Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Modified Kindred Modifiers for dT&T

I think he's mad at me.
I thought I would play game designer and work with the T&T kindred modifiers to see if I could "improve" them to my own satisfaction. I sought to find some balance in the positive and negative modifiers to the various attributes. As written in the dT&T rules and previous editions the nonhuman kindred tend to get a lot of extra attribute points with little reduction of any values, although there are exceptions. I thought changing the attribute modifiers would be a good solution in place of the proposed human advantage of dT&T. Instead of giving humans a new advantage over the other kindred, the other kindred could have disadvantages, or certain lower than average attributes,  to "balance" their big increases in various attributes. Using this method, no human advantages are needed; problem solved (chuckle).

Listed below are the five "standard" nonhuman kindred for T&T. I've given the dT&T attribute modifiers for each kindred followed by my own changes to those modifiers to provide some balance. Positive modifiers are highlighted in Blue; negative modifier in Red. Any modifiers that I changed are in Bold.

Dwarves

STR 2  CON 2  DEX 1  SPD 1  LK 0.75  IQ 1  WIZ 1  CHR 1

Dwarves have significant increases to STR and CON and only a minor reduction in LK. With two attributes being increased, I decided two should be reduced. Since dwarves had a reduced CHR in 5th edition and a reduced LK in 7th edition, I thought the combination of these two attributes was best. I kept the positive modifiers to STR and CON as they were and adjusted negative modifiers to LK and CHR to balance them out.

STR 2  CON 2  DEX 1  SPD 1 LK 0.5  IQ 1  WIZ 1  CHR 0.5

Revised dwarves are just as strong and hearty, but somewhat unlucky and surly.


Elves

STR 1  CON 0.67  DEX 1.33  SPD 1  LK 1  IQ 1.5  WIZ 1.5  CHR 1.5

Four of eight attributes get positive modifiers at the cost of reducing CON by 3/4. That's quite a deal. The reduction in CON does balance out the increase in DEX,  but obviously CON cannot be reduced further to compensate for the x1.5 boost to IQ, WIZ, and CHR. Since elves are meant to be less robust than humans in terms of CON, I also gave them a reduced STR. I also removed the positive CHR modifier because, let's face it, not everyone is enamored with elves.

STR 0.5  CON 0.7  DEX 1.4  SPD 1  LK 1  IQ 1.5  WIZ 1.5  CHR 1

Revised elves retain their extra intellect, magical potency, and agility (slightly enhanced), but tend to be physically weaker in terms of brawn and health.


Fairies

STR 0.25  CON 0.25  DEX 1.75  SPD 1  LK 1.5  IQ 1  WIZ 2  CHR 1.5

Fairy modifiers are actually pretty well balanced. They have big reductions in STR and CON making them fragile, but good boosts to DEX, LK, WIZ, and CHR. Despite their apparent weakness, however, with the Adds generated from DEX and LK fairies can decimate the opposition with missile fire. Their lethality is only increased by the loss of negative Adds in dT&T. Plus, you know, they can fly.

STR 0.25  CON 0.25  DEX 1.5  SPD 1  LK 1.5  IQ 1  WIZ 2  CHR 1.5

Overall I am happy with the fairy modifiers. My modified fairies only have a slightly reduced boost to DEX to make up for the loss of negative adds.     


Hobbs

STR 0.5  CON 2  DEX 1.5  LK 1.5  IQ 1  WIZ 1  CHR 1

Hobb are fairly weak, but are quite robust as well as agile and lucky. The boosts to DEX and LK give Hobbs a lot of extra Adds and their lack of STR is more than made up for by their high CON.

STR 0.5  CON 2  DEX 1.5  LK 1.5  IQ 0.75  WIZ 0.75  CHR 1

Revised hobbs have all the great boons of normal hobbs, but tend to be not quite as bright and less in tune with magic than other kindred.


Leprechauns

STR 0.33  CON 0.67  DEX 1.5  LK 1.5  IQ 1.25  WIZ 1.5  CHR 1

Leprechauns represent a nice balanced build in my opinion. They are physically weaker and less robust than humans but have slightly better agility, luck, intelligence, and magical aptitude to make up for it. No changes required here.


Character Example

Let's take a sample character and see how it looks cast as the various standard kindred from dT&T. Attributes that are positively affected by modifiers are in Blue; those that are negatively modified are in Red. Rolling 3D6 in order we get:

Human

STR 11  CON 10  DEX 16  SPD 14  LK 10  IQ 10  WIZ 13  CHR 9

Level: 1
Adds: +6


Dwarf (Standard)

STR 22  CON 20  DEX 16  SPD 14  LK 8  IQ 10  WIZ 13  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 21)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 2)
Level: 2
Adds: +16


Elf (Standard)

STR 11  CON 7  DEX 21  SPD 14  LK 10  IQ 15  WIZ 20  CHR 14  
(Total Attribute Increase: 22)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 3)
Level: 2
Adds: +11


Fairy (Standard)

STR 3  CON 3  DEX 28  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 10  WIZ 26  CHR 14 
(Total Attribute Increase: 35)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 15)
Level: 2
Adds: +21


Hobb (Standard)

STR 6  CON 20  DEX 24  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 10  WIZ 13  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 23)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 5)
Level: 2
Adds: +17

