this evening I GMed my first Torchbearer (and first BWHQ game at all) session. It was half a disaster and I’d really love to have all of your suggestions. Thank you so much in advance!
Group of three players coming from different roleplaying experiences, one “hard dnd”, more stiff than the others, the two others more “soft dnd” experience (and also, about these two I have plan to bring 'em to Burning Empires or Burning Wheel).
Hard dnd played a halfling, Instinct “primum, edere” (to eat first, which mean always to look for food and water).
Soft dnd 1 played an elf, Instinct “my foot will not sink and the sky will not fall on my head” (to look for traps).
Soft dnd 2 played a thief, Instinct “whenever I enter a room, I ogle for precious items”.
My first problem of the session was this, each of the players, independently and very faithful to their characters, chose a scouting instinct. How should I play this? I played that in every room they entered (we played the first few rooms of Three Squires Inn) they got a free Scout test.
I have many problems with this:
A) When there is nothing to be searched (room without food or traps or precious), should I roll? should I give a twist/condition? should I “fake roll” just to keep them believing that something might be there?
B) All these instinct rolls are logged for pass and failures in advancements?
C) Some obstacles are set for a PC+helpers roll, when they roll all together for their instinct can they help each other? How should I handle the roll?
Beside these rolls for instincts, here are the eight turns played:
First turn, they enter the Inn, they search around scavenging also for lantern and oil (“good idea”, no rolls needed), until they decide to ignore the upper floor and to head for kitchen; they see the blood trail to the cellar, the elf steps into the stairs, his Instinct triggers, he fails the scout test, (no log for the failure “since it’s an instinct”, provisional ruling to solve previous point B), he does a Health test to prevent the pitfall, he manages with the help of friends (logs Pass).
Second turn, they explore Cellar and Cold room, elf makes a Hunter test on the moulted scales with the help of halfling, they fail, twist: Kobold patrol appears (logs Fail).
In the same moment, third turn, thief takes away the gouges in front of dog’s room, Laborer test (logs first test on Beginner’s luck).
Fourth turn, a conflict arises, Kobolds want to capture them, they want to drive off kobolds, with the help of the dog they just freed (I decided it counts as help in the conflict, +1D to every roll as if he were a mate). They manage the conflict very well, after our first problems with Discord (unfortunately wonderful @Saelvarath’s Arenjii wasn’t used this evening, we’ll catch up next one, definitely it’ll be most useful). In particular they manage, having chosen “defend” at the right timing, to win the conflict with full disposition.
First problem: what do they win since they are driving off and the kobolds are capturing? I ruled “kobolds flee, you are intact [no condition at all], you log each one fighter test at your choice [either pass or fail]”. I’m quite sure I mistook something here.
Second problem: we all enjoyed the “mini game” nature of the combat, but I wasn’t able to convey the wonderful “narrative” aspect of this ruleset, as depicted in “conflict resolution example” in the handbook, just after the Three Squires adventure and before the Index. Please, give suggestions, I perceived that at times “hard player” got bored (“what is disposition?” “what do I do in the meanwhile, beside just saying that I’m helping?”).
In the meanwhile, they all got hungry and thirsty, at the end of combat. Because forth turn was passed. Elf drank immediately, the others did not, wanting to save wine.
They got in the dog’s room, they actually got their instinct triggered on real things (trap: the net; precious: the hidden stash; food: the beer). They all failed, trap activated, thief got a Health test with help from friends, fails, they got captured by returning kobolds patrol (maybe here I should’ve put rats stealing their food? maybe just capture after having driven off previous capture was a bit sadistic? ) Since they are dragged for many rooms they get exhausted. Did I exaggerate, giving condition and twist? I think yes (logs Fail)
They are in cages, robbed of weapons and backpacks/satchels but not of everything else (kobolds are in a hurry). Halfling has swiss-army-knife as raiment, he tries to open the cage, he fails, gets angry (logs Fail).
Also, another problem: they are in dark light, can the halfling try to Criminalize the lock? Or does dark light prevent that? Or does dark light give double obstacle? What’s the difference between dim light and dark?
Thief tries to scavenge stuff left there looking for some leverage or tool, with the help of elf, he fails and they both get angry. (logs Fail)
Halfling gives the swiss-army-knife to thief, “you better try”, thief manages with help of halfling, and then immediately frees (without test) also halfling and elf. They recover all of their arms and stuff, and halfling and thief drink wine and recover hungry and thirsty; then the whole group gets h&t, plus already exhausted and angry (next grind might be disastrous sick ) (logs Pass).
We stopped here, and I also forgot to give artha.
So, please be thorough and harsh on all the things I mistook as the noob I am. But especially, if I gave too many conditions, how do I remedy? Do I just say “sorry guys, I was wrong, actually you only are hungry and thirsty”? What did you do between a session and the subsequent, if you realized you mistook rules and gave to many conditions?
Thanks in advance to everybody!