Telling Tales

Is there some benefit to Telling Tales that I am missing, or is it just a gamble to get a 1/12 chance of rolling an 11 or 12, the only results which actually seem to justify the lifestyle cost and the base Ob, which starts at 4 for some towns, and can go as high as 7.

2-3 are slightly better than just rolling rumours, but with added risk. 4-5, 7 are just recovery tests that could be done for the same lifestyle cost. 6 is no effect. 8 is so incredibly situational that it might as well be no effect. 9 might be useful, but is too unpredictable to shoot for. 10 is largely a bad reward for the effort (since it costs lifestyle, and that +1D is only half of what you need on average). 11 and 12 are good, but that is a big gamble.

5 on the failure is actually pretty decent but 2, 6, and 8 are pretty bad.

Seems investing a lot for very little upside.

That’s most of what the Town Phase is though, no? Make a bunch of crappy gambles that make you wish you had never come back to town.

If you’re pretty sure you can make the test, you’re not throwing away your money. You’re probably getting rid of a Condition. Yes, 9 is situational, but with most things on charts, I’d take it as more of a “+2 to a beneficial social situation of the GM’s choosing”

On top of that Skalds are getting at least a +1 straight out of the gate. Humans are boasting, elves are singing, halflings are making merry. Gifted magicians can throw their Arcanist dice at it. I’m sure Theurges and Shamans have some kind of skill swap they can do to try and cheese their way to a good roll.


One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, I suppose. I think the results on both tables are pretty fun!

That said, there may be a few things you’re overlooking. David pointed to a few:

  1. You’re getting an Oratory (or Boasting or Singing, etc.) test. Nice!
  2. You’re building your legend. That reward may be intangible, but it’s no less real. It could come back to you in all sorts of different ways.
  3. Gaining an additional advantage to recovering from a condition or insurance against a condition gained from another failure in town is often helpful IME.
  4. If you have an instinct about telling tales in the tavern, you’re not increasing your lifestyle to do it, which maybe tips the scales for you? Sometimes it’s good to be a garrulous fellow!
  5. If you’re a skald with the Honored Guest benefit, it becomes incredibly good.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I think it’s great. But if it doesn’t appeal to you, there’s no reason to do it.


I suppose my thinking is that one of the core aspects of engaging with Torchbearer as a player is managing a limited amount of resources, so the randomness of possibly alleviating a condition you don’t have for the same cost as alleviating a condition you know you have seems like a weird space. That and the most common roll, of +1D for something that largely seems out of the scope of the game just seems odd.

  1. On the building a legend, that is interesting, but it seems like something which is mechanically modelled by increases in Precedence, so I assumed that it would not be affected by colour aspects like telling tales. It seems to me that one of the core aspects of Torchbearer is that you never get something for nothing, so how it comes back to you is not clear to me; I generally assume that if it is not tracked on the sheet, it is not mechanically relevant.

  2. Do town instincts really offer good benefit compared to Camp Instincts? Camp Instincts are basically guaranteed to fire several times during a phase. Adventuring instincts might save you when you don’t know you should roll something, or keep the grind from advancing. Town instincts fire once for each of those.

  3. I am trying to wrap my head around the Skald. In principle, I would love to make a character that uses all the LMM rules to clean up in town, but it’'s a lot of investment for telling tales and I suppose the games I have played where there is a lot of social interaction, we play burning wheel, not torchbearer, so it seems like an odd duck in leaning so into Orator, a skill which is only used in convince crowd conflicts and some of the high-level unit stuff I have never experienced.

I would add skalds are clutch when invoking the Rites of Hospitality (Middarmark, p 66). A skald starts with Orator 4 and Voice of Thunder because that sort of thing is their jam.

I’ve seen a party saved from the jaws of death many times by invoking the Rites of Hospitality.

I suppose since I have never played a campaign set in Middamark, I find a lot of the built-in settings assumptions a bit confusing.

Hospitality is an important concept if you want to dive deeper into some of the rationales behind the optional classes in the LMM. However, it is not necessary to play the class–it is just another nice bonus.

If you are interested, here is the key piece about Hospitality:

In the Cities, towns and even villages are few and far between in the Middarmark. Yet, few folk can survive this land on their own. As a result, the Rites of Hospitality have become
a sacred tradition upheld across the land—weary travelers can request succor at any steading or lord’s hall they happen across and expect shelter and sustenance, at least for a time.

Even some giants and trolls, hungry for news and diversion, have been known to grant hospitality.

So, it is an important part of the culture and the way in which humans and jotnar interact.

Here is an article with a little bit more of the context:

Orator is also used in Boasting, which is a ritualized vow to accomplish some task. This is also something that is often overlooked, but skalds once again excel in these situations. These types of things come up rarely, but when they do, it is, again, often in dire circumstances. So, the skald opens up possibilities and options that would not otherwise be on the table.

When in service of a boast’s pledge, here are the mechanical effects:

If successful, replace your Goal with a new Goal about accomplishing your boast. Until the boast is accomplished (and as long as you don’t change your Goal), all tests made in pursuit of the Goal are considered to be within your character’s Nature. If you accomplish your boast and live to tell the tale, gain +1D or +2D to Circles tests in the place where you made the boast based on the enormity of the task.

I would encourage you to try to think differently about this. The rules are generally prescriptive, not proscriptive. Yes, you can increase your precedence by reaching 6th level. But you can also increase your precedence by being granted a title or making yourself a king (or queen) by your own hand (according to the default precedence scheme).

[Potential Minor Spoilers for Dread Crypt of Skogenby]

Beyond precedence, there are a whole host of intangible benefits that can come out of Skogenby if you play your cards right.

  • You can impress Halvor, captain of the Greve’s rangers. He might give you a job to test your capabilities. Come through, and you might win a powerful patron with the ear of the greve.
  • You can win the gratitude of Lady Gry if you save her reputation. Maybe she grants you hospitality in her hall. Maybe she eventually tasks you with looking after her interests while she’s away on campaign.
  • You can agree to become Haathor-Vash’s apostles in the world and begin spreading her cult. Make the cult powerful enough and maybe you can even claim the precedence of low (or even high) clergy.

Lots of other possibilities too. Work your way into the world. Make yourself important. The stuff that’s mechanically represented on your sheet is important but it doesn’t proscribe other things.


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