Torchbearer 2e - actual play of this AWESOME system! (+)


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pemerton

Legend
you could basically reskin Thurgon and drop him utterly into this game with everything else
Is it a sad thing that I have my Torchbearer write-ups of Thurgon and Aramina good to go? Though Thurgon feels a bit vulnerable with only a shield and not a heavy metal carapace.

A bit more seriously: while the above is true, I'm not sure that Thurgon would fully work in TB. I can't tell how the expedience that the Grind imposes would affect him, but I feel there might be a bit of a push towards two-dimensionality.
 


Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
@Everyone:

The unpleasantness upthread leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because I really don't like unnecessary conflict. (Necessary conflict, on the other hand....)

One thing I was thinking...and please get through this next paragraph to the subsequent one...is that I wish the other poster had simply said, "You mis-read my intent; I wasn't saying that at all." The diatribe that resulted instead really pushed my buttons.

Which made me realize that they were, quite naturally, reacting just as negatively to what I had said. Which also could have been phrased much differently. Instead of jumping to a negative conclusion and flinging an accusation, what I should have said was something more like, "That feels like a dismissal of my preferred style of roleplaying, as if it is 'just wargaming' and not real roleplaying. Was that your intent, or did I mis-read you?" Which is what I should have done from the beginning.

So, apologies to all.
 

@Everyone:

The unpleasantness upthread leaves a bad taste in my mouth, because I really don't like unnecessary conflict. (Necessary conflict, on the other hand....)

One thing I was thinking...and please get through this next paragraph to the subsequent one...is that I wish the other poster had simply said, "You mis-read my intent; I wasn't saying that at all." The diatribe that resulted instead really pushed my buttons.

Which made me realize that they were, quite naturally, reacting just as negatively to what I had said. Which also could have been phrased much differently. Instead of jumping to a negative conclusion and flinging an accusation, what I should have said was something more like, "That feels like a dismissal of my preferred style of roleplaying, as if it is 'just wargaming' and not real roleplaying. Was that your intent, or did I mis-read you?" Which is what I should have done from the beginning.

So, apologies to all.

Apology accepted.

No worries friend.

This was on the tail end of multiple episodes of various forum stuff in a row (or in a short span) so I was more primed for a vigorous defense than I would have been otherwise. So sorry for pushing your buttons with the forecefulness of my response.

Anyway. Be well! Glad to have that done.
 

pemerton

Legend
We played again today. We had a third player, and hence a third character - Korvin the human Skald.

The Events
Fea-bella's player provided a very thorough prologue, and hence recovered from being Afraid. As per the rules for players who miss a session (or, in this case, two of them) I asked Korvin's player how Korvin had ended up in the tavern in the Wizard's Tower township. Apparently, when the mutant moles swarmed in the Tower of Stars, Korvin fell down a crevasse and got washed out by a creek, before finding his way back to the settlement. Golin's player, who had memories of the unstable ground and crevasses around the Tower, found this plausible.

Korvin's player is not familiar with the rules, and so I suggested that Korvin's Instinct to Never tell the truth might give him a free Tale Telling roll at the tavern, provided he was spinning a tall story. So Korvin told all the locals about his terrible fall, and his amazing climb to safety. We agreed that Fea-bella, feeling very sorry for herself, was in the tavern too and so able to aid the tale with her Hills-wise. And so Korvin succeeded, and then rolled on the successful tale-telling table with a +1 for being a skald. The result was that a local became his friend - I decided that meant the barkeep, Jan, who congratulated him on his ability to spin a wild yarn, and offered him free kip and beer whenever he visits. And also some food for when he sets out. Korvin's player said this reminded him of a mum packing lunch for her kid before they go off to the park - a remark that would soon come back to haunt him!

Golin's friend Vaccin the alchemist, and Fea-bella's mentor Jobe, each told their respective protege that they could get them a good deal on a helpful potion, to cure exhaustion in Golin's case (Ob 3 resources) and sickness in Fea-bella's caes (Ob 4 resources). This required selling the stirges. Vaccin put Golin touch with his colleague Derren, an alchemist and taxidermist known for extracting valuable components and reagents from creatures like stirges. I looked up my animal list, with obstacles for purchase, and then cross-referenced with the re-selling list, and decided that Derren offered 1D of cash per stirge. Golin, who had brought Korvin with him, wanted 2D per stirge. So they initiated a negotiation conflict.

I used the alchemist stats in the Scholar's Guide for Derren - no Haggling, but Will 6 giving 3 dice beginner's luck. And a good roll established an 8 disposition. Neither PC had Haggling, and Derren had -1D for being injured, and their starting disposition was 3. Which made things look grim, but through some lucky scripting and lucky rolling, the players pulled over a victory with compromise: when I offered 3D for both stirges they gladly accepted it!

With cash in hand, it was time to buy potions. Golin's player succeeded on his roll, and so stepped his Resource 1 up to Resources 2. Fea-bella's failed, and so while her coin soaked her tax she remained at Resources 0.

Fea-bella then tried to heal both their injured conditions. To me it was obvious that Golin's was Ob 2 - he had been injured by blood-draining stirges, which is clearly in the "bumps and bruises" zone. I suggested that Fea-bella's was Ob 3 - a twisted ankle falling into a cave, analogous to "sword cuts and broken bones" - but the player protested that nothing was broken, and so I relented. It turned out not to matter as both rolls failed against Ob 2: in Golin's case, I therefore reduced his Nature from 5 to 4, which elicited some frustrated groaning. There was no relish on my part; unlike my rather evident relish in reducing Fea-bella's Health from 3 to 2. She has a long-lasting limp!

Somewhere around this time I realised that I'd forgotten to roll for Korvin's rumour from hanging out at the tavern, and so did so - a traveller wandered in with tales of robbery - namely, his own at the hands of some bandits who included two human men and a red-headed Halfling woman and a Dwarven woman. (I had written up stats for these NPCs in preparation, as bandits/thugs in Megloss's employ, under the heading "possible assailants". This seemed a good time to introduce them into the story.)

The final business in town was Golin heading out to buy some provisions. His first attempt to buy fresh rations, with Resources 2 against Ob 1, failed (snake's eyes!) and so I taxed him back down to 1. Then he rolled for a second lot, 1D against Ob 1, and failed again. So I inflicted hungry and thirsty from looking at all that food, and so he ate one of his rations straight away to alleviate that. He now had 3 portions of food left. He also tried to buy new explosives. This check failed too, and I called it as a twist: the fireworks blew up! Golin's player succeeded at the Ob 4 Health test to avoid further consequences.

