Actual Play – Stone Dragon Mountain (7/29/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: Mark Miller, Alex Miller, and Max Külshammer.
System: Torchbearer
Module: Stone Dragon Mountain

We had lots (lots) of technical difficulties getting started, part of that was due to connectivity, and partially to devices. We also ended up finishing some character creation for Amos at start, so the end result was a slightly shorter session than normal.

Alex introduced us to Amos the Halfling Burglar, the little one that takes the path of least resistance and always recovers expended gear after climbing.

Setting Goals

After this introduction goals were set.

The mountain ascent is a slow and arduous one. After several days of hiking you still haven’t reached the snow line, but have passed several Sharwa, the people of the mountain, who have told you stories of woe on their way down. Goats and sheep have gone missing, climbers have ascended the mountain and not returned. They speak of beasts of legend, the Mikra, never seen before, now casting shadows in the moonlight. The heat — what heat, it’s freezing and you haven’t even hit snow yet — they say is a bad omen.

Cleg – I’m going to loot this place for all it’s worth.

Amos – I’ll return with a sack full of dragon’s teeth.

Milton – I will enter the Stone Dragon Mountain to discover the secrets hidden inside.

Actual Play on Air

Turn By Turn

In base camp Milton spoke with Ankit and learned of the missing sheep. Cleg befriended Jhala and learned of the two mountain passes above. Amos spied Dermot at the edge of camp.

Instinct – Milton set about mapping their way up the mountain so far but in the process offended the local Sharwa [Cartography Ob 3. Fail:Twist]. Dhara, Jhala’s daughter, was offend that Milton was sitting on an idol of Rava that he thought was a bench seat. She pushed him off the idol, ruining his map as ink spilled over it.

Turn 1 – Amos convinced Dermot to “loan” him so rope to go climbing up mountain and gain vengeance for his sons. [Persuader Ob 3. Fail: Condition Hungry And Thirsty]. Amos had to sit with him for a long time swapping stories and building up a powerful thirst.

Turn 2 – Cleg led Milton in a prayer to Rava to beg forgiveness for his transgressions. Asking Milton for help “You don’t have to believe it, just do it!” [Ritualist Ob 1: Fail: Twist] The Sharwa went from annoyed to angry. Dhara punched Cleg for his clear deference to the gods of earth instead of the new gods of sky. She was on him, trying to goad him into a fight.

Turn 3  – Desperate to try and make peace and not incite them further Cleg asked Jhala to come to his aid. She had sympathy on him, told the Sharwa he was young and inexperienced and that to make up for his offense, he would make amends. The Sharwa laughed, and Dhara invited him into the cooking tent where he could rub her feet.

Turn 4 – Meanwhile, Amos used the distraction of the camp being angry at his friends to try and snatch an ice pick from the camp. [Criminal vs test. Success] Amos stared down the young boy Ankit who was watching him and never flinched so the boy did not notice when he picked it up.

Hungry and Thirsty applied to Milton and Cleg. Exhausted applied to Amos.

Turn 5 – After sharing a meal with the Sharwa, the brave adventurers set out. They went to the grove of trees where Ankit indicated the sheep disappeared. Milton found signs of passage tried to identify them. [Hunter Ob 2. Twist]. Before they could idenfity the tracks the sun began to set without daylight they couldn’t make out the tracks.

The adventurers tromped off into the dimming light. Current status: Sun setting.


Amos – Belief: Take the path of least resistance (Fate), Preparing for the mountain trek (Fate), Teamworker (Persona), Embodiment (Persona)
Milton – Belief: Careful planning (Fate), Learning the mysteries of the mountain (Fate)
Cleg – Belief: Serve others before serving myself (Fate), MVP (Persona)

Thoughts on this game

Handling escalation – I used twists in the camp to worsen the camp disposition towards the party. The first time Milton was defiling a shrine. Then Cleg performed a ritual and prayed to the wrong gods. In my mind then went from indifferent, to unfriendly, to hostile. The next step would have been violent. I think I should have been better about punctuating those differences with a particular act. Something Dhara could have done that would have made it clear that they were not welcome. Perhaps folks raising weapons to drive them out of the camp, or Jhala speaking for her and turning on the party. It seemed like I gave them too easy and out to have Jhala stay there as someone they could talk to.  Also, I think having Jhala “fix” the problem deprotagonized the players.

I totally should have made Amos either hide the ice pick in the show and give it to Cleg after they left camp and eat on his own since he had no place to hide it on his person.

Still hard to break people away from “mechanics first” driven play. I think I said about 10 times, “just describe what you do”. I think I need to lead by more example by just carrying the fiction forward more based on their descriptions until a danger is presented.

Cleg needs to update his belief for next game.


2 thoughts on “Actual Play – Stone Dragon Mountain (7/29/2014)”

  1. Sean I actually think you are doing the Describe to live really well. You usually start describing first but as GM you are forced to also give mechanical game information. I. e. drive off conflict with spider: you described how the spider hit the leg off one npc as he got into reach to hit her between chitin. When you told us A vs. A so we could resolve the scene mechanically.
    We had a long break from TB and a difficult start. I think your players will be better next time.

    1. I have the best players Max! You’re right, we’re all a bit rusty. I’m sure some more time on the mountain will do us well!

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