Torchbearer RPG

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A dungeon crawl RPG from the creators of the Mouse Guard RPG
Updated: 4 days 10 hours ago

Into the Gloaming (Part II)

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 13:00
The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane, by John Quidor (1858)

Hello friends and Happy Halloween!

Last year at this time I shared a trio of new Torchbearer monsters to fill your horror gaming needs: the vampire, werewolf and zombie.

I wanted to do something similar this year, but we’ve already got most of the classic horror monsters covered. As I mentioned, last year’s blog post covers vampires, werewolves and zombies. The Torchbearer core book has ghouls and skeleteons. The Petersen Bestiary (vol. 1) covers the ghost (you can also find her in The Dread Crypt of Skogenby). And the draugr from Middarmark has the revenant/mummy covered. What to do?

I discussed the issue with Jared Sorensen (check out Jared’s Torchbearer Sagas content here), and Jared suggested we do some monsters from folklore and popular culture. So without further ado, as a Halloween thank you to all of you, here’s Jared’s take on the Dullahan and the Creature and my take on the Gremlin. Enjoy!

The Dullahan Capt. Mayne Reid’s version of a Texas Legend, published in 1865

The dullahan doesn’t roam the land willy-nilly, laying waste as a vengeful ghost or bloodthirsty killer would. Think of them as Grim Reaper-esque figures, traveling the land in search of already-doomed souls. The characters may cross its path during its nightly ride, it could be in search of a character fated to die, or it could be seeking to claim a sacrifice. Read on!

Twist: Wandering Monster
In the first situation, the party encounters a dullahan as it makes its way through the countryside, its glowing head held aloft like a grim lantern. To further twist the knife, a devious GM could have the dullahan’s target end up being a parent, friend, mentor or even an enemy of one of the characters!

Twist: Fated to Die
A human player character who is fated to die, either from a failed test or as part of a compromise, may have their dark fate put on hold—long enough for the dullahan to make a personal appearance and claim that soul for itself.

Adventure Hook: The Lottery

In a small backwater town, an obscure cult worships an ancient fertility god local to their region. Once a year, they make a sacrifice to ensure a rich harvest—a human sacrifice, and the Immortal they revere prefers his victims to be decapitated. The dullahan is its earthly incarnation, a reaper of souls, an embodiment of death. This year, the offering has escaped (either on their own or with the aid of another) and this could bring grave consequences for the townsfolk. Will the adventurers recapture the sacrifice? Find a new offering? Destroy the cult? Banish the dullahan?

Facing the Dullahan

Characters facing the dullahan may attempt to delay their fate with a Banish or Drive Off conflict, but this will provide a moment of  relief—the next night, the dullahan will ride once more. If the dullahan is on its way to claim a soul, Drive Off simply isn’t an option—the dullahan will curse those who catch its eye, then continue on its way. Fleeing the dullahan’s wrath is next to impossible: they are tireless, relentless, all-seeing and cannot be slowed by doors or gates.

The Dullahan Nature 6Might 5Cursing, Hunting, RidingGoal: Each night I ride to claim a soul.Instinct: Speak the name of the dying before taking their soul.Type: Faerie/Spirit

Special Rules
Speak of the Dead
: The dullahan cannot speak save for one utterance per journey: the name of its victim. Should their victim hear the dullahan speak their name, they will drop dead. Attempting to shield the victim using earplugs or magic will only delay the inevitable—see below.
Flying Head: As a last resort, the dullahan may use an Attack action to throw its own head. It will try to target the doomed character (if present) but will also target anyone it deems to be interfering with its Instinct. When used against another Attack, this is a versus test. The glowing head screams as it flies through the air, ignores armor and only causing damage to its target. If hit, the target suffers the Dead condition and the dullahan, its head and its mount/coach vanish from sight until the next night when it will ride once again.
Caught by its Eye
: Best to shutter your windows when this bogey rides past; Should any character catch the dullahan’s stare, they’ll suffer a harrowing event: either going blind in one eye or having blood splashed in their face, as if it was thrown from a great basin. Make a Will test vs the Dullahan’s cursing Nature; success means the character becomes drenched in blood and Afraid. Failure means the character will be struck blind in one eye:
MoF Duration
1-2 one phase
3-4 one session
5 one adventure
6 one season
The affected eye becomes milky white and sightless, although this blindness is temporary and their sight will be restored after the curse’s duration expires. If a one-eyed character is affected, they would be totally blind during the curse’s duration and suffer all manner of normal penalties for being without sight.
Spectral Sight
: The dullahan can see in total darkness and across vast distances. Characters may not hide from the dullahan using stealth or magic.
Fey Knock: No door or gate can prevent the dullahan from passing. WIth but a gesture or glance that portal will unlock/unbar itself and fly open to allow passage.
: While mounted, the dullahan’s Might is increased by +1 and it may use its steed’s Nature descriptors (fighting, pursuing, burning). Disarming the mount will unseat the dullahan.
Aurophobia: Dullahan fear the sight of gold. Characters wielding a sack of gold or any gold artifact in their hands gain +1D to any action, in addition to the benefit from their normal weapon. Characters may also choose to break a tie in their favor by throwing gold at the dullahan.

