As I noted in my last post, I started a new Torchbearer game a few weeks ago. I’ve subjected this particular group to a number of playtests of new adventures recently, all of which have ended in TPKs. They’ve been good sports, but they were ready to commit to something longer term (with the hopes of actually surviving a dungeon or two).
For my part, I wanted to get back to Torchbearer’s roots. One of the key ideas in my head when I first started working on the game was the idea of a map that would start with just a few locations and then grow over time as the group explored it and new details were added. That’s the core idea behind the Prepare Thyself chapter in the book.
I decided that we would start the game in the Middarmark, specifically in the Gottmark of the far north because it’s been unexplored territory in our games so far. I went to my Middarmark map and selected the boxed part of the map below. Specifically, I think it’s the little saddle between the mountain in the southwest portion of the map and the hills above it.
For me, the hardest part of making any map is where to start. I often find that picking an anchor geography point or points helps get me going. Part of what drew me to the section of the Middarmark map I chose is that big mountain at the top of the box. I chose that as my anchor point. I also know that I want to include Highwater (the port city from The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves). We’ll put it somewhere on the coast, though probably not on the initial map. That’s my second anchor point.
A few weeks ago, I started a new Torchbearer campaign. I made a map, placed some settlements, wild places and dungeons, and off we went.
The players had rumors of several adventures to choose from at the start. One of the rumors concerned The Dread Crypt of Skogenby (get it free here!):
Some folk in Skogenby recently uncovered a strange barrow while clearing a field. They think some evil spirit has come out of it, and they’ve asked their lord help, but she’s away. Supposedly there’s a lot of treasure in the tomb.
But the players chose to pursue another rumor instead. Now they’ve come back to town after their latest adventure and heard some shocking news: The walking dead have overrun Skogenby!
Just in time for Halloween!
So here I am prepping a survival horror addition to Skogenby, and it occurs to me that Torchbearer is lacking some classic horror monsters. This is intended to remedy that dreadful oversight. Without further ado, here’s my take on the zombie and the werewolf. And Jared Sorensen, of Memento Mori Theatricks, has been kind enough to allow me to include his Vampire Lord, excerpted from his Halloween-inspired Torchbearer Sagas supplement, Denizens of the Dark (you’ll find lots of other holiday-appropriate goodies in Denizens, including the vampire lord’s vampire minions!).