Actual Play – In the Bandit’s Lair (3/19/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Jon Edwards, Tim Sanders, and Soren Ludwig
System: Torchbearer
Module: Temple of Elemental Evil

Oh my, three months later, adventuresses still plunder on, for riches and glory!

Prologue: Orrin the Afraid recapped the events of last session, A Bandit’s Haul.

Beliefs / Instincts / Goals

Before play I wanted to review the BIGs that everyone had to make sure they were still relevant.

Beliefs: Unchanged

Goals:

  • Thaspar – We will honor Sixtoes parent’s wishes.
  • Thomer – I want to find a new member for the pack, and make it stronger. [Editors note: Gnolls are strong]
  • Orrin – I will consecrate Sixtoes body.

Instincts: Unchanged

Adventuring on Air

Adventure Phase

Turn 3 – Thaspar lit a torch off the embers of his previous one. With the light improved, Orrin noticed something scuttling above and moving just out of his vision. Motes of dust poured down as something moved above him. All of them tried to creep out of the room quickly, but when only Orrin was left, the stone spider descended upon him. He tried to leap out and slam the door on the spider. [Heath versus test. Failure. Twist: Thaspar’s torch was lost in the fray].

Orrin propped the door closed with his shoulder, but in the darkness he couldn’t see anything that could prop it closed. Thaspar fumbled through his belt to pull out his tinderbox and light a torch. Once their was light Thommer (who smelled a wet dog musk and heard sniggering in the distance) set about trying to lock the door but the bolt was rattling and moving too much. Thaspar cast Wizard’s Aegis to hold the door steady. Orrin rammed the hilt of his warhammer in the latch to keep it from moving. The door momentarilly still, Thomer used his picks to turn the bolt over and lock the door.[1]

Turn 4 – Trying to track the location of the gnolls, Thommer followed their musk and the sounds of their sniggering. [Scout vs. Nature (Ambushing). Success] Thommer moved west following the smells and sounds. He realized there were several gnolls inside a room, but distracted enough by something else that they didn’t know exactly where the party was.

For all their efforts the entire party was Hungry and Thirsty (but I missed it, so told them not to mark it) [2]

Turn 5 – Thaspar tried to lead the party through the door to the north, passing by the gnolls (in the room to the west) undetected. [Scout vs. Nature. Failure. Twist.] The gnolls burst out of the room they were in, where Tuft the leader had apparently been teaching one of them how to pierce his ear with a flail, an gave chase. Orrin lead the way running straight down the stairs, only to hear a sucking sound and see some horrific ooze fall down on him. [3]

Turn 6 – Orrin tried to dive out of the way of the ooze. Thaspar grabbed him and pulled him back. [Heath ob 4. Fail. Twist]. Caught by the slime, Orrin was trapped! He felt his skin become numb as his skin began to melt off.

Turn 7 – Trapped conflict [Modified kill conflict]. With torch, hammer, grappling hook and alchemical weapons to harden it’s form, the adventurers not only saved Orrin from the ooze, but managed to destroy it and take the coin that had been floating in its gelatinous body! Orrin’s body, once exposed to fresh air, felt the sting of his melted flesh. Thommer’s leg was also dissolved down to the muscle. Both of them were injured.

What they found after, above the slime, in fact what it had been clutching too was a stone rod, the end carved into knots that were impossibly woven and intricate. Above gnolls could be heard sniggering at the high quality violence that had just ensued.

 Thoughts on this game

I made several choices during this game that had me thinking. From the footnotes above:

[1] Worth noting that I didn’t call for a roll here, what I really wanted to do was watch the players justify their successes by taking actions in the fiction. Once they had done so, I called the action a good idea and just ruled that it was successful. While this didn’t engage the mechanics as much as a test would, I preferred give the players impetus to do stuff.

[2] What to do when you realize a turn or two late that you forgot something like conditions applying, torches going out, or some event being triggered?

[3] Bad call on my part. I should have said that by Thommer sneaking up on the Gnolls, they could pass un-detected.

The trapped conflict was a good one to have (it was a big deal, and Orrin could have easily died during it) but it did take a long time. I’m going to be podcasting soon (I know, gasp) with a few other Torchbearer GMs to discuss when are the best times to call for conflicts and when you should just make something a single test.

Things I wonder:

1) How do you handle and NPC in the party (Thommer wants to “grow” the group)?
2) What do you do when you forget to apply a condition, snuff a torch, etc, and remember two turns later?
3) Does it make sense to not ask for a test, or to use a test in place of a conflict when it will expedite the game, focuses on the stuff your interested in, or generally feels like the right thing to do?