Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls GM Screen Preview

Steve Crompton posted a sneak peak of the art (above) for the new dT&T GM screen at the Deluxe T&T blog. The GM screen was part of the Kickstarter campaign's $85,000 milestone. Everyone that pledged $14 or more will be receiving a pdf copy of the screen. There is also a printed cardstock version that will be available. The scene above includes images from seven different 5th edition era Flying Buffalo T&T publications including the 5th edition rulebook and the solo adventures Naked Doom, Labyrinth, Arena of Khazan, Blue Frog Tavern, City of Terrors, and Sewers of Oblivion. There's no word yet on what charts and tables will be on the chart, but I do like the nostalgic feel of the image above. The images are from the covers I saw in my local game store when I first started playing T&T in the late 80s. Having them all combined together in a single image is a nice surprise.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Fighting with Saving Rolls Part 3: Melee, Missiles, and Magic

Here is yet another example of combat using the Saving-Roll based combat system where more aspects of the game are considered including missile weapons, magic, and combat stunts.

After his ignominious defeat by the swamp ogre, Brion the Ugly returned to his life of goblin slaying. He got quite good at it actually, and soon increasing his skill as a warrior. He also acquired some better weapons, armor, and friends. He soon began to think back on that ogre. It was still a menace and had grown no less ferocious, so Brion decided to lead his new comrades back to the swamp and confront the ogre once again. With him, Brion brought two other warriors, an archer, and a rogue.

Brion is a 2nd level Warrior. He has a CA of 18 (ST22 DEX16 LK16 SPD16), 22 Personal Adds, and 14 CON. He wears mail armor and carries a kite shield (36 hits total) and a war hammer (5D+1).

Freya and Olaf are two 1st level Warriors. Each has a CA of 14 (ST16 DEX13 LK16 SPD12), 9 Personal Adds, and 11 CON. They wear scale mail and carry heater shields (26 hits total) and broadswords (3D+4).

Horace is a 1st level Warrior. He has a CA of 14 (ST15 DEX16 LK13 SPD12), 8 Personal Adds, and 9 CON. He wears scale mail (16 hits total) and carries a medium bow (4D+0) and a saber (3D+4).

Cirreth is a 1st level Rogue. She has a CA of 10 (ST10 DEX14 LK16 SPD10), 6 Personal Adds, an INT of 14, a WIZ of 12, and 10 CON. She wears soft leather and carries a buckler (8 hits total) and a rapier (3D+4). Cirreth also knows the spells Take That You Fiend and Dem Bones Gonna Rise.

The small band of delvers head into the swamp heading toward the location of the last ogre attack. Brion, Freya, Olaf, and Doria stick to the worn path while Horace stalks the wood line. Soon they come to a clearing and see a horrific site. The ogre is sitting on top a pile of corpses and is munching on what looks like a horse leg. Sitting next to the large ogre is a slightly smaller ogre eating a whole sheep. Both ogres immediately look up and sniff the air; ogres can smell a human from a mile away they say. Rising to their feet, the ogres each pick up a club the size of a tree trunk and roar a challenge at the intruders.

The large swamp ogre has a MR of 50 (CA 38, 6D+25). It's new companion has a MR of 40 (CA 30, 5D+20).

Brion, Freya, and Olaf form up into a line and hold their ground. Horace readies his bow and takes aim while Cirreth prepares her magic.

The ogres bellow and charges the three warriors!


Horace fires his bow at the large ogre before it can reach the line of warriors. He is firing from Easy range so he needs a L2SR on DEX16 to hit. Horace decides to commit 4 Personal Adds to his attack to improve his chance of hitting the ogre; he only needs a 5 to hit. Horace rolls a 9 and hits! The arrow sinks into the side of the ogre dealing (4D+4)=19 points of damage.

Cirreth unleashes a crackling bolt of energy at the large ogre with a shout of "Take That You Fiend!" She needs to make a L1SR on INT14 to successfully cast the spell. She rolls a 9 and succeeds! The bolt hits the large ogre in the chest, staggering the beast with 14 more points of damage.

The large ogre is now down to a MR of 17 before it reaches the line of three warriors. The smaller ogre, however, is still fresh and ready to fight.

