Actual Play – Free town is Free! (4/25/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

After awakening the dead spirit of Prince Jaha, our heroes were faced with preventing (or fleeing from) the destruction he and his wraiths would cause! TORCHBEARER!


I was late to the game (thanks flat tire, great timing) and so the others recapped from our last adventure. Varg was no longer Hungry and Thirsty. 

Beliefs, Goals, and Instincts

Quite a few of these changed from last session. Some belief had been broken, some goals accomplished.

Belief: There’s nothing for me but blood and  treasure spent and earned. (unchanged)
Goal: Escape this waterlogged shit hole with Karolina.
Instinct: Don’t trust Varg!
Belief: Only power can save me.
Goal: Get out of this dungeon alive.
Instinct: Always study new lore when I discover it. (unchanged)
Belief: I am the bulwark between my friends and harm (unchanged)
Goal: We will save the people of free city from Prince Jaha’s wrath.
Instinct: Always look for escape routes.

Adventure Phase

Turn 23 – Josh describe the scene before us. Inside the courtyard of Free Town, chaos and death surrounded us. The lights of the skulls had gone out, and now only a dim glow came off them. Tunnels ran off into darkness, a creek ran through the middle of the town, but most notably, shadowy wraiths had erupted from the skulls of Prince Jaha’s soldiers. The wraiths, led by their vicious prince sought to kill every dwarf that defied them in life. Jaha from the center of town directed their wrath!

Karolina, turned to Beren and said we’ve got to get these dwarves out of here. They’ll die if they try to fight (this was after just seeing a dwarf swing his sword and having it  apparently pass harmlessly through the wraith).

Beren protested “we’ve got to get out of there. I don’t care about them.”

Karolina refused. She ran to Thurn and told him to rally his people together and get them out of the town. He was clearly torn. He wanted to fight, but his people were all dying.

Varg fled to safety but then realized he was alone, in the dark, with little change of getting out allive. Wise in the ways of magical arts, he grabbed one of  skulls and smashed it against stone. He witnessed, we all witnessed that as he did so the wraith that come from it was destroyed. “If your will is strong, your blades can harm them. Fight them off and destroy the skulls.”

Varg looked to Beren for a companion to flee with, and Beren looked to Karolina because he would not leave with out her. Karolina, hearing this first glimmer of hope, plunged her last torch into the cooking fire to ignite it, held it above her head for all to said and cried out “To me! We will fight for Free Town Together!”

Battle Conflict!

Josh had made a custom conflict for this fight. It was a modified Kill conflict (i.e. very lethal) but the stakes were much bigger, it was for the entire population of Free Town.

  • Attack/Maneuver – Commander, with help from Commander or Fighter
  • Defend – Arcanist or Ritualist
  • Feint – Lore Master or Theologian


  • Eternal Grudge – +1D on Attacks
  • “Free Town is Free!” +1S on Defend
  • Wraith’s weapons were “No Fear” and “Shadow Walk” which we knew the names but not the effects of.

The fight was a daunting one. Mostly because Varg and Karolina were afraid and because we had few of the skills needed at decent levels. Thurn aided us, which was a boon, and hell, we had a decent amount of Artha to blow… which we did!

I took on the role of Conflict captain because Karolina had started the fight, and went for an initially defensive option. We had the great weapon “Free Town is Free” and I was pretty sure that Josh wouldn’t lead with Feints. So we scripted Defend, Defend, Maneuver. It worked out well. Josh scripted Attack, Attack, Maneuver. By putting Varg in 2nd place (and having him blow a ton of Artha) we were able to recover the Artha lost in the first action (Thurn was a poor defender). Maneuver vs. Maneuver is independent, so Karolina, with some help from Beren and Thurn was able to gain position for the beginning of the next exchange. The Wraiths also impeded their side, but that was a net positive exchange.

At the end of the volley, Josh described the Wraiths disappearing and then erupting from the shadows of our few fires. Our line broken we had to move. Karolina led the dwarves over a bridge to stand at the be bank of a creek. “Shadows cannot pass over water” was her belief and it turned out to be true!

