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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Torchbearer - First Impressions and Session Report

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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Finally, I hear some of you think! Or something. After a fairly long detour into the wartorn Eastern Front in the autumn of 1947 we're making our way back to the dank dripping caves filled with kobolds and other more... nasty critters that I posted about back in June. Let's talk Torchbearer!

Ever since I read a series of session report by a group who used Burning Wheel to play Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay I've been fascinated by everything Burning Wheel related. I actually tried to find the reports in question but was unsuccessful - this was maybe three years ago and I seem to recall it was on rpg.net. Oh well.

Anyway, we've played Mouse Guard a couple of times (awesome!) but we have never tried Burning wheel. Although I did try to adapt Beliefs and Instincts into our now defunct WFRP3 campaign, without success. Now, Torchbearer is fourth game in the Burning family, after Burning Wheel, Burning Empires and Mouse Guard and it is really Mouse Guard that it resembles most closely. Advanced Mouse Guard as Thor puts it in the book. I won't really going into detail about what the game is as I think I mostly covered that in my June post. But basically it's conceptually an old school dungeon crawler but dressed in the modern roleplaying garb of Mouse Guard.

In the middle of July I was invited by my friend Kosta to try the game out with his gaming group, which I jumped at immediately of course! We had four players and a GM and we were going to try out the introductory scenario, "Under the House of Three Squires". A couple of us in the group had some passing familiarity with Mouse Guard but only Nils (the GM) and myself had actually read through the Torchbearer rules. After some discussion of the system and its concepts we had a look at the pre-generated characters. We ended up with a group consisting of Beren the Dwarf adventurer, Karolina the human warrior, Gerald the halfling burglar and myself as Taika the elf ranger. Here's Jordan Worley's take on how these characters look:


What follows is a short session report that, naturally, is filled with spoilers for Under the Three Squires. Read on at your peril...

SPOILERS!!

We fiddled around a little bit with equipment, making sure we brought enough supplies to last us through the dark. I bought a bow for Taika as I felt it only right and proper for an elf. Mostly though, we simply ran with what was on the sheet.

We approached the inn but soon discovered that something was amiss, the door stood ajar, some furniture was tipped over and there was no trace of any people. After some recon work by Gerald the halfling we came to the conclusion that someone or something had been dragging stuff down into the cellar. As we pushed the door open only darkness and a rickety old staircase greeted us.


Beren lit a torch and was about to step onto the stairs when I stopped him with a quick hand on his shoulder. The staircase was a trap! My sharp elf eyes had spotted that someone had sawed halfway through the beams, meaning the entire structure would collapse if enough weight was put on it. Perhaps Gerald was light enough to cross, but it would be impossible for the rest of us. A few minutes discussion lead to Beren, with his considerable dungeoneering experience, using his axe to cut into the hard-packed dirt wall making hand and foot holds that we could use to climb down.

[Torchbearer is played in turns. A turn is not a set amount of time, instead each test (a roll of the dice) takes one turn. This means that you only really roll when there's something on the line. It's not quite as strict in this regard as Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard, but you still whould only roll when it really means something. Wasting time (tests) is not a good idea as torches only burn for a set amount and you get Hungry and Thirsty (or worse) as time goes by. In this instance I rolled a Scout test to try and see if there were any traps or similar in the cellar. With some help from the other adventurers Taika succeeded. Beren then took the lead in getting us past the stairs and he succeeded on his roll as well. This took two turns which meant that in another two turns we would become Hungry and Thirsty. It also meant that we had burned almost burned through our first torch.]

The room we found ourselves in when we got to the bottom of the stairs was strewn with rubble and debris, mostly consisting of smashed furniture and broken bottles. We could see two closed doors, one of which was hastily barricaded. As we sat down to rest up for a bit and have a drink of water Gerald could hear a high pitched whine coming from the other side of the barricade. He immediately started tearing at it, trying to get the door free. Although the halfling asked for help none of us felt this was a good idea so we let the him go at it alone (hah!).


