New in Town . . .

I haven’t actually run a game of Torchbearer yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

I have some questions about the Town phase.

  1. Is there a condition or twist for a failed haggling roll, or is the penalty simply the penalty to the roll on the table?

BTW: It seems like you can ace your Haggling roll and still roll poorly on the events table, or vice versa. This seems like it might feel unfair to players who roll well on haggling and poorly on the table.

  1. If haggling adds 1 to lifestyle and as a benefit I might get +1D to my lifestyle test, what’s the point?

  2. If I’m not Hungry and Thirsty – and why would I be if water is free? – do I still have to spend my first lifestyle at the Tavern on Hungry and Thirsty or can I use it on Angry or Afraid instead?

  3. I feel like the lifestyle expenses are inflated compared to the costs on the gear list. How do I explain within the fiction why a drink at the bar, a search for rumors, and a night in the flophouse cost as much as a suit of chainmail?

  4. Say the player has gold worth 2D and attempts to buy something with an Ob. 2. He rolls 0 successes. If I give him the item but “tax” his resources the margin of failure (2), and the 2D in gold insulate him from a resource “tax,” then 2D in gold basically buys a 2D item and the only reason to roll is just to check off a failure or success on advancing Resources. Am I doing that right? (I understand I have the option to inflict a Condition or Twist, too.)

  5. Players can leave town with no chance of making the Lifestyle roll. Can they make a Resources roll in the Market when they have no chance to succeed, basically paying for goods with twists and conditions?

  1. The condition is the penalty on the haggling table, as you say.

  2. There are a couple better rolls on the haggling table than just +1D to lifestyle test. You also get to build up your haggling skill which you are welcome to use in other areas of the game. Also, feel free to make up your own haggling table to roll on in town.

  3. You have to get rid of your conditions from top to bottom. Hungry and thirsty only requires that you eat or drink something.

  4. The cost of gear and lifestyle are just mechanical representations of the money, time, and resources the characters are spending. Feel free to roleplay it however you like. Also, why would chainmail be cheap?

  5. Getting a fail on a resources roll without being taxed is the best thing that can happen. Let’s say I have resources 2. I need 1 fail and 2 successes to bump it up to 3. With your example, I achieved a failed roll, but didn’t get taxed. That means I only need 2 successes before resources 3. I can do that through buying ob 1 stuff at the market or spending some coppers. Then I’ll be living large! I love how the economy works in the game.

  6. I would rule that they cannot go to the market if they don’t have a chance of paying for anything. If I were a merchant, I would need to see that you have the coin or resources to pay me up front. With lifestyle, you’re increasing your debt. So, if you can’t pay, tax collectors or bounty hunters are sent after you. Or you just can’t ever go back to town.

Hope that helps! Let us know if you have more questions.

  1. Why are you comparing a lifestyle test when leaving town to a roll to acquire gear? In one you already got the “stuff” and you’re just seeing if it was within your means when you leave, in the other you’re trying to buy chainmail? They’re not measured in the same fictional units.

I appreciate the replies.

  1. Thanks. Just wanted to be sure.

  2. I don’t know if I agree. The better outcomes, like #13 and #15, are basically offering me one free lifestyle expenditure – in exchange for one lifestyle expenditure. The 17-18 outcome seems like the only one that really pays off. And on page 31, it says, “Hagglers bargain over prices of goods and services exclusively in town.” So I don’t think I’m just banking the advancement for another occasion.

  3. Thanks. I was just confused by the “more” here: “You may also make recovery tests (as per the normal rules) for angry and afraid, if you order more drinks.”

  4. I’m not saying chainmail should be cheaper. I’m saying the drink, search for rumors, and night in the flophouse shouldn’t cost as much as chainmail.

The cost of chainmail is “Ob. 3.” A Lifestyle of 3 is an Ob. 3 check. Both checks use Resources. How are they different “fictional units”? Can loot not be spent on Lifestyle as you leave town? If so, why not?

  1. So basically, if you have loot to cover the cost of an item, you’re just rolling to get the pass or fail. That makes sense.

Sort of a follow-up question to that. Say I have 3D loot and want to buy torches, Ob.1. Am I only allowed to roll one loot die for the torches, or can I roll two to help ensure a success (and give me Resources 1, yay!), and if I do roll 2, have I then spent 2D on torches, or just one?

  1. I would think that’s how it works, too.

Love most of the rules, by the way. Just trying to get my head around the economic part. It just feels odd to bring random chance into how much money the player has, as if they can’t count it and just have to hope they don’t spend too much.

