the forum answered a lot of my questions. But there are still a few remaining - or showed up during our game on last saturday. I was the GM, three poor souls (warrior, cleric, elf) entered the halls of Hathoor-Vash and were… not the most successful adventurers in this part of the world (or any). There’s an after action report here, but it’s in German, so I’ll give a short summary.
Spoilers ahead (though I suspect that most forum members here know the Crypt of Skogenby):
We built characters. I explained a few thing, gave a short exposè and we started right at the entrance. The group entered immediately - who needs to take a look for any hints? - met the guardians, cast Fury of the Lords of Life and Death and entered into a kill conflict against the last two. Attack vs. attack with the first card. Both skeletons down, the warrior injured and exhausted thanks to a rusty, pointy stick in his belly. Wow, that was a short fight… Only two turns on the grind done. The pacing got a little slower after that opening. They did some reading, ritual washing, tending to injuries, more reading of more nasty runes, that crawled under the elf’s skin etc. They were in the dungeon for about 15 to 20 turns divided between two adventure phases and a very short, very early camp (one check). The end came with a twist, when the last oil burned down in the lantern (they still had quite a few torches), while searching the sarcophagus. Corpse Candles appeared, the elf swallowed some water and got sick. The last action was a conflict with Hathoor-Vash, when they tried to negotiate with her, after she took control of the elf. They wanted to persuade her that they leave with the girl, if they return everything that was stolen. Her goal was to get rid of the adventurers, while she kept everything of her possessions and the original grave robber. That included the elf - or at least his skin. Runes there…
So the cleric and the warrior left the ruins, took a long detour around Skogenby and were never seen again in this part of the world, while they were happy to be still alive.
Besides, the Dread Crypt of Skogenby was probably the most important read before we played. I was a little at a loss after I read the rules. The adventure answers A LOT OF QUESTIONS when I read through the different suggested actions and outcomes. Very helpful.
(1) Skill advancement to level 2 seems very fast. One successful Beginner’s Luck gives level 1. One successful roll with level 1 increases the skill to level 2. Is that correct? Question answered. I found it in the Skill chapter, not in the chapters about Beginner’s Luck or skill advancement.
(2) Can you always use Nature for skill checks, if you don’t have the skill?
(3) Is there a way to get equipment that’s not on the list prior to the first adventure, i.e. a bow for the elf? No armor and only a dagger. Poor man.
(4) The elf tended to the warrior’s injury with the heal skill during camp phase. The warrior was exhausted at that time. Did they have to take care of that before?
(5) Moving from room to room seems pretty effortless. The group easily skimmed through the rooms. And I didn’t want any Cartographer rolls for only four rooms (they didn’t proceed beyond the secret door). It felt a little strange. A long time ago, when I played dungeon crawls before Torchbearer, time passed when the group moved around. Things (barred doors, traps, monsters) happened when the group moved around. In Torchbearer, things happen, when adventurers do stuff, i.e. skill rolls. Time doesn’t pass, when you move between rooms, unless there is something around. I know, I can throw in a wandering monster, when the movement becomes too effortless. Or I’d let them make cartographer checks, when the halls and corridors become more labyrinthine. But in such a small structure, I wait for the adventurers to dig their own grave while exploring the different features of the rooms. Less “move to encounter A, proceed to B, get to C…”, the players have to be more proactive. It feels different, and I think I like it more.
(No question, more of a musing, yet I’m interested if other people had a similar experience with Torchbearer.)