Hit Points Flee
Drive Off
WeaponConflictADFMSpine WhipDrive Off — — +1D+2DBlack HorseDrive Off+2D — — — RelentlessBanish
Drive Off+1D — — — Coach-a-bowerFlee+2D+1D — +1DDarting EyesFlee — — +1D+2D The Dullahan Description

This headless spirit rides a ghostly black horse across dark roads and trails, through forests and moors. In its hand or under its arm it holds its own severed head; corteed by a hideous and impossibly wide grin,  with soulless black eyes that are in constant motion, enabling it to find its prey across vast distances to find its victim, no matter where they lie. The head itself glows with hellish green phosphorescence which the dullahan uses like a lantern to light its way as it rides the countryside. In its other hand it wields a human spine as a whip.

As a harbinger of death, those unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of this spirit as it rides past will be showered with blood or struck blind in one eye. Any door or gate—even those that are locked or barred—will fly open as the dullahan approaches. In some instances, the dullahan will be driving its coach-a-bower; a black hearse pulled by a team of six black horses. The coach is adorned with candle-lit skulls, with wheel spokes fashioned from human thigh bones and human skin or a worm-eaten pall in place of a canvas or fabric covering. The coach moves so quickly, its wheels set the ground ablaze. The dullahan never speaks, save for the name of its dying victim. Upon hearing their name, that person drops dead; their soul is then carried off in the coach which vanishes without a trace. 

The only defense against the dullahan is to brandish a weapon or object made of gold, for the dullahan fears the sight of this metal. Even a small amount could be enough to drive off this headless spirit.

Notes: Although the dullahan’s name translates to “Dark Man,” female dullahan are known to exist. As a spirit, it is immune to anything that specifically targets undead Nature.

The Creature An engraving of the actor T.P. Cooke as Frankenstein’s monster in the 1823 production of Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein

His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

Mary Shelley, from Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

The Creature wanders the land on its quest for meaning and companionship, usually traveling by night to avoid detection. It lives off the land, eating nuts, berries and other forage—it does not eat meat. The Creature camps during the day in secluded locations and its there where a party may stumble across signs of its existence. The Creature may also scavenge scraps from their camp while they’re away in the adventure phase. If accepted by the characters, the Creature may seek to travel with them (though it will not venture into town). It will not join in the adventures unless they coincide with its own goals.

Nature 7Might 4Demanding, Wreaking Vengeance, YearningGoals: Find the love and acceptance of a companion being; (if Angry) get my revenge on the creator who shunned me; make my way North to end my existence with cleansing fire. Instinct: Conceal my presence from those who would
fear and destroy me.Type: Folk (reanimated)

Special Rules
Reanimated: The Creature is immune to the sick condition. It  can become hungry and thirsty, exhausted, afraid, angry or even injured, but it ignores any penalties from those conditions.
Regeneration: The Creature heals quickly from its wounds, needing only one phase to recover from Injured. It cannot be killed using mundane weapons, for it possesses miraculous powers of regeneration.
Monstrous Rage: While the Creature is normally peaceful, sensitive and polite, once angered it becomes a monstrous fiend, capable of unimaginable cruelty and violence. While angry, it may neither be engaged in a Convince conflict, nor may it be targeted by mind-affecting magic. 
Pyrophobic: The Creature hates and fears fire; If set on fire, it cannot use its regeneration ability.

