A downloadable game

Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

THE DEAD LORDS HAVE ARISEN!

The People's Revolution has overthrown the nobles of the realm and seized the Imperial capital of Kynburgh. The Emperor Titan Kyne died cursing the land and all who deposed him. Now the only coin that is left lies buried with the undead Lords who forged the Empire. Delve into the dungeon, twice-kill the dead Lords, and secure the People's Revolution!

A SINGLE-PLAYER RPG FORGED IN THE DARK

Using a single-player stream-lined variation of John Harper's Blades in the Dark rules, players can quickly generate characters with unique skills and items. As you delve you use your creativity and limited resources to overcome 100's of encounters, randomly generated from 9 unique dungeon locations. When your pack is full of broken crowns and Imperial coins you return above ground to the Imperial capital for downtime where your character can recover and resupply for their next delve.

If you succumb to your wounds you die!

If you become corrupted by diabolism and the wealth of the dungeon you die!

If your last torch burns out in the middle of the pitch black dungeon you die!

The only way to live is to kill the ghoulish nobility in their crypts, steal back their wealth, and survive to delve again. For the realm! For the people! For the Revolution!

  • Players: 1
  • Playtime: 30 minutes per session
  • Requirements: 6 six-sided dice, a deck of playing cards (jokers included) and something to write with. A character sheet and reference sheets are included with the game.

REPORTS FROM THE DUNGEONS

Interviews and actual plays of A Torch in the Dark!

Credits

Written & designed by Michael Elliott

Original cover images by Linus SandvideKarson on Unsplash

Interior art by Open Clipart Vectors on Pixabay and Public Domain Vectors

Ink Splashes and Spatters by Peach Garden Games & Aaron King

Based on Blades in the Dark, a product of One Seven Design, developed and authored by John Harper, and licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Music For Killing Dead Lords

Purchase

Buy Now$15.00 USD or more

In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $15 USD. You will get access to the following files:

A Torch in the Dark v 1.3.pdf 8 MB
A Torch in the Dark - Character Sheet.pdf 999 kB
A Torch in the Dark - Dungeon Guide.pdf 3 MB
A Torch in the Dark - Rules Reference.pdf 33 kB

Exclusive content

Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Community Copies

Everyone who purchases this game provides a copy for someone to download free of charge. These community copies of the game are intended for those who are experiencing financial hardships and cannot pay for a copy. If you want to check out this game and cannot afford the price, help yourself.

You can also get this game, and all my games, for a small monthly pledge on Patreon or Ko-fi.

Development log

View all posts

Comments

Log in with itch.io to leave a comment.

(+1)

First of all, hats off to Michael for writing over 400 card prompts for this game. (In his place I would have simply gone insane). I never knew what was around the corner! The stakes are definitely high, and my heart was pounding as I risked it in my effort to defeat the Viscount. I have more to say, but this little text box isn't big enough; my full thoughts on A Torch in the Dark can be read on my wordpress blog.

Thank you so much for the kind words and incredible review! I feel like I bit off more than I could chew with the prompts, to be honest. Version 2.1 of the game will be released soon and it has much fewer unique encounter prompts, though I hope it's still just as exciting.

(+2)

Hello, is it possible for me to have a Community Copy of the game?

Thanks.

(+1)

Absolutely. Send me an email at michael @ notwriting . net and I'll hook you up.

(+3)

Hey ! This gale was my first soloRPG and so far it's also one of my favorite !

I'm French and I would love to be able to share with fellow french speaker, so could I translate it ?

(I backed Merger too, pretty harsh and ruthless game, and would also be interested to talk abt it later btw ^^)

Thanks for everything !

(+1)

Hello!

Thanks for the kind words. Go right ahead! Let me know when you’re finished and I can link the translation here. 

Fantastic ! I'll keep you updated !

(1 edit) (+2)

Hi,

Same, it's one of my first solo games and I love it!

I'd like to help translate it too! Sent you a mail, Toorte :)

(+1)

I love this streamlined concept! The dungeon draws are great and provide a surprisingly large amount of content to play through. Love it!

I'm enjoying this so far, but I have something I don't quite understand. There's only one card for the first delve that results in you completing the goal. But it's a unique so you don't shuffle it back in to the deck. If you don't complete it then and there, is it just over then?

(+2)(-1)

Hey there!


Short answer: no, unique encounters get shuffled back into the deck if you don’t complete them. Bit of an oversight on my part with the rules. I do have that flagged as something to change when I update the text. 

