First session of Torchbearer managed!

Hi there friends!

I have now completed our gaming weekend.

We started out by creating the setting using Microscope (it was very fun, and if you haven’t played it, I can heartily recommend it).
This was both a blessing and a curse. It was a great way to get the players to care for the setting, and as a result I think enjoyed the setting more (because admittedly Torchbearer isn’t for everyone, and some of the players will surely be reluctant to play again.)

In opposition to the recommended rules for the game, the game started in the tavern in a remote village. The mayor of the town, suggested they should investigate the disappearance of sellswords they sent into the forest to deal with Bandits who’ve been terrorizing the village.

They wanted payment up-front so I judged that they triggered a conflict “Persuade” in order to be promised free lodging in the Inn at their return, in addition to the right to any treasure they would eventually find.
They succeeded in the conflict, and they were thrown out of town.

The cleric said, he wanted to go visit a farmer, in order to ask for directions to the place where the bandits had been seen. At first I thought this would necessitate a Scout roll, but remembered the “good idea” rules, and just judged that it was a good idea, and went on to role-play the encounter.

The farmer said, that his 14 year old daughter was missing, and suspected kidnapped by the bandits. Last seen near the waterfall up the mountains.

I am too tired to write anymore at the moment…
…but as a GM, I must say, I immensely enjoyed this game.

Unfortunately, I don’t think all the players liked it as much. They didn’t enjoy the restrictions of the nature of the game.

When I’ve slept, I may follow-up with some examples from play, and ask if I played the RAW.

What to improve, what to change… et.c

If they wanted to be paid up front why was the conflict about free lodging when they return?

word up. The “free lodging when you return” sounds like a compromise after the conflict, except that really isn’t a compromise. A compromise would be like 1/2 the money up front and half when you return successful. Also, “they succeeded in the conflict and were thrown out of town”. So, to be harsh, you changed their persuade attempt, they then won the attempt anyway (even though it wasn’t what they were trying to do…they wanted to argue for money up front but you, as the GM, changed their intent, which doesn’t seem fair, or BtB) and then in punishment for wining? They were thrown out of town?

PC: We want the money up front.
NPC: you drive a hard bargain, ok its agreed that you will have free lodging on your return, as agreed.
PC: …what…what? that’s not what we’re negotiating.
NPC: get out!

I’ve read the rules, and you get the feeling you shouldn’t give them opportunity to use conflicts like that to get money out treasure.

Perhaps I’m trying too hard to not mess up the rules. Not throwing the players a bone for their role-playing and good ideas?

Another question concerning the session. They wanted to make camp in a natural cave, and RAW says they have to roll Survival to make the camp safer (+1 to the make camp random tables).
The player wanted to use Dungeoneer and his Instinct “Always search for a safe place to camp” on the roll instead of Survival.

I ruled that he couldn’t use Dungeoneer, and then he failed to roll of course, and introduced a twist. I ruled that a bandit asleep in a cave room next to them woke up.

Was this according the rules?

Dungeoneer is about climbing up or down chasms, worming your way through narrow tunnels and disarming traps. Survivalist is about identifying safe places to camp. So yeah, that’s according to the rules.

Isn’t it a bit harsh to have the failed survivalist roll guarantee a bad camp encounter though? It looks like his failed survivalist twist was a straight up “disaster result” aka “monsters attack” on the camp encounter chart on page 84.

I probably would have just given him the safe camp with a Condition, rather than an unsafe camp result.

Firevisor, it’s okay to say that the mayor isn’t going to pay you in advance. But you shouldn’t trigger a conflict where the players win something they don’t want and then get run out of town.

But you don’t have to, it’s definitely within the rules to give them a twist instead of a Condition. As GM it’s up to you to judge how the flow of the game is going. Would it feel better if more pressure was applied, or have they reach a relative climax of excitement and need a second to breath?

Yes, they can use conflicts to gain money or treasure. I think the problem was the way you described the cause and result of the conflict. I’m guessing they won with a compromise and the compromise you decided on was: free stay when you get back but get going we’re sick of arguing with you? That’s how I was interpreting what you described.

The roll happens before you set camp. A disaster eats up all your accumulated checks and dumps you back into the adventure phase. A twist on the Survivalist test doesn’t eat up your checks, so if you can deal with the bandit you can still camp.

During the camp phase, does a failed test work the same as in adventure phase? It causes twists and conditions?

I have a vague memory that trying to recover from a condition doesn’t create any twists or conditions, because still having the condition is bad enough… Is this correct?

I was very tired when I wrote how the session started.

I don’t feel they were dissatisfied with the results, because we were role-playing. And my response was that the mayor didn’t want to pay them.

If they wanted to set the stakes “getting payed in advance” how do I gauge the difficulty for that? Asking for free accommodations after a successful mission should be an easier conflict to resolve than if they ask for payment upfront. But RAW that wouldn’t be the case, because the disposition would still be the same?

We were, role-playing… But, yes I admit to making mistakes, not infrequently. Especially when playing a new system.

I don’t see any special rules for failure during camp phase (I thought there was, but I’ve been playing not GMing).

Recovery is exempted from the twists and condition rules, yes.

Don’t set difficulties for Argument conflicts, just roll for disposition if you’ve decided they’re in one. If the mayor absolutely won’t pay them in advance, they’re not in an argument. If the mayor might be convinced, no matter how much he says he won’t, then they do seem to be in conflict.

And, mistakes are fine. They’re expected. We just like to discuss play.

Also keep in mind that if they win an argument without compromise, they were very very convincing. A stuborn mayor might just script all attacks, and it’s very hard to avoid compromise when the GM does that. Though if you were handling it as a single roll instead of conflict for expediency, that’s another story.

As for scope of stakes: this is a feature.

In a conflict, go for the big stakes. The payment now, the being welcomed with open arms by the bandits.

If they just want free lodging, it’s not worth a full conflict, and can easily be used as a compromise.

By used as a compromise, it’d be something they’d get if they lose the conflict when the stakes are “get payed up front”?

If they knock out some of their opponent’s dispo free room and board seems like a good minor compromise. If they win, but suffer about half their dispo, getting paid half now, half later along with room and board plus some supplies for the trip seems like a good compromise.

But man, why the hell would you ever want to get paid beforehand in Torchbearer? That’s precious inventory space getting junked up with coins 'n crap! :slight_smile:

Get paid in gems, put them in the thieves’ secret hiding place (ahem).

BTW, this is why the rules tell you not to start your first game in town. :slight_smile:

Exactly, load em up with heavy coppers and drop them at the entrance to the dungeon! Bet they’ll be wishing they had packed a few more rations and torches and less coin.

What skill would you roll for hiding coins? :slight_smile:
I can picture adding up factors for the Ob and demand them not roll untill they return to he hiding place. :slight_smile:

‘Sorry your gold was found by Goblins’