Friday, October 16, 2009

Reading T&T 7.5 - Levels

A friend of mine was very vary of games with classes and levels. He felt they were unrealistic and the characters were to static. He did manage, oddly enough, to gather quite a few games of that kind, though. Some of them are now in my collection and I wonder everytime I see them about his problematic relation to games with levels. T&T is a game with levels, but compared to D&D they mean fairly little. This Friday I'll take a closer look at levels in T&T.

On page 36 the section on levels start. A sure sign of the importance of levels is the page count alloted to this subject. All in all it ends on page 39. Got that? Now, let's see what it's all about.

Levels have never been a big thing in T&T. Actually, while some adventures have been written for "level 1 or 2" characters, it often meant next to nothing. increasing stats have always been the effect of experience in T&T, and back in earlier editions different stats increased quicker than others, so it was very nebulous what a certain level meant. Often Combat Adds was a much better gauge. Now in the 7th ed Ken has changed all this a bit.

A Type now has a list of stats that are "level attributes". The rating of the best of those determine what level your character is. Simple, eh? Well. A have a small complaint. How about listing those in the descriptions of the Types, much earlier in the book? That would help you when you have rolled your stats and wan to choose a fitting Type.

So what are the benefits of having a high level then? Well, here's where it becomes clear that T&T is not a game where level matters much. When you have failed a Saving Roll, you can add your level and hope that it help you reach your target number. For some odd reason the example talks about "level  attributes" here, which obviously is a remnant of an earlier rule, since that's never mentioned anywhere else and obviously wrong. That's it! Well, at least if you only read the section on levels, anyway.

If you, like me, thumbed through the descriptions of the character Types in hope of finding the level attributes listed there, you would have noticed that Warriors get to add their level to their combat damage! Also, Wizards get a redution in cost for spell casting when having a higher level than the spell being cast. Taking a peek at a chapter further ahead in the book I also noted that your Wizard can't invent new spells until reaching level 5, or level 10 for a Paragon. Why on earth is the list of benefits of levels limited to just mentioning the SR bonus?! Obviously it's used for more things. Still, I see why the importance of levels is played down, especially compared to D&D where your level determines the extent of almost all of your abilities.

Would me dear friend have accepted T&T even though it's a game with levels? I would have hoped so. My experience tells me that the most intense dislike for levels is usually when they determine a lot about your abilities.

Personally I wonder about the usefulness of levels in T&T. Maybe it could instead be that your SR bonus would be 1/10 of any of your level attributes (which would then be called something else) could be added to those saves? Maybe a limit where the level of spells you can invent be 1+(INT/10) and keep doing stuff based on your stats? It sure feels like the stats is the traits or general abilities whereupon everything is built in T&T. Why not get rid of that D&D artifact and skip the "level" thing?

Next up! Equipment!

6 comments:

  1. Level in T&T7.5 has multiple uses:
    1) SR effects, as you mentioned
    2) adds to Warrior combat adds
    3) affects wizards cost to cast various spells.

    In 7.0 it was more important, because it added:
    4) the amount a talent based on a attribute raised for each point you raise the base attribute.

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  2. I did catch all of those uses of levels, didn't I?

    Good catch about the unrevised 7th ed! That way to handle Talents was so odd that it never managed to lodge in my brain. ;)

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  3. Levels has always struck me as a weirdly artificial way of looking at character development. Neither Tolkine nor Howard describes their heroes as level 9 fighters or wizards. If I had been more original in my thinking, I'd have come up with a mechanic other than rolling dice for combat and saving rolls. Maybe story points or opposed die rolls, but too late now.

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  4. Well, there's a lot to be said for staying somewhat close to what people expect. But, there's still some wriggle room, like I suggested above.

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  5. I got the 7.5 rules last week and played for the first time last night with someone who didn't know T&T rules at all. He asked what his Wizard's level attributes were and it took five seconds--literally--to find the page where they were listed. I don't see what the trouble is there.

    atroll: not sure what you mean by "I'd have come up with a mechanic other than rolling dice...[M]aybe...die rolls..."

    I, for one, think this new way of defining levels turns the mechanic inside out (at least as far as T&T goes), and makes it more fluid and player-choice driven.

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  6. Well, the "trouble" is more of a remark on the organization of stuff. Sure, it's not hidden somewhere obscure, but I felt it could have been more friendly the way I mention.

    I do agree that the new way of defining level makes a lot of sense and is great fun for the player.

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