Updates for 2017

Memento Mori Theatricks turns 20 years old this year!* I've been hard at work on an exciting new project. Details to come in the next few months, so stay tuned! Let's just say it's been a long time coming and I have some incredible people involved. Cross your fingers!

Also, be sure to check out the soon-to-be-ending Kickstarter for Middarmark by Thor Olavsrud and BWHQ. I helped out a bit in the development, so go me! It's a super-cool setting book for the Torchbearer RPG. And if you're in the mood for some sci-fi goodness, ask your local planetarium/science center to host SPACE STATION: THE FULLDOME EXPERIENCE!

*I forget the exact date. It originally started in 1996 as a LARP group but that ended when I left Maine to go to San Francisco. I started working on my own game design ideas shortly after arriving in SF, hence the January celebration. According to the Internet Wayback Machine, Memento-Mori.com went online in December, 1998.

Specialists in Torchbearer


Any character that meets the minimum qualifications to train as a specialist may add +2 to their lifestyle cost in Town to train in that specialty. When a specialist earns rewards, they should be placed in either their character class (as normal) or in their specialty. When your speciality rewards meet the level requirements for the next level, gain that benefit.

Specialist benefits must be acquired in order and cannot exceed your character class’ level. If you want to change specialties, erase all your rewards in your current speciality start over at 0—you retain your existing benefits. If a specialist benefit duplicates a class benefit you already possess, you may choose which version to keep.If you lose your qualifications (for example, you re-write a wise necessary to the specialist class) you can no longer train in that speciality but you retain your benefits.

Note that some specialties list benefits described in the following Torchbearer Sagas supplements:

Use at your own risk! Highly not play-tested or approved! I'm giving these away for free but if you want to throw a few silver coins my way, go to town. I have pack space!

Help with Cash Dice

Space Station at the Boston Museum of Science

You wake up inside the cramped confines of a cryosleep chamber. You feel weak and dizzy from a prolonged period in cryonic suspension. What will you do next? Join game designer Jared Sorensen and the Charles Hayden Planetarium team as we break new ground in the Planetarium dome. Inspired by the text-parsing games of the ’80s, Space Station allows the entire audience to play a single character trying to survive a dangerous situation…in space!

Give commands, explore rooms, examine objects, and try to escape the Space Station, if you can!

For more information about the Parsely series of text-based adventure games: memento-mori.com/parsely

Due to live audience participation, it is possible that this event may contain adult language or situations.

Tickets on sale beginning Thursday, January 28 (Tuesday, January 26 for Museum members).

Part of the Cambridge Science Festival.

Extrasolar Colonization Administration Handbook

Let’s go over the bonus situation. We haven’t- Can we just talk about the bonus situation?

I see you’ve secured your ICC license and that you’re rated as a warrant officer for star freighters. Excellent. We’re in need of officers for our current run. Just sign here and we’re happy to have you aboard. I’m sure you’ve read the handbook, but here’s another copy for you to keep in your bunk. We’ll talk about the bonus situation later.

Download here:  CM-Civilian-rules_r2.pdf

Goblin Shaman

Illustration by BorjaPindado

Small, filthy and incredibly ugly, most goblins live to lie, cheat, steal and murder. They prefer to victimize men, elves, humans and dwarves, but will happily turn their attentions upon each other if they have no other outlet. The shaman is often the most sickly and deranged of the tribe; the other goblins see these frailties as marks from their twisted and evil god. Sometimes, the derangement comes in the form of self-awareness …these goblins are soon killed and eaten while they contemplate existence, a few flee into the night to live a solitary life.

Stock: Goblin
Class: Shaman
Order of Might: 3
Raw abilities: Will 5, Health 3
Skills: Ritualist 3, Dungeoneer 2, Alchemist 2, Cook 2, Fighter 2, Scavenger 2, Scout 2
Wise: Choose from Goblin-wise or Kaboom-wise. Choose another wise of your choice following the guidelines in the main book

Trait: Treacherous—Even these strange goblins have a black streak a mile wide. No matter their intentions, their words slip into deceit, their actions into treason. It’s like they can’t help themselves; the first thought in their heads is, “How do I get out of this?” and the second is, “…and screw over this guy?”