To our amazement Gerald managed to clear the door, although he was huffing and puffing from the exhaustion. Interested in what might actually be behind it we drew our weapons and pulled the door open! Inside we heard something move and realized it was... a dog! It whimpered and hid under a desk but we ventured into the what we discovered was a wine cellar and Karolina, who is a competent hunter, tried to calm the dog. Just as it seemed like the half-starved creature was about to come out the door slammed shut behind us and we could hear chattering language and the sound of the barricade being rebuilt.

[All of us, except Kosta who played Gerald, really thought it was a bad idea to waste time trying to clear the barricade and didn't want to get drawn into the consequences of helping him. I quite liked the scene of the three large adventurers sitting down and having a snack while the little halfling struggled with the debris! Kosta actually failed the roll but Nils, the GM, opted to have him succeed at the cost of becoming Tired. As we discovered the mongrel dog Karolina tried to roll for Hunter to calm/tame it but failed and Nils hit us with a twist: the door slammed shut and someone was trying to lock us in! Two tests meant another two turns.]

The unknown assailants didn't have much time to rebuild the barricade and we managed to make our way outside in a couple of minutes. The room was empty though, whoever did it had fled the scene. Carefully we made it to the other door and entered the room beyond. It was a cold room for storing meat, but was also mostly covered in debris. A large hole gaped in the wall in front of us and it looked like it had been smashed open from the other side. Just as we were moving toward it three giant rats sprang up from the rubble and attacked! The fight was quickly over, but not until both me and Gerald had been bitten by the disease carrying rodents! This wasn't really anything we could do much about at that time so we decided to have a look at that hole.

[This was our first conflict. In Torchbearer the players tell the GM what it is they're trying to achieve in a conflict which the GM then interprets into one of nine conflict types. In this case we thought we were strong enough to handle a few rats so we actually tried to kill them, meaning a Kill conflict rather than Drive Off or Capture. Me and Kosta rolled poorly so got poisoned by the rats, but Karolina stepped in and saved the day single handedly! Another turn.]


We lit another couple of torches and Gerald brought out his candle. The hole in the wall lead into what looked like a natural cavern leading down. Soon we arrived at a T intersection where we could hear the same chattering language as before, but it was hard to tell from which direction it came. Beren suggested we go left and sneaking forwards we could see how the cave opened up into a small room, with four kobolds engaged in a heated conversation.

Beren and Karolina readied their weapons but I suggested we try and trick them into running past us down the tunnel from whence we had come. At first we talked in loud voices to get their attention and as they drew their weapons and approached we hid in a natural alcove. The kobolds hesitated for quite some time and for a tense few minutes it seemed like they weren't going for it. Those stupid lizards! Finally Gerald picked up a rock and threw down the tunnel behind us. This was enough to make them want to investigate and they scampered past us. We snuck into the larger chamber where Beren swore loudly about how it would have been better if we had killed the critters.

[We could have tried and figure out where the voices were coming from, but didn't want to waste the time so simpy picked a direction at random. Our second conflict. At first we looked at a Drive Off conflict, but then I remembered Taika's Belief: "The wise consider all angles before making a decision." and I thought this was an excellent opportunity to try and play into that. I suggested trying to trick the kobolds into going past us, making it into a Riddle conflict. We rolled so-so in the conflict and generally had a bit of trouble describing the scene and our actions. There was some discussion about wheather us rolling badly would mean they detected us or not, but in the end the minor compromise we owed the kobolds meant that we became Angry. Another turn.]

After looking through the room and not finding anything of value we continued down the tunnel that slowly turned right. We came upon a much larger chamber that was lit by torches and inhabited by a number of kobolds! Watching from the shadows we could see a group of them torturing one of their own on a rack. A man with his foot cut off was lying bleeding and whimpering on the floor and what looked like a chief of some kind was questioning the kobold on the rack. A confusing scene to be sure, we didn't know what to think!

There were two tunnels leading out of the room and suddenly we noticed a small girl standing in the left tunnel opening! The kobolds obviously hadn't seen her, but she looked terrified and it was only a matter of time before she was discovered. Beren suggested that this wasn't our fight, but was voted down by Karolina and the rest of the group who wanted to save the child. There were probably a dozen kobolds in the room and we were hesitant to do a frontal assault. As I have a closer understanding of how the world works than the younger races I decided to try and use some elf magic to lift the girl to safety. I was on my own on this though, as no one else was skilled in the art of magic. The girl started to lift from the floor and slowly glided up towards the ceiling. She hovered towards us and it looked like it was going to work when I lost my concentration half-way through!


