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Author Topic: [Tunnels & Trolls] Colonizing goblin lands  (Read 12275 times)
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« Reply #15 on: April 03, 2009, 07:22:49 AM »

Normal encounters? I was never involved in a encounter that had less than 7 goblins if you don't count the encounter with the wolves.

Hmm...

The difference with the brakish encounter and the forest encounter was that while we couldn't have beaten the brakish in combat, it was kinda cool to gauge their strenght. You know, even if they were total ninjamonsters, there was some uncertainty and the challenge was to realize that we couldn't beat them. We even devised a way to get past them with a boarding bridge of sorts, because now way we would give up the amber, because it was more treasure that we had ever seen in our life!

Also the terrain and the situation was cool.

The forest scene, as I saw it, however, a clearly unbeatable opponent, that on close inspection was still unbeatable, partly because our saving rolls generated terrain didn't effect them much. We tried to find a place where we could limit the amount of goblins we had to fight, so you'd think that it would be an ideal place to encounter 20+ goblins, but the goblins are tough customers.

I wasn't in on the Hiitola/Goblinia part of the adventure, so I didn't know how they trailed the goblins then, but last time we had to try something sneaky we had to roll individually, so I estimated that it would have something like 80% chance of failing.

My point is, that in terms of challenge, this was a null encounter. How are you supposed to step on up if running away is clearly the only choice?

But hey, don't take this the wrong way! I had tons of fun playing. I even ordered the game from the States. It's just that I don't think that getting to the point that players are too neurotic to engage much weaker opponents or don't believe in the chances of winning (I definetly read Sipi's actions in the town defence as defeatist) is worth bragging about.

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Olli Kantola
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« Reply #16 on: April 03, 2009, 09:29:36 AM »

That's a good viewpoint, Olli. The GM is often in a blind spot when it comes to picking up player reactions, I had no idea you found the whole set-up desperate as opposed to just challenging, and I thought Sipi just flavoured play with his character's role and was confident about the encounter with the goblins; the game's played for fun, after all, so why not take some risks and try to play a cool character.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2009, 02:38:16 PM »

Quote
So it wasn't difficult by any means to make the call to not attack them
I think that it was easy is actually the problem, especially given it's gamist play. It kind of raises the question "Why put that choice/challenge in, when the answer (run) is so obvious?". Like the ambiguity from above where the question of whether the GM is out to kill characters or is the GM is out to follow procedure that kills PC's, here there's an ambiguity of whether it was a challenge, or a scenic railroad to convey world events.

I only own 5th edition, but as far as I know the procedure in that, you worked within the (very wide) parameters the game has. Making it legit procedure following. Which means legitimate rules use can lead to what is in practical terms, from the players point of operation, a railroad.

Usually we all jump on the GM at this point, even the GM him or herself, sometimes. I think this might be a bit scape goatish. Often GM's are just off on some artistic high, creativity pouring from them but staying within the channels they actually know of. If they were cooking and the rule was to use no nuts, then they wouldn't. But if there is no rule against it then they go with their creative flow and that might mean reaching for some nut ingrediant at some point. And it's very tempting, when your throat is constricting from alergic reaction, to blame the cook rather than the rules the cook was told. And there are some GM's which exult in the capacity the rules give to railroad, thus making it even more tempting to blame the GM. I still remember a GM giving her account on storygames, then realising the railroad (She saw it! Fantastic, she can see it!) then blaming herself (noooooooo! Change the rules, not youuuuuu!).

Sorry, long post - describing the rest of the iceberg that's (as I understand it) underneath the tip takes a bit :)
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2009, 03:20:34 PM »

Agreed, again. GMs are powerful figures and intensely problematic in roleplaying. It's difficult to be objective about them.