Starting weapon: Dagger

Starting armor: None

Alignment: Must be Chaos.

Goblin Nature questions (Stealing, Lying, Destroying)

When you see unattended belongings, is your first thought to take it for yourself?
• If you took it without thinking, increase Nature by 1.
• If your first thought is to take it but you make sure nobody is looking, you may replace your home trait with Cautious.

When caught in a lie, how do you react?
• If you would respond with another, better falsehood, then increase Nature by 1.
• If your would respond with false contrition, plead for forgiveness and spew ingratiating platitudes, you may replace your home trait with Shifty.

While walking through a forest at night, you come across a beautiful faery circle of softly glowing mushrooms, casting the woods in a pale blue glow…utterly serene and magical. 
• If you would kick, stomp and smash the circle apart, increase Nature by 1.
• If you carefully pluck a mushroom from the ground and eat it, you may replace your home trait with Touched by the Gods.

Goblin Level Benefits (1-5)

Shaman: You may wield a dagger, sling, spear, or hand axe. You may use polearms and bows as improvised weapons. You may wear leather armor. You may not wear helmets or use shields. You suffer -1s in sunlight but no penalty in dim light.

You start with a prayer: Execration. You may not learn Fury of the Lords of Life and Death. You gain the ability to memorize Chaos prayers without a test. Memorizing Unaffiliated and Lawful prayers may be done with a Theologian test (good fucking luck with that). You gain a new prayer at each level as a Human Cleric. 

In lieu of a new prayer, you may learn to craft a malicious device.

Hobnail bomb: This explosive device is designed to shred leather armor and soft tissue. Treat as an additional Alchemist factor for making a weapon. Bypasses leather armor and damages it. Against an unarmored target, grants +1s (in addition to any other effects).

• Stinkbomb: This noxious device coats its victim in an oily residue that smells really fucking awful. Treat as an additional Alchemist factor for making a weapon. On a successful hit, the target cannot help or be helped for the rest of the conflict.

Smokebomb: This tricky device billows forth dark purple smoke. Treat as additional Alchemist factor for making a weapon. On a successful hit, all actions except for Defend and Feint are at -2s for one round. 

• Flashbomb: This tricky device explodes into brilliant white light, dazing everyone in the conflict. Treat as an additional Alchemist factor for making a weapon. On a successful hit, the goblin may change to a Flee conflict. Even if the action isn't successful, the goblin impedes its opponent.

• Mushroom Cloud: This trippy device causes vivid hallucinations in those effected. Treat as an additional Alchemist factor for making a weapon. On a successful hit, roll 1d6:

1: Bad trip—the victim drops anything being carried and spends the remaining round screaming in terror. The victim cannot help or take an action for one round. If acting alone, they're at -1s as they fight on through the nightmare.

2: Confusion—the victim sees friends as enemies and enemies as friends. They shift sides in the conflict on the next action. If acting alone, they suffer -1s as they wonder why their allies are attacking them.

3: Double-vision—the victim cannot distinguish between reality and illusion. The next time they inflict damage, roll 1d6. One a 1-3, they hit an illusory target. On a 4-6 they inflict damage as normal.

4: Sleepytime—the victim passes out. Their remaining disposition is spread out amongst their allies. If acting alone, they suffer -1s as they stumble around in a stupor.

5: Imaginary friends—the victim is surrounded by an "army" of cartoon-like critters. For the next action, the victim has 1 disposition (any remaining dispo is distributed to the victim's animal friends). If acting alone, they suffer -1s as they shout orders to their non-existing allies.

6: Bloodlust—the victim becomes enraged and gains the Angry condition. Their next action is changed to Attack. If a new round, they must choose Attack as their first action. If acting alone, same thing.

Winter Phase

Winter is coming, as they say, in less than a month.

Now is the time where we give thanks, say prayers for the dead and hang up our swords, packs and canteens until the snow melts and the frozen waters thaw.

Torchbearer Sagas: The Wanderers will remain unavailable while the adventurers rest up for the winter. But fret not! They will return, sooner than you think...and with new friends.