The girl landed straight onto the kobold on the rack and after a split second of stunned silence kobolds were running everywhere! Not knowing what just happened half of them ran into one of the tunnels and the other half found themselves face to face with four angry adventurers. In the confusion Karolina and Beren dispatched a couple of the little creatures and arrows from me and stones from Gerald's sling chased them as they slunk into the dark tunnel that their companions had run into. As we caught our breath in the short lull tat followed the girl ran up to us and asked us to take her out of there, and to save the man bleeding on the floor. It was her father. Beren also discovered that his backpack had been torn open in the fight and was rendered pretty much useless.

[Our characters Beliefs again came into play here as Beren's ("There’s naught for me but blood and treasure, spent and earned.") clashed somewhat with Karolina's ("I am the bulwark that stands between my friends and harm."). Granted, the girl wasn't strictly a friend, but we all thought that it would be in Karolina's nature to try and protect her. We hadn't done all that well in conflicts up until this point and a room full of kobolds with their chieftan looked like a tough match. I was looking through my character sheet, wanting to "consider all angles before making a decision" when I noticed the spells that I had all but forgotten. 

It seemed like a cool thing to try out and a very "Yes, awesome!" moment if it would succeed. However with only Arcanist 3 and no one to help her it proved too much for Taika, and the twist Nils introduced was having the girl plopp straight down into the room! This also made for a great scene of pandemonium with kobolds running every which way and us charging out from cover. In this Drive Off conflict we actually rolled quite well but and quickly cleared the room of kobolds, however we did owe a compromise which took the form of Beren's torn backpack. Another two turns.]



The girl told us that her name was Elsa and her father's name was Joerg. Apparently he was the owner of the inn and for some obscure reason the kobold on the rack had cut off his foot! By now Joerg had lost consciousness and looked very pale - he was obviously not going to make it if we didn't help him. Beren muttered something about how "bleeding hearts will get us all killed", but didn't protest all to much when me and Karolina lifted up the innkeeper.


The air suddenly rang with the sound of drumming! Drumming coming from the tunnel the kobolds had retreated to. Gerald piped up: "Kobolds are easily startled but they'll soon be back, and in greater numbers." After a moment of surprised looks we started making it down the other tunnel, away from the drums. We clambered down a crudely carved stairway and came into a small chamber crammed full of stuff from the inn. Loads of cutlery, a few books, some broken chairs and a large, quite heavy wooden desk.

I have at least some knowledge of healing so decided to do what I could to help Joerg, but the darkness and the stressfull conditions didn't make it easy. While I did manage to stop the bloodflow and bind the wound it sounded like the drums were coming nearer and I could feel cold sweat on my neck! However, they never came and we spent some time swigging from our flasks and looking around the room for any possible valuables. It was mostly useless junk laying around although the desk looked like it might be worth something. We also found a large bronze key in one of the drawers. A key to what?

[It seemed like the kobolds would return so we went into the opposite tunnel where we found the room full of junk/treasure. I rolled for Healing but failed, however Nils decided to let me pass at the cost of becoming Afraid. We also searched the room successfully and found the bronze key as well as some small knick-knacks. Another two turns. By this time it was quite late and we decided to call it a day.]

END SPOILERS!!


Alright, our first game of Torchbearer! And the first time for me playing an RPG (as opposed to GM'ing) in... probably 10 years. That deserves a wooo!

As I mentioned it was late by the time we ended so any post-session talk was quite brief. I think we all enjoyed ourselves, however Kosta and Simon (who played Karolina) did mention that they felt a bit constrained by the very structured turn sequence and also somewhat by the conflict rules. We all agreed that we needed to be better at descriptions in conflicts, but that is something that will come in time.

