A World For Torchbearer

Hello, all, 🙂

First off, this has been a long time coming. What follows is a description of a fictional world, or part of it, that was used to playtest Shreyas Sampat’s new game Torchbearer.

Secondly, this is really just a placeholder. You’ll note that the text doesn’t make many comments on the game itself. That is by design. It was agreed between Shreyas and me that the playtest comments would be submitted directly to him for his review, before being posted publicly.

Nonetheless, in my opinion, the game world we developed for the playtest is way too cool to keep to myself, so I’m posting it here.

Three Peoples

The first thing we did was decide on some peoples to coexist on some part of the world. We put our heads together to brainstorm some characteristics, and this is what we came up with:

#1 – The Ahmadii

– Human sacrifices
– Farmers
– Social strata
– A warrior elite (the Adamir)
– Seasonal extremes
– No metal
– Oligarchic theocracy
– Exotic herbs

#2 – The Goudas

– Maritime merchants
– Rich mines
– Ruling class made up of sailors who wear special nobility clothing
– Matriarchal
– Sacred animal, the whale
– Yearly ritual on behalf of safe and bountiful fishing
– Slaves in the mines
– Islanders

#3 – The Røros

– Barbarians from (beyond) the mountains
– At war with the Goudas
– Patriarchal
– The origins of the Goudas
– The source of the slaves
– Good mountain mounts (an Ørseüs, several Ørseüses)
– Humanistic
– Concept of Karma

A Map

The next thing we did was to stick these peoples in a corner of the world, thus:

Torchbearer Map

There’s a river that runs out to a sea, with a large island in it, where the Goudas live. There is also a mountain chain that merges with the river. Beyond the mountains is the Røros territory, whereas the Ahmadii live across the river. The semi-circular light grey line marks the Goudas’s limit of influence.

You can also see the Røros capital city, Goran, the Peak of Eternal Snows, and, in tiny letters along the river, the Magical Ravine of Donendur.

Six Torches

Next, we devoted ourselves to the initial torches. Since there were four of us and the rules of the game say one torch per player, plus two, that meant six of them. We decided on making one torch strongly related to each of the three peoples, and then three more torches that would be more general in nature.

#1 – Freedom is at sea

Symbols: Whale; River; Gouda; Ship; Storm; Ritual

Object: A paper sailboat

#2 – Destiny is what you make of it

Symbols: Man; Paper; Horizon; Tombstone; Wheel; Echo

Object: A keychain ring

#3 – Happiness has a price

Symbols: Hypericon (a tea); Blood; Laughter; Comet; Spear and shield; Wheat stalk

Object: A pear tree leaf

#4 – Family is worth more than anything

Symbols: Authority; Cub; Constellation; Ties/Bows; Shelter; Couple

Object: A cloth bow

#5 – Luck

Symbols: Horse; The number twelve; Beard; Amulet; Lightning Bolt; Mirror

Object: A d12

#6 – Shreyas Sampat

Symbols: Father of us all; Creation; Secrets; The color red; Key; Book

Object: A metal key

Here are the six objects representing the initial torches:

Six torches

A word about that last torch: initially, we just wanted a torch that represented a past mythic hero. Someone suggested he might be a creation figure. Then, someone said we should name him. Finally, someone came up with the idea of giving him the name of the creator of the game. It was rather fitting, and we went with it.

Four Heroes

Lastly, here are the characters we played with:

#1 – Oläf, the dreamer (a Røro, Rogerio’s character)

Distinguishing feature: my red eyes

I need them: So that my actions have consequences in the future
They need me: I interpret their dreams
My ørseüs, Vlärgohr, never tires
My eyes are red

Conflict: To stop the ice age that torments my dream

#2 – Bashir, twelve horses (an Ahmadi, Rui’s character)

Distinguishing feature: the god that lives in my chest and manifests as a moving, speaking face

I need them: To perform appeasing rituals for my god
They need me: As a guardian, because of the power of my god
The god that lives within me, whose name is Wzzho
I follow the moral code of the warrior elite I belong to

Conflict: To restore the existence of the Khadim (an ancient race of noble horses)

#3 – Rania, the warrior (a Røro, my wife Ana’s character)

Distinguishing feature: a Røro warrior that wears Gouda feathers

I need them: to grow spiritually
They need me: I carry the wheel of the Karma
I can sleep sitting on my ørseüs
I have a high tolerance for alcohol

Conflict: To find the sword of Shreyas Sampat

#4 – Hazred, unwavering building of rocks (an Ahmadi, my character)

Distinguishing feature: taller, stronger, bulkier than everyone around

I need them: For moral grounding and support
They need me: To build and break things
I feel neither hunger nor thirst
I cannot be defeated in battle

Conflict: I need to make sure the Ahmadii can find “rock”

So there. Up next: a report on The 101, a game written and developed by Rui Anselmo, one of the players that went with us. Before, however, I will be typing up my playtest report on Torchbearer and sending it to Shreyas. He may decide to make it public, or he may not. His call.


2 Responses to “A World For Torchbearer”

  1. Rui Anselmo says:

    I miss that world. 🙂

    I was expecting a bit more of the anedoctes that came up while creating the world, but nevertheless this brings back fond memories.

    Welcome back, my friend.

  2. joao-mendes says:

    Hey, 🙂

    Yeah. There will be plenty of anectotes on the reports on the other games, though. 🙂