Hello, new D.M here. I’ve recently run Torchbearer for the first time by only reading the book (I never was a player in a game and I don’t know anyone who has played it in my circles) and, while I loved the grind, inventory and checks rules, I’ve run into a bit of an issue with the way conflicts work, which leads me to guess that I may have not understood one or two things.
We had two conflicts in my game (Skogenby): A kill conflict with the tomb guardians which almost wiped them out, and a flee conflict against an ooze, which was… Well… Weird. As all hell.
The first conflict was fine. Awkward, sure, but we didn’t know the mechanics very well, so that explains it. We all were very uncomfortable about describing our actions though and all the conflict was metagame discussions with some fluff descriptions thrown in when we felt like it. Basically it was more of an extended test than a “conflict” for us. Also, we didn’t quite understand how to apply the rules of Killing is my Business as the player’s won. In the rules there is “These rules are written from the player’s perspective.” p74, but there are no rules for compromises versus the players. So we applied the rules backwards and I injured and exhausted all of my players. But I could also have killed one of them? Arbitrarily? That’s tough, I think. It seems like there’s an absolutely massive difference between all the party being injured or exhausted and a straight kill, no? Besides, how do you pick as the G.M? I’d be massively uncomfortable with that.
The second conflict though was much more problematic. It was one player, the halfling burglar, versus the ooze.
- First: Apparently it is almost impossible to flee the ooze if you are alone even though it is supposed to be its weakness? It threw 6 dice every turn against my player’s 3. But that’s okay, it’s just a faster ooze than we pictured.
- Second: In the first conflict we had issues describing our actions in the fiction since we couldn’t really “say” something was happening before the compromise made them canon. But during the flee conflict it just seemed straight-up impossible. We couldn’t figure out the link between our actions and the fiction, at all. We had explored two rooms by this point and saying that their “Attack action” represented them dashing into a new room seemed weird, since it could activate traps mid-conflict diegetically, but no rules seem to support that. It also seemed impossible to say that he ran towards his friends, since that, too, would have diegetic consequences that weren’t accounted for in the conflict (The reason he was alone is that the other players specifically didn’t want to share in the consequences of his acts, which is a part of the system I liked). So it seemed to us like conflict actions were non-actions. So why even make it a series of actions? We didn’t get it. We could have said that he ended up into a new room or ended up revealing his friends to the ooze during the compromise stage, sure, but it seemed unfair to do it during actions. So all the conflict was static but the end. And we didn’t really enjoy that, nor see the point of it. If conflicts were the places for lively descriptions that would make them worthwhile, but as we understand it the systems prevents any descriptions at all. Any tips?
Another weird thing about compromises in this game is that I didn’t see any way to get non-symetric conflicts in. Which would mean that a dragon or an elder god can’t kill you. Which I don’t think is the intent, so I guess I must’ve missed some rules there too. Which would make sense, I’m not a native speaker.
PS: Also I have some questions about Middarmark’s pdf but the feedback link you gave in the e-mail seems dead.