungeons, killing dragons), get your reward, then move on to the next thing. Or maybe the overarching save-the-world quest (which everyone in my group is tired of, myself included. It seems to be a short-term goal killer).

    So... any suggestions in terms of how to change the style of adventures that the BW characters go through?

    Additionally, any suggestions on how to start form the ground-up with the combat system? I'm tired of DnD's hour-long combats (and that's a regular combat), and I'm looking for something shorter, yet satisfying.

    Any help is appreciated. Really!

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    First, start:

    Here
    Here

    Aww, heck, in general, reading through most of the Fevered Circle stuff is a good idea. Especially stuff on Beliefs, as that more than anything is what is going to drive the adventures

    Also, as most people will probably suggest, start only with the first 70-something pages of the book. Add crunchier elements later when the need arises, and don't rush to throw everything in at once. This will help keep your combats, for example, to a manageable level.
    Last edited by vikingmonkey; 09-25-2008 at 12:52 PM.
    Mike Huxley

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    Hi there. Welcome to our forums!

    First things first: I highly recommend picking up a copy of Burning Wheel Revised. Burning Wheel Classic is an excellent game, but we've come a long way since.

    Second, poke around the Fevered Circle category of our Wiki. Some enterprising souls have linked to some of the most useful threads on these boards for running BW. There are more hidden away here and there on our forums, but the threads there are a great place to start.

    (As a reminder though, if you want to discuss something you find in one of those threads, please start a new thread that links to it, rather than posting directly in it. We try to avoid Thread Necromancy around here if we can help it!)

    Thirdly, the Revised book has some great advice about getting a game off the ground. It suggests playing with the first 77 pages of the system book first, and then slowly introducing more advanced systems as the group finds its feet. It's great advice, and I can point to a number of old hands around here that wish they'd listened to it when they started their games.

    Fourthly, download The Sword from our Downloads page. Run it for your group as a one-shot. It's a chance to try out the system without a long-term commitment, and allows them to experiment without risking a character they made. If they like it (and I hope they do!) then you can start putting together a campaign.

    Here's some more specific advice if you get this far:


    1. Set up an interested situation in which everyone is invested. Check out the Game Description here. That's an example of what I mean. It's a compelling situation with no neat answer.
    2. Go back over Beliefs. Everyone should have a Belief tied into the situation at hand. They can all be different, but they should all focus on the situation.
    3. Take the advice in the book and start with only the first 77 pages of the book. Focus on Standard tests, Versus tests, Linked tests, Advancement and Artha.
    4. Pay special attention to Intent and and Task. Fight!, Duel of Wits, Range and Cover, et al, are superficial to Burning Wheel. They are fun but not essential. Intent and Task (together with Beliefs, Artha and Advancement) is the beating heart of Burning Wheel. Remember that all tests--that is, anytime you use the dice--have consequences in Burning Wheel. Consequence is tied to Intent. If you succeed, you get your Intent. If you fail, your Intent is complicated or twisted in some fashion (which can mean failure, but not necessarily). Whenever anyone goes for the dice, make sure to ask yourself: Do I have an interesting consequence if this Intent is failed? If not, just Say Yes.
    5. As GM, it's your job to regulate the scale of the Intents the players put forward. It's ok and even beneficial to suggest that an Intent might be too big for one roll, and to break it up into a series of discrete Tasks. More tasks means more potential consequences means more potential interesting twists and turns in the story.
    6. Encourage the players to take risks in pursuit of their Beliefs. Risk is the flip side of Intent. Whenever you make a test, you risk having to pay the consequence. That should be embraced! Consequences are interesting! As the GM, it is your job to make sure consequences are always interesting, but not always so punishing that players fear to take risks.
    7. Begin introducing the systems from the Rim once the players gain facility with Intent and Task, tests, Artha and Advancement. Resources, Circles, and Duel of Wits are all good candidates to introduce first. Remember that Intent and Task remain fundamental concepts. They don't get superseded because you've added a subsystem. In fact, an action in Fight! or Duel of Wits is simply a more regulated version of a Standard or Versus test in which we specify the scale of your Intent for you. If you choose a Strike action in Fight!, your Intent is to hurt your opponent and your task is the Sword skill (or whichever weapon you're using).
    8. Encourage your players to take some responsibility for the rules themselves. That doesn't mean they have to read the books (although it would be nice). But if someone states the Intent of making a tapestry as a gift for the baron using his Weaver skill as the task, while the GM and the player are talking, someone else should pick up the Character Burner and look up the Weaver skill to give the sample Obstacles to the GM. This sort of thing goes a long, long way.


