Responding to Burning Wheel -style Beliefs

I’m using Burning Wheel -style Beliefs in two new campaigns, the first time I’ve done so in many years. I’m finding my tendency is to challenge them directly — to say “Even if this?” or “Is that really true?”. This can be powerful, but I suspect it could be frustrating for players if that’s all that I do.

Michael Prescott has a standard list of Belief-response tactics, of which the above (“undermining”) is only one. The original was on the BW forums; a revised version is in a free sample of the Burning Wheel Codex. In summary, the tactics are:

  • Validate — make circumstances such that the belief is fully deserved (their arch-enemy is indeed a monster; the rightful queen is indeed wise and kind)
  • Undermine — make circumstances such that their belief is unreasonable (their arch-enemy is a great guy; the rightful queen is a spoilt, vicious child)
  • Flip — switch from validation to undermining or v-v (their arch-enemy surrenders and promises to change his spots; the child queen shows signs of maturing
  • Oppose — make their goal hard to achieve, put obstacles in the way (their arch-enemy is secure in his fortress deep in the blasted lands; the rightful queen is possessed by a demon)
  • Catch-22 — create a conflict between two of the PC’s Beliefs (their arch-enemy becomes a powerful supporter of the rightful queen)
  • Divide and Conquer — create a conflict between the goals of two PCs (they want the rightful queen on the throne, but she has sworn to kill another PC’s entire family)
  • The Merge — create harmony between the PC group by making two of their goals align (the queen, once on the throne, will be able to cure a second PC’s wasting disease)


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