Torchbearer RPG

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A dungeon crawl RPG from the creators of the Mouse Guard RPG
Updated: 21 hours 17 min ago

Prepackaged and Individually Portioned

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 14:00
The Light of Civilization Flickers by Russ Nicholson

One of the biggest challenges Torchbearer GMs face is creating dungeons or choosing published dungeons (especially if they weren’t specifically written with Torchbearer in mind).

I highly recommend crafting your own dungeons if you have the time. It’s fun! The Adventure Design chapter can help make it a snap, too! But you don’t need to shy away from published adventures, even from other games. They’ll make your life easier.

Whether you choose to make your own or use a prepackaged adventure, you’ll get the best results if you play to Torchbearer’s strengths.

Small Adventures Are Better

Under the House of the Three Squires1The adventure included in the Torchbearer core book is sprawling as Torchbearer adventures go. It will take a group 4-6 sessions or more to complete. The Dread Crypt of Skogenby, on the other hand, can play in a single session if your group is really focused, but will probably take them 2-4 sessions.

In my experience, groups typically get through three to four areas per session of play. Especially for the early sessions of a campaign, you want short, snappy adventures that allow the players to face some trouble, (hopefully) find some treasure, and return to town to spend their ill-gotten gains. Save the slogs for later adventures when the players are dug in and committed.

Something on par with Skogenby, or even smaller, is recommended. If you’re writing your own adventure, three or four areas is sufficient for a session’s worth of adventure.

Incorporate the Environment

A fair number of fantasy adventures just come down to fighting monsters. Desperate fights with monsters are fun, but Torchbearer really shines when there are environmental challenges to face as well. Getting from one floor to another when the stairs have collapsed, or swimming through a water-filled passage while figuring out how to manage your light and keep your spellbook dry, is incredibly fun in Torchbearer. Look for adventures that allow you to incorporate such challenges, or make sure to build them in if you’re writing your own.

In Skogenby, the tight squeeze (area 2), secret door (area 6) and rockfall (area 9) are all examples of environmental challenges. I like the tight squeeze in particular because it’s not a challenge when entering the dungeon—at that point you have all the time in the world. It’s only when you need to exit the dungeon in a hurry that the tight squeeze becomes a serious problem for the PCs. I like it because the problem presents itself innocuously to the PCs, but perceptive and savvy players can recognize the danger and take steps to mitigate it.

Use Monsters with Care

The Torchbearer versions of some monsters commonly found in other fantasy roleplaying games can be considerably more dangerous than they are in their native systems. When you’re running an adventure written for another game, consider the numbers. Even relatively weak monsters can devastate a group of Torchbearer characters if they outnumber them significantly.

Add a monster’s Nature to any helping dice at its disposal to get a feel for how many dice you’ll throw against the players in a conflict. And keep in mind that Might can also tip the scales. Monsters with Might 5+ are especially dangerous because PCs can’t kill them without access to level benefits or magic that boosts their own Might.

Consider that Skogenby has lots of monsters, but it doesn’t have them in every room. That leaves space for careful PCs to choose the best plan and approach before taking the monsters on. Even more important, the big bad is walled off from the PCs to start (though it has ways to make itself known), which allows them time to explore and build up resources before tackling the most difficult part of the dungeon.

Keep an Eye on the Future

Consider whether the adventure presents an immediate, delayed or dormant threat to surrounding communities. Think about how the situation might evolve if the players ignore the adventure or attempt it but can’t resolve things.

As I mentioned in previous post, Skogenby presents an immediate threat. If the players don’t successfully deal with Haathor-Vash right away, the threat will grow. The undead will overrun the village, causing the survivors to flee to surrounding villages for refuge. Soon the dead will present a threat to those villages as well.

Use Enemies, Friends, Mentors and Parents

In character creation, your players took the time to detail their relationships. You might not use them in your first adventure, but think about how they might be involved with or affected by the dungeons and hazardous locations you place. Not every adventure should involve a relationship but incorporating them judiciously will make your games pop.

