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Five Torches Deep
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Five Torches Deep

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  • 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. 


  • 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). 

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Reviews (13)
Discussions (41)
Customer avatar
Adam T February 05, 2020 8:21 pm UTC
Hi, I have a few questions:

1.) Does being proficient in an ability mean you're also proficient in checks that use that skill? For example, only rangers are proficient in perception, which seems to be mostly wisdom-based (It's under "wis" on the character sheet). Do zealots roll 1d20+WIS+prof when doing perception checks that use wisdom? Or would they just roll 1d20+WIS? If it's the latter case, then could you help me understand the difference between ability checks with proficiency and proficient checks?

2.) What does RES mean on the character sheet? Everything else was referred to in its own section, except perception (which i assume is wis+prof), and RES. I would assume it's CON-based, but I don't know what it refers to.

3.) For spell resistance (not attack roll-based spells), the resistance for monsters is equal to 10+ their base mod, right? An orc raider with a +3 base mod would have a DC of 13 to be affected by apparition, and a hobgoblin (who is weak vs magic)...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D February 05, 2020 9:36 pm UTC
Hi, sure!

1) Usually yes, GM discretion. Skill-type proficient checks are more granular and not necessarily always associated with a specific ability score (Perception is not always necessarily WIS; it might be INT or even DEX depending on the circumstances, such as tactical perception or trying to detect differences by touch).

2) RES is short for Resilience, or the amount of hours a PC can adventure without rest (this is equal to your CON score).

3) Right! Your examples are spot on.

4) That's right! However some GMs are even more permissive and allow the alternate damaging mod be used for the to-hit mod as well; we don't feel strongly about it and don't call it out explicitly in the rules. It's more so demonstrating that some weapons are somewhat open to interpretation.

No no, thank you!
Customer avatar
Adam T February 05, 2020 10:17 pm UTC
1.) What number is supposed to go in the "Per" field in the character sheet, then?
Customer avatar
Adam T February 05, 2020 10:45 pm UTC
Also, is the max number of retainers per character equal to CHA mod or score?
Customer avatar
Ben D February 06, 2020 12:05 am UTC
Usually your WIS bonus; yes. Again, most of the game is "usually this, exceptions apply."

Max retainers is equal to your CHA score. Any time the book references "mod" it will say "mod."
Customer avatar
Adam T February 06, 2020 1:14 am UTC
Thanks a bundle.
Customer avatar
Italo I February 03, 2020 6:38 pm UTC
I kinda liked the preview, it looks very old school and very simple too.

But personally I think it could use a little more refinement, especially in rulesets and their explanations.

For example under the portraits of the races is explained the requisites to join certain classes.

Elf: Warrior 13+STR, Zealot 13+WIS

and I spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out what 13+ streght would mean, 13+ the bonus maybe?
then I figured out it meant you need to have 13 or more in streght to be an elf warrior.

So if it was written:

Elf: Warrior STR 13+, Zealot Wis 13+

I think it would be easier to understand.

Another thing is I don't understand why demihumans have to take a 13 in two stats and roll less dices in the others, it has never been like that in any edition, you could just have used racial maluses like in Advanced D&D and 3rd Edition.
Plus they don't have any special powers like in the current...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D February 04, 2020 4:19 pm UTC
Thanks for the feedback. The explanations are intentionally very brief assuming the reader already has a great knowledge of D&D-alike games. I'll address some of your specific concerns:

Ability score minimums by class and race: this is explained in multiple sections in the character creation chapter, including the race section and the class section. These numbers in that table are meant simply as a reminder / summary, but the rules are thoroughly explained later.

Demihumans at 13: this is actually a benefit, since the average of 3d6 is 10.5. This ensures that those demihuman races are stronger than average, and reliably / consistently so. Their other ability scores aren't at a penalty, they're just also more stable (2d6 + 3 is still a ~10 average vs 3d6). FTD isn't a retroclone, so, we don't really care to copy the old school rolling types; this method achieves the result we wanted to differentiate the races with very little crunch or explanation.