Hit Points Drive Off
WeaponConflictADFMInhuman StrengthDrive Off+2D — — +1sTireless WandererDrive Off
Flee+1D+1D — — Emotionally IntelligentConvince+1D — — +1DInquisitive MindConvince — +2D+1D — The Creature Description

The Creature is eight-feet tall and hideously ugly, built using bone, muscle, tissue and hair from various human cadavers  and reanimated through some mysterious process. Though it appears to be one of the undead, the Creature possesses thoughts and feelings; it sleeps, breathes and requires nourishment. Unlike humans, the Creature is fantastically strong and resilient, able to regenerate from its injuries much like a troll; and like a troll, the Creature fears and hates fire, which can permanently injure or destroy it. The Creature does not eat meat and will kill only to defend itself or if it becomes enraged.

The Creature is self-educated, erudite and curious about the world. It is also possessed of a profound and terrible loneliness and a desire for companionship. The Creature is quick to anger, and once enraged is capable of horrible violence. Its Nature (yearning) has allowed it to wander far and wide, studying the world and accumulating a wealth of knowledge all on its own—it speaks several languages and has learned much of scholarship, alchemy and survival.

The Creature’s creator is some unknown alchemist, either long-dead or in hiding (see below). The Creature yearns for answers; why does it exist, why was it abandoned? It also seeks for its creator to construct a similar being for companionship. Barring that, the Creature desires only vengeance on its creator for being forced to live in a world where it is shunned and vilified. Once this vengeance is achieved, the Creature intends to travel “to the North” to put an end to its solitary and miserable life. 

Gremlin From the Office for Emergency Management. War Production Board. (01/1942 – 11/03/1945) Nature 3Might 2Breaking, Stealing, TrickingGoals: Make victims doubt their sanity. Make it funny!
Trick victims into killing themselves. Make it hilarious!Instinct: Always sabotage mechanical devices.Type: Spirit

Special Rules
Lynx-eyed: Gremlins can see clearly in the dark without illumination, but they suffer -1D to all actions when in direct sunlight. They typically infest mines, construction sites and other areas of industry.
Infestation: Once one has attracted the attention of a gremlin, more will inevitably follow. Every fourth turn, until the gremlins’ victims die or the gremlins are destroyed or banished, another gremlin joins the first.

Hit Points Trick
4Drive Off

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating.
Armor: None.

WeaponConflictADFMRazor Claws and TeethKill
Drive Off+1D — +1s — Cruel WitTrick — — +1D+1DUncanny QuicknessCapture — +1s — +1D Gremlin Description
  • These small creatures have spiked backs, large, lamp-like eyes and savage claws and teeth. 
  • They are driven by a vicious sense of humor that can only be satisfied by causing mayhem, pain and death via trapped or sabotaged equipment, scaffolding, mechanical devices and the like. It’s only funny if the victims doubt their sanity before being hurt or killed trying to use a device. They prefer to victimize humans, elves, halflings and dwarves, but will happily turn their attention upon each other if they have no other outlet. 
  • Gremlins are drawn to camps, towns, mines, dungeons and other areas where crafting or industry take place. They like to secretly break gear and tools, especially if the user will be hurt or killed when unwittingly using the broken thing. Winches used in mines are a favorite target.
  • Gremlins become fixated on targets. Once an individual has attracted the attention of a gremlin, it will continue to plague that individual until that individual dies or the gremlin is destroyed or banished.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Saxalings

Thu, 10/10/2019 - 14:30
Atilla and his Hordes Overrun Italy and the Arts (detail), between 1843 and 1847, Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix

(xposted with Bridge of the Damned update)

Hello friends!

In a past series of posts, we looked at two Middarmark clans, the Ageirings and the Tualings, along with their ættir.

I’ve been working on The Bridge of the Damned adventure and figured I would give the clans involved in that adventure a similar treatment. This week we’re taking a look at the Saxalings, whom we previously learned a little about in Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part VIII) and Life in a Ruined Village.

The Saxalings

The Saxalings are a Gott clan in the Gottmark. They owe fealty to Tancred the Fair, greve of the Southern March. During the conquest of the Gottmark 20 years ago, Hincmar was chieftain of the Saxalings. He and his warriors seized lands along the northern bank of the Vimur River that belonged to the Bjorning clan known as the Runungs.

