Torchbearer*World?

edited April 2014 in Story Games
I recently picked up Torchbearer, and while I love the theme and how it handles gear and stuff (gives me Darksouls vibes*) I just can't seem to grok the Mousguard mechanics. The interplay of Persona, Wises, Nature and the other stats (you can use half your stat unless you have a skill in it, but you can tag your Nature or use your Wise...). I'm still working at it, because damned if I'll let a gaming system defeat me. I'll surely curse my own stupidity when it finally clicks.

That said, I can't help but think to my current favorite system (Powered by the Apocalypse); how feasible/difficult would it be to make a Torchbearer hack? I can see keeping the Conditions-as-HP, the limited carrying capacity and the scene/action-based time-keeping. Would that even work? Would the freeform nature of *World be able to replicate the very strict game of attrition, opportunity cost and risk-reward?

(*if I ever get to run a Torchbearer game, it would probably be set in the Darksouls universe)

Comments

  • That's an interesting question. I think you could do Torchbearer Lite by leveraging a lot of the *World mechanics. But the game is ridiculously tight, and filled with mechanical hooks all over the place. But I think it's possible. Off the cuff...

    "Tell them to mark off a condition" is an obvious hard move. The conditions themselves are less obvious, because of how they tie into a lot of the mechanical hooks in Torchbearer, hooks that don't exist in a *World game. They give small penalties, small bonuses, work into the conflict disposition, the helping rules, Wises, etc. But they're necessary, and they're part of the ongoing pressure.

    The Grind is fairly easy to play out: it even follows the typical Countdown structure. You just leverage it whenever someone makes a move.

    The cycle of resources is a big extra pressure. You'd need a good way to replicate that.

    Inventory is easy enough, just port the slots system right over. It's simple to fit in.

    The biggest problem, though, is that characters advance in Torchbearer: they slowly advance their skills and other resources by using them in risky ways. You can't emulate that very well in *World games, which are about increasing your options in a situation. Nothing ever makes those options substantially better, as in raising them beyond the 10+/7-9/6- scatter.
  • Sure, why not?

    The main problems I would see would be that the existing *W mechanics have problems dealing with:

    * Incremental actions (good move design tends to resolve conflicts and develop new situations quickly)
    * Situational modifiers (these are not easy in a system where only the players roll and middle outcomes are preferred)
    * Timing issues (different moves tend to imply different time-scales, which makes it hard to handle actions in a "1 per round"-type system

    Assuming you're willing to jettison the basic concept of the "AW conversation" (player moves alternating with MC moves), there's no reason you couldn't design your own moves which are appropriate to a Torchbearer-esque style of play. The issues I just outlined aren't that difficult to re-design, I think.

    I've been working on a traditional dungeon crawl game which is not entirely un-AW-like, mechanically.

    Here's some inspiration for you, perhaps:

    D&D as DW moves

  • The biggest problem, though, is that characters advance in Torchbearer: they slowly advance their skills and other resources by using them in risky ways. You can't emulate that very well in *World games, which are about increasing your options in a situation. Nothing ever makes those options substantially better, as in raising them beyond the 10+/7-9/6- scatter.
    Exactly right!

    There's also the whole reward cycle in Torchbearer, with Artha and all that stuff. You'd have to think about how that would work, and make sure it still does.

  • edited April 2014
    That's kinda what I was thinking; *World doesn't do penalties well, especially accruing penalties, and the mechanics are fairly hands-off in general. There would have to be a lot of extra design to make the rules more granular, rather than the broad/narrative rolls of *World. And if you're doing that, you may as well just stick with the Torchbearer rules.

    Also: "Torchbearer lite" *ba-dum-tsh* Nice one. Hehehe
  • edited April 2014
    ...I actually hadn't noticed that pun. :D

    Alternately, instead of increasing the granularity, you'd have to find places to hook into the mechanics for the various Conditions. Maybe being Angry causes you to hold 1 fewer than you would with moves. (e.g., if you hold 3 from a move that lets you examine the room, you hold 2 instead.) Then, moves that focus on preparation and caution would give you hold. Being Angry would push you towards more impulsive, risky actions that don't require hold.

    Hm. There's some interesting design space there.
  • Not bad!

