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


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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
As an aside, we didn't just lose Snarf this month, we lost Ovinomancer/Ovi too. :(

Oh, really? That's a bummer. I thought they offered good insights.

EDIT: It seems that there is no "Ovinomancer" here, based on the site's autocomplete feature. /sadpanda
 

pemerton

Legend
Is that sort of it?
To add to what @chaochou posted: I don't know what MG says about the role of GM prep. TB relies more heavily on prepped situation than BW (and the latter is what chaochou has described). This is why, in TB, Wises work very differently from BW, and why Circles can only be used in Town Phase - the game does not give the players the same sort of authority over situation as BW does.

But this from chaochou is spot on:
In many traditional RPGs <snippage> [m]uch of the play involves trying to find out what threats the GM has detailed and how they will manifest so they can be thwarted with minimum risk. Yet more play - commonly discussed on these boards - requires the players to mistrust the GMs information and attempt to check whether it is trustworthy and accurate. This can turn into a recipe for procrastination, risk aversion, turtling and inaction.
This is not part of TB play, because the GM can't narrate failure without a check first.

For a borderline case, see the discussion in this thread about the explosion. Also see how that was resolved, with the consequences openly negotiated among participants to help stop it being unfair relative to the expectations of how to play the game.

EDIT: Also look at how possession by a cursed gem is established and operationalised: the player has to rewrite their PC's Belief.
 
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Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Another question: would reading (i.e. paying money for) some of the published Torchbearer adventures help me understand what it's like to play the game? I figure if I buy the game I'll also want the adventures, so maybe starting with the adventures makes sense.
 

I bought an adventure before TB 2e arrived (The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves (corrected)). I didn't find it very helpful, and I'm already fully versed in Burning Wheel. TB is a dense game, and not really one I could intuit. So I wouldn't recommend that approach.
 
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pemerton

Legend
I'm also fully versed in Burning Wheel, and have GMed multiple sessions of Torchbearer, and read and re-read the rulebooks, and only this week I finally worked out what the point of Cartography in the Journey rules is: it's a way of making a map cost a move in the adventure phase grind, rather than a camp check, or lifestyle for personal business in town.

I say this partly so that @Manbearcat can laugh at me, and partly to reinforce @chaochou's point that it is a dense system.
 

In the Burning Wheel family of games, there are various principles that govern "say 'yes'". Burning Wheel uses the DitV approach - say "yes" if nothing is at stake (where stakes are defined by reference to PCs' beliefs, instincts, traits, relationships, etc). Torchbearer uses the "Good Idea" approach - if the players come up with a good idea, the GM unfolds the situation from there to frame the next obstacle. I don't know how Mouse Guard does it, but I'm pretty sure it will have a discussion of it somewhere.

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.
 


I've picked it up more than once in the shop and wondered whether I should buy it, but this fact - ie that I'd never run it - has always held me back.
I've also looked at it several times. My reluctance comes from having no familiarity with the source material. I find that usually leads to poor experiences. I've actually ordered the fall and winter comics to see if it speaks to me. If it does, then I'll consider investing in the game. I ought to really like a heroic musketeers style Torchbearer.
 

I've picked it up more than once in the shop and wondered whether I should buy it, but this fact - ie that I'd never run it - has always held me back.

Honestly, if you could find a way to get beyond that...the romantic and heroic tropes of the game are 100 % pemerton. I know the "holy man" aspect is central, but you could basically reskin Thurgon and drop him utterly into this game with everything else (his Order seems to me to be very much kindred with the Guard).

You and your daughters would have a blast.

I've also looked at it several times. My reluctance comes from having no familiarity with the source material. I find that usually leads to poor experiences. I've actually ordered the fall and winter comics to see if it speaks to me. If it does, then I'll consider investing in the game. I ought to really like a heroic musketeers style Torchbearer.

If you ought to really like heroic musketeers style Torchbearer, man do I have a game for you! ;)
 

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