- J

Torchbearer Halloween: Human Skinchanger

Human Skinchanger

You’re a fierce hunter-gatherer from a primitive society. Be it from primordial energies, malevolent curses, magical potions or feral unions, you possess a mystical link with the world of beasts. Over time, you will learn to channel their abilities and take their forms. But as your power grows, so will the madness within.

Raw abilities: Distribute 8 points between Will and Health; Health may not be higher than Will.

Skills: Hunter 3, Fighter 2, Mentor 2, Scout 2, Scavenger 2, Survivalist 2

Special skill (choose one at 3): Criminal, Haggler, Pathfinder, Survivalist

Trait: Bestial—Even when in human form there’s something not quite right with you. Your nails and teeth are sharper, you stature is hunched, your arms and legs corded with ropy muscles. Your eyes gleam with feral light and you lose your temper far, far too easily.

Weapons: Dagger, battle axe, hand axe, spear, shield, bow, sling

Armor: None

Level benefits

Level 1
Skinchanger: You may wield primitive weapons (dagger, battle axe, hand axe, spear, shield, bow, sling). You wear may not armor or helmets. You possess one animalistic feature stemming from your Bestial trait.

Level 2
Savage: While angry, you may attack unarmed at no penalty. You may use your Bestial trait even when angry.
Catlike: You able to move swiftly, surely and silently through the wilderness. +1D to tests involving speed, stealth or balance.

Level 3
: When angry, your unarmed attacks are at +1s and your armed attacks are at +1D.
Awareness: Your senses become preternaturally acute, giving you +1D to any test involving perception (such as scout tests to spot ambushes, hunter tests to track game, etc).

Level 4
Berserker: While angry and facing an opponent with a higher Might, increase your Might by +1.
Soul link: Test your Will against a beast’s Nature. If successful, you wrest control of its body while your body slumps into a comatose state. While in control of the beast, you have its Nature, descriptors, Might and weapons. You may only test using the beast's Nature while in this state but you may not gain passes or fails. You may return to your body at any time but this severs the link. While comatose your human body is still susceptible to the Grind but your "borrowed" beast form is not. If you die while linked, the soul link is severed and your own soul is left to drift away, bodiless and forever lost.

Level 5
Shape of Rage: Choose a single beast form of Might 4+. Make a Health test with an obstacle equal to the beast’s Might to transform. If angry, you may immediately take on that form without making the test. Worn clothing is damaged during this transformation. While transformed, you have access to that beast’s Nature*, descriptors, Might and weapons. You may return to human form at any time except if angry. Recover from angry by testing your human Will as normal.
Wild Shape: You may take the form of any beast with Might 3 or lower by making a Health test. The obstacle is equal to the Might of the beast. Whatever form you choose, you’ll gain access to that form’s Nature*, descriptors, Might and weapons. There is no limit to the amount of time you may spend in this form but you may only return to human form after making one test.

Warning: While transformed you lose access to your gear, skills, human Nature descriptors and level benefits unless noted otherwise. Regardless of which benefit you choose, Nature tests in beast form do not advance human nature — they remove your passed tests. If you have no passed tests and you make a successful Nature test in beast form, your human Nature is taxed by 1. If your human Nature score ever reaches 0 while in your beast form, you are trapped in that form forever.

Torchbearer Halloween: Dhampir Vampire Hunter

Dhampir Vampire Hunter

The unholy unions between a male vampire and a female human, dhampirs dedicate their half-lives to destroying the undead.

Raw abilities: Health 4, Will 4
Skills: Fighter 3, Hunter 3, Scout 3, Scholar 2, Theologian 2
Special skill (choose one at 3): Criminal, Haggler, Pathfinder, Survivalist
Trait: Stillborn—You are the stillborn progeny of a vampire that dominated or seduced your human mother. You carry his foul blood in your veins and inherited his eternal thirst for blood. But rather than give in to the hunger, you fight it just as you fight his undead kind. Your curse is also your blessing, for you possess the preternatural strength and power of the Damned.
Starting weapon: Crossbow and one additional one-handed weapon
Starting armor: Leather

Dhampir Nature (Dominating, seducing, feeding) is determined by answering these questions:

Do you feed exclusively on animals or on evil-doers or will anyone sate your thirst for blood?