    Another place to get some mechanical hooks is to remove certain options from specific Moves, so that when the player has to "choose 1", they can't choose that option anymore.

    Hmmm, maybe having the consequences a GM can choose be dependent on the player's condition? Like, you can 'Incapacitate a Character' as a GM Move, but only if they are Exhausted?
  • I'm tinkering around with something in a similar design space right now. I don't have much to show off yet.

    Here's my current approach. Apocalypse World treats the conversation as continuous, to be interrupted occasionally by moves. Compare that to Sundered Land games. They each have their own conversation and their own procedures, and if you want continuity, you have to string them together by reusing fictional elements from one game in another.

    I'm treating those as two reference points on a spectrum. Somewhere between them, there's the idea of subsystems that work like nested moves. Instead of nanogames, mega-moves. For example, right now I've got a parley system which starts with "When you converse with another character, you can enter a parley," and continues, "As long as you parley, you can avail yourself of the parley moves." The parley moves (read a person and seduce or manipulate, basically) can be invoked when you're in parley and only when you're in parley. There are also a very few basic moves that span subsystems.

    (AW's special combat moves work kind of like this, too!)

    I definitely want to hit the danger-heavy dungeon crawl feel that Torchbearer strives for. I haven't quite gotten there yet. I've got parley and hexcrawling ready to playtest, but none of the rest yet.
  • If anyone wants to compare notes and/or brainstorm on this, I'd be game.
  • Yes, please! I'm in.
  • Well, let me tell yous all a little more about what I've got so far, and the way I've framed the problem for myself.

    I'm tentatively calling my game "Down There." It has some basic moves that include an "act under fire" type general move, a helping/hindering move, and harm. I also have a Parley minigame, and a Travel minigame. (I've tied experience directly into helping/hindering and Parley, to encourage ~drama in the depths~.)

    I'm envisioning a Delve minigame, and a Skirmish minigame.

    The Delve minigame would be my answer to the Grind. Procedurally, it involves the PCs proceeding slowly into an area, evaluating the opportunities and dangers in a place, interacting with those, and then moving on—lather, rinse, repeat until you wind up in a Skirmish or something else. Time, light, and stamina are the depleting resources.

    In particular, a lot of what you're doing is spending time to ask more questions. This is what you do in a dungeon instead of reading a sitch in every room. You're going over everything with a fine toothed comb, and asking after treasure, traps, hazards, secret doors, etc. The longer you spend looking things over, the more questions you can ask. But the more time you lose, and the more opportunities the MC to set up badness and follow through.

    Since the Delve is a minigame unto itself, we could say that it has its own moves. And we could have it that those moves deplete time in increments, but non-Delve moves don't. That lets us control the countdown aspect of the Grind a little better.

    Does this sound plausible?
  • edited April 2014
    It does. The basic idea is quite sound, and a nice nod to the Torchbearer mechanics.

    The main issue with *world-style moves for dungeon crawling is that making things like running out of ammo or torches or time dependent on a die roll (a move which uses one, in other words) means you can't estimate your resources or your risk as easily. There's more guesswork and less certainty.

    This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but may frustrate players looking for a way to find an edge. I like the idea of building certainty into it via moves. For instance, you could have something like:

    "Search Room" -
    [list of questions]
    On a 10+, ask 3 questions. On a 7-9, ask one question. On a 6-, MC makes a move, likely a roll for wandering monsters.

    This shows how effective your initial look over the room is: what do your keen senses and experience help you pick up right away?

    After this roll, you may keep searching, more carefully: you may ask as many additional questions as you like, but each one increments the Time counter by 1.

    (In my own thought experiment, which I'm fooling around with at home, I have a simpler version which is: 10+ you find it quickly, 7-9 you don't find it yet, but you can spend extra time to find it [or roll again with a bonus], 6 or less, you don't find it. But that doesn't help with your idea of using the Torchbearer-esque Grind or AW-style questions and answers.)
  • edited April 2014
    It almost feels like a 7-9 should give the player the choice whether they want to advance the clock and succeed, or give up and find nothing. Like a reverse concession; instead of earning a Check for making a concession, you earn a success for advancing the clock? It would add a bit more control/decision-making into the player's hands.