So, in short, not a...See more
Customer avatar
Ayube A February 04, 2020 8:13 pm UTC
M20 Fifth( Microlite 20) Handled races similar to 5TD but uses a primary attribute to describe them. The four groups are Humans, Magical, Tough, and Quick. This way you can play pretty much any race your game world allows. I am just going change Dwarf to Tough, Elf to Magical, and Halfling to Quick for instance. Good job in making 5E playable.
Customer avatar
Italo I February 05, 2020 5:46 am UTC
I understand, for my tastes I think I will add some homebrew content to your game but I have to say that making the other classes as subclasses for the 4 core classes is truly brilliant.
Customer avatar
Kevin S January 26, 2020 1:55 am UTC
Looks awesome so far. Looking to play it with my wife who is a newer rpg player. Any recommendations when only having 1 party member?
Customer avatar
Ben D January 26, 2020 2:25 am UTC
We’ve run quite a few 1:1 sessions! The easiest is to have a few retainers and start at level 3. We’ve also run “gestalt” style characters that gain the benefits of two classes per level rather than one.

However much of what makes a solo game playable is the work done on the GM’s side. The types of obstacles and adventures can be scaled to better suit a single protagonist (diplomacy, investigation, stealth, etc.) The game only REQUIRES multiple PCs in the face of impassable obstacles (not OSR) or powerful meat bag enemies (also not OSR).
Customer avatar
Peter D January 13, 2020 8:22 pm UTC
Magic question. On page 16 (see excerpt below), I understand that casting a spell successfully using a DC = 10 + (spell level). However, there is a second part needed to provide further guidance on regarding hitting the monsters. The rules say (in the example below) how this works with a 1HD monster - but this is very vague and not clear how this 2nd part of spell casting is supposed to work. Please provide guidance.

The result of the spellcasting check is used to determine the success of a targeted spell, comparing the result to the target’s defense (e.g. 10 + the target’s relevant modifier). In this way a spellcasting check is both to see if the PC can successfuly cast and hit a target.

A level 4 zealot PC attempts to cast Impassable (level 2 divine). They roll + WIS mod and prof vs DC 12, getting a 14 and successfully cast the spell. The 14 is compared vs the targets (HD1 goblins with +1 relevant modifier, or 11 defense to resist the effect). The goblins fail and their speed is...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D January 13, 2020 8:54 pm UTC
Hi there Peter; not sure I can explain it any better!

The short version is just that the player rolls once, and that one result (d20 + relevant spell casting mods) is compared against two things. The first is the spell casting DC (in other words, did the PC successfully cast the spell at all); the second is if the spell was able to affect a target (such as the goblins in the above example).

Think about it this way:

A PC is casting a level 1 spell against a 10 HD monster. The monster's appropriate resistance is DC 18. That means that the PC only needs to hit an 11 spellcasting check to successfully CAST the spell, but they need an 18 or higher in order to actually hit the target.

A PC who rolled a 15 on the above check would easily cast the spell (the arcane arrow sails away from the mage) but then "miss" against the monster's defense (it splashes against the creature's heavy armor to no effect, a miss).

Does that make sense?
Customer avatar
geoffroy C January 12, 2020 4:46 pm UTC
Amazing work !! Loving it and my players too!
Are you planning to release FTD on Fantasy Grounds ?
Thanks again.
Customer avatar
Ben D January 12, 2020 5:25 pm UTC
Thank you! No plans to release it to FG at this time.
Customer avatar
M K B January 12, 2020 6:27 am UTC
Hi. I'm making characters with my kids in FTD and we're all loving it.
I'm trying to work out proficiencies and getting a little confused.
With the warrior, there is no mention that they get a general combat proficiency, but rather get proficiency to strength and constitution checks. Melee combat is basically a strength check vs the AC of the opponent?