As it happens Kosta and Simon were also the two guys who had no experience with Burning Wheel or Mouse Guard (EDIT: Nope! Simon actually has played Mouse Guard a couple of times). Myself, Tomas and Nils had at least some experience which of course is a big reason why Torchbearer clicked faster for us. Simon mentioned on the buss that it might get boring in the long run, just running through dungeons and fighting monsters, which is probably true. But then again, you could say this about any game with a tight focus so that's perhaps not a critisicm of Torchbearer but rather the genre. Besides I think the system is robust enough to handle a lot more than dungeoneering should you so want.

Yes, the system is very tightly structured, but Thor and Luke often says that this is not a system for one-off games. It's a system meant to be explored half a dozen sessions or more, and I think that as you play it more the very structured system will paradoxically provide a kind of roleplaying freedom that other, more light weight games, often lack. It sounds backwards, I know, but it's just the feeling I get when reading stuff related to Burning Wheel and thinking about our Mouse Guard and Torchbearer sessions.


Personally, I had a blast! And that's not only for being roleplay starved and finally getting my fix. I genuinely think it's a genius system that is simply difficult to wrap your head around (very much like the games by Phil Eklund, if you're up for a board game analogy). For some people it will never work, but I think most of the time it's all about understanding the system and how it all hangs together. Grokking it (if that's the right word). However I'm a firm supporter of Torchbearer and am waiting eagerly for my physical book to arrive. I'm also looking forward to the conflict cards that hopefully will be up for sale in the not too distant future.

I'd love to play again but I'm not sure if we'll actually ever continue on this particular session. I know Nils is preparing for a sci-fi campaign using FATE Core so I imagine he's busy with that (also, room for one more guys? You know I'm a nut for sci-fi stuff! ^_^) and the rest of the group seemed lukewarm when I suggested I'd run an old Swedish adventure adapted for Torchbearer. We've also talked about trying out the Star Wars Beginner Game, so there's that as well.

Hmm... it'll be interesting to see what the future holds whatever happens. But I certainly would like to play more roleplaying games!

14 kommentarer :

  1. Great writeup. I enjoyed it as well, although there were a lot of new concepts to wrap out heads around for sure. What I felt worked less than ideal was the abstract handling of the conflicts as they made it really difficult to frame them in the narrative. Probably my biggest gripe with the game as it stands. However, I think it will work a lot better with a little experience.

    Regarding future games I'm really interested in trying out Beasts & Barbarians with the excellent Jalizar - City of Thieves book (Savage Worlds does Sword & Sorcery), the new Star Wars adventure or a classic free roam Traveller mini campaign. We should set something up!

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  2. Yes, the conflict system is quite abstract and I agree with you that it is probably one of the trickiest things in any BW game to get right from a narrative standpoint. When it works it works great (our second session of Mouse Guard had a great battle with a snapping turtle!), but if you feel unsure it can easily crumble into a simple game within the game. Of course, experience would help with this greatly!

    I've heard a lot of good stuff about Beasts & Barbarians, and Savage Worlds in general. A few years back I was considering trying to run a Conan campaign using the modified D20 rules from Mongoose, but Savage Worlds might be a better fit. Always loved Howard's Hyborian Age!

    I'm definitely up for a romp on Tatooine. I think I've mentioned that the follow up adventure to the one in the beginner game box is actually fairly decent! As for Traveller... that's a game I've wanted to play since I first came across Megatraveller in the mid nineties. Haha! Yeah, we'll have to set something up. :)

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  3. Because of the abstract nature of the conflict system, I personally find Torchbearer ruleset to be a little "gamey" in nature for someone coming from a very simulationist roleplaying background. Meaning, the game's focus is in certain type of premise and it encourages the players to that style of gameplay through the structures set in the ruleset. The GM is also given certain guidelines of how to structure an adventure which might rub against the creative process for some.

    Now I don't find these to be bad things as Torchbearer handles it's focus of dungeon crawling and adventuring very well. But once you diverge from the premise laid out by the game, certain elements of the rules can become redundant. If we take a classic "who did it?" murder investigation story set in a contained city environment, the said story would work the best for Torchbearer if the story would include adventuring and dungeon crawling elements.

    Of course Torchbearer can handle a pure investigation story as written, but in my mind the game would be greatly enhanced when playing the to strengths of the system. The said investigation story might have set number of turns before the killer strikes again with every interrogation of the suspects a conflict and a turn ticking away. When the players finally find out who the killer, he flees to the sewers of the city resulting in some dungeon crawling action. If I were to run the the said adventure purely as a murder mystery with not much conflict, I think there are other systems out there that would work better for that style of gaming.

