Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weapons vs Armor in T&T

Andreas Davour of the Omnipotent Eye made a comment on my last post detailing a simple weapons and armor list for T&T that I thought was worth responding to in a new post. Andrea commented that the number of hits taken by the different suits of armor seemed high. Here are the protective values of my five armor types:

Plate and mail......15
Full plate.............18

In particular Andreas mentioned the suit of full plate that takes 18 hits. I'll admit that some of these numbers appear pretty high, but actually they are not when you take the damage potential of the weapons into consideration. Where did I get these protective values? They are almost directly from the 7.5 edition rules. The only exception is 'Plate and mail' which I gave a number of hits exactly between 'Mail' and 'Full Plate.'

But to the point at hand. Armor is supposed to provide passive protection from blunt objects, sharp points, and blades wielded by those that intend to do you bodily harm. In T&T the damage potential of weapons is measured in the number of six-sided dice rolled plus (or minus) some fixed number.

So what kind of damage can the various weapons dish out? I put together the minimum, average, and maximum damage potential of various weapons from my simplified list. Let's look at the progression for the different bladed weapons:

Dagger (2+2)................4...8....14
Short sword (3).............3...9....18
Sword (3+4).................7...13...22
2-handed sword (6+1)......7...19...37

From this progression, we can see that even a dagger can penetrate a suit of mail (12 hits of protection) if the blow solid enough. The same is true of a short sword against a suit of plate and mail (15 hits). Of course these are near the maximum values for these weapons, but they can penetrate leather and scale with near average hits. As the swords get larger and heavier, their ability to cut through heavier (naturally) goes up. A two-handed sword has the potential to break through full plate with an average hit. With greater than average hits, the sword should also fatally wound the person wearing the armor (37 hits!). This is, in fact, why larger and larger weapons were produced. As time progressed, armor became heavier so larger weapons were needed to penetrate it; this either meant making bigger blades wielded by two hands or making a big chopping or smashing head like the 'hafted' weapons.

If we look at hafted weapons, we see a similar increase in damage potential as the weapons get bigger:

Hand axe (3+2)..........5...11...20
Mace (3+3)...............6...12...21
Warhammer (5+1)......6...16...31
Battle axe (6+3).........9...21...39

Even on an average hit, a battle axe can break through full plate armor and injure the wearer while the smaller bashing and cutting weapons are more effective against lighter armor; although it should be noted that each of these weapons can defeat the protection of full plate at their maximum values. These types of weapons were ideal for inflicting pain on those in heavy armor.

Now for 'pole weapons':

Staff (2)............2....6....12
Spear (3+1)........4....10...19
Polearm (6+5)....11...23...41

Polearms were designed to take down heavily armored warriors. As you can see here they can do that in game terms even when facing a warrior type with doubled armor protection; the 41 hits that can be generated by a polearm are tough to withstand. The spear and staff are less effective against armored foes. If your wielding a staff, you'll be hard pressed to do much against an opponent dressed in anything heavier than scale. The spear can penetrate plate and mail, but once again this is only when maximum damage is dealt.

All of this discussion does not take Personal Adds into account. Personal adds are a measure of the strength, skill, speed, and luck of an individual warrior making him/her more or less capable at inflicting harm upon others. With trained warriors, the minimum, average, and maximum values would go up considerably. With highly trained warriors possessing 50+ Personal Adds, the number of hits generated by the weapons can even become insignificant.

Of course all of these hits will not be delivered with every blow. There is the opponents attack and active defense to overcome as well if the opponent is aware of the attack. This is was blunts most attacks and leads battles between well-armored warriors into long-term slug-fests. This is where spite damage comes into play. In most situations this means the fighter throwing the most dice is going to be the winner since he/she has a better chance of rolling more 6s. This assumes the two fighters are evenly matched and have roughly equal personal adds. Again, personal adds are often the deciding factor and can outweigh the input of weapons. A warrior with 50 personal adds could care less about your fancy armor. What does it take in 7th edition to have that many personal adds? Only a 2nd level warrior with an average ST, DEX, LK, and SPD of 24.

