Deeds Points!

I’m currently working on pulling together ideas for an Advanced Torchbearer Hack with rules for levels 6-10. Part of that effort is migrating some ideas from BW proper into the game. This post will cover 1.5 of them, specifically, Deeds Points and Shade Shifting (full rules to come for this later).

Earning Deeds Points

There are two ways to earn Deeds points in Torchbearer: taking actions that make accomplishing your goal impossible or winning a conflict of considerable challenge.

An action that makes accomplishing your goals impossible is exactly what it sounds like, with a catch. With two catches, actually: it has to be intentional and it has to hurt. Unforeseen consequences due to your actions and goals that don’t negatively impact your life if they don’t get accomplished cannot be rewarded a Deeds point. The player must be aware of their sacrifice and it must make their life difficult.

A Deeds point is also earned when you win a challenging conflict. What’s challenging, and what does “win” mean? It means winning a kill conflict against a Might 6 or greater creature without compromise. This is a group award for exceptional teamwork.

Spending Deeds Points

There are two ways to spend Deeds points: Wisdom of the Ages and Shrugging It Off.

Wisdom of the Ages

A player who spends a Deeds point on Wisdom of the Ages may shade shift a skill related to one of their wises for a single roll (assume all skills are black by default; rules for shade shifting are forthcoming). The player must cite how their past experience has prepared the for this, either their success or failures. Wisdom of the Ages is invoked before the dice are rolled.

Shrugging It Off

Before a player rolls the dice, they may spend a Deeds point to Shrug It Off. Doing so allows them to ignore the effects of their conditions for one roll.

Edit: Just a clarification, this is a new take on Deeds points specifically tailored to the challenges players face in Torchbearer. Tapping your Nature and Deeper Understanding function fairly close to Deeds in BW, which is why I took a new approach.

Nice! A few thoughts:

Might be good to require level 6 for Deeds, to start.

I think it would be good to elaborate more in the language for your first way to earn them. An example would also help.

Also, for making your goals impossible to achieve, I think it might be better to change the requirement so that it’s in lieu of doing something for the greater good, or perhaps for the higher purposes of your alignment, so to speak.

For example: perhaps if your belief is “I’ll loot this place for all it’s worth,” it’s forgoing the loot so you don’t bring a curse upon the land or something like that. This takes teamwork, by the way. One player forgoing their goal for the greater good might sabotage everyone else’s plans, expectations, wishes, etc. That’s just one more reason why it’s so difficult to do, and thus worth the point. As written, it could be overly divisive.

I’d also say that you should have to really feel the tension there, as in the moldbreaker award from BW. Players can’t just casually seal off the doors of the dungeon and say “It’s impossible to achieve our goals now… where’s our deeds points?”

I like this one too, but I’m on the fence about it. I’m trying to figure out what kind of behavior at the table this might encourage. I think on the one hand it’s good to encourage players to go for the Kill or Battle conflict, since they are somewhat dis-incentivized by the high stakes for these two. I also like the idea of earning Rewards for taking down the “boss”. Still, the benefit of a successful Kill conflict is quite simply removing the threat. Perhaps that is reward enough.

I also think maybe limiting the earning or spending categories with Nature descriptors might also work and would be something to consider. Like, it’s not worth a Deeds unless the Dwarf is avenging a grudge or something.

In the end, it’s great to see a Deeds hack on the table and I’d love to play-test for sure.

But then again, I’m not even sure how many people are seriously looking at life after level 5!

Yes - it definitely wasn’t clear in my post but this is not something that would come into play below level 6.

Impossible to achieve might be a bit extreme, but I think we’re more or less saying the same thing. Torchbearer does not offer rewards for working explicitly against goals, so that’s really what this award is about. But I think it needs to be harsher than just working against it - this action should be so contradictory to your goal that you cannot accomplish it as originally stated. More importantly, your character’s life should be made harder from this decision. Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you have the belief, “I will recover the religious artifacts in the caves below the moors and return them to my church,” and are a Cleric. During the course of the adventure phase you learn that they actually belonged to the creatures that dwell there and it is your kind who stole them first. You decide to leave them with the rightful owners and confront your church leader about it when you return to town. The Bishop warns you that such an accusation is heresy, and is punishable by excommunication from the Church. Having seen the proof first hand, you make your stand and are branded a heretic.

That would be a deeds point, as you are now poor, broken, and have cut ties with one of the major pillars of support in your life.

As to the Kill conflict reward, I think it probably breaks from tradition and feels much closer to traditional XP than most Burning Games have ever treaded but I’m not too worried about what it encourages. At lower levels of play, engaging in a kill conflict is madness , a last ditch effort when all other options are closed. For most intents and purposes, merely driving a creature off will be enough to loot a area (which is really what this game is about). Part of the advanced levels as I envision them, is that your characters are less concerned with just eking out a living for themselves. Instead, they want to rise to a level of some repute or infamy, to that of a hero (or villain). Killing monsters of Might 6+ really fits the bill, since these are the kinds of creatures (dragons, giants) that inspire the townsfolk to sing songs.

I like the potential for earning based on Nature. Maybe betraying Nature, Belief, and Goal? Now that’s big. Not so sold on the spending limit tho.

All that being said, this is just a rough draft.

I like it, though. Will definitely need to playtest to see what habits a new reward will actually trigger. I’m not sure if that can be accurately foreseen.

Also, on calling this reward Deeds, after thinking about it some, that might actually be confusing! Technically, you’re trying to write that 3rd reward. Which we know in BW they go Fate, Persona, Deeds, and each one is more powerful and harder to earn than the one before. In TB, though, you’re clear above that the function of the Deeds point from BW is already there with Persona. I hadn’t noticed that before, but it’s true (slightly different, but true). Much as I like the sound of “Deeds”, I think this is something new! You should give it a new name.

Oh, and in particular you’ve sold me on the idea of monster hunting for rewards… Sounds like a good challenge.

Agreed, a play test will be mandatory. This wasn’t even something I was going to bring to the boards yet until Luke and I sparred a little about it over Twitter.

I think you’re right though about the name. As Deeds are more or less already built into the system it may be confusing to call them Deeds, especially when they don’t function like Deeds do in other BW games. I’ll have to think more about the name, but maybe something like Vigor Points? What’s a good, snappy word for “second wind”.

Hero points? Surge points? Conviction points?