The way I myself saw that meeting with the oversized enemy force wasn't at all that I was railroading - rather, I was just introducing a new element, an organized goblin attack on the human lands. The players could have chosen to trail the goblins, send their own goblin to spy on them, commit to a hit-and-run war of attrition against them or any number of other things; even the choice they made was hardly "running away" when they decided to return to town and start preparing it against the imminent goblin attack. It was hardly a null scene in my mind - which of course doesn't mean that it wasn't that to the players. A new group with no history of communication, so of course we'd communicate to cross-purposes here and there.
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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2009, 04:12:16 PM »

It's all about perception. Maybe if we had played the town defence out, all the events prior to it would have gained new significance. :)

I feel that perhaps with extended play, the players would learn to keep a more open mind in terms of framing the challenges they encounter. I guess we had two major frames of mind to learn out of. The first one is the heroism thing. In a game like this, you just have to play lowlifes, who kill rats and employ hit&run style guerrilla tactics against foes and view an escape against a superior foe, a victory.

I seem to remember that RuneQuest was once like that, except that often the enemies were lowlifes like yourself and combat against the broo was more like throwing some attack spells and rocks to test the other side, before one or both parties withdrew.

The second kind of brain damage would be the boxed in encounter thing. D&D and such games tend to train you into thinking that each encounter is boxed in like an fight in a JRPG. Perhaps it's the same thing with scene based narrativism, I don't know. In a game like this, you should think outside the box and come up with victory conditions of your own instead and note that the world outside of the encounter still exists.

I could see someone playing as a kind of midfielder fulfilling this role or perhaps it would be a cool procedure for the players to have a short discussion about what should they try to achieve in each encounter. It would be somewhat similar to the thing that you do in The Mountain Witch, but actually this kind of reframing is pretty natural with everyone just assuming what the goal should be.

I don't know. What do you guys thing?
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Olli Kantola
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« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2009, 04:33:17 PM »

That's it, Olli, you hit the nail in the head! Both of those are definitely part of the assumptions in this style of game, assumptions which I didn't lecture about too much through the game. It was more show and tell, but in hindsight it's obvious that the compartmentalized encounter thing would make much of the process of the game seem weird for the unprepared player.

Structured leadership is a feature I'm very fond of myself in a team-based challengeful fantasy adventure game. I've sort of encouraged that in my home game by requiring the players to organize themselves purposefully and define their goals clearly to get xp at all.
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« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2009, 10:50:09 AM »

Hey Eero,

If you could have houseruled all you want, what would have you done? I'm asking, because based of the sessions the other week, I'm thinking about how I would run T&T. Also, I think I'll be able to collect the books from the post office tomorrow.
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Olli Kantola
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« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2009, 04:25:32 PM »

That's a good question. The last time I tried to hash this out on paper in detail I got stuck due to time crunch. Our sessions in Oulu pretty much convinced me that the equipment system of the game doesn't really do anything I'd be interested in, so that'd probably be my first pick to change. I'll write this up in detail at some point, but what I'd do is, I'd replace individual weapons with "combat styles". So you'd have the average "brawling" at Strength 12 and 3 dice, then "civilian" style at strength 8 for 2 dice, something exotic like "ninja fighting" at 5 dice or whatever for those high dexterity types and so on and so forth. A monetary outlay could also be attached if desired for that low-level zing - you could only use "ninja fighting" if you had "ninja equipment" at XX gold pieces, or perhaps it's the training you have to pay for. Either way, I'd get rid of those hyper-detailed equipment names and replace them with a tidy list of a dozen or so different fighting styles, out of which any player could easily choose the optimal one for his character's current statistics. The part that really messes me up in the current equipment lists is the cross-referencing and alphabetic order; even if you know what you're doing and are just trying to find the optimal weapon for your character, you still have to go through the entire list of 200 weapons to find it because they're sorted by name and type instead of ability requirement.

Another larger fix I'd go for would be to replace the ability set with one that I'd like more. The way T&T handles abilities is very powerful, and I like how the abilities go up as characters gain experience, but I'm not necessarily entirely happy with the list of abilities itself. This is really 80% just a matter of taste and crazy game design urges - I have this notion that I should be able to redefine the procedures of the game in a way that'd allow different characters to have different ability sets altogether, and curiousity drives me on. But then there's also the fact that the abilities need to be imaginatively interesting - as you'll remember, I already dropped the extraneous Speed attribute they've added to the game since 5th edition simply because I can't deal with it as meaningful in the fiction next to strength, dexterity and constitution. Likewise I change the name of "Wizardry" into "Soul" just to make it sensible to my own aesthetics. Left to fiddle with this on my own, I'd probably end up with some ability set akin to the one I've been using in my D&D hack - Body, Wit, Will, Learning, Charisma and Luck, for instance.

A minor bit I'd fix would be to give wizards starting spells based on intelligence as opposed to giving them all 1st level spells. This is mainly a setting issue; T&T is not always entirely clear on what parts of the game are rules and what parts are setting, but in this case the reason wizards get that long list of spells is that they all belong in the guild with a standardized teaching method in the designer's game. I'd probably replace this with something else just to get out of a technical conundrum: what happens when a new 1st level spell is introduced into the game? Does a wizard learn it retroactively? If not, then what exactly is the list of spells he learns at chargen? I'd have to put some sort of less vague limit on that spell-learning than "all 1st level spells" anyway. This also has the positive effect of giving low-level wizards something to buy, as they can get more 1st level spells.

Those are the sort of things I'd do just to make the game bearable. Just for fun I'd add a maneuver system for fighters: sort of like spells, but activated by spite dice which the fighter could spend in battle to make special attacks. The 7th edition monsters tend to have this sort of mechanics, so it's easy to copy it for fighters. Perhaps fighters would pay money to learn this stuff as well; otherwise they don't tend to have the sort of money-sinks spell research is for wizards. This sort of houseruling is easy and fun in T&T, so nothing particularly special to it.

I'd also remove the 7th edition talent system and replace it with my own, which I pretty much already did when we played. The system in the book is just embarrassing.

What else... Those are the largest changes I'd make, frankly. Perhaps something else would come up after extensive play, but for the most part I'm really quite happy with the T&T rules system. Not like D&D, which lends itself to endless fiddling.
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« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2009, 05:55:00 PM »

I'm leaning towards a similar direction.

I was thinking about character creation, races and rolling your attributes. I think that the overman approach worked best while the multiplication seemed cumbersome. So what I would do would give the goblins for example 2D6 in Charisma, but 4D6 in Strenght with the rule of 3 in force. You would't ever get triples with 2D6, but 4D6 would have a much greater chance of getting 3s than 3D6.

The stat spread that we used in the game suits me just fine, but I think I'd use the key stats thing in the book. Warriors would have the physical stats as key stats, scholars the mental and rogues would have all stats. In the rulebook it says that you can only use the level bonus on saving throws on those stats and you only level based on the same stats. This would give the rogues a lot more flexibility.

The talents I would ditch / change. I'd actually implement the character class thing from your D&D homebrew with the classes representing either a wide area of expertise like a vocation or a special advantage like knowing first level magic, having the fighter bonuses or having cheaper magic. The zeroeth level would represent childhood, so a beginning first level character would essentially have 2 class levels.

I'd keep the restrictions that the scholar, warrior and rogue arctypes have, but like a first level warrior would have something like "Lovable street urchin" and "Soldier (warrior bonuses)" levels with the first one of those providing rerolls in a wide variety of situations and the second one giving warrior bonuses. Likewise a wizard character could have something like "Gifted Child (cheaper magic) and "Scarlet Order Initiate (1st lvl magic)", but skills in the rerolling sense.

The neat thing with this system would be that a 1st level rogue would have the extra vocation naturally, because almost all special advantages would be denied to them. So you could have a first level rogue with "Scarlet Order Initiate (1st lvl magic)" and "Vagabond" or "Thief" and "Trapper". Combined with the saving rolls this would elegantly make rogues the jack-of-all-trades they deserve  to be. If both vocations would apply to a saving roll, I would perhaps give a second reroll or perhaps some added bonus to the success?

I'm also contemplating solving the magic problem with ditching the spell lists completely in favor of a more freeform approach to magic. However, I'm thinking about having the level of magic that the character knows, determine its scope and then using the power of the saving roll system in implementing it. Spells would cost soulpoints according to their level in the power of 3 with the first level being smoke and mirrors or in general efects that would effect the circumstances for one character. A bolt of fire would be a second level spell consting 9 soul and with a fourth level spell, you could have a big wave hit a 100km stretch of coastline.

To access second level spells you'd also have to devote two levels to a particular style of magic. Let's say that the Scarlet Order would have a style of magic including summoning, illusion, hypnosis and all sorts of things that you can do with different parts of all sorts of lotus plants. If you had something like "Scarlet Order Dropout (1st lvl magic)" and "Scarlet Order Renegade" (2nd lvl magic)" and you'd want to learn elemental spells, you could apprentice to a elementalist and when you gain your next level, you could take "Elementalist apprentice (1st lvl magic)" or something.

The weapon/equipment side is actually the only part that I don't have a clear vision yet, so if you come up with something, do tell.
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Olli Kantola
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« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2009, 06:25:03 PM »

Sounds good to me. I agree with you that the multiplication thing with non-human character abilities is not very pleasing aesthetically. Then again, I'm not that much of a fan of lots of different weird demihumans as player characters anyway, so it's not much of a problem for me, especially as the character race hardly impacts the numbers after character creation. I could imagine going with simple bonuses in D&D style, too. Whatever makes sense for the specific aesthetic of the campaign world; the thing I like about T&T is that it's very easy to create new content for it due to its simplicity.

That rule about only using the level bonus on key stat SRs is news to me. The new rulebook is arranged in a pretty confusing manner, so no wonder that I'd miss something like that. Sort of makes sense for why the game even bothers with the key statistics: without that rule there is not much point to it, as a player will focus his ability improvements on abilities that actually fit his character concept and character class - in other words, a key stat will be the highest anyway without any need to enforce it.

Using feats like you describe to implement special privileges is a pleasurable approach - "feats" being what I've been calling those special powers you get in my D&D homebrew. I'm not sure if I'd do it in T&T, but that's just my personal weirdness talking, not wanting to mix currents or something like that. No reason not to make the characters a bit more detailed if you feel like it.

Losing the spell list is certainly a simple approach. I'm hesitant of doing it myself at this point, but that's mostly because the spell lists are one of the largest sources of structure that T&T has. If you device a feat system as replacement, then it's not a problem of course.

Overall, good vision. I'll have to make a point of harassing you about this when I manage to lure you to visit us here in Upper Savo. I wouldn't mind playing T&T as a player, it seems that I'm almost the only GM for it in the country.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2009, 09:23:06 PM »

I don't know how you guys get the energy, at a purely mechanical design level, to add mechanics to the game. When you've stripped out almost all the mechanics to begin with, or intend to? How do you get the energy to do so much design work, if so little excited you about the pre existing mechanics of the game?
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2009, 09:46:54 PM »

No idea. Or maybe I have, at least for my own case: I'm a back to basics sort of guy, and have been ever since I restarted my roleplaying hobby. What this means is that I'm constantly trying to improve the basics of what I do, which keeps me interested in f.ex. different variations of fantasy adventure. Many people seem to choose a rules system and stick with it, amassing layers of tools and rules on top of it, but I like to throw everything away and start a new iteration from the basic level. Perhaps I'll make something new and excellent that way at some point.

Another factor is that while I like fantasy adventure, I don't like dungeoneering fantasy. My blog is idiotic reading for exactly this reason: I mess about with games where I like the mechanics and creative agenda but not the color, so that makes for a lot of retooling.

As for liking T&T - I like a much higher percentage of core elements in it than I like in any version of D&D, for example. The combat rules, say - apart from the somewhat weird missile weapon rules there's nothing significant in there that I'd change. The same goes for the magic rules, overall.

It's important to point, though, that I don't consider any of the mechanics I've mentioned here truly important for the systemic greatness that is Tunnels & Trolls. The abilities, for instance, are rather fundamentally arbitrary in this game. A good example of this is how you can actually add or remove abilities without changing the game balance; whether characters have the "Speed" attribute or not doesn't matter for their combat adds, only for how you adjudicate those rare situations where speed has some in-fiction meaning.

Olli on the other hand - he's clearly creating some sort of unholy  T&T + D&D hybrid. More power to him, I say. If you're going to do fantasy adventure at this age, it might as well be customized to your personal preferences.
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