Forging Beliefs

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I am rapidly coming to believe that Burning Wheel's Beliefs, or something much like them, are a very good way to enhance the role-playing prospects of a game.

I won't claim any particularly special authority on the subject of making good Beliefs; I've played Burning Wheel precisely twice. So I'm keeping a public record here of conversations I have with various players on creating their beliefs, in the hopes that they will provide inspiration to others.

Jormungandr/TheWhaleShark, Nov 21

  • (22:10:17) TheWhaleShark: I whispered the Prophecies to you, but do you think it'd be good to post it to the forum at large?
  • (22:10:32) TheWhaleShark: In the spirit of open character discussion.
  • (22:11:00) Jormungandr: I see no reason why not.
  • (22:11:10) TheWhaleShark: Right then.
  • (22:11:17) Jormungandr: There's really nothing specific there that could be called a spoiler.
  • (22:14:18) TheWhaleShark: You think it'd be appropriate to have all 3 beliefs be in prophecy form?
  • (22:16:24) Jormungandr: I can think of no strong reason against, but one weak one: it might make too much of a one-note character. Perhaps one should relate to something else, but I'll withhold actual judgement until I see 'em.
  • (22:16:43) TheWhaleShark: Yeah.
  • (22:17:11) TheWhaleShark: I think 3 prophecies would make him a bit too..off.
  • (22:17:19) TheWhaleShark: He's eccentric, not crazy.
  • (22:17:40) TheWhaleShark: We'll see what I come up with.
  • (22:32:12) TheWhaleShark: I've got two so far.
  • (22:32:24) TheWhaleShark: 1. Neither I nor Kel'Thuzzad's teachings are crazy, and it is wise to heed both.

2. "The titans will surround chaos and swallow it whole."

  • (22:33:35) Jormungandr: The second is a little too vague and prophetic. Perhaps you could make the prophecy part of the belief, and the rest your interpretation of it.
  • (22:34:03) TheWhaleShark: 2. "The titans will surround chaos and swallow it whole:" The trees will save us all.
  • (22:34:22) TheWhaleShark: Still too vague?
  • (22:34:39) Jormungandr: Will they do this regardless of your actions? Because that would be less interesting.
  • (22:35:06) TheWhaleShark: I was thinking of making something like that part of a 3rd belief.
  • (22:35:17) TheWhaleShark: That none of this will come to pass should I fail.
  • (22:35:41) Jormungandr: Just be as clear as you can about what you're going to fail/succeed at, I think.
  • (22:35:47) TheWhaleShark: OK.
  • (22:38:07) TheWhaleShark: Perhaps:

2. "The titans will surround chaos and swallow it whole." Kel'Thuzzad meant the trees will be invaluable in conquering the demonic hordes.

