Saturday, April 21, 2012

"The Temple of Issoth" Reaches 1000 Downloads!

My Tunnels and Trolls solo adventure, The Temple of Issoth has now been downloaded from RPGnow over 1000 times. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. This solo is available as a free pdf, so if you have not picked up a copy for yourself you should do so at my Lone Delver Games storefront. You've got nothing to lose, except for a few characters.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Sample Rogue with Roguery

Here is an example of the amazing benefits of the Roguery talent as it currently exists:

Garrod the Clever
Type: Rogue
Kin: Human
Level: 1

STR: 11
CON: 11
DEX: 14
SPD: 10
INT: 15
WIZ: 11
LK: 9
CHR: 8

Adds: +2

Talents: Roguery (INT+5)

As you can see I made some good rolls, not phenomenal ones but some good ones especially when it came to the Roguery talent. Overall, however, Garrod is rather ordinary; his average attribute is 11. You might wonder about his poor Luck and my decision to make Garrod a Rogue (Rogues are lucky right?). It's simple; thanks to Roguery and Garrod's high IQ, Garrod's Luck is effectively 20 regardless of what I rolled. So are his Intelligence (on which Garrod's Roguery talent is based) and Charisma. This means that for ALL Intelligence, Luck, AND Charisma Saving Rolls the only way for Garrod to fail a Level 1 SR is to fumble (i.e. roll a 3 on 2D6). To make a L2 SR on these attributes, Garrod need only get a 5 or greater on 2D6. Not bad. Garrod will be hard pressed to meet a challenge he cannot overcome even at first level.

Restricting Roguery to affect only one attribute will mitigate this power, but still make it interesting, useful, and a good way to separate Rogues from other types. In the case of Garrod, only Saving Rolls on Intelligence would be made with a base score of 20. When faced with challenges to be overcome with Luck or Charisma, Garrod may come up short. Another alternative, should you not want to choose only one attribute, would be to add the Roguery talent bonus to each attribute separately rather than basing it on the highest of the three. Therefore Garrod's effective INT, LK, and CHR for Saving Rolls would be 20, 14, and 13 respectively. Still and edge for sure, but not a ticket for automatic success.

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.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Inspiration from Clip Art

I ran across this illustration in my collection of digital public domain art while thinking about the art and layout for TrollsZine #5. It really grabbed my attention and got my imagination working. Who is this person? He is sitting next to the crumbling remains of some ancient statues, obviously Egyptian but let's forget that aspect of the real world for now. Perhaps he sits on the outskirts of a ruined city. Arranged before him on a large carpet are several items clearly taken from a hidden cache of treasures. What does he have? Where did he get them and how? Is he offering them for sale? What price will he demand for them? Is he human or some horrible demon in disguise waiting to lure in unsuspecting delvers? Do you even dare to find out the answers to these questions? This strange merchant has definitely earned a place in my solo sandbox series.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reinventing the Citizen Type

A couple of items to get out of the way before I start. I realize that in this article I am taking the Citizen type out of the context that Ken intended in the 7th edition rules. Also I do not see the Citizen type as described to be unplayable as I discussed in my last post, but the changes described here may make them a bit more of an attractive option to more players and gives them a great deal of flexibility. It also allows the Citizen type to cover almost any character concept not included in the Warrior, Wizard, Rogue archetypes.

The Citizen type has recently been the subject of some discussion. There are those that really like concept, those that hate it, of course the majority who could care less. I have gradually started to move toward the first camp. I do think that the three basic types (Warrior, Wizard, Rogue) are perfect for most situations in T&T and these types can be easily customized with detailed backgrounds from the players imagination without need for complex mechanical differences. But there is a gap; what if a player does not want to play one of these archetypes? I feel that the Citizen type fills this gap rather well.

Unfortunately, the Citizen type as presented in the 7th edition rules is typically viewed as being too weak to be playable. Ken himself advised in the type description that the Citizen should not be used for player characters. But as I discussed in my previous post and as have others, I don't think this is the case. That being said, I have formulated an idea that could "reinvent" the Citizen type to give it wider appeal. From a comment in my previous post it seems that others have had similar ideas.

In order to reinvent the Citizen type we should consider abilities of the other types. Looking at the Warrior type in 7th edition as an example, it gets the following abilities:

Use of any armor or shields
Use of any weapons
+1 combat add per level
Double protection from armor
1 Talent to start
+1 Talent per level

These abilities reflect the Warrior's focus on learning to fight. We can model a reinvented Citizen using the basic number of these "perks" as a guide.

In 7th edition the Citizen gets the following abilities:

Use of any armor or shields
Use of any weapons
Use of magic
1 Talent to start
+1 Talent per level

Very similar to a Rogue, but these abilities are tempered by the following disadvantages:

Half normal personal adds
No starting spells
Spell casting requires a INT and DEX Saving Roll
Rogue-like magic restrictions

So as it stands the Citizen can use weapons, but not very well, and magic, but not very well.