    Just spitballing.
  • Another thing to bear in mind here is that AW games really only work when moves are made by one person at a time—with, at most, one person assisting. You don't want a setup that requires every party member to roll the dice every time they enter a room.
  • edited April 2014
    I dunno. Other people have said this, but part of why Torchbearer works is because it's so, so finely tuned.

    It works because the way you get better in Wheel games, it works because of The Grind, it works because the game is tightly tied to putting overmatched characters in situations where the sense of risk is balanced against their ability to assess and work the dungeon. All the little mechanics add up and work together.

    Especially if the impetus for this is: "I don't really get/like the Mouse Guard system" (which is fine!), then you shouldn't be trying to replicate that, making mini-game adaptations of another system seems like the wrong way about.

    If you're instead like: "Okay, I want to make a game about heroes before they were heroes, when they had to scrabble for every last copper." and then work out from there, I think you'll find something more organic. Maybe some of those inspirations will be similar. But I'd start more from that premise and "what do you want to do" rather than "how do I port Torchbearer"?


  • Fair enough. I wasn't seriously considering doing it, the whole thing was more of a mental exercise which I posted in the hopes of sparking interesting design discussion (which it did! yay!). The 'cumulative penalties' and subtle negative impacts are a very interesting area of *World design that hasn't seen a lot of attention.

    That said, I'm *still* having trouble grokking the Torchbearer rules. Maybe I just don't assimilate rules when reading on pdf? Maybe I've just been too tired/preoccupied lately to focus? This kind of stuff has always been my meat and drink, but now it feels like I'd need a 'how to play' step by step or someone to explain it to me or something. I feel dumb. :P I must be getting old *waves cane at young wippersnappers with their newfangled Hexcrawls and card-based resolution systems.*
  • Torchbearer is very hard to assimilate when it's all on the page. I suggest printing out a character sheet, filling it out as per the instructions, and then using it as a reference for your reading. But, that might just be because I learn by doing. Really, though--it relies on tracking various bits of information, so it's a little too big to fit all in your head. (Note that it uses a good number of physical tracking mechanisms.)
  • Ah, actually "playing along" is a good idea. Thanks!
  • You have provoked some really interesting looks into the design space of *World games, though. I like the stuff that's popping up here. I think you could totally do "*World as inspired by Torchbearer", once you get a handle on how the systems click.
  • The first, most important thing, would be a deconstruction of the Torchbearer systems to plot out the 'pace' and the expenditure of the myriad resources. I'm re-reading the rules again (with the sheet handy this time) and it feels like everything has the potential to be 'hitpoints'. It reminds me of a lot of cooperative boardgames like Red November or Forbidden Desert; If X reaches 0 you lose, if Y reaches 0 you lose, if you have too much Z you lose. But sometimes regaining X costs you Y, and sometimes getting rid of Z will lose X as well. In these kinds of games, you have to keep a dozen plates spinning, watching for the one that's most wobbly.

    Similarly, in TB, each resource is a spinning plate that you have to maintain, often risking another resource in the process. You've got Light, Resources, Items, Skills, Circles, Conditions, Nature and a bunch of others (Fate? I'm not there yet in the rules) that all interact on some level, and they all push and pull against each other. That's the reason the game has so many cogs; they are all needed to interact.

    On the other hand, *World has very few cogs. To do an 'inspired by Torchbearer', the hack would need extra resources that can be gained and depleted. Fitting that into a *World framework would be a an important step, and not an easy one (since, as designed, *World eschews tracking many resources). However, they would not necessarily need to be the same distribution or concept as the TB resources. For example, each Condition could have a clock rather than an on-off state, or the Moves themselves could 'deteriorate'.
  • Bingo! It'd be interesting to see how that works in a *World game, and I think you could get a lot of traction out of building moves that are intended to degrade. Maybe each Move has a countdown clock, and you lose options from a Move as the venture grinds on.
  • edited April 2014
    Yeah, thought about it on the train home; degrading Moves really does feel like a prime, untouched design space for *World, and would certainly capture the feel of the stacking debuffs from the Conditions. Starting 'Fresh', full of optimism and Can-Do attitude, reflected in the great choices available, and slowly whittling away the best choices as you become too hungry, thirsty, tired, scared and angry to perform the task well.

