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The rise and fall of the Harbinger

As previously mentioned, I have been working on a system which is the evolution of my earlier Gravity Sinister work, also informed by my experience running OD&D over the past few years. This is coming to fruition as an integrated coupling of setting and rules. I am calling the project as a whole The Final Castle, after the fortress/dungeon which is the center of the games I am running with it.

Here is the background summary, which is also the intro to the current Player’s Guide draft. This draft is actually a text-complete finished document that has already seen some play-testing but will need to see more before I decide on the best way to release it.


Scion of the immortal Basmophael, the figure known only as the Harbinger claimed to herald the next phase of reality. The Harbinger moved inexorably across the known lands, unleashing monsters previously imprisoned in the dark places of the earth, and promising great power to those that would recognize the new dominion.

The arrival of the Harbinger was always preceded by a fortress that would tear itself from the ground. Then, the legions would pour forth, destroying all defenders. If the settlement was not annihilated entirely, the leadership would be replaced with a loyal servant, and the fortress would wither, soon becoming little more than a looming husk. Then the cycle would be repeated elsewhere.

The sempiternal courts took no action, assuming that they would be able to endure any human turmoil. The agents of Basmophael, however, infiltrated their hidden strongholds. Some surrendered and were corrupted. Others fought and were reduced to shadowy echoes of their former glory. Few remain.

Using subterfuge, an alliance of champions entered the Harbinger’s castle by means now unknown. With great hubris, the Harbinger had taken insufficient precautions against such a daring attack, and was subdued, though not destroyed, as destruction was beyond mortal power. The Harbinger’s armor was found to be a locus of Basmophael’s power, though it too was impervious. Unable to destroy the panoply, pieces of the armor were divided among the champions for safekeeping, but the Harbinger’s will was underestimated. Many of the panoply bearers that escaped have since been driven mad, compelled to return with the armor to the Harbinger’s fortress. Thus, the divided panoply remains held by occupants within the castle, each scheming to acquire the entire suit, as it is said to allow full control of the castle’s terrible armaments.

Unlike previous castles, the final castle has not withered, though neither has it belched forth new armies since the armor was disassembled. Rumors say that the Harbinger’s generals and creatures have fallen to internecine struggle. The final castle broods darkly over surrounding battlefields, which seem to be slowly expanding, inch by inch, day by day, despite the absence of any true fighting since the daring infiltration that seemingly ended the Harbinger’s war.

Two steps removed

Matt Finch just recently posted about an adventure design dilemma. He has a large number of areas that need consistent and thematic contents. There are, however, too many areas to make it practical to stock each individually. Thus, random tables for stocking. The choice is between many separate source tables versus one big table of results created from the results of said source tables (an X Y with Z complicated by A, with each variable drawn from a different table, or some similar composite).

I would suggest that the work involved in putting together the second sort of thing is a big part of what makes Vornheim easier to use than Seclusium. Despite the fact that Seclusium generates interesting results, they require a lot of post-processing. Which is time consuming. So it is worth realizing that what you are doing when you create tables like Seclusium is creating tables to create a table. That is (at least) two steps removed from something usable at the table compared to (potentially) only one step removed.

Related:

Monster design

Gus just posted about trick monsters, focusing on special attack modes (attacks that rust PC equipment, poison, and so forth). While I think attack modes can be a useful device to distinguish monsters, and can add to the puzzle nature of enemies, it is weaknesses and attack patterns that truly add distinctiveness to an enemy. Special attack modes can increase the danger of an opponent, and reward players for learning to avoid the attack (such as fighting poisonous giant spiders only from range), but can also make monsters more of a hazard to be avoided rather than a puzzle to be solved. This is not necessarily a bad thing–I certainly think pure hazard monsters have a place–but there are other opportunities available in monster design as well.

First, let’s review some weaknesses present in classic monsters. The basilisk can be petrified by its own gaze, though few guidelines other than requiring light at least equivalent to a torch are given. The bulette is AC -2 in most places, but only AC 6 under its raised crest and AC 4 at its eyes. Presumably those areas can be targeted using called shots. Chimeras have variable AC based on front, side, and rear. Dragons are vain, covetous, greedy, and vulnerable to flattery. Surprisingly, there seem to be few elemental vulnerabilities. Salamanders, which are fire based monsters, take an extra point of damage per die from cold attacks, and there are a few other cases like that, but, for example, while frost giants are immune to cold, they do not seem to take any extra damage from fire attacks. Many (all?) undead take damage from holy water. Rakshasas are killed instantly by blessed crossbow bolts. Puddings and oozes have a nice collection of reactions to various attack types that are too complicated to list here but have some interesting effects on gameplay. Giant slugs are not actually vulnerable to salt.

