So, in between other games, I got my friends to try Torchbearer. They’re not familiar with the game, and they’re in another state, so I sent them the pregenerated characters and had them fill in the variable bits in pencil.
We played ‘Under the House of the Three Squires’. The party consisted of the Halfling Burglar, the Dwarven Adventurer and the Elven Ranger. Upon finding the blood trail into the cellar, they poked around the empty house looking for threats, valuables, or maybe a lantern. I figured that there might be a lantern there, so the halfling attempted an impossible Scavenger test, and was ambushed by kobolds. I hadn’t expected to get into a conflict this early, but there we were. They drove the kobolds off (although I forgot that’s what was happening and had them all die instead), and then began to explore the cellar.
They sniffed at the strange smell in the air, and I wanted to apply the halfling’s Kobold-wise somehow, but I wasn’t sure how I would do that. They noted that the smell was kobold musk, and then stomped down onto the rickety stairs, which promptly collapsed. The dwarf and elf decided to roll with it, while the halfling dove for a handhold. I realized that that seemed odd, to just try to, what, not die? I guess that works. The halfling failed, though, and clung to the edge of the stairs, afraid.
They ignored the barricade in the cellar, and made for the cold room, where they were chased off by giant rats. In the first fight, they shrugged off their packs to fight better. This time, they forgot to do so, and I forgot to apply the penalty, but I also forgot about their armor, so we called it a wash.
They ran through the dark tunnels…
Then the late player showed up. We cranked out the Human Cleric for him as quickly as we could.
… and they encountered a cleric watching a group of kobold guards in the next room. The break in the action made me forget about the trap, so the adventurers engaged the kobolds in conversation, attempting to get them to go fight the giant rats instead (mmm… rats). Not a bad idea, and they won, at the cost of a few rations. So the kobold guards ran off to eat some rat, while the adventurers accidentally set of the alarm. Apparently nobody in the adjoining area noticed, though.
Lost as they were, the adventurers accidentally doubled back the way they came to find evidence of a rat-fight. Realizing their mistake (sort of), they went back into the guard area and peered into the room with the kobolds whipping on a bound kobold. They noticed the injured man, but decided that 12 kobolds was too many, and having met their goals and being mostly chaotic anyway, said “screw it” and went back to the cellar.
In the cellar, they moved the barricade and proceeded into the wine cellar. They found the loot, and the casks of beer (but not before dodging the net trap), and then loaded up to leave. There was some confusion about sacks and how to carry things, but they mostly figured it out. I had some questions about storage. By the reading of the gear stats, you can’t put a sword in a sack, or a shield in a sack, or even really a helmet in a sack. But whatever, they sorted it all out (or said that they did).
It was getting late, so I kind of just let them leave at that point, even though there might have been another Laborer test to carry all of that stuff, or a test to climb back up the broken stairs.
Town was a bit confusing. Perhaps it was too late, or I had grown discouraged. I don’t know. So we kind of fumbled through it. The dwarf’s player had tried a short demo of the game with me before, and just like last time, he was loaded down with more conditions than anybody else, and found it frustrating, especially since, if you fail to recover from a light condition, it blocks you from recovering from a stronger condition, and conditions are pretty nasty.
I doubt I’ll play again with these guys. Most of them thought it was interesting. One even described it, unprompted, as “D&D Hard Mode”. I think they liked the conflict rules. The Resources rules they didn’t care for, though at least they were quick. “Wait, so if I spend treasure, and fail the roll, I still get the item, but also lose the treasure?” One of the players, while I’m sure he appreciated the design, doesn’t care for this sort of play. That’s OK, and I appreciate him setting the game up for me and participating anyway. He’s a good guy.
Weirdly, there was a suggestion that it was simultaneously too detail oriented in how you interacted with the environment, but also apparently repetitive in that it was just a bunch of dice-rolling. It was probably in part how I presented it. It probably would have helped if they had all made their own characters and I had been there in person.
Later I found out that people mostly liked it, but didn’t care for the resource management, particularly the way resources work and the part where they were struggling to juggle everything in their packs to carry it all out of the dungeon.