    Though sadly I'm currently neck deep in my own project (shameless plug!) so as tempting as it is, I dunno if I could devote the time necessary to build a Hardcore*World style hack just now. If anyone wants to step up and give it whack, please be my guest (just be sure to post it here!)
  • Degrading moves is an interesting design space, for sure. It's done very nicely in this Cthulhu-esque X-Files-style *World game,for example:

    Black Stars Rise
  • Ooooh. I like that. I hate to steal it outright, but that's a good start. You could even say "while none of your moves are flipped, take +1 ongoing" to emulate the Fresh condition.

    Basic stats: maybe things like Wits, Vigor, and Nerves?
  • edited April 2014
    I like that Black Stars Rise take on it! I hadn't considered outright replacing a Move with another, I was thinking that the choices within the Move would be locked off if you had X condition. The flipping idea also has some interesting space for both tracking; If there are a number of Basic Moves equal to the number of Conditions, then you could track Conditions with the flipped moves and enforce the penalties of said Conditions, all rolled into one.

    Also, there's a certain amount of customization that can be had in the flipped Moves; this can be used to simulate Nature/Stock, Traits and/or Class; being Wounded would flip your Battle move, but the flipped Battle might be different for a Human, Dwarf or Elf.
  • edited April 2014
    You might do something like this:

    A turn is a 10min period of time in the dungeon. There are dungeon moves that take 1 turn to complete, like tossing a room and whatnot.

    After five consecutive turns without rest, you must rest for one turn or suffer the grind.
    After a skirmish, you must rest for one turn or suffer the grind.
    As long as you're encumbered, choose one: check "You can move quickly," or check "You can move quietly."

    When you suffer the grind, choose one of the following and check it.
    □ You can move quickly.
    □ You can move quietly.
    □ You don't leave anything you need behind or take anything unwelcome with you.
    □ You don't take -1 ongoing.
    □ You can benefit from another PC's aid.
    □ You can do things other than curling up in a ball whimpering without acting under fire (where the fire is: you just curl up in a ball whimpering).

    Any unchecked lines describe your current state.
  • edited April 2014
    You could do the Grind like this, actually...

    Have it be like the Fates from Dark Ages, a bunch of descriptive lines that feed into the impending doom of things. (Use the same for light sources, too! And when you don't have a light source, it means that you can't do certain things which require light.) Write the moves so that it makes sense for turns to be consumed by them. Each time someone makes a move, cross off the top line of the Grind.

    So, something like...

    There's trouble afoot.
    The pressure is mounting.
    The stress is almost unbearable.
    You need a reprieve NOW.

    For lights, it might be...
    The candle is burning bright.
    The candle is mostly melted.

    Then, have a Camp move, and treat it similarly to how Dungeon World does the "Perilous Journey" move. Your result, when you make the move, tells you how many options you can pick off of the list. One of them is "clear the Grind".

    Also, I like the idea of handling a skirmish similarly, if you really want to focus on exploration. One move, players can contribute to the roll by making Skirmish moves (which don't advance the Grind). One and done.

    I like your take on the Conditions, though I'm also fond of weakening moves. Going after fictional stuff like that is probably a better idea, though, since the fiction is where *World games live.
  • Do you think this would this work as an all around replacement for AW's harm? Or in addition to it and in parallel?
  • I think I would use it to replace Harm. In AW, Harm is a countdown to death. In Torchbearer, you've got a bunch of countdowns to certain doom, so you don't need to add Harm.
  • edited April 2014
    So, I think I have two solutions here. One cleaves more closely to AW, the other more closely to Torchbearer. The viability of either of these systems depends on having really good dungeon-delving moves, which I don't have yet (and am happy to take suggestions for).

    Solution #1 is dead simple and should do the trick, but it's very abstract. It uses Apocalypse World's base harm mechanic (or you can use AWDA's Fates), and the countdown clock. Grind is like a player-facing countdown clock. You have a number of dungeon exploration moves, and they all say something like, "take 1 turn to..." and end with "Mark 1 Grind." One of the moves is "Take a break," which lets you take a turn and clear your Grind. When you mark 6 Grind (or 4 Grind or however you want to do it), clear your Grind and take 1 harm (ap). This is compatible with the usual harm rules for weapons, armour, gangs and the like.

