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Author Topic: [Tunnels & Trolls] Questions about "Colonizing goblin lands"  (Read 5594 times)
John S
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« on: November 22, 2010, 08:32:15 AM »

I just found Eero's [Tunnels & Trolls] Colonizing goblin lands thread and pored over it with interest. I love the atmosphere and color evoked by the setting and reports, and I have a couple questions about how some of the situations were handled-- but I gather that it isn't cool to update old threads around here.

Here are my questions: How do you cover terrain and tactical advantages with the Saving Roll mechanic? If the players are scouting around the wilderness you've described, how do they announce their attempts to find terrain they want? How do you determine the Saving Roll difficulty for these endeavors? Do you scale the tactical advantage to the SR difficulty? What mechanical impact do the different kinds of terrain or tactics yield to the players?

It might help to provide an example, whether made up or from the game, with the table-talk included.

Although I use T&T for more than just dungeon adventures, my use of the Saving Roll is usually more local, and the idea of letting the players create their own terrain for tactical advantage seems very cool! But I'm not sure how to adjudicate stuff like this on the fly. If you didn't play in this game and you find this thread before Eero does, I'd still love to hear your ideas or suggestions, if you have any to offer. Thanks!


Yesterday, we had a short time to play while in the car with my daughter and nephew, and I offered them "defend the fort-village from a Goblin attack" as a quick-run scenario based on the ideas in this thread. They loved it. I gave them one afternoon of game time to plan out their strategy before the Goblins arrived at nightfall and propped their ladders against the village wall. The kids had a blast putting their strategy into action and trying to hold off the Goblin horde.

The Goblins in my scenario were more mookish than Eero's: they still had a MR of 20, but they only had one hit point each. For each point of spite damage rolled by the players, I had villagers kill a Goblin in a nearby skirmish. For each point of spite damage rolled by the Goblins, I had the Goblins kill a villager in a nearby skirmish.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2010, 12:02:55 PM »

This is a good way of continuing an old discussion, cool beans in that regard.

My memory from that time is a bit hazy, but I think I can more or less reconstruct some answers - this is not that dissimilar from what I do in other games with more involved skill checks, after all.

Quote
Here are my questions: How do you cover terrain and tactical advantages with the Saving Roll mechanic? If the players are scouting around the wilderness you've described, how do they announce their attempts to find terrain they want? How do you determine the Saving Roll difficulty for these endeavors? Do you scale the tactical advantage to the SR difficulty? What mechanical impact do the different kinds of terrain or tactics yield to the players?

The basic idea when going into the SR (or other check used by some other system) is that the player wins the right to some "good stuff" by winning the check. If he wins by several degrees, he even gets more of the good stuff; this is often useful, as we'll see.

A very typical formula I use in gamist games like this is to maximize player choices by allowing them to choose for themselves how they will "expend their success". For example, we might determine the terrain for a battle by having a player make a tactical ability check and then allowing the player to define as many facts about the battlefield as they got degrees of success. So one success buys you a gorge, another buys you the time of day, a third one perhaps buys you surprise against the opposition or whatever. This is totally a GM:ing technique issue (that is, not rules but rather their implementation) - I usually start by piling on the obvious stuff I want to give to the players myself thanks to the good roll (or stuff that was implied by the cause of the check), and if any degrees of success are left, then the player gets to choose some good stuff as well.

(This same principle is immensely useful for information-gathering SRs of all sorts as well - just make the player roll and allow them to ask as many questions as they get successes. It's actually quite useful to see what players want to ask you, because that tells you about how well you've communicated what has already been established.)

In the specific case of Tunnels & Trolls it's actually rather straightforward to determine the necessary SR to make in this sort of situation. I don't remember the exact numbers, but basically each dungeon level in T&T associates with a particular base SR difficulty - and as you can see from the AP report, I handled different over-land geographical regions as dungeon levels in my game, which meant that when it came time to make a SR to find out whether the characters would succeed in choosing a good battlefield, I could just use that base difficulty as baseline: if they managed to pass that SR, then they would get basically what they wanted, and if they succeeded so well that they would've passed the next higher level as well, then they could get an even better outcome. Straightforward.

Considering some recent discussions I should clarify that the underlying impetus in these sorts of SRs is not supposed to be any sort of co-narrative principle - the idea is not that a player gets to determine what exists in the game world and what doesn't. The reason for why a player gets to have input into the nature of the battlefield is simply that the character effectively has arbitrary choice on the issue; if he's setting up an ambush alongside a likely enemy route, then he can very well choose his position alongside the route to best accord with his battle plan. As it would be unnecessary and difficult for the GM to map the entire trail geography so the player could literally make such a choice, it's much easier (and mechanically prudent, and fun) to make a SR and then let the player tell what type of terrain there'll be in the place that he chooses - the GM can always say that there is no such place available, choose another. (Not that the latter is a good idea as long as the player respects the fiction; the point of this phase of play is to negotiate the challenge, not to be difficult for no reason.)

As for the significance of what the various geographical details of a battlefield might mean, that depends on the process of fighting the battle. The way I run these (basically the way I run Mountain Witch as well, which I find very interesting) is that we might have a bunch of notional tokens (dice, usually) lying around, and we use these to sketch the positioning of the various fighters on the table. I the GM posit various sensible and flavourful details pretty arbitrarily about how the battle starts to shape - I might describe how the enemy starts surrounding the heroes while aligning the tokens on the table as I describe things, for example. Then the players jump in, describing what their characters do, or I ask them provocative questions, often prompting a tactical choice. Terrain and other established facts about the fiction play a big role here, as they are translated into facts about the battle: for example, a narrow doorway might mean that only two enemies can engage the front line at a time. This process goes on in the case of T&T as long as we've figured out what is going to happen on this round of fighting: who is using what weapons, who is casting spells, who is joining the melee, whether there'll be only one or several melees and so on. The basic goal of this positioning stage for both sides is obviously to protect their weaknesses while amassing massive strength against the enemy weakness: if you can somehow talk the GM in this gentle to-and-fro into accepting that only two goblins can attack the heroes this round while the rest end up twiddling their thumbs, that's great - you get to roll your entire dice allocation plus adds against just a fraction of the enemy force. This is all about tactics, this phase - timing, positioning, what you're doing, they all determine things; you can read in that AP report about how players can easily fuck up their own battle plan by having their characters hare off at inopportune moments to do something that means that their dice won't be available in the crucial melee of the round.

My understanding of the T&T game text is that the above is exactly how you're supposed to play it - I don't think that I'm doing anything particularly strange. Note that the default way of conducting battle is still unchanged: assuming that everybody just lines up and attacks when the opposition is good and ready, what you do is you collect everybody's dice into a big pile and roll them all at once. The key brilliance of the system is that this will generally favour the party that is stronger in outright dicing strength; to win against a strong opposition (and monsters usually are all about MR and not about soft strength) you need to engage the ancillary systems such as spellcasting and Saving Rolls to ensure that when it comes to the melee round the situation has changed: half of the enemy are already on fire or deep in a pit or hopelessly confused about the direction the attack is coming from, whatever - anything to make the GM not array the full strength of the opposition against you. Heck, considering the dicing system of the game it's actually going to be a massive grind to fight an even fight simply by dicing turn by turn, as most of the dice on both sides will simply cancel each other out; and the more dice you have, the greater percentage of them will be ineffectual each round due to this canceling of strengths. The way to win fights in this game is to somehow split the enemy force while amplifying your own.

This harping about how to run T&T combats is because your last question is answered thusly: the mechanical impact of establishing your own battlefield is that you get to execute the tactics that made you choose that battlefield in the first place. Presumably this'll give you some advantage, such as was the case in that session when the players successfully set up an ambush next to a gorge and started their attack by driving half of the enemy force into the gorge; although there were few immediate injuries among those who fell into the shallow gorge, they were effectively out of the first 1-2 rounds of melee, at which point the battle was already won and those gorge-bound goblins had no realistic choice except to retreat back to Goblin-land.

Ah, I really enjoy the way the fiction latches into the mechanics in T&T - it's about the only one of these old games where a combat round really feels like a round of combat. I always strive to describe a round of combat in round-ful combat games as a real bout of arms that begins with a charge and ends in retreat or repositioning or a simple breathing spell or whatever; most versions of D&D and such make this difficult, as they more or less go towards assuming that a "round" means just a discrete slice of time (often just seconds) taken out of an essentially continuous battle wherein an individual character might be attacking an enemy during their round, or not. The way I run T&T (and the way the text intends, I think) each round by definition ends with the opponents to some degree disengaged, so that the fictional positioning gets an opportunity to shift and change - somebody might even decide to escape at that time. Usually nothing else happens during the melee, as it's the fast and furious center-piece of actions and positioning that happened immediately before. The math behind T&T is perfect for this narrative conceit, as an individual battle round can easily end in utter defeat for one side or relatively inconclusive results, all depending on the pre-round positioning and tactical moves. In many ways superior to D&D mechanics, which pretty much force a grind due to the way dice rolls whiff against armor class. More happens in one round of T&T, and thus the process has less of an opportunity to turn into a repetitive grind.

Hmm, I really should try to get to play some T&T soon.
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John S
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« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2010, 01:53:43 PM »

That's awesome, Eero! Thanks for responding. You're right, it all seems very straightforward once you take a certain perspective that is very consonant with the T&T rules.

The basic idea when going into the SR (or other check used by some other system) is that the player wins the right to some "good stuff" by winning the check. If he wins by several degrees, he even gets more of the good stuff; this is often useful, as we'll see.

A very typical formula I use in gamist games like this is to maximize player choices by allowing them to choose for themselves how they will "expend their success". For example, we might determine the terrain for a battle by having a player make a tactical ability check and then allowing the player to define as many facts about the battlefield as they got degrees of success. So one success buys you a gorge, another buys you the time of day, a third one perhaps buys you surprise against the opposition or whatever. This is totally a GM:ing technique issue (that is, not rules but rather their implementation) - I usually start by piling on the obvious stuff I want to give to the players myself thanks to the good roll (or stuff that was implied by the cause of the check), and if any degrees of success are left, then the player gets to choose some good stuff as well.

(This same principle is immensely useful for information-gathering SRs of all sorts as well - just make the player roll and allow them to ask as many questions as they get successes. It's actually quite useful to see what players want to ask you, because that tells you about how well you've communicated what has already been established.)

That's perfectly comprehensible, thanks! When you play, do you count every pip over the target number as a degree of success? Or do you count each level above the target number (ie. five pips) as a success? It sounds like you're counting every pip, so if Delver Dan gets a sum of 25 on a level 1 Saving Roll (enough to hit a L2 SR), the player gets five "goodies" instead of one.

In the specific case of Tunnels & Trolls it's actually rather straightforward to determine the necessary SR to make in this sort of situation. I don't remember the exact numbers, but basically each dungeon level in T&T associates with a particular base SR difficulty - and as you can see from the AP report, I handled different over-land geographical regions as dungeon levels in my game, which meant that when it came time to make a SR to find out whether the characters would succeed in choosing a good battlefield, I could just use that base difficulty as baseline: if they managed to pass that SR, then they would get basically what they wanted, and if they succeeded so well that they would've passed the next higher level as well, then they could get an even better outcome. Straightforward.

Setting the SR level based on the local dungeon level/threat level makes perfect sense. I guess I was trying to imagine some kind of Sorcerer-like currency, where the victories of your "tactics" roll would be carried over in a concrete mechanical way into the conflict, say by getting bonus dice or an adds multiplier when the terrain features are used to advantage. That's why I assumed the degree of mechanical effect would be tied to the SR level. Needless to say, what you've described is a lot more elegant.

Tunnels & Trolls doesn't have a single unified system the way Sorcerer does-- it really has three separate systems that overlap and interact well together, but not in a way that produces anything like currency.

There's a lot in your post to digest! I'll come back later and read and think it over more after my daughter goes to bed.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2010, 03:02:12 PM »

I seem to remember that I would count each level an additional degree of success in T&T - that is, every five points. There are many games that use degrees of success, and my experience (perhaps molded by Mountain Witch, TSoY, Sorcerer and so on) is that if you mostly get 1-3 successes per check with some outliers then you'll be a happy monkey - it's usually relatively easy to think of two good things to give where you've already thought of one, for instance. A system that'll give you a "tenth degree success" tends to break down in fact-counting terms, as I for one couldn't list ten advantageous terrain features for a battlefield the way I could list two or three, which means that I need to go into somewhat unaesthetic crutches like "another answer costs three degrees of success". Ultimately a matter of taste in application, of course - nothing in T&T rules about degrees of success, I seem to remember, so it's mainly an aesthetic conceit to decide that levels of difficulty translate into degrees of success. This whole thinking in degrees is just so ingrained for me that I started doing it in T&T automatically just because it has those levels of difficulty. I do the same thing in D&D, too.

As for the currency, yes: there shouldn't be an explicit currency translation between the various pre-combat rolls and actual combat in this sort of game, as that'd reduce attention to the fictional situation, encouraging players to spam rolls that don't have heavy fictional intent; better to let any rolls made flow into new facts that get established about the fiction, and then let the players leverage those new facts into something that is directly useful for their needs. Of course I wouldn't make direct currency translation completely verboten - the rules are rather clear in that the GM can take away adds or dice or add them when the circumstances warrant, so saying that if a character succeeds in a SR they get their degree of success as extra dice to the next round is quite fair. I just wouldn't make this an automatic, formal mechanic that comes in addition to the fictional consequences of the check; rather, let the GM declare this sort of depiction of the fictional consequence on a case-by-case basis.

(It's notable that the game already involves a formalistic currency consequence for SRs in the form of experience rewards: each SR you make nets you experience points. It's round-about, of course.)

The T&T system is not universally unified, but I find it surprisingly pleasing aesthetically nonetheless - there are not many rpg systems that manage to similarly have twists in the right places instead of all over the place. For instance, the conceit the game has about the combat mechanic only covering the cut-and-thrust melee, while everything else from archery to movement runs off the SR system, that's beautiful. The systemic disjunction and the necessary shifting of gears between these systems provides a very pleasing framing for combats, one where bloody hand-to-hand alternates with desperate repositioning and dialogue and whatnot - quite cinematic, actually, and as surprising as it is, in my experience this is more tactical (in the sense of making difficult decisions under fire) than the D&D model.

By the by, that's a good application of Spite damage you had in your goblin scenario. Ever since I got the 7th edition rulebook, which uses Spite more than I seem to remember 5th edition using, I've been thinking that I should write down some Spite-using house rules. For instance, it'd be interesting if characters (fighters) could get some special moves for spending Spite dice or such - you have the default effect of causing a point of damage over the melee calculation, but a character could forgo that in exchange for something else as well now and then. I understand that this is not unusual for magic items in T&T (a sword that bursts into flame for the rest of the battle when you roll enough Spite, say), but one might consider making this a bit more central mechanic by introducing it as a sort of "martial arts" option. I think I was considering this last year already... I clearly need to start a T&T campaign at some point.
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John S
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« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2010, 04:57:20 PM »

Ever since I got the 7th edition rulebook, which uses Spite more than I seem to remember 5th edition using, I've been thinking that I should write down some Spite-using house rules. For instance, it'd be interesting if characters (fighters) could get some special moves for spending Spite dice or such - you have the default effect of causing a point of damage over the melee calculation, but a character could forgo that in exchange for something else as well now and then. I understand that this is not unusual for magic items in T&T (a sword that bursts into flame for the rest of the battle when you roll enough Spite, say), but one might consider making this a bit more central mechanic by introducing it as a sort of "martial arts" option. I think I was considering this last year already...

I saw your comments to that end in the original AP thread, and it reminded me of an article by Dan Prentice in TrollsZine 2 that took the same premise of spite-activated techniques-- it's called "I Know Kung Fu: Or Secret Weapon Techniques for Warriors". I haven't used this system, but it looks fun, and I have a case where it might come in handy coming up. Not knowing this was out there, I developed a Saving Roll-based approach to adjudicating many similar maneuvers, which might be published in the next issue of TrollsZine. Using spite-activated stunts reminds me of the stunt system in Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG-- you roll your dice for a normal combat round, and you might get an interesting surprise. The Saving Roll version requires a more intentional focus on the fiction to set things up, but it could turn the tide in a desperate situation.

I wanted to mention that as a tangent to your other points, which I'll attend to next.
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John S
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« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2010, 05:38:31 PM »

The T&T system is not universally unified, but I find it surprisingly pleasing aesthetically nonetheless - there are not many rpg systems that manage to similarly have twists in the right places instead of all over the place. For instance, the conceit the game has about the combat mechanic only covering the cut-and-thrust melee, while everything else from archery to movement runs off the SR system, that's beautiful. The systemic disjunction and the necessary shifting of gears between these systems provides a very pleasing framing for combats, one where bloody hand-to-hand alternates with desperate repositioning and dialogue and whatnot - quite cinematic, actually, and as surprising as it is, in my experience this is more tactical (in the sense of making difficult decisions under fire) than the D&D model.

This is one of the killer features of T&T in my view. It doesn't assume that every. single. attempt. to hit. is important enough to simulate-- before Trollbabe was ever born, there was a game that allowed you to run combat at the clash-by-clash pace instead of assuming every conflict must be rolled out blow-by-blow. And for those conflicts in which blow-by-blow narration could turn the tide, it has this Saving Roll system that kicks in and allows you to narrate in bullet time, but only when you need to.

I like how you tie the idea of a round of combat in T&T to rounds in boxing and similar matches. That really captures the feel well!
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2010, 10:59:51 PM »

Quote
Heck, considering the dicing system of the game it's actually going to be a massive grind to fight an even fight simply by dicing turn by turn, as most of the dice on both sides will simply cancel each other out
As I read the rules, the thing to remember is that a monsters dice reduce as it's MR reduces. What's interesting about T&T is that it implemented death spirals for monsters only. This means although it's essentially a dice pool system, a twist of fate against a mighty foe can have a big effect.
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John S
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« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2010, 05:01:43 AM »

As I read the rules, the thing to remember is that a monsters dice reduce as it's MR reduces. What's interesting about T&T is that it implemented death spirals for monsters only. This means although it's essentially a dice pool system, a twist of fate against a mighty foe can have a big effect.

In the 5th edition rules, that's very much the case: a monster's dice and "Combat Adds" diminish with damage, which has a dramatic effect on combat. In the 7th edition, the effect is still there, but less pronounced: When a monster takes hits, it's Adds are reduced, but not its dice. That means monsters with spite-activated abilities still have the same chance of triggering those abilities even in their last throes.

Diminishing Combat Adds still has a big impact on battle though, since Combat Adds are added to the sum of the dice when computing each side's total attack power, and Combat Adds is always equal to half of a monster's current MR.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2010, 06:35:27 AM »

Hello,

In the interest of historical accuracy, regarding game systems in the middle and late 1970s: the blow-by-blow combat systems of the era were exemplified by The Fantasy Trip, DragonQuest, and RuneQuest, but not by D&D. The combat system for Advancd Dungeons & Dragons (1977-79) was not blow-by-blow, but rather almost as abstract as T&T's. If I remember correctly, a player's roll to hit (or everyone in the party's) accounted for one minute of fictional time. The AD&D Player's Handbook and AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide were explicit about this minute-long fiction being composed of the drama of weaving, ducking, maneuvering, clashing without incident, and so on, with the roll being about the moment or moments, somewhere in there, in which actual injury might occur. Hit Points, incidentally, were equally abstract, with 20 hit point loss to a 10th level fighter being legitimately described as a scratch.

However, I do agree that T&T did provide a more workable procedure for the same idea by unambiguously combining everyone's rolls into a skirmish outcome. The AD&D design favored an interpretation of individual action which clashed gears with the skirmish model, especially the way that a round began with a flux of social complications involved in establishing who was doing what in what order. (It's not surprising that tournament play, which favored skirmish thinking, relied on one-person callers, the only person the GM would consider authoritative.) It showed up most strongly when considering individual initiative vs. group inititative, which was a sticking point of play for any group I played with and illustrated the way that combat couldn't quite manage to be about the group skirmish or the indivdual bits at the same time.

My point is to clarify that the combat distinction between contemporary T&T and D&D in the 1970s was not skirmish vs. individual action models, but rather different ways to embed individual action within the skirmish model. The individual action model, in which the skirmish outcome was purely an emergent effect from individual blow-by-blow events, was found in entirely different games.

Best, Ron
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John S
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« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2010, 12:21:08 PM »

I was thinking about this again today:

The wizard thing was not my numero uno hateful thing in the game, though; that honor is reserved for the awful equipment lists. I f***ing hate buying non-mechanical equipment and calculating weights, that much is given - didn't do that, only had the players buy their weapons and armor. But even then T&T geek autism got to us with the 200 different weapons with weird names. Despite my efforts to get the players to just buy some stupid sword, they insisted on optimizing their weapon choices carefully (smart, as you need it in this game; but lord it was dull), which meant wasting something like five times as much time in this than the other parts of the character generation combined. A classic example of why not to use point-buy systems in character generation; the amount of options overwhelms the player and grinds play to halt. Afterwards the players agreed with me that I should have been allowed to try out my simplified, less pain-in-the-ass alternative system wherein fighters upgrade their fighting dice by learning martial styles instead of buying sticks with embedded shark teeth.

[Empahsis mine --John]

Ever since I got the 7th edition rulebook, which uses Spite more than I seem to remember 5th edition using, I've been thinking that I should write down some Spite-using house rules. For instance, it'd be interesting if characters (fighters) could get some special moves for spending Spite dice or such - you have the default effect of causing a point of damage over the melee calculation, but a character could forgo that in exchange for something else as well now and then. I understand that this is not unusual for magic items in T&T (a sword that bursts into flame for the rest of the battle when you roll enough Spite, say), but one might consider making this a bit more central mechanic by introducing it as a sort of "martial arts" option. I think I was considering this last year already...

I'm curious if you ever got a chance to playtest your weapon/martial style rules? Going with a spite-activated power system like Dan's still requires you to divert attention to the weapon list so players can get weapons that enable them to bat more dice around. If you jettison the weapon list, you need another method to determine how many attack dice are available.

Here's one idea that just came to me: Derive attack dice from a character's Strength (for heavy weapons) or Dexterity (for light/missile weapons) as if the ability score was a Monster Rating. Then you can have a weapon list that allows the players to pick a weapon for flavor instead of optimum combat advantage. So a character with a Strength of 25 and Dexterity of 15 would get 3 dice for a mace and 2 dice for a fencing foil. Spite effects could build on that.

But I'm curious what you had in mind?

@Ron: Thanks for the history. I didn't get to play D&D until 2nd edition, and the GM narrated our attacks blow-by-blow. Later I got into GURPS (derived from TFT, from what I gather) and I assumed that blow-by-blow roll-to-action ratio was the standard.
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Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 03:11:29 PM »

I haven't had an opportunity for playing around with T&T this last year, mostly because I've been playing D&D and Solar System when I could've dragged out T&T. It's been close a couple of times, but that's how it goes.

I haven't gotten around to writing up a complete "equipment list", but were I to fix T&T in this regard, it'd look like something of this sort:

StyleStrength req.Dexterity req.DiceDescription
Basic Fighting--1Default fighting for those without equipment or learning for anything else. Free for everybody.
Rustic Brawling1282A simple fighting style of peasants. Unarmed or farming tools etc. improvised weapons. Free to learn.
Fisticuffs8122Unarmed fighting among urban youth and sailors. Free to learn.
Spanish Fencing11143Complex dueling fencing style, deadly in 1 vs. 1 situations. Uses light swords, daggers or sticks. At disadvantage in heavy armor, of course. Free pick at chargen, 100 gold pieces to train.
Landsknecht melee16124Professional fighting with heavy weapons, especially two-handed swords; requires some minimal pieces of armor, as the style assumes its use in blocking. Free pick at chargen, 200 gold pieces to train.
etc.
The complete list for a given campaign would probably have just a dozen or so options of which only a couple in the low end would be immediately pertinent at character generation: you have a high strength so you get this, you have a high dexterity so you get this, you don't have either so you get this ass fighting style here, and that's that, no more customization necessary. I'd probably have every character get a single fighting style for free at character generation, while a player could add more styles later by paying for them. (Perhaps a warrior gets some free styles now and then, eh?) In the interest of fucking with the players I'd probably say that you pay separately for the training and the equipment, should you not have anything usable with a given fighting style: the cost of equipment for any given style would be 50% of the training cost so as to avoid having another dull chart. Thusly a character who wanted to fight in the landsknecth style from chargen would perhaps get the training for free as part of his background, but he'd still have to pay a 100 gold for the expensive armaments necessary for utilizing the style. Something like that, just examples here.

As you can see, I don't see much point in fractional weapon strengths: all weapons give dice with no adds. It's true that this removes some of the interesting math involved with some spells (such as those that double the amount of dice your weapon gets, but doesn't double the adds), but this is probably worthwhile just so you don't need to track personal adds and weapon adds separately. In general my goal here would be to replace the persnickety arms-fetishization with some more solid fictional colour: the choice of fighting style in this system tells a lot about your character's cultural background and expectations regarding the battlefield environment, which might all in all be much more inspiring as characterization fodder than the issue of whether your character's sword is a falchion or an arming sword. In general, I find that it matches my personal expectations regarding adventure fiction better if a character's weapon is not a solid part of his identity, but rather just a situational tool that is taken up and put down as necessary.

Regarding equipment, the basic idea in the above table is that it's the fighting style you utilize that determines your dice, not nitpicking over equipment. However, I would probably add the specific equipment used back in here as an exception rule: a fighter whose equipment is appropriate to the situation gets an extra die (or perhaps a static +5 add), while a fighter with mismatched equipment and/or style might get a similar penalty; all this would be in the interest of emphasizing the fictional positioning of the characters in adventurous situations, so as to really make the player think about whether it's a good idea to bring that halbert into a bar fight. Then of course there is the fact that some fighting styles cannot be used at all without the appropriate equipment; I'm not so interested in empowering players as I am in simplifying the bookkeeping and tedious lists of various stuff, so I'm still cool with preventing players from picking the stat-optimal fighting style because they don't have the money for the equipment.

What to do with armors in this set-up is an interesting question. I'm aesthetically inclined to remove micromanaging that as well, but on the other hand the damage reduction tactics are such a central part of the game and the nature of the warrior class that I'd think very carefully before messing with that. Maybe I'd just satisfy myself with some heavy cropping of the list so as to reduce it to significant choices: one dirt-cheap armor set, one at professional levels of expense, one for those noble fuckers and so on. The basic idea that a warrior's staying power is dependent on his equipment is so-and-so in my mind insofar as the themes and issues I like are conserned. On the one hand it seems too narrow to limit a fighter's specialty to what sort of tin he wears (as opposed to him relying on tactics, positioning and heroic feats for his survival), but on the other hand I sort of like the industrial themes this introduces: to be a machine of death you are not just a man, but a man worked over by hundreds of man-hours of skilled smithwork, maintained constantly in preparation for death-dealing. I suppose I could back this whole armor-emphasis as a GM as long as I remembered to emphasize it sufficiently that armor is a big fucking deal inside the fiction, it being the thing that is responsible for most of a warrior's effectiveness.

The spite-activated special maneuvers thing would come on top of the above framework, presumably. I could well imagine how I'd make the individual moves dependent on specific fighting styles to further differentiate between them and to make players make choices about their character development. Helps as a money-sink as well if players want to pay money to get masters to train them in fighting tricks, although I'm pretty good at keeping players poor anyway ;)

(I read that Dan Prentice article just now. Good stuff, he's thinking along the same lines I am. A massive money-sink, but then so is the wizard's guild in the default setting, so that balances well. I'd attack the individual techniques to cultural fighting styles instead of specific weapons, and probably give them a bit more colourful names and some background, but the basics are quite solid.)
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