I just ran my first Torchbearer adventure using the Crypt of Skogenby adventure. My wife played a Cleric, and made her character the day before the game so we could familiarize ourselves with the process. Three of the players were on time and made a Wizard, Elf, and Dwarf, and two players were late and were given the Fighter and Halfling pre-gens so we could get started. The Fighter was chosen as the leader, which surprised me since he was the youngest player and the most impulsive of the group. After the session I was told by several players that they had hoped giving him a position of responsibility would encourage him be more conservative in his play.
I tried to keep notes on what they did each turn. Here is an abbreviated account of the session, I assume some familiarity with the adventure.
T1 The Cleric examined runes outside the crypt (Scholar 2, S)
T2 The Elf tried to remember the language, but the writing was struck by lightning before he could translate it. The Omen-wise Cleric announced this was probably a good omen. (Nature 4, F, lightning bolt twist)
T3 They entered the crypt and the Wizard examined the rotten roots. (Lore Master 2, S) They continued into the crypt and encountered skeletons, the Cleric attempted but failed to turn two of them.
T4 The party fought the skeletons. They won with 5/9 remaining disposition. I said that two characters had been injured and that the rest of them were exhausted.
Grind The Wizard fed the whole party with a small sack of iron rations
T5 The Fighter went to use the ewer to fill the tub. The Cleric tried to stop him by tripping him. The Fighter decided to stab the Cleric. I said that this would be settled with a Fight versus test and take a turn. The Dwarf and Halfling decided to help the Cleric. The Fighter won anyway, so the Cleric was injured and the Halfling and Dwarf were angry. I asked the party whether they were still happy with the leadership, and a vote went 3-2 in favor of the Wizard taking over.
T6 The Cleric examines tub, the lights go out and corpse candles appear (Theologian 3, F, corpse candle twist)
T7 The Cleric was mesmerized by the corpse candle and started trying to drown herself (Will 3, F, lured into tub twist)
T8 Several party members restrained her (Fighter Vs, S)
Grind The Wizard fed the whole party with a second small sack of iron rations
T9 The Cleric read magic symbols, which crawled on to her skin (Lore Master 4, F, symbols twist)
T10 The Halfling searched for traps around the sarcophagus (Scout 3, S)
T11 The Dwarf disarmed the trap (Dungeoneer 4, S)
T12 The Cleric examined the censers (Theologian 4, S)
Grind The Wizard fed the whole party with his third and final small sacks of iron rations
T13 The Scout found the secret door (Scout 3, S)
T14 The sleeping dust trap was triggered when they opened the door, causing everyone who was not Exhausted to become Exhausted, and everyone who was Exhausted to fall asleep. I suggested that they could wait out this effect by making camp. (Health 4, F)
T15 The Elf searched for a good campsite. I wimped out of assigning them a failure consequence. (Survivalist 2, F)
The Elf had an instinct to Hunt. I decided that the crypt was closest to the mountains in terms of scarcity of game, and set the obstacle at 5. He decided to pass on the test.
The Halfling had an instinct to Cook, and converted one fresh ration into two preserved rations (Cook 2, S)
The Hafling recovered from Angry, and three other players attempted but failed recovery rolls. The Cleric failed to Heal her own injuries, and I missed the rule about this resulting in a permanent -1 to a state so she stayed Injured.
After breaking camp the party continued through the secret door and ran into more skeletons. The Cleric managed to turn one.
T16 The party fought the remaining three skeletons. The ended with 3/7 disposition, so I gave them all the Afraid condition.
T17 Upon running into the spirit and her honor guard, the Wizard announced that they should all run. They lost the Flee conflict, but with a major compromise. They requested that the spirit speak with them rather than killing them immediately. The spirit offered to keep half of the party as servants and let the other half return to the village to proselytize for her. The Wizard decided to accept these conditions rather than attempt a Convince conflict to attempt to get a better offer.
We did the end of the session Persona/Fate rewards, and decided slaves of a spirit was close enough to dead that we would pass the rewards on to another fresh set of characters for the next session, when we’ll try under the house of three squires.
Do the compromises I assigned for winning the kill conflicts seem appropriate? They seemed to hurt the party a lot and to be hard to shake off, but maybe they need to be more careful about ending Kill conflicts with higher disposition.
On turn 9, when the Cleric failed the Lore Master check- The party had guessed that deciphering those runes would be a Theologian check since they were near a crypt and thus probably of religious significance. The Wizard, who was good at Lore Master, examined the runes with her to help her. Should I have let them know that it would be a Lore Master check before they decided who would examine the runes?
Related to this, I had a hard time with help. Torchbearer has pretty strict rules on who can help, but I am also supposed to wait until the players describe an action that triggers a test to tell them what skill and obstacle to use. Do they need to describe the help ahead of time, based on their best guess of what kind of check an action might trigger and what skills would be able to help that, or do they get to learn what kind of check they are making and what skills can help before deciding who helps and how?
I wasn’t sure how to handle the party infighting, or whether to just leave it to the players to sort out. I had interpreted the existence of a party leader to mean that when players blurted out actions, I should check with the party leader whether that was what they were doing before telling them the consequences, but when the party leader blurted something out I went straight to consequences. I suspect I could have defused that conflict by suggesting to the Fighter’s player that he talk to the party before acting, but felt like I would be overstepping by doing so. After the fight, I suggested that the party consider changing leader. I did feel like this was overstepping, but it seemed likely that the current leader was going to run the group into the ground and wasn’t thrilled about watching that happen.
Any suggestions I can pass on to the party. I noticed a lot of assets were left unused. We all forgot about the Fresh condition, they didn’t use their traits for bonus dice very much, and most of them were either missing instincts or hadn’t made them very strong. It seemed really hard to get rid of conditions. I think it might have helped if they had made camp earlier, before the conditions really piled up.