Burning Game Comparisons
It has recently become common for people to ask about the systemic differences between BurningWheel, BurningEmpires, and MouseGuard.
Here is a rough comparison of the three games.
- BW/BE are lifepath with point pools; MG is pick from several predefined lists.
- BW/BE Skills range up to 10, MG up to 6
- BW skills have a "shade" (Black, Gray, White) that indicates target number
- MG limits to 24 skills/wises posessed, BW/BE don't (Starting characters can have in excess of 30 if one isn't careful)
- MG has 34 defined skills, BE has 121, and BW more than 200; none of these totals include wises.
- MG limits at 5 traits, BW/BE don't limit it.
- BW/BE has 3 belief slots vs MG 1 but...
- BW/BE has 3 Instinct Slots, which have stronger effects than MG's instincts
- BW/BE has no Goal slot; use beliefs instead.
- Using Other Related Skills to assist
- BE allows one wise and one non-wise skill to "FoRK" to a skill roll;
- BWR doesn't set a formal limit, and each may add 1D or 2D depending on level
- MG allows just one Wise, and only a 1D bonus
- Target numbers
- BE and MG always use 4+ for succeses
- BW has provisions for abilities to use 4+, 3+ or 2+ for successes
- Figuring success
- BW/BE meet or exceed the Ob
- MG also meet or exceed the Ob (page 88 of Mouse Guard RPG)
Rewards aka Artha
- MG "Rewards" come in 2 flavors (Fate and Persona);
- BW/BE "Artha" comes in three flavors(Fate, Persona, and Deeds).
- BW/BE have more uses for Artha than MG does, and more ways to earn them.
- Fate points open end a die roll
- Persona adds dice to a die roll, 1 point each, to a maximum of +3D
- MG - may add nature dice to a skill roll for 1 persona
- BW/BE - avoid dying from a mortal wound with 1 persona
- Deeds points double the non-artha dice roll.
- BW/BE traits
- are not combined advantage disadvantage
- don't have levels
- each has a defined specific mechanical effect.
The various types are:
- character traits, only have the effect of generating artha if you play them;
- die traits add dice to skill rolls or change how dice work,
- call on traits allow re-rolling failed dice or breaking ties, but only once per session.
- MG traits
- have levels from 1 to 3:
- once per session bonus die
- whenever applicable bonus die
- reroll failed dice
- all can break ties, but not in the player's favor
- are all combined advantage and disadvantage
- disadvantage use by the player earns "checks"
- once per session advantage use can be reset with earned checks
- disadvantage role is invoked only by the player
Conditions and Wounding
- MG has a 5 conditions, each of which is Boolean.
- BW has 6 different levels of wound, each of which can be taken multiple times, and each time incurs a penalty to further actions.
- BE has 4 levels of wound, again, each can be taken multiple times.
- BW/BE Mortal Wounds require spending artha to survive them.
"Emotional Attributes" and Nature
- Mouse guard has one: Nature.
- BW has one per major race, plus two in Jihad, plus (IIRC) 2 in Blossoms are Falling, and 2 in Under a Serpent Sun, and several in Magic Burner. Each is some form of price/thematic fight against one's baser instincts... Like nature, when they get too high, the character is out of play.
- BE does not have any!
- MG none explicit. Nature has some paranormal function in that it can be:
- substituted for any skill, and
- with a persona, can double skill.
- BE "Psychology" is a telepathy type ability if the bright mark possessed.
- BW has several in core (Dwarven & Elven Craft Skills, Elven Songs, Human Sorcery, Orc Sorcery), and 8 more in Magic Burner; Several more in Jihad (Ancestry, Fanaticism, Simhanada, Analyst) of far more narrow construction.
- MG is count successes and Failures
- BW/BE exponent (skill level) advancement is count number of tasks by difficulty - Challenging (Ob > dice before adding artha) Difficult (Ob > dice -3 and Ob > 1/2 dice), or routine. Only a few abilities require that you succeed to count the test; it's not about success, as facing challenges.
- BW/BE advancement for skills gets much harder once you hit level 5.
- BW/BE dice from artha don't count for figuring the experience category, so if you need to succeed on those challenging tests (which are absolutely needed for skills of level 5+) you will need to spend artha.
- BW "Shade Shifting" (permanent lowering of the target number for successes) is by tracking artha spent on a particular skill and is frightfully expensive...
Extended Resolution Systems
The Systems in Each Game
- MG: 1, used for a variety of purposes, driven by reduction of Disposition. 4 choices. Script 3 actions
- BE: 4 DoW, Firefight, I corner him and stab him with my knife, Infection
- BW: 3 DoW, Range & Cover, Fight!
- Jihad: adds a 4th to BW: Propaganda War
The Systems in a Nutshell
- DoW: Duel of Wits - Body of Argument (Disposition) driven, 7 action choices, script 3 actions. a few resolution differences between BW/BE, but in really minor ways due to different skill lists. Pretty much only for Arguments and convincings.
- Fight: No disposition. 12 options for actions; Script (speed stat, typically 2-8) actions total over 3 volleys. Ends when one side flees, can't fight any more, or both sides agree to stop.
- Range and Cover: No disposition. script 3 actions, 3 choices. End by damage or movement out of range.
- Firefight: Disposition driven. Scale is intended for units, not individuals, but includes ability to use individuals as units. Uses a map generated during resolution. Script 3 actions; 9 choices. Subsystem for individuals in close combat. Ends when all remaining units agree to do so, units can be killed or injured out, or can be "broken" by losing all disposition.
- I Corner Him and Stab Him With My Knife - Mini Firefight. Only 3 action choices, but otherwise, it's a subset of Firefight.
- Infection: Disposition driven. script 1 action from 8 choices; play half a session of other stuff, then resolve. Some of that other stuff may enable modifiers to the infection action. Drives BE as a metaplot.
- Propaganda War: Disposition Driven. Not Scripted per se; you script one action, then play out the action, then resolve the propaganda war meta-action. Drives Jihad as a metaplot.
- MG has missions broken into GM turn and Player turn
- BE has a scene budget; each player (and the GM) get a limited number of scenes after scripting the infection action but before resolving it. Players have to move to the "authorial" stance routinely.
- BW has no framework built in
- MG is very focused, and has few mechanical options, streamlined mechanics, but still maintains the core concepts. Simple enough for literate children to play effectively, but not written as a child's game. Definitely aimed at adults. Excellent introductory game.
- BE is less focused mechanically, having several options, but fairly structured in play. Not really a game for novices, as it requires everyone to narrate scenes, or at least set them.
- BW is a toolkit with a few assumptions built in.
Abbreviations and Terms
- Burning Wheel (both BWC and BWR)
- Jihad, Blossoms are Falling, and Under a Serpent Sun are supplements for BW
- Burning Empires
- Mouse Guard
- Burning Wheel, specifically the revised edition.
- Burning Wheel, specifically the classic edition
- Duel of Wits.
History of this page
This is a reformat and expansion from a forum post by Aramis. Wikified by Aramis on 28 Mar 2009, based upon Luke's suggestion that it needed to be put somewhere obvious.