It was then time to leave town. As per the parents rules, I told Fea-bella's player that her mum gifted her a pair of shoes. And as well as tests for lifestlye, goals were written.

Golin had his Resources 1 and 1D of coin left, which he spent. His obstacle was 1 (he'd stayed for free with Vaccin but had undertaken personal business in selling the stirges). He failed, and so taxed his coin and still didn't get his Resources back to 2. His goal was to get some shoes from the bandits.

Fea-bella had Ob 2 (from her two healing tests) and had 1D of coin left and +1D from being in her hometown. She also failed her test. And was still exhausted. Her goal was to get some valuables from the bandits.

Korvin had no money, and while I decided that Jan wasn't charging him for his drinks, he had the Ob 1 minimum tollgate. Golin decided to help, to give 1D against Ob 1. (On reflection, I think this is against the rules. Oh well, almost certainly not the only technical error of the session.) The test failed. I didn't want to tax Golin, and couldn't tax Korvin, and so decided on a twist - as I put it to the group, harking back to Korvin's player's remark about Mum packing him some lunch, "the bullies took all your lunch money, and your two portions of preserved rations". Korvin's player laughed. Golin's player groaned, as they once again headed out into the wilds badly under-provisioned. The failure also meant that Korvin didn't get to be fresh. Looking at the somewhat sorry state of his companions, his goal was to maintain his condition (ie health) in the wilds. Probably a borderline valid goal, but Golin's player approved - he thought it fit Korvin's character.

It was then time to roll for weather - spring, with a +1 for being late in the season. The result was a storm, for +2 toll. The roll for Trouble on the Road was Waylaid!, for +1 toll. So net toll was 1 for the travel, +3 for those results, equalled 4 for Korvin, 5 for Fea-bella (who was the guide) and 6 for Golin (as the cook). Golin's cooking roll succeeded, so they got to feed everyone with one portion of rations, reducing one toll each. Golin spent his other two portions of food, plus water, to pay down some more of his toll. His raiment - galoshes - came in handy to meet another point of toll (and the player was rather pleased by this). For the last two, he spent his salt block (cooking supplies) and his maul (his rationale, which I accepted because I'm a nice GM) being that he was ditching the weight.

Fea-bella had 4 toll to pay down: her cloak (raiment) absorbed one; once again her shoes wore out; she spent her perfume (her rationale being that it was so hard to stay well-dressed in the storm); and took the last as hungry and thirsty, which she recovered from by drinking her elven wine.

Korvin had 3 toll still after being fed by Golin: his cloak (raiment) absorbed one; he also wore out his shoes; and I think took the last point as hungry and thirsty and then found a last waterskin to drink from.

The players took it as given that their Waylaid! result was the bandits they were looking for, and I ran with that: I told them that the bandits had been harassing them from the cover of the rocky overhangs as they (the PCs) trudged through the storm, and now as the storm cleared the bandits confronted them directly, telling them that Megloss had decreed that they should turn back. Fea-bella announced herself; and the NPCs announced themselves (taking a page from the book of Dungeon/Apocalypse World, I'm trying to make sure everyone has a name): Turner the leader, who explained that he was acting at Megloss's behest and who - as I mentioned - had pretty ordinary armour but was wearing nice boots; Roy his offsider; Nutmeg, the red-headed Halfling; and Tiny the Dwarf. (I'd chosen the names while doing prep yesterday - I can't remember where Turner came from, but the other three were named after cats I've known. I'd also determined, via a loot roll, that Turner had nice boots.)

Golin's player was getting ready to Charge!, but there was some further discussion, and I explained the options for social conflicts (Convince, Convince Crowd, Negotiate, Trick or Riddle). They decided to go for trickery, to leverage Fea-bella's Will 5 and Loremaster 4, and Korvin's Manipulator 4. They settled on a plan: to trick Tiny into thinking that Megloss was going to betray her, as a particular instance of the general history of Elves betraying Dwarves. Disposition started at 7 each. But I was outscripted, and the players run with a mid-ranging compromise. Tiny left the bandits to join with them; they turned back as Turner directed them to.

Following on from the theme of their trickery, Korvin's player suggested that Tiny must be a mocking name given to the Dwarf by her human and Elven bosses. I couldn't find any name lists in the Torchbearer books, but looked up Dungeon World and decided that her real name is Gerda.

I rolled the post-storm weather; it was Clear and Cool, and then the Trouble on the Road roll was a 6, meaning Warm and Bright. Fea-bella's player was pleased with this, as Golin had picked up a check which could be passed to Fea-bella, allowing a recovery check against exhaustion with +2 for the weather. But it was not to be.

The toll was base zero (1 for the distance, -1 for the weather), but with +1 for Fea-bella's Pathfinding. So they needed food to pay that down. So Korvin hunted a deer (succeeding on a 3D Hunter vs Nature 3 test) and then successfully butchered it using Beginner's Luck: the 6 portions were enough to pay down toll plus hungry and thirsty from hitting 4 turns on the grind. Unfortunately, Fea-bella was already hungry and thirsty (from failing a Pathfinder test) and hence when the grind ticked over went to exhausted; except she was already exhausted, and so went to angry. Which meant when she spent her check upon arriving at town, it was to recover from angry (which is an Ob 2 Will check, and she has Will 5) rather than exhaustion (which is Ob 3 Health, and therefore really needed the +2 from the weather!).

I rolled for the town event and got the following:

A funeral celebration. Some old bastard is dead, and folks are celebrating in the streets. Someone offers you a cup of strange wine. Remove hungry and thirsty or if not hungry and thirsty, you wake up hungry and thirsty and hung over the next morning. In the latter case, you may remove angry or afraid if you have them.​

I told the players while the PCs were travelling and dickering with bandits, Derren had died from an unexpected stirge poisoning. This produced some laughter. Golin had the idea of pretending to drink wine, but actually storying it in waterskin. I said that would be a Criminal check, and he didn't want to try that. But Korvin was up for it, and succeeded at a the check with his Criminal 3. Golin and Fea-bella both decided to drink, and that was when I then read out the bit about them gaining hungry and thirsty and waking up hung over. Which was funny - doubly so in Fea-bella's case given she'd just recovered from angry. The players groaned.

I also told them what Gerda said to Golin - that Turner was the one who had told Megloss about the Tower of Stars, having himself learned about it from Scaramander, a bandit who was preparing to loot the Tower but who had subsequently been killed. Golin told her that he (and the other PCs) were the ones who killed Scaramander and friends. Gerda also said that Turner's gang had been the ones to capture Glothfindel, but that he wasn't at the Tower - he was in Megloss's house in town. Golin asked about the quality of Megloss's house, and seemed a bit disappointed to be told that it's a bit of a dive.

