Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Current House Rules: Part 2 Magic

Next up in my list of house rules for my online T&T games are Magic-related rules. Remember that these rules are modifications to the 5th edition rules and so some are "actual rules" from the 7th edition. There are two basic rule categories here: 1) Wizardry, or the powering of spells, and 2) Spell Effects, clarifications or additions to some first level spells from the 5th edition rules.

1. Wizardry

Wizardry (WIZ) Attribute : Determined by a roll of 3D6 during character creation. WIZ is not affected by kindred. WIZ is a pool of energy for spell casting. If WIZ is reduced to 0, then the caster falls unconscious. WIZ may also be used in saving rolls against some magical attacks and devices. The Saving Roll level is the level of the spell plus (or minus) the difference in the level of the caster and target (if applicable). The Saving Roll must at least be Level 1.

A separate attribute to power spells is an old house rule for Tunnels and Trolls. It has been called many things including Mana, Arcane, and Power, I just happen to like the name Wizardry which Ken uses in 7th edition. The chief advantage for having a separate attribute to power spells is that the Wizard (or Rogue or Warrior-Wizard) does not lose Strength which powers spells according to 5th edition. This use of physical strength obviously has many disadvantages for the character related to combat effectiveness and the ability to carry things. This can also be a book-keeping problem for the GM. While only spell-casting characters get to actively use their Wizardry, all character types have this attribute and may need it to make saving rolls on if they fall under magical attack of one type or another. A warrior, for example, may never be able to cast a spell, but with a high Wizardry he would be able to withstand the effects of many spells which might charm him (Yassa-Massa), instill fear (Oh Go Away), put him to sleep (Rock-a-Bye), hold him in place (Glue-You), or otherwise affect his mind or body.

Wizardry Recovery : WIZ is replenished at a rate of 2 points every 10 minutes when actively resting (sleeping, meditating, etc.).

I like to require active rest for Wizardry recovery rather than just gradual recovery while walking around. This is primarily a bookkeeping issue (Wait, how many minutes have you been walking around? But you ran part of the way.), but it also forces the players to stop and rest regularly if they want to regain the ability to cast spells. I find that this encourages better resource management and reduces the barrages of TTYFs at anything that moves.

2. Spell Effects

Take That You Fiend! : Damage taken by TTYF can be reduced by normal and magical armor. However, normal armor that is used to absorb damage from a TTYF spell is 'burned off' in the process, permanently losing the number of hits absorbed in protection value. Armor doubling for warriors still applies. Burning armor is optional and is at the player's discretion if targeted by a TTYF.

The 5th edition rules are not clear if armor provides protection against magical damage. The 7th edition rules state that TTYF does not affect inanimate objects (this includes armor IMO). For TTYF in my game, however, I decided that armor can provide protection, but at the price of damaging or destroying the armor. In my game world, casting TTYF produces a bolt of magical energy that explodes on contact, burning and blasting armor and flesh. I mainly designed this for the benefit of the player characters who had the possibility of going up against a large number of first level wizards. If armor was not effective against TTYF, they would have been in trouble of hostilities arose.

Oh Go Away : Wizards may cast this spell on a single target or multiple targets, but the number of targets must be stated prior to casting. If more than one target is chosen, their MRs are added and treated as a single target score when determining if the spell has had the desired effect.

This is another point of clarification for the spell description in 5th edition. I've found it works rather well and players will typically overestimate the strength of their opponents.

Detect Magic : Wizards and Warrior-Wizards may normally detect magical properties of items or creatures at no expense of Wizardry. Wizards, Warrior-Wizards, and Rogues may also expend additional Wizardry to have a chance to learn the nature of the magical properties. The chance of divining the identity of the magic and the amount of detail revealed is a function of the level of the spell-caster and the amount of Wizardry expended.

I first saw this house rule in action in Ragnorakk's play-by-post game at the Trollbridge. It worked so well I decided to use it myself. I tend to use my own judgement on how well the spell works and how much information to reveal since the number of possible circumstances and variables are so high. However, more is always better, so if the player wants to commit a large amount of their Wizardry I'll give them a lot of information provided the magic is not too powerful.

Knock Knock : This spell will unlock mechanically or magically locked doors but it will not open them. The door must be physically touched by the caster for the spell to work.

No casting this spell from a distance. If you want to unlock the door you have to touch it and potentially face the consequences of doing so. I also felt it was necessary to state that the door must still be physically opened by someone, again facing the possible consequences.

Vorpal Blade : May be cast on any bladed weapon (sword, dagger, axe, spear).

This is a minor distinction from the 5th edition rules which state only swords and daggers are affected. The 7th edition rules state Vorpal Blade may be cast on any bladed weapon, which makes sense to me so I use it as well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

T&T Blogging: Solo Dungeoneer

Ken St. Andre brought my attention to a blog, Solo Dungeoneer, that's been covering Tunnels and Trolls recently. The author is planning on using the Mythic GM Emulator to run some T&T adventures. So far, the Solo Dungeoneer has posted a nice overview of the 7.5 edition boxed set, a list of possible dice modifiers for weapon types in special situations (tight areas, open areas, dense areas, open areas, etc.), a method of randomly determining damage allocation in combat, a nice modification to the saving roll system where the Level 1 target is 15, and an interesting description of how to handling combat stunts so that there is added risk in failure. There are some really good ideas there; I'm certainly planning on trying some of them out. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Solo Dungeoneer comes up with next.

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.

Monday, September 3, 2012

20% Discount on T&T Books from Lulu

Now is one of those great times to get some Tunnels and Trolls books from print-on-demand publisher Lulu. This week Lulu is offering a 20% discount on any order. You can find the T&T items available on Lulu here. These include five solo adventures and one game master adventure from my own Lone Delver Games.

Enter the code CITHARA20 when you check out to get 20% off your entire purchase.