Friday, April 13, 2012


One of the major changes to the Tunnels and Trolls rules in the 7th edition of the game was the addition of Talents. Talents are not clearly defined skills, but are instead more broadly defined sets of abilities. Talents are based upon a single attribute (usually) of his/her choice. Once the player chooses a talent he/she rolls 1D6 and adds that number to the attribute. That modified number is the level of the attribute and is used to make Saving Rolls whenever the talent is brought to bear. Talents are not codified in the rules, but instead player are encouraged to come up with their own. It's very a T&T concept. There were a few defined Talents, however, and one of them was Roguery.

Roguery is the talent of Rogues. All Rogues start with Roguery as their talent and it is the most loosely defined talent that you can imagine. Roguery is based upon the highest attribute out of Luck, Intelligence, and Charisma. The Rogue then rolls 1D6 and adds it to the highest of the three attribute for the Roguery talent. The Rogue then may use this value in place of ANY Intelligence, Luck, OR Charisma Saving Roll. The idea behind this is that Rogues have spent their lives relying on their Intelligence, Luck, and Charisma to see them through trouble whereas Warriors have used weapons and Wizards magic. Overall I think it was a way to make 7th edition Rogues more appealing as starting characters than 5th edition Rogues (something I've commented on previously).

After running through some play tests with a few Rogues, however, I feel that the Roguery talent is a bit over-powered as written. Granting a Rogue the ability to use the Roguery talent to replace ALL Saving Rolls on Luck, Intelligence, and Charisma just seems a bit overboard. Think of all the actions that a Rogue may engage in to require a Luck, Charisma, or Intelligence Saving Roll. With Roguery a Rogue can pick a lock, read books written in strange languages, charm a guard, identify plants and animals, avoid any and all traps, find any and all traps, locate hidden doors and treasure, crack secret codes, calm wild beasts, sing a snappy tune, win a game of cards, etc., etc., etc. The Saving Roll must still be made, but the odds are certainly good. Having Roguery pretty much negates the need to acquire any more talents.

I don't have anything against the Roguery talent itself, but I do think it should be a little more restrictive. I think instead the Rogue should be given the choice of basing the Roguery talent on either Luck, Intelligence, OR Charisma at the time of the character creation. The Roguery talent could then be used in place of any Saving Roll based on that attribute regardless of the action. This restriction would still make for a powerful talent, it's not based on any particular skill set after all, but not a ridiculous one. This would also allow for some more customized Rogues. The lucky, smart, and the suave.


  1. Now I wonder where the idea for this post came from... ;)

    My 2 suggestions:
    - drop the Roguery talent, but instead give 2 more narrowly defined talents to rogues at character creation.
    - the player defines a more or less detailed background for his character, which allows him to write down a handful of tags or keywords. When an in-game situation arises for which a tag seems to correspond, then the roguery talent can be used.

    If you ask me, the second method could be used to completely replace the talent system for T&T. Simply provide a bonus (lower SR level, add level to roll, etc.) when a tag is relevant to a particular SR. PDQ and Risus are probably great inspirations for that sort of things.

    1. Quite right Kwll. :) I've had this particular post in my draft list since January, but your comments at the Trollbridge made me come back to thinking about the topic.

      You first suggestion sounds good, but I like the idea of having a special talent for Rogues. Warriors and Wizards certainly have enough talents of their own giving them advantages in combat and spell casting.

      I don't like the idea of dropping or replacing the Talent system all together as you suggest in #2; but you alternative seems to be what the Talent system is all about in the first place (in my opinion anyway).

      For more on this topic, check Kwll's thread at the Trollbridge:

  2. When I ran a regular T&T campaign, I decided to base the Roguery on any of the stats, choosen by the player at character generation, but only that one from then on. I no longer remember if that was me misunderstanding the rule as written or if I house ruled it.

    That being said, I think the system as written has multiple flaws and show a lack of development.

    I think the whole of 7th ed shows a lack of development and testing, and it probably has something to do with the fact that the Trollgod play mostly con games these days. There are a few areas I think needs discussing.

    The bonus - how much is it? Is one d6 rolled when acquired good enough?
    Progression - how do you get better? Stat raises through experience or increasing bonus?
    Who get what - should rogues get a special talent to begin with? Should it count against against the free ones you get per level?

    As you see, many questions. I know I have some idea on how to straighten those out and while I hope 8th ed does so I think Trollgod loves Chaos a bit more than I do, and it is his game...

    1. I think this is a post of my own...

    2. I think the talent system at it's core is a good one; mostly due to it's simplicity, flexibility, and direct link to the Saving Roll mechanic. Ken likes to keep things as simple as possible in his rules. The standard of giving the player a fixed 1D6 bonus once a talent is gained is very simple and it quickly gets that mechanic out of the way so that you can just start playing.

      I think the concept of talents is misunderstood; they are not really skills, they are talents. The skill to do things is reflected by ones attributes and the skill is improved by increasing ones attributes through spending AP. The natural talent is always there to help boost that ability. At least that's how I see it. That being said there are other options out there to modify the talent system that I like. But as you say, this is a topic for another post.

  3. I don't like Rogues with Roguery talent. As is pointed out, somewhere, Rogue is short for Rogue Wizard. And while The Grey Mouser is the prototype for it, it doesn't follow that TnT's Rogue is equivalent to the renamed Thief that is D&D's Rogue. That should probably be a citizen with 'Thief' as a Talent.

    1. The Roguery talent does not imply Thief; as you say the Rogue is a Rogue Wizard. The Roguery talent is supposed to reflect the Rogue's dependence on his wits, charm, and luck to survive at the fringe of society. That being said, many actions one might associate with a thief (picking locks, pockets, sneaking) would require a Saving Roll on Luck or Intelligence thereby falling under the Roguery talent. That does not make the Rogue a thief, just talented at a ridiculous number of things.

    2. Exactly. There's NO room for the ridiculous in Tunnels and Trolls.

      Word Captcha-ermingo eckabil--totally the name of my next TnT character. Probably a Rogue.

  4. IMHO its biggest flaw is the fact Rogues get way more XP with it than any other class with another Talent.

    I am playing a 2-character PBP and I can clearly see that my Skeleton Fighter need to think a lot out of the box to get at least half the XPs his fellow Urook Rogue gets thanks to Roguery (check this, disable that, sneak over there and so on).

    1. This is a side effect that I had not considered. Is it just that the Rogue is trying to do so many things and therefore constantly making saving rolls?

    2. Exactly.

      In an urban area or inside a dungeon he can usually make more off-combat SRs than any other class.

      Maybe a character with a Stonecraft Talent (checking stones, making walls collapse, creating rockslides) could make as many attempts as a Rogue with Roguery to check stone walls or make them collapse, but I think Roguery still wins.

  5. I've just been converted to 7.5 from 5 and I'm inclined to Dan's view that the roguery talent should be based on just one attribute. As I've got the Trollgod staying with me right now I shall press him on this point :)