3. I must teach others what I know; should the Prophecies be lost, none will come to pass.

  • (22:38:41) TheWhaleShark: Headed in the right direction?
  • (22:40:40) Jormungandr: Better. Ideally, I would like the second Belief to tell me how you in particular will make this come to pass. Give it a goal that has an endpoint other than your death.
  • (22:41:46) TheWhaleShark: You mean number 3, right?
  • (22:42:53) Jormungandr: No, I meant #2. #3 works as a general guiding principal, but #2 seems like it could truly be pivotal.
  • (22:43:00) TheWhaleShark: OK.
  • (22:44:30) TheWhaleShark: How specific? Like, "the sap of the great trees will burn demon flesh?"
  • (22:44:39) TheWhaleShark: That specific?
  • (22:45:30) Jormungandr: This would be for a different plot, but I'm thinking of things along the lines of "I must find the Sword of Mana, because only its power can save the world from decay."
  • (22:45:47) TheWhaleShark: Ah.
  • (22:45:54) TheWhaleShark: I see what you mean.
  • (22:45:58) Jormungandr: Something you can constantly look at and say, "Have I done this yet?", and get a clear yes or no answer.
  • (22:46:28) TheWhaleShark: Something like, "The trees hold a secret, one long buried and forgotten, and I must find what that is."
  • (22:46:37) TheWhaleShark: More like that?
  • (22:46:43) TheWhaleShark: Or still want something more specific?
  • (22:47:09) TheWhaleShark: Like, "The trees have a widget/idea that I must find?"
  • (22:49:51) Jormungandr: Add some detail about that secret, and why it's important to you, and that would be fine. Example: "The ancient druids created the Great Trees to contain Pandemonium; I must discover how they did so to contain the next outbreak."
  • (22:50:46) TheWhaleShark: Ah.
  • (22:53:06) TheWhaleShark: I actually like that one.
  • (22:53:20) TheWhaleShark: Though I'm thinking of going with an angle that makes the trees sound sentient.
  • (22:53:33) Jormungandr: Ooh.
  • (22:53:45) Jormungandr: Sounds fun.
  • (22:54:20) TheWhaleShark: So, like, "The Great Trees were born to safeguard Ferath from the demonic hordes; I must garner their favor in order to keep us safe."
  • (22:54:47) Jormungandr: That sounds good.
  • (22:55:29) Jormungandr: You might make another belief (or maybe still this one) say what you can do to gain their attention/favor.
  • (22:57:18) TheWhaleShark: 1. Neither I nor Kel'Thuzzad's teachings are crazy, and it is wise to heed both.

2. "The titans will surround chaos and swallow it whole:" The Great Trees were born to safeguard Ferath from the demonic hordes; I must garner their favor in order to keep us safe, perhaps by forever burying the cursed relics of the past.

3. 3. I must teach others what I know; should the Prophecies be lost, none will come to pass.

  • (22:57:42) TheWhaleShark: "Cursed relics of the past" referring specifically to ancient technology right now.
  • (22:57:57) TheWhaleShark: But perhaps later, applying to old empires that have overstayed their welcome.
  • (22:58:39) TheWhaleShark: That second belief is a beast.
  • (23:00:09) Jormungandr: I have to find the example again, but there's a thread on the BW forums where Thor talks out some of this stuff with another player. The belief they end up with is kinda awkward sounding, but defines that character with fantastic clarity.

Looking at all three, the first and third seem kind of similar. Perhaps they could be combined? This is a thinly veiled request for the third belief to become something that gives you a reason to be in Chorach.

  • (23:00:55) TheWhaleShark: Well, you basically totally baited me with the whole "omen" thing.
  • (23:01:12) TheWhaleShark: And Kel'Thuzzad had a lot to say about omens.
  • (23:01:28) TheWhaleShark: Something specific, maybe?
  • (23:02:23) Jormungandr: Yes. That whole subplot is there so you and Kate have something to gnaw on. It'd be nice to see what your characters think is happening: Did you see the same comet? What do you think it signifies?
  • (23:03:04) TheWhaleShark: How about this for the combined belief:1. Neither I nor Kel'Thuzzad's teachings are crazy, and it is wise to heed both; I must teach them to others, for if the Prophecies are lost, none shall come to pass.
  • (23:03:17) Jormungandr: Perfect.
  • (23:08:58) TheWhaleShark: Perhaps: 3. Kel'Thuzzad taught that the eye of fire portends the awakening of death's gaze. I must meet with the priests in Chorach to find what they know, share what I know, and perhaps form a plan of action against the oncoming trouble.
  • (23:09:34) Jormungandr: That is a level of specificity that I love to hear.
  • (23:09:44) TheWhaleShark: Excellent, then.
  • (23:10:37) TheWhaleShark: And he's up.
  • (23:11:52) Jormungandr: Hmm...would you mind if I copied this conversation onto the wiki? This sort of thing might be a useful reference for the group.
  • (23:12:04) TheWhaleShark: Go nuts.
  • (23:12:12) TheWhaleShark: YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL.
  • (23:12:16) TheWhaleShark: Quote me on that one.
  • (23:12:22) Jormungandr: NP.
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