Many “vulnerabilities” are actually just the only way to damage a monster that is otherwise immune to attack. Lasting damage can only be dealt to a troll using fire or acid, for example, and wights can only be damaged by silver or enchanted weapons. This penchant for increasing monster danger by making them impervious to everything other than a few carefully chosen attack modes is appropriate for some creatures when easily intuited (ghosts being immune to physical blows, fire elementals being immune to fire, and so forth), but may not be the best approach in all cases.

Attack patterns are rarely seen in traditional D&D monsters, and this is a shame, because they potentially allow players to learn about monsters experientially in addition to via clues and rumors. 4E has a few nods in this direction, though they are more often phrased as capabilities and concerned more with balancing numbers than they are with encoding combat dynamics (the 4E approach to monster weaknesses was more about the four different defenses, which unfortunately are more about monster level than anything else). Giving some attacks a “recharge” limiting its ability to be used sequentially is a nice, usable mechanic, however.

I have been playing a lot of Dark Souls recently (more on that later in the form of a massive upcoming post), which has exceptionally good monster design. So as an exercise, I will stat up the Asylum Demon. Minor spoiler warning here I suppose, though this is only the first boss in the game. It is really part of the tutorial level, so I feel justified in potentially exposing some secrets. Now, this should be a massively punishing encounter if faced head-on, but should be possible to defeat, even for a basically equipped first level party, if approached intelligently. I added some touches of my own to help migrate from the video game to the tabletop context. I chose this monster in particular because it is essentially a physical beast that does not rely in its design on vulnerability to specific energy types or similar things and effectiveness fighting it should depend primarily on tactical decisions. Numerical scale assumes OD&D but would probably work okay in B/X or AD&D as well, with slightly lessened difficulty.

Here is a good video of the fight against the Asylum Demon.


Asylum Demon

Asylum demon gonna step on you (source)

Asylum demon gonna step on you (source)

HD 10, AC as chain (5/14), movement as encumbered human (lumbering walk and awkward flying). Any human not lugging a chest or similar oversized object will be able to outrun the asylum demon.

Asylum demons are horrific, bulbous, brutal demons. They are often guardians unable to range extensively from their post.

Several enemies near: horizontal weapon sweep attack, +10 vs. AC, 1d6 damage, compare one attack roll to all nearby enemies.

A good target at reach: hammer slam 2d6 damage, save (vs. stone?) for half.

No enemies near: fly awkwardly up towards biggest cluster of opponents and attempt to position for good attack next round. Any opponents that do not scatter additionally subject to stomp next round for 1d6 damage, save (vs. stone?) for half.

Weak in the mouth, back of neck, and rear shank. Called shot to the mouth is possible with reach (if adjacent or climbing/grappling) or missile weapons at -4. Accessing the back of the neck requires either jumping from above or climbing first. Successful attack against the mouth or rear shank deals +1d6 damage and to the back of the neck deals +2d6 damage (other additional backstab damage may also apply).

Immune to ranged attacks from human scale missiles such as arrows, bolts, or hurled spears. They “stick it its leathery hide ineffectually.”

Clues: it roars periodically, “exposing pink, fleshy mouth skin.” Anyone behind the demon should notice the “mottled, unprotected rear shank” (though note the demon will never expose this area unless proactively flanked). Consider including balconies or other high vantage points nearby to allow for jump attacks and make sure to mention them when describing the area initially. Asylum demons are huge, lumber brutes and their heavy treads can generally be heard though several walls.

Salvage: asylum demon hide is useful for making leather armor that is particularly protective versus piercing attacks (as plate versus piercing, 1d6 suits worth per demon skin). The weapons they carry are quite fearsome, but may require superhuman strength to wield effectively (yeah, this depends on some other subsystem or ruling that I am not going to get into here).