    Good luck!

    I corner him and stab him in the face!

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    Sweet Buddha, that was fast. And lengthy! Thank you both, Thor and vikingmonkey for the aid, I'll take it to heart.

    There's one particular bit that I'm intrigued in: "Do I have an interesting consequence if this Intent is failed? If not, just Say Yes." Isn't that the basis of conflict resolution? But regardless, what's a good way to develop cool consequences, other than actual play?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsario View Post
    There's one particular bit that I'm intrigued in: "Do I have an interesting consequence if this Intent is failed? If not, just Say Yes." Isn't that the basis of conflict resolution? But regardless, what's a good way to develop cool consequences, other than actual play?
    That'll make more sense once you take a look at Revised. There's a rule in there called Vincent's Admonition, which is "Say Yes or Roll Dice."

    Anyway, all your consequences should stem from actual play. The point is, don't just have the players roll dice for the sake of a roll. Every roll has to mean something.

    I corner him and stab him in the face!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corsario View Post
    Sweet Buddha, that was fast. And lengthy! Thank you both, Thor and vikingmonkey for the aid, I'll take it to heart.

    There's one particular bit that I'm intrigued in: "Do I have an interesting consequence if this Intent is failed? If not, just Say Yes." Isn't that the basis of conflict resolution? But regardless, what's a good way to develop cool consequences, other than actual play?
    Hopefully this doesn't derail things too much, because it doesn't directly answer your question. Instead I figured I'd offer a recent example that will hopefully shed a little light on things and get your wheels turning:

    In our current BW game, there was an NPC (introduced through failed circles) that was guiding us through the wilderness. A few days in, his plan was to sneak away and leave us high and dry. So, he wanted sneak away from the camp and ride off. We (the 2 PCs) decided we didn't care if he got away or not, because that was an awesome twist. Instead, we decided that if he failed his Stealthy test, he'd still get away, but he'd leave his saddlebags behind, which would have something we could use against him later. The reason that was important was because we knew he had aspirations of dukedom and the other PC is a noble. And now we have his saddlebag. Muahahaha!
    -Jeremiah

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    My main question is: how to make the transition from DnD 3e to BW as smoothly as possible? I'm not planning on converting a campaign, simply doing this after the current one is over.
    Before I say anything else, get the revised books. They are a joy to read, and are a steal at $20.

    Ok. Now in terms of playing Burning Wheel, there's a few things you can do! First off, I recommend getting one other player in your gaming group excited about Burning Wheel. This person is henceforth known as your ringer, or wingman (wingman is gender neutral in this case). The reason you need this second person is to sell the game to the rest of your gaming group. A lone voice saying "this game is fun!" sounds doubtful, but if you have two people saying "this game is fun!" then you increase the chances that fun can actually be had.

    In addition, you and your wingman should spend some time learning the game. There's a few ways to do this, but the easiest is to hang out, burn characters together, and have those characters argue and fight to test out some of the mechanics. Now, do this for a couple of hours over some food and drink, until the two of you have the system mechanics essentially understood. Once you both have some system understanding, you can then teach the rest of the group the game system. It's also a source of support. That wingman should be fired up to play, and will be providing you with the backup you need should people be a little doubtful.

    The second piece of advice I have for you really depends on what you mean by transition. When I think transition, I think of a gradual change. And I don't think this is a good idea, as it means that people will take certain habits and things that work in one game and try to use them in another.