Turning again to Skogenby, the village presents an opportunity to incorporate such relationships. Perhaps the PCs have family connections in Skogenby, or a mentor has disappeared into the dungeon itself. Maybe an enemy has gone in seeking treasure, or made common cause with Haathor-Vash!

Consider with the Eye of a Torchbearer Adventurer

One of my favorite non-Torchbearer adventures to run in Torchbearer is an old White Dwarf magazine D&D adventure called The Beacon at Enon Tor2This link leads to a version of the adventure converted for Castles & Crusades. Consistently, one of my favorite moments when running this adventure is when the players stumble upon the tower’s storeroom, which is filled with barrels of oil, dozens of torches, bins of nails, axes, saws, timber, sacks, sailcloth and more. The adventure notes that none of it is especially valuable, but to Torchbearer adventurers, this room is a treasure trove!

Every time players find this room, I know that they’re going to find something creative and surprising to do with all that stuff. Don’t be afraid to give the PCs lots of gear and supplies. They’ll have to figure out how to carry it, and in the meantime their creativity will kick into high gear.

In Skogenby, the chamber of ablutions (area 4), chamber of vigils (area 5) and the altar of ascension (area 6) all contain materials that can be used by creative players. What would you do with the spears from the sarcophagus trap, or the sand in the urns? What about the sleeping dust from the trap in the secret door?

Place Treasure and Other Loot

Treasure is an essential element of Torchbearer adventures. Torchbearer characters need the opportunity to gain treasure so they can go to town, heal up and resupply before heading out to adventure some more. If they aren’t getting treasure, Torchbearer goes from being a difficult game to a punishing one.

Just as you shouldn’t worry about giving players access to too much gear, don’t be too worried about giving the players access to too much treasure. The characters will have to figure out how to carry it and town will drain treasure fast! You don’t need to make it easy to get the treasure, but you don’t need to be shy with it either.

Published adventures are usually pretty good about placing treasure, but it’s tempting to just rely on Torchbearer’s treasure tables when you’re writing your own. Fight that urge! Don’t get me wrong: The treasure tables are fun and you should use them. But you should make sure to specifically place some treasure—gold, gems, magic items, etc.—and then use the tables to round the planned treasure out.

Skogenby uses treasure to tell its story. The silver arm rings kicked everything off. The silver ewer in the chamber of ablutions is part of Haathor-Vash’s mystery, as are the runes in the altar ascension. And, of course, there’s some loot in Haathor-Vash’s vault. In all, there’s 28D to be found in the Dread Crypt.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Way Down in the Hole

Thu, 11/08/2018 - 14:00
Castle Erobring by Kurt Komoda

As a Torchbearer GM, your job is to create opportunities for players to make choices.

The communities you’ve placed on your map have problems! Not only do they face the possibility of real-world horrors like natural disasters, war and plague, the lands surrounding them are filled with goblins, dragons and evil enchanters. The dungeons and hazardous locations on your map won’t just exist in isolation (for the most part), they’ll create direct and indirect threats to the settlements on your map, and the people in those places will notice!

Always consider how the dungeons and hazardous locations you put on your map might threaten one or more settlements on the map. Maybe some of them aren’t immediate threats: They’ll evolve over time from isolated incidents to threat, unless the players intervene. Others might lay dormant, and will only become threats if the PCs disturb something they shouldn’t. Some, of course, will present an immediate problem.

In Starting Fresh, I placed three dungeons on my map to start: Under the House of the Three Squires in the south, The Dread Crypt of Skogenby just a hop, skip and a jump to the west, and Thelon’s Rift in the north.

The Dread Crypt represents the immediate threat. It was dormant until some villagers disturbed the ancient barrow, and now an evil spirit is haunting the village and killing people. It doesn’t get more immediate than that. But there’s also room for evolution. The players may decide to pursue another adventure first. In that case, the threat presented by the Dread Crypt will grow: More undead will boil out of the crypt and invade Skogenby, destroying the village and flooding nearby communities like Asktoft with refugees from the slavering undead horde. The PCs could still turn the tide, but the danger will be greater.