Among those lands was Kviholl, the hall of Grima, chieftain of the Runungs. Grima and his household were caught unaware by the rapidity of the Saxaling advance through their lands. Not only were Grima and many of his huskarls slain when the Saxalings burned Kviholl, the Saxalings also captured the shrine to Runa the Battle-wise, ættir (ancestral spirit) of the Runungs. As a result, several pieces of the Runung clan regalia fell into Saxaling hands. Some were destroyed, but one, a buckle of finely beaten gold in the shape of a falcon, caught Hincmar’s eye. He incorporated it into his own clan’s regalia.

Today, Ishildis, daughter of Hincmar, is chieftain of the Saxalings. She rules from her hall at Skyholl, erected in the very spot where Kviholl once stood. Ishildis is guided by Saxa Horsekiller, ættir of the Saxaling clan.

Saxa Horsekiller Nature 5*Might 5Binding and Cursing, Protecting, ProphesyingBelief: Blood must be paid for any and all slights against me and mine.Instinct: Protect my bloodline.Type: Spirit

Special Rules: The ættir is the embodiment of her bloodline and can speak to those who share her blood in dreams. She lives in the clan’s regalia—a banner, piece of jewelry, weapon, article of clothing or relic of some sort—and can communicate with the bearer directly.

Hit Points Banish
9 WeaponConflictADFMBound to ClanBanish
Capture — +2D — — Fed with Regular
Sacrifice Banish
Capture — — — +2DMatriarchalConvince — +2D — — Prophetic VisionsBattle
Convince+1D — — +1s

Note: Before the Bjorning raid, Saxa was Nature 6. Her current Nature 5 reflects the loss of the Falcon Buckle. Should the buckle be returned and rededicated, her Nature will be restored to 6.

Saxa Horsekiller Description

Saxa is a warlike spirit, eager for conquest and increase in her descendants’ power and prestige, while merciless against foes of her house. In the Otherworld she generally appears astride a great white stallion, clad in gleaming mail and helmet with a lance in hand.

She has grown restless over the past two decades. The curse of the Vimur River has prevented her clan from expanding south and “friendly” clans box the Saxalings in to the north. She has begun agitating for her clan to feud with those neighbors in the hopes of seizing their lands. While enraged by the impudence of the raiders that stole her Falcon Buckle, part of her exults: If they could cross the cursed river to mount an attack, her people can do the same.

Contrary to her deed-name, she was known in life to care deeply for horses, lavishing her steeds with love and affection. She earned the name by riding one of her beloved horses to death to warn her family of a surprise attack by a supposedly allied clan during one of the frequent brushfire wars that consume the old country of Gottland.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Whatever Is Not Nailed Down…

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 15:00
Tiziri by Jordan Worley

Hello friends!

Luke and I have been considering the Thief playtest class we put up years ago now. We’ve made some modifications to the level benefits based on our own playtests. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Human Thief

Born on the streets, thieves were brought into a tough life. Their cradle was the gutter, their bread was the cruelty of strangers and their guardians were brutal guildmasters. Forced to survive amidst the uncaring in the cities and towns, some urchins deem the adventurer’s life to have better odds and at least a small hope of escape from destitution and a life ended on the gallows. They bring cunning, bravado and hard-won skills valuable in any group of scoundrels.

StockHuman ClassThiefAbilitiesDistribute 8 points between Will and Health; neither may be lower than 2 or higher than 6.SkillsCriminal 3, Manipulator 3, Scout 3, Sapper 2, Fighter 2; Plus choice of Criminal +1, Haggler 3, Pathfinder 3, Peasant 3 or Survivalist 3.TraitDevil May CareWeaponsBow, crossbow, dagger, hand axe, swordArmorLeather Devil May Care

Thieves are rakes and libertines. Their swagger and ability to spit in the eye of danger helps them win admirers and keep a steady hand when others would shake in their boots. It can also lead them to take foolish risks to protect their reputations.

Thief Level Benefits Level 1

Thief: You may wear leather armor and cannot use a helmet or shield. You can wield bows, crossbows, daggers, hand axes and swords.

Level 2

Concealed Pocket: The thief has an additional torso inventory slot that can only be used to conceal a small Pack 1 item or small weapon (like a dagger or sling). If someone tries to search the thief, the thief may roll Criminal vs. the attempt to keep the item hidden.