The ogres crash into the line of shields. There is a glimmer of recognition in the beasts eyes as the large ogre sees Brion's face. The ogre raises his club to squash the impudent human while its smaller companion focuses it's attention on Freya and Olaf.

Brion (2nd level) needs to make L4SR on CA18 to hit the large ogre and a L3SR to hit the smaller one. Freya and Olaf need to make L5SRs or L4SRs on CA14. The ogres can hit any of the three warriors with a L1SR on CA38 or CA30.

The three warriors break into two units. Freya and Olaf commit their 18 Personal Adds to defend against the smaller ogre. It now needs to roll an 8 or better to hit either one of them. Brion commits all 22 of his Personal Adds to offense in the hopes of taking out the big ogre quickly. He trusts in his armor to save him from the ogre's club. Both Brion and the large ogre now only need to roll a 4 or better to hit each other. Both Freya and Olaf need to roll a 21 or better to hit the smaller ogre.

Brion swings his war hammer tries to crush the large ogre's sternum. He rolls a 9 and hits dealing 23 points of damage!

The large ogre's club comes down hard and smashes through Brion's defenses. He rolled a 10 and dealt (6D+9) 29 points of damage.

Freya and Olaf attack with their broadswords and roll 10 and 6, respectively, but both miss completely.

The smaller ogre attacks (1-3 Freya, 4-6 Olaf) Olaf. Despite their combined defense, the ogre rolls an 8 and hits dealing 37 points of damage to Olaf!

Brion delivers a killing blow to the large swamp ogre. The hulking ogre falls to the ground, pierced by an arrow, blasted by magic, and bludgeoned by a war hammer. The ogre hits Brion hard, but he is able to deflect most of the impact with his shield; the rest is absorbed by his mail. Brion stands in shock. The creature that had slaughtered his comrades not so long ago was now dead. The sound of fighting to his left snaps him out of his reverie.

Both Freya and Olaf fail to hit the smaller ogre. The ogre, however, smashes Olaf with her club. Olaf's armor and shield take much of the force away from the blow, but he is still battered into unconsciousness (Olaf took 11 hits reducing his CON to 0).


Brion moves to support Freya and protect the fallen Olaf. Cirreth prepares to cast TTYF one last time before she is out of energy. Horace, not wanting to risk hitting his comrades, drops his bow and draws his saber. He moves quietly out of the tree line and tries to move up behind the ogre without being noticed.

The smaller ogre, excited over his kill, ignore the loss of his big friend and continues to attack.

Horace tries to move up behind the ogre without being noticed. This requires a L2SR on DEX. Horace rolls a 10 and succeeds. He is now in position to get an open attack on the ogre the next turn.

Cirreth prepares to blast the ogre with a bolt of energy. She needs to make a L1SR on INT14 and rolls a 4. Cirreth's concentration is broken as the ogre bellows and the spell fails.

Freya commits her 9 adds to defend against the ogre while Brion commits 13. The ogre now needs to roll a 12 or better to hit. Brion commits 9 adds to his own attack meaning he needs a 4 or better to hit (L3SR). Freya needs a 21 or better (L4SR).

Brion attacks and rolls a 7, hitting for 17 points of damage.

Freya attacks and rolls a 9, missing.

The ogre attacks (Freya) and rolls an 11, just missing her.

Brion's war hammer strikes again. The smaller ogre is wounded (MR 23), but not down.


The remaining ogre is bleeding heavily and in dire straits, but now has no where to run.

Brion and Frey continue to press the attack. Cirreth has consumed all of her magical energy, so she draws her rapier and joins the melee. Meanwhile, Horace moves up from behind to stab the ogre in the back.

Horace is attacking the unsuspecting ogre from behind, but he needs to make at least a L1SR to hit (things can always go wrong). Horace commits 6 Personal Adds to his attack so that he only needs to roll a 4 or higher leaving 2 for damage. Horace rolls a 38 (five sets of doubles!!!) and hits doing 19 points of damage.

Cirreth throws in her 6 Personal Adds to help defend the group meaning that the ogre now needs to roll an 18 or better to hit. Brion still just needs a 4 or better, Freya a 21 or better, and Cirreth needs a 30 or better.

