Wednesday, November 04, 2020

the mightiest of torches

Here's an old illo from Dennis Loubet, one of the greats of game illustration in my opinion. You may recognize his style from the Ultima series of games. He also did work for Metagaming and was the illustrator for Steve Jackson's Cardboard Heroes, the first paper minis I ever encountered.

Anyhoo, I wanted to share this particular pic because it shows some members of this dungeon party carrying two-handed torches. You can find historical depictions of these bigass, long-burning torches in late medieval and early modern art, but I think this is the first instance I've found of them making their way into a D&D-type illo. Here's one of my favorite historical depictions:

How might these bad boys be statted up for our games? To be worth devoting both hands (and thus making it one party member's whole deal for the expedition - another good reason to have some NPC lackeys in the crew) the gain in burn time should be substantial, possibly also with a small gain in the amount of light it throws. Maybe 5 times the burn time, with +10' to the radius illuminated? For that, it should cost more than 5 times the price of a standard torch, maybe ten times. The thing to watch out for when pricing for your campaign would be to find a sweet spot between the low cost of a regular torch and the longer burn and better control of a lantern and oil.

PS: Also, note that several people in Loubet's illo are carrying torches. A dungeon crew with just one light source is begging the DM to find a way to extinguish it.


  1. There are a few games where I like having NPC henchmen, but as a rule I shy away for them. The PCs are supposed to be the lackeys, the mercenaries, the hired muscle.

    I can imagine bringing linkboy into the foreground by making a support class whose whole DEAL is bearing big ass torches.

    - Give your allies a helper's bonus just by shining your light.

    - Inspire hope and strengthen morale.

    - Cry out the alarm when there's an ambush.

  2. Hey, I recognize that art piece. Lords of Underearth was a nifty little boardgame, really liked the way it handled the way corridor width affected the combat power of lone heroes versus troop companies.

    Absolutely agree about Loubet being one of the best gaming illustrators of his era. Still think his reptile men in the Cardboard Heroes range are the best take on the concept out there.

  3. Can't remember the correct art word right now but the stance/posturing on that lead figure & the shading of the face just sings. He's just strutting, totally in command...

    "Yes Raven, I am indeed invading your dungeon & dispatching your defences with my posse of ne'er do wells & hired hands. What of it?"

    1. Loubet did the counter art in the boardgame as well, the Human Lord counter (which is just a face shot) being the spitting image of Mister Confident there.

  4. Loubet's illustrations for the Ultima games, especially five, really inspired me when I was worldbuilding as a kid.

    [a href=""]As per my old B/X hackings[/a], I'd give the two-handed torch an initiative of 7 and 2d4 damage for being two-handed. I'm tempted to say if you roll doubles on the damage, the target is lit on fire for an additional 1d6 damage per round until they take a turn to stop, drop, and roll.

  5. Oops! Link was busted. Try this:

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