Saturday, May 15, 2010

Were-Types in Tunnel and Trolls

The 5th edition Tunnels and Trolls rules include a short section on using were-types for characters. These are restricted to humans only and a few examples, such as werewolves, werebears, and weretigers are presented with some attribute modifiers when in were-form. Werewolves have their STR and CON multiplied by 3 while werebears and weretigers have theirs multiplied by 7/2. In all cases, wereforms have a DEX of 3. There is also the stipulation that character should be required to remove their armor before transforming, otherwise you could end up with a wolf in plate armor. That's about it. The 7.5 edition rules don't mention were-types at all.

I never really paid much attention to were-types, but I made them available to players in my Play-by-Post Lost City campaign over at the Trollbridge. Two players took advantage of that option, including werewolf and a werebear. The werebear had the unfortunate luck of having a Dexterity of 3 in human form giving him -6 personal adds. This made the option of a were-type very appealing to the player I'm sure. Having such a low Dexterity has made for some interesting situations. The player has done an excellent job of portraying the character as having giant, sausage-like fingers. In one battle he actually had a negative combat total and injured one of his comrades.

The lack of rules dealing with handling were-types has led me to let the players run them as they see fit with little regulation on my part. This has led me to some questions while running the game and some on-the-spot House Rules.

How does and how often can the transformation occur?
This is one of the most fundamental questions to answer when using were-types. The were-bear has changed back and forth between human and bear over and over again. Given his negative personal adds in human form I cannot blame him. But should were-types be able to transform back and forth at will, or should there need to be a trigger? The trigger could be many things. Having to wait for a full moon would be rather frustrating; but how about stress, anger, physical pain, or looking at a magical talisman? These would all be useful ways to control your were-types. If the character needed to be wounded in order to change, that would limit the willingness to do so. If the trigger were magical in nature, there could be a set number of times the character could transform each day. What if that talisman were lost while in were-form?

How much time does it take to transform?
This is one very practical question for which I made a written rule. It takes one full combat turn to make the transformation. If the character is wearing armor, it takes another full combat turn to remove the armor before the transformation can begin. I find these time constraints rather generous given what is involved. Neither of the were-types in my game started with any armor. The werebear has a shield and has recently acquired a leather apron and gloves that he can quickly discard.

Does the were-form recognize his/her companions or should it be treated like a berserk fighter?
I have been running with the assumption that the were-forms have no change in cognitive capacity. They fully recognize the other members of the party and work consciously as part of the group. One could require that they be brought back under control after combat much like warriors that have gone berserk. This would require a character with a Charisma of 15+, a successful Saving Roll on the were-types Luck by the character with the highest Charisma, or a spell that could knock the were-type unconscious. The fun part comes when one of these methods does not work.

Does it take a special weapon to harm the were-type?
The simple answer here for me is no. In most games you would need a silver or magical weapon to harm a werewolf or other were-type. With were-types as characters that has serious consequences. Of course if you rule that any type of weapon (sword, axe, tooth, claw) can injure a player's werewolf, then the same has to apply to any other werewolves the group encounters.

How do you handle CON loss when changing from were-type to human form?
When a character takes damage in were-form, how does this transfer to the characters human form? In other words, if your werewolf loses 3 points of CON while in wolf form, when you turn back into a human have you lost only 1 point of CON or the full 3? This presents an interesting problem since the were-forms can take much more damage than the characters human body. The situation could occur where transforming back to human form would mean the characters death. That could be another interesting control on transformation. So far I have been letting the characters take only a fraction of the damage to their human CON that they sustain while in were-form.

I'm sure that there are many other questions that will need to be answered as the game progresses. Right now I am letting the players run these characters as they see fit and so far neither player has done anything that has required my intervention. In fact, they have been pretty entertaining. The presence of the were-types has also not unbalanced the game. They both have about 20 personal adds while in were-form, but they only get 1 die in combat. Compare this to the dwarven warrior wielding two short swords who gets 6D6+11 in combat. Has anyone else played a were-type in T&T or refereed a game in which there were were-type characters? I'm interested in hearing how others have house-ruled these situations.


  1. You are partly right. Werewolves are not mentioned in the KINDRED section (even in the “rare kindred” table) of the 7th edition rulebook. However, they are mentioned in the MONSTERS & Magic Book you can find both in the 7th and in the 7.5 edition Tunnels & Trolls box. The paragraph about werewolves does solve 2 of the problems you mentioned.
    Firstly, it indicates the conditions under which transformation can occur: “On the night of a full moon, or in the unlit world of the netherdeep, werewolves remain in bestial form. Only exposure to the light of the sun can transform them back into reasonable beings”.
    Based on that, I would rule that transformation AUTOMATICALLY occurs under the light of a full moon; otherwise, the metamorphosis MAY happen UNLESS the werewolf is exposed to sunlight. The trigger would be simple will, just like a spell. You may or may not decide to assign a WIZ cost to such a spell-like metamorphosis. As an indication, the Imafrawg spell is an 8th level spell that costs 40 WIZ points. Since werewolves are magical creatures, I would suggest that metamorphosis happens either at no cost or at one tenth of the “normal” cost (i.e. 4 WIZ points). One supplementary restriction may be to have the shape-shifter make a saving roll on his INT (just like a spell-caster), but only at 1st level.
    By the same token (as an analogy with the Imafrawg spell), metamorphosis should happen instantaneously.
    Secondly, the Monsters & Magic Book states that werewolves are “only harmed by silver or magical weapons; all other weapon damage is ignored in the combat roll total”.

    In addition, if you look at the Monsters Monsters! rulebook, you will find that “these creatures have an amazingly tough, self-repairing Constitution. After each regular turn (but not during combat) the monster’s Con. repairs itself by the same number of hits as the monster’s luck. It will not repair itself beyond the original rating, of course”. This is a departure from the normal T&T rule according to which “monsters regain their lost points at 5 per regular turn if they are left alone to heal up” (see section 7.7.2 of the 5th edition).
    I guess one could apply the same rules to all were-types, since the same rulebook also indicates under the sub-heading “WEREWOLVES and other SHAPESHIFTERS” that “in their beast forms they gain superhuman strength and near-invulnerability at the cost of their intelligence and nearly all their dexterity. Silver is deadly to them, but ordinary wounds heal with amazing swiftness.”

    According to section 2.41.2 of the 5th edition T&T rulebook, werewolves have the following attribute modifiers: ST x5/2; IQ/2; LK x2/3; CON x3; DEX = 3 points; CHR x4.
    He drop in intelligence is not enough to justify a loss of memory. Under its wolf form, a werewolf should still be able to recognize his friends.

    When the werewolf is wounded, the loss in CON should be proportional when returning to its human form.
    Example: Belizaire the loup-garou has a CON of 10 as a human, raised to 30 (CONx3) as a wolf. An enemy fires an arrow at him (20 damage points). His CON drops to 10. He escapes but has to run to the surface where the sun is shining. He automatically reverts to his human form (CON/3), so his CON is reduced to only 3 points. However, he is still able to recover lost CON points very quickly (see above).

  2. Thanks for your comments and feedback Grrraall. I did miss the werewolf entry in the Monsters and Magic book. In fact I had completely forgotten about that part of the 7th and 7.5 edition boxed sets. I also found the loup-garou in the Monstrous Codex in the 7.5 boxed set. It is an intriguing deviation from the normal lycanthrope; an infected wolf that can transform into a humanoid. That would make an interesting character.

    Given some additional thought after seeing were-types in action in the Lost City as well as your comments, I have come up with some additional rules that I will be implementing as soon as the game gets underway again. Transformation can occur at will when in the dark, but I will require a L1-IQ SR to transform either into animal or human form. I will also restrict the number of transformations (in either direction) to the WIZ level of the character. This will be reset whenever the character gets sufficient rest (5+ hours of sleep). I'm going to stick with normal damage rules; allowing them to be hurt only by silver or magical weapons makes them a little too powerful.