[RPG] Why would the “Burning Wheel” unique item confer a bonus to swimming


Just found this odd statement in the Dungeon World SRD (alternative source.) in relation to the "Burning Wheel" unique item, which has the power to facilitate an audience with a named god:

It does not confer any protection from those flames, nor does it provide any bonus to swimming.

(emphasis mine).

Why would it confer a bonus to swimming? This seems like an odd stipulation to be so explicit about.

Best Answer

It's one in-joke among many.

You may also have noticed the Fiasco Codex, the Violation Glaive, the Carcosan Spire, and the Sartar Duck. Dungeon World's magic item section is half credits page, and the Burning Wheel is no different.

In the Burning Wheel RPG, despite it having an intricate skill and career system - there are skills for Ratiquette, Field Dressing, Plumbing, both Sewing and Embroidery, and an entire subsetting dedicated to the seafaring life, with careers like Sailor, Pirate, Marine, and Bosun - there is no Swimming skill.

The creator believes it should be handled at a general level of character capacity, with e.g. a Speed test, and that you can just say whether you can swim or not. (He's "luke" in this thread:

Are you asking why one is a skill and the other isn't? If that's the case, Climbing is a necessary fantasy rpg skill that gets used all the time. Swimming is not.

and when the forums were up it was a bit of a running gag that someone read the book, perceived the gap, and came on the forums to ask.)

It's like how one of the earliest Fate Worlds of Adventure was about fighting the aspect On Fire:

Explore the lives, loves, and losses of fire fighters in Fight Fire

In addition to its functionality as a game, it's a joke about a topic that had come up again and again in private discussion.

The reason why the DW magic item connects you to the gods is, among other things, because of the ancient symbology of the wheel as portal:

I was reading Primitive Mythology by Joe Campbell back in 94. His comments about the spiral symbol -- the most primitive of mystic symbols -- blew me away. A symbol of the gateway to other side, of death, of the spirit world.

The Wheel is stylized version of that symbol, that gateway.

It is five spoked to represent the unbalance and uncertainty of life itself. Our experiences are not even or symmetrical, the fifth spoke embodies this.

And it burns to purify, to clean, as we pass through its gate.

In the Burning Wheel creator's game, the Burning Wheel itself is one of many elemental wheels wrought to contain gods.

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