Upon entering town, Fea-bella and Golin also levelled, having spent the requisite fate and persona. Fea-bella chose to gain a Dream Palace, so she can learn and cast a First Circle spell. Golin opted for Shrewd, meaning that he can Haggle during the town phase without lifestyle cost, and can ignore Precedence requirements when haggling.

We finished the session there, and allocated rewards. Golin had pursued his Belief (by trying to buy explosives), and his Goal (by trying to get Turner's nice boots), and was voted workhorse for being the one who did the provisioning: two fate, one persona. Fea-bella had pursued her goal (by trying to valuables from bandits) and was voted MVP for her work tricking the bandits: one of each. Korvin had pursued his Belief (about following the clues to defeat the evil) and his instinct had helped (because he got the rumour about the bandits), and he'd achieved his goal: two fate and one persona.

Golin's player also made a note of what his goal will be for next time: to try and get Gerda a job filling the vacancy caused by Derren's recent death.

Reflection
In preparation for this session I'd prepared the bandits, but also a 2-page outline of Megloss's house. That ended up not being used, but seems like it might get used next time.

At one point I mentioned to Golin's player that this game is incredibly incongruous: the colour is superb - at that point we'd had the haggling over the stirges, and the rumour in the tavern, and the storm, and tricking the bandits - but the play itself is so brutal. He described it as the least heroic RPG he'd ever played. I suggested that The Dying Earth is not very heroic either; he thought there was no comparison.

Part of what contributed to the colour in this session was the narration in the social conflicts. I insisted that the players describe what their PCs were saying, and how they were helping, to fit their scripting: and so we got things like Golin saying to Derren (a Feint in the negotiation conflict, in response to Derren's remark that they were both friends of Vaccin) - "But I'm his better friend" (Derren's response, on his Defence action: "There's no need to be mean about it"); Korvin explaining to Derren how valuable stirges are, especially as there will be none left given the rate at which the PCs are extirpating them; and in the recruitment of Gerda a litany of accounts of and variations on how Elves do over Dwarves using Humans as their tools, with Golin throwing in help from is Dwarven Chronicle-wise.

I agree with my player that this system is not heroic. As I mentioned to a friend recently, it can lean towards the Hobbit (adventurous, sometimes grim, comedy) or the Silmarillion (a relentlessly tragic world), but has not an ounce of LotR in it. At session's end, the players were poorer than at the start, although with fewer conditions. But still with no shoes (not even Korvin), and Golin now without his maul. Golin's Nature dropped from 5 to 4, and Fea-bella's Health from 3 to 2. The PCs did collect some tests, and we saw some levelling.

The fact that Golin's player has a plan for his goal for next session makes me optimistic that there will be one, though!
 

As you know I'm playing with players new to Torchbearer but not new to BW-type scripting. And both are strong wargamers (stronger than me).

I like that Torchbearer has a very clear procedure for scripting: first the GM does theirs; and then the players do theirs, able to discuss freely because the GM is already locked in. I script mostly by having regard to my characte's/creature's Nature descriptors and Instinct. So, for instance, my stirges began with a manoeuvre (they like to swarm!). And the players guessed that that would be the case, and scripted in response, and this helped them beat the stirges both times.

But with the Abjure, they just couldn't pick it. I didn't think my scripting was especially tricksy or unreasonable, but from the second round, with my opening feint against their defend, it just all went downhill for them. (I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it!)

I think it works well for adventure/"dungeon" design, as per my OP.

I still don't find the range of difficulties as helpful as the DC-by-level chart in 4e D&D! But with the players having built up a bit of artha (to use the BW terminology for Fate and Persona points), they were able to modulate the difficulties a bit, BW-style. But it's a brutal system! In the session they lost their shoes and a suit of armour, and came out with 4D worth of coins and jewellery (5D after the gambling on the pit fight), two captured stirges, a block of salt, 3 candles, some rusty keys, a Dreams-wise sword, a shield, a cursed Elfstone, and knowledge of the location of a Dwarven anvil.

And Golin is exhausted and injured, while Fea-bella is afraid, exhausted, injured and sick.

Is that breaking even? Maybe just!
Well, you learn fast that you can never get ahead. TB2's world is basically a crapsack type milieu. Humanity and civilization are on their last legs, and they are NOT going to win in the end. You can go back to town and be fleeced of every coin (and I don't care how many you have, the costs of living will just ratchet up somehow) or you can take a big risk and camp some more, where if you don't roll well instead of healing you'll end up with 3 more conditions! Even if you roll well, you basically have to hurt yourself almost an equal amount to get the checks required to do anything in camp. So, yeah, its pretty much designed so, if you play to the hilt, you will end up where you were before, but with some experience. Its fun, though I tend to think that the combination of mechanics and milieu are limiting enough that few groups will come back again and again to it.

Now, maybe a generous interpretation of the risk/reward balance, and/or play in a less 'end stage collapse of the world' kind of milieu, that might produce a game where PCs can dream of realistically getting ahead in a bit more substantive way. Of course that will have to be interspersed with some really serious sequences of harsh travels and locations pushing the PCs right to the edge in order to really engage with the strengths of the system, but I could see some room in there for a bit of a range of games.
 

So what I'm envisioning is, for example, coming to a flooded stream that must be crossed with some sort of skill test. Deciding to not cross the stream, or taking extra time to go to find a bridge, isn't an option. There will be a dice roll. The only decision is which, among the applicable skills you have, is the one that gives you either the best chance to succeed (or maybe even the best chance to fail so you can earn a new point.)
IMHO this is the nature of all RPGs, essentially. I mean, OK, you can go find a bridge, and that will involve some sort of test, or swim across, another test. Maybe you can do one or the other more effectively, etc. Lets even suppose you can do something that is no test at all, so what? Next you will come to another obstacle and there will be a test, etc. etc. etc. Its almost like complaining that your Monopoly game lacks the 'advance to go' feature. Well, OK, in Monopoly you get $200, so there's some benefit, but the next thing is you have to take another turn and risk landing on someone's hotel again. It COULD be a tactical advantage if it lets you skip past that hotel on Boardwalk, but maybe not!

So, I don't think the questions about how and when obstacles and tests come up in these games really means all that much, that's the loop of play! Its not a question of avoiding them, that's like not taking a turn in Monopoly! You takes your turn, you takes your chances, you make decisions that might help your odds, but you're just going to go around that loop again. The game is about which obstacles you face, how you deal with them, and what that says about the characters.

