Torchbearer: Old School Dungeon Crawl? Late notice of kickstarter

Torchbearer is an incarnation of the Burning Wheel/Mouseguard rules designed for what is now understood to be the original dungeon crawl game: exploration and resource management.

I've never played Burning Wheel or Mouseguard.  As I became aware of them, I was developing my taste for lighter rules and mechanicless narrative.  On the other hand, these are very thoughtful gamers.  The kinds of challenges that they present are at the core of Torchbearer game play are ones that I've been trying to present in my own games. 

From an interview:

The cramped caves, the oppressive dark, none of that came across the way it felt in an actual cavern.
“I wanted to make a game where caving and dungeoneering felt like a big deal,” he says, “where your character could be cold and wet and feel the oppressive weight of the dark.”


How much food and water will you pack? How many candles, torches, or flasks of oil will you stow in your pack? All of these basic essentials are used up over time and unless you can replenish them, says Olavsrud, “things will start to go very poorly for your character.”

In other words, if a cave troll doesn’t get you, dying of thirst or starvation just might.

“It gets even more interesting when treasure becomes involved,” Olavsrud adds. “You need to fit treasure in your pack somehow. It often requires discarding valuable gear.”

The game hinges on choice, consequence, and conflict, and your inventory lies at the heart of each expedition.

 I could steal that sentence for the aims of the dungeon crawls I'm running.

Here's a character sheet:

The conditions lead me to believe this is a very gritty game.  "Dead - may not use wises, tests, or help", uh-huh.   I've been dubious of mechanics that limit choices or simulate fear, but the way some of these are expressed "Angry, can't use beneficial traits" and "Afraid, can't help or beginner's luck" are interesting.  But there's a lot here I'm sure I don't get the implications of: it's been decades since I've played a game with dice pools (Shadowrun first edition, I think)

On the other hand, I have a distaste for handling some of these challenges with abstracted checks.  I don't want players to think about what die pool they will expend to meet a challenge, but how their character would physically negotiate the obstacle.

I'm intrigued enough to get a pdf of the kickstarter.

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