My character has a skill at B5. Let's say it's Navigation. Because I have five dice in the skill, if I use my Navigation to help another character, they'll gain +2D instead of the more typical +1D.

During a scuffle with pirates, my character sustains a nasty broken leg. This is a midi wound, worth -2D to all of my checks. If I try to help another character using my Navigation, do they still get the full +2D now, or only +1D because I'm injured?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is an excellent question. Your best bet for an answer would be to ask on the Burning Wheel's First Reading forum. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Aug 19 '13 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ The rules do make clear that if your exponent is down to 0 (due to injury, etc.) that you can't use it all, even for help. \$\endgroup\$ – okeefe Aug 19 '13 at 15:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @okeefe Good call. I started a thread there. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Aug 19 '13 at 17:44

Yes. Penalty dice from wounds do reduce your stats for the purposes of help (and FORKing) thresholds.

Helping dice are based on the exponent of your ability. BWG p. 36 (my emphasis throughout):

Helping Dice

If the exponent of the helping ability is 4 or lower, one die is given to the acting player as help. If the exponent of the ability is 5 or higher, two dice are granted.

Wound penalties reduce the dice you roll. BWG p. 488:

Wounded Dice

Wound penalty dice are subtracted from stats, skills, Reflexes and Steel. Health, mortal wound, Circles, Resources and Emotional Attributes like Faith are not affected. Do not refactor attributes or damage due to wounded stats. (Note that Reflexes is affected directly.)

The number of dice you roll when you actually use the ability is the "exponent." BWG p. 12:


The number next to your character's stats, attributes, and skills indicates how many dice to roll when that ability is called upon. We here at Burning Wheel HQ call that number the exponent of the ability because it is representative of the character's actual ability in that area...

Therefore, wound dice reduce your effective exponent, which reduces the value of helping dice you grant.

FORKs are defined similarly to helping dice (see BWG p. 36), so wound penalties will also reduce the value of FORKs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Based on this forum post. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex P Aug 25 '13 at 13:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Worth noting that it affects the number of dice, but doesn't actually reduce them unless you cross the exponent 5 threshold between 2 helping/FoRK dice and 1 die. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Aug 25 '13 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ Update: That forum post is now located here due to an upgrade of forum software. \$\endgroup\$ – David P Apr 2 '19 at 16:10

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