In Narrative focus RPGs that's it!
 

Interestingly, you won't find this in Mouse Guard. The way Mouse Guard (the book) is structured isn't the typical "GM Section" and "Player Section." Its structured as procedures which address either relevant party as it moves throughout (with a particular mouse icon for GM instruction and another for player instruction). Whereas you'll find "The Good Idea" in the GMing section of TB (Tricks of the Trade), you won't find such in Mouse Guard’s Obstacles or Missions or Conflicts or even Sample Missions sections. There is a reason for this I'd say. While all 3 games are in the same family and share a massive swath of engine and architecture, they also have some key diverging features. In my reading and running of the game, my interpretation of Mouse Guard is that it is intended much more as an MHRP Action Scene/Transition Scene aesthetic or Blades in the Dark Score + Downtime than either BW or TB. Its obviously closer to TB than BW (with TB basically beng a reskinned MG with several other layers added in and an outright genre/aesthetic/trope change), but there are some key differences in several areas between even those two. If you recall, I start my TB games with players having 1 Persona and Fate...that is from MG. You get 1 Free Test in Player's Turn (Camp and Town equivalent) even with no Checks in MG. Player's Turn can break up GM's Turn (Mission or Adventure phase in TB) in a much more hospitable and fiction first/freeform way than the procedure-intensive and gamestate-integrity-dependent Camp phase does in TB; you don't have all of the peril and intensive procedures to get to Camp phase and its an outgrowth of the fiction or the meta (are we at a safe haven or a break of the Mission phase where it would make sense, meta or story, to have a Player's Turn?). Beyond that, you don't have the crushing Grind, the crushing demand of Inventory/Gear/Light/Food & Water, Circles plays a role in the Wilderness, and there is no delving (this is a game of Ranger-Knights performing the duties of the Territorries to keep it safe and harmonious and it’s infrastructural integrity upkept). There are plenty of other differences in nuance (and a host of "oh Torchbearer/Mouse Guard come from the same stock" as well...obviously!).

When its GM's Turn (Score or Action Scene equivalent), you could look at play something like a Complexity 1, 4e Skill Challenge with 4 Obstacles minimum (assuming all successes) but also Complex Obstacles (nested SCs in 4e or Linked Tests in BW) here and there (eg when you need to harvest stuff to make a boat > craft it > pilot it) and, of course, Twists as they arise (which could be seen as Failures in the Skill Challenge; and yes, they of course still have “Fun Once” for Twist handling).

So on the whole, I would say (a) MG’s feel is much more Closed Scene Resolution like MHRP or 4e (but MHRP specifically because there is no A Good Idea to overcome Obstacles whereas you have the equivalent in 4e) and (b) it is a much less intensive game than either BW or TB (in all the ways those games converge to be intensive).

Now intensive doesn’t mean intense. MG is very fast-paced and intense. I love it (it’s right up my alley in virtually every way). And the dangers of Natural Order means that death and memorializing your heroic member of the Guard feels and is on the table waaaaay more than it is for your standard D&D game.

I’d run it more, but it seems like some folks aren’t keen on playing heroic mice in a fantasy world below our human feet.
It would, IMHO, be a pretty easy game to reskin. I mean, the 'mice' in MG are not really all that 'mouse like' in any naturalistic sense. If you called them 'humans' and translated the other elements accordingly I don't think anyone would really bat an eyelash. Its just that MG was designed to allow play in a very specific milieu that was derived from the comic/graphic series. I'd imagine a lot of people came to the game BECAUSE of the underlying material, but I don't think the themes and situations are so much dependent on that form that you couldn't reskin the creatures as various sorts of mythical monsters, etc. OTOH really why bother? If you want the flavor of the game overall then just go with the underlying conceit.
 

pemerton

Legend
TB2's world is basically a crapsack type milieu. Humanity and civilization are on their last legs, and they are NOT going to win in the end. You can go back to town and be fleeced of every coin (and I don't care how many you have, the costs of living will just ratchet up somehow) or you can take a big risk and camp some more, where if you don't roll well instead of healing you'll end up with 3 more conditions! Even if you roll well, you basically have to hurt yourself almost an equal amount to get the checks required to do anything in camp. So, yeah, its pretty much designed so, if you play to the hilt, you will end up where you were before, but with some experience.
I agree broadly with your assessment of the play dynamics, at least as I've experienced it so far.

But I don't think I agree with you about the "flavour" of the milieu. I don't think the suffering of the adventurers necessarily generalises to the whole of the world. I'm not saying it's Arthurian romance! - as I said upthread, Hobbit or Silmarillion but not an ounce of LotR. But the suffering of the adventurers might be particular to their circumstances and vocation, rather than a microcosm of the world as a whole.
 

I agree broadly with your assessment of the play dynamics, at least as I've experienced it so far.

But I don't think I agree with you about the "flavour" of the milieu. I don't think the suffering of the adventurers necessarily generalises to the whole of the world. I'm not saying it's Arthurian romance! - as I said upthread, Hobbit or Silmarillion but not an ounce of LotR. But the suffering of the adventurers might be particular to their circumstances and vocation, rather than a microcosm of the world as a whole.
I mean, I am not saying you cannot build a campaign/milieu of that sort, perhaps. I would say outright that what I've read of TB2's text is pretty clear that the world sucks, civilization is dying, and furthermore that adventurers are the doggy poop stuck to the bottom of its shoe! So, if you utilize the default example campaign setting (to the degree that it is fleshed out), or like @Manbearcat in our game create one that seems to be VERY similar in overall structure, then I am on pretty solid ground there. Now, is that necessary? Can you spin the setting presented in a more positive way? I suppose so.

I understand you are using a part of WoG as your setting, and I would point out that this setting lacks that sort of dark tone. For instance there are large organized states, powerful rulers, and entire civilizations. In MBC's TB2 world none of that exists. The ONE actual human town of any significance doesn't control anything more than a 6 hour walk outside of its gates. They barely even know that other settlements a 2 day's journey away even exist! Most towns and similar localities that existed 100 years ago are dead ruins. Its unclear to me if his milieu embodies the idea of inevitable dissolution of civilization, it isn't explicit, but certainly if it is going to survive, things better get markedly better soon! It is a MUCH grimmer world than WoG! From what I read it is pretty close to the default setting in tone.
 

pemerton

Legend
@AbdulAlhazred

I don't find the default setting as grim as you do. There are roads and navigable rivers (as per the Journey rules); Bustling Metropolises and Walled Towns as well as Dilapidated Ports and Borderland Fortresses (as per the Settlement rules); and the events rolls offer not only disasters but celebrations and festivals and alms-givers. There are nobles, and temples, and bandits who make a living being bandits.