Improvisational: A bit of wire, a sliver of metal, a shard of bone — a thief always has tools available for tests regarding traps, escaping, picking locks and the like. If you already have tools, you may spend a check to improvise supplies (+1D) for the test.

Level 3

Surprise Attack: Add +1s to any Feint action (in addition to any weapon or Might bonuses) when leading or helping with a Feint action in tight, dimly lit or claustrophobic fighting conditions.

Pickpocket: A thief always has a ready source of cash in town — from certain involuntary donations to the purse. Resources is minimum 1 rather than 0. If Resources is 0 in town, advance it to 1 immediately. If Resources is 1 or higher, the thief may make a free Criminal test in town to alleviate one of the residents of some of their extra cash. Success generates 1D of cash. The cost of failure is up to the GM.

Level 4

Good Ear: By listening at a portal, entryway, door or gate, a thief can gain useful information. Make a Scout test with +1D vs. those on the other side to listen. This test does not cost a turn. Success indicates number and type of opponents or odd and distinctive sounds ahead. May be used once per adventure phase.

Fence: When selling loot in the market or stolen goods to the Thieves Guild, test Haggler versus your vendor. This test does not increase your lifestyle. If successful, increase the sale value by +1D of cash. You can conduct these transactions even if the market in town is closed (but not if there’s no market in town at all).

Level 5

Steady Hands: +1D to tests when setting or disarming traps. Once per adventure phase you may check for traps without taking a turn. You may only be helped by other thieves or characters with appropriate Nature descriptors.

Friends in Low Places: +1D to Circles for finding thieves, beggars, criminals and adventurers. In addition, if ever accosted in town by a thief or legbreaker, you may make a Circles test at +1 Ob to determine if you know them and are on good terms. This test does not increase lifestyle.

Level 6

Thief’s Apprentice: You gain an apprentice. The apprentice helps you with your default class skills (Criminal, Manipulator, Scout, Sapper, Fighter). Add +1D to your roll when your apprentice is helping. To help in a conflict, you must assign the apprentice a point of disposition. The apprentice has three available inventory slots and requires a portion of food and water in camp.

Symbological Dilettante: You’ve seen all manner of weird inscriptions. +2D to the Scholar skill to decipher runes, symbols and strange languages. A thief who has learned the Arcanist skill may use it to case from spell scrolls. Increase the obstacle to cast by 1.

Level 7

Leverage: You have dirt on a lot of people. Increase Precedence by one. [Consider this a teaser for something else we’re working on!]

Expert: Increase your rank cap for Criminal, Sapper or Health (choose one) from 6 to 7. You may advance from rank 6 to rank 7 with seven successful and six failed tests.

Level 8

A Life in the Shadows: Suffer no penalty for dim light and only -1s in darkness. You can act in darkness normally (without conflict restrictions) provided you can smell and touch. You still can’t read or use a map in darkness.

Protection: Make a Manipulator test to put a town institution under your “protection.” If successful, the institution will make regular payments (+1D cash when you enter town) or provide services (free of lifestyle cost).

Protection Racket Factors Size of Town+InstitutionBusy Crossroads (1)Popular Establishment like a tavern
or accommodation (1)Bustling Metropolis (2)Weak Guild (1)Religious Bastion (3)Propitiate Temple (2)Remote Village (3)Strong Guild (2)Steading (4)Patron Temple (3)Wizard’s Tower (4)Ruling House (3) Level 9

Heroic Ability: Choose Criminal, Manipulator or Sapper. The chosen skill becomes “heroic.” When rolling this skill 3-6 indicates a success (rather than the standard 4-6).

Transformed: Change one Nature descriptor to climbing, hiding or stealing. You may use the level benefit to replace a lost Nature descriptor.

Level 10

Luck of the Devil: When acting alone or at the forefront of the test for a thief class skill (i.e. you’re the one rolling the dice), you may choose a twist or condition for a failed test. In a group test, you choose which character is hit with the worst condition. Make the choice for twist or condition before the GM describes what the twist would be.

Spider: Once per town phase, you may do one of the following:

  • Assign an institution you control or that is under your protection to the town watch for the duration of your stay.
  • Appoint a friend or enemy to an office in a town institution.
  • Modify a town law with a new restriction (must/must not) or penalty that remains on the town’s ledgers going forward.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone! Take This. (Part II)

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:00
Loot by Rebekah Bennington

Hello friends!

