First session in a dark, hopeless world

I ran my first game of Torchbearer tonight.

I’ve been looking forward to it ever since I got to the Grind in the rulebook.

In my world, the gods are either dead or indifferent, if they ever existed at all(no clerics).
The wizards were mostly killed or driven into isolation during a luddite revolution. (no wizards)
and the Elves went isolationist.

That was a couple hundred years ago, and now the remnants of civilization struggle by in a world no longer defended by magic. Now that the wizards are gone, there’s no one to charge or fix the magical technology the earlier civilization relied upon. Magic that granted modern amenities like clean water, sewage and food storage.

So, my party is a lying Dwarf, his dreamer armorer cousin, a Halfling, a one eyed fighter(ex-archer, ranged tactics-wise, but can’t fire a bow very well anymore.) and a human Strider from Jared’s extra classes.

The strider took alchemy. No one took healer. They’ll learn it as they go. The second dwarf took Cartographer, but he wasn’t here tonight, so they had to navigate by their notes, which were good.

I feared for their lives.

I ran them through my favorite D&D module of all time, The Heart of Light, published in Dragon magazine sometime in the 80’s. I’ve run it about 5 times. Love it.

The mission was to break into an abandoned wizard’s summer home and loot as much as they could.

The Strider took two checks, and was the only one who did so.

The place had a history I’d added following the guidelines in the TB rulebook. So I left corpses of previous adventurers strewn about as warnings of the sorts of traps they might encounter.

Fear was very real as the game went on. And in the end it wasn’t a very successful venture.

In their brief time in the windowless summer home(magic windows but they don’t work anymore.) they managed to,

Persuade a minotaur to just walk away as a reward for freeing it, thereby releasing it into the world. Some of them becoming Angry in the process as it shoved its way past them(medium or major compromise? failed by two.)

Find the worst treasure to cash die ratio treasures and fill up on them.

Almost get one of themselves eaten by a gelatinous cube.

Release a horror upon the world(a different one than the minotaur.)

Not believe the Gorgon.(This was actually a really good idea.)

Oh, they also found a wand, that I made up. And a rune engraved box from a rune engraved circle on the floor.

Strider: I poke it with my sword.

Me: It moves.

Group: gasp

Me: No, like it moves the way you’d expect a box to move when you poke it with a sword.

Group: variations on “oh thank god.”

Other stuff.

When they camped, they used one of two checks to make camp and the other for the halfling to cook. The Strider helped with Alchemy and they rolled all failures. Penalty was they used up two portions of rations instead of one.(fine? Too steep?)

Since the Strider’s instinct is “never sleep unless it’s safe.” I gave him a free Ob2 Survivalist to add a plus one to the unsafe camp events roll. Minor inconvenience, they lost some small sacks(bottom of satchel).

When they got back to town, they slept in the stables, one of them had an extra drink(because he’s a drinker) and also looked for rumors. They used all their cash dice, just to be sure. Not a one of them rolled a success.

I told them, when they go to leave the village next, they’ll meet some legbreakers who tell them to settle up all their debts when they get back, or else. So, maybe they never come back. Who knows?

I really liked the way the system worked. I’m going to stress to them again the importance of getting checks.

They were really good about managing time and light.

I also think I handled Ob’s well, in that the following conversation happened a couple times.

Dwarf: What would it take to move that rubble out of the way?

Me: There’s a lot of it and it’s heavy, it’s Laborer Ob 3.

Dwarf: What if I…

Me: It’s Ob 3 to move that stuff, unless you come up with a good idea.

Halfling: Do we really need to move that? We’re burning time and light.

Me: I’m really worried about you guys.

All in all, I loved it. Great system. Please let me know if anything is clearly wrong or too evil, maybe not evil enough. There was a bunch of loot, they just didn’t go in any of those rooms. :slight_smile:

A note since it’s not clear from your description exactly how it went down, but while making camp does quire someone to have a check, it doesn’t cost a check. So your strider could have given their other check to someone to do something else in camp.

Oh sweet! Thanks for the note there, I’d totally misplayed that.