Friday, September 18, 2009

Reading T&T 7.5 - Character Generation p.6-20

Who said it was slow on Fridays in the blogosphere!? Here I am again, reading T&T from cover to cover. This week I'll look at Character Generation.

After the introduction we get a nice little summary of how to play a rpg, including the very nice suggestion for game masters to not prosaically deliver the adventure, but actually get in character and why not goof off? Ken starts off the section on generating a character by telling us how to roll dice and generate stats. For some reason the stats are listed, but no detailed description is available on these pages, even though one is promised to show up later. After that, and the import rule of "TARO" (Tripples Add and Roll Over), the listing of classes and their ability fill the rest of the pages until p.20. I'll stop at TARO for a second

While our rule designer tells us we can roll in order or distribute the stats according to taste (he rolls in order), he also tells us something of the thinking behind the TARO rule. "Trollworld is full of heroes, freaks, and monsters -- not a bunch of averages." I find this interesting, as it gives us a glimpse of the mind of the designer not missing a fact, but actually designing around that fact. More than once I have read rules and wondered if the designer didn't see that it was broken. One effect this rule has, which the "balance police" will complain about, is that it will probably cause one PC in every second party to be seriously powerful. So, what if one PC has a STR of 65? He will strengthen the party and help you survive longer and get up to that STR yourself! Also, it will take ages for such a PC to get higher STR. No big risk of him building upon that and leave you in the dust. The experience ruled will handle that. Calm down!

Then we have the list of classes. In T&T the classes are called Types, and we have Citizens, Rogues, Warriors, Wizards, Specialists and Paragons. Warriors fight, Wizards cast spells, Rogues do a little of both badly and the Paragon do a little of both well. As you can see they all have their niche in a fantasy adventure. Specialists are basically doing one kind of fighting or spell casting and then some. Even though Ken St. Andre tells us we need the Citizen for NPCs like farmers and fishermen, I can't see the point of this Type. Sure, in a class based system like T&T, you will ask the question "what class is the owner of the inn". But, I think it is a question wrongly asked, and answered wrong as well. The owner of the inn is either a source for for resources, or an opportunity for the GM to act out funny voices and chat with his players in character. Who cares what Type he is! He needs to use a spell or an ability? GM fiat is the right answer, not a new Type.

The rest of the Types are all interesting, with the Warrior being able to get double value of armor, the Wizard being able to know all first level spells. The Specialist deserve a special mention. They all use the same concept, of having one specific talent triggered by a Saving Roll and the prerequisite being rolling triples of one specific stat when those where generated. From the ones mentioned (Leader, Ranger, etc), it's very easy to see how to expand this system to build other Specialists based on this mechanic. The rules show very clearly how they can be used in a toolbox manner. Very neat and modular.

Now, after this and a descriptions of the concept of race or Kindred, the stats are finally explained! Why not before the mentioning of Kindred, and the long descriptions of Types? This is where the editing of this rulebook show neglect. I don't mind the designer writing it that way, but why was it left that way when edited? You think I harp upon something trivial? After the stats we revisit the subjects of kindred again, and the first mention is not enough to choose a kindred for your PC or tell you what it means. It needs reshuffling.

Next up: Generating characters II


  1. You made a good point about that part needing "reshuffling".

    That's exactly what I've done when I translated 7e into French. I also added a few elements from 5e.
    Overall, unless you already know how to play Tunnels & Trolls, it's not easy to understand the new rules. Some say 7e needs editing. It is true when you think about the people who might never have played 5e before and who do not own the old rulebook.

  2. I think I will come back to that again, later on, I'm afraid.


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