Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rest and Recovery in T&T

The idea of using short-term rest to recover from wounds is a common theme in most RPGs. Characters are always getting banged up, but sometimes you can't hole up in town for weeks on end waiting to heal. Those goblins need to be driven out now! In Tunnels and Trolls there are no clearly defined rules for recovering lost Constitution without the use of magic (Poor Baby) or some expensive items (potions, second aid kits, etc.). The Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition rules do contain a combat example where it is stated that an injured warrior will need at least a week to recover 4 points of her CON. This implies that natural healing takes a considerable amount of time but in a vague way. But this is one of the great things about the T&T system; little details are ultimately left to the game masters and players to decide. This allows for a lot of house rules and the generation of many creative ideas.

So what about recovering lost CON during short periods of rest in prolonged games when there is no time for extended periods of convalescence? I've encountered this issue while running a T&T play-by-post game at Role Play Online. The characters were all severely injured in a tough fight and decided to retreat from the dungeon they were exploring and return to the surface. Unfortunately they didn't have weeks to recover all of their lost CON; they needed to get back down there and finish the job they started. So I considered adding a house rule in which overnight rest (~10 hours) in a safe location with a roof over your head, a bed, and ample food and water allows some recovery of lost CON. My original idea was to recover 1D6 points of lost CON during this rest period.

My thought behind this house rule is that lost CON reflects fatigue, minor cuts and bruises and blood loss as well as actual physical injury such as deep cuts, broken bones, and head trauma. The latter types of injuries would take a long time to recover from. But simple exhaustion and some lacerations could be overcome more quickly.

But then one of my players who is running a dwarf with a CON of 26 suggested that the rate of healing vary depending on the CON of the character. So a character with a higher CON should roll more dice at the end of the rest period. The logic behind this is that if using a simple 1D6 system, a character with a low CON (say a fairy) could fully heal much faster than one with a higher CON (like a dwarf).

I do like the idea of scaling the amount of recovery, but not the idea of simply rolling more dice. Sure, a fairy with a CON of 6 that took 4 hits of damage (63% of CON) could fully recover all his/her lost CON with a single nights rest while a dwarf with a CON of 30 that took 19 hits (also 63% of CON) would need at least four days of rest to fully heal. While both characters lost the same percentage of their CON, the dwarf still withstood injury that could have killed the fairy three times over; this should require more rest. But, characters with higher CON scores are supposed to be healthier, so perhaps they should be able to heal faster.

Now enters the always useful Tunnels and Trolls Saving Roll for deciding rest and recovery. My house rule now states:

After a full nights rest (~10 hours) with plenty to eat and drink in a secure location with a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in, make a SR on your base CON. The level of success is the number of D6 rolls you get to make to recover lost CON. So if you manage a Level 3 CON SR, then you recover 3D6 CON. Fumbles are in effect, so if you roll a 3 (3 or 4 in 5th edition) you do not recover any lost CON. No adventure points are awarded for these Saving Rolls.

This Saving Roll based method of regulating short-term CON recovery is not only a very T&T solution, but it gives characters with higher CONs an edge in healing (they are normally healthier and more robust). It should allow these characters to heal minor injuries quickly and to make up some of the huge drops in CON they can sustain without death. But it also allows characters with low CONs to recover quickly every now and then thanks to the "Doubles Add and Roll Over" (DARO) rule for Saving Rolls.

Overall, this house rule allows for quick non-magical healing which can be quite useful in low-magic or even no-magic game settings.


  1. This is an excellent idea. Still being relatively new and just this weekend running my first T&T game (as GM), the only thing I could see as an issue is that there is not a direct correlation between between the attribute and the SR.

    A character with a 20 CON should be able to easily roll a 2nd level SR; 30 CON will will be able to easily cover a 4th level SR; at 40 CON, it will be easy to cover a 6th level SR.

    Don't know if I am making any sense or not...

  2. I like the idea, but why not do one of Ken's tricks-let the delvers find a healing potion or two.

    You wouldn't even have to give it away. Maybe-"While making your way to the exit, the Hob notices something gleaming in the far corner of the tunnel".

    Still, I'm glad somebody is paying attention and is trying to improve the game. Sometimes T&T is too ambiguous for it's own good.

  3. In 5th ed's 2.6 "Do This When You Get Out" It suggests a week or two to recover all lost CON and STR. If the character doesn't have a week or two between adventures it suggests delving with a reduced CON or paying over the odds to have a Hedge Wizard heal you. I seem to recall a rate of 1 CON for each days' rest, but can't find that at the mo, might be a houserule, dunno.

    I like your Con based SR for short term healing. It makes a lot of sense and allows the high Con (healthy) characters to benefit in an intuitive way.

    Another possibility is apply the racial CON modifier to your original 1d6 roll so the Dwarf gets 1d6x2 and the Fairy gets 1d6 x1/4.

    I'll be experimenting with both those in my next game.

    I also use a variation of the D&D 'Bind Wounds' houserule and let players buy a Physicus Kit . . .

    A Physicus Kit (100 gp wt 10) is primative by modern standards, but still requires a lifetime of training to get full use from it. However, a delver with no training as a physicus will need to make an L1 SR on IQ to get the gist being a combat medic. The first time he attempst it, if succesful he will be able to use the kit to bind and staunch wounds (allowing 2 points of healed Con per individual wound). After the first succesful attempt he will be able to do this withouth the SR. He will also be able to stablise someone with a fatal wound (Con of 0 or less) on a L2 SR on IQ. Each kit has enough supplies for 10 uses.

  4. I just used the "Do This When You Get Out" rule to hand wave away all wounds from session to session and I also let a few weeks pass. It worked fine, but forced the players to wrap things up every session. Together with Poor Baby it kept them in fighting trim. Quite old school.

  5. I use binding in my AD&D game; I also only really worry about it in the situation that Dan described - when you have a continuous adventure. As Andreas said, when you are dealing with a longer period of downtime between adventures, it is not something I would worry about and just everyone would be back to max.

    Now for my zombie game in the non-magical world of Earth, I think Dan's system will work quite well - unless you are talking stab wounds or gunshot wounds...cuts and bruises would apply though.

  6. Taking a cue from JoT's Over the Edge, I return half of the CON (or MR) lost in the battle to any survivors as soon as the fight is over (or the whole "encounter" if it's a stop and start kind of thing). Basically as soon as the combatants can stop, catch their breath, and consolidate.

    I also use the idea of eating rations and resting in designated locations from Warlock of Firetop Mountain. Each is good for 2 CON (or 2 dice MR) once each per day.

  7. Picking ideas from Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a win, hands down. :)

  8. I picked up the boardgame version of 'Warlock' at a convention this past weekend...very happy to finally add that to my collection :)

  9. Thanks for all the great comments everyone. I'll give some responses in order of the comments.

    Jerry, the intent is exactly as you describe. A character with a 20 CON should be able to heal more quickly than one with a 10 CON. He/she is healthier so this is reflected by rolling 2 dice more often than the character with the lower CON. Of course rolling a 3 results in no healing no matter what the characters CON. There is also the matter of luck in die rolling. It is possible for someone rolling three or four dice to get a lower number than someone rolling one. In this case you can assume that the wounds suffered by the character who healed the least were more serious.

    Anem Kram, finding the odd healing potion can work, but it can get a bit overdone especially if you have a party of five characters that all need healing.

    Lee, I like the Physicus kit. It's a nice alternative to the first and second aid kits of 7.5.

    Andrea, yes if things are wrapped up between sessions that rule is great. However, for multi-day adventures it does not really work. Now if you happen to have a Wizard on hand with the Poor Baby spell, this whole issue is moot. My current party does not.

    Mutant Biker, nice ideas. Instant recovery is always good. How does this affect character mortality?

  10. Instant recovery is always good. How does this affect character mortality?

    Not much. The players have always been prudent, so when they win a battle but get a bloody nose, they always skulk off to recover. The recovery just allows for more action between the inevitable skulkings.

    A side benefit that I aim for is to remind the players that Hits are abstract, combat is abstract, movement is abstract... only deathtraps are concrete!

  11. Excellent idea Dan and excellent discussion everyone!