I greet you, Legion of Chaons, and welcome back to Mordite Monday! This week I'm turning over command to D. Koch, author of Fearless and Freebooting and all-around classy guy. His formidable mission is this:

  • Explore and document the iconic class characters featured in all Torchbearer products 
  • Create pre-generated versions of those characters for convention and tutorial use
  • Additionally create higher-level versions of those characters for use in higher-level modules
  • And also incorporate official and Sagas modules into the backstories of those characters!


I'm looking forward to watching this unfold over the course of many Mondays, and I hope you enjoy the Road to Redemption series!

- Lord Mordeth

Iconics on the Road to Redemption Series

What sort of team balance do you run when making a character for Torchbearer?

There's lots of questions and things to think about when gearing up for a Torchbearer game. Let's look at some strategies for character creation and team builds to keep you alive inside the dungeon...

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the characters, we need to address team composition and team-building strategy. It's especially important for new players to think about building a team of characters rather than just creating a character in isolation. (Sometimes that's a necessary evil, and we'll cover integrating 'orphaned' characters in a future post. — L.M.)

Party BalanceEach player in a group brings tactics, aspirations, and role-playing baggage to the table. Understanding and balancing what each player wants out of the game is often the first step in ensuring everyone has a good time and works together well. Teamwork is the only way to survive in Torchbearer, so thinking about the team before you set off to adventuring is wise.

Some of the best Torchbearer teams have thoughtfully considered specialties, complementary skills and instincts, and various tactics to deal with the obstacles in the dungeon. On the other hand, I’ll often hear experienced players say things like, “Cook is overrated,” or, “Let’s ‘beginner’s luck’ Cartographer so we can get a different specialization.” Out of context, it might seem crazy not to bring a cook or map maker with you, but if the party devises some solution to address that gap, then I’ve seen it work just fine. For example, instead of bringing a Cook, an advanced strategy might be to supplement food and water with a strong Survivalist and Scavenger, then maybe the party can do without a cook for a little while.

As long as the group has some sort of answer to these questions, they should start off on the right foot:

Food strategy

How will you acquire food?

You'll need a way to find food or water when stuck at bottom of the dungeon with nothing left. You might rely on a Cartographer to fast travel out of the dungeon and then Pathfinder back to town or a safe camp, but that can be risky if you twist and get lost.

Light strategy

Who holds the Tinderbox?

How will you distribute the light sources among the characters?

Inventory is always tight, but making room so that all of your torches aren't all in one backpack is wise. Make sure the character holding the tinderbox has Survivalist so he can actually use it when the light is extinguished by a twist.

Loot strategy

Are you searching for leads, knowledge, or a big magic item?

Some parties aim to find at least 4D in loot for each character before returning to town. Other parties barely manage to scrap together 1D each to insulate Resource tax from failed Town Lifestyle costs. Talking this over can be an important part of building an effective looting machine.

Camp strategy

When, how often, and where will the party make camp?

Many parties never discuss camping. If the party plans to camp often and earns checks, it makes sense to have camp instincts. However, some players might have camp instincts but never take the risk to go for checks -- which can be avoided if the players discuss it beforehand rather than nudging reminders, or worse accusations, later at the table.

Also, if you can camp before the 4th turn, you can keep Fresh, but that often means the party needs to play more conservatively and spend rewards to help get successes.

Team Build

Once the group has some idea of how they want to approach the game, then you can start to build out the party by thinking about what type of “build,” or party composition, to create. The best way is to make the characters together at the table, but hashing it out in an online forum or group chat can work if your group is scattered across the globe.

With over 50 player classes available through third-party supplements, you have a lot of options to bring interesting parties together. Check out the character class spreadsheet on the Torchbearer RPG Wiki for the full list.

You gotta fight...

Classic Balanced Party

A balanced build contains the classic, core classes from the Torchbearer rulebook. This type of party covers all of the bases so that each character specializes in one area and all of the main skills are covered.

  • Karolina, Human Warrior
  • Beren of Carcaroth, Dwarf Adventurer
  • Gerald, Halfling Burglar
  • Varg, Human Magician
  • Ulrik, Human Cleric

Stealth Party

A Stealth build is all about avoiding combat, maximizing loot extraction, and minimizing risk. Scout and criminal skills and stealthy natures help avoid conflicts. Sly, slippery, or greedy traits can help when plundering. Having two laborers allows for help to carry huge items and a backup if injured. The key to this build is to look for a tapestry (8D loot for Resources), mirror (4D of Salvage), or other expensive items. Many parties leave tapestries behind because you cannot put them in a backpack. But this party takes everything that is not nailed down.

