Player Best Practices

I just posted this over on G+, but sharing here too:

Keep Track of the Turn Count

  • If members of your party are Fresh, try to camp after the third turn so they can remain Fresh (that means someone has to earn at least one check in the first three turns!).

  • If you’re running low on resources like food and water, you should also try to camp after the third turn to prevent earning the Hungry/Thirsty condition.

Eat or Drink If You’re Hungry or Thirsty
Unless you’re running low on food and water for the party, make sure you get rid of the Hungry/Thirsty condition before the Grind imposes another condition. In general, this means eating or drinking right away or setting up camp. All it takes is a trap or a nasty twist to set off a cascade of tests that advances the Grind by two or three turns to put you into se[/rious trouble.

Plan When and Where to Camp
If you only find yourself looking for a camp (or even worse, thinking about earning a check) when the party is already in dire need, you’re playing with fire. All it takes is one twist to push you further into the adventure and your party may become too far gone to help.[/li][li]If possible, establish a base camp with amenities (shelter, water, concealment) and get it on your map. Then you have a relatively safe place to which you can return, and the ready access to water means you can feel more confident extending the turn count a bit during the adventure phase. You don’t have to gun for all the camp amenities in one test either. You can add them over time.

Pack a Cloak
You don’t need everyone to bring a cloak along, but they’re incredibly useful. Exhausted is a debilitating condition and the Ob 3 Health test for recovery (or more if you’ve been casting spells, wearing armor, etc.) is difficult, even if you have high Health. A cloak can provide +1D to that Health test. I’m sure you can find all sorts of other uses for a cloak too, even if they require cutting it apart.

Learn Alchemy
You don’t need everyone to be an alchemist, but access to this skill will go a long way toward keeping your party out of condition hell, especially if one character has an instinct that allows for the creation of elixirs and salves in camp. Alchemists are good at supplementing Clerics in condition-management and are even more important if you don’t have a Cleric. Alchemists are great at helping party members alleviate the Afraid condition, and skilled ones can go a long way toward alleviating Angry and Exhausted as well.

Map Regularly
It’s much easier to map small areas than large ones, so keep that map up-to-date! The map is your friend! When you’re exploring, one excellent technique is to make staged expeditions from you base camp, explore a few rooms, then map them so you can return to your base camp.[/li][li]Work mapping into an instinct if you can.

Look (Listen, Smell, Etc.) Before You Leap
One of the most dangerous things you can do in Torchbearer is commit to a course of action without knowing what you’re facing. I see it all the time: Groups rush headlong into an area or chamber with no idea what’s there, determined to fight. And they get into massive trouble if whoever or whatever is lurking there is tougher than they expected. Whenever possible, determine what you’re facing and how many before it comes to a conflict.

Don’t Fear the Reaper

Well, maybe a little. But unless you’re Sick or Injured, failing a test is not the end of the world, so go ahead and take a risk sometimes. If you think you have better options, definitely take them. But if no one does anything because they’re afraid of failing, you’ll have one dull ass game. And what the hell? If the obstacle turns out to be too high for you to succeed, at least you can feel safe earning a check!

Don’t Shy Away from Beginner’s Luck
You can always try, even if no one has the required skill. Take a chance and work to learn a new skill! And when you get right down to it, someone using Beginner’s Luck and lots of help might even have more dice to use than someone who’s skilled. In the long run, that’s actually great for the character that’s already skilled, because eventually you’ll have someone in the party who can help you.

Make Use of Scrolls
Magicians, rangers and clerics can dramatically increase their effectiveness by creating and carrying scrolls – especially for situational spells/miracles. Keep in mind that the ability to make scrolls can even allow you to cast in the adventure phase after you’ve cast all your memorized spells/prayers – it’ll just cost you a turn. How? Well, let’s say you come to a cliff and you’d love to use Lightness of Being to get to the top but you don’t have it memorized. If you know the spell, you can take a turn during the adventure phase to scribe it into a scroll. Casting it from the scroll won’t cost you a turn, since using magic doesn’t.

Survivalist and Scavenger Are Your Friends
You can use the Survivalist skill to create makeshift tools and Scavenger to put find materials. This includes things like torches! Use Scavenger to find dry twigs and grasses, then use Survivalist to bind them together and you’ve got a torch. Sometimes, getting out alive is going to require you to make stuff.


I must spread some reputation around before giving it to Thor again. Very nice.

Don’t forget my advice to young magicians: Throw away that knife, it burdens you unnecessarily.

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One of the things I learned recently is that conflicts are really one of the best places to pick up and/or spend checks. Players should be picking up a check every time they take an action (unless failure it is completely untenable). Additionally, using a check to earn a test for helping is a big help in speeding up your advancement.

Does this go for elf rangers as well? Or does actually having a fighter skill make the difference?

Get thee to a bow store, young elf.

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Elves must learn to fight and acquire sword and bow as soon as possible.

Does the cloak help with all health tests to recover from Exhaustion? Or just those involving staying warm or dry, like the description says?

At the very least it’ll help you fall asleep and stay asleep, like a blankie. It’ll keep you warm and snug and crawlies off your skin. Or you can roll it up like a pillow if it’s warm enough out.

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It probably wouldn’t help if it’s 100 degrees, no. The GM gets to make these calls. What makes sense?

While this is excellent info, I feel players should figure this all out on their own. What I look forward to the most is running this game for the first time (next week) and since it’s so different than other games, having them learn the first time. The “wonder” of it all.

If it’s so warm and dry that the GM says you don’t need your cloak, why isn’t the GM giving you +1D for such good conditions that mimic a cloak’s protection so faithfully?

Because they’re cancelled by the having to lug it about. My “light” cloak was 5 pounds of cotton; my heavy one 7 pounds of wool and 2 of cotton. And that’s a design that requires no fixtures… Keep in mind - you’re talking 4-8 square yards of fabric. At about a pound a square yard for light wool or medium cotton. They’re big, they’re heavy. And they don’t fit in your pack. So you have to put them over the pack, or over you.

I’ve seen a lot of contradictory thoughts on this, and I have trouble figuring out the eat/drink function in the game. I got the impression that eating on the 3rd turn of the grind will not prevent Hungry/Thirsty on Turn 4? But camping (and eating) on Turn 3 will? Can a player who is Hungry/Thirsty eat/drink whenever? For example, in the middle of a fight, can a player drink some wine and fight in the same turn? Or just between tests whenever they like? Is losing Fresh on turn 4 inevitable?

Eating or drinking alleviates the Hungry & Thirsty condition. Yeah, you can do it for free, but you can’t do it to stave off the condition - food and drink only gets rid of a condition you already have. Camping resets the turn counter, though. So, if you camp on turn 3, you not only don’t hit the grind, but when you camp, the next test signals a new turn 1.

Also, I don’t think I’d let someone take a drink in the middle of a conflict. Eating/drinking doesn’t take a turn, but it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll grab your wineskin to take a swig while you’ve got a sword in one hand and a torch in the other during a kill conflict.

Ok, seems clearer now, but as I haven’t reallly played the game yet, how hard would it be to always set camp on turn 3?

Well, there’s the rub! Sometimes, you just can’t! Occasionally, the players eat up the first couple of turns, and then, when 3 comes along, they’re in a situation where camping just isn’t feasible. Or, sometimes, they get a terrible result on the setting camp table and wind up not being able to camp because they’ve inadvertently tried to set up in some monster’s nesting grounds or something.

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