Eternal Grudge! – Beren had to start out the next exchange. He would be using beginners luck to roll commander, but opted to tap, nay double tap his nature to make the attack. Helped by Thurn, the position granted and the Eternal Grudge weapon we picked, and only impeded one die by the Wraith’s maneuver, he rolled a huge hefty handful of dice.

The wraiths were also attacking, and so in a brutal exchange, many lives were lost. But amid the chaos and destruction Beren found a particular skull of great significant, atop the bridge was a a skull that had a cooper band hammered into it, the skull of Jaha! He pushed Varg aside (who had been studying it) and smashed it to dust!

Doing so sent a wail through the town, one that most of us would hear in our dreams for weeks, but that Beren himself could not shake. A kind of maddening wail that persisted and sought to drive him insane. Beren was sick, Karolina was exhausted from the life draining force of one wraith that sought to stop her heart, but was destroyed when Jaha was vanquisted. Many, many, almost a quarter of the towns people died… but we saved Free Town!

And then all was dark.

Turn 24 – After Jaha and his wraiths were destroyed every light in the town except the one torch that Karolina held had gone out. It was pitch black in these caves. The dwarves had found a way to bind the souls of the fallen slavers into their sculls and use them to produce light. Now that the souls had been vanquished, so too was the light.

Varg remembered the violet fungus though, that grew not far from the town. He ventured out with a pack of dwarves to show them how to fashion lichen lanterns. Their pestering and inquisitive nature earned his ire though, and by the time he was done, the task made him angry.

We were all hungry and thirsty

Turn 25 – With the new source of light, the dwarves were able to give us that mean the promised! We gathered out meager belongings and bid the dwarves farewell, telling them we would return again soon and rid them of the Lizardmen the still warred with below.  Getting back to the surface though was a challenge. With all the water coming down, the already steep inclines were now perilously slippery.

Karolina with lantern in hand, and her spear spiked through her belt to act as a pole to keep her and the rest connected, forged ahead.  The trip was perriulous though and when she got to the top she slipped and her backpack spilled open. A sack that she didn’t recognize slipped out and was being carried back down the tunnel by a strong current. (Twist)

Turn 26 – Both Varg and Karolina leapt for it, but in the commotion she got knocked into the giant machine, a bean cam crashing down and broke her arm (injured). Beren at the last moment caught the sack, but felt like a heel for allowing his greed to get Karolina hurt (angry). Inside the sack however was a old broken gold crown. Broken, but gold! It turns out the dwarves of Free Town had something more to reward them with after all.

After a few more pained steps, the made their way back up the entry room and out of the Minds of Agnocost… back outside.. and into a river! The entrance had been flooded during their time down there. They carried on though. Loot in their packs (well, Beren’s pack) and promise of a warm meal and bed in their hearts.

Thoughts on this game

When I got to decided if we fled the spectral horrors or stayed to fight, it was about the most Braveheart moment I’ve ever had in a game. I was thinking about the Narrative Control episode we just recorded about Torchbearer and decided that Karolina believed in something, and she was willing to put herself and her friends lives in danger to defend it. It was pretty fucking awesome.

As a GM I pixel-bitch. Playing this game really gave me some perspective on the scale that Torchbearer needs to work on. Yes, it’s a punishing game pinned down by minutia, but I don’t need to make it more so. Josh does a great job of giving out tough challenges but follows with right rewards, even when those rewards are ephemeral (like the shades not being able to cross the water, or destroying their skulls to vanquish them, or the gratitude of Free Town).

This game was great. I don’t really know how practical it would be for us to go back again, but if we do I want to fix that broken elevator to lower us safely, repair some of the mining carts to access other parts of the tunnel, defeat the lizardmen (or convince them to leave or make peace with the Dwarves), and of course, steal that magical scepter from a dragon!

Actual Play – When ritual sacrifice goes wrong (2/21/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

This has to be the best session of Torchbearer I’ve played in to date. We had everything. Dragons. Ritual Sacrifice. Necromancy. Possession. Saving the innocent. And just as we hoped to relax and enjoy our rewards, a undead invasion! Tops.


Varg recounted the tales of his greatness, with a few mentions of his accomplices. Entertaining us all, he removed a condition as normal.

Beliefs, Instincts, and Goals

Beren changed his goal to “I’m going to get us out of his dragon hole”.

