Using Torchbearer’s Conditions for D&D

I’ve been thinking about the binary system of D&D lately, and how… well, it bores me. You’re either standing and healthy, even at 1 HP, or you’re lying in the dirt rolling death saving throws. Could there be another way?

Torchbearer has a really interesting system, where there is a shared pool of Hit Points-ish numbers called your Disposition. Once one side’s disposition has gone to zero, that side loses, and then various conditions are applied. Conditions could be “Angry” or “Exhausted”. Once you’ve basically worn through all the conditions, then your character dies. It makes it kind of difficult to actually kill a character, but you can make their life miserable while working your way there.

So! Here’s what I propose to port it over to D&D. Crank up the difficulty on encounters a little, to begin with. You don’t have to worry about your players rolling death saving throws, so knocking one or two out of combat each encounter just raises the stakes of the game.

Secondly: When a character is removed from combat, at the end of the encounter, the DM will determine what conditions will apply to your character. Just because they were removed from combat doesn’t mean they automatically take the “Injured” condition. Instead, they could be “Exhausted” after the battle, or “Angry” that they were defeated. If all players are removed from combat, narratively describe how they formed a “tactical retreat,” or have them be captured.

You can also use these conditions outside of combat. After a few hours of wandering through a dungeon, they could become “Hungry and Thirsty.” Or if they encounter a spectral apparition they haven’t seen before and fail a Wisdom Saving Throw, they become “Afraid.”

All of these conditions stack with one another. Once you have all the conditions, you die. Unless it becomes dramatically (or situationally) appropriate for you to die. This can be discussed with the player.

An example: You’re “Fresh”, and get stabbed in the heart by the BBEG: You and the player agree that it would be dramatically appropriate for you to die now.

Another example: You fall into a pit of lava? It’s situationally appropriate for you to disintegrate. No need for conditions.

Naturally, this is best for groups willing to play more dramatically, and with a lot of collaboration between players and DMs.

Fresh

  • Gain this condition after you have cleared your sheet of every condition the character previously had.
  • Gain Inspiration.
  • Lose this condition when you gain any other condition.

Hungry and Thirsty

  • Gain this condition if you have gone more than 8 hours without eating or drinking.
  • Gain one level of exhaustion.
  • Three days after not eating gain one more level of exhaustion.
  • Six days after not eating gain one more level of exhaustion.
  • Ten days after not eating gain one more level of exhaustion.
  • Fifteen days after not eating gain one more level of exhaustion.
  • Twenty one days after not eating gain one more level of exhaustion.
  • Remove this condition by consuming 1 portion of food OR draught of drink.  This can be done any time you can pause for a few minutes.

Angry

  • While Angry, you gain disadvantage on all Wisdom-based checks, including saving throws.
  • The GM may count being Angry as a factor in determining disadvantage on any checks involving patience, level-headedness, or social graces.
  • Gain +1 on all Strength-based combat rolls.
  • A DC 15 Wisdom Saving Throw is required to remove this condition. Test can be performed once each long rest.

Afraid

  • While Afraid, you have disadvantage on Initiative rolls.
  • While Afraid you gain disadvantage on all Charisma-based checks, including saving throws.
  • A DC 15 Wisdom Saving Throw is required to remove this condition. Test can be performed once each long rest.

Worn Out

  • Gain two levels of Exhaustion.
  • Exhausted can be removed by reducing your Exhaustion back to the level it was before you acquired the Worn Out condition.

Badly Injured

  • While Badly Injured, you gain disadvantage on all Dexterity and Strength-based checks. This does not include saving throws.
  • A DC 18 Constitution Saving Throw is required to remove this condition. Test can be performed once each long rest.
  • Sucking It Up: you can choose at any point while Badly Injured to use this option.  You remove the Injured condition but permanently reduce your Constitution Score by 1.

Sick

  • While Sick, you can’t level up.
  • While Sick, you gain disadvantage on all Constitution-based checks, including saving throws.
  • A DC 15 Constitution Saving Throw is required to remove this condition. Test can be performed once every other long rest.

Dead

  • What it says on the tin.
  • Currently there is no way to remove this condition. Resurrection, maybe?  Roll up a new guy.

One thought on “Using Torchbearer’s Conditions for D&D

  • August 30, 2017 at 10:28 am
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    GURPS brings a penalty of -1 to all rolls per HP taken the turn after you take the damage. I personally have folks add -1 per 2hp taken (round up) until you are cared for and then -1 per wound until you heal.

    It’s pretty darn gritty, but adding in the “flesh wound” (spend one XP to reduce any hit to 1 HP) makes the hero’s a bit more heroic.

    Reply

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