My concept of reinvention is to make the Citizens all about Talents. To do this, Citizens start at first level with three talents.

My justification for starting with three talents goes back to that Warrior's abilities listed above. The warrior gets three basic "bonuses" to start: +1 combat add per level, double armor protection, and one talent. The citizen also starts with one talent so should get two more to catch up with the Warriors other two abilities. Yes, Citizen's can also cast magic so you might consider this an ability, but I feel this ability is tempered by their overall lack of proficiency with weapons and spell casting. A restriction to the three starting talents is that they cannot be combat or magic related. If you want a character that can fight or use magic, choose a Warrior or Wizard, not a Citizen.

This modification allows the Citizen type to cover a lot of different character concepts that fall outside of the archetypal Warrior, Wizard, Rogue construct without an excessive number of types.

You want an alchemist? Choose a Citizen and pick talents of Alchemy, Astronomy, Herbalism

You want a healer? Pick talents of Healing, Herbalism, Poisons (for the antidotes).

How about a beast master? Pick talents of Animal Husbandry, Animal Training, and Animal Calling.

A scholar? Literature, History, Language.

So, with one change the Citizen becomes more attractive, especially in group play with a Game Master where the use of talents can really be advantageous. In the end it is up to the ingenuity and imagination of the player to make the character function in the game through the use of these talents rather than trying to swing a sword alongside the Warriors or cast spells with the Wizards.

Anyone up for a Citizen game?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Some Love for Citizens

In a recent post at the Trollhalla Outer Sanctum Paul Ingrassia of the Troll Hammer Press blog has done an excellent job looking at playing the Citizen type of the 7th edition rules.

While the Citizen type has been frequently maligned and even Ken St. Andre advised against using them as player characters, I too think that they are very playable and could be a lot of fun.

So what can Citizens do and what's so unplayable about them?

Combat: Citizens can wear armor, use a shield and can wield any weapon but they only get half of their personal adds.

Magic: Citizens can use magic just as Rogues do but they must make a SR on INT and DEX to successfully cast spells and they do not start with any spells.

Talents: Citizens receive talents just as other types do.

That's not too bad. A Citizen can wear armor, use any weapon, and cast spells. They're not highly skilled with arms or magic, but they can be useful in a fight. The penalty to personal adds may even be insignificant at low levels. How high are the personal adds for most first level characters after all? Plus if your character already has 0 personal adds, there's no penalty at all.

There have been questions about why a Citizen would be able to use any type of weapon in the first place. My own rationale for a Citizen's combat ability is that Citizens may have been called upon to serve in a militia. Perhaps they serve a set term in their youth, where they receive some training with weapons such as swords, spears, axes, polearms, bows and so on. So they are at least a little familiar with the weapons even though they may have never used them in combat.

As far their ability to learn magic, if Rogues can do it why not others with the necessary intelligence? This is supposed to be a fantasy world after all and magic is everywhere.

A party of Citizens, or even a solo Citizen, can make for interesting adventures. Maybe a war party of goblins has attacked a village. The traditional RPG formula is that a band of highly trained adventurers just happens to wander into town at which time the poor, helpless townspeople offer the adventurers a reward for their help. But what if instead a group of adventurous citizens decide to gather what arms and armor they have, form a posse and head out after the goblins to seek revenge/rescue family members taken prisoner/recover some precious item that was stolen. What could be better than that? I for one would love to play in that game.

So, here is my citizen to stand alongside those of Paul Ingrassia and chase down those vile goblins:

Name: Gustave
Kin: Human
Type: Citizen
Level: 1

CON 15
SPD 11
INT 15
WIZ 13
LK 10
CHR 11

Adds: +0

Talent: Cooking (INT+4)

Armor: Leather jerkin (1 hit), Greaves (2 hits), Coif (2 hits), Buckler (3 hits)

Weapons: Spear (3+1), Cleaver (3+1)

Equipment: Backpack, Flint and Steel, 5 torches, Waterskin, Skillet, Small Pot, Cooking utensils

Money: 1 gp

Background: Gustave runs the kitchen at the Lion's Head Inn. He was taken in as an apprentice cook at the age of 10 and has been in the kitchen ever since. Gustave displayed an uncanny talent with cooking, able to turn the even the foulest ingredients into fantastic and nourishing meals. When he turned 16, Gustave's intelligence and physical endurance led him to be drafted into the town militia where he received some rudimentary training with a few weapons. Five years later he still serves in the militia but has never seen combat. Despite that fact he has become familiar simple weapons such as a spear and small blades, but prefers his cleaver most of all.

An interesting note about Gustave, he does not start off any worse than a Rogue using the 5th edition rules. He has no adds to start with so suffers no penalty in combat. So it is hard to argue that this is not a playable character. This will clearly change if Gustave survives and increases in level, but as was stated so well by Paul, with Citizens it is all about the role playing.