Friday, December 4, 2009

Reading T&T 7.5 - Monsters & Magic Book

Today I was thinking of doing a walk through of some of the magic spells, and talk about what they can be used for, how they are cool and how some of them seem to be quite wonky. But, since that is a very complex subject that I just haven't been able to wrap my mind around I have decided to focus on the Monsters & Magic Book included in the 7.0 and 7.5 boxed sets.

The first thing you notice is that the basic rules for calculating MR and adds are repeated. Then we have what I consider to be one of the best additions to the T&T systems since 1979, the Special Damage system. While I have sometimes groaned about how FDP seem to have tossed the game out in the marketplace without editing it at all, and thus felt a bit of dislike for how they have handled the T&T property, I will say this is just pure genius. Ken St Andre posted in the comments earlier in this series of posts and told me that concept was their idea. FDP redeemed a lot of editorial sloppiness by that inclusion! It's excellent. Let me expand upon it a bit.

The basic way monsters are statted is with a single stat, MR. From that you can calculate all the stats needed for combat. If you have seen the stat block for a D&D3 monster, "Goblin, MR20" as the "stat block" is very liberating! But the news with Special attacks is using Spite (sixes rolled to attack) as a trigger for a Special Attack. "Goblin, MR20, 2/Vicious Bite 2d6" is now goblins who will bite their opponent for 2 dice of damage for every two sixes rolled! Not only that, but Special Attacks ignore armour just like Spite does. I had totally forgotten that until I re-read that section today. Ouch. There's even a short section with suggestions for different types of Special Attacks and other Special Abilities. It gives the classic MR based monster a little bit more spice. Very groovy.

Next comes a section that feels seriously out of place. There are rules for balancing encounters, and that talks about a 4 person party, and then there's a section referring to the "Revised T&T rules presented in the Special Anniversary Edtion set" which talks about a standard 4 person party. Which is it? That SAE set mentioned is the 7.0 box, and the Revised T&T rules from that one are not included in the 7.5, which makes it feel odd to have that even mentioned. FDP have inserted a "[released in 2005]" disclaimer in that paragraph so I can't understand why they just didn't remove it. Those Revised T&T rules are better treated with nothing but silence. I have never heard of anyone liking or using them.

We get 24 monsters described in the next section. Illustrated and statted. They are mostly legendary and mythological creatures like the manticore and harpy. They work and I have used them to good effect. Interestingly, what dungeon level they usually inhabit is also mentioned.

The last section of the booklet contains what meagre rules T&T have about magic items. It's made clear that items are for sale, and there are a niche in the Trollworld economy for magic items. Personally I find that having shops where you can buy magic items to make those a bit less fantastic. I have used them in my games, though.

Foci, potions, weapons, jewelry and Other Items are described, with cost and how they might look like. I am notoriously bad at analyzing the economical effects of rules like this. But, there's one potion that makes even me raise an eyebrow.

A healing potion heals 1 CON and costs 400 gp. If you now take a look at your rulebook at p.44 you will find "First-aid kit (5 uses)" and "Second-aid kit (5 uses; cures 5 hits per)". The latter cost 99.9 gp and the former 10 gp. From those prices you would guess (since there are no rules about it) that the First-aid kit heals less than 5 CON. 99.9 gp on the other hand will cure 5 CON five times. That's 19.98 gp per dose and thus 4 gp per CON. Suddenly that Potion which costs 400 gp sounds quite expensive. Actually it seems totally broken.

The other place where the economy of magic items seem odd is the general rules for items, bespelled, enchanted and magical. The odd thing here is that if you want to make an enchanted sword, are the "cost of the spell" mentioned including the Dura-Spell Battery which I assume is powering the item? It seems like these rules were written without full knowledge of that spell. I did ask Ken about who made what, and he said "It seems to me that most of the stuff about magic in the extra booklet was my work", which makes you wonder about that Dura-Spell omission. Frankly it feels like it wasn't tried out, really. Since there were no rules like that in 5th ed, and I feel kind of bad about shopping for magic items anyway I guess I'd prefer just to make it all up. Then it would help to have a longer list of examples to compare to if you're as uninterested in spending time inventing a full economic system as I am.

The only other thing I want to remark upon is the wish that this kind of material would be included in the rulebook. Either that or expand it and incorporate a few of the other booklets in the 7.5 box.

I will try to spend some time with the spell list and post on that last section of the rules. But, since I know my limits, I have invited a guest blogger! It will be great fun to see what we will get to read.

1 comment:

  1. You’re right, the first-aid and second-aid kits make the healing potion way too expensive!
    The healing potion costs 400 GP per use (heals 1 CON point).
    In my understanding, the second-aid kit cures 5 hits per use and there are 5 uses overall, so it can cure up to 25 CON points for just 999.9 SP (a little bit less than 100 GP). The first-aid kit cures 1 CON point only and there are also 5 uses overall, so it can heal up to 5 CON points for a cost of only 100 SP (10 GP). 10 first-aid kits could therefore cure up to 50 CON points for 100 GP, which makes the second-aid kit less cost-efficient (it can cure up to 25 points only for about the same price: 100 GP less 1 SP) but more convenient to carry than 10 first-aid kits (50 w.u. as against 500 w.u.).
    The only rationale for buying a bottle of healing potion containing 10 doses (heals up to 10 CON points and costs 4,000 GP) is encumbrance. The bottle is rather small and discrete and would probably weigh only 5 w.u. like a 2-oz ink bottle.

    Secondly, interpretation problems may arise from the lack of details about the second class of enchanted items, those that have a “kremm battery” embedded right into them.
    The cost of such items includes at least the following elements:
    1) the cost of the item itself, plus
    2) half the cost of the spell (i.e. price a Wizard would have to pay to learn that spell) times the spell’s level, plus
    3) the price of the Dura-Spell.
    That third and last price element is not specified in the book.
    However, the Dura-Spell is a second-level spell. 2nd-level spells cost 2,000 GP to learn.
    Therefore, if one applies the spell cost rule indicated in the Monsters & Magic Book, the basic price (in GP) of an enchanted item with a minimum “kremm battery” would be 2,000GP (half the cost of the spell times the spell’s level). The more WIZ points stored in the kremm battery, the higher the cost.
    Example: The cost of an enchanted swamp blade with a Vorpal Blade and a kremm battery would be at least 200 GP (for the swamp blade) plus 500 GP (for the Vorpal Blade spell) plus 2,000 GP (for the Dura-Spell), i.e. 2,700 GP at least.
    But how many WIZ points would be “stored” in that “kremm battery”? How many “charges” or number of uses will the Dura-Spell allow?
    A reasonable guess would be to raise the base cost of the Dura-Spell (2,000 GP) according to the WIZ points stored. It seems to be fair to say that the 7 WIZ points that are necessary to just cast the Dura-Spell with 0 WIZ point stored are deemed to be included in that base price of 2,000 GP. My personal rule of thumb : add 100 GP for each WIZ point stored.

    Example: Same as above, with 3 charges (3 times 5 WIZ=15 WIZ points stored):
    200 GP (for the swamp blade) plus 500 GP (for the Vorpal Blade spell) plus 2,000 GP (for the Dura-Spell) plus 1,500 GP (for the 15 WIZ points stored) = 4,200 GP

    That should solve the problem you’ve raised in “Ways to spend your money in a T&T game” 


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