    Solution #2 uses Conditions à la Torchbearer. The way I'd do it is, you have the following conditions:
    1. Tired. You can move quickly, or quietly, but not both. If you're encumbered, you can't do either.
    2. Angry. Take -1 ongoing.
    3. Panicked. If you want to do anything other than shaking, it's acting under fire (and the fire is, you just stand there shaking)
    4. Cursed. You can't benefit from another PC's aid.
    5. Wounded. You can't aid or interfere with another PC.
    6. Sick. You have six days to get better or you're dead.
    7. Dead.
    You have a number of dungeon exploration moves, and they all say something like, "take 1 turn to..." and end with "Mark 1 Grind." When you mark 6 Grind (or 4 Grind or however you want to do it), clear your Grind and take a Condition in this order:

    tired > angry > sick > panicked > dead

    I'm using fewer conditions for the Grind but you contract them a little more slowly, 1 per hour maybe, instead of 1 per 40 mins. This is an easy dial to turn.

    One of the moves is "Take a break," which lets you take a turn, clear your Grind, and remove the Tired condition.

    You might also have one or more fresh boxes, which you can mark instead of taking a Condition. Or cheats and compromises, like, instead of marking a Condition, you can pick "you leave something behind, or take something with you" Kind of like hit points? Maybe?

    The MC also has a new move, "Apply a Condition as established." This is the main way to get cursed or sick, or wounded (eg. in skirmish, or whiffing an act under fire roll when physical danger is involved, and so on). For example, you might have an accident in which you're wounded, and then when you wade through muddy water I might say there's a risk it gets infected (ie., you get sick), or what have you.
  • So, I have a thought on #1. I haven't actually read Apocalypse World (I know! Shame on me!), but Monster of the Week has "harm moves" that the Keeper can trigger when someone takes harm. The harm moves get more severe as the Hunter checks off more harm boxes. (So a 0-harm move might be "fall prone", while a 4-harm move might be "fall unconscious".)

    So whenever the Grind hits, and you mark off a Harm segment, maybe the Dungeon Master can dictate a harm move. Maybe assigning a "condition" is a Harm move. So you'd keep a list of conditions, and when a player takes a point of Harm, give them a condition that goes with their current level of Harm, or lower.

    Another option: use the Dark Age style of crossing out Fates, but word it rules-specific like you suggested earlier. Pair that with Solution 1.
  • edited April 2014
    Yep, AW also has a similar Harm move! (And I hiiiiiighly recommend AW! You're missing out!)

    ETA on a reread, I see I didn't quite have a handle on what you were proposing; AW's harm move is a little different. BUT either way, what you're suggesting is worth a tumble in my head.
  • Bit of a random, stray thought; trying to replicate the Conditions of Torchbearer might not be the best approach. Instead, perhaps looking at the raison-d'être of the Conditions would bring fruit. I know this will sound very rambling, but bear with me (I'm mentally working through this myself as I write).

    Ultimately, Torchbearer is about penalties and bonuses. You use Wises, help and items to allow you to roll more dice. Environmental issues (light, weather, etc) reduce your number of dice. Some aspects of the rules allow you to reroll dice, other aspects of the game grant more dice to your opponent (who are opposing your own dice). And Conditions both remove dice or remove your ability to add dice. And all those bonuses and penalties add up to a single roll.

    The purpose of Conditions, mechanically, is to have a gradual reduction of effectiveness and options. The options that it removes are not ways to achieve success, but rather ways to improve your chance at success. Moreover, Conditions are a test-your-luck mechanic. This is important. Having a few does not guarantee failure, and you don't always earn them in any specific order. Since the game has so many moving pieces, Conditions can rattle a few of those pieces without being crippling (usually) until they get overwhelming.

    Personally, I feel that's pretty core to the experience; simulating the overall exhaustion from being in such a dangerous, hostile environment. They should feel like limitations of your body and spirit, and you can try to push beyond those limits. Using the specific Conditions as emotional or physical on/off switches is just the way the game seeks to simulate that exhaustion.

    The question then becomes; are there other ways to simulate the grinding, decaying effectiveness in a *World game without creating Torchbearer Condition analogues?
  • edited April 2014

    I came to some similar conclusions after tinkering for a couple of weeks. Right now I think, in a *W game, the most important thing is to have the players keep rolling the dice, and making sure you have vivid ideas about what can go wrong on a failed roll. This New Yorker story about cavers is definitely an inspiration for me right now, and I'll probably watch the Descent movies again soon. The most important thing about the Grind is to remind us that people can starve, or catch the flu, or break their legs from a fall, or drown, or get gangrene, or asphyxiate, or a meet any number of other awful fates when they're underground.