Brion attacks and rolls a 3! He stumbles over Olaf's outstretched arm and nearly dislocates his shoulder with his awkward swing.

Freya attacks and rolls a 9, missing.

Cirreth lunges forward and rolls a 4, also missing.

The unfortunate ogre rolls a 4 and swings his club far too wide.

The ogre feels a sudden sharp pain in his back as Horace's saber cuts into his flesh. He is now down to a MR of only 4.


Horace joins the general melee throwing his 8 Personal Adds into the defense. The ogre now needs to roll a 26 or better. Horace needs a 21 or better to hit. They are all counting on Brion to finally bring the beast down.

Brion rolls a 10 and hits for 12 points of damage.

Freya, Cirreth, and Horace roll 11, 9, and 9 respectively all missing.

The ogre rolls a 3 and trips before having his skull crushed by Brion's war hammer.

Brion and his comrades are victorious!

For their efforts, Brion earned 96 AP, Freya 166 AP, Olaf 30 AP, Horace 112 AP, and Cirreth 65 AP.

Well this was a much quicker fight than I anticipated, but I was able to incorporate several different aspects of T&T combat.

Just like in standard T&T combat the effective use of missiles and magic can decide a battle. The large ogre was all but put down by Horace's bow and Cirreth's TTYF spell. Having at least one spell caster can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Having one or two good archers to send a volley into your foes before they can reach you line isn't such a bad idea either. You might wonder why I made Cirreth a Rogue and not a Wizard. Well, in 7e there is a 1st level spell called Hold That Pose (or HPT); HTP freezes one target for a combat turn making it impossible for it to attack at a cost of only 4 WIZ. That spell would have made this combat rather short and not the best example. With it Cirreth could have frozen the big ogre in Turn 1, allowing Brion to kill it without much effort, and then frozen the smaller ogre in Turn 2. Of course, this assumes that Cirreth could make a L1SR on INT, which she failed in Turn 2 when she cast a second TTYF. But HTP is a very potent spell and should definitely be used whenever possible.

Just like in the first battle against the large ogre, team work by the three melee warriors was vital. Both ogres could easily hit any of the warriors, so allocating Personal Adds to defense was necessary. The three warriors were well-armored, however, which saved Brion from suffering any wounds and saved Olaf from death. Knowing how to allocate all of the Personal Adds of a group of warriors is important, and I like the idea of forcing them to work as a unit rather than individuals. This is how you actually win a battle after all.

Of special note from this example was the application of Personal Adds in increasing the chance of hitting with missile weapons. Since you can increase your chance to hit with a sword by doing this I see no reason why you cannot do it with a bow as well. Allocating Personal Adds to defense when using a missile weapon is not allowed.

The damage potential of weapons and monsters cannot be overstated and armor is a must for anyone entering combat (unless you are incredibly skilled). I really like the way this system makes shields important. Those extra hits of protection can make all the difference.

The combat stunt I employed in this battle involved Horace sneaking up behind the ogre so that he could launch a surprise attack. Given that the ogre was busy fighting the two warrior and rogue, I decided that his attention as pretty much held in that one direction so a L2SR would be sufficient. Getting into position took an entire combat turn, his attack came on the next combat turn. In some situations, a GM might decide to allow an automatic hit but my personal feeling is that some kind of roll is needed; after all, in combat anything can happen. Since Horace was a Level 1 character and the ogre had a MR of 40, I thought a L1SR would be reasonable. If the monster that Horace was attacking had a MR of 19 or less I would have ruled that Horace only need to roll a 4 or greater.

As a final point, note the difference in Adventure Points earned per character. Freya earned the most APs since she was a Level 1 Warrior that fought in the front line against the two ogres. Horace earned the second most, largely due to a fantastic string of doubles. Brion was a close third, which makes sense given his higher level and lower risk, then Cirreth who stayed behind the line of warriors for most of the fight, and finally Olaf who go knocked unconscious in Turn 1.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Fighting With Saving Rolls Part 2: Low Level Character vs High MR Monsters

(Illustration by V. Shane.)

