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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 (18)
Discussions (67)
Customer avatar
keith H July 09, 2020 8:12 pm UTC
Is the Bard's Advantage to charm, meant to imply that they have an ability similar to "Charm Person" while playing?
Or is that meant to reflect more of a sparkling personality skill to help them in social situation? (non magical)
Customer avatar
Ben D July 09, 2020 8:19 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
The latter. All proficient checks are essentially skills. The expectation is that the GM and player negotiate what those terms apply to and grant the bonus accordingly.
Customer avatar
keith H July 08, 2020 5:44 pm UTC
why does a Halberd allow wielder to use INT bonus?
Is this a misprint?
Customer avatar
Ben D July 08, 2020 6:12 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
It is not a misprint. The thinking is that some weapons have much more to do with proper application than physical athleticism. A halberd is a formation weapon and is largely effective through placement and momentum rather than strength.

The weapons in the list are just examples of how a GM could tailor their world to incorporate other abilities for effective weaponry. A common example of this is “finesse” melee weapons that use DEX rather than STR.
Customer avatar
Johnny P June 17, 2020 5:33 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is exactly what I was looking for trying to bring an OSR feel to 5e. It keeps the things that work and tosses out all of the fluff like subclasses within subclasses. It throws out the superfluous abilities that allow players to shirk the roleplaying aspect. It rationally limits the magic system and allows for the "uh-oh" factor (also known as a critical failure) that comes with swinging a sword or jumping a fissure. The HP are limited too and eliminates the grinding, slogging, drudgery of a combat that occurs at higher levels and higher HP. Overall, a very, very well-done system that brings the discretion back to the DM and allows for limitless creativity on part of the players and DM alike. I'm very much looking forward to the release of adventure modules under this system.
Customer avatar
Ben D June 17, 2020 8:17 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks Johnny! Don’t forget to leave a review if you can, every little bit helps.
Customer avatar
Jason C June 17, 2020 12:12 am UTC
PURCHASER
When creating a new monster how is the monster's To Hit value calculated? On page 39 I cannot figure out how you arrived at a To Hit value of +5 for both the Archcultist (a 7HD monster) and Stone Drake (a 9HD monster).
Customer avatar
Ben D June 17, 2020 2:40 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
The example monsters are intentionally NOT being held to a slavish interpretation of the monster math table, they're close. So the "weak" score might be 1 or 2 different from the listed math in the table; they're most so just guidelines based on averages. Not all 7 HD monsters should have the same ability modifiers, but you can use those as an average / baseline.
Customer avatar
Jason C June 16, 2020 5:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Are other people allowed to publish compatible materials (adventures, sourcebooks, rules expansions, etc...) for FTD (including commercially)?
Customer avatar
Ben D June 17, 2020 2:38 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Since the game is a hack of a hack of an OGL product, there's nothing we can really do to stop folks from making "compatible" things. We're not currently licensing or controlling that for the time being, so as long as you don't use our trade dress or say that it is an officially sanctioned product, go for it!
Customer avatar
Logan G May 25, 2020 7:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Started running a FTD campaign in Undermountain and am loving it so far. I thought I would like the resource management element of the SUP rules and it works just as I hoped. Just wondering if I am interpreting the load correctly because it seems a dwarf fighter in full heavy armour and weapons with the warrior equipment is essentially fully loaded? Kinda of feels like a fighter needs an STR of 15+ to effectively carry all their stuff and some loot!
Customer avatar
Ben D May 26, 2020 3:01 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes, sounds like you're reading that correctly (2h weapon + heavy armor = 7 load). Part of the benefit of having retainers is that they can help carry your stuff. You might also need to choose between a shield and heavy armor, etc.
Customer avatar
Logan G May 26, 2020 4:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks Ben, I forgot about encouraging the players to bring retainers to lug stuff around.

I hope that you guys plan to bring out more FTD stuff, I have homesteads and will probably pick up the duels as well. Maybe a supplement for followers, hench and retainer ideas would be cool or a monster compendium.
Customer avatar
Ben D May 27, 2020 3:49 am UTC
PUBLISHER
We have three supplements all in final production right now: Stealth, Origins, and the Vault. We have quite a few more in the works as well!
Customer avatar
Yann H May 08, 2020 8:20 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello there ! I have trouble with D&D5E monsters' conversion. I'm currently running Sunless Citadel and I have trouble adjusting the monsters to be violents enough but not too much. As an exemple, could you convert un goblin and en bugbear for me please ? (especially the bugbear) I'd like to see the whole thing with monster's category and weak/strong mod. Thank you !
Customer avatar
Ben D May 08, 2020 3:15 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
You’re overthinking it. 5e monsters can be run exactly as is but just half their HP. So a bugbear would have 14 instead of 27 HP, but would still have the +2 to +6 modifiers.
Customer avatar
Pierre C May 05, 2020 4:07 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello, I was reading the paladin archetype. Is lay on hand weak compared with the lvl2 zealot trait? 1hp/lvl seems not much, am I missing a point? :)
Customer avatar
Ben D May 06, 2020 12:03 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi! Yes, it is weaker but that's because it's an archetype feature rather than a class feature, which in general are weaker. However, it affords more flexibility in the sense that the Paladin can choose when to apply the healing, can apply it across multiple targets or themselves, there's no action listed for it, etc.
Customer avatar
William E May 01, 2020 7:39 am UTC
If we pick up the PDF first and decide to upgrade to a physical copy later is there a way to discount the PDF price from that purchase? Thanks!
Customer avatar
Ben D May 01, 2020 2:28 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Sure, just shoot us an email or message us on twitter (@fivetorchesdeep) and we'll send you a discount link.
Customer avatar
Daniel L April 28, 2020 4:36 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Where is the best place to find out about future releases for 5TD? I would love to see an expansion with more classes and more spells :D
Customer avatar
Ben D April 28, 2020 9:46 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
We announce all major releases on our Kickstarter page, as well as on our Twitter (@fivetorchesdeep). We also fairly regularly send out email blasts.
Customer avatar
keith H April 25, 2020 4:58 pm UTC
Why do Assassins have a Proficiency bonus to Tracking, but Rangers do not?
Or is Tracking/Hunting covered by Wilderness?
Customer avatar
Ben D April 25, 2020 6:09 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Outdoor tracking is covered by wilderness. Assassin tracking is more like tracking their target.
Customer avatar
Pierre C April 22, 2020 10:56 pm UTC
PURCHASER
One question sir :
let's say I have the relevant attribute modifier at -2. I roll for damage and get a 1... What are the damage : 0 or 1 (I don't believe you can heal target with an axe :p) ?

I didn't find the answer in the book nor here, but I may have missed it :)
(Hoping for your official answer to put it as rulling in the Roll20 sheet)
Customer avatar
Ben D April 23, 2020 4:28 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Minimum 1 damage dealt even if it would otherwise be negative. The only exception to this is damage immunity which is a rare monster technique.
Customer avatar
Pierre C April 23, 2020 2:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thx a lot! :)
Customer avatar
Ricardo Pedro Giro S April 17, 2020 2:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hey Ben, quick question. Would you say it's easy to play Old-School Essentials compatible modules in FTD? Adventures written with that system in mind like Winter's Daughter for example or even general OSR adventures
Customer avatar
Ben D April 17, 2020 5:42 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Absolutely! Just use the ascending AC options and they should work with practically no conversion.
Customer avatar
Ricardo Pedro Giro S April 17, 2020 11:55 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Alrighty then, you got me hooked. I'm getting the game as my first OSR experience. Sounds like the perfect transition from 5e.
Customer avatar
Ben D April 18, 2020 12:04 am UTC
PUBLISHER
That's amazing, let us know how it goes!
Customer avatar
Kyle J April 03, 2020 4:22 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi! I have a question about the spell list. What does "1min/lvl" or "2HD/lvl worth of targets" etc mean?
Customer avatar
Ben D April 03, 2020 12:40 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
One minute per level. So a level 4 mage casting that spell would make its effects last 4 minutes.

The spell affects an amount of creatures with a total combined hit dice equal to two times the caster’s level. For example the level 4 mage could impact 8HD worth of enemies.
Customer avatar
Igor L March 29, 2020 3:47 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I can't fully understand, how foraging is supposed to work. A quick example — a party just used their last potion and players want to resupply. Let's say there are only 2 SUP left, but the party needs 3. So the GM says "bad luck, you're out of potions". However, a character can spend an our "in a fertile region" (I guess forest is fine), hence get 1 SUP. Now the party has 3 SUP and actually can resupply a potion somehow. On the other hand, this mechanics is not supposed to "serve as “quantum equipment”", so I'm confused. Can the party get a new potion this way? How can this be explained in-game?
Customer avatar
Ben D March 29, 2020 8:16 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
As with everything, it’s up to the GM’s judgement. That being said, perhaps you need certain reagents or ingredients to brew a new potion (a slug, a mushroom, some deer blood, whatever). The point of supply is not to pay too close attention; if you start to do so then you should do away with supply completely and just treat every item individually.
Customer avatar
Leiah M March 17, 2020 1:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi! Bought this game specifically because the Homesteads supplement looked so cool, and I’m loving it so far!

Quick question about magical weapons: the text was a little unclear, but if I’m reading it right, magical weapons add their bonus to damage, but not to hit, correct?
Customer avatar
Ben D March 17, 2020 2:43 am UTC
PUBLISHER
In general, that’s correct. More specifically, we recommend magic items providing non mechanical value such as new abilities or spell like effects rather than extra damage. A sword that melts stone is cooler than +3 damage.
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