Monday, July 13, 2015

I ran Torchbearer

I ran Torchbearer this weekend. I had fun, and I want to run it again.

Damn does this game have a learning curve, though. We were fumbling around with the rules the entire session, and once I sat down and re-read the book I found a bunch of places where I’d missed subtle rules or screwed up completely. I can see how it’ll come together once I have more of it internalized, but my players especially (Kiel, my brother, and my brother’s fiancee) found it frustrating.

I knew that going into it, though. This game was a test run, so I could get a feel for how the game works in play, and get prepared to run a proper campaign once I move to San Francisco. I want to write my own stuff but didn’t trust my ability to do that without actually playing, so this was a chance to try out the intro adventure, and get my fumbling done with people who I expect to laugh at me anyway.

We played the starting adventure that comes with the book, and didn't get very far. They delved into the cellar, fought some rats, went further into the caves, discovered kobolds, tripped over an alarm the kobolds had set, attempted to scare the kobolds off by making spooky noises and shouting the name of their god, and then ran away when that failed and made camp.

The main thing I screwed up was actually the main mechanic, which is subtle enough that I missed it the first time, even though it’s a very similar one to the classic OD&D-style dungeoneering that I’m especially fond of. I default to my more 3e-ish habits, and it had a definite negative impact on play.

Basically, Torchbearer has in common with OD&D that play should proceed primarily by players and DM trading descriptions of action and reaction, until you get to the point where the DM thinks something bad should happen-- the players did something stupid, or inherently risky. At that point in OD&D, you’d roll a save-- you screwed up, but I’m going to give the game a chance to save you-- or get into combat. In Torchbearer, you roll a “Test,” which uses the skill system but is actually quite different from the 3e and later subsystems of that name.

In newer editions of D&D, and a lot of “traditional” (as opposed to old school or indie/narrative) the consequences for failing a roll is that you don’t succeed at what you were trying. They can be either player controlled or triggered independently by the DM.

In Torchbearer, the consequence for failing a roll is that something bad happens, even though you succeed at what you were doing (with a couple of exceptions, mostly having to do with recovering from consequences like injury). They’re always (a) triggered by player action but (b) called for by the DM. So none of that “roll a perception check to see whether you notice (secret thing) when you enter an area” business (which is where I messed up-- in my defense, the intro adventure implies that you should do this at one point, at least if you’re coming into it with D&D instincts). Either the information in question should be given to the players when they enter the area, or when they take an action to directly uncover it. Because failing a roll always imposes negative consequences, imposing a roll without the players feeling like they directly triggered it can be frustrating.

I also fumbled on the conflict rules (deciding when to start a conflict is actually kind of tricky, and I hadn’t read the rules for setting up the monster side at the start of them carefully enough), didn’t realize how nasty adding another 6 kobolds would make an encounter for 3 players, and didn’t handle people asking if they could apply this or that trait to a situation well-- I should have just asked them “what are you actually doing that’s using that trait?” and decided based on their description. I also nudged them a little too hard towards collecting checks. I suspect after re-reading that section the most natural way for new players to discover checks is through tiebreakers, and that once they got the hang of that they’d start looking for opportunities to get them other ways on their own.

All that said, I’m pretty psyched about running Torchbearer again. I’m re-reading the rulebook, and have a better idea how to read it now that I’ve run it once. I’ve started thinking about how I’ll set up the actual campaign, and making notes on the first adventure. (Still deciding whether to use my existing San Draso setting, or try something totally new.)

I am a little wary about introducing it to new players, and to players who aren’t already enthusiastic about learning the game. The nice thing about Basic or OD&D is that I can get a new player up and running in about 5 minutes (“roll what I tell you to roll, when I tell you to roll it, otherwise don’t worry about it”) and there aren’t many rules for them to deal with. While I’m optimistic about my ability to interface with the system for new players as they get their bearings, at least once I get a solid handle on the rules myself, there are a lot more bearings to get in this system.

I’m also concerned that it could be pretty punishing to players who aren’t interested in engaging with the rules, and I suspect the potential frustration factor is a lot higher than in D&D. In D&D usually if you screw up the worst thing that happens is that your character that you spent 5 minutes making dies. In Torchbearer you can get saddled with conditions and get abilities taken away from you during play, and character creation takes a little longer, so you have more invested out of the gate.