I was asked a question related to my Saving Roll based combat method at the Trollbridge about situations where low level characters face high MR monsters. Specifically, a Brion-type character from the example in my previous post and a MR 50 ogre. Brion would need to make a Level 5 Saving Roll to hit the ogre whereas the ogre would only need to make a Level 1 SR to hit him; surely Brion does not stand a chance on his own using this system. What if there were multiple characters facing that ogre? Can their effort be combined to bring the ogre down?

In my mind, Brion faces as much of a challenge facing a MR 50 ogre on his own using the standard T&T combat system as with this SR-based system.

Using the standard T&T system, Brion would get 3D+10 with his saber and personal adds compared to the ogres 6D+25. So Brion would, on average, get a combat total of 20.5 per combat turn and the ogre 45. Even with his armor and shield Brion would take about 7 hits to his CON per combat turn on average. That would make the fight last two turns.

Using the SR-based system Brion would need to make a L5SR on his CA of 14 to hit; so he would need to roll a 26 or better on 2D6 with DARO to hit the ogre. If Brion applied all of his personal adds to attacking, however, he would only need a 20. The ogre, on the other hand, would only need to make a L1SR on its CA of 38 (3/4 of MR). So the ogre would always hit Brion unless it rolled a 3 on 2D6 even if Brion applied all his personal adds to defense.

In either system, a single low level character facing any opponent as powerful as this should think twice about charging headlong into combat. It simply won't end well. There are always combat stunts you could try to pull, but these could (and should) be used in either combat system.

Of course, the other option using the standard T&T combat system is for Brion to use a dagger (or some other weapon) in his off hand instead of a shield. Using a saber and bank, for example, would increase his offensive power to 5D+13 and average CBT to 30.5. He'd still lose each combat round on average, but might last a little longer. This is an aspect of T&T combat that, while I take full advantage of, I have never really been happy with. Fighting with two weapons is just such a huge advantage that it makes no sense to do otherwise. That does not sit well.

In situations where multiple characters were facing that MR 50 ogre (or any opponent) using SR-based combat, they could combine their personal adds for defense. The ogre only gets one attack per combat turn, so if five Brion-type warriors were fighting the ogre they could combine their personal adds to subtract up to 30 from it's attack SR. That would help to even up the odds and make it much harder for the ogre to squash a "Brion" each and every combat turn. Of course, in my mind at least, a MR 50 monster should be able to squash a first level character fighting on his own without much effort. But five first level warriors working together and fighting as a team should make this more difficult. Using combined personal adds to penalize the attack SR of the opponent serves this purpose. Meanwhile, each warrior would still need to make a separate L5SR on their CA to hit the ogre. That is tough to do, certainly, but they are pretty much out of their league. But with enough warriors, someone will eventually make that roll.

Example: Fresh from his victories over the goblin horde, Brion hears of a ferocious ogre terrorizing a village. Brion learns that the ogre lives in a nearby swamp. Knowing that such a beast will be tough to bring down, Brion enlists the aid of four other warriors. Well armed and full of confidence, the band heads into the swamp and soon find themselves facing the ogre. The hideous beast is 12' tall and easily weighs 500 pounds. It roars and charges the warriors as they scramble to form a shield wall.

Each warrior is a 1st level Warrior with a Combat Ability of 14, a Constitution of 12, and 6 Personal Adds. Each is equipped with a spear (3D+2), soft leather armor, and a target shield (takes 9x2 hits).

The ogre has a MR of 50, a CA of 38, does 6D+25 in damage, but has no armor.

The warriors form up and lock their shields together to fight defensively. The ogre crashes into the and begins to pummel the warriors with his sledgehammer-like fists. The warriors commit all of their Personal Adds to defense, hoping to ward off the ogres blows long enough for someone to get a spear into the beast's gut.

Each warrior needs to make a L5SR (Target=40) on CA14 to hit. The ogre only needs to make a L1SR (Target=20) on CA38 to hit, but at a -30 penalty. So, the warriors need to roll a 26 and the ogre a 12 on 2D6 with DARO to hit.

Turn 1: The warriors roll 8, 7, 11, 11, and 9. They all miss. The ogre rolls a 7. With the penalty he also misses.

Turn 2: The warriors roll 15, 8, 11, 8, and 6 missing. The ogre rolls an 11 missing, although one warrior gets uncomfortably close to the abyss.

