Encroaching Darkness

Encroaching Darkness

Encroaching Darkness

Looking at the preview videos for Darkest Dungeon put me in the mood for darkness as a vivid and tangible threat. I’ve heard that people tend to use Dungeon World for characters on a more heroic scale, and I understand this idea was aptly tackled by Torchbearer, but I don’t own it. 

Anyway, these moves just kind of materialized, and I wanted to put them out there in case anyone can refine them into something useful. Maybe they could only be used for 0-level Villagers, henchmen, or characters in World of Dungeons. Or maybe regular Dungeon World heroes should fear the dark.

When you light a torch, add +1 Light for the whole party, for a maximum of +3. Other light effects, such as the Clerical rote or Wizardly cantrip, may also add +1 to the party’s Light. If the party ever splits up, divide their Light based on who is holding the torches.

When you enter an unexplored area of the dungeon, Roll +Light. On a 10+, you make out whatever your light reveals with clarity and resolve. On a 7–9 you see clearly, but pick one:

* You draw unwelcome attention or put yourself in a spot. The GM will say what.

* Your nerves are shaken by the closing darkness. Suffer a debility of your choice until you relax in view of daylight.

* A torch burns low: Subtract 1 from your current Light level.

When you deal damage to a dungeon fiend, whether it’s a dweller in darkness, or creature of the night, add +Light to the damage.

When you Order a Hireling in the dungeon, if your Light level is lower than the Hireling’s Loyalty, Roll +Light instead.

When your last torch burns low…

10 thoughts on “Encroaching Darkness”

  1. Now that the sun has risen, the party is feeling bolder, and they think that “Suffer a debility of your choice until you relax in view of daylight” is too harsh if it applies to the whole party. I meant it to apply to one character, but I didn’t spell that out.

    I like the idea of letting them quail one-by-one, but I didn’t think about how to choose which character suffers the debility. I suppose the party could elect one of the lightbearers to roll, and let that player decide.

    Another option for the 7–9 list should involve the hirelings: “One of your retainers loses their cool. The GM will say who and how.”

    What I’m really excited about is the potential for hard moves on a miss! 😀

  2. I really like the idea of the retainers loosing their cool.

    Another option (and this would be a more serious hack) would be to have light sources “provide + X Light ” and last for Y “time” (turns?).  And for every member of the party, reduce your Light by 1.  (So a torch might grant +2 Light, but if you’ve got 2 people in the party, your Light is +0).

    Then have moves like Discern Realities cost 1 time (turn?). Using a slow item (like bandages) could likewise take 1 time (or 1d4 time).  Someone mapping the room could take 1 time.  Tricks of the Trade, Bend Bars/Lift Grates, Ritual, Hunt & Track… all sorts of moves could have a time cost. 

    Your maps could have time costs associated with rooms and passages.  Like a long tunnel could have a “2 time” cost to traverse it carefully.

    The creeping of time then eats away at your light sources. Every N time, you call for a “nerve” check. Or a wandering monster check.  Or both?  Require that you make camp every Z time.  Dole out conditions (miserable, scared, confused, etc.) that “unlock” GM moves.

    Damnit.  Now I want to write Torchbearer PbtA.

  3. Jeremy Strandberg Might be more practical to use a “usage die” for torches a la The Black Hack rpg. Just have the torchbearers roll that at any intervals the GM deems appropriate.

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