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A tabletop rpg combining the best of 5e and the OSR
628 backers pledged $6,261 to help bring this project to life.

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  • 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. 

  • Introduce 5e players to OSR
  • Modular design and layout

FTD is meant to ease the introduction of OSR mechanics and principles to those already familiar with 5e. The core is largely compatible with the current edition, but the more FTD mechanics and subsystems you add, the more “OSR” it feels. As such, you can plug and play to hack up your own amalgam of FTD and other systems.

  • 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 White Hack, and less “edgy” than LotFP. It hits the sweet spot between post-clone ultra-light rules and burdensome 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 Creation: there’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.

The Zealot class, all on one page
The Zealot class, all on one page

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).

The rules on "Supply" and replenishing consumed items
The rules on "Supply" and replenishing consumed items

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.

Spellcasting is simple but harsh
Spellcasting is simple but harsh

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. 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). 

Every page and spread has been meticulously edited and organized to make reference at the table as easy as possible. Information has been contained to a single column or page or spread, and every sentence is concise and without fluff. The double-wide layout makes it ideal for planting on the table and being able to quickly reference the right section.

Careful consideration was paid to the legibility of the fonts, tables, and flow of information on the page. There are as few "widows" and "orphans" as possible, no paragraphs flow across two pages, and everything is internally hyperlinked and referenced.

Since the format is US letter paper (11” x 8.5”) it prints easily enough at home; perfect for group handouts. While we're going with a glued binding, the book still lays pretty flat due to its extra wide format and softcover. The book is being printed on the heaviest paper and highest quality color available from DriveThru, making it both beautiful and sturdy.

Character sheet
Character sheet

Logistics

The book is completely written, edited, and laid out. All that's left is the production of art and finishing touches. Once it's ready we'll send it off to the printer for proofing, which usually takes a couple of weeks.

Here at SSP we like to keep our Kickstarters super simple. With FTD, there's only a single pledge: $10 gets you the full interactive PDF and a link to an at-cost code to print a copy from DriveThru RPG. You pay us once through this Kickstarter, and then pay DT each time you want to order a print book (we're looking at something like $8 + shipping).

Risks and challenges

This is SSP's eleventh Kickstarter. The book is basically done, just finalizing art.

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    Five Torches Deep

    The complete game in PDF and an at-cost code for POD

    Includes:
    • FTD PDF
    • FTD POD At-Cost Code
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- (30 days)