Friends shall gladden each other | with arms and garments,
As each for himself can see;
Gift-givers’ friendships | are longest found,
If fair their fates may be.
 To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.Hávamál, from The Poetic Edda, translated by Henry Adams Bellows
How much do you make use of relationships in your games? Do the PCs frequently call in at home so their parents will do their laundry? Do they lean on their friends for help? Do they seek instruction and guidance from their mentors? Do they seek out their rivals for a loan? Why not?
The world of Torchbearer is a cold and lonely place. Trying to navigate it without friends and family who have your back is so much harder. Being a loner might seem romantic, but you may feel differently when you’re dead broke, hurt, sick, and in desperate need of a hot meal and a safe place to sleep.
It’s a good idea for adventurers to make friends and influence people. Those friends can make the difference between life and death when you’re truly hard up. But I want to deal with making new friends and gaining new mentors in a later post. For today, let’s just take a closer look at what parents, friends, mentors and even enemies are good for.
Unless you are that unlucky, foolish loner, you have parents, a friend, a mentor or maybe even an enemy, and even loners have enemies. Each can offer some solace in your time of need. (Yes, even your enemy will help; what better way to put you in debt?)
Here are some thoughts that Luke and I have put together regarding what your relationships can do for you. Keep in mind, though, that your relationships may ask things of you as well.
You will find your parents in your hometown unless an event indicates otherwise. Your parents work the same trade you chose as your hometown skill. Your parents, annoyingly, have the same trait you chose as your hometown trait (even if you changed it later). Your parents are busy trying to keep their heads above water. Your parents are privately worried about you.
You do not have to pay for room and board. Instead, you pay a tax of querulous glances, inquiries about the stains on your undergarments and investigations into the recesses of your pack.
- Your parents home counts as: Roll d6: 1-2: Stables, 3-4: Flophouse, 5: Inn, 6: Hotel. Roll the first time you visit your parents. Note the result. The old place isn’t quite as you remember it.
- Your parents will provide for you as they are able (according to the accommodations rules).
- They will also provide reasonable small craft or trade items that could be generated with their skill. Doing so will eat into their livelihood, but no, you take it; you need it.
Your town friend is someone you know from way back. Maybe you grew up together. Maybe you were first loves, but your lives went separate ways. Maybe they caught you stealing but were kind enough to let you go.
You decided in which settlement your town friend lives and what their profession is when you created your character.
- Your town friend will put you up when you’re in town. Their accommodations: Roll d6: 1-2: Stables, 3-4: Flophouse, 5: Inn, 6: Hotel. Roll the first time you visit your friend. Note the result.
- Your friends will provide for you as they are able (according to the accommodations rules). You do not have to pay for room and board.
- Your friend will also loan you 1D of coin if you’re desperate. It’s not charity, it’s friendship. You need it. Here, I’ll just leave it on the table then.
Your friends in the life truly understand you. More than anyone else, they know the choices and sacrifices you’ve made. Meeting your adventuring friend in town is always a welcome event. They can’t provide you with a roof to hide under, but they will share whatever they have with you: food, wine and coin. Nothing is too much.
- When you meet your friend out in the world and spend time reminiscing, you may make one free test to recover from the angry or afraid conditions (provided the circumstances permit it).
- If you have your wits about you and don’t need to blow off steam, your friend will instead offer you a rumor (roll on the Rumor Events table).
Your mentor is a powerful figure who inspired you to live the life of danger. Full of knowledge and experience, your mentor will pass on wisdom when possible, but will never step in and solve your problems for you.
Your mentor is the same class as you, but four levels higher. Once you reach 7th level, your mentor will retire from the life, but perhaps still be available to dispense advice.
- A magician’s or ranger’s mentor will write a new spell into your spell book when you attain levels 2-5.
- Mentors for adventurers, burglars, clerics, paladins, thieves and warriors will train you in your specialty or a skill of the GM’s choosing whenever you meet in camp or town.
Enemy and Rival
Your enemy is always ready to thwart your plans, foil your schemes and beat you to the punch. What more could an adventurer ask for?
Enemies can appear at the discretion of the GM at any time during an adventure or in town, but they often crop up in town.
- Your enemy’s class is determined by the GM.
- Your enemy or rival is your level +1.
- Enemy accommodations are: Roll d6: 1-2: Flophouse, 3-4: Inn, 5-6: Hotel.
- Your enemy will offer substantial loans of at least 2D of coin or help on Resources tests.
- Your enemy will help with Circles tests when in town.
- Your enemy will befriend your friends.
- Your enemy will ingratiate themselves to your parents and mentors.
- Your enemy will poach your hirelings.
- Your enemy will compete with you to be first to a dig site, to impress a notable personage or win the favor of a settlement.