  • If you consider all living creatures as potential prey, increase Nature by one.
  • If your personal code forbids you from feeding on the common man, gain the Righteous trait.

Do you travel only after sunset or do you brave the burning rays of the day star?

  • If you shun the light and embrace the darkness, increase Nature by 1.
  • If you suffer the pain of daylight as a form of penance, take the Stoic trait.

Do you care deeply for humanity or do you view them with mocking derision?

  • If you see them as the short-lived but amusing animals they are, increase Nature by one.
  • If your love for humans is an attempt to atone for your sins, gain the Compassionate trait.

Dhampirs that reach Nature 7 lose touch with their humanity and become full-blood vampires.

Level benefits

Level 1

Vampire Hunter: You may use any weapon, including shields. You may wear armor and helmets. You have two vampiric weaknesses, though neither is as severe as a full-blooded vampire’s. First, the light of day burns your skin and eyes—it’s a factor when operating in full daylight. Second, you may not recover from hungry and thirsty using rations or water; you must drink fresh blood from humans or beasts. Feeding inflicts the exhausted condition upon your victim. Feeding on an exhausted person makes them sick. Blood in a container spoils as food does upon returning to town. Feeding on another dhampir, vampire or unsafe source of blood will make you sick.

Level 2

Predatory: Your teeth and nails are supernaturally long and sharp. You may use them in fight conflicts to attack and feint at +1s. The usual unarmed penalty of -1D still applies.

Ravenous: When you feel the hunger, you fear nothing. You may not be made afraid while hungry and thirsty. Do not mark a lesser condition.

Level 3

Stubborn: As the warrior benefit of the same level.              

Vow to the Lords of Hunger: As the paladin benefit of the same level.

Level 4

Friend to Darkness: Your senses become especially acute during the night. In dim light, ignore the normal penalty and gain +1D to scout and hunter tests.

Daywalker: Your steadfastness and resilience enables you to operate in full daylight at no penalty.

Level 5

Slayer: The vampire hunter gains +1D Attack, +1s against zombies, vampires and other corporeal undead that affected by piercing attacks.

Feast of Blood: When you recover from the hungry and thirsty condition by drinking fresh blood (not drunk from a container) and have no other conditions, gain the Fresh condition.

Torchbearer Halloween: The Witch

Human Witch

Often wise, sometimes wicked, the witch is a hedge magician who resides far from the civilized world. When all seems lost, you may seek her out...if you dare.

Raw abilities: Distribute 8 points between Will and Health; Health may not be higher than Will.

Skills: Alchemist 4, Healer 3, Survivalist 2, Cook 2, Peasant 2
Trait: Moonchild—You were born under strange circumstances, when the moon shone blood red or turned black as pitch. Beasts howled, streams ran backwards and wine turned to vinegar. Your very essence hums with eldritch power and you are viewed with a mixture of both awe and suspicion by everyone around you.
Weapons: Dagger.
Armor: None.

Level benefits

Level 1

Witch: You wear no armor and may only wield a dagger as a weapon. You gain the ability to brew magical potions and herbal poultices in camp and in town. You also have a mundane animal companion. You share an empathic bond with this creature and although you cannot speak to it without magical assistance, you instinctively know its whereabouts and well-being at all times. Likewise, it will sense your presence and instinctively know your desires, allowing you to give it simple commands.

Rather than spells or prayers, you have recipes. Recipes are used to instill alchemical potions with spells and prayers. These potions are one-use items, functionally equivalent to scrolls. Recipes take time to prepare and “cast,” unlike spells but using a potion doesn’t normally require a test. Witches collect their recipes in recipe books (or cookbooks) and these books are required to craft potions. The exception: a witch may memorize one recipe at each level. Potion creation is done using the normal alchemist rules. Use the cook skill to "cast" a spell into a potion, use the healer skill to "cast" a prayer into a potion.

At each level, you may add two more recipes to your book. At level 2+, you may choose to memorize one recipe you have written in your book.