  • Gerald, the Halfling Burglar
  • Sissz the Skulker, the Roden Guide
  • Tiziri, the Human Thief
  • Umma, the Dwarven Artificer
  • Nkore, the Minotaur Pitfighter

Hack-n-slash Party

Generally, Torchbearer is not a hack-n-slash type of game, but certain campaigns might call for a fighter-heavy “tank” approach or maybe the players want to bludgeon their way through obstacles. Champion, bloodlust, or heroic traits are obvious picks. This build is weak on magic and will suffer without an Arcanist or Alchemist, but don't tell these ruffians that. (A great deal of armor proficiency means this party can afford to get into a few scraps without paying too much compromise — a direct route to Loot Table 1 if ever there was one. — L.M.)

  • Sutara, the Human Paladin
  • Adham-ibn-Rajab of the Holy Mountain, the Assassin
  • Kaspar, the Human Strider
  • Thorbjorn, the Berserker Outlaw
  • Gáhteriinná, the Spiritsmith

Mischief & Mayhem Party

Some players like to play unorthodox characters to see what happens. Cunning, mercurial, and clever traits might stir things up.

  • Nuza Snagglefang, the Goblin Shaman
  • Peachy Begonia Rumplefeather, the Pixie Pest
  • Grrrr-a-ruff, the Omega Dire Wolf
  • The Servitor
  • Yngvildur of the Desily-Turtlegem, the Troll-born Enchanter


Surviving the Adventure

One great thing about Torchbearer is that there's no one "right" way to play. At the end of the night, all that really matters is if the party survives to fight another day.

Road to Redemption Party

Here is our main line up for our Road to Redemption campaign. We will follow these characters through all of their trials and tribulations.

Chicken Legs, Human Monk

Scholar 3, Fighter 2, Healer 2, Lore Master 2, Ritualist 2, Theologian 2

Criminal 3

Healer 2

Sissz the Skulker, Roden Guide

Dungeoneer 3, Scavenger 3, Scout 3, Criminal 2, Hunter 2, Fighter 2 

Cook 2 

Kearte, Human Skald

Orator 4, Manipulator 3, Fighter 2, Lore Master 2, Scholar 2

Pathfinder 3

Hunter 2

Doodle Dingle, Gnome Illusionist

Arcanist 3, Dungeoneer 2, Haggler 2, Scholar 2, Scout 2, Steward 2, Alchemist 2

Cartographer 3

Thurstanni, Winter Elf Shaman

Hunter 3, Ritualist 3, Survivalist 3, Healer 2, Orator 2, Scout 2

Dungeoneer 2

The players are going with a balanced build, so, they want skill coverage plus helpers with complementary skills. You can't duplicate team skill specialties when making a team (see What's Your Specialty, Torchbearer, page 15), but some of overlapping skills are class skills so that is okay.

Scout and dungeoneer are critical skills and they got those in spades.

There are plenty of helpers for cartographer which they plan to use a couple of times per adventure. Good maps can make the difference between life and death when twists knock the party down.

Since the party has a good survivalist, they should be able to fill jugs with water to stave off their thirst. Thanks to some able hunters and lore masters, they plan to cautiously approach monsters armed with knowledge.

Without any laborers, the Skald decides she will use beginner's luck to unlock that skill over time.

So, that's our starting party. Next time we will look at the character sheet and life of everyone's favorite iconic monk Chicken Legs!


Game on!- Koch


Road to Redemption

In this Road to Redemption series, we will follow a party of “iconic” adventurers from various Torchbearer Sagas supplements. We'll follow them from Level 1 to Level 10 and look at how they change, grow, or fall victim to their own beliefs.

Credits Due

Iconic characters, names, and likeness used with permission of the authors. All copyrights belong to their respective owners.

Jared Sorensen: "Wanders, Outcasts, and Exiles"

Jared Sorensen: "Frozen Fiends"

Thor Olavsrud: "Torchbearer Classes"


Further Reading


Topics: Mordite Mondays, Iconics, Torchbearer, TB Insights