Turn 3: The warriors roll 8, 9, 11, 6, and 24(!) missing (but so close!). The ogre rolls a 3 and nearly trips over his big feet.

Turn 4: The warriors roll 8, 7, 16, 7, and 7 missing. The ogre rolls a 7.

Turn 5: The warriors roll 11, 6, 8, 10, and 9 missing. The ogre rolls a 28! He slams his fist into the face of one of the warriors doing 43 points of damage! The warrior's helmet is crushed just before his skull and he drops to the ground. The ogres attack penalty is now only -24; he only needs to roll a 6 or better to hit.

Turn 6: The warriors roll 7, 3, 12, and 4. The ogre rolls a 16! A second warrior falls after taking 43 hits. The ogres attack penalty is now down to -18 and he only needs to roll >3 to hit. Things are looking grim for the warriors!

Turn 7: The now desperate warriors switch to all out attack and throw their Personal Adds to offense (+6 to each attack SR). They roll 6, 10, and 7. Despite their best efforts they fail to land a telling blow. The ogre rolls a 9 and nonchalantly bludgeons a third warrior to death.

Brion and his last comrade decide that they have had enough and run for it! The ogre is content to let them flee. The three dead warriors will make for a filling meal.

While Brion and his comrade lost the battle with the ogre (badly) they still earned some Adventure Points from the ordeal. Each of them faced certain death and learned a thing or two. In the end Brion and the warrior earned 315 and 250 APs, respectively.

Here we can see how a single high MR monster can overwhelm a group of low level warriors. Again, this is as it should be in my opinion and can happen in either system; it's simply a matter of what is considered to be a high Monster Rating. The battle would have likely gone much differently if Brion had enlisted the aid of a Wizard as well and maybe a couple of archers. As it was the warriors were able to hold the ogre at bay while they worked as a team. While no individual could land a blow, they were able to defend each other for four combat turns. If they had been working individually and committing their Personal Adds to their attack rolls, one would have hit the ogre in Turn 3; but it certainly would not have been a fatal blow to such a tough monster. But then a warrior would have fallen each turn prior to that hit (and I would not have rolled the dice that fifth time).

If this battle would have been fought using the standard 7.5e T&T combat system it would have ended far differently:

The battle between the five warriors and the ogre is joined. The warriors get a combined attack roll of 15D+40 with their spears and Personal Adds. The ogre gets 6D+25.

Turn 1: The warriors roll a 106 with 4 spite and the ogre a 42. The ogre takes 60 hits and drops dead. It's days of terrorizing villagers are over.

The five warriors each earn 10 APs for the light stretching exercise of ogre slaying.

Well, that was easy. To present a challenge to the warriors, the ogre would need a MR of at least 140 with an attack roll of 15D+70. The warriors could then counter by drawing their banks to fight with in their off hands to bring their total attack roll to 25D+65.

It's interesting that while the MR 50 ogre is so terrifying to a single warrior that it is little more than a nuisance to five such warriors using the standard T&T combat system. The SR based system maintains that level of terror. The five warriors need to try to outmaneuver the ogre to gain an advantage rather than just standing toe-to-toe with it and trading blows. Perhaps they could attempt to trip the beast or send one warrior off to flank the ogre and stab it in the back while the rest try to hold its attention. All of these stunts can be handled with additional Saving Rolls and additional risk for failure; of course the reward is victory against long odds. There are also ways to prepare before battle; setting an ambush, for example, or laying traps. Increasing the likelihood of losing a battle (and your characters) should make for more interesting and fun situations.

So the final point of clarification for the SR-based combat system is this: Personal Adds used for defense can be combined with those of other characters facing the same adversary. Personal adds used for offense cannot be combined.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fighting with Saving Rolls: An Alternate T&T Combat Method

(Art by Michael Syrigos, used with permission.)

Some time ago I posted an article on different alternate combat methods in T&T. In that article I presented a rough draft a Saving Roll based combat method. A recent post on this subject by Tom Grimshaw at his Alchemy Gaming Blog made me think that it was time to make a more formal post on this system as it has been evolving.

