So I’m thinking of running a campaign that combines Torchbearer and Dungeon World. I want the mechanical simplicity of Dungeon World moves, but the sense of impending doom of Torchbearer. Is that crazy? I’m thinking I’d basically use DW but shoehorn in TB turns, light, and conditions. I don’t really see why that wouldn’t work, does anyone have any thoughts? (I suppose I could post on a Dungeon World forum as well, but I thought I’d post here because this is where I’m comfortable)

We actually discussed this a bit over at Story-Games! Have a look; there’s some neat ideas there.

Thanks, I’ll take a look as I have time. Looks like there might be some helpful ideas in there.

I was thinking something much simpler than what was discussed in that thread.

Torch World Basic Rules
Roll up your DW characters as normal.
Most moves are also a turn
A “Conflict” is a turn and is purely martial in nature
-Your HP is your disposition for the conflict and you make moves as per DW during a conflict
-When one side is eliminated or successfully withdraws you determine compromises by the remaining hitpoints
-Your HP do not automatically recover after a conflict, but recover according to DW rules
Light lasts a number of turns appropriate to TB
Two new debilities:
-Thirsty: Acts as a debility on your HP, -1 HP immediately and -1 Max HP ongoing.
-Hungry: Same effect as Thirsty and stacks with it.
Every 4 turns The Grind happens and you gain a debility in the following order: Thirsty, Confused, Stunned, Weak, Shakey, Scarred, Sick, Dead
If you need to consume a ration and don’t have any then you are hungry, if you are already hungry then you experience the grind.

-You could also easily incorporate TB equipment, but I don’t think I’ll do that because it just seems to frustrate my players (they aren’t really gamers)
-You could incorporate resources and circles as stats, but I don’t think that’s necessary, though I may qualify gold rather than quantifying it, i.e. bag of gold vs 100 gold, so that it can take up space in the inventory
-It sucks that the only type of conflict is a combined Drive Off/Kill, but you could allow other type of conflicts and just change the stat that adds to your HP instead of CON. You’d also have to add moves and change how damage is dealt though, so I’m inclined to just stick with the DW moves for now
-I vastly prefer skills to stats. I’ve always had a nagging discomfort with stats and ability scores, they strike me as unnecessarily conflating potentially unrelated things, which breaks the immersion a bit for me. I suppose you could have a skill list and just use the skill that is appropriate when making a move, and then even allow skills to advance. I’ll keep stats for now though.
-No traits, wises, checks, fate, or persona. That’s okay for now. Beliefs, Goals, and Instincts would be easy to add and rewards could come with them, but checks would be harder.


RE: skills vs stats, you could steal a page from World of Dungeons, and use skills as “get a leg up on a roll” element: when you roll a 6- but a skill applies to the roll, you get a 7-9 result instead, but with a bigger catch.

Nature could make a great subsitute for Alignment, too!

I’m thinking of making steak ice cream. I love how ice cream tastes but I hate that it melts and is cold.

Sounds delicous :wink:

It’s not so much that I don’t like Torchberer, but that I do like it but it’s too mechanical and advanced for my players. Trying to find a way to use some of the things I like about it while making the core gameplay easier to follow and engage in.

Get better players or have them rise to the occasion.

I just started a game with my co-workers. Nice folks, not gamers at all. Luckily they’ve all seen Lord of the Rings so I can point to that and say, “That’s what a flail is. That’s what a dire wolf is.”

The issue isn’t mythos, it’s the moving parts. They can’t engage in the story while simultaneously balancing in their brains when to get checks, when to use traits in their favor, how wises are used, what nature is and how it’s employed. We play once a month at best, due to babies and life, and so there isn’t enough consistent exposure to really internalize those mechanics, they’re basically starting fresh each time we play. Nor are they particularly interested in the mechanics, they want to play the story.

Yes, I’d like to find “better players” but I can’t, and anyway even if I could I’d still like to play with these players, I just need some mechanics that you can approach without any expert knowledge and play with as if it were the first time you’d ever played an rpg. Torchbearer is hard, it has no illusions otherwise, but I also like the flavor it evokes and I’d like to incorporate that into our play. Maybe that’s just a matter of style, but it feels to me like I could get more out of it.