Under the House of the Three Squires is the delayed threat. While the initial victims will have lost their lives if the players don’t tackle this adventure immediately, the monsters don’t immediately threaten the surrounding countryside. However, if left undisturbed, they will soon begin raiding merchants and travelers using the Post Road. Asktoft and even Holtburg will begin to feel the sting of the cut trade route over time.

Thelon’s Rift is my dormant site. Reputedly filled with fabulous treasure, it will stay in stasis until the PCs tackle it (or I get inspired to do something evil). I don’t want to spoil this adventure too much just yet, but the PCs can definitely unleash something horrible if they step wrong within the Rift.

In placing your own dungeons, try to include a mix of threats. If every dungeon and villain presents an immediate threat, you’ll make your players feel helpless. They’ll feel like their choices don’t matter because no matter what they do, everything else will get even more terrible. On the other hand, if every dungeon and villain is dormant, they’ll feel like their choices don’t have consequences: It won’t matter what they choose to prioritize because everything else will stay the same.

And make sure to spend some time considering how your threats might evolve over time. Not only will such evolution help your players feel that their characters exist in a living, breathing world in which their choices matter, it will also help ensure that time you spend prepping a dungeon isn’t wasted. You won’t have to worry about the PCs leveling past the adventures you’ve worked on. Instead, you’ll spend a little bit of time updating a given adventure to keep it compelling.

Have You Heard the One About…

As I mentioned at the outset, your job as a Torchbearer GM is to create opportunities for players to make choices. Once you’ve created your dungeons and thought about how they’ll threaten your setting, you need to put some information in the players’ hands so they can weigh their options and decide what to prioritize.

Rumors are one of the best tools at your disposal to do this. When the PCs arrive in a settlement, let them know what people are buzzing about. Maybe you roleplay a bit when they visit the tavern, and the barkeep or some drunken wag fills them in on the latest gossip. Maybe they hear tales from fellow travelers as they wait to pass through the town’s gate. Or you could just tell the players outright what people in town are talking about.

The first time my players went to town in my new game, they heard the following rumors:

  • Some folk in Skogenby, the next village over, uncovered a strange barrow while clearing a field recently. They think some evil spirit has come out of it, and they’ve asked for Lady Gry’s help, but she’s away. Supposedly there’s a lot of treasure in the tomb.
  • The Widow Auda owns the tavern you’re currently drinking in. Her sons, Odger and Samo, made a trip down to the House of the Three Squires last week to pick up some casks of sour beer, a trip they make about once a season. They should have been back days ago. It’s planting season, so no one wants to leave their fields, but some of the townsfolk have taken up a collection as a modest reward for anyone willing to make the trip to find out what’s happened to them.
  • A master enchanter named Thelon used to have a secret workshop in the mountains, somewhere near Holtburg. He used to come into Holtburg every once in a while to buy alchemical supplies for his work. No one has seen him in years. He’s probably dead. They say his workshop was packed to the rafters with all sorts of wonders.

I don’t make the players take any particular actions in town or pay a price to get these rumors. These are the things everyone is talking about. Note that this doesn’t invalidate town actions like gathering rumors or digging for leads. Instead, they give players a starting point. If they players decide they’re really interested in Thelon the Enchanter, they might ask around about him and his work.

