Let's play TOWN PHASE

Howdy pals! Torchbearer was such a wonderful pastime during the darkest moments of 2020, offering in times of deep adversity … well, delightful pretend adversity. Wanted to quickly convey a heartfelt thanks to Luke, Thor, Jared, Koch, Lord Mordeth— and the community at large.

Preamble aside, I’ve got some questions and figure the best way to answer them is to do some roleplaying :dizzy:. We ran a 12 session game, and I felt like we never once got the TOWN PHASE right— mostly from an economic perspective. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to see one played out here, and hopefully it can illustrate the answers to the following questions as it goes! (If this has already been done beautifully, pls forgive and link me; am hungry to learn)

Let’s set the stage with Karolina, Varg, Taika and Beren all limping back into town having managed to escape the House of 3 Squires, with Spider-bit Joerg and sweet Elsa in tow. They made off with a modest amount of loot- Ronwald’s life savings of 2D Gold and 7D silver and Ansvar’s gold ring, worth 3D, and lugged them back too.

Let’s say everyone’s hungry and thirsty, everyone’s exhausted, Varg and Karolina are angry, Taika’s afraid, and Beren is injured. Karolina’s got two checks, Taika’s got one. Also, we’re in Karolina’s hometown, so she gets a nice lil +1 to resources. Otherwise everyone’s resources are 0. On top of that, they are flat outta equipment and supplies.

They’re headed to a busy crossroads, and the law there is All persons are forbidden to bear arms greater than a knife or dagger in town. Punishable by confiscation of illegal arms and a fine (Ob 2 Resources test).

QUESTION ONE - Laws! How best to implement- are they flavor that may or may not trigger further complications? Is that the big idea?

QUESTION TWO - Certainly we can imagine different reactions to rescued locals returning home. How do we handle rewards for rescues and the like? Resources? Gear? Circles? All of the above? Not at all, just a pat on the back for a good job?

QUESTION THREE - Respite - how do you determine how long this particular squad needs to stay in town?

QUESTION FOUR - does it matter who lays claim to loot in the adventure phase? More often than not, any initial squabbling over loot became a moot even split by the time they dragged themselves back to town— sure felt like we were doing it wrong, though! Heh, moot loot.

QUESTION FIVE- How to market? I see there’s a lot of ink spilled on this matter, but I’d love to see a narration of our characters restocking, testing their resources, haggling and pawning. Just haven’t gotten the flow down, and it seems to take a very long time every time.

QUESTION SIX - in our campaign, elves are an extremely rare sight in the holdings of men— interaction-wise, how do we deal with Taika’s strutting about the streets?

QUESTION SEVEN - I’d love to see Varg follow up a lead on a mysterious scroll he found in Uttan’s lair and fail a circles test, and trip the enmity clause, gaining an enemy. Let’s say it’s a secret, scheming enemy— do I tell Varg to add this new foe to their enemies, even if the new baddie’s a sneaky lil sneak intent on leading him along by the nose?

QUESTION EIGHT - After a bad experience, Beren wants to hire some sentries for the next adventure. How does that process play out practically in town?

QUESTION NINE - What’s Telling Tales look like played out? When should adventurers attempt to do so?

QUESTION TEN - Town watch - how best to implement these folks, season the pot?

Okay I hope that’s not too much. Thanks in advance!


Hello and welcome,

Town phase offers up a lot of opportunity for discussion.

There is a Town AP here: https://forums.burningwheel.com/t/town-phase-ap/23465

With TB, roleplaying and mechanics go hand in hand. So, it really depends. That particular law might require some creative solutions, but since this is Karolina’s hometown, we would expect there to be a home or place to stash stuff. Mechanically, players can create a cache at town, camp, or base camp to stash stuff anyway. Check out DH p 87-88 for more.

Somewhere in the forum or elsewhere Thor wrote up a nice paragraph about Skogenby and how the adventurers are not really welcomed by the locals for very long. In other fantasy games, characters are heroes returning victorious, and they are greeted with cheers and free drinks at the tavern. That’s not the case with TB. You might get one free mug of cheap mead, but the adventurers will quickly find that they are not welcome in town and the locals will do everything they can do quickly expedite their stay. That is the part of being a vagabond, sell sword, or murder hobo that distinguishes this game from many traditional fantasy games.

Page 97 sets the tone:

[Town] is a safe haven and a place to sharpen steel and draw up new plans, but it’s no place for the likes of us. Without title, letters of recommendation or enough lucre to drown in, we’re treated little better than chattel.

You are right that different towns will have different reactions though. Town phase is a great opportunity to establish those relationships. So, this is Karolina’s hometown, how was she treated before? What has changed? There’s lots of room for character development there to explore with the player.

The book offers sage advice of the first respite being around Level 3. From there, in my experience, I go about 2-3 adventures or about 9-12 sessions. I use the Middarmark weather and seasons, so I advance the months each camp and town phase appropriately, although it is not necessary to really keep track of the exact date. However, really it is about taking a moment to reflect on the growth of the characters. Have they changed enough to warrant a respite?

The way I run it is established that all loot is divided at the gates as evenly as possible so as to avoid greedy behavior. The rules say to split treasure, but do not say exactly how, so you have some flexibility. However, TB is a team game, and hoarding loot is a recipe for disaster. The way I think of it is that all these professional thieves are not going to forget about treasure, so it would be pointless to try and hide it from the group. So, divide the treasure evenly or as the group agrees when entering town.

See if the above AP answers that question.

Yes, the alfar in the Middarmark are elusive. And Luke had some good advice somewhere on the forum that the non-human stocks serve as “spice” to the adventures. I think that is a good guiding principle. I figure elves would be seen a little bit more to the north, but not so much in the south. The reactions would be varied: some with fear others with wonder or astonishment and everything in between. All of that is good fodder for Town Twists. However, you have the flexibility to make the world how you see fit, but maybe this stirs in some ideas.

Town phase is great for that sort of stuff. Count it as Research or Personal Business depending upon the narration by the player. Then, it is a test and a lifestyle cost for the action.

Check out the Hire Help section starting on page 110. Otherwise, you can cobble together the requirements such as Finding Someone (Circles test + lifestyle), and then paying for their services (+lifestyle).


If you are inspired to write it all out, it would be cool to see how you would run the above town phase.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 90 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.