    In other words, maybe the best replacement for the Grind in a *W game is "Barf Forth Undergroundica"!

  • Lots of fun and intelligent stuff being said here: I very much agree.

    However, just for fun, as an alternative you might want to check out Undying, which is a diceless AW hack. Some of the mechanical devices and tricks used in that game could work quite well in a dungeon crawling *World game, I think (with some kind of Exhaustion or Terror meter replacing Undying's "Blood" pool).
  • It occurs to me; there's a game coming out sometime this year(?) called Darkest Dungeon. It's a horror dungeon crawl, where characters take physical and mental stress. When each character takes mental stress, they have to succeed at a test to avoid going off the deep end. That is, it works like AW Harm moves. I believe that what happens is unique to each character (or at least to each character class), so maybe each playbook has a different sort of "mental break" state.

    A thought to possibly chew on.
  • edited April 2014
    I have been working on a game in a similar space that is ultra minimal. Basically there are two moves: Exert Effort & Endure Hardship. The first is for you to do something, the second is when something is done to you (there are also Make Camp and Return to Town moves). Instead of stats players have energy tokens they can add to their rolls. You start with six and can add as many as you like to any roll. When you lose them, they don't come back until you make camp. These function as your health/condition track, as you get less effective the fewer of them you have. Also, the GM might grab one from you as the result of a hard move. At zero, you die.

    Conditions and tools are factored in as +1 or -1 bonuses. If you're trying to climb a slippery rock and you have a rope - hooray +1. If you don't have a rope and you're missing a torch - ugh -1. If you don't have a torch and you have a broken leg - minus two, sucker. Yeah, it's brutal.

    I've playtested it a few times and its getting close to what I like - a bunch of in over their head peasants on a horrible slog towards death. And who doesn't love that?

    I can share the documents if there's interest (although I am seriously thinking of borrowing those downgraded moves from Black Stars Rise!)
  • I'd be super interested to check them out, Keith!

    That minimalist energy mechanic sounds like a great solution to the 'grind' feel. Could I suggest that when you make camp, you regain all your energy BUT your max energy is reduced by 1? Making camp in a dungeon is not super restful; it's painful, uncomfortable and stressful (what's that sound?). You'd gain back some energy, but it would wear on you to do it too often. You would only go back up to your max energy by sleeping in an inn. Having a diminishing return on camping would prevent 'camp spamming', and would make for a much more difficult risk-reward decision.
  • Hmm. I'm not sure, because that would eventually make camp useless. I like that Torchbearer lets you make camp whenever, but every making-of-camp carries an inherent risk of awful things happening.
  • Make camp is not an automatic recovery. You roll 2d6 with modifiers depending on the suitability of the site (is it warm? dry? secure?). Here are the very in-progress pages: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Nn_OAO6qmzSDg4bG4xM0NYcDA/edit?usp=sharing

    There is going to be a list of non-fantastic obstacles for the players to face, which is the blah blah blah currently.

    Feedback very welcome.
  • I really like the scrounged together feel of your equipment list! That's going to stick with me and get reflected in my own game, I reckon!
  • edited April 2014
    You know, since we're sharing....

    image
  • edited April 2014
    @Keith,

    That is, hands down, one of my favourite AW hacks yet. Very nicely done! Reminds me a bit of Ghost Lines, in a way.

    My only qualm in running this game would be in terms of GM calls: when do you take away someone's energy, which moves do you make when, etc. Let's say that ogre hits the villager: what should the consequences be? It would be nice to have an appropriate default. (Remove one energy token seems reasonable, although perhaps too light.) This would be a requirement for this game to work, I think.

    Do you see "instant death" types of situations happening in this game, or for everything to work as a chipping away of a limited number of tokens?

    (I would also call "energy tokens" Vigor or something like that, but that's just me...)

    I feel like it might be nice to have some kind of character traits in play as well. For some reason, I'd think of the villagers in a certain town as all having stereotypical reputations: he's the strong but dumb one, he's the one who's always daydreaming, animals always seem to like her and listen to her, stuff like that.

