Burning Wheel's Factions Doctrines and Rituals from the Anthology

A Quick Exercise to Further Flesh Out the Campaign

Note: This post has content disclaimers.

Last week as part of a Burning Wheel Gold (BWG 📖) campaign I’m running, the players established a fact with Fall Guy-wise. The intent was that the Player Character (PC 📖)’s relation was being setup as a fall-guy for some machinations.

The test necessitated expanding the cast of Non-Player Characters (NPCs 📖) to include someone from House Deneith. After the session, I started fleshing out the House Deneith faction using the Burning Wheel Anthology rules.

In brief, each faction has the following attributes:

Name
What do we call them.
Faction Type
A quick classification of the organization.
Doctrine
The “beliefs” of the organization.
Tradition
The “instincts” of the organization.
Influence
The mechanical “strength” of the organization (between 1 and 3)
Funds
The available resources.
Leader
Who leads this organization.
Inner Circle
Who has the ear of the leader?
Membership
In a general sense, what’s the relative size, and the nature of members.
Assets
What are named things they control: Castle Drake?
Territory
What does this faction control? Socio-political territory.
Alliances
Who has treaties with them?
Allegiances
Who pays fealty and bolsters the coffers of this faction?
Rivals
What factions working against this faction?

Characters that have an affiliation with a faction must adopt one of the faction’s Doctrines and Traditions as one of their Beliefs and Instincts.

That simple rule—all folks part of a faction have a common belief—struck me as obvious in it’s simplicity and yet something I hadn’t considered until then.

I set about writing a few more factions, and felt as though I have hit on a rich vein of fictional grist. I realized that if I just filled out Doctrines and Traditions, I would have a vibrant world.

I started thinking about my defunct New Vistas in the Thel Sector campaign. I had about 7 factions grinding away in the background, but they lacked that quick statement that can inform decisions during a session.

Were I to run Stars without Number: Revised Edition (SWN 📖) or Worlds without Number (WWN 📖) with factions, I would adopt the Doctrines and Traditions as two additional attributes.

Doctrines and Factions

What follows are some of the Doctrines and Traditions for our rendering of the Eberron Campaign Setting (ECS 📖). These are inspired by canon.

In framing our BWG campaign, we were very clear: “The broad brush strokes of Eberron are our default assumptions, unless we choose otherwise.”

In our BWG version of Eberron, Elves have Grief and that interplays with the Undying Court. What is the interplay? We don’t yet know. Maybe a Grief-wise will establish that fact?

Dark Lanterns

Doctrine
The fate of Breland rests on a knife’s edge. We are that knife.
Tradition
Never speak of the Dark Lanterns.

House Deneith

Doctrine
Our oaths bind us. Let those who would oppose the law know us, and end their days in fear. (Sentinel Marshals)
Our lives are for those whom we serve and protect.
Tradition
Always secure the location and set a watch before settling in.
Always check with the local authorities what help they might need.

House Tharashk

Doctrine
We are hunters in a world of cattle.
Our quary are our greatest teachers, learn from them as you stalk and strike.
Tradition
Never let the trail go cold.

New Cyre Administration

Doctrine
The light of Cyre fades only if allowed, we shall honor the memory and lift a new Cyre from the ashes.
Tradition
Always assist those seeking refuge.

Vigilant Eye, the

Doctrine
Demons and would-be murderers seek to destory this world, we must rid them before they further damage this once great nation of Galifar.
Others must be made to see the rot and corruption of this world.
Tradition
Always wear gloves so the eye of truth may be welled rested and ready for judgement.

Conclusion

Writing up Doctrines and Traditions helps me quickly craft a more vibrant NPC that the players happen to Circle Up. Further, it puts some nuance into any fronts that I might develop.