In Burning wheel character creation you get a bunch of general skill points and a larger number of skill points to use on skills listed in lifepaths (I'll call these normal skill points).

The general skill points can be used to buy whatever skills one desires (limited by stock and setting).

I recall that normal skill points could be used to also buy arbitrary wises and foreign languages. Foreign languages worked this way in the revised edition, but work differently in the gold edition. I presume that arbitrary wises can't be bought with normal skill points in Gold, if they ever could, but would like confirmation.

Can one buy arbitrary wises with normal (as opposed to general) skill points in Burning wheel gold? What about revised?


2 Answers 2


In Gold, use general skill points to buy arbitrary Wises. Gold is better about including relevant Wises with its lifepaths.

In Revised, I would also use general skill points to buy arbitrary Wises. There's a throwaway line about Wises under Languages (CB 38) that gives me pause, though.

[Languages] act like Wises—they can be bought with regular skill points even if they don't appear on any path.

I'm not sure if "they" refers to both Wises and Languages or just languages. Since nowhere else (that I can find) is it implied that Wises can be bought with regular skill points, I'd stick to using general skill points for arbitrary Wises.

Foreign languages might not be an issue, depending on your group's setting and your character concept. In Gold, there's a Foreign Languages skill (page 273) that covers all nonnative languages and acts like any other skill. In Revised, Foreign Languages are multiple skills; secondary languages open at half Perception (CB 38), one for each language (CB 243). However, you can buy them with regular skill points (this appears to be an exception to how normal skills work). If you're new at Burning Wheel, I would avoid foreign languages unless it's absolutely important to your game.


The simple answer is "you can do whatever you want with your version of the game", but in terms of RAW, no, you have to spend your non-general skill points on whichever skills show up in your lifepaths. So if you're a Born Noble/Squire/Knight, the only way you can learn something like Fishing-wise is on your own time (which is what general skill points simulate).

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    \$\begingroup\$ BW contains pretty strong advice to not hack the core systems (and it has very good reasons to warn against it), so the usual "rule zero" advice is a bit more dangerous/prone to cause breakage in BW than in most games. That aside, you might point to some of the LPs that have wises in their skill lists, as supporting evidence. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 16:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Burning Wheel does not have a rule zero. \$\endgroup\$
    – okeefe
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe There is a rule zero for every game, because rule zero, by definition, exists within the meta-textual level of the game: i.e., the people who are playing it. No game needs to give permission to modify it, and no game has the power to prevent a group from modifying it. That fact is colloquially called "rule zero". The fact that later D&D editions got in the habit of putting rule zero in the actual book is the weird outlier and doesn't retroactively change what "rule zero" has always meant. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 17:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe Yes, that's what I'm saying. Whether that makes it part of the game's rules or not is arguable, but that's a deep semantics and metaphysics argument that I won't get into; but yeah, that's all I'm saying. (This is interesting if you want to follow that tangent though, and this, but especially the Lumpley Principle.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 18:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @amp108 That's getting fairly far off topic and I doubt comments are long enough for a satisfactory explanation. In short: they're not perfectly interlocking, but the interlocks are not obvious; therefore hacking can have unexpected impacts that aren't even obviously traced back to the hack. Assuming one wants the play experience it advertises (and isn't a BW veteran), it makes sense to not change the rules and suffer unknowable ripple effects. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 0:00

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