Monstrous Precedence and Haathor-Vash

Hi all!

I am finally, finally getting to run Torchbearer! Very excited about this and I hope that the Dread Crypt won’t make my players to dismayed, as it looks to be quite a challenge.

However, there’s on thing that I couldn’t quite explain when rereading the adventure, that made me reconsider whether I’m understanding the rules of the game correctly, namely Monstrous Precedence and the possibility to appease the spirit.

In summary, the Monstrous Precedence guidelines on p. 176 of the SG puts any 1st level adventurers at about Precedence 0-1 compared to other monsters, perhaps 2 if “Leaders” is to be interpreted broadly. And on p. 252 of the SG Haathor-Vash is listed as having a Precedence of 4!

Considering that p. 82 of the SG limits convincing to equal and lower precedence (confirmed in the DH), wouldn’t that mean that the party shouldn’t be able to initiate convince/negotiate conflicts, which are detailed on p. 254 of the SG? Should I explain to them that this is a special case due to being a “demo” adventure, or should perhaps the initiative come from the spirit herself? Should I then use the +1s per Precedence level difference rule, despite it not being mentioned? Or is there something else I’ve missed?

And yes, the first things that comes to my mind is to Manipulate the out-of-touch spirit and convince it I’m a Warlord of equal Precedence, but that’s not something I expect from beginning players who don’ have the benefit of knowing the adventure :wink:

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Thor had some good insight that still applies:

In terms of expectation setting, the players should understand that there are things in the dungeon that are too much to handle. That is a very common theme in Torchbearer. The characters are not heroes, and if they act as such, they will probably be short for this world. I believe the players should understand all of that upfront, and that, just because this is the first adventure and they come across a dragon or a high noble, it is not necessarily there for them to “defeat heroically.” They have to make some tough choices.

Some options on how to handle the social conflict:

  1. The party tries to Convince, but because of the Precedence difference, the best outcome they can hope for is to Trick. From there, they might be able to work out some other deal, but it would really depend on what was said and what they hoped to achieve.

  2. Find a way to close the Precedence gap. With some finery (+1) and Visage of the Lord of Victory (+2), the party could temporarily increase their Precedence enough for either a Haggle or Convince conflict. In a longer campaign, this could be an interesting, strategic route if the party goes back to a town to purchase finery and then make preparations for the invocation.

  3. The adventure specifies that if the party returns the loot, the spirit could possibly be appeased (see Appeasing the Spirit). It is not clear if that section means “regardless of Precedence,” but, you could say that each of these offerings increase Precedence (as social conflict weapons) just enough to make the negotiations possible. It would really depend on how strictly you want to adhere to the rules and if this is an interesting decision for the party based upon their beliefs and goals.

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Thank you very much for your insight! It is much appreciated. I’ve already tried to set expectations and I told the group that TB will definitely be less heroic than other fantasy dungeoncrawls we’d been playing.

Regarding your three ideas specifically about social combat, they are very useful. I’m all for interesting choices and non-obvious solutions, but I also want to run this RAW as possible - this is a small group of friends of mine who are also experienced GMs and we’ve taken upon ourselves to test and try out different systems as a learning exercise in addition to our ongoing campaigns.

I’ll definitely talk over most of the options you’ve mentioned in a post-mortem discussion that we usually do at the end of these playtests, to explain and understand how each system would treat different approaches.

> TB will definitely be less heroic
Just wanted to add that players can definitely try to become heroes. That is certainly an arc that this game offers lots of opportunities to explore by playing for or against your belief or Creed. It is just that the general conceit does not begin with the characters starting as “heroes.” It’s a very subtle point, but really gets to the heart of the game.

> I’ll definitely talk over most of the options you’ve mentioned in a post-mortem
Might and Precedence are important abilities with unique mechanics that you could mention beforehand. When you say, “you cannot just kill a dragon or make demands of a king” people grok it, but they might not intuit that “finery” is one of the mechanical means to elevate that Ability.

Good luck!

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There are many ways to trick Haathor-Vash!

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Oh, I don’t doubt that! Just wanted to be sure what the intention behind including such detailed descriptions of possible negotiations and appeasements were, when the Monstrous Precedence rules seem to be quite prohibitive in engaging with them.

For now I’ll make sure to note Might and Precedence during chargen, and should my players be inclined to talk with the spirit (whether through their initiative or following capture for example) I will remind them of those, without giving away any stats of Haathor-Vash but hinting at Precedence possibly being high, through the description of her imperious demeanour and the like.

I’ll also be on the lookout to provide them with a subtle opportunity to have a negotiation instigated by her - after all, Seeking Knowledge is in her nature, which makes her an excellent villain and not a bloodthirsty, frenzied monstrosity.

I’ll let you all know how it goes tomorrow. Thanks once more to @Koch for hist thoughts, and to @luke for gracing this humble thread with his presence! It’s all encouraging and appreciated.

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Sadly, due to our session being cut an hour shorter than expected, we’ve just managed to go through character creation. But we’re all very hyped for Torchbearer after tonight, so I feel that’s a success! There were some questions about mechanics, but I’ll post them separately, so that they’re easier to find?

One thing the team theurge did find strange, and possibly a typo, is that Foundation of the Lords of Law seems to have the duration of “One Conflict”? Are we mistaken to think this is not an applicable duration for an invocation which seems to bring forth the peace and safety neccessary to establish a campsite or a new base?

Awesome. Glad everyone is excited.

Re: Foundation: That looks like a transposition error. It should be Duration: Permanent.

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