Combat resolution in Tunnels and Trolls™ is often considered a bit too abstract for some players who prefer to have more complex combats with actions resolved for each individual rather than sides. This alternate combat system is based on the T&T Saving Roll. It works so well in so many situations including ranged combat, so why not use it for close combat as well?

To facilitate this system a new attribute is needed: Combat Ability (CA). The CA of your character is the attribute you will use to make your attack Saving Rolls. CA is the average of Strength, Luck, and Dexterity (and Speed if you're using 7th edition). Opponents with Monster Ratings normally have a CA equal to 3/4 of their MR, unless the GM chooses otherwise. This caveat allows for skilled but physically weak monsters; for example, you could have a monster with a MR of 10 but a CA of 20. For these special monsters, a GM may also wish to use the CA in lieu of MR when determining their SR levels needed to hit and to be hit.

The level of the SR needed to hit an opponent is determined by the characters Level and the Monster Rating or Level of the opponent (see table below). For example, a Level 1 character needs to make a L1SR to hit an opponent with a MR of 1-19, a L2SR to hit an opponent with a MR of 20-29, and so on. A Level 2 character, however, needs to make a L1SR to hit an opponent with a MR of 1-29, a L2SR to hit MR 30-39, etc. The same progression is continued with higher levels, adding 10 to the MR or 1 to the Level at each Saving Roll level (a level 1 character needs a L6SR to hit a MR 60 monster). Doubles add and roll over as in normal Saving Rolls and a roll of 3 is an automatic miss. When fighting with two weapons at once, a separate attack SR is needed for each weapon. The SR level required for the second weapon to hit, however, is one level higher than normal.


Players may use some or all of their Personal Adds in attacking and defending. They may add them to their own attack SR or subtract them from their opponents attack SR. In this way, characters can focus more on either hitting their opponent or blocking their opponents attacks at the expense of doing less damage. Both must be decided each turn before any rolls are made, but you must always make at least a L1SR to hit. As a rule, monsters cannot apply their Personal Adds to their attack SR or defense, although GMs may rule otherwise for certain opponents.

If you successfully make your attack SR, the damage you inflict on your opponent is determined by rolling your Weapon Dice and adding your Weapon Adds and Personal Adds. If your opponent has some kind or armor, the protective value of that armor is subtracted from your damage total and the remaining damage is taken from your opponents MR or CON. If your character is hit, damage is inflicted by your opponent in the same way. The total dice and adds of your opponent are determined by its Monster Rating just like normal T&T combat. As a monster's MR is reduced, it's CA does not change nor does the level of SR needed to hit the monster. The starting MR and CA are considered constant in these respects. The adds of a monster, however, are reduced as the MR decreases.

Attacks are considered simultaneous and the effects of damage are not taken into account until the next combat turn. This method of combat resolution can lead to quick kills (especially of characters), so the GM may wish to reduce all weapon dice by one when employing this system. The high probability of mortal wounds certainly makes possessing both body armor and a shield worthwhile.

Adventure Points earned in combat using this system are based on the attack SRs. The number of APs earned in a fight is, therefore, controlled by the challenge presented; a Level 1 character fighting a monster with a MR of 30 will earn significantly more APs than a Level 3 character, provided he survives. However, a character can earn APs from a battle even if he loses and survives or runs away. All of the SRs made prior to retreating count for the purpose of earning APs. In order to balance this system, Saving Rolls associated with throwing or shooting missile weapons should also count for gaining AP. Those not actively involved in combat will not earn APs for defeating opponents. Wizards that do not want to engage in hand-to-hand combat can, however, earn APs by using missile weapons or casting spells.