Furthermore, you wouldn’t otherwise strike me as the sort of person to discourage game design, so why are you? If you’re offended that I’m using the Torchbearer forums to discuss how Torchbearer rules and concepts can be employed in non-Torchbearer contexts, then I guess on some level I can understand that, but I feel as though the Hacks section would the the appropriate place to do that, and the discussion does seem to have the interest of at least one other member of the community. I’ve seen this strain of thought before “If you don’t like it, don’t play it” and I don’t really understand that. Torchbearer wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for people wanting to create new game mechanics or mixing and matching ideas and concepts from different systems. The BWHQ games specifically have space set aside in the forums for creating hacks and using the systems in novel ways. The games have a long history of people creating new ways to play with them. And you, specifically, are right there in all that. So, what’s the deal, I honestly just don’t understand why you would want to actively discourage exploring the conceptual and mechanical space between DW and TB.

I think you are trying to mix two things thatmix really badly. Just using Dungeon World and focusing hard on light, hunger, exploration will do you better than including bits of Torchbearer just becuase they exist there. Nature for example wouldn’t be much use in DW, the mechanical bits of it from TB don’t translate well.

Jared. Knock it off. It’s the hacks forum. All is fair game in here.


To your point, yes, I could just play DW with light, hunger, and exploration in mind, but I think that mechanics have a direct effect on the flavor of the game. In fact, that’s kind of the thesis statement of Torchbearer isn’t it, that mechanics can drive a feeling of desperation in dungeon exploration? So if I can strengthen my narrative with mechanically driven flavor inspired by Torchbearer, wouldn’t that produce deeper results?

What you’re saying make sense with nature, which is why it isn’t something I’m including in my basic exploration. However, the grind is a nice simple mechanic that to my mind stands on it’s own very well in any context that limits rolls to essential actions only. So it wouldn’t work well with 3.5 where you roll to search every 5 feet whether something is there or not, but DW already avoids that mentality and asks you to only roll when a move is actually invoked. That’s a very similar philosophy to what TB has and DW even leaves room for Good Ideas, it just doesn’t call them that. Plus DW already has debilities which have a similar flavor as conditions and in many ways are treated in a functional similar way. So to me, it feels like the grind is a fairly natural fit with DW.

Now, like I said, I personally prefer skills to stats, but that feels like a harder fit with DW without creating an entirely different World game, so that’s why I might leave skills out to start. I also like the effect compromises have on play and I’m willing to stretch the DW ethos a little to explore if a compromise mechanic can fit without too much discomfort, which I suspect it can.

One other space you might want to explore is the way that resource management already gets done in Dungeon World: rations, adventuring gear, and ammo. Rations have to be consumed when you make camp, and provide a limited resource. Ammo gets checked off when you choose to lose ammo in a Volley result. Maybe light could work like Ammo?

Just one question,
have you ever played TB once?


I’ve only recently started digging into DW so I’m not quite as familiar with it as I am with TB, but I feel as though lighting a new torch after every 2 moves isn’t much of a stretch from the way rations or ammo work. Though your point about ammo getting market as a possible Volley result is interesting, kind of similar to how torches can be outed by a twist. I still feel like the strength of the whole Light and Time thing is that it’s a steady march of time that you can only struggle against, so only consuming the resources sporadically wouldn’t have the same feel.

I’ve been GMing on and off for the last year and a half, since Torchbearer came out. You can read about my first few session and some really basic world building in the respective boards. I’ve never had a chance to actually fill the shoes of a player if that’s what you mean. Your vocabulary and terseness seem to be implying that you believe i’m naive or ignorant. If that’s the case then enlightenment is preferable to mockery or ridicule, perhaps you could make your point and I could benefit from it. If your terseness was unintended then perhaps you could clarify the point of your question, because I’m not sure I understand.

