New GM / First Reading Questions

So I have a few questions from my first proper session of Torchbearer 2e.

  1. If the players fail a roll on, earn hungry and thirsty, and the grind is also advancing on that turn, do they also immediately earn exhausted?

  2. We used roll20, which gives -1s to all tests from hungry and thirsty, and also exhausted, is this correct?

  3. Does a test in the adventure phase from an instinct advance light sources? (e.g. are light sources tied to the grind or their own timer?)

  4. If a player or npc is disarmed in a conflict, can they switch weapons between rounds? And is this limited to belt items?

  5. The warrior level 1 watch benefit, is the effect only that they don’t have to spend a check to prevent disaster? (I think we did this wrong and said they can keep watch while doing other actions at camp).

  6. I’m a little uncertain about cartography, is this just to make the map, then pathfinder to use it?

  7. Can a player use a one handed weapon and a shield to benefit the same roll in a conflict?

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Nope. H&T and Exhaustion should only affect Disposition in a Conflict, not all Tests.

They’re tied to the Grind and the Grind does not advance.

They can switch to whatever weapons fit the current narrative. ‘Belt items only’ makes pretty good sense for most fights.

Not 100% sure on this one, but I think that’s what it says.

Cartography helps you make a map. If locations have been successfully mapped, and the gm says that there’s nothing between two locations that would prevent travel, travel between those two locations doesn’t need a test or take a turn. Trying to find a place that you’ve only heard about or that you’re not 100% certain of its location might need a Pathfinder test to get you there.

During a Conflict you choose one weapon for the round. Either the sword or the shield, not both.


Hi @PassLeftGames !

  1. Yes: they fail the roll, the consequence is applied (Hungry & Thirsty in your example), and then the Grind clicks on, inflicting Exhausted.

  2. No: Instincts don’t take a Turn, so don’t advance the grind (one of the excellent advantages of Instincts). Similarly, in Camp Phase, a suitable Instinct does not cost a Check.

  3. Yes, they can switch weapons between rounds (or rearm with 4 successes on a successful Manoeuver).

  4. Pathfinder gets you to where you’re going the first time (think of it a bit like trailblazing). A map created by Cartographer allows you to “fast travel”, in the manner of a number of video games: it gets you where you’re going without advancing the Grind.

  5. No, you only get the benefits from the equipped Weapon you chose at the start of the round. In the fiction, I might be holding both, but this round, I’m hiding behind my shield / next round I’m swinging my axe around.

@Nytmare is going to now cover the bits I missed!


Thank you both, very helpful.

Yeah my players got caught with that and all ended up with exhausted (the were all helping on the roll), they did start really paying attention to the grind after that though.

Yeah I’m a little uncertain how to run this, a player got disarmed in the fight and was asking if they could pick up their weapon / get another one from their bag / have another character give them one. There are 4 players in the party, so if it’s too easy to get another weapon between rounds they’ll never get hit by the -1D for unarmed, but if it’s too hard they could easily end up disarmed for the whole conflict (when perhaps it doesn’t feel realistic). I think I might go with belt or another character’s hands / belt.

re: Disarm
I think that, a lot of the time, your players won’t suffer the -1D for being unarmed.

This is because they’ll be taking turns during a Conflict, and there’s enough players that it wouldn’t often be an issue.

However, picture the scene where (due to previous rounds of the Conflict), there’s only 2 characters left standing (as I’ve had happen in a Torchbearer game).

  • Character 1 acts in Volley 1 and 3.
  • Character 2 acts in Volley 2.

If, in Volley 1, Character 1 is Disarmed of their shield, then they don’t have access to it until they Rearm as part of a (very) successful Manoeuvre (the enemy has not only prevented them from using the Weapon, but also prevented them re-equipping it between rounds).

In that circumstance, they have to lead Volley 3, whereupon they suffer the -1D for no weapon.

As to what to allow, your thoughts are all good!

What you allow / don’t allow here also shape the style and tone of your game.

For instance, at our table, we allow you to equip a friend’s Weapon, assuming everyone is OK with that.