Varg changed his instinct to “Always study new magical lore.”

Karolina changed her goal to “I will convince my companions to rescue the constable’s daughter.”

Our adventures, Turn by Turn


We left off from last session falling in the darkness. We fell impossibly far until a skyline of green stars blossomed around up, and father still we fell until finally crashing into a freezing lake below. After being submerged for an impossibly long time we finally broke to the surface, sputtering and confused.  Just as we were getting our bearings, Argarak came crashing down on us, sending us all back down under water.

The giant cavern we were in was dimly lit by green crystals glowing on it’s room, from within the lake we could see a small island that looked like a wave, or a fin made of stone that breached the water’s surface. There was also nearby shore that had a gazebo on top of it.

Fearing the dragon they spoke of might be on the island, or my be the island, we made our way to the shore. There we found the gazebo was actually an alter made of bone, equipped with a set of manacles and dragon’s head idol (also made of bones) set with two giant opals (halfling fist size, also known as dwarven testicle size).

Turn 15 – With the cave providing only dim light, Varg endeavored to light his candle using Karolina’s tinderbox. The candle wet, his hands shaking from the cold, and the dreaded alter ahead, he succeeded by was beginning to believe Karolina that we were probably going to be eaten by the dragon [Survivalist Ob 2. Fail. Result: Afraid]

Instinct – Candle lit, Varg inspected the alter itself to find out if it held any mystical secrets. He saw visions of sacrifice. Dwarves chained to the alter, the alter itself a red bloodcast light. He heard their screams as they were devoured. Magical power is hear and can be tapped into! [Lore Master Ob 2. Success]

Meanwhile, Beren pried the opal eyes from the idol, saving his matched set.

Turn 16 – At the edge of the shore were stairs that descended down to a river which poured into the lake. Holding his candle up Varg could make out a small amount of breathing room above the water up the cave that it came from. On top of Argarak he swam/rode up the current and discovered hand holds leading up to the fishing whole we had discovered before! A way out! [Dungeoneer Ob 5. Success]

Meanwhile Beren instructed Karolina to take a needle and thread and sew up his would as best as she could while he stood there grunting and scowling. [Sucking up the injury, taking -1 on Dungeoneering as he now walks with a limp]

We were all Hungry and Thirsty. Karolina and Beren had the benefit of waiting behind where they could drink their fill of cool river water.

Turn 17 – On his way back Varg lost his grip and went under water. His feeble candle extinguished and his friend Argarak panicking he got thrashed around and ended up drinking half the river on his way down.  From under the depths something grabbed him! [Dungeoneer Ob 4. Fail. Twist: Captured]

Turn 18 – Worried that Varg had been gone too long Beren and Karolina peered up the cave to see if they could spot his candle, but there was nothing but darkness. Ready to jump in and swim upstream to find him, Karolina only stopped because Beren pulled her back. He head something moving down the stream towards them. Several somethings. First came Argarak without Varg but they could hear more coming behind them. Karolina and Beren both found a few turned over logs and Karolina used her cloak to cover them so they could hide. The whole thing was against her nature though. She wanted to be fighting and trying to free the constable’s daughter, not hiding like a coward! [Scout versus test. Fail. Condition: Angry (for Karolina), Hungry and Thirsty (for Beren) and Angry (as he was already H&T for Varg).

Turn 19 – Hidden they witnessed the lizardmen drag Varg and the constable’s daughter out of the water with them and chain them to the altar. Their king began chanting, presumably to summon forth the dragon to devour them… but he never got a chance to finish! Trying to call on the power of the Alter, Varg summoned forth the spirit that was withing him, hoping to unleash it on his foes. It manifested indeed, however not as Varg would have wished. The spirit announced itself (in his brain) as Prince Jaha Agnocost fourth of his name, cursed Varg’s wretched weakness , possessed him, and then brought eldritch wrath upon his enemies (which thankfully at that time were the lizardmen). After they were vanquished or chased off, it told him that he most go to the Dwarven Freetown, or he would be destroyed. [Aranist vs. Nature. Fail. Twist: Possession]

In the chaos Varg’s friend Argarak ran off with the lizardman king.

