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MSV Burns
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So, since the prospect of actually playing Burning Wheel seems remote (sigh), I thought I might try to import some BW-type stuff into games that I can actually get people to play. To whit: Pathfinder.

What I'd like to start with is something with Beliefs. I want each of the characters to write three solid, game-useful Beliefs. This should help in clarifying their characters, but we'll also come up with some kind of mechanisms to use these in play.

To make this easier on everyone, I'm trying to find a nice, compact, linkable (or d/l-able) explanation of what Beliefs are and how to write compelling ones. And I'm not having much luck.

I've scanned through the Burning Wiki without much success. There are some pointers here and there to relevant discussions on the BW forums, and these are great, but they're a little too "inside baseball" for players who aren't actually trying to learn BW itself. I want the perfect one-page nutshell.

Does anyone know of such a resource? Thanks in advance...
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The Harnish
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Beliefs work perfectly with D&D as long as as the DM you're willing to actually use them to shape the story and challenge the character. I also think they need to be written together, as a group, rather than everyone going off and writing them in secret - this is particularly important for D&D games since most are built around the idea that the group is a team.

I've written about using BITs with D&D on my blog a few times, including playtested mechanics (http://rpg.brouhaha.us). I can't provide specific links b/c I'm writing this on my iPad, but if you use the tag D&D you'll find them. I also have a BITs sheet we used (nowadays our "D&D game uses Fate) that I'll try to upload to share today.

As far as how to write them, the best advice is in the Adventure Burner. There are also a few links to outside blogs within the BW forums that are helpful. My tips are just what's written above: Do them together and make them about the campaign and group's situation. You want characters to have unique personal beliefs but for them to mesh well. You'll know if you've done it well if you instantly see where the story should go and what the players want to see.
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Marshall Miller
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I've often thought that BIGs would work better in DnD than BITS. BIGs were from Mouse Guard where each player had a Belief, Instinct, and Goal. The belief was just like in Burning Wheel but the goal was explicitly a short-term session related belief. I think that would be easier for players to grasp than trying to teach them how to craft dynamic groups of functional beliefs.

[edit] Calling it a goal helps players keep the belief immediate.
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Eric Jome
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I've done stuff like this a lot over the years.

One main thing I've done is hand out a secret to each character. Everyone was expected to play off their secret to the best of their ability; secrets were often something pretty specific to the setting. For example, in a recent game, I handed out secrets like "You are sick and know you won't last long... do your best with your last days." and "You are having a secret affair with one of the enemy commanders." and "You have a fortune in gold stashed in a hidden location - security for a rainy day." The point of these things was to give the players something new and different to play off against, a sort of extra rule or constraint. They had right of refusal if any particular one was unacceptable; they'd get to re-pick in that case.

Another thing I've often used is a list of personality traits I've cobbled together over the years. The list is matching pairs of opposites like "worldly or spiritual", "generous or stingy", "kind or cruel", and so on. The objective is to pick 3 to 5 as personality quirks. During play, people earn experience point bonuses when they make choices in the game that they can show are in line with the traits they picked. Rarely, it was available that you could add or remove a trait if you could justify that through major life experiences. This system has usually completely replaced alignments in my games.

One of the great takeaways from a recent look into Burning Wheel for me was to consider that I should have a whole subgame associated with personalities, beliefs, or goals. If you do decide to put something in, make sure there are game mechanics associated with it - I think people will appreciate a side game based on special rules.
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Nathan Roberts
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Remember that Beliefs are Player Flags. In other words they are player-set priorities for what they want out of the game, not character emotions, ethics or points of view. Albiet the best Beliefs are written 'in character' to maintain the fictional premise.

That said:
Write one Belief about the situation at hand that can be achieved this session (the reason the player is interested in the premise of the game.)

Write one Belief about another PC

Write one Belief about a long term goal or aspiration.

Make sure each belief has a standpoint statement and an action statement. 'I think this, and will prove it by doing this.'

Make sure you reward players achieving Beliefs: pure XP, AP, bonus dice, whatever, so long as there is a feedback loop for chasing the priorities you listed on the character sheet!

Challenge the Players Beliefs in play. Don't design encounters suitable to the PCs levels and power, design encounters that challenge their Beliefs. Give them the play they are asking for. If that means no combat, or all combat, so be it, just don't try and 'fit' your players beliefs to your concept of how the story should play out, nor the carefully prepared plot you designed earlier. Prepare NPCS, foils to Beliefs and situational possibilities that cause conflict between the players and within their ideals. Design encounters that make difficult choices for the players (based on their Beliefs) and see where the story goes.
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The Harnish
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As promised, here's the BITs sheet I created.
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William Hostman
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Mease19 wrote:
I've often thought that BIGs would work better in DnD than BITS. BIGs were from Mouse Guard where each player had a Belief, Instinct, and Goal. The belief was just like in Burning Wheel but the goal was explicitly a short-term session related belief. I think that would be easier for players to grasp than trying to teach them how to craft dynamic groups of functional beliefs.

[edit] Calling it a goal helps players keep the belief immediate.


Mouse Guard BIGs are all, functionally, BW Beliefs.
B: an open ended belief
I: a trigger-response belief
G: a belief for the session.

Ok, the instinct can be a BW instinct (I always do X when Y happens), but generally, it winds up looking more like a belief.

If one adds beliefs to D&D, the issue becomes one of "Extra XP?" vs some other benefit. In BW/MG/BE, they don't provide experience, but Artha/Rewards instead. And Artha allows boosting rolls. It's a direct survivability bonus for playing those beliefs in BW/BE/MG.
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Marqos wrote:
I want the perfect one-page nutshell.

I always thought the perfect nutshell was, "Take a minute to think about what your character believes. Done? OK, now keep those in mind as you play your character."
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Nathan Roberts
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E Decker wrote:
Marqos wrote:
I want the perfect one-page nutshell.

I always thought the perfect nutshell was, "Take a minute to think about what your character believes. Done? OK, now keep those in mind as you play your character."


In strict BW parlance this is a great example of Beliefs are not.

Beliefs are a principled to-do list that describe the players priorities for the character and how they mean to achieve them. p.55 BW
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