Actual Play – Sour Beer (5/25/2014)

torchbearer-rpgGM: Sean Nittner
Players: June Garcia, Morgan Hua, and Brian Williams
System: Torchbearer
Adventure: Under the House of the Three Squires

Not having anything else on my schedule I ran an impromptu game of Torchbearer. It took us a little while to find a group, and then a little while to find a space, so once we got rolling there was only about two hours to play… but man how much we got done!

To House or not to House

At the last moment I was faced with a conundrum. Run Stone Dragon Mountain, which only exists right now as a series of notes for wandering monsters, a google doc with half the locations, and a pinterest board with art ideas. Or run House under the Three Squires.

Unsure of myself I folded and ran the House. We had little time and I wanted to get the best out of it. In retrospect, I should just be flinging Stone Dragon at anyone that will play it from now on until I have it fully developed and tested.

Character Selection

It’s worth noting that the iconic characters are not all individually prepared for adventure. For example between Taika, Ulrik, and Gerald, none of them have a tinderbox. Hmm. We realized this after the first turn when someone wanted to light a torch. Fun times. Taika had an open slot in her pack so I gave her the option of having a tinderbox in it, but after that they were pretty much on their own.

It seem like a GM with new players serves the game well to tell everyone that they should have a source of light, a source of food, and perhaps a tool or spell component in their pack. For more experienced players though, let them be figure it out.

The players selected Taika, Ulrik, and Gerald. After the adventure introduction each of them chose goals and then gave a little snippet of their character’s description. For Taika and Gerald we go a look at their raiment. Ulrik, we saw a flashback of him giving last rights to a man, then pilfering the coin purse of the dead man’s body.

Adventuring – Turn by Turn

Instinct – After inspecting the wreckage in the house, Taika identified the scales as belonging to kobolds [Ob 2 Hunter. Success]. With this knowledge in hand she strode forward confident she was prepared…

Turn 1 – …but not expecting the first set of stairs she walked down to collapse on her. With the help form Ulrik who was holding the torch behind her, she leapt back to safety [Ob 2 Health. Success]

Turn 2 – Sturdy rope in hand, Gerald quickly started tying knots and loops in it to make a rope ladder. He secured it to a rafter in the building and they safely descended [Ob 3 Weaver. Success].

Turn 3 – Below, seeing the rubble stacked in on corner and hearing a whining noise behind hit, Gerald quickly set to uncovering the what ever was under (or in this case behind) the stack of debris. His friends helped but it was tiresome work, made worse by the increasingly loud whining and pawing sounds. [Ob 1 Laborer. Failure. Condition: Exhausted for Gerald, Hungry and Thirsty for the others]

Finding the emaciated Pomeranian in the wine cellar was no threat, they opted to make camp in the larger cellar and try to recover from their weariness.

Camp Phase

Events – Lucky Break! One of the patron of the in had died during the skirmish and his body had been propped against the door as well under the debris. Upon moving them, Ulkrik found the man had a scroll with a Blessing of the Lords of Light and Darkness on it. Wow!

Instinct – Before doing much of anything else Gerald set about making food for his compatriots. He cooked up a lovely meal [Cooing Ob 2 [3 from exhausted] Success, after using a Of Course! with Needs a little Salt-wise] and everyone ate, including the dog.

Check – Taika took some of the wood from the collapsed stairwell and fixtures and scraps off cloth off the dead man to assemble a few more sturdy torches [Survivalist Ob 2. Success]

Check – After a good meal, Gerald found himself a comfy spot in the corner to rub his feed and rest his weary head. [Health Ob 3 to remove Exhausted. Success].

Adventure Phase

Though fed and no longer hostile to the adventures the small dog now had the energy to go find his master. He tried to go through the cellar door but it was closed and the adventures weren’t going going to open it for him.

Turn 1 – Inspecting the wine cellar, Ulrik realized there were four in tact casks of the famed Three Squires Sour Beer. He proposed to haul all four back up to the surface and take them back to Skogenby to sell! Carrying them up the rope ladder though was a challenge (Laborer Ob 2. Fail. Twist). As they toiled they didn’t realize the dog had gotten the attention of a kobold patrol. While they were all in the wine celar, the kobolds snuck in, slammed the door shut and and knocked the pile of furniture and debris back down in front of he door. Snickering to themselves, they were eventually chased off by the loud barking of the dog.

Turn 2– Inside the cellar, Ulrik was not deterred. With a hammer and spikes he started disassembling the door jam so the entire door could come through it. Though unskilled in such matter’s it’s easier to take things appart than it is to put them together, especially when the promise of gold and freedom is on the other side. With aid of his companions Ulrik cleared the path (Carpenter Ob 2. Success)!

Turn 3 – Though the brigands talked of eating the dog, it was all skin and bones. Eventually Taika decided to tame the wild beast by offering it a bit more food and some kindness. The others joined, trying to scratch it and say kind words. It worked, but god was the little dog stubborn, it just wanted it’s master. By the time they called it their own, all of them were reconsidering eating it! (Hunter Ob 2. Fail. Condition: Angry). Taika named the pooch after the inn’s namesake drink: Sour Beer.

Kegs in hand, the set out for Skogenby!

Town Phase

When they arrived in town a dance was being held in the center of Skokenby in celebration of a good harvest. All who joined had their spirits uplifted by the revelry (Remove Angry).

In the Market, Taika traded three of the kegs and bought herself a bow! (Ob 3 Resources Text. Success)

We wrapped there as we were out of time, and didn’t have time to do lifestyle costs, but had they succeeded (they had no conditions to recover or taxed nature) they may very well have walked out of Skogenby Fresh! (Shudder the thought).

Thoughts on this game

By the Hands of the Lords of Entropy this group was lucky! Rolling not only a lucky break on the camp and on the town, but also getting just what they needed at every turn. Some of this was due to me starting them off with 1 Fate and 1 Persona at the start of the game, but their rolls (and my rolls for that matter) were also on fire!

I should have required a Pathfinder check to get back to town as well as doing the Artha award but we were cutting it too close on time (Morgan had to be in another game) so I just thanked them all and send them off to plunder other’s tombs.

Morgan was a good sport in the game, and played Ulrik really well, but the game was too crunchy for him (more details here, scroll to the bottom). I’m still working on putting the fiction first and not saying “okay, two turns have passed, your torch is out” but rather saying “After lighting your way while the rope ladder was made and descending safely, your torch burns down to it’s embers”. I think that will go a long way towards the players not feeling like there is so much crunch to the game.

First time the dog has been named. I loved it! Sour Beer FTW.

Next time I run it’s Stone Dragon Mountain. It’s happening!