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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> General Forum --> Gaming surveys --> Unconventional RPGs
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Karma: 102/11
1514 Posts

Unconventional RPGs

As some of you know, I'm a bit interested in unconventional roleplaying games. I wanted to share my interest with the rest of the Inn so I thought I'd make a short review of Burning Wheel, an indy game by Luke Crane and the Burning Wheel HQ.

But then I thought, "nobody's gonna reply to that" so I came up with another idea. "Why not see who else has tried or read the mechanics of an unconventional game and have them post as well?" At the very least, I could add in my own experiences of other games.

That's pretty much what I am doing now. What unconventional games have you tried and what are your thoughts on that game? By unconventional games I mean games that don't use the d20 system (or use a heavily modified one, like Mutants & Masterminds or Spycraft 2.0), are independantly published ("indies"), and/or are generally not widely known (White Wolf's Storytelling system is not unconventional).

To start things off, I want to tell you about Burning Wheel.

Like previously stated, the game is published by Burning Wheel HQ, primarily written by Luke Crane, the newest edition is the revised edition... blah, blah, blah. That's the boring part.

I'll admit I haven't actually tried it in practice. I have read the mechanical bits and much of the character fluff, as well as few pages of the the monster book. The "core" books, those you really need to get a game going, are the "Burning Wheel: Fantasy Roleplaying System" book and the "Character Burner." Additionally, there are the Monster Burner (which I also bought with the other two), the Magic Burner and various setting books (such as Burning Empires and Mouse Guard).

The BW:FRS has all the core mechanics, the BW:CB has everything you need to create a character, and the BW:MB has in depth mechanics and system to create monsters. The Monster Burner is not just a "Monster Manual," it is a detailed monster creation book.

Why is Burning Wheel cool? First of all, it is because it is so different. Let me explain: Each roll has an intent and way to get what you want. Failing your roll does not mean you do not succeed, but rather you do not get everything you wanted. Confused? The simplest example is the battle. My intent could be "I want to kill that Orc." To do it I will use my sword. But, alas, I don't do so well on my roll. I may have struck the Orc with my sword, but I did not kill him.

Another example would be if I were out hunting, my intent could be "I'm gonna hunt a deer." I fail my roll and bring back something considerably smaller, like a squirrel or a bunny. Hardly enough for a group to survive on for long.

I could go on. I won't.

Characters advance rather quickly. There's no XP system, but instead Burning Wheel uses its own advancement system that is based on actual use of the Skill. Additionally, characters can add NPCs they know into the game with a trait called Circle. The trait basically measures who you know and where.

The game is also much both ways for the GM and the players. There are no secret rolls and the GM is constantly encouraged to work with the players instead of working against them. One such idea was to allow the players to work with the GM on making the setting and the story. The GM is also encouraged to spy on the players as they make their characters and build a story for the characters instead of having the players make characters for the story.

Finally, because I'm starting to get into too much details, the best part of the system is how it is written. I, for example, never read a whole book with game mechanics. I scan the occasional pages and absorb what I need to know. I read through the whole book that covered the mechanics. Not in one go, mind you, but no page was left unread.
The book is written in a very personal way, giving the idea that Luke Crane is actually talking to you and explaining the system to you personally. There are a lot of "Is" in it.

I wish I could put it in a more easier to understand way. Once I have actually tried it I can relay to you how well it works for a newby in practice.

But enough about me, haven't anyone tried/read a good game system lately?

Posted on 2009-01-26 at 01:16:54.

Karma: 2/7
22 Posts


I didn't really bother reading this... I just thought it looked lonily with it's one post... so I decided to add it a friend!

Posted on 2009-11-14 at 03:23:52.

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