(+1)

I thought I was missing something, especially when the delve became not completable. Thank you for clearing that up!

(1 edit) (+2)

Just finished a run I played off and on over three days and as a solo game newbie I was surprised at how much material was laid out.  Enjoyed my time and nothing beats those moments where you roll a crucial crit on just two dice or manage a large die roll only to get all 1's and 2's.  

(+3)

I'm a huge fan of Blades, so any kind of FITD game gets at least a read from me.

The setting and set-up alone was enough to get me to play it and post it up for my blog through one cycle of play to show it off to my (admittedly small) audience. This was a lot harder without a whole crew to accomplish, and I admit to missing them greatly. But it's a solo game, and I confess that it solos very well. 

One of my favorite parts was that the dungeon crawl didn't require me to lay out a whole dungeon deck on the table. Some solo games do that, and it works, but having just a "next card is all that's on the table" mechanic feels really true to the spirit of Blades' elegance and simplicity. 

Thanks for a really fun attempt at supporting the Revolution.

If you'd like to read it, here's a link: 

https://themaddestsailor.wordpress.com/2022/04/14/a-torch-in-the-dark-one-shot/

Thanks very much!

(1 edit)

Cool game, but I'm wondering something. I drew a card that told me I can risk it to search for 1 treasure, but I don't have any relevant skill or item for that. What do I do? It seems crazy to take a consequence when there's nothing forcing my character to risk searching for treasure in this situation, but it also doesn't seem like I have a choice.

(+1)

Some situations are forced on you, making your character act. Others are optional. If a card says you “can” or “may” risk it you don’t have to. Just discard and continue your delve. 

Thanks for the quick reply. It seems like my character should be able to avoid finding treasure in dead bodies, but it doesn't say "may" or "can". 

(+1)

Gotcha. What's the card and dungeon? I'll add it to my list of revisions.

Viscount Alard Hund, Ace of Clubs. Thanks!

(+1)

Here are some of the changes I've made for the multiplayer version I'm running/ working on: 

Some special creatures will have Danger and Defense. 

Danger Factor (DF) is the chance of something happening to the character that is currently acting, they range from 0 to 3. Danger is rolled by the player making the attempt they are doing. Dice count for both player and creature. If playing face to face, use different colored dice to represent Danger level. If in roll20, the use the dice to the far left and count to the right. Example; Remy is attacking a Royal Elite with a die pool of 4d. This Elite has 2 Danger Levels. In roll20, Remy rolls 4+2+1+5, the highest is 5, so mixed success. The 4 and 2 are danger dice, so add the 4+2=6 scratches. So 1 condition and a scratch left over. See Scratches for more.

Defense Factor (Def)  is easy, subtract any Defense from the total dice of the players attempt before they roll. Example: Marcel attacks an Armored Knight with a Defense of 1. He puts together a pool of 4d, but only gets to roll 3d because of the Armored Knight's Defense. 

Scratches five (5) scratches equal a "consequence" on a character or friendly NPC, with less than 5 not being important till more are added to the total to make 5 or more.  At the end of an adventure any scratches left over will vanish upon downtime. If the final scratch to total 5 was gained via failure, treat as Fail.

Wounds are the number of Succeed results needed to defeat the creature, obstacle or situation. Most creatures only need 1 success to down.  If a creature or obstacle does not have a Wounds listed, it is a 1 Wounds thing. Characters can get more than once Succeed per turn, each 6 counts as a success, so 6x2  is 2 successes, etc. A player can spread around it's successes but have to start with the creature or situation it is fighting. Also not every encounter needs to be solved by violence.

Treasure, most creatures (and areas) will have some kind of loot to them. If the situation is cleared successfully, in addition to whatever the dungeon guide says, the players may search the room/enemies unless they are under some kind of time pressure (once per player using whatever skills and items they can bring to bear) and  compair the highest roll to the following; 1-3 Nothing, 4-5 1 Loot, 6 1d3 Loot. Remember a Delver can carry 4 Loot without it taking an inventory slot (5 Loot is a Treasure).

Where do I get a hard copy?

There are no hard copies at this moment, unless you print your own :)

Okee-dokee. Thank you.

(1 edit)

I have a question. When an multi load item (lets say Wrecking Tools) is take as a Fail and reduced to 1 space, does it still work? Can it still be used during challenges? at the moment I go with it can be used but 50% chance of breakage/failure (is that too harsh?)