Rumor Grows as It Goes

There’s an art to creating compelling rumors. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Don’t give everything away. A good rumor is a tease. You want to whet the players’ appetites, get them interested, but leave room for discovery and surprise. Remember that the players have tools like Digging for Leads at their disposal if they really want to get more information. You may want to have a few additional choice bits of information prepared in case they do try to hunt them down.
  • Use your NPCs. Unless their characters are all loners, tough and cool, your players spent a bit of time in character creation detailing their parents, friends, mentors and enemies. If you want to really get the players’ attention, weave those NPCs into your dungeons and rumors. Do this sparingly! If an enemy is behind every plot, or a friend gets lost in every dungeon, it will feel contrived. Include them at just the right level and your players will be hooked. You’ll have to experiment to find the right amount.
  • Reincorporate.  Leverage past events from your game and include them in the rumors. The more you tie new things into past events, the more your players will feel that the world and campaign have a life of their own. Did the PCs drive the Red Crest clan of kobolds out into the countryside while dealing with the House of the Three Squires? Maybe after an adventure or two pass, they hear a rumor about a steading that’s been overrun by kobolds that bear the mark of the Red Crest…
  • Seed expectations of treasure. Not all (or even most) Torchbearer PCs adventure for altruistic reasons. Your players might be the exception, of course, but I try not to rely on the desire for heroism to hook players with my rumors. The implication of cold hard cash or magic items usually does the trick. You know your players best. Think about what might get them going and make sure to hint at those things in your rumors.
  • Don’t feel bound by the truth. Your rumors don’t have to be true! They’re rumors and gossip after all. They may get some things wrong. The rumors may say a house is hauntedby spectres and ghosts, but the truth might be that a band of slavers is using the house as a base for their smuggling operation. In my view, every good adventure includes some sort of unexpected surprise. You can use a rumor to set up the eventual twist. As with using NPCs, don’t do this all the time! If rumors are always wrong, the players won’t buy them anymore. Mislead the players sparingly and everyone will enjoy the payoff.

Do you have any tips for creating rumors or stories about how you’ve used them in your games? If so, please share!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Starting Fresh Pt. 2

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 13:01

Last week I wrote about creating the map for my new campaign. Finishing the map (for now) wasn’t the end of my prep for this campaign, of course. Before I could even think about prepping the dungeons, I had to get down some details important to character creation.

The first thing I did was give each of the settlements on the map their own skills and traits so the players could choose for their characters to come from those places. In a pinch, I could have just used the templates from the core book. Asktoft could just be a Busy Crossroads. But this is an opportunity to give the place its own character and feel.

For instance, here’s Asktoft:


Skills: Cook, Steward, Stonemason
Traits: Proud, Thrifty
Alignment: Unaffiliated
Haggling: Ob 2

Even just this should give me, as the GM, a handle on how to play NPCs from Asktoft. It’s some nice shorthand for the players, too, if they care about such things.

We’re starting in Asktoft, so I also detailed the available locations and laws. I’ll only do the available locations for the other settlements if it looks like the players are going to spend a town phase there. In a pinch, I can just wing it by using the basic templates from the core book. If I’m feeling it, I’ll do the laws too, but I might wait until it looks like the players will come back to the settlement a few times. Again, here’s Asktoft:

Available Locations

Flophouse, Guild Hall, Home (equivalent to Flophouse or Inn based on station of owner), Market (This market is held once a month. Roll 2d6 when entering town; market is available on a roll of 9-12), Manor House (equivalent to inn), Shrine, Stables, Street, Tavern

Asktoft Laws
  • Theft is a criminal act. Punishable by public humiliation.
  • Defamation of the Gott overlords is a criminal act. Punishable by incarceration or whipping. (the Gotts are the ruling human tribe in this part of the Middarmark)
  • Only ridders (Gott knights) and above may wear ermine and fox. Punishable by three days in stocks or a fine (Ob 2 Resources test).

Lady Gry, a Gott ridder, is the lord of Asktoft. In fact, you’ll note in the Available Locations above, she has her manor house in Asktoft. Staying at the manor requires requesting hospitality (via the Rites of Hospitality rules in Middarmark). She’s not going to take just any no-name murder-hobos into her home though! The PCs will have to do something to earn her respect. Gry is also the lord of Skogenby and possibly some other steadings or remote villages around here.

She’s a middle-aged fighting woman who’s spent her life in the saddle. She cares about anything that threatens her wealth, but otherwise she’s not terribly concerned about her subjects’ problems. When we start the game, she’s going to be off attending her lord in the field. I have no idea at this point when she’ll return.

The human population in this part of the world is mostly Gott and Græling, with some Bjornings as well (the Grælings and Bjornings are other human tribes of the Middarmark). The nobility here is entirely Gott. The karls (relatively prosperous freemen and freewomen) are also primarily Gotts, though there are some wealthier Græling and Bjornings here and there (probably seen as upstarts by their Gott neighbors). The majority of the Grælings and Bjornings, though, are cottars (impoverished freemen and freewomen) or thralls (slaves). There are some Gott cottars as well and even a few Gott thralls, though that’s rarer. Skyrnir (nomadic reindeer herding humans) do wander through these lands from time to time, though the Gotts tend to detest them and drive them off when the Skyrnir reindeer get too close to pastures meant for Gott horses and cattle. Individuals are tolerated but barely.