Example: Brion the Ugly is a 1st level Warrior with a Combat Ability of 14, a Constitution of 12, and 6 Personal Adds. He is equipped with a saber (3D+4), soft leather armor, and a target shield (takes 9x2 hits). Brion is fighting a goblin with a MR of 20 wearing armor that takes 4 hits. Brion needs to make a L2SR on his CA to hit the goblin which means he needs to roll an 11 or greater on 2D6. Brion's player opts to commit 4 of his Personal Adds to his attack Saving Roll so that he only needs to roll a 7 or greater and 2 of his Personal Adds to fend off the goblin's attacks. Brion's player rolls an 8 and hits. He now rolls 3D6+4 for damage and gets a 14. Ten hits get past the goblin's makeshift armor, seriously wounding him. It's now the goblins turn. Since he has a MR of 20 and is facing a Level 1 character, he only needs a L1SR to hit Brion. He has a CA of 13, so he normally needs a 7 or greater on two dice. However, since Brion committed 2 Personal Adds to defense, he needs to roll 9 or greater. The goblin rolls a 9 and hits despite Brion's efforts. He then rolls 3D6+10 for damage and gets 22. Luckily between Brion's body armor and shield with his Warrior bonus he can absorb 18 hits, so he only takes 4 hits to his CON. Therefore, at the start of the second combat turn, the goblin has a MR of 10 and Brion has a CON of 8. Brion now goes for an all out attack against the goblin, committing all 6 of his Personal Adds to his attack. He rolls a 5 which hits, if just barely, for 14 points of damage. The goblin counters by rolling a 13 (DARO!) and inflicts 3D6+5=9 points of damage. Brion's armor saves him from further injury, but the goblin falls clutching the gaping hole in his chest. Brion has emerged wounded, but victorious, and earned 14+10=24 APs for his two L2 attack SRs.

Friday, May 10, 2013

New Lone Delver

That hobbit has been fighting that snake for a while now, so I think it's about time for a new lone delver.

I recently discovered as series of graphic solo adventure published in Avalon Hill's Heroes magazine. The Crystal Key written by Richard Snider (author of the FRPG Powers and Perils) and illustrated by Jim Talbot (artist of the covers of the T&T solos Naked Doom, Labyrinth, Deathtrap Equalizer, and Gamesmen of Kasar) was the first (V. 2 n. 3). This series of solos makes use of detailed illustrations with minimal text to inform you on the best decision to make. Here is a great example of how well this is done:

You could certainly describe this room and all of its details, but this illustration does it all.

Some of my favorite sections deal with the various ways in which you can meet a unfortunate end. Our new lone delver has just opened the wrong door. Time to close the book.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Magic: It's Not Just for Combat

It seems to be a typical goal to find the use of spells in combat rather than their usefulness in delving in general which is not always about combat. I'll admit that I am often guilty of this myself. What is even more interesting is that in games that I have run most specifically non-combat oriented first level spells like Lock Tight, Knock-Knock, Will-o-Wisp, Oh There It Is, Teacher, and even Hocus Focus are forgotten in the heat of the moment, whereas Take That You Fiend and Vorpal Blade are cast without hesitation or need to check the rulebook. There seems to be a definite bias in most players minds toward combat-oriented magic.

Two common spells caught up in this issue are new ones from the 7.5 edition, Call Flame and Call Water. I'll single these spells out because they are the best examples of this focus on applying spells to combat. These two spells, which are listed as Conjuring spells and not Combat spells, have a lot of use off of the battlefield which is typically overlooked or forgotten. This is likely because they are each described as being capable of doing 1D6 damage to a living target (there is also the associated illustration in the rulebook). There was some discussion a while back at Trollhalla and at a few blogs including The Delving Dwarf as to why a Wizard would use one of these spells in combat rather than the standard Take That You Fiend spell. After all, both Call Flame and Call Water cost more Wizardry to cast and deal considerably less damage than a first level TTYF, so their combat potency is highly limited. Tom Grimshaw at the Alchemy Gaming Blog listed several interesting indirect ways to use Call Flame in combat rather than simply causing damage against a target. These include burning bow strings, wands, backpacks, lanterns, scrolls, and gunpowder. These ideas demonstrate the real value of these spells in combat rather than causing direct damage. Of course many of these ideas require being able to strike a target from a distance. This would necessitate house ruling the effective range of these spells which are listed as requiring Touch to be effective.

But this leads to the point of the discussion, the application of these spells to combat is entirely forced. Yes, there are much better spells like TTYF to use to inflict damage on your foes. Call Flame and Call Water are, in fact, general utility spells that should only be used in combat unless absolutely necessary. Their real value comes in all other aspects of delving whether you're crawling through a tunnel complex, an ancient ruin, a haunted swamp, a troll-infested forest, or a vast desert in search of a giant scorpion. Just think of all of the potential uses of having fast and immediate access to both fire and water, both created from nothing.