Leprechaun (Standard)

STR 4  CON 7  DEX 24  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 13  WIZ 20  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 23)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 10)
Level: 2
Adds: +17


The ratio of attribute increase to decrease varies from 10.5:1 (dwarves) to 2.3:1 (fairies and leprechauns). Dwarves and Elves really are the uber-characters of the bunch with Hobbs as a close third. Neither Dwarves nor Elves have any real disadvantages. Hobbs at least have a low STR to go along with their high CON, DEX, and LK. The Fairy and Leprechaun both have low STR and CON that make them fragile to help balance out their many other advantages. In addition, all of the nonhuman kindred start off as Level 2 characters with all of the advantages associated with their Type. The human will need to acquire a minimum of 700 Adventure Points to gain those advantages. The nonhumans also start with 2 to almost 4 times the Personal Adds of the human. This difference has really been accentuated by the removal of "negative adds" generated by key attributes with values less than 9 in dT&T. Cuts in STR, for example, used to keep adds in check for certain kindred like fairies, hobbits, and leprechauns.


Now let's look at my modified kindred. The attributes that have been affected by the changes are in bold.

Human

STR 11  CON 10  DEX 16  SPD 14  LK 10  IQ 10  WIZ 13  CHR 9

Level: 1
Adds: +6


Dwarf (Modified)

STR 22  CON 20  DEX 16  SPD 14  LK 5  IQ 10  WIZ 13  CHR 5
(Total Attribute Increase: 21)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 9)
Level: 2
Adds: +16


Elf (Modified)

STR 6  CON 7  DEX 22  SPD 14  LK 10  IQ 15  WIZ 20  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 18)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 8)
Level: 2
Adds: +12


Fairy (Modified)

STR 3  CON 3  DEX 24  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 10  WIZ 26  CHR 14
(Total Attribute Increase: 31)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 15)
Level: 2
Adds: +17


Hobb (Modified)

STR 6  CON 20  DEX 24  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 8  WIZ 10  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 23)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 10)
Level: 2
Adds: +17

Leprechaun (Unmodified)

STR 4  CON 7  DEX 24  SPD 14  LK 15  IQ 13  WIZ 20  CHR 9
(Total Attribute Increase: 23)
(Total Attribute Decrease: 10)
Level: 2
Adds: +17


Even with the modifications, the nonhumans still come out in better shape than humans (start as 2nd level, 2-3x the Adds), but all have some key disadvantages associated with one or two low attributes even if they do not affect personal adds. The resulting affect on Saving Rolls will certainly be critical (that's one unlucky dwarf). Importantly, the attribute increase to decrease ratio for each of the kindred is now approximately 2.3:1. That seems much more reasonable in my opinion. I'm anxious to play test these new kindred to see how they work out in an actual game.


Friday, August 8, 2014

More on Human Advantages in T&T


I've been thinking more about the "human advantage" introduced to the dT&T beta rules. This one rule change sparked more discussion than any other aspect of the dT&T rules (although pole arms may now be getting close). In previous editions of T&T, humans were the plain vanilla of kindred. As Ken explained humans were the base line against which other kindred were compared. While other kindred received no special abilities like in other fantasy RPGs (seeing in the dark, detecting hidden things, hiding, shooting, etc. better than humans), they did (and still do) get modifiers to their basic attributes, some positive (up to 2x) and some negative (down to x0.25). Human attributes remain at whatever was rolled on 3D6. The end result is starting nonhuman PCs with some very high attributes and very high Personal Adds in comparison to humans.

A big change that came with 7th edition was the direct linking of attributes and levels. Characters increased their attributes by spending Adventure Points. A characters level increased whenever an attributes went up to the next 10 value (10 = 1st level, 20 = 2nd level, 30 = 3rd level). Characters received certain bonuses partly depending upon their Type upon reaching new levels. As a consequence of this change, nonhuman characters tended to benefit the most typically starting as 2nd or even 3rd level characters and outclassing their human comrades. A freshly rolled human warrior in comparison to a freshly rolled dwarf warrior were very different.

Another important change to dT&T is the removal of "negative adds" or -1 Personal Add for every point a PA-contributing attribute is below 9. The consequence of this is that low attributes resulting from nonhuman kindred modifiers do not affect Personal Adds and combat effectiveness.

Let's create a dT&T Warrior character as an example:

Rolling 3D6 you get the following attributes:

STR 16 DEX 12 CON 12 SPD 12 LK 14 INT 9 CHR 12 WIZ 6

If you decide to play a human warrior your attributes are what you see above and your character will be a Level 1 Human Warrior with +6 Personal Adds and +1D6 in combat.

If you decide to play a dwarf warrior, however, your attributes will be adjusted (x2 STR and CON, x0.75 LK) and come out to:

STR 32 DEX 12 CON 24 SPD 12 LK 11 INT 9 CHR 12 WIZ 6

Now you will have a Level 3 Dwarf Warrior with +20 Personal Adds and +3D6 in combat.

That is quite the difference at a cost of only 3 points of Luck. That's right, 28 extra attribute points at the cost of only 3. That's hard to pass up. If you're curious, that comes out to 5860 adventure points to raise STR and CON to those levels.

