What is the ideal party size for Torchbearer?

As a GM, I know the biggest group I can handle is about 6 players when I’m running most games.

But from a mechanical view, is there an ideal party size for Torchbearer? Help, instincts, conflict, obstacles, The Grind - they all seem pretty finely tuned.

Is there a point where they start to break?

3 players is the sweet spot. 4 is workable, 5 gets unwieldy.


I’d say 4 is ideal. At that point, someone will be on the bench during a round in a conflict, which makes for interesting strategic choices.

I have seen tables of up to 10 but past 5 you have problems getting everyone a chance at the action. What can help is relying on the party leader to pull the group together, and letting them table chatter for who does what. When the party decides on their action, I go around the room and see who helps. If someone doesn’t help (or can’t) that’s a good opportunity to ask, ‘what are you doing in the mean time?’ If that person hasn’t had much spotlight, you can present them with the next obstacle and get them rolling the next turn (perhaps triggering the grind).

Large parties also can throw a lot of dice with help, so it’s good to be a little stingy with what helps. You might even say something like “only 4 people can help on this roll. The rest can help by creating a skill supply.” This can spread the rolls out and allow for some obstacle management. Throw in an evil gm factor if it still seems too easy for a large group.


Thank you. I’m setting up a bit of a West Marches style game with a pool of seven players - and I was thinking of setting up a first come/first served rule to limit the size of the party for any given session.

Sounds like 5 would be a good cap.

1 Like