In Why I Love the Burning Wheel, at about 39 minutes in the author explains that Wises can be used either to ask for information about the world or to make stuff up wholesale.

Consulting the rulebook, I can see on page 309 that Wises are described as skills through which a character can call upon their knowledge of the world, but I can't find any reference to the skill allowing you to actually help shape that world.

Can someone direct me to the part of the rulebook that goes into that? Thanks!


2 Answers 2


The Burning Wheel Codex has a whole section on Wises. From the first paragraph:

...wises are a key way for the players to put their own stamp on the setting. This is implicit in the core Burning Wheel rules but perhaps not quite as apparent as it should be.

I would say that last point is an understatement.

The section continues with some examples, but they basic idea seems to be: If a player uses a Wise to suggest a piece of lore, and it doesn't contradict the GM's planned lore, a Wise test can be used to determine whether the player's suggestion is actually true.


I'm not sure what's in the latest revision, but the piece that comes to mind is the chapter on Wises in the (sadly) out-of-print Adventure Burner.

I think different groups will handle this differently, somewhere on a spectrum with, "Yeah, this gives players total narrative control!" at one end. My sense is that wises (like circles) is just a codification of something that happens at a lot of fairly traditional tables, even in D&D.

GM: You enter the tavern, it's dark and smoky. The atmosphere seems tense. Player 1: I lived in this town.. would I know anybody here? I'm looking for someone w GM: Um, sure.. like who? Player 1: Well, is there a town drunk, maybe?

Other games leave this up to the table culture or imply that the GM should answer these, while BW adds a mechanic to resolve the tension between plausibility, creative participation and advantage-seeking.


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