    Not sure what the best way to bring that into play would be: maybe it would just be treated as a "tool" ("I'm going to use my strength as a tool to open this rusty gate") or maybe it would interact with the energy token economy somehow (you could "exhaust" the trait to get a +1, perhaps, or maybe spending an energy token when your trait applies gives you a +2 instead of a +1).

    I'm hesitant to add anything to such an elegant game, but there's something very village-y about being able to say that this character is the burly beekeeper and that one is the sweet-talking butcher.


    Edit: A couple more things.

    First, the "trouble" words could potentially throw up some not-so-inspiring combinations due to redundancy in the lists. For example, you could easily draw "Winter, Summer, Fall" or a similar uninspiring combination. I don't know if this bothers you, of course, but I think it's worth thinking about.

    Second, the whole premise here is "Underground: Where We Do Not Belong", but most of those Trouble words aren't likely to create anything underground or dungeonesque. Is that a disconnect in the design, or intentional? For example, if we draw "Excess, Family, Mayor", I doubt we're going to see torches in a dank dungeon, at least not as the first (or second, or third) thing that comes to mind. What's the intent of the game here?

    Third, what font is that (titles)? I like it a lot!
  • @creases,

    I love the idea of inventing your own "demi-humans" each time you play. And your lists very nicely tell us not only about who these people are but a bit about their culture, as well.

    I'd love to see some kind of prejudice/reputation list as well. Is your kind considered uncultured, or not tolerated in civilized society, or considered weak-hearted, or suspected of cannibalism? It would be up to the player to confirm or deny that reputation in play, of course.
  • edited April 2014
    @Keith, this is great stuff.

    The only thing that stands out to me is expending energy on moves: spending your precious HP for bonuses pre-roll seems like it'll often be wasted, especially since Endure Hardship's 7-9 is "lose one energy".

    Maybe something post roll? I could see something like: "At Great Cost: Lose half your current energy (rounded up) to move a result up one class (6- -> 7-9, 7-9 -> 10+) after the roll"

    You could even amp up the "you're going to bear some scars" part: "At Great Cost: Lose half your current energy (rounded up) to move a result up one class (6- -> 7-9, 7-9 -> 10+) after the roll. Your maximum energy goes down one as you suffer a permanent injury."
  • edited April 2014
    Thanks for the comments, folks!

    @Paul_T

    I agree about standardized stuff. I know there are things I am doing when I run it that need to be codified and written down. I just need to figure out what those things are!

    I haven't had any instant death situations yet. People tend to jealously horde their tokens and only use them when they really, really want to succeed. Usually about half the party dies, starting with the first death around half way through.

    Adjectives could be interesting to add to the professional nouns. That's a bit of what I was trying to get at with the memories from the village bit.

    "Winter, Summer, Fall" would potentially be a dull combination. My mind goes to a witch who has hexed the town into a perpetual winter. But if a group were uninspired, I suppose they could draw again. Other than season words, do you see anything that looks like a pitfall?

    I agree that the players are unlikely to go underground. As I was making the professions as realistic as I could I realized that stereotypical villagers would face very few perils emerging from the underground, even in a fantasy setting. But, I do like the idea of caverns because they close the party off from so many pleasant things: sun, air, aid. But then on the other hand, I've loved the troubles that have arisen from the word list. I'm sort of at an impasse as far as that goes. I have been brainstorming alternate titles, though, so that might tell me which way I'm leaning towards.

    And... font! http://www.dafont.com/benjamin-franklin.font

    @James_Stuart

    Expending energy pre-roll is brutal! But brutal is what I'm going for. I think you're idea of spending one token permanently might be a fair trade to move up a category - even without temporarily spending half your stash.

    EDIT: I remember the other thought - I am considering further splintering the dice results, so as to make spending energy (or vigor or whatever better name I come up with) more worthwhile. Maybe 5-, 6-7, 8-9, 10+, but I'm not sure what that extra middle result would be. Maybe for Endure Hardship 6-7 would be lose an energy whereas 8-9 would be gain a condition. Now I'm rambling...

    Anyway, thanks for the feedback! I'm going to try to make the GM section clearer and then if anyone else would like to run it, I'd be much obliged.
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