Monday, 5 May 2014

Torchbearer AP - Parts 0 & 1: The Beginning...

Alright, here's my first Actual Play record of our recent Torchbearer game; I'd done an in-character pseudo-record a few years ago for our Mouse Guard game; funny that with its spiritual successor I should do the same.

A few weeks back is when we had our first session which was mostly speedy character creation and everyone getting a feel for the complex system:

[Note: This post may contain spoilers for current/future players.]

Players and Characters:

  • Fraser - Morris the Mirthful [Human Magician] An anarchistic arcanist with a big mouth and several opinions.
  • Jason - Rebo Pepper [Halfling Burgler] A quiet and pleasant little person who seeks loot to feed his love of food.
  • Riley S - Hrolf Rosensloff [Human Warrior] - A fighter of such short stature he's often mistaken for a dwarf.
  • Stephen - Joseph [Human Cleric] - A jaded ex-felon who found religion in gaol and became a cleric.


During a warm but pleasant early summer, our group of companions entered the Thunder Rift canyon via the eastern pass looking for fortune & glory (mostly fortune). Rebo's childhood friend Clyde Huffler had moved to the canyon years ago to pursue his merchant career; Rebo had convinced his travelling companions that a stopover in the village of Torlynn would rest their weary souls/soles, and his friend Clyde might be able to point them in the direction of "work".

But even before they reached the village of Torlynn they knew something was amiss: the land and climate changed from the warm summer to a cool autumn to a cold and snowy winter in temperament. When they finally arrived at the settlement the vast majority of the buildings seemed abandoned; smoke rose from only a handful of chimneys.

-The players received a sampling of several of the game mechanics whilst they investigated an abandoned inn: Turn actions, Beginner's Luck, the Grind, the importance of proper illumination, twists and conditions, etc.-

An R.O.U.S
Morris ended up being attacked in the dark larder of inn by something when his purloined candle went out, making him immensely afraid. The others arrived with a light source and found a giant rat savagely attacking him and tearing apart his satchel. The other members attempted to Capture the giant rat via a Conflict; it managed to escape; Hrolf became exhausted from chasing after it but not before he managed to chop off its tail.

Soon after they met up with Clyde at his home, and he invited them to stay. Rebo cooked the rat tail into a decent stew to feed everyone. Clyde answered a knock at his door, and returned to inform the party that the burgomaster wished to see them at his place at their convenience.

Visiting Gustovan the burgomaster at his residence, he informed the group of what he believed to be the cause of the cursed eternal winter that had plagued Torlynn for over two years and has driven nearly all of the residents away: strange lights were seen at the lodging of the long gone wizard Barrik, a couple hours northeast of town. The burgomaster had sent a group of adventurers to investigate before, but none ever returned. Gustovan begged the company to seek out and remove this curse, claiming that all that lay in the home of the dead mage be theirs for the taking.

During a boast to impress the burgomaster with his mastery of the arcane, Morris attempted to cast a maximized Dance of the Fireflies spell (Fraser intended to fail, and use Morris's Jaded trait against himself to earn a check). The twist caused Morris to set alight the divan sofa and nearby curtains in magic flames. The group raced frantically to put out the magical fires and Hrolf ended up desperately hauling the divan into the street where it gradually burned down into cinders.

Following that excitement the party rested in Clyde's parlor, removed their conditions, and after breakfast the following morning headed out to investigate (and potentially loot) the Keep of Barrik!

Our recent game table covered in stuff.
Our second session took place a couple weeks following the first. There was a bit of fanangling around to find a day where everyone could attend, and we decided on that Friday at one of the players' venue. At last minute he was called into work and was unavailable to play/host; the venue was changed to my cramped place. Three of us awaited our fourth player to arrive once he was off work; there was concern that he didn't get our texts stating the change in venue. (I later talked to him and it turns out he went home after a super busy day of work and just crashed.)

