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Five Torches Deep
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Five Torches Deep

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Basics

  • 5e + OSR
  • Layout designed for utility
  • Streamlined gameplay
  • Highly compatible

Five Torches Deep (FTD) is a streamlined adventure game combining the best mechanics and principles of 5e, the OSR, and modern game design. The core of the game is familiar to anyone who has played 5e or previous editions of the game, but every mechanic has been pared down, modified, or expanded upon to create a coherently gritty, resource-focused, roguelike, old-school experience. 

The game’s about tough choices, risk vs reward, and using as much out of character smarts as in-character mechanics. It’s just about everything we (Ben and Jess) have come to expect from an OSR adventure game: brutal, challenging, streamlined, and accessible. 

How is it different?

  • 5e skeleton, OSR meat
  • Succinct but complete
  • Modern layout for ease of reference

FTD is a blend of old and new, digital and tabletop. It loots the corpses of four decades of gaming in just 48 packed pages. It’s able to comprehensively recreate an authentic OSR experience while bringing plenty of new subsystems to the table. Heavier than Knave or Into the Odd, more concrete than the Black Hack, less epic than 5e, more familiar than the Whitehack, and less “edgy” than other dungeoncrawlers. It hits the sweet spot between post-clone ultra-light rules and burdensome mechanics. 

Mechanics

  • Familiar but fresh
  • Comprehensive adventure play
  • Favors cleverness over crunch 

FTD strips 5e down to its skeleton and fleshes it out with mechanics focused on resource management, clever problem solving, and streamlined OSR gameplay. Combat is a last resort, magic is dangerous and wild, and every ability matters.

Character Creationthere’s only four classic races, each with a distinct method for generating ability scores and class restrictions. 

Character Classes: warrior, thief, mage, or zealot. Classes follow the design structure of 5e (scaling proficiency bonus, class features at set levels, etc) with more specialized “archetypes” unlockable at level 3. These archetypes bring in classics like the Barbarian, Warlock, and Druid without completely reconfiguring the class itself. And with only four starting classes, it’s easy to roll up a random character at level 1.

Level 9 Cap: PC play beyond level 9 is a different type of game. FTD focuses on dungeons and adventure, not domains, strongholds, and cataclysms. This makes a tighter gameplay loop: delve into dungeons, fight monsters, learn spells, acquire loot, repeat.

Ability Scores: the classic six abilities return, but special attention has been paid to ensure that ability scores and modifiers have a mechanical impact. Your STR score defines how much Load you can carry; your CON how many hours you can go without rest; your CHA the number of retainers you can command, and so forth. 

Default DC: the assumption is that (almost) all tasks and checks are DC 11. This expedites gameplay and helps make it more predictable and transparent for the players. 

Advantage / Disadvantage: easily the most elegant bit of tech from 5e (and the games that they took it from). Enough said. 

Inventory and Resource Management: a system to track carried load and supplies. Should you bring heavy weapons and armor or leave enough room to abscond with more loot? Equipment can be used, damaged, foraged, crafted, and repaired. The system adheres to quick but logical gameplay (no dice, no bean counting, but very light abstraction).

Retainers and Hench: in proper old-school style, PCs are expected to travel with a retinue of retainers and loyal followers, called “hench.” There’re rules for specific types of retainers and the commands you can give them in battle.

Wilderness Travel: distances traveled and resources consumed depending on terrain, light, and weather. The interplay between Travel Turns, supply, and resilience makes for difficult choices. 

Travel Turns: a simple system in which the GM regularly rolls on a table every hour in a dungeon or day in the wilderness. Travel Turns create a cyclical ritual: mark spent torches, reduce supply, note hours traveled (make a Resilience check as necessary), and track if monsters spring an ambush or stumble into the party.

Volatile Spellcasting: all spells can be cast quickly - demanding a spellcasting check with potentially calamitous results - or over the course of hours, which necessitates no such check. Casters then must decide if they are willing to risk wandering monsters or a potentially high DC that could result in loss of limb or sight.

Rest and Healing: rests have been broken into “safe” and “unsafe,” which have different mechanical effects on healing and exhaustion. There are few quick ways to restore HP, encouraging the need for consumables and cautious rest. High-level characters need days to rest sufficiently and heal back to full.  

Debilitating Injuries: any time a PC is reduced to 0 HP, they will die unless an ally resuscitates them. After being stabilized, the incapacitated adventurer must roll on an injury table; many of which have consequences that result in permanent Ability Score damage or loss of limb. Parties beyond level 1 usually comprise of mangled adventurers that bear the scars of their past mistakes. 

Monster Generation: Quick monster generation: refer to monster category, HD, add any relevant techniques, and done! Techniques and tactics allow for enormous flexibility in only a few pages. FTD makes monster creation or conversion a cinch, and can be done on the fly. 

Tools and Principles: guidelines on how to get into the mindset for OSR play, an adventure framework, and even generators for charged situations and dungeon layouts (including a novel technique leveraging a classic six-color puzzle cube). 