In general I don’t think this is a game that most people who’re already happy and well-served by old school D&D dungeoneering are going to be interested in, at least for extended play. The game is probably worth playing a few sessions of, especially if you don’t already feel confident with the way you manage dungeon atmosphere and the resource restriction of low level play, and the encumbrance and light rules are potentially worth borrowing. But it’s really more “an introduction to dungeoneering for people who like Burning Wheel or indie/narrative games” than an alternative to Basic per se.

For me, though-- not only do I like to kill people, and otherwise inflict nastiness on their characters, I’m pretty much all about emergent behavior arising from proceduralism. D&D does a lot of that on the DM side, but it’s interesting to see a game that really brings that to the player side of the table.

I’m particularly interested in the opportunities that the trait system affords for “emergent roleplaying.” At one point my brother was looking for a way to use a trait against himself, and came up with the idea that “maybe the gods are telling me not to kill this rat, and that makes me doubt myself.” Then the other characters picked up on that as the cleric being not quite all there, and started roleplaying that.

I do agree with the creators of the game that it’s not terribly well suited for one-shot play, and I’m hoping to get the chance to run a continuing game soon. I really appreciate that it has clear guidelines for how to prepare a campaign, and how to run a game that starts with just a single adventure prepped and builds out from there. I wish there was a little more discussion of building out the campaign world as play proceeds, and procedural generation for adventure sites in general, but I can lift a lot of that from D&D.

Of course, I’m also not sure how long it’ll hold my attention. I’m focused on it for now, but it’s definitely possible that a few sessions in I’ll get tired of futzing with the shiny rule set and get back to Basic.

69 comments:

  1. I really wanted to like this game - hell, I backed the kickstarter campaign for it - but after several attempts with people who were enthusiastic about trying something new, it just never clicked; I always felt like I was fighting with the rules and the people I was GMing expressed almost nothing but confusion or frustration and between us we probably have over 60 years of combined role-playing experience with a variety of different rules ranging from D&D to Runequest to Rolemaster, and a few others besides.

    Maybe it was my fault, just bad luck, or just a bad fit, but whatever the case all I will say is bon chance and I hope it works better for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Get the best products with affordable cost. we provides high quality products to fulfill your security needs.
    Boom Barriers
    Sliding Gates
    Solar power fence

    electric door strikes

    electro magnetic locks

    Rising Bollards


    ReplyDelete
  3. I only want to throw firecrackers, but also throwing bombs. They threw firecrackers in order to attract the attention of others, confuse the enemy; throwing bombs is my real purpose. However, I can not tell you when I threw firecrackers, when throwing bombs. The game is to falsehoods, so just happy. If you feel pain in the game, it means you play the wrong.
    _________________________
    I hope you like it: All CSGO Skins
    I put my thoughts all written here: http://www.csgo4skin.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. the entire session, and once I sat down and re-read the book I found

    hybrid solar inverter in pakistan


    inverters in pakistan

    ReplyDelete
  5. mPanchang is a very informative and awesome web portal which allows you to see daily panchang, hindu panchang, hindu calendar and much more. You can see all this on panchang
    We can get our Monthly Panchang onMonthly panchang and by using this we can predict our month long horoscope.
    mPanchang also gives you daily horoscope ontoday’s panchang by which you can predict your daily horoscope.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've just discovered your blog and am deep into digging thru the hallowed vaults of old posts. Your take on the hobby / RPG scene makes for great reading. Sorry to see it doesn't seem to be updated much anymore. BUT, thanks for so many cool ideas, etc

    ReplyDelete
  7. Adware | What Is Adware? | Virus Remover And Adware Removal Tool is a great blog post in which one can find all the information on how to remove an adware from the computer in easy steps.
    well basically an adware is a malicious virus of category malware but it is not impossible to remove it and one can search online on google how to remove it
    Browser Hijacker | Browser Hack | Browser Hijacker Removal Tool most of the people now a days search for browser hijacker in order to remove all kinds of browser virus from there computer system.
    Trojan | What Is Trojan | Virus Remover And Trojan Removal Tool

    ReplyDelete
  8. thank you for this your broadcast provided bright clear concept..
    หนังใหม่

    ReplyDelete
  9. he most natural way for new players to discover checks is through tiebreakers
    dallas seo consultant

    How to Make Money Online from Home

    ReplyDelete
  10. I really appreciate your professional approach.These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.

    หนังชีวประวัติ

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you for sharing valuable information nice post,I enjoyed reading this post.