Also I'm currently putting together a multiplayer version of this (working title is Group of Torches). If you like I can post the modifications I've made so far. I want to keep it semi-randomly generated so there is some card drawing etc. 

When you expend an item it can still be used for encounters, you just have less chances to use it before it disappears (breaks, is lost, etc.) The penalty you suggest does seem pretty harsh to me without any upside. A Torch in the Dark wasn’t designed with that kind of thing in mind, but if that’s how you like to play, go for it! And feel free to post your changes. I’m sure other folks are also interested!

Yeah when I played with the 50% breakage it got darker then it needed..lol. 

These are the current mod notes I'm working with.. I'll be playing with a group of 4 players on wedesday so hopefully it holds together.

Using a torch in the dark with groups as the basis of a procedurally base campaign, use character generation,the downtime and Equipment purchasing rules as per the rules with the following modifications. 

The main changes during Delves will be: 

Characters will start with 3 Stress and 3 Corruption slots (+1 slot (choose) when new skill gained, up to maximum of 6 stress/ 5 Corruption), 2 Skills and 3 items of Equipment.

Marching order, it is important (for traps and such) to know who is going to be affected, so when entering a room who is first second etc. The first person in the room will usually be going first for actions. If some kind of trap is sprung roll a d6 and up to that number person in the marching order is affected, for example if you roll a 3 the first, second and third persons are affected. Some traps require more than one success, but most don't. 

During a scene, the story determines who goes first, and the active player chooses who goes next but the turn doesn't end until at least every player has gone once. Hirelings and followers may only help one character per turn. Each person in the group we'll have to individually make a risk control (possibly solving the scene) but they will have the option of passing one of their d6 on to a party member instead of using it themselves. 

During an encounter there will be at least enemies equal in number to the group or if a single enemy he'll be strong enough to be a threat to the group. For example if the group enters a room and they encounter a group of undead to defeat them will require enough success' equal to the size of the group to win the encounter. A demon encounters will require success' equal to group size plus 2 to end it. (NOTE: Another option is using a 1d6; 1-3 normal encounter, 4-5 double the encounter, 6 triple the encounter). Since this is going to be tougher then a normal Delve, if the room is cleared successfully, in addition to whatever the dungeon guide says roll 1d and on 1-3 nothing, 4-5 1 Treasure found and 6 2 Treasure found. 

Adventures beyond the Delves.

Due to the need for some granularity, enemies will have a damage rating and a wounds value. Damage rating (DR) is how much they do if they hit a target, and Wounds (W) is how many successes are needed to down them.  Refer to the table below for approximate values.  If the roll is zero or less no damage is done that creature. 5 scratches equal a "consequence" on a character or friendly NPC, with less than 5 not being important (will vanish upon downtime). Wound is number of Succeed results needed, players can get more than once Succeed per turn, each 6 counts as a success, so 2 6s is 2 successes, etc. Most creatures only need 1 success to down. A player can spread around it's successes but have to start with the creature or situation it is fighting. Also not every encounter needs to be solved by violence. (NOTE: After looking at the table of creatures maybe something like "Name (DR-3/T-4) Notes" makes more sense.)

Treasure, most creatures (and areas) will have a Loot value. Usually this will be in the formula of "Loot 1d6-3" or some such. If the roll is zero or less no loot on that creature. 5 Loot equal a Treasure. Treasure and Loot is always looked for after the encounter has been solved. Players may use Loot in Downtime by spending  2 Loot to do a roll two die and take lowest. (NOTE: Make random table of what the Loot looks like, players love chrome.)

Creature                        Damage Rating/Wounds Treasure    Notes

Giant Rat                               1d-4/ 1       1d-5       Corrupted rats, engorged on magiks. Sometimes they swallow something valuable.

Swarm of Hungry Rats                   1d-3/ 1                  Becoming increasingly common, being driven to the surface by undead below and the scarcity of food.

Peasant                                 1d-3/ 1       1d-4       They supported the revolution and now they are starving.. this is unfair! Maybe they can be talked to?

Group of Angry Peasants                 1d-2/ 1       1d-3       Now there is a group of them. They demand answers! and food.. mostly food it seems...

Angry Loyalist                          1d-2/ 1       1d-2       Banishing a weapon, they are the ones that will keep the new regime in power. They will test everyone's loyalty.

Group of Angry Loyalists                1d  / 2       1d         Standing or marching, they have weapons and are kind of fed so they are loyal to the cause.