There’s no halfling homeland in these parts, but it’s not uncommon for individuals or even families to wander these lands. Dwarven caravans are a regular sight on the Tradeway. The elves are shy and retiring, mostly to be found in the Eldmork.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Starting Fresh

Thu, 10/25/2018 - 13:54

Hello friends!

As I noted in my last post, I started a new Torchbearer game a few weeks ago. I’ve subjected this particular group to a number of playtests of new adventures recently, all of which have ended in TPKs. They’ve been good sports, but they were ready to commit to something longer term (with the hopes of actually surviving a dungeon or two).

For my part, I wanted to get back to Torchbearer’s roots. One of the key ideas in my head when I first started working on the game was the idea of a map that would start with just a few locations and then grow over time as the group explored it and new details were added. That’s the core idea behind the Prepare Thyself chapter in the book.

I decided that we would start the game in the Middarmark, specifically in the Gottmark of the far north because it’s been unexplored territory in our games so far. I went to my Middarmark map and selected the boxed part of the map below. Specifically, I think it’s the little saddle between the mountain in the southwest portion of the map and the hills above it.

For me, the hardest part of making any map is where to start. I often find that picking an anchor geography point or points helps get me going. Part of what drew me to the section of the Middarmark map I chose is that big mountain at the top of the box. I chose that as my anchor point. I also know that I want to include Highwater (the port city from The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves). We’ll put it somewhere on the coast, though probably not on the initial map. That’s my second anchor point.

Water Is the Driving Force of All Nature

The other thing that really helps me figure out a map is water. Bodies of water make excellent boundaries, but they also connect people. Settlements tend to spring up along coasts and river systems, especially river systems that are navigable. The section of the map I chose is south of the Vanskr River, which runs east out of the Nidfjolls into the Skyet Sea. That river is a little too far north for my initial setting, so I’m going to add a new river and tributaries that flow south and east out of our little valley to the coast.

So that’s where I started: I penciled in some mountains in the northeast of my map and a river with tributaries.

With that done, I named the rivers. The primary river, flowing out of the mountains to the north, is the Hrada, a play on the Old Norse for ‘swift.’ The tributary that originates to the west is the Kaldrelva (Cold River). The southern tributary is the Sylfelva (Silver River). I’m not terribly concerned about linguistic fidelity, I just want the sound of it to feel right when spoken. By the same token, I decided to call the mountains the Silfjalls (Silver Mountains).

Names have a kind of magic. When you name something in a role-playing game, whether a character, a house or inn, a city, or a sword, you make it just a little more real, more substantial, to everyone else. A sword found in a tomb? Big deal. The Sword of Seven Shadows found in the tomb of Aras-Ekbar? That’s something special. Give things names!

At BWHQ, we like to keep foreign language dictionaries handy when we play for just this purpose. And I should note that when I run games in the Middarmark, I probably reference the names lists on pages 52-53 more than anything else in the book.

The Journey Itself Is Home

With the backbone of my map done, it was time to place some settlements. I needed a starting base for the PCs — not necessarily a hometown, but a place that doesn’t have any adventures attached to it (at least at the beginning) that the characters will be able to return to and spend their spoils.

For that purpose, I created Asktoft, a somewhat prosperous town that serves as the seat of a Gott ridder (a knight of the Gott tribe) named Gry. If you’ve run or played The Dread Crypt of Skogenby, you might recognize Lady Gry as the absentee lord of that benighted village. And, in fact, I decided that Skogenby is just to the east of Asktoft. There’s a natural ford of the Hrada right there.

I decided to put a wealthy crossroads town in the north. That’s Holtburg. And I knew that none of my players had actually played the Under the House of the Three Squires adventure from the core book, so I decided to put that in the south. It’s on the way to the port city of Highwater.