Here is some more gear that might help your adventurers survive the dangerous world of Torchbearer

You’ll find more new items in the previous post in this series:

Availability indicates the type of settlement in which a piece of gear can be purchased. It’s a hierarchy from greatest availability to most-restricted availability:

  • All Settlements
  • Remote Village
  • Busy Crossroads
  • Bustling Metropolis

For instance, if something is available in a Remote Village, it can also be found in a Busy Crossroads or Bustling Metropolis. 

ItemCostInventoryAvailabilityArmorBuff CoatOb 3Worn/torso 1Bustling MetropolisCoat of PlatesOb 3Worn/Torso 1Bustling MetropolisClothingScarfOb 2Worn/neckAll SettlementsWool SweaterOb 2Worn/torso 1All SettlementsContainerFrame PackOb 2Worn/torso 3Busy CrossroadsPurseOb 1Worn/torso 1
or Belt 1Busy CrossroadsEquipmentChalkOb 1Pack 1Busy CrossroadsSquare-Backed
HatchetOb 2Pack 1 or
Hand/carried 1Busy CrossroadsFoodPickled HerringOb 3Pack 2All SettlementsSack of FlourOb 2Pack 6 or
Hand/carried 2All Settlements Descriptions Buff Coat

A heavy leather coat and skirt made from hide. Acts as leather armor but can be used twice per conflict rather than once.


Used to mark areas. Counts as supplies for Cartographer, Dungeoneer, Pathfinder or Scout when appropriate. Three uses.

Coat of Plates

Overlapping metal plates riveted inside a leather garment. Acts as leather armor but deflects spears, arrows and bolts.

Frame Pack

A sturdy wooden frame with straps to which one can lash items. Frame packs can hold up to 8 slots. Counts as a factor in Fighter and Dungeoneer tests.

Pickled Herring

A small cask of herring in brine. 1d6+1 preserved rations.


A leather or cloth bag that can hold two slots of coins or gems only.

Sack of Flour

A large sack of flour. Supplies for 3d6 Cook tests.


+1D to resist or recover from the effects of cold and draft.

Square-Backed Hatchet

+1D to Laborer tests for clearing brush, chopping wood and pounding nails.

Wool Sweater

+1D for resisting the effects of cold and wet.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bring on the Magic! (Part IV)

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 13:00
The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, 1886

Hello friends!

I’ve got a couple more magic items for you this week. In D&D terms, the Pair Dadeni, in particular, is closer to an artifact than a magic item. Both are very powerful and adventures or even whole campaigns can hinge on them.

You can find items from past entries here:

If you use any of these items in your game, please tell us about it. Enjoy!

Myr’s Magnificent Manor

This exquisite puzzle box is crafted of linden and rosewood with inlays of walrus tusk and pewter. The priceless treasure was once the crowning achievement of the Enchanter Myr of Svanland. Slats, cunningly hidden hinges and pivots allow one to manipulate the box in a multitude of ways. If one can discern its secrets, it can unfold into a comfortable manor house complete with a hearth, a hall with trestle table and benches, a private chamber that can comfortably sleep three people, a study and storage.
Effect: Unfolding the puzzle box into a manor requires an Ob 3 Lore Master test, though it will refold itself without a test upon command. In Camp, the manor provides shelter from the elements, tools for Cook, +1D to recovery from Exhausted for those who sleep in the bed, space to keep one magician’s library and space to store 12 slots worth of inventory. There is room for others to sleep in the hall, but they do not get a bonus to recovery. The puzzle box will lose its  magic if damaged.
Inventory: Pack 2
Type: Magical container

Pair Dadeni

The legendary Pair Dadeni of Valland—the Cauldron of Rebirth—is much sought by adventurers and warlords. The legends say that any dead creature, be it human or beast, placed within the black cauldron returns to life. Crafted by giants, the vast iron cauldron is said to be as big as a lake, and perhaps it could masquerade as one if buried in the earth.
Effect: Anything dead placed within the cauldron returns to life on the following dawn. The resurrected being permanently loses one nature descriptor of the GM’s choice and erases the Dead condition. If a living being is forcibly placed in the cauldron, it arises as Deathless, slave to the will of the one who sacrificed it. If a living being willingly climbs into the cauldron, it will shatter. Its magic will be destroyed forever and those given new life by it, whether living or Deathless, will die.
Inventory: Special. The cauldron is so vast, only a team of giants could hope to move it.
Type: Magical container

