So I’m thinking about running some open table games online explicitly as instructional games, probably using Stone Dragon Mountain. I think running short term Torchbearer with an open table has a whole bunch of pitfalls, but is also potentially very rewarding. I’m hoping folks here might have 1) Useful materials/handouts to share that I could give to my players to help teach some of the basic elements of the game and 2) Advice about how to best introduce new players in an open table/con environment to the game in a way that shows how interesting and exciting it can be. Thanks!
Stone Dragon Mountain is a great adventure, but in my opinion it is too long for introductory purposes and definitely too long for a convention.
Dread Crypt of Skogenby is the only TB adventure short enough for a convention. Most of the other TB modules are a bit too long for these purposes. The best results I’ve seen at conventions are converted one-page dungeons, especially (but not exclusively) those by Michael Prescott.
I recommend giving new players two coins, one representing fate and one as persona. These are “unearned” but you can allow them to count for level advancement if you’re generous. I’ve found that in a teaching environment it can be distracting not to have those points to spend.
There’s the standard stuff: bring a few different color sets of d6s, as many player decks as you can manage, and lots of glass beads.
Thanks! This is helpful advice. To be a littler clearer, this is not actually a con game. It will be four or five online sessions of 3-4 hours each, but there’s a chance that there will be some ebb and flow of players across the sessions. I don’t expect to finish Stone Dragon Mountain in the time we have, but I think I can get through enough of it to introduce much of what makes Torchbearer great.
I made a cheat sheet for Torchbearer to help players and GMs figure out how many dice to roll and when. You might find it useful too: https://www.torchbearerrpg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Torchbearer-Cheat-Sheets-Dice-Rolls.pdf
Out of curiosity, which online platform are you going to use to run the game?
Hangouts, through The Gauntlet calendar. I’ll probably use roll20 for the conflict cards and dice.
I’d be happy to share some Roll20 handouts and such, and some dice macros and more if you’re interested.
Message me here or on Roll20: https://app.roll20.net/users/2233015/sean-s
May I sign up!? I’m really struggling to learn Torchbearer alone and would really benefit from some skilled mentoring. I can host games on roll20 and mentor there, it is a very nice platform.
Ping me here or on roll20 https://app.roll20.net/users/216698/thomasmckay
Hi there! I can only speak for myself, but I’m not sure if I’d be the one for mentoring as my group is still fairly inexperienced. Jesse, the original poster, may be recruiting players for his game, but we’re not actively recruiting any new players at the moment. Possibly in the near future.
I’d be happy to share the Roll20 resources that I mentioned, though. I also plan on posting some general advice today in response to Jesse’s original post.
If interested in the Roll20 resources, please let me know by shooting me a message here or on Roll20.
Here’s what I did for “session zero” to introduce new players to the game.
(If you have new players joining mid-game you might want to spend a little time with them one-on-one to explain some core concepts and rules.)
The first part of the rule book gives a pretty clear overview of the core concepts of the game. The GM reading the beginning of “The Light of Civilization Flickers” (with “epic storyteller voice” on) is a great intro to the game, in my opinion. A brief introduction about the world and their place in it.
Then I went through the first part of the rule book with them. Not to say that you should just read it to them verbatim, but at least paraphrase the important points:
“Structure of Play”
“Dice and Terms”
“Anatomy of an Adventurer”, gives brief but succinct descriptions of everything that players will see on their character sheets. I began with reading “The Life” (in “epic storyteller” voice).
At this point they should feel a little intimidated (and entertained).
I then briefly went over each description, “Stock”, “Belief”, “Instinct”, “Goal”, etc. to help players familiarize themselves with their character sheet.
I then explained the key differences between the stocks/classes that they had to choose from. Then character creation commenced, completing each step for all players before moving on to the next. Once we got to choosing starting equipment I briefly explained how inventory works, and answered general questions regarding spells/prayers.
Once character creation was done I reiterated the three phases of play, “Adventure”, “Camp” and “Town”.
I briefly explained “The Grind” and how conditions work.
I introduced a couple of example scenarios to show them how overcoming obstacles works. I explained “factors” and “help”, including brief explanations about how wises, traits, fate and persona are used as well as the importance of earning “checks” (I created helpful handouts for this stuff).
I felt that explaining conflicts in detail at this point would be burdensome, so I just gave a brief example about how conflicts work, including “intent”, “disposition”, “actions”, “hit points” and “compromise”.
Then the game commenced with “You all meet at an inn…”.
So, to clarify, I don’t yet have concrete plans about running this, it is an idea I’m playing with. When I do, I’ll probably run it through The Gauntlet Hangouts game calendar (https://gauntlet-hangouts.firebaseapp.com). The Gauntlet Hangouts calendar is an open table online gaming calendar where you can sign up to play with folks. The first week of signups is gated behind a patreon paywall, but there are open signups after a game has been up for a week. Games fill up quickly, but about 70% of games pull from the waitlist, so if you want to play, get on the waitlist. Make sure to read the inclusivity policy before signing up. (Also, BWHQ games aren’t played much on the calendar, so I don’t even know how popular it will end up being.) I can ping you when it goes up, if you want. Any, I’m both excited to see that there is interest here, and people have been very helpful, so thank you!
Hi Jesse. I’m quite interested to learn the outcome of your experiment. I’ll contribute by sharing mine.
I decided to learn and practice torchbearer, so I assembled 2 groups of players (5 for one, 6 for the other) and started 2 tabletop games with “The house of 3 squires” adventure with pregens. Most people around both tables had extensive roleplaying experience, mostly with various iterations of D&D.
First session for both groups was mostly unsatisfying for me and for them. I explained the rules and insisted on mechanical elements that I identified as “the most important to get right”:
- how to pass and obstacle
- the grind
- how to get checks
They got the first two right in both cases. The unsatisfying part for me was the poor quality of action description. I had to insist on “how do you do that” and kept getting “i look around” type of responses. I felt really pushy about it. The whole game felt like a boardgame rather than a roleplaying game, or as my players put it “an MMO”.
The reported unsatisfying part for them was that they felt restricted in action they can take because of the grind. They also felt that “you must fail to get checks” and intimidated by the pressure that the game puts on them. They also reported that the game felt incoherent timeline wise. “It feels like you must rest in every room”
After discussing the issue they were overrating the threat. Fear of failure discouraged them from experimenting. After the feedback session with one of the to groups where we tackled that the game went much better.
So far I drew the following conclusions:
- I must focus on roleplay, not explaining mechanics. Meaning that if I had to do this again I would only explain the structure of play (things on p116)
- Not every action is worth a roll. Say “yes” and move on.
- I must let them do the wrong thing. Players will understand more clearly why it’s wrong after doing it.
- I must suggest the right solutions mechanics wise. The player can specifically state what they want to achieve and I lay out for them their options
I got permission from my players to do it that way in game 2. We were happy with the result.
Best of luck to you, keep us posted
That’s an issue there. Checks aren’t about failure, although they do let you earn a benefit when you’re otherwise guaranteed to fail. They’re also something you consider when you’re more or less certain to pass!