Questions as I prep

I’ve been rereading Torchbearer and taking notes as I get ready to start my first campaign next week. Excited! I have a few questions, though:

  1. I want to check my understanding of asymmetric intents in conflicts. Does this mean that any time Might 3 adventurers engage in a drive off or flee conflict with a Might 5 monster, the monster can seek to kill them, and if they lose it’s a (potential) total party kill? Similarly, if the PCs engage giant bats in a kill conflict, do the bats need to pick a different intent?

  2. How does the survivalist roll for making camp work? The factors seems to suggest that a successful survivalist test to make camp can give you two things: first, a bonus on the camp events table, and second, amenities during during camp. So you’d say “I’m trying to make camp, and I want to find us some water,” the GM says “this is an unsafe area, and you are looking for the whole party, so counting up the factors your ob is 4.” But on the other hand, p. 82 says that finding a site, and amenities you’ve found or constructed affects whether the camp is in fact typical/unsafe/dangerous. How do these fit together? Do we make the survivalist roll to determine whether our camp is typical/unsafe/dangerous? Or is that purely determined by the fiction?

Also, I’m having trouble parsing the amenities factors, which seem to have a special rule - how does it work? What’s the ob for just finding water? What’s the ob for finding water and shelter?

  1. What’s the ob for creating supplies to use with another skill? For instance, healer says it can use supplies from alchemists. I assume those are created through an alchemy test?

  2. If you’re in town, do you have to get an accommodation that includes sleeping quarters? E.g. could you go through a town phase with a drink at the tavern as your only accommodation? Or do you have to find somewhere to sleep?

  3. When the characters do research in town, how do the factors work? Let’s say a player is doing research in a library and asks “what information is there about this place?” How does the GM set the ob? Does the GM decide in the fiction what’s available in the library, and set the ob accordingly? As in “hmm, well, there’s actually only a travelogue on this place available in the library, so the Ob will only be 1, but that’s the best thing available.”

  4. This is a silly question, but is there a good way for characters to get a beast to ride that will increase their order of might? The rider rules look fun, but I can’t think of how to use them to increase order of might off the top of my head, since the party can’t capture anything higher on the order of might than them without an army…

This is a very simplistic answer to #6, but my solution would be: Capture Conflicts are wholly inappropriate to the goal of making a mount of something Mightier than an adventurer. Trick, Riddle, Persuade, or even some kind of narrative solution (to create an amenable situation for both parties) would be better choices and more interesting.

Even if captured, I wouldn’t expect a Might 4+ creature to willingly take a bit and bridle under any circumstances.

With regard to #4, yes. You need to have somewhere to sleep (even if on the streets or in the stables) if you plan to stay in town for more than just the afternoon. If one member of the party or more is staying at an accommodation to make recovery tests, then that means the party is in the town for one or more nights, and everyone will need accommodations (unless those who don’t want them instead want to head out on their next adventure without those who are recovering, which I would allow but advise against).

  1. Asymmetric intent is designed to make sure that both sides are going after their actual goals. The party’s desired outcome determines the type of Conflict, but the Nature, demeanor and goals of the enemy side determine what they get when they win. This must be within reason and fit with the narrative–i.e. the Party starts a Persuade Conflict with a group of bugbears and they know the language. The bugbears are belligerent but not actively hostile at the start. I wouldn’t leverage a loss with no compromise into a TPK, because at the outset the conflict isn’t kill-or-be-killed. On the other hand, if a bounty hunter has a character at knife’s point and asks him for one good reason not to slit his throat right now, and the player initiates a Persuade conflict, death should be very much on the line for that character in the case of a loss with no compromise (and maybe even with a compromise, depending on circumstances).
  1. I read Page 82 as being primarily story-based, or based on a return to the camp after another Adventure Phase. So, you do some in-story searching for a suitable site, maybe there are amenities that don’t require Survival rolls to identify (there was that fountain of fresh water you already passed by, in a secluded room with one entrance and no nearby monsters) and which can affect the starting state/danger level of the camp. Additionally, you can make Survival rolls while setting up camp or as Check uses during Camp phase to improve the site, making it a better and safer location, and thus further modifying the later camp rolls either by using a different table or by getting the +1 table bonus.

Hi Ignotus!

  1. Monsters never have an intent in conflicts. Only the conflict the players initiate matters. If the players initiate a Kill conflict, it’s a Kill conflict all around. If the players initiate a Flee conflict, it’s a Flee conflict all around. The Suggested Conflict Compromises table on page 73 is meant to help GMs figure out appropriate compromises based on the players’ intent. For instance, if the PCs attempt to flee but the GM wins, the GM’s monsters could capture them. If the players win the Flee conflict, they escape, but maybe they become afraid in the process, or wind up lost.