Deathless Nature 4Might 5Guarding, Pursuing, SlayingInstinct: Obey the master.Type: Undead

Special Rules: Cauldron Born. Animated and enslaved by the magic of the cauldron, the Deathless are mute, undead horrors. They cannot speak and cannot be reasoned with. Nor will they flee (save from those invoking the Fury of the Lords of Life and Death). They never tire and they never stop when following their master’s orders. However, they will not act on their own accord. Without orders they are quiescent.

Hit Points Flee

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating. Note: Deathless will never engage in Convince or Drive Off conflicts. They cannot Riddle but they can be Tricked.

Armor: Whatever armor the Deathless wore in life. Chain, shield and helmet are common.

Capture — +2D — — Tireless
Pursue — — — +1s Deathless Description

A mockery of human form, the Deathless are mute, tireless, undying slaves to the will of the one that created them. Their mouths are sewn shut and their eyes burn like fiery coals.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Start Your Digging

Thu, 08/29/2019 - 13:00
Caving by Michael Prescott

Hello friends!

Recently, Luke and I have been discussing the Dungeoneer skill. The skill is great, but our feeling is that we’ve overburdened it. Right now it governs both climbing and trap disarming—two things adventurers are likely to get up to a lot in dungeons.

At the same time, there’s one thing that gets short-shrift in Torchbearer’s skills: digging. It’s covered by the Laborer skill, but there’s not much in the way of diversity of obstacles. Our players are probably unusual in that they absolutely adore digging—a hold-over from our Burning THAC0 days when we had a Burning Wheel dungeon delving campaign. In those days, there was nothing that could earn you MVP faster than coming up with a clever way to use the Ditch Digging skill (in our early, impoverished days we once scraped together enough cash to cover a lifestyle maintenance test by retrenching latrines…). The dwarf, with his magical Excavation skill, was like unto a god.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that we’re toying with adding a new skill to Torchbearer: Sapper.


Life underground has its own rules. Sapper are experts in the unpredictable dynamics of digging and defending in the darkness below.

Sappers dig tunnels, collapse them and set traps for the unwary.
Beginner’s Luck: Will
Help: Alchemist, Laborer
Supplies: Sulphur, lumber, grease

Tunneling Factors Tunnel Type+Length+MaterialCrawlway (1)Short (1)Earth (0)Shaft (2)Long (2)Clay (1)Tunnel (3)
Stone (2)

Sand (3) Tunnel Traps Factors Setting Trap TypeDisarming TrapsPit (1) + Material factorsTripwire and open pit (1)Tripwire alarm (2)False floor (2)Deadfall (3)Pressure plate (3)Spear or crossbow mechanism (4)Complex and multipart mechanisms (4)Gas and smoke mechanisms (5)Explosives (5)Explosives (6)Sigils or runes (6)

What do you think? I know there’s been a fair bit of conversation about disarming traps on the forums and the Mordite Press blog, but do your players ever set traps? Do they tunnel? Let’s talk about it!

Start your digging.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Don’t Bug Out

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 13:00
Bridge to Nowhere by Todd James

Hello friends!

You know what you can never have enough of as a Torchbearer GM? Monsters. I’ve been experimenting with some fun new critters inspired by the arthropods all around us, and Luke has been experimenting with a new stat block. I can’t replicate it exactly in WordPress, but this is a close approximation.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on both!

Fire Beetle Nature 3Might 2Burrowing, Feeding, ScuttlingInstinct: Scavenge for food.Type: Beast

Special Rules: Fire Gland. Each gland gives off light equivalent to a candle. If skillfully removed (Hunter, Ob 3), the glands (hand/carried 1 or pack 1) will continue to provide illumination for some time (at the beginning of each new adventure phase, roll 1d6; on a result of 1 or 2, the luminescence fades). If the glands are ruptured, the chemical inside will burn flesh, wood and cloth.

Hit Points Kill
7Drive Off

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating.

Armor: Carapace (protects on a roll of 3-6; arrows, spears and bolts ignore this armor).