As an added note, the attributes of this dwarf allow him to wield two axes for 10D6 in combat. So that's 13D6+20 for this freshly rolled Warrior. Wow.

Many have said in response to the dT&T human advantage rules that they are not needed because there is nothing wrong with the current system. I would argue that the example above shows that there is at least a small problem. While there are certainly role-playing reasons to play a human warrior (I tend to make this choice for my own reasons) there are certainly not many "roll"-playing reasons. Mechanically the human is outmatched and a terrible choice especially as a warrior.

I have wondered why the nonhuman kindreds get such large attribute boosts. As starting characters many of these boosts seem a little excessive (like the example above). It could be that nonhumans are meant to be favored (I know Ken prefers the more monstrous characters); it is a fantasy game after all. But my question is, if a nonhuman character did not have any attribute boosts, would you still play one? Why not have a greater "balance" of the attribute modifiers? Wouldn't it be more symmetrical to have negative modifiers equal to the positive modifiers? If a dwarf, for example, gets x2 in both STR and CON, shouldn't the dwarf also get a x0.5 to two other attributes such as LK and CHR? That would sit better with me.

Another question is why don't humans get any special advantages? This is actually true of most RPGs; humans are the rather plain go-to characters for new players with no complicated abilities to keep track of. But why? Humans certainly have special abilities. We are incredibly adaptable, imaginative, inventive, capable of radically modifying our surroundings, and somehow, against all odds (so far at least), survive.

A separate human advantage provides some more flavor for the plain vanilla human. Perhaps the "do-over" Saving Roll rule introduced by the dT&T Beta rules was a bit of an over-compensation, but I do think that it is on the right track. Finding a way to apply an advantage to Saving Rolls reflects the nature of humans. As I mentioned in a previous post, bringing back the "add level number to Saving Rolls" rule and giving that advantage to humans only would be better or at least state that in the "do over" rule fumbles always fail. Yet another method would be to allow humans to make all Saving Roll at one level less than normal, but with a minimum of a Level 1 Saving Roll. Of course this would have the potential disadvantage of a lower adventure point reward, but such is the nature of kindred modifiers (they giveth and taketh away). An option outside of Saving Rolls, which I've mentioned before, is to provide humans with more resources at the beginning, either in terms of more starting gold or just some select pieces of equipment.

Yet another avenue would be to highlight some of the disadvantages of nonhuman characters. Height, for example, can be a big issue. Dwarves, leprechauns, and hobbs are all shorter than humans and should, therefore, have trouble reaching things designed for taller kindred. Let's say a leprechaun was exploring an ancient manor of a long-dead human family and discovered a safe set in the wall. The leprechaun should not be able to reach that safe and would need to overcome that obstacle before even considering how to pick the lock. The same is true of items that may be discovered while delving. Most armor that is found should not be dwarf-, hobb-, leprechaun- or fairy-sized (although it certainly should not all be human-sized either). The same is true of weapons, shields, rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. many of which may have magical properties. You could also consider mass. Ken's dwarves are supposed to be made from stone; so can dwarves swim? Nonhumans may also be a lot less resilient and adaptable that humans, living in specific environments and generally not wandering far from home. This could be reflected by requiring higher level Saving Rolls when faced with challenges outside of their "comfort zones." But isn't all this a little more complicated than simply giving humans an advantage to reflect their own resilience?

This is all, of course, simply my own opinion and we are all entitled to our own especially when it comes to esoteric topics like RPG rules. When dT&T comes out I will certainly be playing it (I have already paid for it after all) both as written and, as usual, modified with lots of house rules as it's creator, the Trollgod, intended.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Alfred the Alchemist's Potion Emporium

 Do you need a remedy to cure what ails you? Do you need an edge over the opposition? Do you need to run faster or fly with the eagles? Do you need to see what is hidden or become as big as hill troll? Then we have the solution! Alfred the Alchemist brews magic in a bottle! For a small fee you too can have the power of a Wizard. There is no problem a potion cannot solve*.

*Results are not guaranteed. Certain side effects may occur. Not responsible for any injuries, illnesses, accidents, or deaths that occur with use of these products. All sales are final. No refunds of any kind.

Notes: Upon taking each potion, make a L1SR on LK. Success means the potion worked as intended while failure means that the potion did not work at all. A fumbled SR (result of 3 on 2D6) means something unexpected happened. See the "Fumble Effect" of each potion for details. If a potion does work, once the effects have ended check for possible side effects. See each potion description for details.