1st circle recipes

Arcane Semblance: Potion of Polymorph
Daemonic Stupefaction: Potion of Confusion
Destiny of Heroes: Potion of Might
Lightness of Being: Potion of Levitation
Supernal Vision: Potion of Wizard's Sight
Thread of Friendship: Love Potion
Wisdom of the Sages: Potion of Athena
Wizard’s Aegis: Waters of Styx

Balm of the Lords of Serenity: Calmative Elixir
Benediction of the Lords of Creation: Restorative Elixir
Benison of the Lords of Valor: Elixir of Tyche
Breath of the Burning Lord: Elixir of Warmth
Execration: Cursed Elixir
Grace of the Lords of Plenty: Elixir of Sustenance
Malison of the Lords of Terror: Elixir of Phobos
Sanctuary of the Lords of Shields: Elixir of Protection

2nd circle recipes

Devilish Laughter: Potion of Mania
Eye of Omens: Potion of Seeing
Greybeard’s Bane: Waters of Lethe
Lord of Dreams: Potion of Morpheus
Phantasmal Vision: Potion of Illusions
Veil of the Chameleon: Potion of Invisibility
Water Lung: Tears of the Mermaid

Chains of Fate: Elixir of Ice
Cloak of the Lord of Forges: Phoenix’s Breath
Divination: Elixir of the Prophetess
Favor of the Lords of Valor: Elixir of Nike
Invocation of the Saint of Sailors: Elixir of Amphitrite
Tongue of the Lord of Beasts: Dragon’s Blood

Torchbearer Halloween: The Revenant


The shambling undead are mindless, silent and hungry. Some retain their personalities after death. These are the revenants; terrifying to behold. If killed unjustly, cruelly or in circumstances where bloody revenge is the only recourse, that person might rise from the grave to exact righteous vengeance.

All revenants have a Belief and a Goal focused upon some kind of obligation: to avenge their deaths or the deaths of their loved ones, to fulfill promises made during life or to complete some great task that was left unfinished. Only when both their Goal is met and their Belief is altered may the revenant find peace in eternal rest.


Revenants start with the dead condition. Revenants may become hungry or angry after a failed test or due to the Grind. Revenants may be injured but only as the result of a failed test or conflict. If "killed," a revenant suffers a loss of one Health point. They are immune to afraid, exhausted and sick. Do not mark a lesser condition.

Revenants recover from being hungry by eating fresh meat; preferably the flesh of the living or the recently slain. Revenants may choose to recover from the hungry condition after any Kill conflict. Water will not slake the thirst of a revenant but fresh blood will.

Revenants may recover from the injured condition by sacrificing an ability point (Health, Will or Nature) or through level benefits. Revenants may not make tests to recover from injured, nor may they be healed through magical or mundane healing.

Ability scores

Revenants retain the Health rating they possessed at the time of death. They cannot advance Health except by levelling up. A revenant that reaches zero Health is destroyed. Revenants retain the Will rating they possessed at the time of death. A revenant that reaches zero Will becomes a mindless zombie.

A revenant's nature (Avenging, remembering, shambling) is determined by answering these questions:

Was your death quick and painless or did you suffer horrible torment?
• If you suffered pain and degradation before your death, increase Nature by one
• If death came swiftly, your Nature is unchanged but gain the Calm or Patient trait.

Did you leave family or close friends behind or did you die alone and unloved?
• If you were survived by kith and kin, or they suffered a similar fate, increase Nature by one.
• If no one grieved at your passing and you had no one to live for, gain the Loner trait.

Are you a newly risen soul or have you suffered the ravages of un-life?
• If you’ve endured many trials as one of the undead, gain the Scarred or Lame trait.
• If the grave dirt under your nails is still fresh, increase your Nature by one.

A revenant’s Nature cannot fall past 1 or rise past 6.

Skills and Traits

Revenants retain the skills and traits they possessed in life, unless altered by answers to the three Nature questions.

Level benefits

Level 1: Revenants may use whatever armor and weapons they could use in life. They do not retain any of the level benefits from their former lives. 

Levels 2+: The revenant may remember any level ability it previously had when it reaches that level or it may regain a lost point of Health.