    Tell them that Burning Wheel is a different game and don't make any comparisons to D&D. Don't be critical of D&D, because then people will get defensive. You don't want to make Burning Wheel the successor, because that will just rub people the wrong way. I like to reference board games in this sense for the change of system. "we've been playing Monopoly for a while, why don't we try a little bit of Scrabble for a change of pace?"

    My best advice for this is to say you want to run a different game, get out Burning Wheel, set a date to design the campaign and make characters, and see who shows up to play. Talk excitedly about Burning Wheel, and make sure your Wingman also chimes in with their excitement. Now when you get people to show up, you need to figure out the basic concept of the game. Something concrete for everyone to base their characters. This concept should limit character creation, and focus things down.

    Now, you gotta remove a bunch of lifepaths that don't fit the flavor of the game. Sharply define which races are playable, and disallow those that don't fit the game concept.

    The main reason you want to do this is because giving people freedom to create "whatever you want" is a horrible paralyzing freedom. It also may create a mishmash of characters that have no business interacting.

    I quite liked the concept of the campaign being played by the Podge Cast guys. The concept is, in the GM's own words: "PCs manage a noble house and all the politics, plotting, and fighting that come along with it".

    This creates a central piece that all the characters are tied to, the Noble House. This game has been a joy to hear about, and the GM's method of organizing the game has been great. I recommend giving the sessions and setup of the game a read for all kinds of things you can do right to get a fun game going.
    Last edited by Glendower; 09-25-2008 at 02:48 PM. Reason: Paragraphs aren't sentences.
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    Pseudoidiot - That sounds hilarious! Thanks, I get the idea of the circles test and conflict resolution

    Glendower - Thank you very much for the long write up, that solidifies my views on the game and how to tackle the approach to it. I'll see if I can get a decent wingman going, but we'll see.

    Another thing that I'm concerned about: is it explained in the Revised rules how to GM the game? As far as I can tell, the stuff that happens in BW happens through a different mindset than in DnD. I've been reading Luke's solo session write ups, and I can tell it's faaar different from what I'm used to.

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    Someone else will jump in here and give a far better response than this, but here's what I have to say: GMing Burning Wheel is both easier and more difficult than running D&D.

    Easier, because if the players Beliefs are well written, the players (and their Beliefs) are running the game for you. You just sprinkle in some conflict (not necessarily fighting) here and there and some interesting NPC's to challenge the players Beliefs and you're gold.

    Harder because you have to be so much more focused in BW, sticking only to the players Beliefs and trying to juggle those in your mind and making sure that you can get as many players as possible invested in as many scenes as possible. It can be a real juggling act.

    But one thing is for sure, the amount of prep work you have to do is significantly reduced and I find GMing BW to be far more rewarding than most D&D sessions I've run.
    Mike Huxley

    Right, right, well stay where you are because obviously if there was a fire, you'd all be standing down here like this in the lobby. I don't know why we bother, we should let you all burn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikingmonkey View Post
    Someone else will jump in here and give a far better response than this, but here's what I have to say: GMing Burning Wheel is both easier and more difficult than running D&D.

    Easier, because if the players Beliefs are well written, the players (and their Beliefs) are running the game for you. You just sprinkle in some conflict (not necessarily fighting) here and there and some interesting NPC's to challenge the players Beliefs and you're gold.

    Harder because you have to be so much more focused in BW, sticking only to the players Beliefs and trying to juggle those in your mind and making sure that you can get as many players as possible invested in as many scenes as possible. It can be a real juggling act.

    But one thing is for sure, the amount of prep work you have to do is significantly reduced and I find GMing BW to be far more rewarding than most D&D sessions I've run.
    Maybe there's someone out there who can type it all better, but hey, I don't care, I like yours. Thank you for the explanation, I feel like I'm getting closer and closer to reaching the mindset to run BW. I've still some way to go, though.

    If anyone in the audience can provide with examples of contrasting DnD and BW conflicts, that would be fantastic.

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