Here are just a few of the many uses of these spells off of the battlefield that I have thought of:

Call Flame:

1. Create a quick fire when you have no other means. This can be useful in warding off freezing to death or hypothermia.
2. Create a fast light when you suddenly find yourself in the dark and no other means are handy. You can quickly light torches, lanterns, oil, paper, wood, or whatever.
3. Starting a fast, silent fire to serve as a distraction or to cover an escape.
4. Burning through dense foliage.
5. Cauterizing wounds. It's direct and clean flame for sealing big wounds (i.e. limb loss).
6. Disabling traps. A blast of flame applied to a trap should disable any triggering mechanism or at least burn off any toxins.

Call Water

1. Create water (from nothing!) when you are in danger of dying of thirst.
2. Putting out a fire that threatens to consume something of value (such as yourself).
3. Clearing off hidden carvings, murals, doors, keyholes, etc. for better viewing.
4. Getting clean. This may seem silly, but getting your open wounds full of dirt, guts, and feces is a bad idea.
5. Disabling traps. As above, except a blast of water may be better if you're worried about igniting combustible material.

Of course there may be situations where these spells could be very handy in a fight. Call Flame might be ideal when fighting a paper golem or an animated ice sculpture. A GM might rule that Call Flame immediately destroys these creatures wheres TTYF only causes damage. The same goes for Call Water if facing a fire elemental or flame demon.

But my overall point is this, magic serves many purposes in delving. Wizards in T&T have incredible value. They are not subject to the restrictions of Vancian magic as in that other system, being able to cast only a few spells per day and knowing only a handful of spells in total. No, T&T Wizards can cast spells as long as they have the WIZ or STR (or whatever attribute is being used) and this energy is recovered relatively quickly. Players of Wizards should therefore be very familiar with all of the spells at their disposal because they can cast them all. First level Wizards in 5th edition start with 10 different spells; they have 20 in 7.5 edition. That is a lot of power. Many of those spells are for use outside of combat and should not be forgotten. Your Wizard is more than a two-dimensional character hurling TTYF at anything that moves. Wizards are powerful on many levels. So learn your spells, become familiar with what they can do, and be creative with them. Then bring your Wizard into the forefront of the action, and not just in combat.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Conjuring Magic

Continuing my look at the Specialist Mage type, I decided to make a list of the spells that my Conjurer Ulthor may eventually come to know:

First level (INT DEX 10): Call Flame, Call Water, Dem Bones Gonna Rise, Hold That Pose, Oh Go Away, Sparkle, Will-O-Wisp

Second level (INT DEX 12): Spirit Mastery

Third level (INT DEX 15): Befuddle, Devoted Rain Cloud, Firestorm of Protest

Fourth level (INT DEX 19): Smog

Fifth level (INT DEX 24): Dear Lord, Mind Pox

Sixth level (INT DEX 30): none

Seventh level (INT DEX 37): Invisible Wall

Eighth level (INT DEX 45): Zombie Zonk

Ninth level (INT DEX 54): Mortal Source

Tenth level (INT DEX 64): Blow Me To...

Eleventh level (INT DEX 75): Blow You To...

Twelfth level (INT DEX 87): Banishing, Invisible Fiend, Summoning

Thirteenth level (INT DEX 87): none

That is a total of 22 spells for the Conjurer Specialist Mage. All of these spells are learned automatically as soon as the Conjurer has the ability to cast them. That means no out of pocket cost; for these spells that's a total savings of 106,000 gold pieces. A Wizard could set himself up nicely with that much money.

There are obviously some limitations with this list of spells. Ulthor won't be blasting his foes with bolts of arcane energy or death rays nor will he be healing anyone. He can't even enchant a makeshift wand. But, even at low levels, he can summon flame, water, and light, freeze his attackers in place, make them flee, or bind them to his will, or even raise an animated skeleton from the ground to fight for him. Given more power he'll be able to cloud and even incapacitate the minds of his enemies, create poisonous clouds and impenetrable walls of force, transport himself and others through space, raise zombies, and finally summon fiends and demons to do his bidding. He will be a Wizard to be feared and respected if he lives long enough.