Liquid Bandage (Poor Baby)
Heals up to 10 points of CON. It may be consumed all at once or in increments. Only one LK SR is needed to make sure the potion works.
Side Effects: May cause drowsiness; once consumed make a SR on STR at a level equal to the number on CON restored/2 (round down). If the SR is failed, the character becomes very sleepy for 1D6 hours; all SRs are at one level higher and Personal Adds are reduced by half.
Fumble Effects: The potion causes 1D6 in CON damage and causes drowsiness for 1D6 hours.
Cost: 500 gp

Cure All (Healing Feeling)
Heals any kind of disease but does not restore any lost attributes caused by the disease.
Side Effects: Some people are allergic to the ingredients of this potion. Make a L1SR on LK. Failure means you break out in hives and have difficulty breathing. Reduce Personal Adds by half for 1D6 days.
Fumble Effects: The potion causes a wasting disease that results in the loss of 1 point of STR per day until cured. 
Cost: 600 gp

All Purpose Antidote (Too Bad Toxin)
Negates the effects of any poison but does not restore any lost attributes or heal wounds.
Side Effects: The power of the antidote can sometimes interfere with nerve function. Make a L1SR on current CON. Failure results in DEX being cut in half for 1D6 hours.
Fumble Effects: The antidote aggressively attacks the users body. Take 1D6 in CON damage and DEX is reduced by half for 1D6 days.
Cost: 800 gp

Avenging Angel (Nefarious Necromancy)
Temporarily revives a dead person for a number of combat turns (~2 minutes) equal to 5 times the LK attribute of the revived person. At the end of this period, the person dies again.
Side Effects: Sometimes the revived person's mind does not completely come back. Make a SR on INT at a level equal to the number of combat turns he or she has been dead. Failure means that the character will attack a target at random, friend or foe.
Fumble Effects: The character is turned into a zombie and will attack whoever gave him the potion. The zombie characters attributes are the same as in life and CON is fully restored.
Cost: 2400 gp (limited stock)

Phoenix Juice (Born Again)
Upon death the character reappears, completely restored, in the nearest Wizard's Guild building. This potion must be consumed before death.
Side Effects: The restoration is not always perfect, and some changes in personality may occur. Make a L1SR on each attribute. Failure means that the attribute is swapped with another randomly determined attribute.
Fumble Effects: The user's body bursts into flames, is reduced to ashes, and cannot be restored by any means.
Cost: 2600 gp (not currently available)

Bright Eyes Drops (Cateyes)
Provides the ability to see in low light conditions for 30 minutes (not in the total absence of light).
Side Effects: In some individuals, use of these drops may cause extreme sensitivity to light. Make a L1SR on LK. Failure means that even low light makes it difficult to see. Personal adds are reduced by half and all SRs on DEX are one level higher for 30 minutes.
Fumble Effects: The user goes blind for 1D6 hours.
Cost: 400 gp

I See You Drops (Oh There It Is)
Causes all invisible items, doors, and beings to glow with a soft purple radiance for one combat turn (~2 minutes). No effect on beings that are simply hiding or items that are too small to be seen.
Side Effects: Some individuals experience extreme sensitivity to this potion. Make a L1SR on LK. Failure means everything glows for 1D6 combat turns making it difficult to pick out any details or see small objects (like tripwires, pressure plates, coins, etc.).
Fumble Effects: All visible items, door, and beings become invisible while invisible things become visible for 1D6 hours. Have fun!
Cost: 200 gp

Clear Vision Drops (Second Sight)
Allows the user to recognize illusions and see things how they actually are for 10 minutes.
Side Effects: Minor hallucinations may occur with the use of these drops. Make a L1SR on INT after use. Failure means the user sees strange shapes moving around just out of sight. All SRs are one level higher for 10 minutes.
Fumble Effects: The user experiences extreme hallucinations for 1D6 hours. All SRs are two levels higher and Personal Adds are cut in half.
Cost: 1000 gp

Invisibility Elixir (Hidey Hole)
Makes the user invisible for 10 minutes.
Side Effects: Skin may become irritated after use. Make a L1SR on LK. Failure means the users skin become itchy and sore. Increase all DEX SRs by one level for 1D6 hours.
Fumble Effects: The user does not become invisible, but instead his or her skin glows with a bright light for 1D6 hours.
Cost: 400 gp

Metamorphosis Elixir (Imafrawg)
The user can transform into any shape as long as the mass is the same for one hour.
Side Effects: Upon returning to the users original form, some psychological issues may occur. Make a L1SR on INT. Failure means that the user actually thinks he is whatever he transformed into for 1D6 hours making decision making and communication a problem.
Fumble Effects: The user will stay in the form he or she took until a sufficiently powerful Wizard can be found to dispell the transformation.
Cost: 1600 gp

Speed Tonic (Little Feets)
Doubles the users speed for 10 minutes (act twice per combat round).
Side Effects: Some nausea may occur with use. Once the effect ends make a L1SR on current CON. Failure results in nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. All STR SRs are one level higher and Personal Adds are reduced by half for 3D6 minutes.
Fumble Effects: The users speed is cut in half for 1D6 hours.
Cost: 400 gp

Flying Tonic (Fly Me)
Allows the user to fly at normal running speed for 10 minutes while carrying his or her own weight.
Side Effects: Mild vertigo may result from use. Once the effects have worn off make a L1SR on current CON. Failure results in nausea, vomiting, and dizziness for 3D6 minutes. All SRs are one level higher and Personal Adds are reduced by half.
Fumble Effects: The user is able to fly for 1D6 minutes and then the effect suddenly ends. The consequences of this vary depending upon the altitude and speed of travel.
Cost: 600 gp

Teleportation Tonic (Blow Me Too...)
The user is teleported along with up to 2000 pounds of inanimate material to any location as long as the user has been there before.
Side Effects: Extreme vertigo may result from use. Once teleportation is complete, make a L3SR on current CON. Failure results in nausea, vomiting, and dizziness for 1D6 days. All SRs are two levels higher and Personal Adds are reduced by three quarters.
Fumble Effects: The user is transported to another dimension.
Cost: 2000 gp

Magic Shield Potion (Shield Me)
Produces an energy shield around the user for 10 minutes that deflects magical attacks (those that cause damage). The strength of the shield is equal to the INT of the user.
Side Effects: The user may experience a loss of magical potency after use. Make a L1SR on current WIZ. Failure means WIZ will not regenerate for 1D6 hours.
Fumble Effects: The shield is formed but it attracts magical attacks. Any spells that cause damage cast in the vicinity of the user will be directed at him or her regardless of the intended target.
Cost: 600 gp

Invincibility Potion (Protective Pentagram)
Produces an energy shield around the user that deflects all physical and magical attacks for two combat turns.
Side Effects: Users may experience feelings of invulnerability after use. Make a L1SR on INT. Failure results in a careless disregard for personal safety for 1D6 combat turns.
Fumble Effects: The energy shield is formed but immediately begins to collapse upon the user. No actions are possible for two combat turns and 1D6 CON damage is inflicted each turn.
Cost: 800 gp

Magic Resistance Potion (Resist Magic)
Allows the user to resist any one spell directly cast on him or her within one hour of consumption.
Side Effects: Some magical interference may remain after use. Once the spell ends, make a L1SR on WIZ. Failure means any spell (good or bad) cast on the user for the next 1D6 hours has a 50% chance of working.
Fumble Effects: The user becomes a magnet for magical energy. All spells cast in the vicinity of the user will affect her for 1D6 hours.
Cost: 1000 gp

Shrinking Formula (Smaller is Smarter)
The users height, weight, STR, and CON are divided by 1D6+1 for 1D6 hours.
Side Effects: Users may experience some disorientation once returned to their original size. Make a SR on DEX at a level equal to the size multiplier/2 (round down). Failure means all DEX SRs are one level higher for 1D6 hours.
Fumble Effects: The shrinking goes farther than expected. Affected attributes are divided by 2D6+1 and lasts for 1D6 days.
Cost: 2000 gp

Growth Formula (Bigger is Better)
The users height, weight, STR, and CON are multiplied by 1D6+1 for 1D6 hours.
Side Effects: Users may experience some disorientation once returned to their original size. Make a SR on DEX at a level equal to the size multiplier/2 (round down). Failure means all DEX SRs are one level higher for 1D6 hours.
Fumble Effects: The growth goes farther than expected. Affected attributes are multiplied by 2D6+1 and lasts for 1D6 days.
Cost: 2200 gp

Friday, July 25, 2014

Potions in T&T


Potions are another standard type of magic item in fantasy RPGs. While they were not described in the 5th edition T&T rules, they did crop up in various published solo adventures and GM adventures. Potions were included in the Treasure Generator in the T&T 7th edition rules, although they were rather simple. The majority of these potions acted to permanently increase one attribute by 1D6 points. These are certainly useful (especially since level is tied to attribute values), but not quite as entertaining as other effects.

A more typical, and in many ways more useful (for characters at least), approach is to imbue potions with the power of certain spells. Potions are great substitutes for spells. Even if your Wizard is out of power, if he has a few potions on hand, you could still pull it out of the fire. But what makes them really special is that they can be used by any character type. Potions give Warriors a chance to play with magic.

Certainly not all spells in T&T would make good potions, but there are a number that are perfect for them. Poor Baby is a no-brainer; what delving party could not use a case of healing potions. The same is true of Healing Feeling, Too Bad Toxin, Nefarious Necromancy, and Born Again (the most sought after and expensive one). Other good potions would be Cateyes, Oh There It Is, Hidey Hole, Little Feets, Fly Me, Shield Me,  Resist Magic, Second Sight, Imafrawg, Smaller is Smarter, Bigger is Better, and Blow You Too....

There are also a number spells that would make for good "potion traps" to spring on an unsuspecting delver or the unfortunate guinea pig of the party. Take That You Fiend could release a nice jolt to someones innards while Befuddle could create some chaos when your comrade suddenly comes at you with a knife. Potions imbued with Hold That Pose, Rock-a-Bye, Dum Dum, Death Spell #9 (a rough one), and Medusa are also good, nasty tricks to play on would-be plunderers.

But this is all pretty standard amongst fantasy RPGs. There are a few more twists I'd like to add to these concoctions to make them a little less tame and predictable.

Buying Potions
Potions can be purchased as well as found in mad wizard's towers and labyrinths. In small villages, local shaman brew pungent elixirs and in large cities Potion Masters may have large stores in the well-to-do neighborhoods. The price of these potions can be quite high, however, and they may not always work (see below). Making potions is tricky business. A good potion costs 200 gp per spell level. You may be able to find potions of lesser quality for around 100 gp per spell level, but this has risks (see below). The price of certain potions may also be adjusted based on the amount of power (i.e. WIZ) held by the potion. Poor Baby (a 2nd level spell), for example, heals one point of CON for every 2 WIZ expended. For 400 gp you would get a Poor Baby potion that heals 1 CON. A potion dealer may charge an additional 10 gp for each additional point of CON to be restored; a 5 CON Poor Baby potion would then cost 450 gp. 

Drinking Potions
Seems straightforward right? Wrong. Magic is a fickle thing and sometimes potions are just not made right. If a potion is purchased from a reputable dealer, a Level 1 Saving Roll on Luck is needed to make sure the potion works as advertised. Any failed Saving Rolls (including fumbles) means the potion had no effect.

If you happen to have found a potion somewhere or purchased one from a questionable source, then a Luck Saving Roll at the level of the spell is required (for example, a Level 2 SR for a Poor Baby potion). After all, who knows how long that bottle was sitting on the shelf in that ruined temple. A failed Saving Roll means the potion had no effect. A fumbled Saving Roll, however, means the potion released some chaotic energy that has the effect of an Omniflex spell and all of the characters attributes are randomly rearranged. The character has one chance to avoid this by making a Wizardry Saving Roll at the spell level. Diabolical GMs may wish to customize the fumble effects of potions to match their intended use. A fumbled use of a Cateyes potion may render the imbiber blind for some period of time, Healing Feeling may cause some horrible disease, and Hidey Hole may cause the character's body to emit a bright light for all to see.

Making Potions
You can cut out the middle man with the Potion-Making (obviously) talent (INT-based). With this talent you will have the skills and knowledge necessary to acquire the ingredients and create potions. There are two ways to do this:

Copying a potion: This is a slightly easier method. If you already have a potion with a known effect, like Healing Feeling, you can study that potion to learn how it was made. In doing so the potion will be consumed, but you will have a much better chance of successfully making the same potion than if you were starting from nothing. Copying a potion requires a Potion Making Saving Roll at the spell level and materials costing 100 gp per spell level. In addition, a Luck or Charisma Saving Roll at the spell level is required to obtain the correct ingredients. Of course, when drinking the potion a L1SR on Luck is still required to make sure everything went according to plan. Once a potion has been successfully copied, meaning that it also works when consumed, that character may make the same potion again just as easily (no more copying required).

Making a new potion: If you wanted to make a potion without one to copy, things get more complicated. The Saving Rolls and cost to produce the potion are doubled (x2 spell level on Potion-Making and Luck or Charisma and 200 gp per spell level). Drinking a potion made in this manner requires a Luck Saving Roll at the spell level with the fumble effect described above. Once the potion has been successfully made and worked when consumed, however, the potion can be made again as if it were being copied.

Monday, July 7, 2014

New Lone Delver: Killian Osgood


This lone delver is on an urban "delve". While there is a lot of fun to be had playing in adventures set in ruins, dungeons, caverns, and similar environments, city adventures are no less exciting and perhaps a bit more dangerous. It's hard to tell friend from foe and you can easily end up with a dagger in your back while walking down a familiar street where you felt totally safe. You also can't just run around slaying the "bad guys" and looting their homes without drawing official attention; they usually have greater numbers and strength. Stealth, guile, and subtlety are key in urban adventures.

Lightly armored and hiding in the shadows with a loaded crossbow and a coil of rope on his belt, I imagine this lone delver as a Rogue. He is clearly up to no good; perhaps waiting to ambush someone. But who is he waiting for and what is his goal? Is he a man with a vendetta seeking retribution against those that wronged him? I think so.

Here is our lone delver as a T&T 7.5 edition character:

Killian Osgood

TYPE:Rogue
KINDRED: Human
LEVEL: 3

STR 18 DEX 30 CON 20 SPD 18 INT 24 LK 35 CHR 15 WIZ 25

ADDS: +53

ATTACK: 6D+56 (arbalest) , 5D+58 (sword and dagger)

ARMOR: 15

TALENTS: Roguery (LK+5), Thievery (DEX+4), Stealth (DEX+2)

Weapons: Arbalest (6D+3, STR17 DEX10, 220 wu), Broadsword (3D+4, STR15 DEX10, 120 wu), Dirk (2D+1, STR1 DEX4/10, 16 wu)

Armor: Soft leather (5 hits, 7 STR, 75 wu)

Other Equipment: Quiver w/ 20 bolts, 50' silk rope, grappling hook, lock picks, flint and steel, 2 wax candles, belt pouch, leather belt, sandals

Poisons: Stone-fish toxin (4 doses), Spider venom (6 doses), Hellfire juice (6 doses)

Spells: Call Flame, Detect Magic, Knock Knock, Hold That Pose, Cateyes, Poor Baby, Rock-a-Bye

Magic Items: 3 Spell scrolls: Protective Pentagram, Smog, Mind Pox

Background: Killian is the youngest son of a wealthy merchant from the city of Dunvee. Killian's father had tried to teach his son the ways of trade and business, but Killian always preferred to busy himself with less serious matters. Killian enjoyed spending his time in the less savory parts of the city and mixing with the "wrong" kinds of people. Then came the day that the chief business rival of Killian's father, Olmar Hygar, grew tired of being number two in Dunvee. Olmar hired a band of mercenaries that broke into the Osgood's home in the dead of night. None were spared. But Killian was not at home; he was off on another of his adventures in the slums. When Killian returned to see what had become of his family, he immediately fled knowing what would happen to him if he were found.

Killian went into hiding in the poor districts. He took what jobs he could, usually not the legal kind, learned what he could of fighting and thievery. Killian was amazingly adept with a crossbow and became well-known for his ability as a marksman. He also learned the benefits of applying various poisons to his bolts to achieve the maximum effectiveness of each shot. Eventually Killian became and apprentice of sort with a renegade wizard; the wizard told Killian that he had untapped potential in the dark arts. In exchange for his services, the wizard offered to teach Killian how to use this ability. Killian immersed himself in the study of magic, quickly realizing that there were few obstacles that he could not overcome with this new found power. Killian began tackling harder jobs and earning greater rewards. But through all of his adventures, Killian never wandered far from Dunvee and he did not forget his family. The money he made did not go toward luxuries; Killian was preparing. He'd learned that it was Olmar Hygar that had orchestrated the murder of his family. He knew where Olmar lived, he knew his routines, and he knew the people that worked for him.

Eight years after the murder of his family, Killian had become a hardened and dangerous man; and he had a plan. Killian spent everything he had on a few special items. He was going to Olmar's estate and he was finally going to settle the score. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Spell Scrolls in Tunnels & Trolls


Spell scrolls are a standard type of magical treasure in most fantasy RPGs, however, they have not been described in any of the T&T editions. There is mention of "bespelled items" in the Monsters and Magic Book that comes with 7.5 edition that could be used for scrolls, but even these are not very well described. I have come to a point in one of my T&T Play-by-Post games where I need to introduce some spell scrolls, so I have some new House Rules to develop.

Spell Scrolls

Spell scrolls are basically sets of instructions for casting spells. These instructions include words to speak, symbols to write in the air or on the ground, hand gestures to make, and other complex movements of the body. They are also imbued by their creators with the energy required to cast the spell. For this reason spell scrolls will radiate magic which can be sensed with a Detect Magic spell.

Casting Spells from Scrolls
A scroll can be read to cast the spell directly. The power to cast the spell is stored in the scroll so it costs the caster no WIZ (or ST) to cast. If using 7th edition T&T, an INT Saving Roll at the level of the spell is still required to successfully cast the spell. Once the spell is cast, the power is released and the scroll disintegrates (even if the casting is not successful). Wizards, Warrior-Wizards (aka Paragons), and Rogues can cast spells from scrolls, but must have the appropriate INT and DEX requirements. When casting a spell from a scroll in combat, no other actions may be taken by the caster in that combat turn.

Learning Spells from Scrolls
Wizards and Warrior-Wizards can also learn new spells for their arsenal by studying spell scrolls. This is time-consuming, expensive, and sometimes does not work, but it is generally cheaper than going to a Guild to learn new spells. Studying a scroll takes one week of game time per spell level and 200 gp per spell level in materials and research supplies. At the end of this period, the spell must be cast to fully comprehend the instructions. This requires an INT Saving Roll at the level of the spell. If the caster succeeds in the SR, then the spell is committed to memory. If the SR is failed, then the knowledge escapes the casters mind and the spell is not learned. In either case, the scroll disintegrates and is lost as the energy stored in the scroll is released.

Making Scrolls
Having a collection of scrolls handy while delving can be a huge advantage. They can allow Wizards to cast spells even after they have expended all of their magical energy, allow Rogues to cast spells they otherwise would not have access to for a variety of legal and financial reasons, and allow all casters to cast spells they just don't have the power to use in terms of Wizardry or Strength. For this reason, making scrolls can be an important part of preparing for your next adventure.

Wizards and Warrior-Wizards can create spell scrolls for the spells that they know. Just like learning spells from scrolls, this takes time and money and may not work. To produce a spell scroll requires one week of game time per spell level and 250 gp per spell level in supplies. At the end of this period the Wizard must make an INT SR at the spell level to successfully create the scroll. If the SR is failed, something went wrong and the scroll is worthless.

Spell scrolls can also be purchased from various magical shops or on the blackmarket (for Rogues) at a cost of 350 gp per spell level. If the GM wishes (or player for solo campaigns), a Luck SR at the spell level may be required to see if the scroll is available.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Deluxe T&T Beta Playtest Rules

The Beta version of the Deluxe T&T rules were released in PDF format to backers of the dT&T Kickstarter last week. Printed copies were also available at Origins. I've had a chance to look through the rules and am relatively pleased with the current product. The Beta rules include the Basic rules except for sections on magic and advice on running games. The Elaborations section is not present nor is the majority of the Trollworld material with the exception of the introduction. A PDF copy of the dT&T Preview Pack was also included at the end of the Beta Rules. This is useful for filling in some  of the gaps and actually being able to run a play test game (something which is definitely needed).

I will say that the overall appearance of the dT&T rulebook is excellent. The organization and format of the rules is, in my opinion, on par if not better than the 5th edition rules. The art program is amazing. There are pieces from a number of different sources including the previous rulebooks, solo adventures, GM adventures, and Sorcerer's Apprentice. There are also several new pieces.

The basic mechanics of the game have not changed too much in dT&T. The Saving Roll is still the main driver of the game and combat is handled in much the same way (except for some minor tweaks-for example Wizards and Rogues can cast spells and use weapons in the same combat turn). Talents have been retained, but lists of broad and talents have been provided for better guidance. This is a huge help. The Saving Roll bonus for talents has been set to a fixed +3 rather that the 1D6 of 7th edition. Characters still gain a new talent each level, but players now have the option of buying an extra talent with adventure points once per level. The weapons tables have received a bit of an overhaul. While there are still 10 pages of weapons tables, most have been changed into small, medium, large, and extra large categories. Each of these has lists of examples; Short Swords, for example, include the gladius, short sword, manople, punch sword, and sword cane from previous editions. All have the same dice (3D), cost, weight, STR and DEX requirements. In addition, weapon adds seem to have gone away with the exception of daggers and gunnes. Each step up in weapon size increases the damage by 1D or 2D.

The two big items of discussion, however, have been related to a new advantage given to the human kindred and the fate of the Rogue's  Roguery talent from 7th edition.

Human Advantage

This change has been the topic of most discussion around the dT&T Beta rules. In dT&T, humans get the new advantage of being able to re-roll any missed Saving Roll. That is a pretty big deal. Liz Danforth explained the reasoning behind the new rule in a recent post at the Deluxe dT&T blog.

I do like the idea of humans having some kind of advantage. The other kindred get some rather large boosts to their starting attributes and human characters are often left with much lower attributes. This results in lower Personal Adds especially now that negative adds have been removed. Also, given that levels are tied to attributes, nonhuman characters rarely start as 1st level characters. Most will start as 2nd and some as 3rd level (the dwarf with x2 STR and CON for example). So why bother playing a lowly 1st level human character with attributes hovering around an average of 12 and perhaps 3 Personal Adds? There are certainly "role" playing reasons to do so, but it is hard to escape the "roll" playing aspect. If you want to do as well as you can in the game, you take all the advantages that you can get.

Giving humans an edge on Saving Rolls is a nice solution. Their attributes are still not modified because human attributes are considered the base to which all others are compared. If human attributes also had modifiers, that could not be the case. Since Saving Rolls are often the difference between life and death, having an advantage on their outcome makes for a nice boon.

But it has been argued that the "do over" rule is a bit much, giving humans too much of an advantage on Saving Rolls. The chance of failure at anything may become too minimal. There have also been arguments that humans do not need any specific advantages at all. They have not had them before, so why start now?

I agree that the "do over" rule may not be the best solution; it does have the potential of making Saving Rolls a little too easy (although I have missed Saving Rolls several times in a row before). I have proposed two alternatives:

1. Humans can roll over any failed Saving Roll unless they fumble (roll a 3). Fumbles always fail.

2. Humans have a + Level bonus to all Saving Rolls. This was a rule added in 7th edition which applied to all characters, but it was explicitly removed from the dT&T rules. Bringing it back to fill this role would be a simple matter. 


Rogue Abilities

This one is a little vague. In dT&T character types have a set of Specific Skills and Specific Detriments. At least Warriors and Wizards do. Rogues seem less clearly defined, especially with respect to the Roguery talent that was added in 7th edition.

The 7th edition Roguery talent allows Rogues to make any Intelligence, Luck, or Charisma Saving Roll on the highest of the three attribute plus the talent modifier (1D6). That is a big advantage for Rogues.

The problem is that, in the Beta rules at least, the Roguery talent is not defined in this way. It is mentioned in the Rogue description, but just as one of many other talents that could be chosen. On top of that, the Rogue type has only one Specific Skill, Magical Attunement. This skill allows Rogues to cast spells at their listed WIZ cost and start with any one spell they have the INT and DEX to cast (regardless of level). This can be viewed as a big disadvantage over Warriors and Wizard that have multiple Specific Skills including those that confer increasing advantages with increasing levels (i.e., increasing the number of dice rolled in combat, decreasing the WIZ cost of spells). The lack of a skill that improves with increasing level makes levels kind of pointless for Rogues since there are no other general advantages of going up a level.

My suggestion here is to redefine the old Roguery talent as a Specific Skill for Rogues and using their already defined disadvantage as a Specific Detriment for the sake of symmetry:

A Rogue's Specific Skill: Roguery

Rogues gain a +1D6 bonus to all Intelligence, Luck, and Charisma Saving Rolls per level.

Roguery was pretty clearly defined in 7th edition including the justification for its use. If need be the name could be changed to avoid confusion. I like this rule because it scales with level and each attribute is independent, so you cannot use Charisma to try to read a strange scroll or avoid a boulder plummeting toward your head.

A Rogues Specific Detriment: Outsiders

Rogues cannot learn spells from the Wizard's Guild and must find ways to learn spells often paying outrageous costs.

This is the major problem Rogues face. They can cast magic, yes, but how do they find their spells? Wizards already have to pay a hefty sum to learn new spells. How much will they charge that sketchy Rogue especially if they risk severe punishment for doing so?


With any set of RPG rules, I am sure that most will not agree with all of the new rules in dT&T. There have been omissions and house rules for every other edition, so why should this one be any different? In the end, seeing the Beta rules gave me a lot to look forward to in the new edition. Given the amount of discussion being generated and the play testing being done I also think it was a very smart move. Any game system is going to have some bugs. Getting those bugs worked out takes a group outside of the design team.

I still have more of the Beta rules to go through in detail and I hope the discussion will continue. I'll be posting more of my thoughts on the rules in later posts.