Like the old grand-daddy RPG, Dungeons and Dragons, Burning Wheel is nothing more than a template—a trellis for the vines of imagination to grow on. But unlike it’s [SIC] predecessors, this system is versatile and powerful; it can handle any fantastic situation with consistency and accuracy....
Without being hokey or gimmicky, the system attempts to create an accurate portrayal of the model that inspired all of these games, epic fiction. Initially my mission was only to build the proverbial “better system,” but my true motive emerged as the system took root. I wanted to construct a game that could create better stories—something closer to the thrilling narratives that we all grew up on and that still grip our imaginations.
One of the very many absolutely undyingly adorable things about this intro is the author's faith that everyone of literate age grew up on "epic fiction" and not, say, Conan or Fafhrd & Grey Mouser or Arzach or James and the Giant Peach thus justifying his game's desire to be "closer" to a model he presumes all stabgames aspire to.
JRR Tolkien himself addresses just this kind of confusion in his lecture on Beowulf...
Nearly all the censure, and most of the praise, that has been bestowed on Beowulf has been due either to the belief that it was something that it wasn't, for example, primitive, pagan, Teutonic, an allegory (political or mythical), or most often, an epic; or to disappointment at the discovery that it was itself and not something that the scholar would have liked better--for example, a heathen heroic lay, a history of Sweden, a manual of Germanic antiquities, or a Nordic Summa Theologica.
At the heart of the concern that D&D isn't a Tolkien epic is the figure of the murderhobo--the greedy engine of unplotted terror that haunts the dreams of aspirationgamers everywhere. Urban Dictionary:
Murderhobo: The typical protagonist of a fantasy role-playing game, who is a homeless guy who goes around killing people and taking their stuff. The term originated in discussions of tabletop role playing games by authors seeking to create games aimed at styles of play not supported by traditional games like Dungeons & Dragons.
Typical forum post dredged up by random googling:
The murder hobo has been a problem for RPGs for years. These characters have no purpose or reason aside from killing people, taking their stuff, and then buying better tools to kill more people with. While we all admit these characters are a problem, we don't always have a suggestion for ways to fix them.
Typical blog dredged up by random googling:
If you feel you or players at your table are at risk of allowing a murder hobo (or worse a pack of them!) to flourish then follow these simple steps to inject genuine character and pathos into your game...
Heavens! A pack you say?
Notwithstanding the fact that even Robin Laws seems to not grasp the awesome storytelling possibilities of murderhoboes, intelligent gamers have long been aware of them. However, it's interesting to note Tolkien, the sore spot and source-point of all these dreams of morally-redemptive mythopoesis, himself creeps up to the edge of a similar complaint against Beowulf:
The plot was not the poet's; and though he has infused feeling and significance into its crude material, that plot was not a perfect vehicle of the theme or themes that came to hidden life in the poet's mind as he worked upon it. Not an unusual event in literature. For the contrast--youth and death--it would probably have been better, if we had no journeying. If the single nation of the Geats had been the scene, we should have felt the stage not narrower, but symbolically wider. More plainly should we have perceived in one people and their hero all mankind and its heroes.
This at any rate I have always myself felt in reading Beowulf; but I have also felt that this defect is rectified by the bringing of the tale of Grendel to Geatland. As Beowulf stands in Hygelac's hall and tells his story, he sets his feet firm again in the land of his own people, and is no longer in danger of appearing a mere wrecca, an errant adventurer and slayer of bogies that do not concern him.
...and if you're fun you immediately go Who's this wrecca? Tell me all about this motherfucker. And if you're really fun you have access to Bosworth's Anglo Saxon Dictionary:
Wrecca, Wræcca: one driven from his own country, a wanderer in foreign lands, an exile, a stranger, pilgrim.
From wrecan--to drive (out) or to avenge--like the Swedish vrak--trash, the Icelandic rek--anything drifted ashore, related to wreck, of course, and wretch and wreak (as in vengeance or havoc).
Wrecca. Good name for a game.