Instincts in Conflct

So my players are in the process of crafting instincts.

I’m trying to steer them towards instincts that provide utility during the adventure phase, but they keep leaning towards conflict oriented instincts.

One of my players came up with “Always kick an enemy when they are down.” Now I really love what that says about this particular murder-hobo, but I really don’t know how to fit that in to Torchbearer.

If an instinct activates during a conflict, does it immediately grant a test regardless of scripting, dispostition and other factors? Does it allow a free test after the conflict? What about advancement; is the player still stuck with one advance per conflict?


It’s not a good instinct i think. The player will figure this out pretty fast and change it i think. you want the utility and fate reward for a good instinct…

That sounds like a belief.

Yes, instincts need to be Adventure or Camp phase (maybe Town?) but not conflict.

Actually, I think it could work as an instinct. Just don’t take it literally. You could give him some kind of test to adversely affect the enemy after a successful drive off or capture conflict, for example. Like, a free manipulate test to get the captured goblin to talk about the treasure, or a free dungeoneer test to set a trap in the direction the enemy ran off to. Maybe even a free scout test to loot the bodies after a kill conflict. I dunno.

But Praion’s right that you wouldn’t use an instinct in a conflict. It doesn’t serve any purpose there. Something like “Always attack after I maneuver,” is illegal.

Edit: Actually, that does make a good belief. “If you kick the bastard when he’s down, he won’t be coming back around.” See? It even rhymes. The best beliefs rhyme.

Why yes, yes it does. I just didn’t see it from that angle.

Thanks guys!

I could see some instincts that are more BW style working in TB conflicts. Like “Always use a shield to defend” might let you change your weapon mid-combat if you are defending and you have a shield in your inventory. However, that would NOT be TB raw, definitely a hack.

@obligatorysalmon I like the creative interpretation of that Instinct, though I think he would need to be more specific. “Always loot the bodies after a conflict” would work better. “Always interrogate captured enemies” is another example. I don’t think it would be appropriate to combine all those things into one Instinct.

I agree with the non-literal meaning. Like, you have a Town Event where you come across someone who’s being beaten up or otherwise down on their luck, the character could get a free Criminal test to steal from them or help beat them down.

Find some prisoners? Charge them a fee to rescue them or otherwise exact a promise of reward.

You start thinking about that character always taking advantage of someone who’s already over leveraged and it could get interesting.

What you’re describing is definitely a belief though. That application is neither specific nor direct enough to be an instinct, at least not in TB.

You can use an Instinct to initiate a conflict, but instincts have no effect once a conflict has already started. Once you are in a conflict you are in the middle of a turn. You can certainly roleplay an instinct in the midst of a conflict (that could help you earn the Embodiment reward), but it won’t give you a free test.

Would that mean the conflict wouldn’t cost a turn?


That is very interesting.

Can an Instinct trigger an specific kind of Conflict? Let’s pretend we have a party delving in the proverbial dungeon:

Dreadkiller3000 the Human Fighter has the Instinct “When surprised, Kill”. Annoyingelfus the Elf Ranger fails his Scout test and a Nasty Spider is placed as Wandering Monster. The DM chooses Capture as the conflict type BUT Dreadkiller3000 triggers his Instinct.

How shall we proceed? Do Instincts have this weight?

Stay cool :cool:

If the players are describing capture actions, then it’s a capture, and it takes a turn. The instinct just doesn’t come into play, because they aren’t trying to kill the spider. If the players are describing gearing up for a murderfest, then why did the GM pick capture?

Because the Nasty Spider it’s trying to sneak in and Capture the party as a result of a failed roll. My doubt is if a character can change a conflict type by using an Instinct.

Stay cool :cool:

Ah. Monster intent only matters if the players lose the conflict, it doesn’t determine the conflict.

The GM describes that a monster has shown up
The players describe how they interact with it
The GM chooses the conflict based on what the players describe1

You can’t skip the middle step. The players always “tell” the GM the conflict type, but they do it narratively. Then the GM makes the final decision mechanically.

1 (or asks them for more details if their description didn’t paint a clear picture of what the conflict would be, or tells them that it won’t work if their description isn’t related to one of the valid twist conflicts for that type of baddie)

There are no free checks!

So Instincts won’t have an effect in camp, right? E.g. Heal the sick and injured as soon as we camp. This would not provide free Healer tests for the PC w/ this instinct on other player’s conditions.

Sure they do. And just like instincts don’t take up a turn in the Adventure Phase, they don’t use a check during a Camp Phase.

The no free checks quote is just saying that characters don’t have any checks without earning them. And someone has to have a check for the party to be able to camp. But instincts totally work in camp.

Woah. If an instinct-triggered Conflict didn’t cost a turn, does it mean you’d have to fight alone?

Unless someone had a complementary instinct or Nature descriptor…

You can probably see my evil grin from Canada!