There are almost certainly more remote villages and steadings located on this map, but we’ll discover them later. And that’s an important point, actually. You don’t need a ton of detail to start. You just need enough to give your players a sense of place and maybe inspire some curiosity. My friends Adam and Sage nailed this concept in DungeonWorld with the game’s GM Principles: The very first one on the list is, “Draw maps, leave blanks.”

“Dungeon World exists mostly in the imaginations of the people playing it; maps help everyone stay on the same page. You won’t always be drawing them yourself, but any time there’s a new location described make sure it gets added to the map.“When you draw a map don’t try to make it complete. Leave room for the unknown. As you play you’ll get more ideas and the players will give you inspiration to work with. Let the maps expand and change.”

DungeonWorld, page 162

Your map doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be complete. Leave plenty of room for your map to grow and evolve. Discovering and defining what’s in those blank spaces through play is a ton of fun.

On that Path Lies Danger

Like rivers, roads and paths are important to defining a map. The Under the House of the Three Squires adventure says the titular House is situated on the Post Road. I decided that would be the backbone connecting the House to Asktoft, Holtburg and even Highwater.

I imagine Holtburg has become as wealthy as it has because it sits between two dwarven cities: Frostfast Hall in the west and another outpost in the Silfjalls in the east. I settled on Frarborgen as the name of that city. The Tradeway is the road that connects the two dwarven citadels. Holtburg sits on the crossroads of the Post Road and the Tradeway.

I think the Tradeway between Holtburg and Frarborgen runs mostly through foothills, so I added some just west of Frarborgen. They probably run most of the length of that route, but for the moment I just put in a hint of them.

The original section of the Middarmark map that I chose shows a thick section of the Ironwold forest blanketing the course of the Vanskr River. I wanted to include that, so I added a hint of forest south of Frarborgen. Skogenby is named for the spruce forest that borders it, so I added some trees north of it as well. I think the forest actually spans the distance between Frarborgen and Skogenby, but no need to fill it all in at this point.

I like the idea of a mist-cloaked marsh that could be home to witches and other spooky things, so I added the Illmyr in the south. It’s the wetlands that gives birth to the Sylfelva and the Post Road runs right through it.

There Are Dark Shadows on the Earth

According to Prepare Thyself, I still needed an elven settlement. I decided there’s a hidden elven settlement called Eldheim in the trackless forest south of Frarborgen. It’s hidden, so I’m not going to put it on the map just yet, but I decided that this part of the Ironwold is called the Eldmork.

South and east, at the terminus of the Post Road, is the bustling metropolis of Highwater. Somewhere on the map, I haven’t quite decided where yet, is the Gott temple-complex of Helglund. I also haven’t decided on a wizard’s tower yet. To begin, players could come from Svartårn if they wanted to hail from a wizard’s tower, even though it’s a long, long way to the southwest.

Perhaps most importantly, I needed to place some dungeons and ruins on the map. I want to give my players some rumors about what’s going on in the area and let them choose where to go, what to explore and which dungeons to tackle. I’ve already got the House of the Three Squires on the map. And since I have Skogenby, I needed to add the Dread Crypt. I put another dungeon called Thelon’s Rift outside Holtburg.

There are a few other unlabeled locations on the map between Asktoft and Holtburg — probably abandoned wayhouses (similar to the House of the Three Squires) that have become havens for bandits or worse, but I’ll decide for certain when they come into play.

The map is roughly 10 miles to a hex.

At that point I had all the starting elements of the map. I was satisfied, so I went over the pencil in ink.

And then I added just a little bit of color, which I like to do to help the map ‘pop.’

In all, this process took me an afternoon. I can’t wait to fill in the blanks on this map with my friends.

I want to hear your prep stories! What’s gotten you excited to play? What have you struggled with?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Into the Gloaming…

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 13:06

Hello friends!

A few weeks ago, I started a new Torchbearer campaign. I made a map, placed some settlements, wild places and dungeons, and off we went.