    หนังชีวประวัติ

    ReplyDelete
  12. Woah you need to clear the spammers ;P So re: Torchbearer, I thought it had some cool ideas but I'm puzzled by how few concrete examples there are. It's almost like a written record of a verbal discussion about how to play a game, instead of an actual rulebook. For example, the rules about the consequences of a partially-successful conflict are extremely vague. The wording makes it sound like it's a compromise between the participants, but there's no "tiebreaker" rule for impasses. It feels like the game falls back on "just make a DM ruling" far too much. I don't need a rule for everything: I DM 0E/1E D&D. I'm comfortable with ambiguity. But this is like not including magic item sale values.

    Also I found the book repeating huge sections. Just say "See Page X" or whatever. Use the saved pagecount to fill the rule gaps and give more examples, I say.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.

    www.office.com/setup
    www.office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  14. It was a great informative post.Go so many useful and informative links.Loved your writings also. Concept of the topic was well discussed. Love to come here again.

    www.office.com/setup
    www.office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am a regular reader of this blog and never ever get disappointed! They are always up with something new and amazing stuff! Bluetooth Bug that doesn’t sufficiently validate ECDH keys

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that's when you're most beautiful.
    Online Shopping Engine
    Price Comparison Engine
    Best Price Online Shopping Engine

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow !!! absolutely fantastic blog. I am very glad to have such useful information.

    ดูหนังออนไลน์

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am a touch cautious regarding introducing it to new players, and to players World Health Organization aren’t already passionate about learning the sport
    Compare Electric Plans
    Commercial Electric Rates Texas
    Texas Electric Choice
    Compare Electric Plans
    Compare Electric Plans
    Power to choose

    ReplyDelete
  19. This game was a test run, so I could get a feel for how the game works in play, and get prepared to run a proper campaign once I move to San Francisco.!!

    Texas Electric Company

    Compare Electric Rates

    Texas Electric Rates

    Power to Choose

    Compare Electric Plans

    ReplyDelete
  20. In less wild consumerist news, my initial attempt at running Mutant Future might or might not happen tomorrow. I’m progressing to escort the tried-and-true flyers within the store technique if necessary
    Compare Electric Plans
    Compare Electric Plans
    Commercial Electric Rates Texas
    Texas Electric Choice
    Compare Electric Plans
    Compare Electric Plans
    Power to choose
    Texas Electric Company
    Compare Electric Rates
    Texas Electric Rates

    ReplyDelete
  21. I can see how it’ll come together once I have more of it internalized, but my players especially (Kiel, my brother, and my brother’s fiancee) found it frustrating.!!!
    Texas Electric Company

    Compare Electric Rates

    Texas Electric Rates

    Power to Choose

    Compare Electric Plans

    Texas Electric Choice

    Commercial Electric Rates Texas

    ReplyDelete
  22. Background Removal Services (BRS) is one of the best Clipping path service provider around the world. We offer our global customers: Raster to Vector Services, Photo Restoration Services Prices, Photo Neck Joint Service, Exposure Color Correction Service, Jewelry Photo, Retouching Services, Photo Color Correction Service, Image Mirror Effect Service, Cheap Retouching Services, Deep Etching Service,

    ReplyDelete
  23. Compare electric rates USA Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Commercial Texas electric rates If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare Electric Rates Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Texas Electric Rates place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. Texas Electric Company To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close window shades, and drapes in warm weather and also pay less for power in turn. Power to Choose but also to save water by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading in the dishwasher.Compare Electric Plans Most dishwashers are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that have food scraps, as compared to rinsing off. Commercial Electric Rates Texas If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare electric plans Texas summaries the inevitable bill shock into four stages! Best electric providers Texas!!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Compare electric rates USA Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Commercial Texas electric rates If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare Electric Rates Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Texas Electric Rates place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. Texas Electric Company To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close window shades, and drapes in warm weather and also pay less for power in turn. Power to Choose but also to save water by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading in the dishwasher.Compare Electric Plans Most dishwashers are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that have food scraps, as compared to rinsing off. Commercial Electric Rates Texas If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare electric plans Texas summaries the inevitable bill shock into four stages! Best electric providers Texas!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Product Items Is a Product Review Website. Here We Reviewed Best Product. If You Want to Buy Any Product, You Need to Read Product Features, Product Details, Product Description, Product Specification, Product Ratting, Pros and Cons. If You Want to Learn More Product Review Visit our Product Items Website.