So what do asymmetric conflicts mean if it’s not about intent? Well, let’s say your group encounters a group of four kobolds and immediately moves to slay them. It’s a kill conflict. Both sides use the Kill conflict skills, but the kobolds don’t actually have sufficient Might to kill the PCs, even if they win the conflict. If the kobolds win, they could injure the PCs, drive them off, capture them…pretty much anything short of actually killing them.

Likewise, what if the PCs try to slay a black dragon that they don’t have sufficient Might to kill? Again, use the kill conflict skills. If the dragon wins, the Killing Is My Business rules apply. If the players win, they can’t kill it. Maybe they deal it an injury or chase it away from its hoard.

  1. Remember that everything occurs through the lens of Describe to Live. The players tell you where they’re looking to make camp and how they go about doing it. I recommend that anyone at a loss for this check out shows like Survivor Man or Dual Survival or similar to see what they do to go about securing a campsite for the night. Whether the place they’re looking is typical, unsafe or dangerous is purely determined by the fiction. Making a camp in the Shire is typical. Making a camp on Weathertop is unsafe. Making a camp near Mordor is Dangerous. You get to decide which fits as the GM.

The player, on the other hand, might say, “I scan the hills for a cave or at least an overhang that can protect us from the wind and rain.” Let’s say you’ve determined it’s an unsafe area – this is troll country. I would set that as Ob 3 – 2 for unsafe and 1 for shelter. If the player were looking for a campsite with a brook or natural spring of potable water instead, I’d make it Ob 4 (2 for unsafe and 2 for the water source camp amenity). As a judgment call, I wouldn’t apply the Breadth factor in this instance since camp always applies to the whole party.

I would use the breadth factor if you were looking for potable water to refill the party’s skins in the middle of the adventure phase (that would be Ob 2 – 1 for locating a potable water source and 1 for the adventuring party).

  1. It depends on the skill. For instance, let’s say a Laborer wants to supply lumber for a Carpenter. If you look at Laborer, gathering wood is an Ob 1 Laborer test. As for Healer and Alchemist…well, an alchemist could sterilize bandages for the healer by boiling them (Ob 1 – purify with fire). Or maybe distill potent spirits or brew some medicine for the Healer (Ob 2 – distill). It comes down to how the players describe their actions and what you as the GM feel is appropriate.

  2. You don’t have to spend the night in town. You can drink in the tavern, for instance. But if others in your party plan to stay longer than that (they take a room at an inn, for instance), then you too need some sort of accommodation. You can’t sleep in the tavern without paying!

  3. You have it exactly right. The GM determines what’s available and uses that to set the obstacle.

  4. I believe that horses were intended to be Might 4 (at least originally). I’m not ready to call it errata, though it may end up being errata. But yes! You can trick a beast into becoming your captive. Or, you could find a way to get on its back and attempt to break it. Jumping onto a griffon’s back while it’s distracted is extremely dangerous, but you’ll become a legend if you can do it without becoming its next meal!

Hope this helps!

  1. You got it, and yes, is totally possible to have a TPK but that is absolutely the worst case scenario.

  2. The GM decides under what circumstances the party is, Dangerous, Unsafe or Typical camp, be that because they chose to camp in a relatively safe part of the dungeon, you deem their actions a Good Idea or because they had a viable successful Survivalist test.

Finding water is Ob 1, finding shelter is Ob 1… I guess is Ob 2? I’d probably rule it as an Ob 2.

  1. I think that it means that both skills can use the same supplies. But I might be wrong.

  2. Yes, you need sleeping quarters. I’m pretty sure Taverns don’t count as accommodations.

  3. Yes, is more like “How secret this dungeon really is”. If you made a library or temple available to the players, it should be possible for them to find info about the dungeon (albeit difficult). You can always save inaccurate or incomplete information for a failed test.

  4. I think that having the players find and get to ride a higher Might creature should be an adventure on itself!

Stay cool :cool:

Damn, I should have refreshed before posting.

Thanks! This is really helpful. I love the way the fiction flows into the mechanics in Torchbearer, so the crunchiness never crowds out roleplay. Super excited to run the game.

Just want to jump on #1, make sure you read Thor’s response. No asymmetric conflicts does not mean that while fleeing from a dragon the dragon just gets to kill you. He gets to capture you because it’s a flee conflict. He may then decide to kill you now that he has you in his clutches, and he’ll probably succeed unless you can think of a very clever way out of that mess, but the result of a flee conflict is never “you die” (unless you were already injured or sick). What asymmetric conflicts does mean is that when you try to kill a lone kobold, he can’t kill you back even if he miraculously wins, he’s too puny.