Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review of Burning Wheel Gold, Part 1: The Main Book

... sorta. Carpe beat me to it, cause I locked myself out of my house for the weekend, away from my book and computer. So maybe there was some interference. I don't think Carpe's above that sorta thing, personally. I demand an investigation!

What's that? Carpe doesn't live in Kansas anymore? Bah. His family doesn't live that far away from me...

I'm not saying anything. Just... stating facts.


There are a lot of RPGs out there that sport "new and edgy" mechanics. These books are filled with self-important prose, proclaiming how different these games are from, well, Dungeons and Dragons really. There are so many of these bloody games it makes my head spin, so I usually avoid the majority of them, and stick with a few "trustworthy" RPGs: Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, Mutants and Masterminds, Star Wars Saga, and Serenity. Each of these games gives something new and different to my gaming experience. Dungeons and Dragons is Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness gives me my horror kick, Mutants and Masterminds my superheroes shot, Star Wars is Star Wars, and Serenity for a more story-based game, and well, DUH, it's Serenity!

Burning Wheel has joined the rotation. Officially.

Good God this book is sexy

What does it do? It's the character RPG of the group. No, really. This is the only RPG I've ever seen to go this far in making sure that character comes first. "XP", also known as Artha, is given for playing the character according to the Beliefs and Instincts outlined by the player. Your skills increase, sure, but without the Artha it would be a very gritty dungeon crawl. Unfortunately I haven't played the game yet, so this is just a read-through review (and probably a rather shoddy one at that), but Artha really is what makes the game so different. It's given for holding to Beliefs, for making everyone stop dead with laughter. The group is also much more important to gameplay than in any other RPG, since the group can give traits to players and penalize munchkins as a collective, as well as award Artha for roleplaying (unanimous vote, people!). I'm always one for increased player participation, so this stuff's AWESOME in my eyes. It also scratches the fantasy itch that was implanted right along with that pesty little Alien egg when I was kid.

I should probably have a doctor look at it.

To compare this game to Dungeons and Dragons is a bit of an insult to both games, honestly. They're both so different from each other that I hesitate to say they're even related, beyond sharing the fantasy genre (and even then they're on opposite sides). This is a game that competes well with D&D by creating a completely different experience: one driven by player and character just as much as by GM. Honestly, this game is sooo frickin' long (600 pages for the basic book!) that reviewing the whole thing is far beyond the scope of a casual gamer like myself.

I will say this, though: if you want a game system that is focused on character, with a sense of darkness and light that you only get in fantasy, a game that asks questions that no other RPG will even think to ask, if you want a story,  get this book. It's only 25 bucks for 600 pages, people! That's a wonderful steal in today's economy, especially considering that this is really all a player will ever need. Seriously, it's all in here. Are there more options? Probably, but the way this game's set up the options that are here will last a players for decades, in a way that makes other RPGs almost shallow in comparison. I know that, once I'm done with my current Dungeons and Dragons game, Burning Wheel will become my main RPG.

I will be getting the Monster Burner (basically the GM's book) today. I'll get you a basic review sometime this weekend, provided I don't lock myself out of the frickin' house again. Carpe, I will get revenge for your foul play!