    What Niles said about the difficulty of framing the narrative, I also find this to be a challenge as a GM. Since Torchbearer's conflict system lacks the immediate cause-and-effect of the more reality simulating systems and pools the results of success/failure to a more grander narrative, I find that I have to do much more "scripting" work in weaving the players input to the narrative. I'm sure this is something that I'll probably get accustomed to over time with more game sessions.

    @Martin - I'm really glad that you finally got the chance to be on the "other side" of the table. Wow, ten years... that's a long time.

    If I had to name one d20 game that I would run, it would be Mongoose's Conan roleplaying game. Preferably the second edition. What Mongoose did with the d20 system here, is really good even if it still has things like attacks of opportunity and grid-favoring combat. The game and it's supplement books shine in the well researched writing and the books are really good source of information for anyone wanting run adventures in the Hyborian Age regardless of the system. Sadly the game material is nearly impossible to find these days, because Mongoose doesn't hold the license anymore. Can't say nothing about the Beast & Barbarians, but it feels very Robert E. Howard based on what I've read.

    @Niles - For me the new Star Wars: Edge of the Empire is pretty much the "new" Traveller. But out of curiosity, what version of Traveller would you run if you'd run it with the official rules and setting?

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  4. I actually envoyed playing TB, but I felt that the adventure itself wasn't that exciting - comparing it to more extravagant adventures in the dungeon crawling genre.

    As with all RPG, what to play is limiten by the time one has. At the moment I would like to try SW:EotE, rather Tham playing TB again.

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  5. @Martin Never tried Savage Worlds but it seems like the perfect fit for some good old fashioned Sword & Sorcery. Also, the setting of B&B is hands down the best emulation of the classic Hyboria feeling I've seen. That Jalizar sourcebook is just dripping with theme and adventure hooks (and very Fritz Leiber feeling too, which is a good thing).

    @Netdiver Oh. I don't think Edge of Empire and Traveller compare at all. For me, Traveller is a toolbox for semi hard science fiction out of the SF golden age of literature. Also 40 years of support material, deck plans and library data is a nice bonus :) SW is much more tied to it's source material and in essence pulpy and over the top action and colourful drama. Also, I think the new FFG book is a beast. I'm not at all sure what to think of it yet. Regarding the Traveller version: Mongoose Traveller. I'm avoiding T5 like the plague and MegaTraveller and Classic feel outdated compared to MT.

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  6. Discussion! Yay!

    Netdiver, I think we've talked before about the simulationist approach to roleplaying that has always been dominant in Europe. It's certainly something me and my friends have grown up with and probably a reason why more mechanistic approaches often feel odd. Still, it's not a system that is inheritably worse than a more simulationist approach, just different. If the end result is still a great story I'm all for it. Also, I like how much quicker they are to resolve compared to a traditional rpg fight. Some things are lost while others are gained. In any case I'd like to get some more experience with it!

    Torchbearer's focus on time and resource management is certainly a core feature of the game and could probably be made to fit more areas than dungeoneering. However, I imagine a kind of Mouse Guard/Torchbearer hybrid could work well where you take the best of both worlds. For playing in the Olde Worlde, for example, I would probably like to bring the strong focus on Beliefs and Tratis back into the mix. It's something that has taken the backseat in Torchbearer mainly, I imagine, because of the dungeon focus.

    I've had the exact same thoughts regarding D20 Conan - it's the only time it seemed to kind of fit (plus the changes Mongoose did to the system)! B&B sounds great as well though. I sort of re-discovered Conan a few years ago as I started reading and re-reading the short stories. A lot of stuff I had missed as a kid became apparent to me and the idea that the Conan movie is a great movie that's set in Hyboria, but not a good depiction of Conan got cemented in my mind. It's such a rich theme to draw from and a welcome diversion from the bog-standard western semi-medieval fantasy. I do need to read up on Fritz Lieber though as I've actually never read anything by him.