I don't have any trouble fitting it into my image of Greyhawk, although in the north to fit with the default weather and religious tropes. We're using the area around the Bandit Kingdoms, the Theocracy of the Pale, Tenh, etc. The Fellreev Forest and Phostwood are good for Elves and rangers and the like; there are the Bluff Hills as well as the hills and mountains to the east (I can't remember what they're called at the moment); and landmarks to use for calculating journey toll. I don't worry too much about figuring the distances - my chart tells me that, at that latitude, each hex is around 25 miles, which means each point of toll has been around 150 miles. In my imagination I think it's closer to half that, though.

We haven't drawn on any GH-specific backstory so far. We're just using the maps.
 

@AbdulAlhazred

I don't find the default setting as grim as you do. There are roads and navigable rivers (as per the Journey rules); Bustling Metropolises and Walled Towns as well as Dilapidated Ports and Borderland Fortresses (as per the Settlement rules); and the events rolls offer not only disasters but celebrations and festivals and alms-givers. There are nobles, and temples, and bandits who make a living being bandits.

I don't have any trouble fitting it into my image of Greyhawk, although in the north to fit with the default weather and religious tropes. We're using the area around the Bandit Kingdoms, the Theocracy of the Pale, Tenh, etc. The Fellreev Forest and Phostwood are good for Elves and rangers and the like; there are the Bluff Hills as well as the hills and mountains to the east (I can't remember what they're called at the moment); and landmarks to use for calculating journey toll. I don't worry too much about figuring the distances - my chart tells me that, at that latitude, each hex is around 25 miles, which means each point of toll has been around 150 miles. In my imagination I think it's closer to half that, though.

We haven't drawn on any GH-specific backstory so far. We're just using the maps.
Yeah, there is a 'metropolis', singular, and other, usually fairly rundown or heavily embattled localities from what I gathered of their events and such. Nobody in the world of TB seems to be doing well, that's for sure! Obviously interpretations differ, lol. In our play we basically found ruins, ice, cold, monster-filled wilderness, etc. 2 elf habitations, both largely ruined, a dwarf town (which seems to be surviving, though mostly cut off) and just rumors of anything else. That may partly be just MBC, but it sure didn't seem like the default setting was a thriving civilization. We never ran into a single positive event that I can recall. I think the best thing we ever got was "it isn't actually pouring freezing rain today"
 


@Manbearcat

I feel you've scarred @AbdulAlhazred as far as his conception of the TB world is concerned!

Ha!

So I’ve run TB1 with various set-ups, but, when it comes to the layfolks and setting premise that the players overwhelmingly, interact with, I think the Remote Village does the best job at conveying the upshot of the experience for the players as they interact with the setting in its various phases:

Remote Village
The backbone of society, remote villages dot the hinterlands. Their residents till the soil for its meager gifts, herd the cattle for their stringy
meats and plumb the sea for its turbid fruits—all in the service of some petty noble lord who wants only their table full and their taxes paid.

  • Harvests yield meager gifts.
  • Animal husbandry yields stringy meats.
  • Fisheries yield mixed signals.

Beyond that, the land is savage and its reach is vast. The ruins are hungry and seductive and unforgiving. The climate is actively hostile, volatile, harsh. The laws are brutal. The piper paid at the gates (both coming and going) is intense and ever-looming. The gods and their ciphers can be quite distant or in your face (and in your face is often not a great omen for the layfolk). Your rival is but a Twist away to make your life difficult. The costs for getting anything done are significant and the toll for trying to change your plight seems so steep.

Town Event Tables have a normal distribution where calamity and significant boon are rare but can materialize (with the scale and potency of the calamity being significantly more gamestate-impactful than the boon) while results of "hardship" or "interesting and potentially benign or hostile" or "minor boon" dominate the scene.

Camp Event Tables lean toward negative results without intentful and focused (costly...possibly quite costly) intervention on the PCs behalf due to baked in negative modifiers and the table's minorly tilted distribution. You've got a lot of things that are against you in the wild that you need to push back against in order to establish a safe camp with amenities that will give you some reprieve against the cold and dark and savage out there.


But you have your Hometown. You may have Friends or Parents or Mentor to call upon. You may gain some in the course of adventuring. You also have your wits, your guile, your resilience, your courage, your will, and your Order of Might.


The thing is is that any given game of Torchbearer's setting that emerges in the course of play will vary because it depends very much on:

(a) Twists (thematically what do these look like...and that question can't be answered in a vacuum because it is reliant upon PC build, staple towns used as "base", the fallout from Events tables, the Adventures undertaken and the spoils and rotted fruit of those Adventures).

(b) Staple Towns for Town phase (if you're in Bustling Crossroads or Remote Village overwhelmingly, the locals and customs and reality on the ground will feel different than Bustling Metropolis and Religious Bastion).

(c) Adventures undertaken and their results on setting and subsequent framing.


So I've run 5 Torchbearer games (all but this last one with TB1) and they've been rather diverse, but there is absolutely a pressing weight upon the layfolk and a stranglehold on everyday experience by bill collectors and the hierarchy of Order of Presence that routinely finds its way as both color and gamestate-impactors.

But as far as your game @AbdulAlhazred , I think I may look at you guys' successes a bit differently than you do. I wonder if that is typically the case for GMs vs players in Torchbearer games. My perception of a harsh and ruined situation is probably different than yours. I look at the festival at the gates of Strond and you guys' Convince Crowd conflict as a nice dose of merriment and spread goodwill. You guys gained a friend in an Enemy's Porter/Sentry and you even softened that Enemy's orientation to you. You were on your way to fully resolving the ruins of your Elfhome. You rescued a matriarch of a well-to-do Strond family and befriended them. You recovered your sister's remains and sent her to her rest. You set right the wrongs of a little girl and her murdered mother (who is now a spirit).

The changed facts on the ground for the layfolk and how that interacts with you guys' characters had its share of rays of sunshine to break the constantly rumbling stormclouds.

So yeah...definite inherent lean toward harship and savagery and weighty toll...but many factors can confound that orientation including the significant role of downstream play. I just think, player-outlook-side, basic things (like constantly failing your Resource Test at the gates!) do a lot of work to create a feel of a miserly, stingy, GIT GUD SCRUB world.

