I got my copy of Burning Wheel a few days ago and have been reading through it. Man, there are a lot of rules there. All the rules I've read so far, I've been OK with -- they haven't been more than I feel I can handle. One thing that helped a lot was getting to page 77 of the main rulebook and being told there "OK, stop reading, go make characters and play using the rules you've read so far. Learn the rest only after you've had some play experience." That's cool.
The Character Burner book is of course huge. It's a lifepath system. I haven't done anything with a lifepath system since I messed around with FATE a year or two ago, and that didn't go anywhere. So I just picked a background -- noble -- and went through a few lifepaths with him. Noble Born... Arcane Devotee... Arcane Devotee... switched to the Outcast Setting and found -- Rogue Wizard! Schweet! That's me, Rogue Wizard. (Rogue Wizards in Burning Wheel are rather creepier than the character type of the same name in Talislanta.) Neat stuff! The next day, hanging with Joe, I had him make a character and he had massive fun with it too. Now, neither of us actually finished our characters, for time reasons, but man, it was a lot of fun; it took me back to the kind of fun that making characters was in RPG days gone by.
Didn't get to play it though. Because we were planning to play... Trollbabe!
Joe handed me a Trollbabe character sheet and it was striking to contrast the huge lettering on it with the barely readable text on the BW sheet. I whipped up a trollbabe named Nelda in 5-10 minutes. Didn't know much about her at all. Just started the scenario.
The scenario was fairly simple -- a creepy cult called the Black Hands kidnapped a girl from some travelling merchants; Nelda decided to see if she could get them back. A couple of bad failures (BAD failures -- incapacitated level failures) led to a reprise of the "Naked Helpless Sacrifice Scene" comic, with Nelda starring as Retta and a Lovecraftian horror called She Who Is Not To Be Named starring as the bat-god. Well, it wasn't quite the same, but it did involve Nelda using magic to communicate with the god rather than just being eaten by her. (She ended up with a Relationship to this Elder-God-like entity, which I think rocks the world.) It ended up eating its followers, except for one whom Nelda had a relationship with as well (not a very pleasant relationship). Cool, she's got a relationship with both a cultist and his dark god!
Things went smoothly mostly because Joe had read the rules, like, 3 times in the last week, and had them cold. The conflict resolution system in Trollbabe still feels a little awkward to me, despite that, maybe because I don't have it entirely down. I don't know.
The two games are a huge contrast in the area of character background -- there's all this fun background creation in Burning Wheel, and none whatsoever in Trollbabe; hell, in Trollbabe it's even unclear where Trollbabes came from and what they are, so it'd be difficult to write a background. It's explicitly unspecified. A blank.
Anyway, wish I had had the time to finish the BW characters and play a bit. BW seemms like it'll be way fun. I would not have thought I could deal with all those rules, but all the ones I've *read* seem very simple and usable, so if that stays the same as I read more, well.... that'll be a good game. :)