Turn 20 – Meanwhile in the chaos of Varg’s transformation, Karolina urged Beren that the constable’s daughter had to be saved. He rammed his grappling hook between two links in the chain and started pounding them apart with his hammer. After a few furious swings, the chain broke and the girl was free. [Heath Ob 2. Success].

The lizardmen chased off, the spirit momentarily dormant, and everyone free, we collapsed, Hungry and Thirsty (Karolina),  Exhausted (Beren), and Sick (Varg).

Turn 21 – We sought to make camp somewhere safe on the beach. Karloina gathered some logs to provide cover so their fire wouldn’t be seen, but that precious time mean the water level above kept rising. We saw it dripping down is even greater force and knew that some passages we had made it through before would not be cut off! [Survivalist Ob 3. Fail. Twist: Water rising]. Despite this a safe camp was made!

Camp Phase

We all drank and filled up our skins and water bottles, quenching our thirst, if not our hunger.

Check – Beren sat on the beach, examining his spoils, and marveled at their beauty. Doing this and thinking of how he would spend it soothed his anger [Will Ob 2. Success. Angry condition removed].

Check – Varg being ill, angry and afraid was in no shape to map his progress so he recited it to Karolina was able to cobble the bits and pieces together! [Cartography Ob 2. Success]

Check – Varg calmed himself down, practiced his arcane meditation and forgot his anger. [Will Ob 2. Success. Angry condition removed].

Instinct – Still full of anger with Varg about his willingness to let the girl die, Carolina was extra diligent with his training. And what do you know, he finally learned how to defend himself! [Mentor Ob 3. Success!]

Check – Seeing that the girl was clearly very distraught, Beren tried to comfort her and let her know that if he’s gone through all kinds of hell and survived, she’ll make it back up the river to her father. [Persuasion Ob 2. Success]

And the waters kept rising!

Adventure Phase

With a map to get us back, and the young girl ready to travel we swam up the river, through the fishing whole and made it back to Free Town!

When they saw the constable’s daughter, the opened the gates and immediately announced “Beren, the hero of Free town!” The constable declared a feast would be had and the town quickly came alive with activity in preparation.

Varg, however, was transfixed by what first appeared a statue and then upon close inspection, he realized was the skeletal remains of a main in armor that was once fine but now worn away with age. The man was headless but otherwise his skeletal remains there there, pinned to the wall by spear, sword, and axe. Varg stood transfixed until he started feeling nauseous. He vomited but instead of his lunch, he spewed forth a black shadowy substance that swirled around him.

The shadowy mass writhed about on the floor, and then swirled to the skeleton, and transformed it into a shadowy wraith. The man came alive and announced himself as Jaha, Prince of Agnocost. He cursed the dwarves for their rebellion and for killing him, and told them all that they would die for their crimes. With that he called forth his men, the other skeletons (whose skulls had served as light sources for the dwarves), and ordered the to destroy everyone in the city. The constable called for his men to fight, but it was clear that these wraiths could not be hurt by mortal blades. One woman threw a plate at it which passed right through it, but then it reached it’s shadowy hand into her chest, clutched her heart, and stopped it cold.


Thoughts on this game

Wow, what is that three games in a row that ended on a cliffhanger? First the alligator nearly biting off Karolina’s head, then being dropped into unknown darkness and falling, and finally animating the spirit of Jaha and watching him as he brought vengeance upon us. Epic!

We had our first mold breaker here. Varg, who’s believe was “careful thought and planning will guide one farther than quick action” was totally tossed by the wayside as he embraced raw power! That was pretty cool to see, and as much as I thought Karolina might turn her back on Varg after he gave up the girl, the fact that he then also helped them save her (was instrumental in fact) brought her back around. She’s still the bulwark!

I was so delighted for this trap to go off. We knew it was going to happen (as players) and it was deliciously terrifying when it did. We’re probably all pretty proper-fucked now, but Karloina has the commander skill and I plan to use it next session to try and get all the dwarves in Free Town the hell out of dodge!