Is this too much text for a single monster? Perhaps. It is always hard to gauge for yourself how useful a writeup will be to others since, as the author, you already have a good idea in your head of what it is you are going for, but I think this compares favorably with many published monsters, and I think the trigger/action format, with important points emphasized, would be easier to use at the table.

The 2E monstrous manual presented foes as a collection of common game stats (AC, movement, HD, THAC0, etc) along with sections on combat, habitat/society, and ecology. While there are nuggets of useful game info buried within these page-long entries, and some creative world building, for purposes of running encounters it seems like some other categories might be more useful. Triggers for different kinds of attacks, clues to weaknesses, and guidelines for placement, as shown in the asylum demon entry above, are all candidates. Also, fears, hates, and desires. Some such things can often be derived from common knowledge (such as wild animals or carnivores being able to be distracted with rations or livestock), but other details may merit a mention (for example, the wraiths in the Vaults of Pahvelorn will often not molest intruders if they are brought sacrifices to drain). I clued that with remains of previous sacrifices.

All D&D examples in this post were drawn from the 2E Monstrous Manual because it was nearby.

Delegating dungeons and rotating referees

Hex crawl idea:

  1. Decide, as a group, on basic aesthetic (or agree to allow genre to evolve)
  2. Generate wilderness map (probably randomly), place starting town
  3. Each player creates one PC
  4. Each player creates one dungeon and places it on the map
  5. Each player creates a hook or rumor for their dungeon
  6. Players decide which hook to pursue
  7. Author of that hook is referee next session

If a dungeon is cleared, that player makes a new one, places it somewhere on the map, and adds new rumors to the main rumor list.

Map grows organically as needed.

This could be made more complex in various ways, resulting in a richer setting (each player also responsible for a town? a set of fleshed out random encounters? the encounter table for a given region? a custom class or race?), but I think one PC and one dungeon per player is the fertile core. Rotating referee duties spreads the prep load around and works against overly comprehensive world building. The juxtaposition of different styles creates a world with more diverse influences.

In praise of aborted projects

This blog has featured a succession of various rule sets and enterprises. Hexagram, Gravity Sinister (the “JRPG Basic” rules), and Wonder & Wickedness. There have also been others which I have not talked about publicly. Many of these will likely never see publication. Wonder & Wickedness is a 95% done thing with some commissioned art and publication arrangements, and though some details have not been finalized, baring unforeseen calamity, it will certainly be finished and released. I will have more to say about that in the future. Compiled house rules for my OD&D Vaults of Pahvelorn setting will definitely be a free PDF download at some point too, once I get the motivation to get back to working on those dungeons again.

The great thing about doing things this way is that one develops a basket of interesting and more or less complete subsystems, setting ideas, and frameworks that can be mined at will. I started working on something else recently, and found such a backlog to be extremely useful. Each time you roll the boulder a bit farther up the hill, and sooner or later something comes to fruition. At least that has been my experience. Expecting quick results is just asking for demotivation.

Obviously, if you make a commitment to others, you are obligated to deliver, but if you are working just for yourself, I do not think it is a bad thing to dart here and there, following the muse’s call and alighting on whatever takes your fancy, especially if that decreases the friction of getting started on something at all. I guess this is another way of saying, do not worry too much about throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks, especially in the context of hobby play/work, and that expecting everything to develop into some fully realized thing is both unrealistic and counterproductive.

Marking the dead

Sunday afternoon I spent running Barrowmaze in person, using my standard inchoate, experimental mix of new house rules. The PCs cleared out a good number of barrow mounds, but didn’t venture that far into the dungeon proper after a TPK (eaten by shadows). Both players ended up with halfling goblin PCs by the end of the session, after losing a magician, fighter, and cleric to the dungeon, along with a rather large number of retainers. What’s the point of all this. The deceased stamp! That is all.

IMG_7050 odd barrowmaze 600w IMG_7049 odd barrowmaze 600w IMG_7048 odd barrowmaze 600w

Dark lords of Necropraxia

I don’t even know what this is, but certainly it is something.


darkseid 789121-byrne_darkseid_d___k copyThe overworld of Necropraxia consists of the moon, ruled by Darkseid, and an orbital weapons platform directed by Lord Vader. Both lords occasionally intervene on the surface, but generally prefer to work behind the scenes and rarely deploy their forces directly, beyond the occasional bombardment from outer space. Darkseid is slowly expanding his mining operations over the entire surface of the moon, and has constructed many transportation gates to the surface to facilitate his eventual invasion. He abandons his lunar complexes regularly, however, which are quickly taken over by other, often nameless, things.

