A silly question. What does "stress" actually do? I can't find it in the main document, I feel like I must have missed it. What happens when we get to 6 stress?
A Torch in the Dark
A downloadable game
THE DEAD LORDS HAVE ARISEN
A socialist revolution has overthrown the nobles of the Imperial capital of Kyneburgh. 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. Cultists, demons, and undead nobles threaten the city! Delve into the dungeons and crypts beneath Kyneburgh, twice-kill the dead Lords, and secure the People's Revolution!
A SINGLE-PLAYER RPG FORGED IN THE DARK
Using a single player variation of Blades in the Dark players can quickly generate characters with unique skills and items. As you delve you use your creativity and limited resources to overcome dozens of encounters, randomly generated from 9 unique dungeon locations. When your pack is full of broken crowns and 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 the diabolic magic of the dungeon you die!
If your last torch burns out in the pitch black dungeons 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 and secure the city from the demon curse corrupting it. For the realm! For the people! For the Revolution!
- Single Player
- 1 hour per session
- Six-sided dice required
- Playing cards required
REPORTS FROM THE DUNGEONS
Interviews and actual plays of A Torch in the Dark!
- TTRPG Thoughts: A Torch in the Dark by the Queer Dungeoneer
- A written report of character creation and a first delve by The Maddest Sailor!
- Check out this overview and playthrough of the first few encounters of the game by Mel Li!
- GDRunplugged delves into the first dungeon in this video in Italian.
- Torte TTRPG has done multiple playthroughs of A Torch in the Dark in French. This series is made up of longer episodes. This one has shorter episodes.
- Listen to Kaohatl's playthrough in French
- Listen to an interview I did on the Hacked in the Dark podcast about making solo games and developing A Torch in the Dark.
Written & designed by Michael Elliott
Artwork used with permission by Charles Ferguson-Avery of Feral Indie Studio
Other free use vector art from Pixabay and Public Domain Vectors
Music For Killing Dead Lords
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:
Support this game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.
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.
- A Torch in the Dark Version 2.2 Released53 days ago
- Last Day on KickstarterAug 15, 2022
- Final Days on Kickstarter!Aug 12, 2022
- A Torch in the Dark now Live on Kickstarter!Aug 01, 2022
- A Torch in the Dark Coming to Kickstarter!Jul 18, 2022
- Black Friday BundleNov 27, 2021
- Video of PlayNov 08, 2021
- 35 Damn Years SaleOct 15, 2021
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Stress let's you push yourself to get +1d when you Risk It. No penalty if it fills, you just can't push yourself any more.
Just wondering, is the "Reference Sheet" side of the character sheet supposed to be blank? That's what I'm seeing when I download it. Really enjoyed the old version of the game. Just downloaded 2.2, and I'm looking forward to seeing how things have changed.
Oh dang, sorry about that! Must've forgot to update it with the newest release. Fixed now.
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.
Hello, is it possible for me to have a Community Copy of the game?
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 !
Thanks for the kind words. Go right ahead! Let me know when you’re finished and I can link the translation here.
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?
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.
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.
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:
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.
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".
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 :)
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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 ...
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
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?
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.
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!
Thank you so much! Please let me know how things go if you delve in the crypts beneath Kynburgh!
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.
This looks really cool! Any gameplay examples we can check out?