Since gaming and RPGs play a pretty important role in my entertainment and social life I was going to start up with a new post in regards to an indie RPG that has really captured my and my groups attention. This is Burning Wheel. now I know that they are not on the intial printing and I am just getting started in what I think is the 3rd rendition of the game, Burning Wheel Gold.
For this Review I was going to review a couple of different aspects that are important to me.
Price Point: The price point, or sticker shock, is usually the first thing that will either sell me on it or send me packing. With a price of $25 for a digest sized book around 600 pages and from what I can tell initially well bound book. I feel that this is a great game for it's price. The only downside to the Digest sized pages is that you will be doing a lot of flipping the book, though the Burning Wheel Wiki has a number of the more obscure and often useful forms that you will use on a regular basis.
Layout: The Book is really divided into 3 main peices. The first section the Hub and Spokes is a how to play the game and the essence of the game. This section talks about the rules but it is more focussed on what the game is striving to acheive. this is a great little change from other games where from page 1 you are working with the rules and then they fill in what the game is striving to acheive. you have after that the actual character creation system. this is unique in of itself with lifepaths in lieu of a class system. what shapes the characters lives and makes them who they are is crucial in this game. finally the real cruch is a section of modular rules that can be added and removed as needed from the game. this is great because some of the systems allow a great deal of detail, I am look at you Fight! but at times it only requires a quick and simple Bloody Versus. More to be discussed about these later on int he gameplay section.
Setting: With Burning Wheel. there is no setting. you are turned loose into a world of your and your groups own making. Letting you own this and letting the story and world develop together.
Races: This is a pretty barebone section. the races are broken down into Dwarves/Elves/Man/Orcs. All heavily influenced by Tolkien and other early fantasy authors. There are a few other races that are presented through the Burning Wheel wiki and through the Monster Burner, only downside with the Monster Burner is that it is written for the revised system, the adaption is not to difficult.
with these things being said I was very happy with the layout the rules and the price and the general feel of the game. made easier with the hub and spokes since that is the core of the game like the name implies. the only thing that I am not 100% satisfied with the game is just the format of the book itself I would of preferred if it was like other RPG books so it did not look odd sitting on the shelf, though taking the book with me is a peice of cake when I am taking that, the monster burner, and magic burner with me as well. not enough of an issue to drop the rating of the game
my play group and I was able to set up and run through a Demo of the game. we used a Demo from the burning wheel wiki simply titled "The Sword." The beauty of this demo is just the simplicity of it. The general concept of the game is just simply you have the found the sword. Now, whose is it?
The player characters are thrust into a multiple direction battle of who get the weapon and it is interesting to see just how each players idea of his or her beliefs come together. This also leads into what I consider the most important part of the game. BELIEFS. The idea is simply that your character is more than the sum of his or her lifepaths, skills, instincts and traits. while important, your characters are their beliefs. if you believe that you are the rightful heir to the kingdom, then you truly believe that and you will work to get to that end goal.
During the play with pregen characters it was a joy to see how my players brought the characters to life and they were able to see things through each others eyes. even when the player who normally likes to kick down the down and kill the monster first was the one hesitating to draw his weapon cause that is what his beliefs were. That hurting ones feeling is better than drawing his weapon.
now for the negative, we used the Vs. rules, duel of wits and touched on bloodied versus. my players jumped onto the bandwagon of lets do Fight!. We did not use posistioning for this system just the general scripting and what we found was that this system can do almost anything that we would ever want it to do. This did come out after almost 2 hours watching youtube demos of Luke Crane running this same scenario explaining Fight! it is a very robust, albeit complex system.
As far as rating I would give the game 4/5 and the only reason for this is because of the learning curve, and that all players should have there own book, and firm understanding of the rules for the smoothest play.
there are more things that I have not covered in this review. I do recommend that if you have been looking for a game were the story shines and the players are truly the heroes of the story then I would recommend taking a good hard look at Burning Wheel Gold. I doubt that you will be dissapointed I know that I wasn't. also the community that you will find on the Burning Wheel Forums is wonderful to work with so there is a community to help you while you grow with the rules and you make better stories with each passing session. With all of this in mind, get burning up your character and making a difference with your beliefs in mind in the world of your creations.
After all with Burning Wheel, the characters drive the story and the story drives the characters.