Showing off Torchbearer at an event. Tips?

To keep a long story short: me and a few friends are hosting a workshop at our university where we have the opportunity to talk about TTRPGs, and we want to use it to show people what other games exist beyond Dungeons and Dragons. Obviously I’m going to show off Torchbearer, I’ve had my best experiences with the hobby GMing this game and I’m very passionate about it, but it is a complicated box to unpack in an hour of time.

I have a fair amount of experience teaching the system to others, I’ve introduced roughly 20 friends to the game, but I’m a little intimidated by the prospect of introducing it to complete strangers with varying and unknown amounts of experience with the hobby. (We have not received a lot of information from the organizers of the event)

Since there’s people here who’ve been to conventions and the likes, I was wondering if anyone had tips or insights for me.

An hour seems too short a time to both explain the game and run a short adventure. But what about a quick 2-room adventure with a simplified ruleset? (Using only abilities, and no conflicts or advancement mechanics, for instance)

Simply going over the character sheet while explaining the mechanics is how I always teach interested players, but that approach seems a bit dull for a workshop. How do developers at conventions usually go about explaining complicated games?

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Hello and welcome!

My two cents is that I would be certain to include conflicts somehow because it is one of the main things that distinguishes it from other games. Conflicts highlight the cinematic aspect of the game and the coupling of fiction and mechanics. A conflict should be one of the greatest moments of joy for a player when they face uncertainty or doom. Compared to other systems, conflicts are very collaborative and more engaging because of the help mechanics where everyone is involved and you are not just watching the other players roll a bucket of dice to “swing and miss.”


That sounds exciting! Do you know what the format of the workshop is? You have an hour. Any idea how many people? Will you all be sitting around a table or will you be up front speaking to sitting participants?

Print out our iconic characters.
Explain Belief, Instinct, Goal.
Explain the situation and place the characters in a room in a bad situation (like any room in Dread Crypt frex).
And don’t avoid conflicts, drive toward one.


It’s been a month since the event came and went, and it went well! I remembered this thread and figured I’d post an update.

We still only had a vague idea of how the event was organized untill we arrived, so we improvised a lot of our showcase. Turned out we got two rounds of 90 minutes to do our activity, we opened each round with an elevator pitch of the systems we had (Blades in the Dark, D&D for the uninitiated, Torchbearer, and Sexy Battle Wizards) and then broke up the participants based on interest.

I took the advice here, and instead of preparing an hour long presentation that had no hope of being anything but dry (wet presentation?), I started playing as soon as possible.

  • Explained the premise of the Dread Crypt
  • Dished out the simplified character sheets from the Iconics in DHB
  • Explained Beliefs, Goals, Instincts, and briefly the rest of the character sheet
  • Explained the Grind
  • Dropped them in the trapped/false sarcophagus room and off they went

My participants had all played D&D before in some capacity, which was great because I just paraphrased Describe to Live and they immediately went off exploring the room.

I put high obstacles in their path, and that was a good stepping stone to teach them about help, traits, wises, and artha. It was great to see them going from fear when seeing the obstacle, to grinning as their dice pool grew.

Didn’t take long before the Grind reared its ugly head, and it got the table of complete strangers to huddle down, discussing their next moves.

Unfortunately, an hour was too short for me to introduce a conflict. Even in hindsight, I’m not sure how I could have squeezed that in short of just twisting in a conflict at the first failure.

I’m surprised how much Torchbearin’ we got done in just an hour. They loved it! For most participants, it was their first non-D&D experience, and I’m glad I got to show them something radically different. Handfull of new followers of the Wheel in the Netherlands :muscle:


Fantastic. Thank you for sharing.


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