Skeleton (or Zombie)                    1d-1/ 1                  A weak form of undead, clawed their way up from the underground crypts, only knows it hates the living.

Group of Skeletons                      1d  / 2       1d-2       Remembering little of their past life, they know they are stronger as a group and they share a hatred of living creatures.

Horde of Skeletons                      1d+1/ 2       1d         One of them knows how to lead and it will use this horde to get revenge on the living.

Ghoul                                   1d  / 1       1d-2       A more intelligent form of undead, looking for victims, likes shinies, eats though it gains no nourishment.        

Group of Ghouls                         1d+1/ 2       1d+1       Several together become more dangerous and harder to stop. 

Horde of Ghouls                         1d+2/ 3       2d         In life they hunted and feasted together, they want to keep doing this after death. 

Undead Knight                           1d+1/ 2       1d+2       Once a might warrior with the best equipment, now a rotting armored corpse that only seeks to kill the living. 

(+1)

Wickedly fun game. I can't get over how simple and rewarding (and punishing) it is. You've made something very special here. Thank you for sharing! Have you or anyone else experimented with making this multiplayer?

Thank you so much! No multiplayer variations I’m aware of yet, but this is one of my more popular games and there are many tales yet to tell in the city of Kynburgh…

(+1)

Hi Michael, just wanted to say that I'm on my second delve of the weekend so far and I'm loving this! I've read and tried so many solo rpg systems that end up being either too fiddly and granular or too open-ended and shapeless. Your game hits such a sweet spot for me between game and narrative generation. The atmosphere, lean mechanics, and presentation are just fantastic. 

Spare a thought for my poor Alfons though...he's absolutely not the man he was a few hours ago!

(+1)

Thank you so much for the kind words, and best of luck to Alfons!

(+2)(-1)

What a game. In a market flooded with pure narrative / journalling Solo RPG with little to no gameplay, This game deserves more recognition for its focus on delivering a fun / challenging core gameplay loop while still providing narrative freedom. “A Torch in the Dark” should be a case study for any aspiring solo RPG designer / author. I have a gameplay video and discussion on youtube if anyone is interested.

Thank you so much for the kind words, and for that incredible video! Thanks for sharing!

(+1)

Picked this up as part of the Found in the Dark bundle, and have been really enjoying it. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well this game is able to reproduce all of the juicy tension of dungeon crawling in a solo gm-less game. 

Thanks!

(+1)

French roleplayer, completely caught up in reading the book, the author manages to use the FITD system in a simple and elegant way by putting it at the service of an efficient and inspiring solo engine. The universe described in a few words opens up many possibilities, can't wait to get out my cards and dice to test! I think I'll spend a summer in the dark ...

Thank you very much! Good luck in the dungeons!

(+1)

Hi I'm an italian roleplayer. I've played your game on my rpg channel gdrunplugged.it

It's so cool! would you be interested in an Italian adaptation? How can I contact you?

Hi! Thank so much for the video, glad you're enjoying it. You can contact me at michael(at)notwriting(dot)net

(+2)

I've just started a run of this and it's been a lot of fun. Finally got through the goal of the first crypt and ready to keep on going! I'm only uncertain about one thing so far: When you're required to make multiple risk rolls for one event, are you able to use the same skills for each risk roll? Like, if I roll 3d6 with 1 skill and 2 items, will I be able to use those same skills/items for the next risk roll or do I have to chose others?

(+1)

Yes, you may use the same skills and items multiple times, assuming one of the items wasn't expended or lost in your last risk roll.

(+2)

Awesome, glad to know I was reading it right. Thanks so much! 

(+1)

I first bought this game when you posted it on the Waypoint Radio discord a while ago and just saw that you updated it. I gave it a quick skim and WOW, what an update! The character creation is completely revamped and feels way better, and same for changing dungeon generation mechanics from tedious dice rolling to flipping cards. Goals and the Dungeon Guide add more structure to the game, which is really helpful for some players (like me).

I've only given a proper read to the first chapter so far, but I'm super excited to give this another go!

(+2)

Thank you so much! Please let me know how things go if you delve in the crypts beneath Kynburgh!

(+1)

Loving the game! There's a few spelling mistakes, and demon encounters could use a clear explanation outside of the gameplay example, but it's a fun little solo gaming experience.

(+1)

This looks really cool! Any gameplay examples we can check out?

(1 edit) (+1)

Not that I know of, but if I find something I'll be sure to post about it.