Actual Play – Running afraid in the Dark (11/4/2013)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Chris Moore, Mark Miller, and Max Külshammer.
System: Torchbearer
Module: Under the House of the Three Squires

Oh my, I felt so evil this game. The twists in this adventure are just so evil.


Thrallson recounted the events from last session, Friends with Berti and Brot. He recalled their heroic deeds as well as Ronwald’s heartfelt confession.

After camp, Ronwald, impatient with the slow progress of the adventurers, snuck off to see what good he could do on his one.


Cleg (Mark wasn’t here last session) told us what he was doing during all of this… cleaning his apron!

Surviving the Horrors Above on Air

Turn by Turn

Turn 1 – Milton wanted to retrieve his fathers signet ring from the Kobold he traded it with. Thrallson lit a torch and they got about trying to pry the desk off the dead kobolds. [Laborer Ob 2. Result: Fail. Twist: someone has been watching them all along]. Hiding in their camp was the dirty figure of Elsa, a little girl who escaped her captors and hates mean old Ronwald because he’s going to cook up her dad. “Let me go you stinky kobold lovers!”

Turn 2– Cleg caught Elsa, but she didn’t trust any of them, as they had been consorting with kobolds and the kobold friend Ronwald. He tried to calm her down and prevent her from running off. [Persuader versus test. Result: Success.] Elsa is pacified… mostly by Cleg’s rations, or “Not poopy Ronwald food.”  Elsa did try to show them on their map where the kobolds were keeping her family [1D supplies for a future Cartography test].

Turn 3 – Worried that the Kobolds above would notice them and come after them, Milton set about staging Berti’s death to make it look like one of Saw Back’s kobold’s killer her. They then quickly left the treasure room and hid in the rubble from the rockfall. The took Elsa with them [Carried 2], begged her to quiet down, doused their torches and hid. Thrallson, born of earth and stone, quickly looked for hiding places for the party. [Scout versus Kobold Nature test. Result: Fail. Twist Another wandering monster…]

The Kobolds entered their passage and after Elsa shouted, noticed them. They pointed with their torches in fear. At first the adventurers thought they were scared of them… then they realized they were looking past them… into the shadows… into the eight red eyes of horror slowly descending from above! Uttan descended down and wrapped Milton in it’s stony clutches.  The kobolds (and their light) fled. Elsa screamed!

Total Darkness – Run away? Run away!

Turn 4 – Cleg was the first to run, so he captained the flee conflict! Which they failed terribly (and terror-fully)! [They lost with a minor compromise so I ruled that they were captured, wrapped in webs, but Milton could still get to his dagger].

Entombed in webs, they were carried through the dungeon, jostled about, ascending and descending many crevasses until finally coming to a rest in Uttan’s lair. Once there, and hung up, the felt strangely alone…in the dark. Everyone was worn out from their travels [Hungry & Thirsty]

Per the players choice (what a nice GM I am), Elsa was not part of the conflict, so she slipped away and was not bundled up by Uttan.

Turn 5 – Milton went about trying to saw his way out of the cramped webbing tomb. [Heath vs Nature (Uttan’s) test. +1 Ob for darkness. Result: Success]. Once free Milton dropped his tinderbox and listened for the drop to gauge the distance. When he didn’t hear a sound he opted to drop down anyway, back into more webs, but these thicker, older, and less sticky.

Turn 6 – Milton searched for his Tinderbox below [Scout Ob 3 (increased due to darkness). Result: Fail. Condition: Afraid]. Milton found his tinderbox, but after he recovered it, his arm brushed by a Cleg’s gruff beard, but he thought it was the spider’s rough carapace and shrieked in fear. From them on, Milton couldn’t get the idea of the spider descending down out of his head.

Turn 7 – Milton used his candle and dagger to free his friends from their wrappings. [Survivalist Ob 4 (for both). Candle and Dagger both used for supplies. Result: Fail. Twist: Cleg makes it out but his backpack doesn’t].

Turn 8 – Opting between sneaking out of her lair, and preparing to fight her off, the party instead opted to loot! [Scout Ob 3. Result: Success] Wrapped in a bundle held by a desiccated corpse were two scrolls. Magical scrolls containing the spells: Celestial Music and Wisdom of the Sages.

After all of this work, everyone was exhausted [Exhausted]. The squeezed out of Uttan’s lair, birthed from a womb of webs.  They found a narrow ledge with water pouring from above down a slick slope to the right. To the left was a deep crevasse which they could barely make out a flat rock outcropping on the other side. Having a moment of peace, they opted to fill their wineskins from water flowing past. They drank their fill!

Spell – Milton employed his arcane arts to conjure a mystic porter that would hold their backpacks, keeping them safe and dry while they descended the wet slope. [Ob 4 (increased due to Exhausted). Result: Fail. Twist] An eerie wind, possibly a baleful spirit summoned by the arcane energies, passed through and blew out their torch. When Cleg pulled a new torch from his sack and lit it. In front of them, a shimmering disk floated before them. It seemed to flicker as they placed their backpacks upon it, seeming to move of it’s own volition.

Turn 9 – Thrallson took gobs of the spider’s webbing, and wrapped then around his hands to make sticky climbing gloves to aid their ascent. [Crafting Ob 3 (increased due to Exhausted). Result: Success. +1D supplies for climbing down]

Turn 10 – Unencumbered by backpacks, aided by Cleg and his new sticky gloves, Thrallson set about to slowly and carefully lead the party down the slippery tunnel [Dungeoneering Ob 5 (increased due to Exhausted). Result: Success (and a glorious one at that)]. So steady was Thrallson’s grip that he could control their descent and move slowly and quietly enough to sneak up on a whole den of kobolds!

Thoughts on this game

Given Ronwald, Elsa, and all the kobold’s presence in the caves, I gave the players 4 turns (which I didn’t tell them till after the game) before Uttan came back from her patrol to devour them. I suppose if they had light and could try and fight her off, they had a chance, but frankly I was feeling bad that the would all be spider food.

I’m really excited to see what happens next session with the Kobold warren. They’ve got the advantage of surprise, and I know that both Max and Chris are plotting some mad scheme. It should be good.

Yay, we had a running in the dark conflict. I have been awaiting one of those and it was just as terrifying as I hoped it would be.

Milton, watch out for baleful spirits you might have awoken when you looted those scrolls. This is an addition I added as response (twist) to the failed Arcanist roll following the scroll recovery and combined it with the eerie wind twist. I have some fun ideas for this.

Oh Elsa and Ronwald, I’m really getting to love these NPCs, though I’m not sure their likelihood of survival.

Quote: Luke, why is “groping for your tinderbox in the darkness” not a skill?

2 thoughts on “Actual Play – Running afraid in the Dark (11/4/2013)”

  1. As I told Sean earlier, fleeing from and being captured by Uttan was frightening. It’s a good example of how the rules support and evoke this intense mix of ambition and desperation (in the players!) that I haven’t encountered in other games.

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