Side quests

Me again and my annoying questions: by design the Town phase is full of adventure hooks and ideas. How do you take advantage of this hooks that are not 100% percent dungeon-related?

I’m calling “side quests” to those hooks that, though interesting, don’t necessarily need a full dungeon mapped with problem-filled rooms and can be finished with just a couple of tests and a conflict.

Ideas that come to mind: a Great Wolf is killing all the livestock in the near farms, someone has to put a stop to this. Basilisk tusks are raising prices in the market since the new mage has taken up residence in the tower, and their nests can be found in the mountains. A boy has gone missing after visiting his mother’s tomb.

Can the characters get some side coins for following this leads? Should they accomplish these goals in just a couple of turns? How would you introduce these hooks in an adventure?

Stay cool :cool:

It seems to me that what you’re considering “side quests” is what I would call “next quests”. All of these ideas sound like full-fledged dungeons to me. Even possibly “dungeons” with “non-dungeon’y” areas (a good portion of the Great Wolf quest could occur within dark, foreboding woods rather than underground, for example).

Yeah, maybe I should see them as mini dungeons, the “problems” more related to travel an tracking. Even though I’m unsure about how much reward should the characters get (since they will be expending less gear for “side quest”).

Stay cool :cool:

I would not even treat them as “mini” dungeons, but rather leads to the next full adventure. There’s no requirement for anyone to follow up on leads which they do not find interesting, nor are able to put their attention on yet if they are still working their current quest.

I’m not sure if I communicated this well in my previous reply, but I feel that every one of the leads that you listed in your original post are definitely able to be full quests/adventures on their own. Why not treat them that way? I think that “side quests”, unless they somehow tie into the story of your current adventure in a way that makes sense, are more likely to dilute the story of your game than enhance it.

On the other hand, the Adventure Phase is the Adventure Phase. A scout test and a Conflict to track down a dire wolf and kill it? Sure, if that’s how the players decide they want to handle the situation. It still costs them two Turns, and maybe more if things go twisty.

Dungeons are the meat of things, but everything is still framed by the fiction. If taking out a wolf fulfills a Belief or promises enough loot to make it worthwhile (probably not), then go for it.

Maybe the characters are into a big lead but need some cash in hand to improve their chances. If every lead is a complete dungeon THEN the main lead gets diluted.

Also, as I see it, Torchbearer is not a game about story, but more about survival. More so, it has a lot of sandbox elements. If every hook is wedge into a dungeon, then you fall into repetition and break the idea of a moving world around the characters.

Also I really can’t design a dungeon for every lead they find, I’m only one GM!!! :stuck_out_tongue:

Stay cool :cool:

A dungeon is a very loose term. It could be ruins, a cave, a crypt, a collapsed sewer, a lair, etc. Neither do adventures have to be extensive. A handful of areas is usually more than enough.

On the other hand, if you’re dying to do intrigue in the city, play Burning Wheel. It’ll give you better support.

Yeah but then is a 3 areas dungeon worth it? How about a 1 area dungeon (like a lair)? How much loot should I give them for something that only takes a couple of tests?

On the other hand: should every dungeon be at least 6 “problems” (meaning tests, meaning turns) wide? Maybe there are some balance mechanics I’m not seeing. Maybe is just too easy, and I have to take it into account when planning loot. Anybody had any experiences with this from which I could learn?

Thanks for all your replies :wink:

Stay cool :cool:

I think 3 areas is totally worth it in Torchbearer. Include potential for two conflicts and you have one evening’s worth of play.

The smallest dungeon I ever played, btw, had one secret door, one tunnel, one trap, one monster, one piece of hidden treasure and one piece of loot. One GM (me) and one player. That was ages ago, a playtest to see if Silhouette could do a believable dungeoncrawl, but it might be fun to do something like this with Torchbearer, in between things.

I really can’t see that a dungeon must be of a certain length; a small dungeon should have appropriately less treasure, which means the characters return less beat-up and face less risk but also reap smaller rewards. The Tow Phase should be less punishing, hopefully, since they should have fewer conditions, which means they ought to be able to scrape by on what they found.

In fact, every dungeon having a predictable amount of problems and obstacles sounds kind of boring to me…

Three “rooms”:
Room 1 makes life difficult when trying to get into Room 2.
Room 2 contains the objective for one or more of the characters’ goals.
Room 3 makes life difficult to get out of the previous two rooms.

Classic flow would be trapped door / monster / trapped treasure.
Expand that to: difficult terrain or environmental factor / main (monster-centric) conflict / treasure and complications (with room for Tough Choices).