The players had rumors of several adventures to choose from at the start. One of the rumors concerned The Dread Crypt of Skogenby (get it free here!):

Some folk in Skogenby recently uncovered a strange barrow while clearing a field. They think some evil spirit has come out of it, and they’ve asked their lord help, but she’s away. Supposedly there’s a lot of treasure in the tomb.

But the players chose to pursue another rumor instead. Now they’ve come back to town after their latest adventure and heard some shocking news: The walking dead have overrun Skogenby!

Just in time for Halloween!

So here I am prepping a survival horror addition to Skogenby, and it occurs to me that Torchbearer is lacking some classic horror monsters. This is intended to remedy that dreadful oversight. Without further ado, here’s my take on the zombie and the werewolf. And Jared Sorensen, of Memento Mori Theatricks, has been kind enough to allow me to include his Vampire Lord, excerpted from his Halloween-inspired Torchbearer Sagas supplement, Denizens of the Dark (you’ll find lots of other holiday-appropriate goodies in Denizens, including the vampire lord’s vampire minions!).



These mindless undead are animated corpses driven by an insatiable hunger for flesh. They are frequently created by evil necromancers as servitors for their wicked schemes.

Might: 2 Nature (Undead): 3

Descriptors: Consuming, Lurching, Sensing Brains Drive Off: 8 Drive Off Weapons
Attack: +1D, Ragged Nails
Defend: +2D, Unreasoning Hunger Kill: 6 Kill Weapons
Attack: +1D, Ragged Nails
Defend: +2D, Unreasoning Hunger Flee: 3 Flee Weapons
Attack: -1D, Mindless Persistence
Defend: +1s, Mindless Persistence Instinct: Brains! Special:
Unliving flesh. All piercing and slashing weapons are -1s to Attack and Feint when used against zombies. A holy symbol used against zombies in drive off or kill conflicts confers +1s to attack actions.

Mindless. Zombies are non-intelligent undead. They cannot be tricked or riddled with, nor engaged in a convince conflict.

Slow. Zombies reveal their first action to players after both sides have selected their actions but before actions are compared. Players then have the option to switch their action 1 and action 2. The players still act in the original order, they simply exchange actions.

The Hunger. Wounds caused by zombies spread their curse. Any character who receives an injury as a result of a kill, capture or drive off conflict in which the zombie used its Ragged Nails also gains a special sick condition. This condition is a curse and may only be removed via magic that breaks curses, like the Absolution of the Lord of Endings invocation. If the condition is not removed by the end of the next town phase, the character becomes a zombie and thus a GM-controlled character. Anyone slain by a zombie also rises to become one of the walking dead. Werewolf

These evil creatures, once human, were bitten by a werewolf and so cursed to become werewolves themselves. By the light of the full moon they are driven to hunt human prey!

Might: 5 Nature (Lycanthrope): 5

Descriptors: Preying, Raging, Howling Kill: 11 Kill Weapons
Attack: +1D, +1s, Slavering Jaws and Razor Claws
Defend: +1D, Uncontrollable Rage
Feint: +1s, Slavering Jaws and Razor Claws
Maneuver: +1s, Lightning Reflexes Flee: 9 Flee Weapons
Attack: +2D, Loping Gait
Defend: +1D, Preternatural Senses
Feint: +1D, Preternatural Senses
Maneuver: +2D, Loping Gait Drive Off: 6 Drive Off Weapons
Attack: +1D, +1s, Slavering Jaws and Razor Claws
Defend: +1D, Uncontrollable Rage
Feint: +1s, Slavering Jaws and Razor Claws
Maneuver: +1s, Lightning Reflexes Trick: 4 Trick Weapons
Defend: +1D, Lupine Cunning
Maneuver: +1D, Lupine Cunning Instinct: Always hunt human (or dwarf, elf or halfling) meat by the light of the full moon. Special:
Shapeshifter: Werewolves assume their humanoid form by day and their wolf form at night. They assume their hybrid-wolf form when the moon is full. They may attempt to assume the hybrid-wolf form at any time with an Ob 2 Nature test. Clothing and equipment does not transform with the werewolf.