I’ve been GMing on and off for the last year and a half, since Torchbearer came out. You can read about my first few session and some really basic world building in the respective boards. I’ve never had a chance to actually fill the shoes of a player if that’s what you mean. Your vocabulary and terseness seem to be implying that you believe i’m naive or ignorant. If that’s the case then enlightenment is preferable to mockery or ridicule, perhaps you could make your point and I could benefit from it. If your terseness was unintended then perhaps you could clarify the point of your question, because I’m not sure I understand.[/QUOTE]

My intention was not to mock or insult you. The question was purely as it was, i should have ask for DW to… I mean… TB and DW are two very different mechanics and very hard to consolidate… I really appreciate both these game for what they are, and for what they do but still, they are the opposite one from the other. Anyway, i’m not a big fan for hacks in general… But i also think DW (originally AW from Vincent Baker) as been design to be hack. My final thought about mixing those two mechanics together is gonna break both games. Again, this is my opinion, and i didn’t wanna be rude, sorry for that!


I was probably being overly defensive, no worries. And to be fair, my knowledge of DW is lacking at this point, I’m exploring.

I feel like it’s a stretch to say that the games are opposites. What about burning wheel and 4th edition d&d, those seem more diametrically opposed to me, and someone with even more knowledge of indie rpgs could probably give even better examples. On the contrary, I feel as though DW and Torchbearer both come from a similar generation of roleplaying thinking. They have a very similar core, but bring it out with slightly different mechanics meant to evoke different flavors and styles of play:

  • Both have Describe to Live as their central pillar, though DW doesn’t single it out with a fancy name
  • Both have Good Ideas, though, again, DW doesn’t single it out with a fancy name
  • Both have you mark towards character advancement on a failed roll
  • Both have you mark towards character advancement when you achieve something according to your Belief/Alignment
  • Both have a concept of partial successes: Conditions vs. 7-9, though one is in the hands of the GM and the other in the hands of the dice
  • Twists parallel with 6-
  • Conditions have a similar function and feel as Debilities, something you carry with you that makes you weaker
  • And obviously both have a similar game world, being fantasy dungeon crawl games descended from Tolkien

What are the differences?

  • The check ecosystem has no parallels in DW
  • DW conflicts are seemless and carry over into play quantitatively (lower HP), whereas TB conflicts are a minigame whose effects are more qualitative (compromises and conditions), though for both the primary effect should be on the narrative
  • DW uses stats with class moves representing specialization, TB uses primarily skills supported by stats with a smaller set of class abilities to choose from.
  • TB has the grind
  • Town in TB reinforces the grind
  • TB has traits and wises, whereas DW has bonds

There’s probably more, but hopefully you see the point. The similarities and parallels are more central, whereas the differences are more mechanical. Those mechanical components on the exterior should be easier to employ across system because of the similarities at the core of both games.

I can appreciate that you don’t like hacks though. I’m obviously fascinated by exploring hacks. To me it’s like a car fanatic cracking open the hood to see what’s inside and maybe tune or customize things. Or like a computer person building their own computer from parts. Yeah, you could go out and buy a computer or car with standard features, but don’t you wanna learn about how all the pieces fit together? Maybe it would break both systems, but it’s still fun to explore. To each his own, I suppose.

Come to think of it, there’s more common ground than some people might realize. There’s two big differences. One: Torchbearer is more detailed (duh). Two: Dungeon World is less punishing when run according to the default expectations, and so invites wild and exciting action. A more punishing Dungeon World (Which is totally feasible! Just be more stringent with “Defy Danger” and make nastier hard moves!) starts to look a lot more like Torchbearer.

Really important: Dungeon World has no “Say yes or roll the dice”.

Blowing out torches is a great 7-9 result BTW.

Sure it does, you only apply moves if the moves are triggered and relevant. If someone asks “what color are the rugs” DW doesn’t demand that you make them roll to Discern Realities. The how to play sections has a lot to say about how the game is primarily about the shared story, the talking, and that the dice rolls are only there for pivotal moments to build suspense and uncertainty.

Or maybe you mean that in TB you always either say yes or roll the dice, but that isn’t true either. If a player says “I fly up onto the ledge and shoot lightning out my bum at the kobolds” there’s no roll for that and the GM certainly shouldn’t say yes, unless the player has a very interesting magic item. The GM would just say “No, that’s not something you can do.”

eta: There are less extreme or silly examples as well. You’re limited to what types of actions or conflicts you can take when you are surprised, for example. Or better yet, if there are goblins guarding a golden idol you can’t just say “I take the idol”, you have to deal with the goblins first.