But for a final check we'll look at the damage potential of the different missile weapons. Remember that the damage they inflict is only reduced by the defense rating of the targets armor and is not affected by the hits generated by the opposing side.

Sling (2)...............2...6....12
Short bow (3+1)......4...10...19
Long bow (4+3)......7...15...27
Crossbow (5).........5...15...30

Now we see that even a person wearing full plate is likely going to be feeling some pain when hit by a crossbow bolt or arrow from a long bow. Even a sling shot is potentially deadly to someone in leather armor.

But what is really important is that someone wearing full plate should take little or no damage from someone with a sling or short bow (unless they are really good shots). But even these weapons can generate between 12 and 19 hits. A 2 die weapon, while seemingly small and ineffective, is still capable of killing the average person in leather armor (5 hits protection, 7 CON) and injuring someone in scale. A 3 die weapon can kill someone in mail. Once again it's important to remember that these are hits dealt by the weapon only, without considering the Personal Adds of the archer. A good archer on the battlefield is someone to be feared. You'd better get a shield to go with that plate.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Simple Weapons and Armor Chart

In my previous post on the evolution of arms, armor, and equipment in Tunnels and Trolls, I mentioned the simple Weapons and Armor lists from the 1st and 4th editions of the T&T rules. While I like all of the weapon choices available in T&T, something about this chart appeals to me. In some instances too many choices can be a bad thing. If you want to run a quick game or introduce new players to T&T, a simple list is better. It can get overwhelming when trying to pick a weapon sometimes. If you want your character to have a one-handed axe, in the 7.5 edition rules you have five to choose from; for a one-handed sword there are 24 options between those with long or short blades. The free abridged T&T rules do provide a short weapon and armor list which is also the one presented in the Corgi edition T&T solo adventures, but these lists still use the more specific weapon types from the 5th edition.

So I decided to put together my own simplified weapons and armor lists for use with the 5th and 7th edition rules. The lists are compatible with either, as long as you only use the lists and you don't have players using both the simple weapons presented here and regular weapon choices.

Those of you familiar with Moldvay or Mentzer D&D will recognize many of the weapon types. I thought the broad categories presented in those rules were pretty good and provide an excellent toolkit with plenty of options while still keeping it simple.

When creating the various attributes (dice, adds, cost, weight) and requirements (strength and dexterity needed) of each weapon and type of armor, I primarily consulted the 7.5 edition rules, but I also looked to the 5th edition rules to see where changes had occurred. Where broad categories included many different weapons on the standard T&T lists, I chose average values. The best examples are the 'sword', 'polearm', and 'hand axe' weapon types. Some weapon types did have only one T&T equivalent weapon such as the club, spear, and warhammer. In these situations, however, I did not use the exact values from the rulebooks but instead altered them so that they fit into the ranges of the other generalized weapons. At the minimum I changed the weight and cost of the weapons.

I also included armor and shield, with only five full suits and three basic shield types. These are also based upon items in the 7.5 rules, but all have been modified in some way (at a minimum cost and weight). I changed the costs pretty substantially for suits of armor, making heavier armor more and more expensive. My suit of full plate, for example, costs 1000 gold whereas the 7th edition full plate only costs 460 gold. The three shield types, small, medium, and large, make for a nice simple progression of defense, cost, and weight. I did lower the weights of shield significantly from the T&T rules, because I've always found them to be too high.

So without further ado, here is my Simple Weapons and Armor Chart for Tunnels and Trolls 5th and 7th editions (click to enlarge):

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Evolution of T&T: Arms, Armor, and Equipment

Every delver needs equipment. Swords, spears, axes, hauberks, helmets, shields, backpacks, rope, torches, oil; we're talking about delving here after all. This stuff is dangerous. It might be surprising, but as simple and basic as it is to a fantasy role playing game, equipment in T&T has changed over the editions.