    ReplyDelete
  26. ListForever – Never Ending Show Starts Here. Guys it is a place for some of really interesting, fascinating and knowledgeable lists like; Fastest car, Fastest bike, Fastest train, Fastest animal, Most expensive watch, Most expensive hotel, Tallest building, Hottest women, Most expensive shoes, Highest paid actor, Most powerful military, Most powerful people in the world, Hottest actress in Hollywood, Most beautiful Italian women, Most beautiful British actress, Highest grossing movie of all time, Best Bollywood movie of all time, Foods that can kill you. We are here with some cool lists, after reading it shall definitely update you with interesting trivia.

    ReplyDelete
  27. شركة اضواء جدة شركة نقل عفش افضل وارخص دليل شركات نقل العفش وشركات نقل الاثاث حيث يقدم الأيدي المدربة فى نقل عفش واثاث باسرع الطرق مع التغليف والتخزين.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Damn does this game have a learning curve, though. We were fumbling around with the rules the entire session, and once I sat down and re-read the book I found a bunch of places where I’d missed subtle rules or screwed up completely.
    Compare electric rates USA
    Commercial Texas electric rates
    Compare Electric Rates
    Texas Electric Rates
    Texas Electric Company
    Power to Choose
    Compare Electric Plans
    Texas Electric Choice
    Commercial Electric Rates Texas
    Compare electric plans Texas
    Best electric providers Texas
    Compare electric rates USA Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Commercial Texas electric rates If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare Electric Rates Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Texas Electric Rates place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. Texas Electric Company To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close window shades, and drapes in warm weather and also pay less for power in turn. Power to Choose but also to save water by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading in the dishwasher.Compare Electric Plans Most dishwashers are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that have food scraps, as compared to rinsing off. Commercial Electric Rates Texas If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare electric plans Texas summaries the inevitable bill shock into four stages! Best electric providers Texas!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Advanced Probiotic with pet friendly bacteria helps your pet's digestion, strengthens their immune system and improves overall health so no more: stinky gas and bad breath, stomach troubles and diarrhea, patchy and itchy coat. Dog and cats of all sizes feel better, have less bowl issues and allergies.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Joint Supplements For Dogs. Our select triple action Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Turmeric formula works to not only relieve pain, ease limb heaviness and joint aches but also lubricates joints and strengthens cartilage to increase your pet s mobility and greatly improve their quality of life Relieves stiffness and inflammation in pets sufferin.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Stardust Boutique is a Jovani prom dresses company. If you are looking for a prom dress, we are a Jovani dress store and stockist supplying UK, USA, Canada, Australia, internationally.We stock all kinds of Jovani if you want a Jovani prom dresses, Jovani short dress, Jovani evening dress, Jovani pageant dress, jvn prom dress, jvn short dress and pageant dresses.

    ReplyDelete
  32. If you want to know Fastest Bikes in the World. you can visit listforever.com. Here you will get Top 12 Fastest Bikes In The World | Pictures, Price and Specifications

    ReplyDelete
  33. WeberGuide is a product reviewing and informative website that provides a fruitful guide in before and after buying all the accessories. We Publish Information about Home Accessories, Sports, Outdoor and Gardening. Visit our website to see our latest article on Best Kukri Knife, Best Flushing Toilet, Best Air Mattress and so on. For the most part, there are numerous sorts of sites on the web about the best items. In any case, we locate that the greater part of these are ecommerce site where individuals are simply attempting to offer their items. In any case, here on this site, you will get bunches of data which will spare your significant time and help you to pick the best items.

    ReplyDelete
  34. شركة نقل عفش بجدة , شركة نقل اثاث بجدة ,شركات نقل العفش بجدة , شركات نقل الاثاث بجدة, افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة , افضل شركة نقل اثاث بجدة , نقل عفش بجدة ,نقل اثاث بجدة ’ ارخص شركة نقل عفش بجدة ,ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بجدة , نقل عفش بجدة رخيص , شركة , شركات ’ جدة , عفش , اثاث , افضل , ارخص , سيارات , رقم , ارقام , دليل , مؤسسة , مؤسسة نقل عفش بجدة , ديانا , , اضواء جدة

    ReplyDelete
  35. The Electric Blender for people to save time and reduce stress The Comparisons vs Reviews Deal of best food processor, Best Smoothie Blender, Best Personal Blender, Best Commercial Blender, best portable blender, Best immersion blender, Best Vitamix Blender, best ninja blender,Best Magic Bullet Blender, best Blendtec blender, The comparisons between Blendtec vs Vitamix, of Magic Bullet vs NutriBullet is another issue to consider if you are looking for a smart and efficient blender. But the Nutri Ninja vs NutriBullet will help you to decide to get the right one. and Best Food Dehydrator, Best Food Chopper, best vegetable chopper Reviews, buying a guide.