One thing I find continues to be hard to track online is conditions. Exhausted (forgetting the factor) and Afraid (forgetting that you can’t use beginner’s luck) happened a bunch this game. If felt pretty grim as is, I think we’d possibly have one of us dead, or at least more boned, if we had remembered them. As is, Karolina ended up learning two skills (Survivalist and Scout) by making her final beginners luck test on them, which she shouldn’t have be able to roll. I try to be way on top of those things and I missed it with  my own character. Blerg!

Actual Play – Argarak, my friend (1/31/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

Back in the mines, and wondering what would happen to Karolina after the crocodile burst from the water last session and was poised to chomp!


Varg had been the victim of a sleep spell at the end of last session, so Karolina delivered the prologue, recounting their negotiations with the dwarves of Free Town and the impending doom.

Beliefs, Instincts, and Goals

Karolina changed her goal to “I will rescue Thurn’s daughter”

Varg changed his belief to reflect his pessimistic view of nature. I can’t remember the exact details but it was something to the effect of “we’re all gonna die.”

Adventure Time, er Adventure Phase

Instinct – As he was the only one watching Karolina’s back, Beren saw the giant beast that was going to eat her. He dove after Karolina to pull her into safety but his dense bones hammered down and pulled them instead into the pool itself! [Heath vs. Nature. Fail. Twist: In the drink!]

Spell – Floundering in the water, it looked as though we would have to fight the monster in it’s own habitat. But just before tooth and sword met, Varg caught the eye of the beast and cast an incantation to befriend he monster [Threat of Friendship vs. Nature. Success]. Instantly he knew the creatures true name “Argarak” and it ceased it’s assault and instead began the coil itself around Varg, as a puppy wold it’s master.

After ensuring that the pool was now safe, Beren dove back down to search the bottom or loot discarded by others that Argarak had killed. And loot he found! Silver! [1d]

Turn 11 – Knowing that the would have to proceed away from the light of the fungus, Karolina tried to relight Beren’s torch (which had gone out when he fell into the water) but the water level outside was rising and a drizzle started falling down making it impossible [Survivalist Ob 3. Fail. Twist: Water coming down, a factor in all rolls]

Giving up on light, we decided to explore with only Varg’s candle to guide us. We backtracked some, to go down those steps in a hidden passage, but they only led to a old fishing hole filled with discarded nets, line, and hooks. There was a hole that dropped down into a river below, and braver, might you say, more adventurous souls might have jumped it to see where it went, but we were having none of that.

We climbed back up the steps and crossed the pool. Argarak swam with Varg on his back, but the rest of us had to plunge back into the waters and swim to the other side. Eventually the water gave way to land and we pulled ourselves onto the far shore.. into the layer of the lizardmen.

Turn 12 – From here we saw four different winding passages going down, all filled with the echoing calls of lizardmen. Karolina listed down each hall to try and figure out if one was different from the other. The others aided but the echos made it confusing and by the end, she identified the hallway that contained the deepest, lowest, most booming voice, but was convinced that Lizardmen were all around her and would jump out at any moment. [Scout Ob 3. Fail. Condition: Afraid. Helpers gain condition: Hungry and Thirsty]

All of us were now wearier for our travel [Beren gained Exhausted, Karolina Hungry and Thirsty, and Varg Angry]. Karolina shared the water she had collected in her bottle, and they carried on, down the deepest, darkest, scariest (okay, channeling Karolina here) tunnel of them all.

As we descended we heard activity around us, growing closer and closer. The lizardmen were following us and closing in. When the tunnel opened up into a cavern we spotted the lizard man kin, a monstrous beast with a black head that towered over 8′ tall.  He sat on a throne and above him was a might warhammer that looked as though it was forged by dwarves. In his retinue were several other servants tending to him and a cage with a young dwarven girl in it, surely Thurn’s daughter. There was a great blackness, a window opening to an empty void in one wall and tracks form the days of King Agnocost leading leading out of it into darkness.

Turn 13 – The cavern was now filled with lizard men watching is and waiting on their leader to command them. He spoke in common tongue “Come. Tell us who you are before we eat you.” Varg approached and boasted that he was a powerful wizard and that he had ensorcled their pet Argarak, who now served him. We joined in and spoke of his might, and of the other mighty creatures he has under his command that would come down and destroy them if they challenged us.” 

