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Five Torches Deep $10.00
Publisher: Sigil Stone Publishing
by Gabriel R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2022 11:21:56

What I liked: FTD adopts a lot of the best ideas from other OSR games, but at a deep structural level it's 5e. In many ways it prioritizes simplicity. d20 resolution for everything. The class system is essentially a streamlined version of the 2e PHB class system reconceptualized as the 5e class/archetype system (eg, a bard is a thief archetype). Encumberance and supply are both simple enough to be used and supply reminds me of Gumshoe preparedness (a great mechanic). Ascending AC and highly abstracted armor (light vs heavy) and weapons (one-hand vs 2-hand and simple vs martial). In addition to the various simplicity angles, it has several great ideas (some of them presumably borrowed from other OSR games). Like LotFP, the FTD thief is a TSR-style infilitration specialist, not a WotC-style glass cannon. Races are just alternate rules for ability score generation and no race has darkvision. The magic system is a simplified version of DCC's brilliant but overly crunchy weird magic system. (Though note that the odds of a mishap are much higher than in DCC).

What I didn't like: Five Torches Deep is not a playable game that grafts the best OSR ideas onto 5e but an overly terse set of notes on how to do so. As written, it is unplayable. You need the 5e PHB and a lot of work to adapt it. For instance, if you play a warrior with the ranger archetype, you can choose a feat of "adv to track or hunt." What are the rules for tracking? A wisdom roll? FTD doesn't tell us so the DM needs to make it up or look it up in 5e PHB. Another example, healer kits are mentioned several times but we never learn what they do. (In 5e a healer kit stabilizes a character at 0 hp but in FTD you simply die at 0 hp which leaves one wondering why FTD makes a presumably useless piece of equipment a standard part of the warrior and zealot loadout). There are a lot of cases like this. A bit like how little brown books OD&D didn't make sense unless you were an experienced wargamer, FTD won't make sense unless you are an experienced 5e player and even then you'll have to make up a lot on the fly. This is especially disappointing as there's a 5e SRD so there's no legal reason FTD couldn't be written to be playable. FTD has great layout and art so obviously the authors weren't too lazy to make it playable. I suspect the authors deliberately prioritized making it short and sweet but unfortunately there's such a thing as excessive terseness. Inshallah, just as OD&D was unplayable until Moldvay and Holmes rewrote it to be comprehensible for people who weren't experienced wargamers, there will someday be an edition of FTD that is willing to have a slightly higher word count but actually makes sense. On that day I suspect it will be my top pick for OSR, or even F20 in general.



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Five Torches Deep
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