    As for Traveller, I think I agree with Nils that the new Star Wars game is a different beast. It often comes off as something bad, but in this case I like how much more generic Traveller is. Although perhaps that's not really the right word either. It's the generic sci-fi of a specific era. I could quote all kinds of different books, but I think Chris Foss the roleplaying game pretty much says it all (which reminds me, I should order his artbook).Trying to find a modern Traveller equivelant I'd probably look at Diaspora, Starblazer Adventures and perhaps Ashen Stars but all of them still feel a lot more tied to their respective setting than Traveller does - even Diaspora where you make up the setting from scratch!

    I'd love to play either Traveller or Beasts & Barbarians, and as I said I'd be happy to run SW:TBG as well. Let's try and figure something out. :)

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  7. With Torchbearer, how would I put this... I think the players were surprised by how different and abstract the system was. Some more than others. Since we've never played Burning Wheel or Mouse Guard (borrowed some Burning Wheel books from library but never got around to actually read them ;D ), the game had a little more learning curve compared to the games usually at our table. Not in the way that the game was harder rules wise, just because it handled things differently. But lets face, rpgs are games and tools for collective storytelling. Torchbearer's take is bit different, but a solid one.

    Funny how differently people view Traveller. For me Traveller never was about its toolbox approach to sci-fi genre ropleplaying, it was the Third Imperium setting. The SW:EOE game which I'm currently planning is pretty much re-skinned Third Imperium to FFG's SW game.

    @Martin - I also read most of the Robert E. Howard's original Conan short stories a couple years ago. It had been maybe over a decade of the last time I saw the Schwarzenegger's Conan film, but the film was aired at national channels this summer so I decided to watch it again. And I have to agree with you Martin, it's a good movie with a good Hyborian feel. But depicting Conan's character, I felt it was too much influenced by the Conan comics and stories of the later times.

    From Fritz Lieber I've only read Mike Mignola's comic adaptation Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Dark Horse Comics. A good comic, but can't really say how it compares to the originals. Must read those some time.

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  8. Yes, simply being so very different to most other stuff available makes for a bit of a culture shock the first couple of times you play. On the other hand I think both Torchbearer and (especially) Mouse Guard would work excellent for first time roleplayers who don't have entrenched ideas about how rpgs "should" be.

    Since I've never really read Traveller properly I don't know enough about the Third Imperium setting to have it as a reference points. For me it's always been about the sandbox nature in a semi-hard sci-fi universe. All this talk about it made me go and order the core book though. :)

    Yes, it was a really interesting experience going back and watching Conan after having recently read all the short stories. Suddenly it felt like a stand alone movie about a different character taking place in Hyboria. Pretty cool!

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  9. If you picked up the Mongoose Traveller Core Rulebook, be sure that it's from the latter printing (post 2010, I think). It contains quite a lot of errata and marginally better artwork to the original 2008 print run. Artwork never has been the highpoint of Traveller, though. Otherwise the Mongoose Traveller Core book is actually very good and I personally would run it only with the Core book, if I were to run it. Pretty much only negative thing to say about it is the quite high price tag for the pretty weak production values of book. It reads very good, but artwork and paper quality isn't all great. Personally I don't own a copy for the price reasons but both printings are available from a local library, so it might be just the library copies.

    Traveller's standard setting, the Third Imperium, is sprawling in its size and has grown to be very detailed over the years. There are more factions, races, ships, worlds, star ports, etc. than you can ever hope to use. Good thing in this wealth of information, is that you can take your pick and discard the elements you don't like. And the setting still works. Personally I've only taken elements to my own SW:EOE game with a broad stroke, like most the races and iconic locales.

    The new SW:EOE has many of the same themes as original Traveller with Star Wars coating but much higher production values and more interesting system, which is why I'm prepping my Third Imperium game using it. Same might actually be said about Rogue Trader, but focus is much more serious and epic in scope. There are things the Mongoose Traveller does better than SW:EOE or Rogue Trader, but most of that revolves around ship building, commerce and world creations rules. But still, it's the ultimate science fiction sandbox toolkit. Character creation "mini-game" being my favorite :)

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  10. Thinking back on Traveller, I think my favorite was actually the GDW's 2300AD line which had really loose ties to the original game. Never ran or played any version Traveller, but we played a fairly lengthy campaign with 2300AD. I became more interested in the original Traveller and its Third Imperium setting only a few years ago.