We started a convince conflict that we won with a minor compromise, but the stakes of that conflict were the heated issue. Karolina wanted to rescue the girl. Beren wanted the dwarven Hammer. Varg wanted the scepter. Since Varg was walking forward and making demands he captained the conflict, which also meant he set the stakes. The king laughed at us and told us he would show us the scepter, but only because it amused him to do so. His god would devour us. And with great haste the lizardmen grabbed us and tossed us out the window in the wall, to the great back void outside.

Argarak followed and leapt out after us!

Thoughts on this game

Another great cliff hanger ending. This one being more like a fell off a cliff and falling ending, bu you get the idea.

Varg super saved the day this game. First by charming the crock, and then by leveraging that charm to convince the lizardman king. He was the most MVP of MVPs.

That said, Karolina is furious with him. She’s outraged that he traded the girl’s life for the scepter. She may be afraid, but she’ll take her chances against the wizard!

Walking down to the Lizardman Kig’s lair while we were angry, afraid, exhausted and injured. Brilliant!

Actual Play – Free Town doesn’t come cheap! (12/20/2013)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

Foul blasphemy and cursed acts! I forgot to write an actual play report. And because I’m so used to my Torchbearer games being recorded on Youtube, I have nothing but my feeble memory to go on.

Let’s get to it! Josh is a fucking machine. He makes the most elaborate and intricate worlds, and as far a I know, does so in is his spare time while doing other things. I’m envious.


Beren told the story of our past deeds in character. He was still angry, so it had a certain dwarf-ish tone. We

Beliefs, Instincts, and Goals

Beren changed his goal to “Prepare Karolina to lead”. A somewhat funereal goal if you asked me, but I’ll take it.

Varg (if not this game than the last game) changed his goal to “rid the spirit that is possessing me”.

The play is the thing

With torches running low and the knowledge that unsavory fish men retreated into the pool at the end of this tunnel, our heroes explored all other options besides going directly down.

Turn 7- There were two passages we found that led off from the tunnel. The first was a long sloping crevasse. We spotted a few lights below and Karolina snuck down to see identify the source. Dwarves! Well, dwarves of a sort. These wore strange helmets with edlricth flames that burned without a source.

Turn 8 – We approached and called to them. Asking for refuge. Negotiations went poorly (even after Beren told his Dwarf joke. You know, the one there is) and we were left making camp outside their walls (lost with a compromise). Clearly these Dwarves were crazy, and they kept chanting “Free Town” as though it was an answer to every question.

Camp phase

Check – Varg attempted to get some much needed rest, but our fire provided little heat, and the rocky ground offered much discomfort. [Heath Ob 3. Fail]

Instinct – As he clearly wasn’t getting any sleep, Karolina decided it was time for Varg’s weapon training. His reluctance to even try to defend himself infuriated her. [Mentor Ob 4. Fail. Condition: Angry].

Instinct – Once she was done berating him with sword and word, Varg set about mapping our progress [Cartography. Success]

Check – Beren set off to be alone for a time, sitting by the mouth of the Crevasse to calm his testy nerves [Ob 2 Will. Success. Angry removed]

Check – Karolina did the same, but in human fashion, boasting, complaining and demanding  [Ob 2 Will. Success. Angry removed]

 Adventure Phase

As the embers burned low, we were approached by another Dwarf from Free Town. He seemed more lucid than the guards on the wall and introduced himself as Thurn. He told us that the lizard men had taken his daughter and still held her captive. He asked if we could rescue her and offered save haven in Free Town if we could. The king of the lizard men’s name was Draxzatha. He would have her. Thurn also told us that Dwarves don’t go by the pond, but couldn’t or wouldn’t offer more information that that.

Turn 9 – Carefully descending, we scouted the tunnel as we went, and patting the lichen covered wall we noticed that some of it gave way to pressure. Hidden behind a curtain of hanging lichen was a secret (or at least very easy to miss) passage that led to stairs going down. We noted this for the future, but did not descend.  [Scout. Success] A pool was close by, and our supplies were low.

