On page 125 I read the recommendation: There should be one problem that is simply too much for the players to handle. A creature high on the Order of Might; a creature with a Nature of 10 or higher; obstacles rated 6 and up.
I get the idea of having a really tough challenge in the dungeon, but shouldn’t it be possible for the players to have some partial success by working around the big obstacle or by just avoiding the boss monster? Do we really want to set our players up to fail completely? For example, in The Dread Crypt of Skogenby, the final confrontation with Haathor-Vash seems too hard to me for Level 1 characters to successfully navigate around. I keep imagining a final Banish conflict that the players lose and are forced to leave all the treasure behind to satisfy Haathor-Vash. If I run my first dungeon and my players’ characters barely escape alive, with no Loot, I’m not sure my players will come back for more.
Torchbearer does a good job of building rewards into play, but as the GM don’t I have an obligation to give my players a good shot at making it back to town in one piece with enough Loot to allow them to (barely) regroup for the next round?