On Fires, Part 3

Blaugust Post #31

Burning Wheel has probably the best skill system I’ve read as it relates to skill use and advancement. The basic premise is that you don’t get any better by doing things that are easy. Therefore, you’re encouraged to try things that might be somewhat difficult for your character, because that’s the only way you get better. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but Burning Wheel rules are long and wordy.

To go along with this, the list of skills goes on for pages. There are the expected skills for weapons and fighting (sword, bow, armor training), an assortment of professional skills (blacksmith, haggling, dye manufacture), sorcery and sorcery-related skills (enchanting, summoning), social skills (intimidate, persuasion, falsehood), and some oddball ones like Strategy Games. There are also open-ended -wise skills that act as knowledge skills. Examples include things like Great Masters-wise, Dirty Secrets-wise, and Poacher-wise, in addition to things you might expect like Forest-wise, Noble-wise, and Tools-wise. (You can make appropriate ones up for your character and take them as non-lifepath skills.)

At low skill levels, you can advance with a few challenging skill tests and a few routine ones, but eventually the routine ones stop counting. If you never push yourself to do difficult tasks with a skill that you’re already somewhat good at, it will never get better. Burning Wheel lacks XP entirely, so this skill progression is how you get better. There are a few alternatives to trying things that you’re going to fail at, however. You can have someone else who is good at a skill teach you, which counts toward the number of skill tests you need to advance.

I’ll probably never actually play in this system, but I have talked to Tamrielo (who is my usual GM) about it. He likes the skill system and the fact that violence is rarely the right answer, but not so much all of the incredibly crunchy bits (that I haven’t actually talked about here). It’s a fun system to build characters in though, so I suspect I might just use it as inspiration for some future characters.

Blaugust Complete

Doing this for the second year was interesting. As mentioned, posting every day is a bit much for me, but this did help me get back into the swing of things. I think I’m in better shape to maintain the 3/week schedule I was in for most of last year. I think I fell into the trap Bel outlined last week, but he’s right, the “epic welcome back post” just doesn’t happen. It’s far more productive to just start writing.

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