Turn 10 – Karolina crept up to the pool and tasted the water. It was cold, fresh, and clean. She started filling her water bottle and gave Beren the go ahead to pass off his skin to her, when just then a giant crocodile burst from the water and tried to bite off Karolina’s head [Some roll. Fail. Twist -> Crocodeath]

Thoughts on this game

I’m missing a lot of the Obs because I didn’t write them down. Hell I was just happy I took some notes. I don’t know what conditions we took after turn 8, but I seem to remember eating the crab I caught during camp, so my guess is going to be we all were Hungry and Thirsty and then ate during camp.

Torchbearer is a game that very much depends on the characters working together and helping each other out. Our particular party dynamic though is one of strong characters un-afraid to tell the others to fuck off. With only three people, I think this will spell the end for us, but it will be an inglorious bastard of an ending.

Fuck we are low on food and torches and have not enough to show from our venture to go back. Ah, Torchbearer. I love you.

The cliff-hanger end was great. I love that my character’s life is on the line.. and that Beren has the instinct “Watch out for Karolina”.  I already know how it played out (writing this way late) but it was still a great ending.

Actual Play – A sack FULL of treasure (10/11/2013)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

Back in the mines! We started up again with Varg waking up, not remember what just happened to him, and Beren with his sword at his throat! Karolina calmed the dwarf and the party agreed to make came and try to make sense out of what happened.

Turn by Turn

Turn 7 – Karolina, with the aid of Beren and Varg secured the camp, bottling them up inside the abadoned officer’s quarters.
(Survivalist (beginners luck) Ob 3, Success. Wow!)

Torches go out!

Camp Phase

Varg (Instinct) – Cartography Ob 2, Success. Mapping: Roof, throne room, barracks. (Help from Beren and Karolina)
Karolina (Instinct) – Mentor (teaching Varg to fight Ob 4, Success). A bruise on his head taught him to keep his spear up.
Varg (Spell) – Wisdom of the Sages – Arcanist (Ob 1, Success)
Varg (Spend 1 Check) – Scholar – Reading the Book (Ob1 due to wisdom of the sages, help from Beren, Success). In it he found the private thoughts and ideas of Jaha Agnocost, self absorbed thoughts of a court noble. In the edges of the book there are some scribbles in arcane writing (Celestial Music), and his last words.

“I, prince Jaha Agnocost, third of his name, believe his end is near. The dwarves are rioting. We closed the gate and sent the guards at them but they overwhelmed us. We tried to open the gates, but water seeped through. I will cast the scepter into the deep shaft and into oblivion.”

Karolina (Check)  Looks for more flammables that could work as torch (Surivalist (beginners luck) Ob 7. Result: Fail. Twist: Water is dripping down the walls. The tide is rising)

Adventuring Phase

Beren lights a torch, Varg a candle
Turn 1 – Following the text, we set off down the shaft. Beren leads us down the shaft (Dungeoneering Ob 4, Fail. Result: Angry)
Turn 2 – Lower down we found a vein of gems! Varg uses Alchemy to help dissolve the stone. Acid that will eat the stones. (Ob 2. Alchemy, Success)
Karolina lights a torch
Turn 3 – Beren mines gems out of the wall. Laborer Ob 3 (Success. Gets 1 slot worth 2D treasure).
Turn 4 – Traveling further down we found a natural cavern with phosphorescent lichen. Varg tries to make an impromptu lantern out of the lichen (Alchemy Ob 4, Fail: Condition: Exhausted)
Hungry & Thirsty – Torches and candles out but we now have a lantern made of lichen!
Turn 5 – Karolina tries to scavenge up some lichen (Scavenger text, Beginners Luck, Ob 3. Fail).
Lizard creatures appear from the water.
Turn 6 – Standing our ground to fight them off!
P: 8, Lizards: 6 – Defeated but we suffered a compromise (Beren is Injured).
Loot found:  Gear (Wine), and Stuff (Rusty keys, Child’s Dolly)

Thoughts on this Game

We avoided some early conditions by chewing through our food. Now that we’ve gotten to the bottom I’m worried about torches and food. Let hope this pool has fresh water! If so, I’m filling up the bottle and life is good!

Josh is way more creative than I am. Just saying.

Actual Play – The Mines of Angocost (9/14/2013)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Josh Curtis
Players: Justin Evans, Sean Nittner, and Greg Bailey
System: Torchbearer
Dungeon: Mines of Angocost

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.