And honestly...I'm a dark person. My Twists and Adventures and conflict framing is much likely darker than your own @pemerton ! I'm a big fan of a backdrop of brutality and harshness giving crisp, clear lines to acts of heroism and resiliency! That comes out in a lot of my GMing I'm sure!
 

pemerton

Legend
I just think, player-outlook-side, basic things (like constantly failing your Resource Test at the gates!) do a lot of work to create a feel of a miserly, stingy, GIT GUD SCRUB world.
Our table has experienced this! Five rolls to pay lifestyle, five failures. Two Resource zeroes have not moved despite a number of tests; one Resource 1 went up to 2 for one roll, only to be taxed back down to 1 on that same roll.

And honestly...I'm a dark person. My Twists and Adventures and conflict framing is much likely darker than your own @pemerton !
I've had only a few twists in town. They've both involved failed Resources - the first one I called as a blackball on the PC by the vendors, at the urging of the Enemy the PC had made as a result of the Town Events roll (so no more shopping possible); the second one, trying to buy explosives from the Hedge Witch, I called as an explosion at the Hedge Witch's place (so no explosives purchased and no more shopping at that venue possible! The player did succeed at the Health test to avoid his PC being blown up too.)
 

pemerton

Legend
I was just looking at the Economics rules in the Lore Master's Manual: the Wizard's Tower settlement the PCs have been hanging out in now has a stimulated economy.

Maybe that will help them with their Resources tests!
 

pemerton

Legend
We played again today - our fifth session in this particular campaign - with only two players: Korvin must have got caught up telling more far-fetched tales at the tavern!

We started with a bit of town phase. Buying stuff was enhanced by the stimulated economy of the Wizard's Tower. Golin, being a 2nd level Outcast and hence a shrewd haggler, took his free test to haggle. He failed, but his failed haggling roll was what he was hoping for - a 1 (so unable to sell valuables - he had none to sell!). Golin made his first successful attempts to buy things - some food, and a second satchel. Fea-bella likewise - she bought food, and a tinderbox, and wine.

Fea-bella ate some of her food to relieve her hunger and thirst. She then made a poultice using her Healing skill, to help her recover from exhaustion. She then took her one free recovery test for staying with her mum in her stable-equivalent hovel, and succeeded.

Golin also wanted to buy a pry bar, to help him break into Megloss's house, but this is not an item ordinarily available for purchase in a wizard's tower settlement. So he attempted a Circles check - his first- to find a "black market" pry bar, in this case a tradesman or labourer willing to sell one to an adventurer. The test failed, and so by the time he learned of a willing vendor he was angry! He visited the tavern to cure his hunger and thirst ("hair of the dog", I guess), and also got a rumour - an old hand got chatting to him, and told the story of how, years ago when Vaccin was young and not the old man he is now, he had had two Dwarven friends visit him in town, with their young Dwarven bairn. They'd never been seen in the town again, but now Vaccin has another Dwarven friend! (In play, had rolled the Dismal News tavern rumour, about a bad fate befalling the PC's parents. Golin is an orphan, though, and so I asked Golin's player how he had been orphaned. The player didn't know. So I made something up. Golin's player suggested he might be losing his friend; I suggested that maybe this is why Vaccin is his friend.) Golin also took his free recovery for staying in Vaccin's home, and succeeded at recovering from his anger.

There was some debate between the players about the merits of making a Resources test to buy a "black market" pry bar, but Golin's player won the debate. The test was Ob 3 Resources test, and the dice pool was Golin's own 2 dice (for Resources 2), +1D for the stimulated economy, and +2D for help from Fea-bella and his new friend Gerda. He also through in a persona point, for 6D total. And failed. I decided to go for a twist rather than a condition: the local with the pry bar in the end wasn't happy with what Golin was offering (ie no sale), and when Fea-bella got home she found that her Elfstone had been stolen!

Despite this slight loss (which Golin's player didn't mind too much - he needs a failed Resources test to progress to Resources 3), the players were feeling pretty good about their town phase: no conditions, and provisions, and both having advanced their Resources via their successful purchases. Golin's player asked how the journey works when the adventure site is in town - I said there isn't one, and they can just go there - and he was feeling better. They then made their lifestyle tests for "leaving town" and both succeeded - in Fea-bella's case this took her to Resources 2. Having succeeded at lifestyle (for the first time ever) and having no conditions, both were Fresh!

They walked to the edge of town, where Megloss's house sits one an outcropping, looking out over the plains. I described the house: poorly kept, the equivalent of a stablem, built predominantly of timber, with smoke pouring from its chimney. Now Golin's Belief is that Explosive solutions are good solutions!, and Fea-bella has Alchemist 2, so they decided they would climb to the roof of the house and mess with the chimney and soot to force the occupants out. Unfortunately, the Dungeoneering check to get to the top failed - and I went for a twist: while they were standing about trying to work out the best way up - I explained that every time they thought they'd found a suitable way, they were worried the poor state of the timber wouldn't support them - the front door opened and Krystal the housekeeper came out to remonstrate with them, telling them to move along.

They opted, without much deliberation, for trickery, trying to persuade Krystal that they were building inspectors, worried about the state of the house and needing to come inside to further inspect it. Her response was along the lines of having never heard of such a thing, and they should get lost. (Or words to that effect.) Initial rolls for disposition gave them 5 points each. Krystal and Golin were both using Beginner's Luck, though Krystal was at one point able to use her Demanding Nature to insist that they leave.

So-so scripting and mediocre rolling meant that Krystal won, with only a minor compromise (for one hit point lost). Fea-bella also managed to rack up 4 checks, by breaking ties in Krystal's favour twice (but each time to no real benefit to Krystal, as they were Defence actions when she was still at full hit points). So the PCs had to leave, though they took as their compromise that they would have a very quick look inside before leaving. I described the front room (which they could see through the front door) and the kitchen (which they could see through the door off the side of the front room): both players noticed the rug on the floor in front of the fire.

Golin's player asked for a test, based on his instinct to Always look for weak points, to see if there was a trapdoor or similar opening in the floor hidden under the rug. The test failed. And so, as the PCs were about to leave, who should come in the front door but Megloss, demanding to know what they were doing there! Fea-bella sputtered some nonsense about building inspection, and Krystal said that she'd never heard of such a thing and that they were about to leave, and Megloss scoffed at Fea-bella - "Surely you can do better than that!"