In the fiction (at our game), when Osric Godtouched was disarmed of his shield by the skeletons that were pressing close, Bricks threw their axe over to him, allowing Osric to press the attack shortly thereafter.

At the table, Osric’s player was disarmed, and, at the end of the round, when they were all choosing their weapons for the following round, Bricks’ player suggested that the axe they had would be useful. We thought that was reasonable, given the fiction (and the style we were aiming for).

In contrast, if Bricks had been knocked out (i.e. they currently had no disposition), we wouldn’t allow Osric to grab that axe except via the Rearm part of Manoeuvre.

Again, some of this is the style of the game we are aiming for.

Solely in response to the question of disarm: it can apply to a trait just as much as to a weapon. Also, it is super useful for players when they understand their opponent well enough to recognize a weapon or trait worth disarming.

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Very true: I really like the design philosophy that social disputes have a proper mechanism too rather than the usual situation where even trivial physical combat has a complex system but social is usually determined by a combination of player’s words and a single test; however, does take a moment to internalise the idea that you can equip “an embarrassing secret” as a weapon and consequently disarm someone of it too.

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Hi there Seb,

If you have another weapon in your inventory, you can equip it between rounds (Choose Your Weapon, Scholar’s Guide, page 66. If you want to reequip a weapon that was disarmed, you need to use the Rearm Maneuver Effect (Scholar’s Guide, page 69).

With regard to Choose Your Weapon, I don’t think a game master would be out of bounds to rule that if the new weapon is in the character’s pack (as opposed to in a belt slot) they can only equip it via the Rearm maneuver. FTR, I don’t do this, but it is an option.

In play, I think you’ll find that many players don’t carry an additional physical weapon because they want the inventory space for something else.

Also, as Mark points out, Disarms are strong when there’s only one or two opponents left in the conflict so that they have to take two or three actions in the round.

Finally, some spells and invocations are equipped as weapons. You could use Disarm against spells like Swarm and Wizard’s Aegis, or against invocations like Evocation of the Lords of Battle, for instance.


Yeah I like this approach, from a friend provided they have disposition, and either from hands or a belt slot is probably what I’ll run (and ofc only in between rounds). Otherwise disarm doesn’t feel worth the 3 successes.

This is really interesting, thanks, I hadn’t considered this. The trait being anything that gives the opposition a bonus or effect in combat? Does the disarm need to be on the trait used (or ‘equipped’) by the creature/npc during that action?

I’ve not run a social conflict in torchbearer, so the secret would be a weapon that can be used across multiple actions (provided the conflict goes on for long enough), and so disarming it could be a huge boon?

I quite like this as a choice to give the players, whether someone should have an extra weapon handy to toss to a disarmed character.

Is a disarmed spell then gone from the wizards memory place? (I think I need to have a look at how these spells/invocations work in combat).

Thanks again everyone for all the help :).


Having a “weapon” in social conflicts is useful. Depending on what the “weapon” is, it might only apply to certain actions: for example, Blackmail information is might give +1D to feint (because they are worried you are heading for the reveal but you make a different argument or vice versa) but not to Attack (because you can’t hold something over someone by revealing it).

As an example of social “weapons”, a few sessions ago we wanted to convince the last two members of a lith band to retreat and Osric, our shaman, turned out to be the friend of their mother, so we started a convince conflict and he equipped “Uncle Osric” as a weapon because children tend to trust/obey adults they knew as children. They didn’t try to disarm him, but if they did, the narration could have been them countering that if he was their Uncle Osric then he should be supporting them not the people who attacked their camp, or that they joined the lith band to get away from their mother, &c.


Yes. Equipping a spell/invocation counts as casting it.


I would not require the trait be ‘equipped’ during the action exchange. But, I suggest this is best for a recurring NPC. So, whether it is something non-lethal being contested or the trait is discovered in some prior scene, the players should learn about the opposition enough to consider it. I tend to only think of level 1 traits for NPCs, so it will come up pretty rare.

Some GMs propose that an NPC of sufficient importance deserves some Fate/Persona points to contribute against the PCs to help hold out in conflicts. I haven’t tested that, but it seems credible.

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