Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Current House Rules: Part 1 Combat

Like every other person that plays Tunnels and Trolls I use a lot of house rules that either slightly modify or add to the core T&T rules. I thought that I would share and comment on the house rules that I am currently using in the two play-by-post 5th edition T&T games that I am running. Some are my own creations while others come from the newer editions of T&T, the pages of Sorcerer's Apprentice, or T&T forums such as Trollbridge.

Up first are my house rules for combat:

Two-Weapon Fighting : Warriors may fight with a weapon in each hand as long as they have the ST and DEX requirements of both weapons combined. Rogue and Warrior-Wizards may also fight with two weapons but one must be a 2D weapon. Wizards may not fight with two weapons at once.

This is one of my own house rules. I like this one because it gives warriors a real edge over the other character types in fighting, which just makes sense. Of course, this also eliminates my two dagger wielding wizards.

Spite Damage : For every '6' rolled in combat, 1 point of damage is inflicted on the opposing side regardless of armor.

Spite damage was first introduced (as far as I know) in Sorcerer's Apprentice #13 (1982) by Roy Cram and then appeared in the T&T 7th edition rules. This is a great way to make the players feels some pain even in easy fights. Of course it also allows players to win out over very strong opponents.

Armor Attrition : Whenever a character takes enough damage to bypass his/her armor and shield and loses CON, 1 point is deducted from the hits taken by the suit of armor (or single piece) or shield. Players may also choose to take Spite damage off of their armor value rather than their CON. This damage may be repaired by an armorer with the appropriate tools and skill. If a piece of armor or shield reaches a protective value of 0, then it is destroyed and cannot be repaired.

Another of my own house rules, armor attrition has two roles. First, it reflects the wear and tear suffered by armor in combat. Combatants are being slashed, stabbed, and bashed by all manner of weapons; while armor can deflect or absorb this punishment it can be damaged. Also, if you actually take damage through your armor, that should mean that your armor has been breached. The second role of this house rule is to help keep delvers poor.

Flaming Oil and Fire Bombs : When throwing a fire bomb, you must make a SR on DEX (level determined by range and difficulty) to hit the target. A successful SR means the target was hit. A failed SR means the bomb landed to the side of the target (side determined randomly). A really badly failed SR (rolling a three or four without doubles) means something bad happened.

A direct hit with a fire bomb does 2d6 hits worth of damage on the first turn and 1d6 hits of damage on the second turn. After that the flames die out, unless the target is flammable. In addition, anything within 5' of the target will receive 1d6 hits in 'splash damage' on the first turn.

There is always at least one pyromaniac in a delving party and there are no set rules in T&T for flaming oil or fire bombs. I borrowed from the 1e AD&D rules in making this house rule.

Combat Stunts : Characters may perform unusual actions during combat (attempt to disarm opponent, shield bashing, feinting, tripping, swinging from chandeliers, etc.) with a penalty to their combat total based on the complexity of the stunt (generally 25-100%). This is your chance to be creative.

Creativity in combat? Absolutely. This is one of the best ways to overcome tough odds. If you can't stand toe to toe with your opponent and trade blows, do something creative or dirty. Of course that action should take some of your energy and attention, hence the reduction in combat total.

Critical Failure : Whenever a 3 is rolled on a saving roll, the character has completely failed in whatever he/she was doing to such a degree that something bad has happened as a result. The GM will determine exactly what happens (broken weapon, self inflicted injury, falling down, etc.) depending on the action, difficulty, and situation.

Let's face it, rolling a 3 is just bad so bad thing should happen.

Missile Fire : If opponents are a sufficient distance away and characters have missile weapons in hand and ready, an initial volley of missiles may be unleashed against a charging force. Hits inflicted from this volley would be counted before close combat is begun. If the range is 'Near' or greater, then those with missile weapons may also ready melee weapons before engaging. As always the GM has the final call.

A good volley of missiles can be a big boost for a party of outnumbered delvers. Wise and agile ones should have some sort of missile weapon in hand at all times to even the odds. Of course their adversaries can do the same.

Missile Fire into Melee : Players may choose to fire or throw a missile weapon at foes actively engaged in close combat. However, this will increase the difficulty by one SR level and if the target is missed, there is a 3 in 6 chance that one of the friendlies engaged with the target will be hit instead.

For whatever reason everyone wants to do this, so instead of just saying that you cannot fire into melee (obviously you physically can) I felt it needed a house rule. I've found that the likelihood of hitting your comrades did not really reduce the willingness to try.

Shields and Missiles : Shields take double their normal hits when damage is inflicted by a missile weapon. So a medium shield would absorb 8 hits from an arrow in the hands of a wizard or rogue or 16 hits in the hands of a warrior. For this to occur, however, the target must be aware that he/she is being targeted (i.e. not surprised).

I designed this house rule to help increase the usefulness of shields. They are incredibly useful at blocking missiles in that they an actual barrier between the wielder and the incoming stones, bolts, and arrows so this house rule helps reflect that fact. Of course warriors are trained to charge into or hold their ground in the face of storms of arrows so they get more protection.


  1. These are all interesting additions, except for combat stunts: rather than sacrifice part of the total combat roll, I encourage players to invest in dedicated Talents (as per the 7.5 rules).

  2. I don't get the combat stunts. Surely SR's cover combat stunts? Anyway good stuff.

  3. I really like your rules it. Especially the armor degradation and flaming oils. Can your stunts translate to adds if they succeed? Or do they give additional damage (out of the normal combat system)?