What if a warrior wants to use their war bow, they don't get a dex proficiency bonus? Is missile weapon use a coordination proficiency?

What's the deal with proficient weapons? Does it mean they get their level-based proficiency bonus or just that they can use it? Does it stack with their strength proficiency?

What I seem to be reading is that a 1st lvl warrior has proficiency in:
All weapons.

Is this right? If so, are thieves just as good fighters as warriors, as they are proficient in all weapons, but can't...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D January 12, 2020 1:46 pm UTC
Nope, you aren’t missing anything. A level 1 thief is just as good of an offensive combatant as a level 1 warrior. However warriors quickly gain multiple attacks while thieves don’t.

If you’re proficient with ANY of the relevant elements then you add your proficiency bonus (ability proficiency, weapon proficiency, proficient checks, etc). So a warrior would add their proficiency to a bow attack because they are proficient with all weapons (and therefore all forms of physical attack).

A warrior is also better at managing retainers right out of the gate, due to their proficient checks (like tactics.) But you really start to differentiate around level 3, which is closer to a 5e PC at level 1.
Customer avatar
M K B January 13, 2020 3:31 am UTC
Thanks taking the time to answer.
If a character can apply a proficiency bonus from any source, they do. But only once no matter how many proficiencies may be applicable, correct?

Customer avatar
Ben D January 13, 2020 1:20 pm UTC
That’s correct, each type of modifier is applied only once (except due to some class feature).
Customer avatar
Roman R January 06, 2020 4:21 am UTC
I'm reading through it right now. I have questions and I'm sure others do too. There doesn't seem to be much information available yet, so I made a Facebook group to give people a place to discuss it. This should result in a good searchable database over time. See you there!
Customer avatar
Ben D January 06, 2020 1:33 pm UTC
Would be happy to answer questions here, as we don’t have Facebook.
Customer avatar
Sebastian A January 03, 2020 4:31 am UTC
Under Mage equipment says: Spell components (3 levels, 6 SUP). What do the "3 levels" mean?
Customer avatar
Ben D January 03, 2020 1:14 pm UTC
Three spell levels’ worth of components. So you have components enough to cast a level 1 spell three times or a level three spell once.
Customer avatar
Robert N December 30, 2019 9:32 pm UTC
So I am loving what I am reading so far but I have one question. On Critical Failures it says the damage is doubled on what damage the PC suffers. So on a crit fail, the PC suffers the damage he was trying to inflict on the monster?
Customer avatar
Ben D December 30, 2019 11:21 pm UTC
No. But if the PC had to make a check in order to resist a negative effect that included damage (such as a DEX check to avoid an avalanche), a critical failure would double the damage dealt. So in our avalanche example, the PC rolls a DEX check to dodge the rocks, rolls a 1, and rolls the damage as normal, and doubles it.
Customer avatar
Matthieu W December 26, 2019 8:29 pm UTC
I bought this game after I saw Dungeon Craft's review and I love it !

I have some questions;

Ability proficiency:
So basically a class adds its proficency bonus to 2 abilities right? So warrior always add proficiency bonus to STR and CON checks? But then it appears that some proficiency bonus are redundant, for instance barbarian is proficient to intimidation and endurance but wasn't he already proficient in both checks before?
How is the Wizard proficient in CON? (I have a hard time justifying this bonus)

Proficiency checks : I need clarification for these checks
Coordination (warrior): is it physical coordination ?
Finesse (wizard): I don't know what finesse refers to.
Customer avatar
Ben D December 26, 2019 8:36 pm UTC
Sometimes you would use a different ability modifier with a proficient check. For example a Barbarian might use WIS for an intimidation check to tell an enemy fighter that they see they have a hidden blade tucked in their boot.

Wizards must be able to maintain focus and tough through physically demanding spell casting. CON also represents ability to resist many enemy magical attacks, to which a wizard would excel.

Coordination is like hand eye coordination.

