Open Table Torchbearer - A 29 player campaign

I’ve been running Torchbearer at a local gaming club. I have designated my game as an open table which new members can play a game before they decide if they want to come back or organise to join another table.

I’ve prepared a bunch of character sheets and updated them between sessions. All the players started out as guests. Characters are reserved for a couple of weeks but then go back in the pool. Once a player has played their character long enough to earn a title, then it’s their character.

New characters have been made to replace dead or claimed ones.

Purple text means retired.
Red text means dead.
The character’s level specified at every appearance, which is blue.

It’s been an interesting experience. One thing I’ve never dealt with before is the “Living Memory” of the group being limited.

Varg the Almost’s player is due to retire the character (he probably already has). Making Yiannis the Betrayer the party veteran. So the stuff that came before is outside living memory!

The powerful spear that Beren carries has been in the party longer than the party has!

Has anybody run a game this way before? Has anybody got any questions about the game?


Yes, I ran an open table/westmarches using highly modified 5e for, like, two and a half years before COVID. It can be really fun when the organization takes on a life beyond the characters.

Also nice to see you are playing some amazing adventures, I love those Trilemma dungeons!


This is a neat idea for these sorts of games. Did you settle on this yourself, or see someone else do that?

Torchbearer is one of those games I always want to try, but it’s a bit too much. :joy: Are the sessions basically pure dungeon crawling, no travelling around between these various locations / towns? (I don’t recall if that’s really a thing in Torchbearer.)

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We settled on it. It didn’t feel right to throw a Level 4 Duran the Red back into the pot when all the other choices were level 1.

We do travel quickly using the rules in the Loremaster’s Manual and we do towns too to recover and resupply. It’s a problem when someone loads up with treasure and then leaves. Next time the character gets picked they end up having to take a load of treasure on an adventure which kind of sucks. Most “non adventure” sessions were probably town/travel centric. I’d rather have a dungeon ready though for new players and starting with travel kind of sucks because it feels like punishing the players for not preparing for the journey before the started playing.


I am also liking that you are keeping to a concept of “living memory”. It is really easy to lose sight of that.
EDIT: Also meant to ask if you just drop the players straight to the front door or do you give some kind of rumors of choice/travel to the location/etc?


I was wondering this as well. My experience with Torchbearer makes me think that it might not handle out of dungeon stuff well… But maybe it does in which case I want to hear about that.

I’m not just dropping them at the start of dungeons, the team must look for a lead in town. That’s a cost to them, tavern rumour and leads are a lifestyle cost action in town. Two of my regulars, the Skald and the Sorcerer decided to take level benefits to get to do this in town for free. I sometimes give one out for free, and sometimes the party will look for more.

This results in the party getting an adventure hook once or more per town. These relate to the Trilemma adventures or Torchbearer material I’ve recently read.

I usually have a scenario in mind but if the group determine it’s worth having more options I have to extend the choices of quests available to them.


I’ve done a lot of dungeons so far but recently I’ve been using “broken towns” more and more. This is where there is a problem the town is faced with that stops the party using it as a town phase. These situations are more NPC heavy and less comfortable to my sensibilities but I think that’s a GMing thing rather than a system one. I’ve been pushing myself to include more social situations given the party veteran is the Skald character.


I have yet to really look at Torchbearer, but keep seeing the name dropped. I will have to look at a couple of reviews. It’s just that I was given a couple other systems to look at (and swipe ideas from!) and digesting those…

I will look at some reviews for sure!

That sounds fun! We played a couple sessions of Torchbearer before dying horrifically. Personally I found some of the crunch of dungeon crawling overwhelming compared to the more classic OSR versions of those procedures.

I would be interested to hear how the broken town premise works with the turns and can’t condition tracks.

I think I’m doing this as the rules intend.

In “Can’t Sleep - Clowns will eat me” there’s a malevolent spirit keeping everyone awake with horrific visions.

When the player asked to use the facilities such as buying food the characters do not have access to the Resources attribute. Instead they will accept treasure for a thing, no change given. Like paying toll on a journey.

The turn tracks keeps going. If they want to stay somewhere they’d better have checks for a camping phase.

When the players had death with the spirit the town’s facilities opened up again and we allowed a town phase.

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