One of the biggest surprises when I first looked through the 1st and 4th edition rules was this weapons table:

I was always used to the much longer weapons list from 5th edition. Granted, there is a more comprehensive list of arms and armor at the back of the rulebook, entitled the Advanced Weapons Chart, which Ken states that everyone in his gaming circle uses but there is something I like about this simple list. It certainly makes that much easier to put a character together quickly and get into the game. I'll come back to this in another post. I will say, however, that the array of weapon choices I saw when I first looked through the 5th edition rules was one of the hooks that got me into the game.

One of the biggest changes to weapons through the editions has been the inflation in the number of dice weapons get between 4th and 5th editions. The effectiveness of most weapons were increased by one die and/or an add or two. Most swords were only 2 die weapons in 1st and 4th editions; two-handed swords like the great sword were 3 die weapons. In 5th edition this was no longer the case. Many swords, like broadswords, short swords, and sabers were 3 die weapons. Still others became 4 or 5 die weapons. The great sword became a 6 die weapon! Suddenly gamers needed to buy more dice, and swords. Daggers likewise increased in effectiveness, going from 1 die weapons to 2 die weapons as a whole. This made wizards happy I am sure. Hafted weapons, polearms, and spears did not have the big increase that swords did in 5th edition. These only increased by 1 die for the most part. It is apparent that swords were underpowered in 1st and 4th editions and were put on a more equal footing with other weapons in the 5th. But the general increase in dice is interesting. It likely has something to do with the change in how monster dice and combat adds were determined in the 4th and 5th editions (the subject of a later post).

There were other substantial changes to weapons in the 5th edition rules. In 1st and 4th editions, not all weapons had minimum Dexterity requirements to use them like they do in 5th and 7th editions. Interestingly, no swords had a required Dexterity, while all daggers did. Polearms, spears, missile weapons, and some hafted weapons like flails and a pickaxe (???) did have required DEX scores. Not so for axes, maces, and hammers. Crossbows also do not have a minimum required Dexterity. Something about that makes me nervous. The same is true of required Strength; most daggers have no minimum strength nor do slings. One extra aspect of weapons in 1st and 4th editions lost in later editions was 'DEX-', a DEX penalty for carrying and not wielding large weapons like polearms, spears, swords, bows, etc. The bigger the weapon the bigger the penalty; although the biggest penalty was -4 for the poleaxe. This is nice for game masters that want to keep their players from walking around with and armory on hand. It also adds a nice dose of 'realism' I like to see from time to time (Warrior: 'I pick up the three spears, then attack the orc with my sword!" Really? Where are you putting all of those spears?).

Other aspects of weapons have changed as well, from the amount of strength needed to wield them, their cost, or even their weight. Let's look at how the basic broadsword has changed:

1st/4th ed (2+3, ST 10, DEX 0, 50 gp, 75 wu)
5th ed (3+4, ST 15, DEX 10, 70 gp, 120 wu)
7th ed (3+4, ST 15, DEX 10, 140 gp, 120 wu)

I like how the price has gone up in each edition. Inflation? The weight also went up between 4th and 5th. This actually occurs for all weapons. You can also see that the ST and DEX requirements changed substantially from 4th to 5th editions making the broadsword the unusable by most starting characters.

Projectile weapons like crossbows and bows also received new treatment and the number of different weapons were expanded in 5th edition. In the 1st and 4th editions, even in the expanded weapon tables bows were limited to three types: composite bows, longbows, and selfbows. These weapons got little in the way of dice (2+5, 2+3, and 1+5 respectively). If you wanted to do heavy damage with a projectile weapon you needed an arbalest (7 dice) or a cranequin (4 dice). This changed in 5th edition in that self bows and long bows became categories each with subtypes ranging from extra-heavy to very light. The damage potential for these weapons became more lethal, with extra-heavy versions doing 6 dice of damage plus adds. Crossbows changed as well, they just did not diversify. Arbalests and cranequins changed places in lethality; cranequins became 8 die (!!) weapons and arbelests 6 die weapons. Perhaps Ken did some more research on these weapons to find out which was more powerful. Their costs also skyrocketed along with their dice. Arbalests went from 100 gp to 400 gp and cranequins from 75 gp to 600 gp! Obviously these weapons became much rarer in 5th edition games. The regular crossbow (5 dice) also made its first appearance in 5th edition along with a more powerful version of the light crossbow (2+3 in 4th, 4+0 in 5th). This increase in dice meant that players (and monsters) could take out an enemy with a single good shot; even a well-armored enemy.