Lycanthrope: A werewolf’s bite spreads lycanthropy. Any character who receives an injury as a result of a kill, capture or drive off conflict in which the werewolf used its Slavering Jaws also gains a special sick condition. This condition is a curse and may only be removed via magic that breaks curses, like the Absolution of the Lord of Endings invocation. If the condition is not removed by the end of the next town phase, the character becomes a werewolf and thus a GM-controlled character. Once the character has become a werewolf, it may still be possible to break the curse. The werewolf must be captured, bound and trapped within a circle of wolfsbane. Then the Absolution of the Lord of Endings invocation (or similar curse-breaking magic) must be used upon them. This only works as long as the werewolf has not passed the lycanthropic curse to another. Once it has spread the disease, only its death can end the curse.Cursed. Werewolves are particularly vulnerable to silver. Silver weapons give their wielders +1 effective might against werewolves. Werewolves are also extremely averse to wolfsbane. The herb can be used as a weapon against werewolves in drive off conflicts, providing +1s to attack and feint. Note: The stat block above is for a werewolf in its hybrid-wolf form. Werewolves in wolf form are Might 3, Nature 5 and have the descriptors: Hunting, Stalking, Howling. Werewolves in humanoid form are Might 3, Nature 5 and have the descriptors: Boasting, Demanding, Running (or the descriptors of their Middarmark tribe).


Vampire Lord

Vampire Lords are hideous, immortal fiends that feed on the blood of the living. Whether they were cursed by the Old Gods, infected by an alien plague or were transformed by dark rituals, who can say? All that is known is that Vampire Lords are creatures of Chaos who drain the living of their vital essence and seek to subjugate the mortal masses. Though monsters, they adopt an air of nobility and prefer to reside in ruined castles or mouldering manors where they surround themselves with mortal thralls and undead minions. Vampire Lords retain the abilities and benefits of their former selves.

Might: 5 Nature (Undead): 7

Descriptors: Infecting, Scheming, Subjugating Kill: 15 Kill Weapons
Attack: +1s, Wicked Fangs (ignores armor)
Feint: +1s, Wicked Fangs (ignores armor) Flee: 12 Flee Weapons
Attack: +2D, Inhuman Alacrity
Defend: +1s, Predatory Senses
Feint: +2D, Predatory Senses
Maneuver: +1D, Inhuman Alacrity Drive Off: 9 Drive Off Weapons
Defend: +2D, Monstrous Fortitude Convince: 4 Convince Weapons
Attack: +1D, Terrifying Visage
Defend: +1D, Air of Nobility
Feint: +1s, Terrifying Visage
Maneuver: +2D, Air of Nobility Armor: Most Vampire Lords are able to wear armor and helmets. Instinct: Always drink the blood of my prey. Special:

Dominating Mind. Vampire lords are immune to mind-affecting spells.

Shapeshifter. In dim light or darkness, Vampire Lords can transform into mist, dire wolves or giant vampire bats. It may assume each form no more than once per session. It may revert to its human form at any time. While in mist form, vampire lords are insubstantial and cannot be struck save with spells, invocations or magical weapons, but they cannot use the Attack action. In wolf form, the vampire lord replaces its descriptors with: Hunting, Stalking, Howling. In giant bat form, the vampire lord replaces its descriptors with: Spying, Biting, Flying.

Creature of the Night. Vampire lords can see in darkness and ignore factors from dim light and darkness.

Sorcerer. Some vampire lords are able to use magic.

Vampirism. Any character who receives an injury as a result of a kill or drive off conflict compromise in which a vampire lord used its fangs as a weapon also gains a special sick condition. This condition is a curse and may only be removed via magic that breaks curses, like the Absolution of the Lord of Endings invocation. If the condition is not removed by the end of the next town phase, the character becomes a vampire and thus a GM-controlled character.

Cursed. Vampire lords must sleep during the day. Sunlight reduces their Might to 2. Fire used against vampire lords inflicts +1s damage. A stake through the heart will destroy a sleeping vampire lord.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mordite Mondays!

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 20:29

The fine folks at Mordite Press have launched a new Torchbearer blog that will update on Mondays! The first post is a primer on everything that’s currently available for the game. It’s super useful!

Check it out!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs