I have decided what my character will be the next time I play Burning Wheel.
I want to play a young, Faithful, Jewish Kabbalist-adventurer setting out to learn about G-d and the world, and how to bridge the heavenly and the earthly.
I find the idea of playing a Jewish character in a medieval fantasy roleplaying game exciting, especially after having read Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road earlier this year, in which all three main character were of various Jewish backgrounds.
Maybe my young Kabbalist hails from the Moorish courts of Spain, where Jew and Muslim coexist in fragile-yet-steady peace, advancing the knowledge of God and man further than it has been done since classical times. Perhaps he comes from comes from the schools of North Africa, where white-bearded rabbis in colorful turbans hand down the spiritual teachings of the sages of Yavneh. Or perhaps he’s from an Ashkenazi shtetl, where a simple life and a joyful connection to God has revealed the esoteric secrets of Torah. And there’s many more backgrounds to choose from, all bringing their own set of color, details, and themes to add to the story at the table.
I’m also very interested to play a character with the Faithful trait, and thus with access to Faith “magic.” In Burning Wheel, Faith isn’t Sorcery with a religious slant, it’s a different kind of mysticism altogether. It engages the character’s Beliefs, it requires consistent behavior from the player and character lest it be lost, it demands actual words of supplication be spoken to invoke its power. As a player, I’m interested in exploring this, both for my character and for myself. Kabbalah gives me a Jewish language to express these mechanics in the game in a way that is culturally appropriate, as well as exciting.
I have no idea when I will have the chance to play this character, but I very much look forward to doing so in the future.