Speaking of armor, it to has changed right alongside weapons. There have been some substantial changes in the variety, parts, and even the use of armor.

One of the most extreme changes to armor occurred between the 1st and 4th editions. In the 1st edition rules armor is entirely ablative. When you lose a combat turn you can take hits against your Constitution or your armor. Damage taken by armor is lost for good. If your armor reaches 0 hits of protection, then it is destroyed and worthless. This made the choice between taking hits on armor and CON a tricky one. It also kept character's pockets rather empty since they had to buy or repair armor after every adventure. In 4th edition onwards, however, the same armor provides constant, never-changing protection against injury and death. The armor values, types, costs, weight do not change, only how protection is treated. But this was a huge change that certainly altered game play and likely made players much more willing to enter combat.

In 5th edition, to counteract the increase in damage caused by all weapons, the protection of armor increased over those of 1st and 4th. Plate armor went from providing 10 hits of protection to 14; mail from 5 to 11; scale from 4 to 8; and leather from 2 to 6. Characters were becoming much more formidable by 5th edition. It's also interesting to note the low values of the 1st/4th edition armor and the ablative armor rules of 1st edition. If you had leather armor, it could only take 2 hits before being destroyed. Mail could only take 5. That's not a lot of protection.

Other aspects of armor also changed. In 5th edition a strength requirement was added to each armor type; this makes sense when you consider the weight of a suit of metal. These values increased by 2 or 3 in the 7th edition, making it even harder to get heavier armor. For example, plate went from needing a Strength of 11, well within the realm of a starting character, to 16. Weights and costs of armor also changed, but not across the board or uniformly. Here's what happened to the complete suit of mail:

1st/4th (100 gp, 500 wu)
5th (300 gp, 1200 wu)
7th (250 gp, 360 wu)

That's quite an up and down fluctuation, especially in weight.

As for basic equipment, there was little change from 1st through 5th editions. The only new items for the 5th edition were the spare skin of oil and the Delver's Pack (mirror, wax, chalk, string, salt, and matches), my personal favorite. Interestingly the cost of these items does not change like they did with almost every weapon. There is an explosion of choices in the 7th edition, including mysterious first and second aid kits, a solo delvers dream. There are tables of everything from individual items of clothing, tools, writing implements, lockpicks, riding animals, and almost anything else you wished you could have had in previous editions. The glaring exception are provisions, those handy and simple (but expensive) trail rations that have kept many a delver fat and happy.

So what effect does all of this have on game play? There is a real difference in the damage dealt by weapons and the damage absorbed by armor between the 4th and 5th editions. There are even some between 5th and 7th editions. This difference must be realized when trying to convert older game material like solo adventures to more recent editions of the rules. It also means that characters will be outfitted very differently depending on which set of rules is being used, since each has its own set of advantages, disadvantages, and restrictions.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New Lone Delver

This guy looks like he's in some trouble. He's facing an opponent, possibly and ogre, who has a flail about as long as he is tall and is wearing armor as well as carrying a shield. This will be a tough fight. At least the lone warrior is well armored. This is a good example of the unique assemblages of armor one can get when buying 'by the piece.' He has a full helmet, a leather or brigandine vest, leather gauntlets, greaves, and a heater shield. That should soak up some damage as well as look pretty stylish. Unfortunately, the sword he is wielding looks like a toothpick against the ogre. But perhaps he has the skill to put that toothpick where it really counts. I've always liked this Liz Danforth illustration (and all of her work in general) from the 5th edition rulebook. It really sums up the solo delving experience. You face tremendous odds with no one to rely on but yourself. No wonder so many lone delver character sheets end up in the recycling bin.