Finesse is like fine motor control. Sewing, calligraphy, precise hand movements.
Customer avatar
Matthieu W December 30, 2019 12:45 pm UTC
Thank you very much!
Customer avatar
Luke G December 16, 2019 11:50 pm UTC
Love this product, though I do have a few questions, whats the best mode of access for rules clarifications and FAQ's?

Also Could you guys recommend some modules that fit well with this supplement?
Customer avatar
Ben D December 17, 2019 1:08 pm UTC
You can ask us here or on Twitter.

Trilemma Adventures, Ultraviolet Grasslands, Barrowmaze, Stonehell, Bone Marshes, Hot Springs Island, Caverns of Thracia, and many other open ended sand box style modules work best. We suggest checking out Ten Foot Pole’s adventure reviews.
Customer avatar
Guilherme E December 14, 2019 7:00 pm UTC
What means the "PER!!" stuff in the sheet? Didn't find anything in the book.
Customer avatar
Ben D December 14, 2019 7:13 pm UTC
It's a 5e shorthand meaning "Perception," such as using your senses to spot a hiding enemy.
Customer avatar
Guilherme E December 14, 2019 8:39 pm UTC
Thanks for the reply!
Customer avatar
Ian M December 09, 2019 12:13 am UTC
Got a chance to play test game yesterday. Really like the streamlined character Gen. Makes for a great way to sit down and play one shots.
Customer avatar
Ian M December 09, 2019 12:48 am UTC
Fat fingers....

I wanted to ask about the overland travel rule. How does that work with the resilience rule?

Can a character march up to 10 + STR mod before having to spend resilience?

I can’t quite work out how to reconcile overland travel, speed and resilience.

Customer avatar
Ben D December 09, 2019 1:52 pm UTC
Hey Ian, glad you had fun. They all occur simultaneously and set their own limits. If a character had only a 6 CON they can’t travel for 14 hours (STR). In other words, each is true simultaneously and your character is limited by whatever their lowest stat is.
Customer avatar
Ian M December 09, 2019 5:16 pm UTC
thanks for the reply,

That made me realise I was not paying attention to speed.
Customer avatar
Daniel A January 23, 2020 2:04 pm UTC
I'm trying to wrap my head around this.

Say a character has 6 CON and 14 STR. They would be able to take 6 resilience damage before risking getting exhausted(p25) and travels at a pace of 14 miles in a day(p23). I still don't understand how to connect these two things. Is the assumption that the distance covered in a STR day takes eight hours, assuming one has the resilience for it?
Customer avatar
Ian M February 17, 2020 1:44 am UTC
The two aren't connected (not directly anyway).

If your guy traveled at 2 mph, he would cover 12 miles in 6 hours when his resilience wore out, then he would have to make a check to go another hour to reach 14 miles where his STR limit kicks in.

I'm not sure if there is a rule for pushing farther than your STR in a day.

I've actually dropped this particular restriction in my game though
Customer avatar
Chad K December 02, 2019 1:39 am UTC
Buy this game. 5 Torches ( 5T ) does for 5E what B/X did for AD&D. Great game.
Customer avatar
Jeremy H November 30, 2019 6:08 am UTC
Some seriously cool stuff happening in this. I think you guys moved the OSR/O5R torch forward significantly with this product.
The flip-through vid sparked a lot of ideas for me.
Looking forward to a sale though. :^)
Customer avatar
Ben D November 30, 2019 1:15 pm UTC
Thanks! Check out the current Bundle of Holding.
Customer avatar
Franklin D November 30, 2019 3:01 am UTC
Do you have any plans to release this on Roll20? Or at least the character sheet or HTLM and CSS for it? I would be very interested in running this online. :D
Customer avatar
Ben D November 30, 2019 4:06 am UTC
No plans currently but we will look into that!
Customer avatar
Jonathan R December 15, 2019 10:55 am UTC
Please make a Roll20 sheet! I bought your game and would love very much to play it online on Roll20
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