Star Wars AnniversaryAfter a freak accident in a research and development project, Vader and his starship were transported into orbit over Necropraxia. Lord Vader surveys the lands below from an orbital platform while he builds an artificial moon battle station and second moon, the Death Sun, which is designed to use newly discovered Necropraxian technology to channel energy directly from the sun. The chief scientists in his entourage believe that given control of the arcane resources on the planet below, a gate could be opened back to Vader’s original universe. The only problem with this plan is that those resources are currently under the control of other dark lords.

dracula Christopher Lee-DRACULA,PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) tumblr_mzex947QRr1spnykgo1_1280 copyThe surface of Necropraxia is the location of most active conflict, with the various dark lords in constantly shifting alliances. The seeming center of the world is mythistorical Transylvania, the domain of Count Dracula, which transects space and time, and is riddled with portals and doors to other places. Though Dracula’s military forces may seem limited compared to many other lords, the rocky landscapes and deep defiles of Transylvania are easy to defend, and the count is one of the least expansionist of the great dark powers, content to lurk within his realm, making temporary alliances only as needed.

hero-envy-doctordoom04The land of Latveria is ruled by Victor von Doom. One day, soon now, when his dark schemes come to fruition, he will march across the lands Necropraxia and all will bow before his rightful rulership. That is, if all those pesky adventurers stop getting in the way.

skeletor blog_skeletor_has_the_powerSkeletor, during one of his many attempts to seize the power of Castle Greyskull, disturbed some fundamental cosmic constraint and was flung, along with the castle, to Necropraxia. He has carved out the domain Terminia around Castle Greyskull, which he still has been unable to conquer. He seeks adventurers to venture into the depths of the castle and disable its defensive systems and guardians so that he may take full control of its power. He cares not about any treasure or minor technological weaponry recovered in the process. Rumor has it that the true power of the fortress can only be mastered by the possessor of the great power sword, which was split into two halves and lost. When the time is right, and Skeletor feels he has accumulated enough power, he plans to open a gate to Horde Prime and force all the other dark lords to bow to his inevitable supremacy (backed, of course, by interdimensional vampiric might of Hordak).

Magneto_Ascendant_Vol_1_1 copyIn New Utopia, Magneto’s realm, the vast majority the human population live as slaves to serve the superhuman mutant upper class. Actually, there are few mutants in Necropraxia, so Magneto has had to settle mostly for wizards, because at least they have some apparent powers, and thus a claim to superiority over mundane humanity. The psionically gifted are particularly welcome in New Utopia, and magneto regularly sends out undercover missions searching for worthy citizens.

bryagh Flight_of_Dragons_BryaghThe last of the surface realms is barely a realm at all, but instead a great smoking wasteland, presided over by the chaotic preeminence of the dragon Bryagh. His ruined lands were once rolling hills, but are now blasted with craters from his rage. The few civilized enclaves are tightly walled, and armed with great surface to air siege weapons. Despite the danger from dragon attacks (Bryagh has a preternatural nose for treasure, and will attack caravans and adventurers whenever possible to augment his glittering hoard), there is a strange attraction to living in this land of peril, it being one of the few states not ruled by the iron fist of a dark lord.

Lucifer_Liege_Luc_Viatour copyThe underworld is divided between Lucifer and Hades. Both claim dominion over the afterlife. Cast down from Heaven for hubris, the fallen angel Lucifer, the Morningstar, found himself in the depths of Necropraxia, a land already claimed by the older god Hades. Lucifer quickly rallied other fallen angels, demons, and those bored by Hades’ unchanging court to wage war for control of everything below the surface.

sean-opry-0004 copyThough Hades was taken by surprise by this radiant upstart, the Plutonian forces rallied, and a stalemate currently reigns, with a vast no-man’s land separating the domains of two underworld powers. Hades has the advantage in power, but the ambition of Lucifer is without limit, and he dreams of uniting all the dark lords (or at least their armies if the lords won’t submit), and leading the combined forces of Necropraxia in a siege on Heaven to redeem his wounded pride.


