Woot, the first game of Torchbearer that I get to play in! Awesome. Josh Curtis his a great GM with a crazy awesome imagination, so I was really excited to play in his game.
Josh had us pick the pre-generated characters (we took Karolina, Beren, and Varg) and then game us this introduction.
The Mines of Agnocost
This is a grim land. Summers are short. Winters are long. The towns are overcrowded. Food is expensive. Guilds control trade. Nobility control the taxes. Priests pray for our damned souls.
Out there, beyond those walls, are beasts, bogies, monsters. They inhabit the forests, live under the fields, dwell in the ruins of our burned-out fortresses. They kidnap the lone wanderer, harry our caravans, and when they are bold, they attack our towns. This land is wild, untamable, and in it we struggle to survive.
And then there is you. Not a Hero, not an Adventurer…. Adventurer is a dirty word. You’re a scoundrel, a villain, a wastrel, a vagabond, a criminal, a sword-for-hire, a cutthroat. Respectable people belong to guilds, the church or are born into nobility. Or barring all that, they’re salt of the earth and till the land for the rest of us. Your problem is that you’re none of that. You’re a third child or worse. You can’t get into a guild—too many apprentices already. You’re sure as hell not nobility—even if you were, your older brothers and sisters have soaked up the inheritance. The temples will take you, but they have so many acolytes, they hand you kit and a holy sign and send you right out the door again: Get out there and preach the word and find something nice for the Immortals.
And if you ever entertained romantic notions of homesteading, think again. You’d end up little more than a slave to a wealthy noble. So there’s naught for you but to make your own way. There’s a certain freedom to it, but it’s a hard life. Cash flows out of your hands as easily as the blood from your wounds. But at least it’s your life. And if you’re lucky, smart and stubborn, you might come out on top. There’s a lot of lost loot out there for the finding. And salvage law is mercifully generous. You find it, it’s yours to spend, sell or keep.
And lady luck has just granted your wish….
You were sitting in the Holmstead Inn washing down your last coin and wondering how you were going to eat tomorrow. Or where you were going to sleep. The heat outside was unbearable and water was more expensive than wine or ale. It was late spring but rain hadn’t been seen since last year. The evidence of the drought was everywhere; especially in your boots and under your leathers… you could never seem to get the dust out. It just itched at you; wearing your skin down faster than a blade. Your options were growing very thin.
Just then, a messenger came in for a quick drink and he was positively bursting with some exciting news. You tossed the dice and bought him your last drink and asked him for his tale. That was 4 days ago. Now you stand before the entrance to the great Gemstone Mines of Agnocost. The messenger’s tale was true. The receding waters of the River Lakramsha had revealed the long-drowned entrance to ancient King Agnocost’s center of wealth and, if rumor is true, the last known location of Agnocost’s Scepter of Stewardship.
And now you stand amidst the ruins of an ancient city, buried beneath years of river mud. The broken towers and edifices break through the dried mud like cracked teeth in an ancient maw. Ahead of you lies a rooftop crowned with the ancient symbol of King Agnocost himself. If your information is correct, below you will find an entrance to his lost mine and all it riches.
You smile, knowing you should have plenty of time to loot this hole before the messenger even arrives at his next stop. Shouldn’t be any competition. And that is when you hear it… the unmistakable sound of thunder in the distance. You look around. Nope, no storm clouds… yet; could the long awaited rain be coming. Where you are standing was under water a couple weeks back. If the rain does start falling; what then? Perhaps you’re a bit more pressed for time than you imagined.
Well, there is no going back empty handed….
Turn by Turn
We jumped forward to the mines themselves where we had discovered the symbol of king Agnocost, just now visible after the riverbed it was buried under had dried up.
Turn 1 – Karolina tried to find a way in, but tapping on the ground with the butt of her spear. (Scout (beginners luck) Ob 3. Result: Fail. Twist: She fell through ceiling.)
Turn 2 – To catch herself from falling to the ground below Karolina reached out for anything she could grab onto (Heath Test Ob 2. Result: Success). She was caught on a
chandelier that hung above the great hall. On the chandelier she found valuable salt crystals. Yay. Up above Beren realized her spear had broken and even more valuable skylight. Boo.
Turn 3 – Beren hoocked his grapling hook into the ledge of the bulding an dropped a rope down, affording us all safe passage to the bottom. From her lower vantage point, Karolina helped by tying knots in the rope. (Dungeoneering. Result: Fail. Condition: Hungry and Thirsty for Beren and Karolina)
At the bottom of the rope, Karolina shared her wine with Beren. Looking around they were in a giant hall, with a throne on one end, and a staircase leading down on the other. In one corner was a small chute that guttered our torches when we dipped them in.
Turn 4 – Varg inspected the throne and the statue beside it. Clearly the place had previously been vandalized, but maybe there were other treasures to be found. (Scout (beginners luck). Result: Fail. Twist: Attacked by crabs). A giant ruby was found indeed… but just as Karolina (who was helping) reached for it, a large crab snatched it up and ran away. She gave chance only to find a swarm of the crabs circling around them.
Turn 5 (Conflict) -The brave adventurers used their weapons and wits to drive them off, but not before the crabs could steals from us. Thief Crabs! We lost the salt crystals and Karolina’s helmet in the fight. (Minor compromise: The still lingered at the edges of the throne room, up in rafters beyond our reach).
We lit torches and cancles and explored down below. We found a great room with stone tables and several doors. Through one was a soldiers barracks, wasted away with time. Trough the great door at the end was a giant shaft that presumably led to the mines below. Through the last door was an officers quarters, and in it a safe, bound with a magical lock!
Turn 6 – Varg used his arcane skills to force open the lock, but in doing so released a spirit inside. (Lore Master test. Result: Fail. Twist: Spirit entered his body). Concerned about our friends possible possession, but more concerned with the contents of the safe, we quickly looted it and found a:
- Small gold embossed book
- Jeweled Key (1/3 of a spot, 1D Treasure)
Thoughts on this game
Guys, what were you thinking? Karolina is terrible. She’s got commander, hunter, mentor, and pathfinder. She lacks dungeoneer, scout, survivalist, etc. My current plan playing her is to use Mentor to teach Varg how to fight, then teach both Varg and Beren how to mentor, and then have them teach me how to do things. Also, I’m going to nuke my Nature so beginners luck and being taught is easier.
It’s really good to see the dungeon from the players perspective. The entire thing is a great unknown. It’s pretty awesome.
Thanks so much to Josh for running this, I’m loving getting to play.