So then Fea-bella came out with the allegation that Megloss has kidnapped Glothfindel, and demanded his release. So we went into a Convince conflict. Megloss and Krystal had a disposition of 10 (including the +3 for Megloss being Fea-bella's enemy); the PCs had 6. I had to script first. A Convince conflict takes Persuader for Attack and Defend - and Megloss is untrained in Persuader - but Manipulator for Manoeuvre and Feint - and Megloss is Manipulator 3. So I decided to open with a Feint - which would force a versus test if the players scripted Feint, would cut through a Defence if the players opted to have Golin act first and Defend with Beginner's Luck, and likewise do damage directly against a Manoeuvre. But I was outwitted by Fea-bella's player, who conjectured that opening with a Feint was exactly the dastardly sort of thing Megloss would do, and hence opened with an Attack! The pool was 2D for Persuader 2, +1D of help from Golin's Oratory (he declaimed a little homily about how the outsider living on the edge of town would be even more of an outsider once it came to light he was a kidnapper), +1D from Fresh and maybe another bonus from somewhere else (a trait perhaps). Fea-bella's player was rolling with odds as successes, and 5s as eligible for open-ending via Fate, and rolled three successes including two 5s, and spent the Fate, and got two more 5s, and then a success and another 5, and then another success on that one. Together with the evidence that she had equipped as a weapon - namely, the conversation with Turner, the bandit leader, in the previous session, which she now recounted to Megloss - that was 9 successes. So Megloss was just standing there, shocked and tongue-tied.

The next two actions were largely uneventful - Defences and Manoeuvres - but then in the next round they were able to knock out Krystal before she could restore any hit points via a successful defence: she had equipped promises as her weapon, offering them as much bread as they could carry if only they'd leave, but the PCs were not swayed by her blandishments!

Having suffered a total defeat, with no compromise on the PCs' part required, what could Megloss do? He pulled back the rug, unlocked the trapdoor, and handed over the trussed-up Glothfindel - who was hungry and thirsty, and exhausted (a prior GM determination) and now also became angry at Megloss as Fea-bella succeeded at a Criminal test to untie him and the 4th turn ticked over.

The PCs still had to leave, on account of their prior loss to Krystal, and so they did. But Fea-bella was happy to have rescued her friend, and Golin was happy to add a length of rope to his inventory.

The players debated whether or not to go into another town phase, or to camp. TAs they debated, each of the PCs and Glothfindel drained a waterskin dry. They decided to camp, so as to get better use from their 4 checks. A successful Survivalist test found them a concealed "camp" in town; a roll of 9 on the Camp Events roll, +1 for concealment, indicated that their concealment was next to the village garbage pit (no alleviating hungry and thirst, the stench making it impossible to keep food down).

Fea-bella gave her wine to Glothfindel to help him with his recovery from angry, and he succeeded. Golin succeeded at a Cook test to preserve two of his fresh rations. Fea-bella made a poultice to help Glothfindel recover from exhaustion, and also used her new Instinct - Always map the path - to make her first Cartography test, and draw a map from memory of the parts of Megloss's house that she had seen. This left her hungry and thirsty. Glothfindel then used the last check for a successful test to recover from exhaustion.

The players then debated whether to go into town phase, or have another crack at Megloss's house. Golin liked the idea of having another go with the advantage of surprise - who would expect them to come back that night - while Fea-bella was feeling more cautious. They got a bit more general information from Glothfindel (in lieu of the tavern rumour that an adventuring friend would normally provide) and decided to break in that night.; the clincher for Fea-bella was her conviction that Megloss must have something to do with the theft of the Elfstone, which plays into her Belief that it must be protected at all costs. Glothfindel wouldn't be joining them, though - he was going to check on his horse, Asfaloth.

The PCs went back to the house and decided to enter through the back room, that looks out over the plains and overhangs the overhang on which the house is built. I asked if they were lighting a lantern, and Golin didn't want to - he didn't want Krystal to notice any strange lights. I told the players I didn't have to roll for weather, but would do so to determine the state of the sky - they were happy with that. The roll showed it to be clear and cool, so dim light from the stars and moon, and they were happy to proceed with the extra penalty from a lack of light. Golin left one of his satchels, empty of everything but a pouch, next to the house, so as not to take a penalty to Dungeoneer checks. The Dungeoneer check to get the two of them to the back of the house failed anyway, leaving Golin hungry and thirsty too.

From their new vantage point, they could see shuttered windows, and Fea-bella opened the shutters with an Ob 1 Criminal test. They could see the dusty floor inside, and the roof in disrepair. Golin, suspicious of dust since his experience of explosive powders in Mim's workroom, decided to look more closely, and succeeded at his Ob 3 Scout test - which both advanced his Scout to 3, and revealed that the floor would collapse if walked on. Golin was keen for them to have somewhere where they could eat, before another condition clocked on, and so used his Instinct to work out where the floor was weak (and hence where it wasn't). This succeeded, and climbed into the room and ate some food resting on a solid bit of floor near the back wall.

They had also seen a piece of clothing lying on the floor, and Golin decided he wanted it. Fea-bella was sceptical - "It's just a cloak" - but Golin pointed out that he didn't have a cloak and might find one useful. He reached out with his sword pommel to pull it to him, and I rated this a good idea. I also said that there seemed to be something heavy - maybe a pot? - under the item, and asked if he wanted that too. He did - and so at that point I called for a Scavenging test against Ob 1 to grab it safely. He did so, and found it was a bottle. This led to some rearranging of inventories. Fea-bella was sceptical about the merits of keeping a bottle, but Golin (or Golin's player, at least) was of the view that anything that is found, and can be taken, should be taken.

The clothing was a woollen sweater. Golin put it on.

I called the session end at that point. We allocated rewards. Golin got a fate for pursuing his Belief (the ultimately unsuccessful chimney plan), for pursuing his Goal (his desire to get something the help him with his plan to set up Gerda in town was what led him to try and rob Megloss twice), and for his instinct; and a persona as the teamworker (preserving rations, identifying the unsafe floor, etc). Fea-bella got a fate for pursuing her Belief, and for her instinct; and got a persona for achieving her goal of rescuing Megloss, and as the MVP for her 9-point Attack in the Convince conflict.

The PCs now have enough fate and persona each to reach 3rd level next session. The Scholar's Guide suggests that the first respite, around level 3, will be after 8 to 12 sessions of play, but having only two players concentrates the MVP and teamworker persona a bit, accelerating the levelling. Personally I don't mind this, given that we play at best once every two or three weeks.

The players counted this as their most successful session: they were Fresh when they left town; they finished the session still with no conditions; they still have some rations, oil and candles; and are both Resources 2. If it's possible to win at Torchbearer, maybe this is what it feels like!
 

pemerton

Legend
We got in another two-player session yesterday. This time the PCs were Korvin the Skald - who turned up at Megloss's house to find out what was going on! - and Golin the Dwarven Outcast. Fea-bella, we inferred, had fallen into a dream fugue while taking a rest in the back room of Megloss's house.