It just feels odd to bring random chance into how much money the player has, as if they can’t count it and just have to hope they don’t spend too much.
So, most of the loot you’re picking up isn’t the coin of the realm. It’s stuff that you’re trading, bartering, and bargaining with. Coins you find are probably going to be old and unfamiliar, possibly worth their weight in whatever metal they’re made of, but not necessarily legal tender. The resources mechanics abstract all of that. The question isn’t, “Do I have enough cash to buy these things?” It’s, “Can I get a good enough deal on selling, trading, and exchanging these things to cover my costs?”

Actually it’s not the loot that’s uncertain, if we’re correct about 5 above: 3D of coin lets you buy an Ob. 3 item without a twist or condition, provided the GM “taxes” you for a failure. It’s the Resources ability that isn’t reliable. I can have Resources 6 and have only a 1 in 3 chance of passing an Ob. 4 check, which I will incur for doing a bare minimum of things in town. The only solution is to save loot for the exit, but it’s not like the players get a ton of loot.

The deck is so stacked against the players in town that the logical approach is to spend all your loot in the market, incur all the Lifestyle expenses you can, and just count on never coming back to this place, while hoping the GM just gives you a condition at the door.

I think I’ve put my finger on what’s bugging me. Sorry not to have realized it sooner.

The Lifestyle system of accruing points toward a single test quickly creates an almost insurmountable hurdle out of a collection of very low ones. With Resources 4, I could pass quite a few Ob. 1 tests before I fail, but stack three of them together, and I’m pretty much doomed to botch it. It’s easy to jump 10 one-foot high obstacles, impossible to jump 1 ten-foot high one.

This puts market transactions – which top out around Ob 4 – and town activities, which can go way beyond that – in completely different categories of difficulty despite both being Resources tests.

Yup. Staying in towns is pretty damn expensive. Could make a body take up adventuring.

I get it, it’s part of the design. I just anticipate some pushback from my players. I will try it as written, but I have two house rules in my back pocket:

  1. No lifestyle cost for Haggling
  2. When you make your Lifestyle roll to leave town, you add your base Resources to the result.

You fixed the game.

Um, sorry? Is it not OK to question a rule?

Be nice Jared.

So here’s the thing: town is not a nice place. You’re vagrants and ne’er do wells. Probably outlaws and worse. They don’t want you there and they’ll rip you off at every opportunity. You get a little bit of a break if they know you (hence the +1D to Resources tests in your hometown), but overall, adventurers are unwelcome outsiders.

As players, you can get good at managing town, just as you can get good at managing adventures and camp. Once you have a Resources ability, things get a lot easier. Your treasure dice stretch a lot further when you have a Resources base to work from. But in the beginning, you can’t futz around in town. Recover from your conditions, buy something or take care of business if you have no other choice, and get out and back on the road. You can do a very serviceable town with only three or four treasure dice each as long as you keep things as simple as possible.

You can hunt your own food and make much of your gear on the road. Stick to the essentials. Eventually, once you get good at it and your adventures start paying off, you’ll be trying to figure out different ways you can spend the cash just so you don’t have to carry it around with you when you return to the adventure.

Also, Haggling is a skill that you get good at over time. But it’s never without cost. Once you’re good at it, the cost is rather low.

Also, burning bridges in towns is totally an option! The rules provide for just such an outcome. Certainly such actions would never come back to bite the players further on when their quests lead them back to that very same town…

For the fiction, don’t forget that the players are unwelcome, unwanted vagrants who are not part of the accepted social order. They’re basically living in a hotel and constantly eating at restaurants in a place where noone wants them or will do them any favors (unless it’s their home town or they have a friend or mentor there, but even that has limits). The tab runs up quickly because everyone wants them to leave!

When it comes to buying stuff “with a twist/condition”, don’t forget that the object of the test is to buy the thing, i.e. this will FAIL if you introduce a twist (as opposed to tax or a condition). So, if the players are buying platemail with zero Resources, just use a Twist result and have them run out of the market or even arrested for loitering.

Oh, and also: tinker away at the game. It won’t break, I promise.

My character has a 5 in Haggling. AMA.

You know what. I feel like an idiot for posting here. I mean, you all seem to know each other and have some long-running connection with the product or have created it or something. What am I doing here?

Thanks to those who made sincere attempts to help. Have fun.

For what it’s worth, I’m sorry that you feel like we’re making fun of you.

You’re right. Thor, Luke, & Jared are all devs of Torchbearer. So, they’re probably the right people to ask questions of.

People coming in and suggesting changes before seeing the game in play is sort of a thing around here, and sometimes it seems like nobody trusts the game designers to actually know what they’re talking about when they say that the game works as-is.

Anyway, I get it if you don’t see this, but we really are here to help out. Just give things a try as written first, and if it doesn’t work in play, then come back and we’ll see if we can help make sense of things.

RAW discussion split off to a new thread:

Haggling discussion moved here: