Thursday, 5 May 2016

Review: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls - Part II

Character creation is at the heart of any RPG. It is part if what sets them apart from board and card games. I usually go into a new RPG campaign with an idea of what type of character I want to be, these are seldom (in fact never) Min/Maxed-Power-Characters. In our current Dark Heresy campaign I am playing as Enoch 'Mungo' Watkins, a scum-of-the-earth, low-level gang member, who is only in the service of the emperor because a drug deal went badly wrong and he needed to get off planet ASAP. For me a character should be, well... a character, not just a vessel for killer stats.

With this in mind, I really like the character creation for T&T. At first glance it seems overly simplistic. Coming from other systems there is a distinct lack of specific rules for different character types, but once you get your head around this, it is actually very freeing. Anyway I digress, the first stage is basic attributes.

The basic attributes will be familiar to pretty much anyone. Ken St Andre took these almost unchanged from D&D and a lot of other people have done the same since. There are a couple of differences, mainly the swapping of Wisdom for Luck, which actually has a big effect on the game. In fantasy literature luck often plays a big part, the characters are in the right place at the right time (or sometimes the wrong place at the wrong time), in a lot of RPGs this has to be written in to the scenario, the PCs will automatically be lucky. With a Luck characteristic you can roll for things like this.Also it makes it possible to create a character who really shouldn't be an effective warrior, clumsy, stupid and ill-trained, but who, just by happenstance, makes it through against the odds. 
The attributes are: STRENGTH, INTELLIGENCE, LUCK, CONSTITUTION, DEXTERITY, CHARISMA, SPEED. [Edit: oh yeah and WIZARDRY, I'll cover magic next week.]
To generate each of these you roll 3d6, pretty standard fair. But in T&T if you roll a triple then you roll again and add the totals together. This means that while most characters have attribute scores between 4 and 17, some will have higher, sometimes significantly higher. If you are expecting a balanced game then T&T is not going to be for you.

The next step is deciding what Kindred to be. Kindred are T&T's version of races, Ken St Andre decided many years ago that 'race' was African/American, White/Irish, Bangladeshi etc, and adding Dwarf, Elf etc to this was potentially racist. And so T&T has Kindred.
The list of playable Kindred is truly massive. It includes all the usual, Dwarf, Elf, Hobb (A litigiously minded hobbit, not a house-hold spirit from northern England) plus goblins, orcs (called uruks), gremlins, trolls ogres (hrogr), leprechauns, fairies, the list, literally, goes on. 

Sorry, Hob, no place for you in T&T
In the condensed rules at the front of the Corgi books (more on these next week) it says: 'As you can see, no single race is unconditionally better than any other race.' This isn't true. Some races are out-and-out better than others, especially in combat. But then a good GM will go a long way towards balancing things, and if you want a finely balanced game, T&T is not going to be for you. 
The next section is classes. There are three in T&T. Yes, that's right, three. (Actually there are things called specialists which you can choose if you rolled a triple on any of your attributes, but I haven't really looked into these so will ignore them for now). Wizards, can use magic. Warriors are trained fighters. Rogues fall somewhere between the two.
At first glance I thought this was very limiting. What if I want to be, say, a barbarian? Well very simply, if I want to be a barbarian then I can be. A barbarian would probably be a warrior, but they might just as well be a wizard or rogue. So how does a barbarian differ from a paladin? Well that is up to me, the player.
In actual fact the first character I created was a barbarian, Crotch the Barbarian to give him his full name. I decided that barbarians didn't have access to decent armour, so I gave him only leather bracers and a steel cap. I also see Crotch as an eastern nomadic barbarian, so I gave him a Schimitar.
The next level of personalisation are Talents. These are things your character is good at, and you can choose literally anything. DT&T does include a sample list of talents, but it states quite clear that this is a starting point and you should choose anything that you think reflects your characters personality and skill set.
Talents give a boost to any roll that they would apply to. They are not linked to any one attribute. Therefore if you took 'Swords' you might receive a bonus to your combat roll when fighting with a sword. Also you might get a bonus to your Intelligence when trying to work out a particular sword's origins. Or you might get a bonus to your Charisma when trying to sell someone a sword.
The final level of personalisation is role-playing. If your character is a barbarian then play him like a barbarian, at the end of the day no amount of rules will affect your character as much as the way you play him (or her).
There are two basic mechanics in T&T. Firstly lets look at Saving Rolls. These deal with everything that isn't combat (and are even used then quite a bit). The GM (or solo adventure) will determine how difficult something is that you are trying to do. For a few things, such as shooting, this is set out in the rules, but most things are left to the GMs discretion. The GM will then assign a level of difficulty and an attribute that must be tested against.
For example, trying to throw a rope over a branch forty foot up a tree might require a Level 3 Saving Roll against Dexterity (which would be abbreviated L3 SR DEX), trying to outrun a particularly sluggish troll might be a Level 1 Saving Roll against Speed (L1 SR SPD). The player trying to perform the action would roll two dice, any doubles are rerolled and the totals added, add their relevant attribute to this score and compare this total with a target number determined by the Level. Level 1 rolls requires a total of 20, Level 2: 25, Level 3: 30 and so on.
So if Crotch the Barbarian was trying to throw that rope, he would roll to dice: double 4. He got a double so he rolls again, this time getting a 5 and a 4. 4+4+5+4 equals 17, add this to his Dexterity (which is 12) for a grand total of 29. Unfortunately this was a Level 3 roll so the target was 30,and therefore he fails.
The other mechanic is combat rolls. These are a lot simpler than most other RPGs, with everything combined into one roll. Depending what weapon you are using you will have a number of damage dice (for example 5D6) if you are using a particularly fine example of the weapon type then you may get a bonus to this (for example +3). You will also have Personal Adds, which is calculated based on Dexterity, Speed, Strength and Luck. For each point any of these are above 12 you get plus one to your Personal Adds.

Monsters will also have a number of dice and adds. This could be worked out exactly the same as for PCs, but usually for cannon fodder will be derived from their Monster Rating. Monster Rating is a simple number, and usually forms the entire stats for a monster. So an entry in a T&T adventure might read 'Goblin, MR:30'. Again this seems very simplistic, but think about it. If you are going to be bartering with the goblin, or arm wrestling him, then you will need more stats. But if you are just fighting him then all you need to know is how many dice he rolls in combat. Monster Rating is a simple way of doing this.
To convert MR into damage dice, divide the total by 10 (rounding down) and add 1. This is the number of dice rolled. Then half the total and this is the number of adds. So following this through with our humble goblin from before, an MR of 30 results in 4d6+15.
Each round of combat both parties roll the appropriate number of dice and add their 'adds'. They then compare the totals. The higher amount wins. The difference between the two totals is the amount of damage caused. Armour is taken off this amount. If the monster won then the damage is taken off the PC's Constitution. If the PC won then the damage is taken off the monsters MR. The monsters damage dice remain the same through out the combat, but their adds fall as their MR does.
There is also spite damage. Simply put this means counting the number of 6's each side rolled. If you loose you still do one point of damage per spite (ignoring armour). If you win then you do at least as much damage as the number of 6s rolled, what ever the armour of the opponent.
And, in a  nut shell, those are the basics of T&T. The authors have placed a lot of trust in the you, the gamer, with these rules. It is perfectly possible to power game T&T to death, and if you like to be spoon fed rules to cover every eventuality then you are not going to like T&T. However if you like rules that give you a springboard to bigger and better things then you really should give these rules a go.
Next Week:
T&T Solo Adventuring   

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much for a trip down memory lane Thomas, I cut my teeth playing T & T back in the mid 70's and loved every minute of it. A fun game which propelled me into the whole fantasy genre :-) very fond memories indeed.