Cross-post from Reddit:
I’ve been in a regular group of Torchbearer for a couple of months now, and things have been smooth as silk up until a recent encounter we had. An interesting situation came up, and we weren’t exactly clear on how to resolve the issue by the rules, so we had to kind of wing it and it wasn’t as climactic as we would’ve liked. So for the future, I’d like to know what ye olde grognards and fellow adventurers think.
A quick run down of context: We were exploring the natural caverns below an inn which had been infested with Kobolds. We were searching for the previous owner and located them. We were filing them back out to the inn proper when the kobolds came rushing out at us, but they were running away from something much worse: a giant spider. We ushered the people out of the prison in which they were kept, and the spider came barreling after us. Queue conflict.
Now, we’ve had a number of conflicts that have gone very well. We’re getting the nice narrative-mechanical ebb and flow going, and combats are generally quite intense. This time, though, we were faced with a dilemma: there are four or five parties in the conflict.
• First, we had the Spider who wanted to grab someone to eat and lurk back into its den.
• Then, we had the Kobolds who were trying to route the spider and get it to leave the whole area.
• Next, we had two members of the party, the elf and the fighter, who were trying to drive the spider back into the caverns and leave us alone.
• Finally, we had the Burglar (injured and wary of conflict) who was trying to help the injured prisoners out of the cellar and away from the fight.
You can see how that’s a little complex for the head-to-head combat system. Normally it’s the player party vs. an opposing party. And that works fine. We considered two separate conflicts, the Burglar Vs. The Spider in a flee conflict alongside the Elf and Fighter Vs. The Spider in a drive off conflict. We even considered a Burglar vs. The Survivors convince conflict, in which the Burglar would try to organize the chaos. We weren’t sure if the Kobolds would be considered helping us or the Spider, and there weren’t very many of them, so we left them out entirely and would treat them as a sort of factor in the compromise.
We also weren’t sure how the two compromises would play into eachother; what if the Burglar fails and the party succeeds? Or the other way around? And how do degrees of success and failure play into it? The spider obviously would’ve only wanted one creature to drag away… It would’ve eaten up quite a bit of time for the table chatter on the compromises to resolve, we decided, so the Burglar didn’t participate in the fight and didn’t do a second conflict, which we all kind of decided afterwards wasn’t the best decision dramatically speaking.
I turn now to the Torchbearer community. How would you guys handle this? Was there a rule we overlooked, or was there something we handled wrong? Or maybe we were right, and the Burglar’s actions wouldn’t have had enough of an impact to allow a conflict.
Anyways, sorry for the long explanation. TL;DR: We had 4 or 5 groups in a conflict that weren’t all striving for the same goals. We weren’t sure how to pair them up in one conflict, or if we did 2 conflicts how the compromises would affect one another. Ultimately, we decided to only do one conflict and left one of the party members out despite his playing an important role in the game space. How do you handle these situations, or how would you if you were in the GM’s seat? I appreciate any feedback, and hopefully this thread will help someone else in the future!