Using BWG and Torchbearer for the same campaign

Coming back from PAX after trying out Torchbearer and getting myself a copy, I was thinking about some ideas on my way back home. I was thinking that since BWG and Torchbearer are two different games with two different purposes therefore doing two different things, maybe it could be interesting to use them accordingly to emulate two different aspect of gaming/adventuring. BWG for politics, travelling, story development, etc, and Torchbearer for dungeoning and exploration. So I was wondering if it could be possible to burn a character in BWG and use it for what it does then when it’s time to explore a dungeon in your story, convert that character into a Torchbearer one and use Torchebearer for your dungeons.

This idea comes from the fact that BWG can do exploration and dungeoning but the experience that comes from it can be a little broad sometimes. Torchbearer on the other hand has all these really cool rules about encumbrance, lights and stuff for exploration bringing your experience to a way more precise and fun game.

What do you guys think? I know halflings and orcs cannot really be taken over unless you burn them accordingly so any suggestions on how to do take overs and how to “burn” a character in Torchbearer to fit your specific needs? Is it doable?


Eh, I think this will be more work than it’s worth in the end. Also, you’re likely going to have a hard time keeping rules straight with people new to BW, which will likely cause frustration.

If you dungeon crawl in BW you can easily bring in the encumbrance rules as failure consequences. I know this isn’t quite as precise as TB, but it would likely lead to the kind of play experience you want. IE, you fail a roll, you’re hungry - +1Ob until you eat. Oh, you ate some rations? Roll the die of fate. On a 1 they’re depleted, etc.

I’ll just leave this here: :slight_smile:
Basically it allows for a slightly more BW experience by leaving space for play outside of dungeons and adding an extra “Belief” that I call your “Agenda” which should allow for more internal and external cross-purposes.

But, maybe you want a deeper BW experience, so lets break down the biggest differences…

Turns, Checks, Light, and Gear
These are straight up mechanics that just don’t exist in BW and don’t have equivalents really, turn them on when you need them, turn them off when you don’t. Leaving for an adventure site? Fill out the equipment sheet and then start the adventure phase. Just got back to town from an adventure? Either switch to BW immediately or, better yet, go through the TB Town wind down and then shut off the TB tap. This part doesn’t seem super complicated.

I’m a little rusty with my BW, but from what I remember they basically just have a scale for the Injured condition. The way I see it? Use the TB conditions all the time! If you happen to be in a BW Fight! for some reason, use the BW Physical Tolerances and then at the end of the fight give each player a single condition based on how injured they are:
Su -> Hungry and Thirsty
Li -> Exhausted
Mo+ -> Injured

I say mix and match, why not? If there’s a reason that doesn’t occur to me now, then let me know, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use TB conflicts for all the minions and minor encounters for the simplicity and then switch to a BW Fight! for the final boss battle. Sounds epic! The only thing to keep in mind is that conflicts are not optional in TB, they are an integral part of the game, so if you are mixing and matching don’t assume that means you can use a bloody versus. If you do your players will likely find themselves with too few checks and not enough advancement.

I could go either way with this one, I’d say pick the reward set that you like best and stick with it. You can still track class advancement by how you use them either way, though the rate of advancement might not be optimized for BW play. This is something to experiment with. (Note: if you are using BW style wises, you may want to divorce the reroll options from your wises, though you certainly don’t have to)

BW has more and a finer grain of them. imho this is because TB wants the focus on describe to live instead of personal story, it is your actions that matter more than your personal story. Also, the GM has more control over interpreting which skill is being used based on your descriptions, and a simpler skill set makes that easier. The simplest option is to just use TB skills, but you lose the fine grain of character. The more complex option is to just use BW skills, but this will make the GM’s job much more difficult and likely result in a lot more beginner’s luck roles. There are two slightly more complex options.

Switch. When you start adventuring translate from BW skills to TB skills. This is a little weird because a character with Sleight of Hand would probably get Criminal and now be able to pick locks, a skill they didn’t have before. It also requires a fairly extension conversion chart or at least a lot of discussion.

Hybrid/Negotiation. The players can keep their BW skills when they adventure but the GM thinks and factors using the TB skills during the adventure phase. When the players describe doing something that involves risk then the GM calls for a TB skill and obstacle. The player then suggests a BW skill that seems appropriate, if the GM accepts then the player rolls that skill. If the GM rejects then the player rolls beginners luck for a different skill of the GM’s choice. It’s a little less smooth as compared to TB raw, but I think it might work.

To me Skills are the hardest part, so you could try different things out and go with whatever seems to work best for your group.

Attributes and Stats
If you’re already burning up BW characters, I say just use the BW Stats. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out which stat goes with which TB skill. I suspect that TB Abilities are simpler than BW Stats for the same reason that the skills are simpler, to keep things simple and draw the focus toward describe to live. However, if you’re already used to BW then I don’t think have 6 rather than 2 core stats will make a huge difference.

You could also just average your BW physical stats to get your Health and mental stats to get your Will, but then how does advancement work when you switch back to BW stuff?

Doesn’t exist in BW, so just use it as written from TB.

Resources and Circles
You don’t use Resources or Circles in a dungeon anyway, so go with BW.

Tough… it would be hard to switch back and forth… I could see either working and would personally lean toward just using TB magic for the most part. However, if you use BW magic, don’t forget that casting a spell does not consume a turn.

Did I miss anything? Almost certainly! But it’s a start. However, it seems doable, albeit nowhere near as clean as just sticking with a system built for a specific purpose. However, if you plan on doing an entire campaign of just adventuring and then use the same characters for another entirely separate campaign of BW shenanigans (or vica versa) then yeah, it would be easier and smoother just to burn a new character for the second campaign with similar stats and skills, and just slap the same name on it.

Thanks man! Thats an amazing summary. Theres great ideas in there!

Before you start dedicating your life to running two games, because you think one might be better at something than the other (and vice versa), can I ask a question? While playing at PAX, did you or other players at your table engage the system for anything more than combat and the other “dungeon-y” things? I know that in the Torchbearer games I ran there, the conflicts were pretty much all Kills, and nothing social.

On the other hand, the Mouse Guard games that I have run in the past had some really, really fun social conflicts, as well as great character and story development. And of course Torchbearer’s conflict system (and pretty much everything else) is based on MG’s.

I highly recommend trying to do some of the things you listed in the opening post of this thread under the Torchbearer rules, and see how that works before trying to put the additional burden on yourself and your players of trying to play two systems. It likely won’t be the big differences between the two systems, but the smaller more subtle ones, which have people pulling their hair out at the table trying to have their characters live in both worlds.

Really? It sounds pretty easy like that but, both systems are quite different. They are not easy to master (specialy BW) and it takes time for GM and players to dig them good. We are talking about two games with different goals.

Good points from Vanguard, slashdevnull, and Dalton-79. From my point of view it depends on whether you just want to play the game or whether you enjoy being a gaming mad scientist, fiddling with knobs and seeing what works and what breaks. I personally find as much joy in hobbling together a frankengame and shouting “It’s ALIVE!!!” (or more often “Back to the DRAWING BOARD!!!”) as I do in playing. So when you present me a challenge, can this be done, I like to dissect it, pull out the ticking bits, and see what’s what. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea :wink: