Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weapons and Armor in dT&T

In a post at the Outer Sanctum of Trollhalla, Ken St. Andre has written up some Q&A on the role of weapons in Trollworld in the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rules. In this article, Ken describes who makes weapons, where they can be found, and how easily they can be acquired by needy delvers.

An interesting comment by Ken was that his current thinking is that that players should be able to outfit their starting characters with any basic weapons and armor they wish to without worrying about their cost. His rationale is that the characters have already been living and adventuring for some time and would therefore be pretty well outfitted. The players simply need to come up with a story to explain how they acquired all of their gear.

While I think this can be a great way to start up a quick game (i.e., everyone gets scale armor, a broadsword, a spear, and a target shield, go!), and certainly would not have any negative impact on the game, I've always liked the idea of rolling dice for money to see exactly what my character can start with. To me this is just another randomized attribute. Sure every character should start with some equipment. I never assume that the character starts off with a bag of gold and then goes to the mega-mall to buy all of the things he or she needs for a new start as an adventurer. These are the items the delver has acquired over his life so far. How much the delver has varies from person to person. This status or history of the delver is partially determined by the roll of 3D6 to determine starting gold. If the delver has done well, he may start with 180 gold pieces (or more if using TARO) worth of equipment. If his life has been harder, maybe having recently been robbed on the road, he may only have 40 gold pieces worth of gear.

Take the example of Frederick Halfacre. In my vision of the character, he started off very poor. He had some great attributes, but had little in the way of gear because he was the son of a destitute farmer.

So, if the player rolled 3D6 for gold and suddenly sat facing a 4, that really helps to define the characters story.

But what can you do with 40 gold pieces? Can the character survive? Certainly. Here is an example of the gear a player may choose with that small amount of money:

Hatchet (2D+3) (8 gp), Sling w/ 100 stones (2D) (8 gp), Coif (2 hits) (10 gp), Buckler (3 hits) (10 gp), Ankle-high soft boots (10 sp), Backpack (5 sp), 5 torches (5 sp), Flint and Steel (10 sp), Waterskin (10 sp)

Can this character make it? With the right starting attributes and maybe a few friends, absolutely. That is a decent set of equipment. Would most players choose to equip their new character this way if given unlimited funds? Probably not. But that's the point and it adds some extra flavor to the game. He can quickly improve his situation by surviving just a single delve. Taking the weapons of your fallen foes is the best way to get some nice new gear. I've often had the most fun playing characters that start off with very little.

Overall I like the idea of some characters starting off with a lot of nice weapons and armor and some, not so much. If every character gets to start with a large array of gear, then I feel that something is lost and it loses it's value. The best way to maintain this variability, and provide players options, is the starting gold roll.


  1. I can provide you with a problem with this approach, which is also inherent in the by-the-book approach.

    There are very few "money sinks" in T&T, and if you start off with anything more than a very cheap 2d weapon you will have exacerbated the problem that delvers have very little reason to go adventuring, if they don't feel the need to buy better stuff.

    Yeah, I know you could possibly pour money into buying spells for the wizard, but how much more fun is ti to buy something for your own character?

    In my games I've given delvers the puniest weapon and some crappy armor, instead of rolling for money. That and ablative armour I've found makes the game work best for me.

  2. I completely agree Andreas. Giving characters whatever they want from the start does limit the "need" to engage in the dangerous occupation of delving. Really only the truly down and out would start doing such things. After that it may just become an addiction.

    That said, with rolling for gold at the start I've never had a really well equipped character. The listed costs in the 5th and 7th edition rules places most of the "good stuff" well out of reach. Unless of course you're using TARO and get on a hot streak. But your approach sounds good to me as well. Handing out some clubs, daggers, and leather jerkins would certainly create some motivation; not only for the characters to go delving but for creativity by the players as well. I also like the approach of Dungeon Crawl Classic RPG where starting characters get an odd assortment of items based on their previous professions. Only some of them include real weapons.

  3. I'm not buying it, Dan. Maybe I should write up an article on why characters go adventuring. If you read the Q & A carefully, you will see it doesn't say give the character everything he wants; it says give him what he needs to be a competent adventurer at that stage of his life.
    So, you want a money sink for T & T, how about the simple cost of staying alive? A cheap meal or drink costs about a gold piece in terms of real money; an expensive one could easily cost 5 to 10 times that much. A night at the inn here in 20th century America averages aboutd $90, and could easily be $200. That's 9 to 20 gold pieces just for a relatively safe place to sleep at night. The clothing that people walk around in is worth anywhere from $20 to $300 for most Americans--that's 2 to 30 gold pieces. Could the characters live cheaper? Yes, they could, but I figure it costs them at least 10 gold a day just to live a normal life in a city. Maybe they actually spend most of their time camping out in the woods. Why do dedicated adventurers go into dungeons? They do it for money--money they need simply to support themselves. Should they ever get ambitious enough to buy property, they are really gonna have to do well from their dungeon delving.
    This is how I start adventures these days. You're broke. You have 1D6 gold left in your pockets, There's a chance you could make a fair amount of cash by going into Gristlegrim. You up for ti?