Nearly all the action of the session took place in Megloss's house. After the recap and the account of Korvin's arrival, the players decided that getting from the back room of the house into the front sections, while the occupants were there asleep, was too hard, and so decided to leave, but to grab the papers from the front room that had been mentioned in the previous session.

The Scout tests to get to the front of the house without awakening anyone with the light of Korvin's lantern were successful. So was the Criminal test to pick the front door lock. But the Scout test to look around before actually entering was not: and so they suffered a twist - the Cinder Imp who lives in the fire place came to the front door to speak to them, wanting their lantern.

They decided to turn this into an opportunity, luring (ie tricking) the Imp outside with the lantern, so that Golin could sneak in and snatch the papers. The players succeeded at this contest of trickery but owed a significant compromise (having lost nearly half their own hit points): when the Imp tried to snatch the lantern from Korvin, as Golin grabbed the papers, it fell to the ground and was smashed.

The angry imp then decided to try and set fire to the timber house. The players (and their PCs) didn't want that at all, and so decided to drive it off. In numerical terms this was a more difficult conflict (the Imp has 9 hp for drive off, vs 5 for trickery) but the PCs fared better, and succeeded with slightly fewer than half their own hp lost. The fiction that unfolded in the course of the conflict also established that they had managed to put out the fire that the Imp had started (a successful Manoeuvre by Korvin).

The rules give as a suggestion of a drive-off compromise that the PCs' opponents sound the alarm or summon reinforcements, and so I decided that the kerfuffle with the Imp awakened Krystal the housekeeper, who remonstrated briefly with the PCs before waking Megloss to further remonstrate with them. Megloss was not impressed that they had driven away his hitherto-friendly Imp.

What the players (and their PCs) wanted was for Megloss to let them leave in peace - given that they had stopped his house burning down - and so this is what they tried to persuade him to do. As they were being sincere to that extent at least, I decided that this was a Convince conflict. In the first round, when performing Megloss's Feint, I revealed what he wanted from them: namely, to explore underneath the house. This caught the PCs (and their players) by surprise (as a good Feint should!) because they didn't know there was anything under the house to explore, beyond the small area where Glothfindel had been imprisoned. But Golin in particular was quite enthusiastic about the idea of exploring underground rather than all this town adventuring.

So the players agreed that they could do this, but only if they resupplied first. Megloss offered them some food baked by Krystal (in mechanical terms, he had equipped himself with a promise). But in the end the players won the conflict, owing a half compromise. So they agreed to explore as Megloss wanted them to, but he agreed that they could reequip first.

During one of the conflicts with the Imp, Golin had collected a camp check, and so the PCs left the house and entered camp phase - Golin's player wanted to cook food to extend their supply of rations. The camp event roll, including a +1 for keeping watch, was a 7 - a fresh corpse near their campsite. Narratively, they had gone back to their previous campsite on the edge of the village, but in avoiding the hideous stench of last time had parked themselves next to the dead body. They have a -1 to future camp event rolls in the settlement until the body is removed.

Golin's player failed the Cook test, and so the food was successfully prepared but Golin was angry that it took so long, and that he'd had to endure unhelpful comments from Korvin who knows a bit about hunting and butchery but little about how to make kimchi from preserved vegetables!

Hunger and thirst abated, the PCs then entered town phase, Korvin staying with his friend Jan the publican and Golin staying with the alchemist Vaccin. The town event roll indicated a fire at the premises of the Hedge Witch - the cause of a fire at a minor magician's house, given the events at Megloss's house, was taken as too obvious to need dwelling on; but Golin lamented the loss of the ability to buy explosives.

Korvin decided to read the papers, and succeeded on the Ob 2 Scholar test (for weird inscriptions). The papers mentioned Celedhring, an Elf who abandoned dreaming and the West and turned instead to the powers of the Outer Dark.

The players then decided they should do more research in the library of the Wizard's Tower, and Golin's player decided to do this - with his Will having improved to 4 during one of the conflicts, and with help from Korvin, and one point of persona left, he had a better chance of success than Korvin did. He succeeded at the Ob 4 Scholar test, and learned that Megloss's house had originally been the house of the wizard Pallando, who had built the house around a post from an Elven Dreamhouse that had been stolen by Celedhring.

We had to finish the session at that point. We did a quick awarding of Artha: Golin got one Fate for pursuing his goal (trying to get valuables or leverage out of Megloss's house, to help intall the NPC Gertha as an alchemist in town) and a Persona for teamworker (he did the cooking and the research); Korvin got a Fate for pursuing his belief (he followed clues to try and track down the wicked) and one Persona for achieving his goal (of getting information from Megloss's house) and a second for MVP (he made the key rolls for victory in a couple of the conflicts).

I anticipate that next session will see the return of Fea-bella, some re-equipping during town phase, and then an expedition into the shadow caves beneath Megloss's house.
 

pemerton

Legend
A couple of further thoughts:

* This was a big session for Golin from the point of view of PC build. His Will improved to 4, and he opened three new skills - Lore Master, Manipulator and Persuader. This all resulted from the social-intensive action of the past few sessions. He also improved his Cook to 3.

* @Manbearcat and I have talked in the past about the adventure-building rules. As I posted in the OP of this thread, I find them very good for their focus on fictional situation and mechanical obstacles. But compared to (say) 4e D&D, I find them a bit trial-and-error in terms of getting a sense for how easy or punishing an adventure will be.

But what has become clear is that adventuring in town, with no need to journey to or from the adventure site, is much more forgiving than having to travel. Which the rulebook says; but I think it might have been helpful to have another few sentences or a paragraph explaining this a bit more - I think one reason for this is the splitting of the rules across the Scholar's Guide and the Lore Master's Manual, so the former doesn't explicitly include Journeys in its discussion of adventure difficulty, while the latter's Journey rules don't link back to that discussion either.

As I said I think our next session will involve delving beneath Megloss's house. I would then expect the next town phase to be a Respite. And then I think it must be time for another journey, eg back to the Tower of Stars which remains unexplored by the PCs to a significant extent. There are also the NPC bandits they're interested in, and Korvin has an enemy (Nob H the Bandit Lord) and Golin has two of them (Ebenezer the Erudite, and his rival in the Forgotten Temple Complex also called Golin) who haven't figured yet. Plus there is the rumour form last session about how Vaccin may have known Golin's parents (I imagine Golin's father must have been named Gilim).

If the players remain interested, I think there's enough stuff there to support several more sessions at least.
 

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