 
 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (35)
Discussions (102)
Customer avatar
Ogre J August 15, 2022 4:52 am UTC
PURCHASER
A Fighter is proficient in Medicine. A Cleric is proficient in Healing. Would both of these classes get their proficiency bonus to stabilization checks?
A Healer's Kit gives characters advantage on stabilization checks, correct? Or does it follow the rules in the 5e PHB?
Is a Healer's Kit supply exhausted per use, or per successful use?
Customer avatar
Ben D August 15, 2022 1:59 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes, proficiency bonus to stabilization checks. Kits can provide advantage, contextual tools that obviate a check, or provide a bonus equal to proficiency. Generally if the character has two out of three of time, tools, and knowledge there’s no need for a check.
Customer avatar
De la Viscario R July 24, 2022 10:30 pm UTC
Hi, do you have an email for business contact?
Customer avatar
Ogre J August 15, 2022 4:53 am UTC
PURCHASER
He posted it several times in the comments below: bendutter@gmail.com
Customer avatar
John H June 11, 2022 1:01 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is one of the best ttrpgs that I have ever played.
Customer avatar
Ben D June 11, 2022 11:36 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Thank you! Don’t forget to leave a review if you can.
Customer avatar
Noah E May 20, 2022 4:12 pm UTC
PURCHASER
At present, do you have a Roll20 sheet or suggestions for using a Roll20 sheet?
Customer avatar
Ben D May 20, 2022 9:44 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
There are some fan made ones but none that we’ve used.
Customer avatar
Daniel E April 12, 2022 5:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
I have a few questions after an initial read-through that I don't think have been covered here.
1. Why have the weapon damages been bumped up (usually by one die size) compared to 5e? This reduces compatibility with stat blocks from both 5e and B/X, For example, a 5e hobgoblin has a 1d8 longsword by default, but FTD gives the equivalent 1h sword (arming sword) 1d10 damage.
2. The SUP rules are intriguing but confusing.
- It seems PCs can buy abstract SUP, but presumably they can also buy the concrete items (for the same cost?)? So then, I suppose the strategy would be to buy one of each item you might need, and abstract SUP points after that?
- Thieves get "Ammunition (1 load, 1 SUP to refill)". According to the SUP rules, 5 SUP is one load, and 1 SUP gives you one fight's worth of arrows. Does that mean they start with 5 fights worth of arrows?
- None of the classes start the game with any gp, and none of them start with any torches (nor can they use SUP to get them since...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D April 12, 2022 12:25 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
1. More lethal, and to account for fewer sources of damage modifiers.

2. Yes, buying specific items and refilling them with sup is an optimal strategy. For thieves, yes. SUP can be traded back into gp.
Customer avatar
Craig W January 09, 2022 4:32 am UTC
PURCHASER
I have another question in regards to spellcasting and "known" spells.
Are known spells meant to represent limits on what a character can learn, or just what they can hold in memory at a given time?
For example, let's say a level 8 Wizard progresses to level 9 and chooses to learn Wayfarer because he likes the idea of teleporting around.
Since he is now max level and only 1 level 5 spell can be known, does this mean that Wayfarer is the *only* level 5 spell he will *ever* be able to use (outside of scrolls) or can he learn multiple level 5 spells and only "know" one at a time (similar to memorization)? IE, could he "forget" Wayfarer to learn another spell?
Customer avatar
Ben D January 09, 2022 2:44 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Good question. We meant it as the only spell that character could ever learn. But if the character went to enough fuss to forget the spell and learn another, then that would be fine. What we don’t want is people hot swapping their entire list every rest.
Customer avatar
Craig W November 10, 2021 4:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
I have some quick questions. My experience is almost exclusively BECM and a *tiny* bit of 2nd ed, so I am pretty new to proficiencies.
Let's say I am playing a Zealot/ Cleric. My Ability Proficiencies are Wis, Cha. My proficient checks are: spellcasting, history, insight, healing, politics, divine magic.

Question 1: Do I get my proficiency bonus to every roll involving Wis and Cha, or only saves?

Question 2: can I only make checks for the "skills" listed? For example, if I want to Intimidate someone, am I able to do it, even without Intimidate being one of my proficient checks?

Question 3: As a Zealot, I can heal 1D6/ level HP after a safe rest. As a Cleric, I can take Advantage in healing. So would I be able to roll 2D6 and choose the better of the two?

Thanks!
Customer avatar
Ben D November 10, 2021 1:51 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
1: GM discretion. Usually just reaction rolls / saves.

2: Like with all OSR everybody can try everything. The proficient check keywords are just to indicate the PC is better (proficient) at those tasks. Most GMs use it to indicate that the player with these proficiencies often doesn’t even need to roll if it makes sense for them to be able to do those things. But if they HAVE to roll, they get a bonus.