    2300AD had that sense exploration and frontier living that I didn't find with Traveller at the time. Major influencing factor was probably that 2300AD was translated to Finnish. Also the alien races were really good, even if most of them were just flavor for the setting. Thinking about it, I think the only roleplaying game to reach same level feel for "colony living" was Heavy Gear with the Life on Terra Nova sourcebook.

    Of course the Mongoose Traveller is much closer to the original Traveller in terms of rules and feel. 2300AD is now supported by Mongoose as a setting for Travller and if I were to take a trip back to the French Arm of 2300AD, it would be with Mongoose Traveller. Having said that, I would preferably run a game of Heavy Gear :)

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  11. Yepp, got the Mongoose edition. Can't be sure if it's the reprint or not as I ordered online, but seeing as it was updated two or three years ago I think it should be a safe bet. I've been thinking of getting some setting books as well just to get a bit more info about the third imperium. We'll see...

    I remember seeing the 2300AD books in the game store where I used to work part time, but I never really read them. Wasn't that setting a bit more hard(ish) than default Traveller? I think this is something that has changed for me as I've grown older; whereas I used to prefer quite soft sci-fi/space opera, these days I'm a lot more interested in a setting with a firm base in modern science.

    The Heavy Gear setting books are really great! It's really sad to see how the shift in management of Dreampod 9 has meant the demise of pretty much everything that isn't Heavy Gear Blitz. Although I like the models and the game system, I just think it's such a loss to drop the rest of their line. Oh well, I guess the old books are still around for our enjoyement. I also have plans for making a kind of Jovian Chronicles retrospective, when I get around to it.

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  12. 2300AD was probably closest thing to a "Aliens roleplaying game" without iconic xenomorphs and without actually being an "Aliens" rpg. And the game come out around the same time as the Cameron's sequel, so no surprice there. The setting was also loose continuation to GDW's other game, Twilight: 2000. Ties to original Traveller were pretty much severed when the game line and the universe developed.

    Yes, it's very unfortunate that the Dream Pod 9 doesn't support Heavy Gear beyond the miniature game anymore. Ok, the 2nd ed rulebook is still available through their webstore with a few other books but thats probably as far as their support for the rpg will go.

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  13. Ok, I got my copy of the Torchbearer book yesterday in the mail. It just proves how much better books actually look printed. A few impressions of the printed book.

    I wasn't initially that taken with Peter Mullen's cover when I saw the sketch. But the finished piece on the actual cover is really gorgeous. Given the Kickstarter extras like the linen (or cloth) effect imitating cover paper stock and the foil lettering on the logo, the end results look really good. The end papers with the Torchbearer "Ouroboros" logo are also nice and fit with the "mood" of the book. I really like the same humor as displayed in the books illustrations to be continued in the cover. Check out the pricing info on the back cover :)

    The actual content is printed on the same (or very similar), slightly creamy colored or unbleached paper, that's used in the Burning Wheel Gold books. This actually makes the text much more pleasant to read and really makes those black & white illustrations instantly look better. Small thing that aren't really possible with e-readers at the moment.

    Probably the only bad thing to say about this Kickstarter is the shipping. Given pretty high shipping cost, the book could have used a sturdier shipping envelope. The shipping envelope, where the book was delivered, was a pretty standard bubble wrap lined envelope with a soft plastic cover. Luckily my copy survived the trip across the Atlantic with only a few small dings on the cover as I've seen much worse when ordering stuff from Amazon's Marketplace. But this is minor nitpicking as shipping costs and parcel handling are something that Luke, Thor and rest of the Burning Wheel HQ really have no control over.

    Was the Kickstarter worth it? Absolutely yes! And the best thing is that the game will be available to everyone, in print, after the backers have their books send out.

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  14. To anyone interested in the game, Torchbearer book will be available to people outside the Kickstarter backers through the Burning Wheel online store starting tomorrow. Or today, depending where you live.

    Anyway, here's the link:
    http://www.burningwheel.com/store/index.php/torchbearer.html

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