Looting bodies, for new players

How do you handle the looting of dead enemies?

Specifically for new players, who are used to seeing everything that was just used against them in the fight sitting there waiting to be picked up?

My players love looting bodies, going through pockets, etc

If my party kills half a dozen well armed shiny knights in fine raiment and plate armour, and afterwards think they’d like to switch their weapon to something a knight hit them with, or grab some plate armour to repair, or pick up the knights bulging coin purses, and (assuming I haven’t planned anything) I roll on the loot table and say “you find a piece of string and some leaves” my body might be found floating face down in the canal the next day.

I personally have no issue at all accepting the rules for a new system, I have faith they’re there for a good reason. But my players are not going to like a situation like that. It’s less about gaining loot, seeing as inventory is so limiting anyway, and more about suspension of disbelief. They’re going to tell me it’s just an implausible scenario.

How do you handle this for players new to torchbearer?

The system abstracts everything, so in the fiction a test or conflict is not neat and tidy like a dice roll; instead they emulate a cacophony of passions and hard realities, limbs and sweat, blood and howls, as long and sprawling as you like. You get to say what they find after such a messy clash. Anything else was broken, lost in the confusion, or worthless junk. Unsurprising really, if they still held decent gear, they wouldn’t have lost.

Think of it as part of the compromise: you won but you wrecked them and all their stuff. Surely they fought for their lives, right? They sacrificed everything and it still wasn’t enough.


First solution: use more inhuman monsters.

But when I do use humanoids and I use the results to portray that some of their gear “survived the battle.” Things break in Torchbearer. If they wonder why they can’t use the knight’s armor, it’s because that knight is dead now and the armor didn’t save him.

If they ask to take his sword, don’t say “there is no sword now.”

Say: “His sword lies broken at his side, shattered from when he tried (and failed) to parry your blow.”

This trick should work just long enough for the party to realize torches and rations are actually a better payout than another sword to lug around.

And maybe don’t talk up the quality of enemy gear unless you actually do plan to give it to them. There’s nothing wrong with capturing a magic sword (or spellbook) once in a while.


I guess you’re right Lord Mordeth, it isn’t very important and hopefully it won’t take players too long to realise that.

My players are a bit cautious and flighty about playing - I persuaded them to try it and I’m on edge about spooking them and sending them running back to DnD before they actually get a good proper taste of Torchbearer.


On a somewhat related note, I was just reading this thread: Tips for Fresh DM's and new PCs

And a post there explained this rule
“For planned problems in which the players are victorious, choose loot found or roll 2d6 on Loot Table 1 a number of times equal to the level of might of the opposition.”

to mean that winning a planned fight with 4 goblins means 8 rolls on loot table 1.

That sounds great, but is it correct? (It wasn’t how I interpreted it myself)

EDIT: Also, who rolls loot rolls? Not that it truly matters, but in your experience is it more fun/does it work better when the players roll or the GM?

It is correct.

On Loot Table 1, four Might 2 goblins is 8 rolls.

On Loot Table 2, it would be 2 rolls. (“Roll once for every 2 creatures defeated.”)

Yes, it is a lot of loot. But most of it is light, rations, etc. It is impossible to overpay the players in Torchbearer because they are limited to what they can carry. They can have one or two very good town phases and then they’ll be back to baseline. That’s the game working as intended.

If you give less loot than this, the game will be frustrating. The players will barely have enough to recover, and they simply won’t engage with the more fun aspects of the town phase.



I’m not worried that that’s too much, I think it sounds excellent - it was just surprising because I had read it as 2 rolls. I like 8 a lot more…

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I actually prefer to have players roll the loot rolls. It’s more fun that way.

I’ve never met a GM who agreed.

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I mostly place loot as the GM. When I do go to the tables, I roll myself.

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I mean, you could give them seriously gimped stuff.

Trash sword: Choose a conflict action. This action suffers -1D for this conflict. A trash sword breaks at the end of a conflict in which it is used.

^ Still better than fighting unarmed, but a far cry from a real sword.

Smelly leather armor: When hit, roll a d6. On a 6, you reduce the Attack or Feint by -1s, and the armor is damaged.

^ The d6 threshold for reducing damaged is greatly reduced, and unlike normal leather armor, it’s damaged after use.

Also, in addition to their cruddiness, they should always be found in broken state, requiring an Armorer test to fix.


I am inclined to say that if your PC wants to loot, let them loot, but you don’t have to make it easy. I generally try to avoid handwaving looting kit as being all broken. If the PCs want to spend more time to loot extra stuff it says something about who that character is (greedy? desperate? looking for trouble?) Let them lead the narrative. It’s pretty hard to give too much, as they can only carry so much away.

Ask the player what they want to get out of it so you can determine intent. Don’t give an inventory list, but describe the sensory information from their perspective and see how far they take it. You can use this moment to manage the expectations (if the NPC didn’t have a magic sword, they don’t have one now that the PCs are looking for one). Make it a Scavenger for something obvious like worn armor. If it’s something specific like hidden loot/rifling through the pockets, it’s a Scout roll. Add a GM factor for trying to loot ‘everything useful’.

Likely the Ob should be HIGH. If they fail, they could find something broken (perhaps repairable with an Armorer test). They might take too long and lose an extra turn. They might have taken so long, a wandering monster arrived. A lot of this is giving them the rope to hang themselves. Maybe they carry away stuff but become injured and exhausted.


I think I see your broader point but Injury seems like a really harsh consequence for looting armor off a corpse. Everything else about leading with the fiction and responding to intent, I couldn’t agree with more.

Oh no, yeah. I meant if they try to loot like everything, like multiple sets of plate armor, weapons, etc, and still walk away. It’s a bit like it being the result of a failed Laborer test. Yes, you get a huge haul of stuff, but you also threw your back out pulling it away. In the end, it’s an example of letting it ride.

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I could be wrong, but that is not how we play it. It is “ or roll 2d6 on Loot Table 1 a number of times equal to the level of might of the opposition…” Not “equal to the level of might for each member of the opposition.” The Might of the goblins is 2, not 2x4. So you would roll twice, whether there were four or twenty. (Might 2 creatures just don’t have a lot of stuff). Like I said, that may not be correct, but that’s how we’ve been laying for years.

That’s how we read it first too, and played that way for about two years.

It barely matters, but rolls equal to the total sum of Might is the official version.

It makes basic sense that 90 flumphs have more stuff than 9 flumphs. The adventurers probably can’t carry much of it anyway.


As a player I certainly like rolling loot more times when I fight more opponents. Killing 20 goblins is a feat. Killing 2 goblins is hardly worth pulling out the conflict cards.

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Oh I like these!

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