While discovering Necropraxia, I noticed the slightly disquiting fact that there were absolutely no women dark lords. Though there is no arguing gender politics with my twelve year old self, as partial recompense here is a list of some badass evil overlords who are also women.

  • Kitiara the Dragon Highlord
  • The wicked queen from Snow White
  • Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty
  • The Wicked Witch of the West
  • Soulcatcher and The Lady from The Black Company
  • The White Witch of Narnia
  • Morgan le Fay
  • Kushana from Nausicaa
  • Queen Bavmorda from Willow
  • The Queen of Hearts from Wonderland

Thanks to folks from G+ for helping me augment this list a while back, and also for suggesting a few of the pictures above.

OD&D dungeon monsters

Pages 10 and 11 of The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures (OD&D book three) contain tables for the determination of wandering monsters in the dungeon, one for each dungeon level, down to level six. These tables have eight to twelve entries each. In addition to containing information about implied setting, this collection of monsters functions in a certain way with other rules elsewhere in the game. While OD&D is robust enough to work just fine if other monsters are used, these linkages, and the roles that these monsters serve, are still interesting to consider.

Special monster attacks and defenses interact with equipment and character abilities. Monster defenses require special weapons to overcome. Silver weapons are required to damage lycanthropes, magic weapons are needed to combat gargoyles and many kinds of undead, acid or fire is needed to fully destroy trolls. Monster attacks can be resisted by certain defenses or cured by particular resources. The antidote to poison is the fourth-level cleric spell neutralize poison, petrification can be fixed by the sixth-level magic-user spell stone to flesh, elves are useful for resisting ghoul paralysis, mummy disease (which impairs recovery) can be handled with cure disease, basilisk gaze attacks can be reflected with mirrors, scrolls of protection are useful against entire monster groupings. And so forth.

Another pattern to note is that most levels draw monsters from the same set of categories, though not all levels have examples of monsters from every category. For example, magic-users only show up on levels two and deeper, and giant animals only appear on the first four levels. All the monsters in a particular category may not just be palette-swapped, but they do tend to broadly share qualities such as types of attack and vulnerabilities. The most common wandering monster categories seem to be: fighters, magic-users, undead, humanoids, giant animals, dragon types (though only on the deepest two levels). This is important because these categories communicate threat information to players that can be used profitably against more powerful variants of the same monster type.

The content triumvirate of monsters, equipment, and spells work together as a set of interconnected, opposing relationships. Monsters have strengths and weaknesses, which can be defended against, or exploited by, the tools available to players, which include those aforementioned categories. Replacing these elements with new, custom content is a common method of constructing a unique and surprising campaign setting. By no means do I wish to suggest that this is inadvisable. It may even be necessary to engage or challenge experienced players. However, it is probably worth considering these game mechanical relationships and making sure that similar dynamics exist within new collections of monsters as well, rather than making every creature entirely unique and unpredictable.

See also, regarding interactions between game constructs:

Torchbearer grind record

In Torchbearer, on every fourth turn candles go out and PCs gain a condition, on every third turn lanterns go out, and on every second turn torches go out. (Conditions are things like hungry, angry, and dead.) This is called the grind. I found that I wanted a nice record sheet that had this stuff on it, so that I could mark turns as they passed and know what was happening without needing to think about whether the turn was divisible by two, three, or four (and also because a record is nice to have).

So I made a grind record sheet, and here it is.

(The image below is kind of low-res, but if you click on it, you will get a PDF.)

Necropraxis Torchbearer grind record

Necropraxis Torchbearer grind record

Torchbearer primer for D&D players

Torchbearer cover (source)

Torchbearer cover (source)

Unlike D&D, Torchbearer uses a dice pool system for task resolution. When making a test, a number of six sided dice is rolled equal to the stat or skill in question, with bonuses causing extra dice to be added to the pool. Three or less on a die is a failure and four or more is a success. Every roll is versus an obstacle number (essentially, a difficulty class) which is set based on the number of factors involved in the particular test. Factors may be set by referee ruling but are also explicitly listed in the rules along with most stats, and the lists of factors seem to be rather comprehensive.

A PC’s character sheet is made of an array of stats which include many terms similar to those found on a D&D character sheet, such as stock (which means race), class, will (which stands in for the mental ability scores), health (which stands in for the physical ability scores), and skills. However, there are also a large number of other game constructs which may seem more opaque to a D&D player, such as traits, wises, a belief, a goal, an instinct, and several others. It is important to emphasize that these are not merely descriptive. For example, acting on a belief during a session earns a PC a special kind of resource at the end of a session (called a fate point) which can be used in several ways. Triggering an instinct allows a roll that does not cost a turn. And so forth. I admit that the diversity of systems that a player has access to for augmenting rolls in specific contexts is a bit bewildering, but I suspect it becomes more tractable with experience. That said, these are systems that players will need to learn how to use to be maximally effective.

Torchbearer uses a turn structure heavily. As written, D&D does, too, though in the case of D&D, turns are often hand-waved in practice, with dialectical narrative quickly taking over. Within an adventure, every test or conflict costs one turn. PCs earn a condition for every four turns that pass. Conditions are similar to a health track, and include hungry, exhausted, angry, sick, injured, afraid, and dead. Most of these conditions can be recovered from explicitly with skills, equipment, or spells. Rations, for example, can be used to eliminate the hungry condition. Light sources deplete as turns progress (torches in two turns, lamp oil in three turns, and candles in four turns). Light sources also only explicitly cover a set number of PCs, and any PC not covered by a light source has test obstacles increased. (I will almost certainly find a way to use a similar light coverage rule with D&D at some point.)

In addition to turns during the adventure phase, there are several other phases, including camp and town. Camp and town phases are used for different kinds of recovery. After three adventures, there is a winter, which affects the next phase (either town or adventure). Resources are more dear during the winter, but there are also several special opportunities available to PCs for learning and improving skills. Adventuring in the winter is more dangerous (conditions are earned every three turns and exhausted, injured, or sick can all lead directly to death). The important takeaway here is that time moves forward in a structured manner directly tied to game mechanics.

Value is handled more abstractly than you are likely used to from D&D. Instead of recovering treasure, calculating its exact GP value, selling it, and them buying things with the proceeds, everything is modeled as bonuses to a roll. To buy things in Torchbearer, you need to test Resources, and prices are handled as obstacles to a Resources test. Treasure is listed as a die value, and serves as a temporary bonus to a Resources test. After being used, recovered treasure is removed from a PC’s inventory. This makes it seemingly much harder to accumulate significant wealth.

Conflicts (which include, but are not limited to, combat) are team, rather than individual, based. One player takes the role of conflict captain, who serves as the coordinator (from a rules perspective) of the team. Every PC participating can help, but each team specifies only three actions (from attack, defend, faint, and maneuver) per conflict turn. The actions are assigned to different PCs if possible and revealed in sequence in opposition to the opposing team’s actions, leading to a kind of rock, paper, scissors dynamic. Specific skill tests to accomplish the different actions vary based on the kind of conflict in play. There are eight different kinds of conflict specified, and custom conflict types may be improvised as well. Just for one example, the Convince conflict uses the Persuader skill (for Attack and Defend actions) and the Manipulator skill (for Feint and Maneuver actions).

Each team has a disposition which is determined for the team as whole based on skill rolls, and then divided into individual pools of HP by the team’s conflict captain. Unlike HP in D&D, disposition in Torchbearer is separate from health conditions, determined by skill rolls, and per-conflict. This emphasizes its abstract nature and also changes the resource dynamic of HP. Conditions persist (and may serve as factors for test obstacles), but disposition (and thus HP) is determined separately for each conflict.

Advancement occurs in a much more fine-grained manner than in D&D, which hooks most character development into the process of gaining levels. Abilities and skills improve automatically after passing and failing a certain number of tests, based on the current rating (the P and F bubbles on the character sheet by skills are used for this purpose). Increasing character level occurs after spending a set number of fate and persona points. New levels grant abilities similar to what you might expect, such as more spells for magicians and various extra abilities for other classes, generally phrased a choice between two options. What this means is that the driver of character development is making tests and spending the metagame resources of fate points and persona points, not treasure recovery directly (in contrast to D&D).

It is worth emphasizing that I am not an expert in Torchbearer at all. This post is just as much a method for me to get a handle on the mechanics as it is to communicate them to others. (In fact, that sentiment could be expanded to cover the entire project of this blog.) There is a lot that I have not covered, but hopefully this will be a useful starting point nonetheless.

Players will likely be interested in the Torchbearer free PDF bundle, which includes a handout summarizing the conflict rules.