WeaponConflictADFMBurning MandiblesKill
Drive Off+1s — — — BurrowingFlee/Pursue+1D — — +2D Fire Beetle Description

These red and black beetles are between 2 feet and 3 feet long. Each has three glowing glands—two above their eyes and one near the back of their abdomen. They can burrow and are found deep underground. Their mandibles are coated with a natural chemical that causes burning pain.

Formian Guardian Nature 4Might 4Burrowing, Hunting, Spitting AcidInstinct: Lurk in a burrow and wait for preyType: Beast

Special Rules: Ambush Attacker. Formians like to burrow into the earth and lurk just below the surface, waiting for prey to walk upon their hunting grounds. When they sense the vibrations of footsteps, they strike from below! If characters fail to detect the presence of an Formian, the first one to walk into the ambush must roll Health vs. the Formian’s Nature. Suggested failure result: Twist. The character is buried in the earth by the Formian’s eruption and trapped until rescued or eaten.

Hit Points Flee/
7Drive Off

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating.

Armor: Chitin. Absorbs one point of damage from an opponent’s attack or feint. Once successes are counted and before damage is applied, reduce damage by one. After use, roll d6: on a 1-3, the chitin is damaged and doesn’t provide further benefit. On a 4-6, the chitin is still usable. Maces and warhammers negate chitin’s effect, but the Formian must still check for damage when hit by them.

WeaponConflictADFMCorrosive AcidKill
Drive Off — — +1D — Crushing MandiblesKill
Drive Off+1D — — — Grasping LegsKill
Drive Off — — — +1sTremorsenseFlee
Pursue+1D+1D — — Formian Guardian Description

A massive six-legged arthropod the size of a pony, with a voracious taste for flesh. They are blind but are extremely sensitive to any sort of vibration. Formians burrow into earth and lurk below the surface, waiting for vibrations to indicate prey is above. Formians are capable of spitting a corrosive acid that turns their prey into a viscous jelly ready for consumption.

While Formians are usually solitary predators, some shell-shocked adventurers tell tales of venturing into the Below and discovering nesting caverns swarming with the horrifying insects.

Giant Centipede Nature 4Might 3Creepy-Crawling, Hunting, ScavengingInstinct: Paralyze them and devour later.Type: Beast

Special Rules: Paralyzing Venom. The giant centipede’s paralyzing venom incapacitates victims. Anyone knocked out of a conflict with a giant centipede can only be brought back into a conflict if the Breath of the Burning Lord invocation is used upon the character. The Defend action cannot replenish the disposition of paralyzed attackers who have not been treated by the invocation.

Hit Points Flee/
8Drive Off

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating.

Armor: Rubbery hide. If targeted by a successful or tied Attack or Feint in a fight, roll a d6. On a 4+, the rubbery hide absorbs one point of damage. On a 1-3, the rubbery hide fails to protect you. You can only make this roll once per fight. Spears, bolts and arrows ignore this armor.

WeaponConflictADFMParalyzing VenomFlee/
Drive Off+1D — +1s — Scuttling LegsFlee/
Drive Off — — — +2D Giant Centipede Description

A three- to -six feet long predatory segmented arthropod with many legs. Some grow even bigger. They have a set of savage, pincer-like legs just behind the head that they use to inject their prey with a paralytic venom. They are often found creepy-crawling and feeding among the corpses of recent battles and massacres, especially in dungeons.

Giant Wasp Nature 2Might 2Buzzing, Nesting, StingingInstinct: Sting! Kill! Rawwr!Type: Beast

Special: Painful Sting. A wasp’s sting automatically impedes its victim (-1D to opponent’s next action following a successful Attack or Feint).
Vulnerable to Fire. Wasps suffer an extra point of disposition loss against fire (torches, balefire, etc.).

Hit Points Flee/
5Drive Off

Other Conflict Hit Points: Within Nature: Roll Nature, add successes to Nature rating. Outside of Nature: Roll half Nature. Add successes to Nature rating.

WeaponConflictADFMBuzzing WingsFlee/
+1s — — +1D
+1s Buzzing WingsDrive Off
Kill — — — +1D
+1sStingerKill+1D — +1s — Giant Wasp Description

These aggressive insects are as large as a human’s head and armed with a deadly stinger. They live in elaborate hives made of paper-like material (good for starting fires or making incendiaries).

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs