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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 (3)
Discussions (16)
Customer avatar
SeungHan O October 18, 2019 3:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
A supply & load question:

Let's assume I am carrying healing kit (2 SUP) and weak Potion (3 SUP) and decided to carry 10 SUP. Do I carry 2 load (10 SUP) or 3 load (10 SUP + healing kit and weak potion which I have decided to carry)?
Customer avatar
Ben D October 18, 2019 12:52 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Supply is easiest to think of as a bunch of abstract packages. The packages have unknown contents, but they still exist and take up space (load). So you would have 3 load (1 from the kit and potion, 2 from the supply brought.)
Customer avatar
SeungHan O October 18, 2019 1:17 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you.
Customer avatar
Jesus B October 10, 2019 6:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Love the game. Fast, quick and easy. The only thing I miss is maybe a POD pocket size book, but it´s a personal preference.
Customer avatar
Ben D October 10, 2019 8:15 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Good feedback! We'll consider releasing a digest size book in POD, but that'd probably be farther down the road. Thanks for the support; don't forget to leave a rating if you haven't done so already :)
Customer avatar
Matt S October 10, 2019 3:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I run games for kids and young people, and they've all thoroughly enjoyed FTD. It's a great little thing, and while we've only used it for one-shots so far, we will be trying it for campaign play in the near future!
Customer avatar
Ben D October 10, 2019 3:47 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks Matt, really glad to hear the gang is loving it! Don't forget to leave a rating / review if you can. Thanks again!
Customer avatar
Peter S October 10, 2019 11:25 am UTC
PURCHASER
I bought this recently. Love it. Phenomenally necessary!
Customer avatar
Ben D October 10, 2019 3:47 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks so much! Don't forget to leave a rating / review if you can. Appreciate it!
Customer avatar
Robert N October 03, 2019 9:14 pm UTC
PURCHASER
What does "Per" in the head with the exclamation points refer to on the character sheet? Likewise, what does the Morale box refer to (morale modifier for retainers since PCs rarely make morale checks)?
Customer avatar
Ben D October 04, 2019 3:07 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
"Per" is a common shorthand in 5e circles for "Perception." It's an often-used type of check and so we just called it out there, as during playtesting it came up quite often. (Personally I don't really like using Perception as a check because it robs some of the fictional positioning but to each their own).

Morale is if you have any kind of bonus to morale (or your retainers), such as from being a Cleric. Sometimes PCs do make morale checks, such as when confronted by a monster with "fear" effects, etc.
Customer avatar
Robert N October 04, 2019 3:45 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the reply. So as in "passive perception" in 5E? It was confusing since perception really wasn't mentioned in the rules. Also, what did your playtesting reveal regarding the encumbrance/load rules? It seems terribly restrictive. I rolled up a human thief the other night who ended up with a STR=9. He couldn't even carry the starting equipment with Load rules as written. I know he could hire retainers, but still seems too restrictive. Seems like Load should = 2 x STR score. Also, max retainers = CHA score seems very high. I know that is max, but did you really have playtests with PCs bringing in dozens of retainers? Seems like that would really bog the game down.
Customer avatar
Ben D October 04, 2019 5:45 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I think we had this same conversation on Twitter!

For the rest of the crowd:

PER: not just passive perception, but some players have unique proficiency bonuses or ability score bonuses that pertain to Perception / Senses / Awareness, and so you can put those there. It's just a quick reference spot.

LOAD: I think this is probably my favorite part of the game, it really makes gear intentionally selected. If properly leveraging SUP, Retainers, and higher STR party members, I've rarely had a party not have enough LOAD capacity to adventure adequately. This doesn't include magical items (bag of holding) and similar that can expand LOAD or reduce weight.

CHA / Retainers: Yes, many OSR experiences are bringing in a troupe of 30-ish people coming into the dungeon. Keep in mind that the more retainers you bring in, the harder it is for you to hide in a dungeon. Also note that travel turns have a result of "betrayal" which means that low-morale / low-loyalty...See more
Customer avatar
Robert N October 04, 2019 8:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks again for the reply. I think it's starting to make sense to me. I play mostly 5E, although I started with RPGs back in the day with 1E AD&D and a little BECMI, so I'm probably finding it hard to shake the 5E tunnel vision. I also have played some DCC and AS&SH, but FTD is fairly different from those as well.

I know most people play OSR games as theater of the mind, so I imagine a game with a party and many retainers/hench would be very difficult to run with minis (although I've run DCC funnel games with minis and 16 PCs).
Customer avatar
Vernon F October 03, 2019 4:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Skimming through the pdf, I don't see any information on demi-human special abilities such as dark vision. Am I missing it or have their special abilities been removed?
Customer avatar
Ben D October 03, 2019 12:30 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
They’ve been removed, races only affect ability score generation and class selection.
Customer avatar
Sean P October 02, 2019 4:02 am UTC
If I were choosing between Five Torches Deep and Vagabonds of Dyfed, what advice would you give to help me choose between the two? I am eyeing both with longing but clenching my sole sawbuck in indecision. :-D
Customer avatar
Ben D October 02, 2019 12:26 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I think FTD is a “better” game in its completeness, writing, and layout. However if you are sick of D&D and want more of the themes envisioned in a different way, I would go with Vagabonds. So basically the less like D&D you want, the more likely you would prefer Vagabonds.
Customer avatar
Jason D September 29, 2019 8:01 pm UTC
Wondering about a character sheet for this game. Does it use the same one as D&D (5e)?
Customer avatar
Ben D September 29, 2019 8:54 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
No, it is quite simplified. The character sheet is included in the pdf and print version as a scannable page.
Customer avatar
Kasparas B September 26, 2019 8:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Loving the rules so far, will most likely run my next campaign with this as it feels like a great compromise between OSR and 5e while keeping best parts of both!

I would like some author's clarification of a couple of specific archetype features.

1) Fighter archetype, Orders feature. Is it intended as foregoing your own movement to give an ally another action?
2) Assassin archetype, Stealth after attack feature. Does this mean that assassins get to do a stealth check after hitting someone as part of the same action? Speaking of stealth checks in general are they indended to be d20+dex mod + prof if proficient?
3) Wizard archetype, advantage to magic items and advantage to potions. This one confused me the most. Is it meant as advantage to craft/brew said items or is it advantage to use/identify? Both? Generally would like to know more on what was intended with these two features.

Again, love the book and hope to see a supplement or zine of some sorts for this...See more
Customer avatar
Ben D September 26, 2019 2:13 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks for the compliment! (Don't forget to leave a rating / review)

1) Correct. The Warrior basically spends the time they'd normally be moving to give an order to an ally (PC or NPC).

2) Correct, they can basically make a stealth as a free action. Specific checks aren't outlined as they're open to GM and player negotiation / arbitration, but yes d20 + dex mod + prof is a common interpretation of that.

3) Essentially any time those items come up in which a Wizard would have to make a check, the Wizard makes said check with advantage. Crafting them, resisting them, using them, identifying them, disarming them as traps, etc. The intent is that the wizard isn't as reliant on actual spells and more so their magic items, gadgets, and familiar.
Customer avatar
Kasparas B September 27, 2019 1:49 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the clarifications!

One more thing though. In the example monsters the stone dragon is listed as having to hit bonus of +5 and I am struggling to see how to arrive at that number. My impression before was that the weak/medium/strong modifiers were used based on how good the monster was at combat but +5 does not appear at all in the monster math table for HD 9. Is there some modifier I am missing here? Thanks in advance!
Customer avatar
Ben D September 27, 2019 5:44 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yup that's by design! Just meant to show that you can have more granular modifiers given the specific attacks. Not super clear (and probably should have just left it at +6) but wanted to demonstrate something that's less likely to just "attack" and more likely to use a special technique.
Customer avatar
J. H September 25, 2019 2:47 am UTC
PURCHASER
The rules provided within seem simple enough with just a few things I am curious about and any help is appreciated:

-Skills / Proficiencies: p. 20 says that the 5E skills have been removed, but I see in the PC's section that each class receives a proficiency bonus to certain skills and this plays into the Monster building section as well. I.E- Chaos Magic, Profane Magic, Tactics, Hold the Line and so on. I've looked the book over several times to make sure I did not just skip over it, but cannot find any skills list or skill descriptions provided or a mechanical benefit for the game system once you do decide to utilize said skill. Did I miss this portion?

-Equipment/Supplies: Potion [Weak] / Potion [Strong] [Poisons as well] did not have any description as to what this was supposed to be or do. I checked the DM section and Magic Items/Potions sections and could not find any reference to the rules governing what these items do beyond a line or two on how to build Magic Items for the game....See more
Customer avatar
Ben D September 25, 2019 2:13 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi there JH. Happy to help!

Skills / proficiencies: so the "skills" you're referring to in FTD are more just descriptive traits. When those types of actions are relevant the GM can bestow proficiency upon the PC rolling a check; a Warrior would gain proficiency bonus to a check of "will" for example, or in a situation when the GM felt that someone who is good at "will" should have a higher chance of success in a given situation. So, there aren't specific rules other than the "Proficient Checks" section in the core gameplay chapter. There aren't descriptions or specific instructions on how to use these as it's basically "the GM decides when relevant."

Equipment / Supplies: Much like the above, these are just indicators of what the GM can decide, more so as guidelines than rules. The style of OSR gameplay (in our opinion) is much more ad hoc and freeform, pulling from other sources and creating things on the fly. Many OSR GMs would feel...See more
Customer avatar
J. H September 25, 2019 5:36 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the helpful response! My imagination seems to have too much dust on it after several years of rules heavy games. I only realize this while seeking to get back to basics again and have fun again without the massive burden of too many rules, abilities & restrictions. It was indeed 100% user error! I will be utilizing several things that are presented in this book and cannot wait to get them to the table this week.
Customer avatar
Ben D September 25, 2019 6:18 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Ha, glad to hear it. Thanks JH!
Customer avatar
Ryan D September 24, 2019 2:19 am UTC
PURCHASER
So far I am enjoying the rules other than:
There is no place on the character sheet to track your proficiency bonus.
The supply cost of casting spells isn't listed anywhere in the magic section of the rules. It is only in the quick reference and equipment sections.
Under the proficient checks for each class is has "archetype" listed. I thought that meant you pick one from your archetype but the text for the archetypes says you are proficient with three skills, so I thought you got all three skills. Then I noticed it says you don't pick an archetype until level 3. So I can't figure out why the word "archetype" is listed there.
Customer avatar
Ben D September 24, 2019 2:52 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi there Ryan, sorry for the confusion. Let me try to clarify and point out where the rules are in the book:

Proficiency bonus: that's true, however we felt that it made sense to put in the "proficient checks" box since that's largely freeform and fillable.

Spell SUP cost: it's in the supply section, but yes I see that it's not specifically in the spellcasting section. We felt it would be redundant there since it was after the Supply section.

Proficient "archetype": you gain your proficiency bonus to any checks in the "proficient checks" box. Warriors, at level 1, would gain their prof bonus to coordination, tactics, and will-related checks. At level 3, that warrior would also gain their proficiency bonus to the three new checks based on their archetype (so a level 3 warrior with Barbarian would gain proficiency bonus to intimidate, endurance, and travel).
Customer avatar
Ryan D September 24, 2019 3:39 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks.
Have you guys thought about including some example characters?
I think some pregens could have helped.
Customer avatar
Ben D September 24, 2019 3:56 am UTC
PUBLISHER
We were very committed to keeping the page count at 48; but we're working on a website with pregens and some other resources. We'll post a link on this DTRPG page once they're ready. Thanks for the feedback!
Customer avatar
Eric M September 23, 2019 3:31 am UTC
PURCHASER
Does anyone know if there's a Roll20.net "Five Torches Deep" character sheet available anywhere?
Customer avatar
Ben D September 23, 2019 4:51 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Not that we've seen, but that would be sweet! If we had code skills we'd do it ourselves, but, that's a bit out of our wheelhouse.
Customer avatar
Robert M September 22, 2019 10:07 pm UTC
This game is awesome! This is exactly what I was looking for to solve the "superhero complex" in D&D. The part I like the most is that I can also use this as a guide to normalize other 5e titles, that I like, that go overboard on the special abilities.
Customer avatar
Ben D September 22, 2019 11:51 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks Robert!
Customer avatar
bryce C September 20, 2019 1:45 am UTC
PURCHASER
When creating a character at first level. Are the staring Hp supposed to be, ex. Warrior 6+Con Mod or is it supposed to be 6+Con score like 4ed. I only ask this because at the second level you get 1d10 + Con Mod.
Customer avatar
Ben D September 20, 2019 12:06 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
It’s like 5e, so 6+ CON mod at first level (not score.)
Customer avatar
Mederig H September 18, 2019 7:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello so i'm reading through the book and loving it so far. I just wondered what are the abilities proficiency listed in each class (like STR, CON for the warrior) ? Does this mean they get proficiency bonus on every check involving this ability or am i missing something ?
Customer avatar
Ben D September 18, 2019 8:51 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Usually yes that's correct. Whenever a PC is "proficient" with any action they gain their proficiency bonus. So in cases in which the PC is just making an "ability check" such as "Make a STR check to climb over this wall" then the Warrior would apply their proficiency bonus to STR. This functions identically to as in 5e.

Thanks for the compliments and questions!
Customer avatar
Chad K September 17, 2019 10:06 pm UTC
Are the 5E books required to play?
Customer avatar
Ben D September 17, 2019 10:33 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Good question; nope! This is a 100% self-contained game, however some familiarity with other fantasy rpgs expedites the time to learn the system.
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