    ReplyDelete
  36. If you want to know Most Expensive Watch. you can visit listforever.com here you will get Top 21 Most Expensive Watch | Pictures, Price and Specifications

    ReplyDelete
  37. Best Kukri is a classic Nepalese knife on outdoor survival knife as a must-have utility item. Nowadays we see this knife is used as a multi-purpose machete; it comes from Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers. Moreover, it’s a curved blade which is thick enough along with great sharpness.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Pet Pharmacy Petmeds and Pet Medicine Store Petsability is the Best Online Pet Pharmacy that provides Petmeds Pet Medicine Find Natural Medicines

    ReplyDelete
  39. Compare electric rates USA Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Commercial Texas electric rates If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare Electric Rates Making an energy choice that is efficient can make a big difference in the cost of your energy bill. No need of a major investment in time or money to make sure you’re wasting less energy and saving more. Texas Electric Rates place heat-resistant reflectors between radiators and walls. In the winter, this will help heat the room instead of the wall. Texas Electric Company To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close window shades, and drapes in warm weather and also pay less for power in turn. Power to Choose but also to save water by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading in the dishwasher.Compare Electric Plans Most dishwashers are designed to thoroughly clean dishes that have food scraps, as compared to rinsing off. Commercial Electric Rates Texas If your dryer isn’t providing enough heat or moving air sufficiently through the clothes, then you might have noticed they are taking longer to dry, and at times, not dry at all. Compare electric plans Texas summaries the inevitable bill shock into four stages! Best electric providers Texas its energy-efficiency and also to what kind of weather the home normally sees during the heat. So, choose energy, wisely!Compare electric TX

    ReplyDelete
  40. if you want to know Fastest Trains in the World. you can visit listforever.com here you will get Top 12 Fastest Trains in the World | Pictures, Price and Specifications

    ReplyDelete
  41. Find Vacuum Cleaner - Get Trusted Vacuum Cleaner Reviews If you want to Find Best Vacuum Cleaner Here you will Get Trusted Vacuum Cleaner Reviews, Pros, cons, Buying Guide, etc. Get your Vacuum Cleaner

    ReplyDelete
  42. Need a helping hand with making dinner We have rounded up the Best Hand Blender to consider when adding to your kitchen gadgets.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Utility kilt is comfortable and easy to wear.you can read this post. it is a good informative post on yours.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Rijschool den haag Hofstad rijopleiding is écht gevestigd in Den Haag Wij helpen je met het behalen van je autorijbewijs na je rijexamen leer je pas echt autorijden Wij helpen je een heel eind op weg om het verkeer in Den Haag én in Nederland de baas te zijn Wij gaan voor kwalitatief rijden!

    ReplyDelete
  45. تقدم شركة شركة النقل في الدمام جميع عملائها مجموعة واسعة من الخدمات لم يتم رؤيتها قبل أي شركة أخرى لنقل الرغيف. كما سيقدم لك مجموعة كبيرة من الخصومات الضخمة على عمليات النقل التي تصل إلى 40٪.

    ReplyDelete
  46. أفضل شركة نقل في المدينة المنورة ونجارين مبهورين في عملية التفكيك والتركيب من الأثاث والأثاث.

    ReplyDelete
  47. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information.

    www.office.com/setup
    www.norton.com/setup
    office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  48. Turbo Steam is a powerful, yet portable, fabric and clothes steamer for all of your steaming needs. Our Turbo Steam takes only 45 seconds to heat up and to start generating steam and its steam delivery system evenly distributes steam across fabrics to remove even the worst wrinkles.

    ReplyDelete
  49. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information.

    www.office.com/setup
    www.norton.com/setup
    office.com/setup

    ReplyDelete
  50. Rijschool Delft Ben je opzoek naar een goede rijschool in Delft Voor lessen van topkwaliteit tegen voordelige prijzen moet je zeker bij Hofstad Rijopleiding wezen!

    ReplyDelete