Eventually we tired of waiting and decided to proceed. Having the concern of that the Keep might be a bit overpowered for just two PCs, we opted to have Fraser control Jospeh and Jason control Hrolf in addition to their own characters:

Turn Count

  1. Once they entered the keep, Hrolf used his Instinct to look for tracks: the passage to the northwest had large rodent tracks, the passage to the northeast had unknown prints, and the corridor heading off east showed no signs of use. The group decided to follow the path least trod, and passed an entrance on their left before they entered a square tower base dimly lit by a arrow slits and a broken ceiling exposed to the elements. The chamber was filled with strands of ice that caused an otherworldly hum as the wind played across them. Everyone made a Will Test; Hrolf failed and became extremely drowsy (Exhausted) from the humming. Morris discarded his half-burnt torch and lighted a fresh one.
  2. Joseph attempted to smash the ice strands via a Fighter Test; he was unable to reach some of the higher ones; the commotion secretly attracted the White Widow, a giant spider that was lurking in the dark corridor ceiling.
  3. Morris who was taking up the rear failed a Scout Test to notice the White Widow sneak up behind him and paralyse him with a bite from its icy fangs and then disappear into the shadowy ceiling.
  4. Rebo, who was next in line, hears Morris collapse to the floor, draw his bow whilst voicing to the rest of the group that Morris had collapsed. Hrolf suspects a magic trap, and makes a Scout Test to find none, but discovers odd circular prints in dust behind where Morris was standing. Rebo lights a fresh torch with the remains of the last one.
  5. Joseph makes a Healer Test to discover the nature of Morris' condition; he determines that Morris is still alive but frozen stiff. He is unable to determine the cause. 
  6. The party tries to make camp [a dangerous proposition considering a giant spider lurked nearby!] I roll for camp events: snake eyes! A disaster! The Widow attacks Joseph whilst he attempts to revive Morris! A Drive Off Conflict ensued. The trio managed to drive off the Widow by dismembering one of its legs with a well placed mace blow, but not before it injects icy venom into Hrolf, paralysing him stiff too.
  7. After eating some food, the two remaining members make a Survival Test to secure a better camp by blocking off the passageway the Widow fled through with debris.
  • Successful Camp Phase: Rebo and Joseph spend checks to revive their companions: Rebo rolls much success on a double-tapped Nature that he brings back Morris no problem; Joseph just manages his Healer Test but Hrolf is Afraid of the spider. Joseph brews a poultice to ease stress (camomile tea) and gives it to Hrolf, who with the aid of it spends their last check trying to shake off his fear. To no avail though.
  1. The party breaks camp and investigate the doorway they had passed on the way to this chamber; a dining room is found, complete with silverware. Joseph, with the aid of Morris, attempts a Scavenge Test to break down the dinning table into usable wood, whilst Rebo loots the silver ware. The table turns out to be sturdy solid oak and much noise is created when attempting to break it down by mace, attracting a pair of sneaky Ratlings from the north corridor.
  2. In the meantime, Rebo comes across an untarnished silver handbell in the shape of a cornucopia. He rings it (since it's already quite noisy) and his favourite meal of roast boar appears before him. He happily eats it whilst Hrolf looks on confused. Hrolf tries the bell to no effect and his quite dejected. Morris used his Wizard Sight with a Lore Master Test to determine the precise properties of this magic item.
  3. Hrolf wields a fresh torch as he watches the shadows wearily for any sign of the arachnid. The Ratlings attempt a sneak attack on Jospeh, whose Health Test allows him to narrowly avoid a flying cleaver blade that ends up in the side of a wooden cabinet!
  4. Our group means business, it's a Kill Conflict! Morris fends off and to tries to drive the scurrying creatures with a sturdy table leg used makeshift club. [A club isn't a listed weapon in TB, but I figured it was the most simplistic weapon; it has no bonus or special abilities but counts as a weapon so one isn't considered fighting unarmed.] The party manages to slay the Ratlings with an epic arrow shot down to the back of a slavering maw by Rebo, and Hrolf cornering the other and running it through with his blade; but not before Joseph is made Exhausted from all the recent exertion and Morris Angry that one tore the ass-end of his kilt! The rush of combat wears off with the growling of stomachs...

We ended the session there and tallied up rewards. All in all, I thought it was a pretty decent session with only two players. I'd still've liked more, and I'm considering bringing in an additional player to keep the party flush if players are unable to make it.

Character Condition Status
  • Morris the Mirthful - Hungry and Thirsty, Angry.
  • Rebo Pepper - Hungry and Thirsty.
  • Hrolf Rosensloff - Hungry and Thirsty, Exhausted, Afraid.
  • Joseph - Hungry and Thirsty, Exhausted.

Things I Forgot: The Greater the Order, the More You Hurt rule: Each level of difference of Might adds a +1s to the mightier sides successful/tied actions in Kill, Capture, and Drive Off Conflicts. This would've made the Conflict against the White Widow tougher, but the Conflict against the Ratlings easier. Also we (PC and NPCs) forgot to utilize armour to soak opponents successes. No biggie, I'll try to remember it next time.

Until next game...

Image © Darkest Dungeon

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