3: Correct, roll 2d and take the better.
Customer avatar
Craig W November 11, 2021 6:19 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Perfect. Thanks. The first two match what I was thinking so it was mostly the third question that I was unsure of, partly because someone had suggested to me that Advantage could only apply to a D20, but if it applies to any die, that's great.
Customer avatar
Guilherme E September 12, 2021 7:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Do you have any suggestions about the beast companion and two-handed combat for the ranger archetype?
Customer avatar
Ben D September 12, 2021 7:55 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I don’t understand. Those are not features of FTD’s Ranger. Do you mean creating those as types from 5e?
Customer avatar
Thomas W July 27, 2021 1:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I'm looking to talk to the author(s) of this game, specifically about publishing content for the ruleset. Please contact me at ThrowiGames.com There are two indie publishers (myself and another well known author) that are interested in writing for the game. Thanks! (sorry to post it here, I cannot find contacts elsewhere)
Customer avatar
Ben D July 31, 2021 3:56 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi Thomas, you can email me at bendutter@gmail.com
Customer avatar
Steve S July 17, 2021 12:01 pm UTC
Any chance of a hardcover option? I'm buying, don't worry, I'm buying; but I'd rather buy a hardcover.
Customer avatar
Ben D July 20, 2021 3:47 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Sorry about the delay in response, my email for DTRPG is not working.

There’s no plan to make a hardcover at this time. The main reason is that the book will not lay flat with this few pages and a glued spine. If we ever do a deluxe non POD version we would absolutely consider it.
Customer avatar
Daniel E April 10, 2022 4:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
I second this request. Hardcover would be amazing. (I ordered the softcover, but I would buy a second copy for this).
Customer avatar
Daniel V July 15, 2021 12:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I've noticed that only the Thief has a specification as one of its starting weapon being a ranged weapon. Does that means that the weapons listed in the other classes starting equipments are only limited to melee weapons?
Customer avatar
Ben D July 20, 2021 3:48 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Those starting weapons are just common suggestions for the class. If you want to be permissive as a GM then we suggest treating any bow or similar as a two handed weapon and can replace one of the other starting weapons. So a warrior could have a bow and a sword for example.
Customer avatar
June 27, 2021 8:51 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Dear CREATOR: Could you advise why on the Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling they have certain Stats capped at 13 ? Maybe your design philosophy or inspiration where this came from? Thanks!
Customer avatar
Ben D June 29, 2021 3:15 am UTC
PUBLISHER
They are not capped. They are starting with an automatic +1 to those stats, but can still raise them through magic items and what not. This is an abstraction trying to say that all dwarves are, on average, consistently tougher than humans etc.

However there are many alternate ways of using stats (3d6 in order for all, life path system, or our more complex rules in the Origins supplement).
Customer avatar
Daniel E April 12, 2022 4:49 am UTC
PURCHASER
I would just use 2d6+6 for those stats instead. Still 13 on average, but with some variance.
Customer avatar
Jayme A June 22, 2021 7:41 pm UTC
"From now through June 29th, the premium color format of this title has been marked down by 25%"

Hello! Shouldn't the Softcover, Premium Color Book (regularly $20) be $15 instead of $17.50?

Thanks!
Customer avatar
Fernando C June 23, 2021 8:15 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The message says up to 25% off
Customer avatar
Jayme A June 23, 2021 11:10 pm UTC
Ahh, they must have updated the message since yesterday.

If you Google "the premium color format of this title has been marked down by 25", some results from yesterday still show up (including Five Torches Deep), but when you follow the links they've been changed to *up to* 25%.

Anyway, that explains it -- thanks!
Customer avatar
Ben D June 27, 2021 1:54 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Ah sorry for the confusion. The sale is automatic from DTRPG’s end and I can’t adjust the price. Let me know if you have any concerns.
Customer avatar
Jacob W May 23, 2021 9:42 pm UTC
Will there ever be a FTD: Deluxe with all the supplements like Duels and Homestead in one book?
Customer avatar
Ben D May 23, 2021 10:02 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes. But not for a while. We are nearly complete with a big setting supplement that has been consuming all of our resources.
Customer avatar
Keith W May 22, 2021 6:59 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Are there plans to add on higher levels, for the domain level play?
Customer avatar
Ben D May 22, 2021 7:29 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Maybe some day, but there are no plans to do so. Main reason why is that it doesn’t embody the dungeon crawl kind of gameplay that we chose to focus on.
Customer avatar
Keith W May 22, 2021 9:27 pm UTC
PURCHASER
That's fair, do you have further expansion plans?
Customer avatar
Ben D May 22, 2021 9:50 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
We’ve released five supplements so far and have more in development.
Customer avatar
j M May 20, 2021 12:39 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Zealot class can start with a Holy symbol (divine focus). Does it means the divine class don't ever need to use components for their spells? Focus rules page 29.
Customer avatar
Ben D May 20, 2021 12:48 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
So long as they hold the focus in one hand, yes that’s correct. One note is that unless your GM is particularly generous, a focus is not also a weapon or shield.
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