Does anyone have any suggestions for modules to hack for Torchbearer?
I personally think B2: Keep on the Borderlands is a great option, because although the Caves of Chaos are extensive, they’re also modular. Each set of lairs is an adventure on its own. A small set of problems can expand to epic proportions in Torchbearer. The game works best if you can handle things in bite-sized chunks. The Moathouse from T1: The Village of Hommlet is also a good choice.
The adventure included in Torchbearer, Under the House of the Three Squires is a 19-room dungeon that takes about three to four sessions to play, and it’s hard! Characters are likely to be beaten down by the end. Smaller dungeons (The Dread Crypt of Skogenby should be about six or so areas), are much more manageable and a little more forgiving to novice groups.
You can do large dungeons in Torchbearer with a caveat: If it’s relatively easy for the group to trek back and forth to town, even a large dungeon is not too bad. If the group is trapped out in the wild and must deal with a big dungeon before they can hit the town release valve, things become a lot more brutal (Lost Isle of Castanamir and Caverns of Thracia, I’m looking at you).
I just picked up “Castle Greyhawk” and “Vecna Lives!” with the intent of running them under Torchbearer rules. I’m hoping to first warm up my group with “White Plume Mountain” and “Tomb of Horrors”.
If Torchbearer ends up being too deadly, we may need to switch to Dungeon World.
There’s a very, very sick and demented part of me that wants to convert Undermountain.
Large dungeons are not impossible in Torchbearer. But, you need a disciplined party that can act with precision. You need strong leadership and creative thinkers. You need the ability to plan ahead, to understand when to take checks, when to pour resources into a chance at success and when to camp and regroup. Luck doesn’t hurt either.
While death is decidedly on the table for characters in Torchbearer, it generally doesn’t come quickly–this is one of the major points of departure from early D&D. In Torchbearer, you can get beaten down to the point where your character will probably wish she was dead because the laundry list of conditions she’s accumulated feel pretty debilitating. To quote one of our play testers in a session after running into monsters tending a massive cauldron on a fire: “I just get in the cauldron.”
This tends to come about because parties overestimate their capabilities, underestimate monsters, or push on too hard for too long without finding a place to rest. You can be doing fine, and then before you know it, a few poor decisions will snowball on you and you’ll find yourself in a world of pain. Combine this with the fact that novice players tend not to think about accumulating checks until they’re already in trouble condition-wise, and, well, you see where this is going…
This happens less frequently in a small dungeon because you’re likely to finish it before you have all your conditions marked, and thus the game tells you it’s time to head back to town. In large dungeons, there’s almost always plenty of more stuff to deal with and the players have to be self-directed about determining when to camp.
Long story short, go ahead; take them to Undermountain. I want to hear about it! I just suggest letting them cut their teeth on smaller dungeons first.
Smaller dungeon question: I plan on running Torchbearer next week on Free RPG day. I know I can run a mouseguard one-shot handily in 3-4 hours, can anyone suggest a module (or scenario/first act from a module) or just a scenario that is dangerous, fun, and satisfying to play in 3-3.5 hours? I plan on a test run Monday evening. Any advice is VERY WELCOME!
You might see if there’s something you like from this year’s crop of One-Page Dungeon contest winners: http://campaignwiki.org/wiki/DungeonMaps/One_Page_Dungeon_Contest_2013
Make sure you use pre-made characters, then. When we did a single 4-hour session, it took half the time to make characters. We barely made it inside before we had to call it a night.
I like the one with the orcs and the demoness. Although I would re-skin to humans and a sorceress if I were playing in Middarmark.