Saturday, May 21, 2016

The curious anger against The Forge

I read a post earlier this week that was one of those that makes you wonder what world the poster lives in. The thrust of the argument was that The Forge has ruined indie publishing, and that the theory discussions there were pretentious, and that Ron Edwards hates old school.

The last point is fairly simple, as Ron have posted a lot publicly about games he has played and what he has liked or not. That he wrote a essay about D&D and used the words "brain damage" doesn't prove much. I have myself used those words when talking about alignment, many times. I have played with Ron, read his actual play posts about e.g. T&T, and know how ridiculous that claim is. But, even if it's true, what does it matter? How does Ron and The Forge threaten you?

I wonder, why do some people who feel affiliated with OSR sensibilities feel so threatened by The Forge and its inheritance? I can understand how an approach to gaming that focuses on actual play to see how it works, can feel theoretical underpinnings and that kind of talk to be pointless. Let's disregard for the moment to what extent a theoretical conversation means you do not play. I know I found some of the jargon sometimes obscured the experience of play, so I see some point with that criticism.

But, apart from that, what is so threatening? Is it the thrust towards cooperative storytelling, where the DM no longer reigns supreme, the big threat? I know some people don't care for player narrative powers and just want to explore the world and roll dice. I can sympathize with that approach as well, even if I don't see it as a threat.

This leaves me wondering.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Covenant Items from Midnight for BRP

I've started to play a basic BRP based fantasy game at home, and the first adventure we did was a small crypt crawl. Naturally they found a magic sword.

Before you start to groan, let me tell you the kids have already started to ask for dragons and maybe a demon or two. They want fantasy to feel fantastic.

So, what can you as a GM do with the proverbial magic sword to keep it fresh and interesting? Well, I remembered the Midnight campaign setting for D&D 3rd ed. It might be a little to grim for children, but there was a few rules ideas in there I could steal. I'm thinking of Covenant Items.

Covenant Items are magic items that "grow" with the wielder. It's a neat solution to the question of what to do with the simple +1 sword when you find a +2 one.

Since we play in the Kingdoms of Kalamar, this sword is blessed by Brovandol, of the Knight of the Gods, and thus its powers are themed to that.

  • +5/+10   -  Lvl 1 - Countermagic
  • +10/+20 -  Lvl 1 - Sharpen
  • +15/+30 -  Lvl 2 - Protection
  • +20/+40 -  Lvl 2 - Countermagic
  • +25/+50 -  Lvl 2 - Sharpen
  • +30/+60 -  Lvl 3 - Protection
  • +35/+70 -  Lvl 3 - Countermagic
  • +40/+80 -  Lvl 3 - Sharpen

The idea is to have the weapon develop with the character, so the first column is how many skills points have been put into the weapon. The first value is for those who like me uses a d6 for skill advancement, and the second if you use a d10 (like modern CoC does).

Just as a random fact the levels happens to match with the different levels of the Halls of the Valiant, as the church of the Knight is knows as.

The powers are names of Magic spells from the Big Yellow Tome edition of BRP, and roughly correlate to familiar RQ spells like Bladesharp, Shield and Spell Resistance.

Now I have adventure hooks and a money sink ready for the character to develop those powers!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Deep thinking on T&T going on

After my last few posts, I started to wonder why things were like they were in the rules for T&T and initiated conversations with the creators of the game. There are some quite interesting stories and facts coming out in this conversations, but I'm going to let those run their course before posting. But, just so you know. More posts are coming on the topic.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mix and match T&T rules - Rules for gear

Finally, after dissecting multiple editions of the game, I get so mix and match up the rules for the perfect experience. According to me. I would agree with critics who claim the game is taking too long with big dice pools, and I have my own issue with the lack of money sinks. I think these can successfully be handled, together.

Less dice - faster combats
For me, two things should be done to the game as written in the latest edition. My first suggestion would be to scale back the number for dice for all weapons. The older editions had smaller numbers and I see nothing to be gained by bigger numbers on both armour and weapons. One big benefit of this would be a game that runs faster. It's not hard to add at max 6 to 6 and so on, but every little step counts. Worth noting for those who like big pools of dice is a trick I learned Hero and D6 system players using, is to block the dice up in sums of ten, i.e. sort out those 5 + 5 and 6 + 4 matches and then you can quickly count those groups times 10. Supposedly it speed things up a bit. I'd just use less dice.

Ablative armour - money sink and more tactical combat
In my games I've found that after a short while, everyone have gotten the best armour they can buy. This is very similar to how D&D works in older editions. Check the price list in the B/X edition and you'll see what I mean. In D&D there's the possibility to save money to build that hold of yours at 9th level, but in T&T the only thing you have to pour money into is spells. The other option is to have a very developed system with an open market of magic items in general, but since that would make them feel less magical I don't like that option. 

The solution would be to go back to ablative armour. If you take a hit, the armour absorbs the damage and gets reduced at the same time. An interesting option would be to take a page from dT&T and allow a LK roll to see if the armour holds up. But, in line with my first point, I'd limit that to a special occasion. Allow a LK roll to see if the armour absorbs all damage a round, and then it's wasted. For good.

This relates somewhat to character abilities, like Warriors and armour. That's the topic for the next post...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Combat capabilities through T&T editions

The next part of my walk through of T&T editions will be a closer look at some miscellaneous rules that pertain to combat, and that might exacerbate or alleviate some of the issues you might have.

Having talked about the hardware, it's time to look at how the classes/types work in combat. In T&T you have those wielding swords, and those wielding magic. There is the middle ground, the rogue wizard, but I will leave it out of the discussion as there's nothing new for that type of character. But, it's worth noting how opposition works, because the monster have their own rules.

Let's start with the Warriors. In the first two editions, the only thing a Warrior got was their adds from high stats. Then from the T&T Supplement and on to the latest edition, they get the ability to use their armour extra effectively. So, twice the value for absorbing hits. This kind of coincides with the first serious bump in dice for weapons. From the unofficial 6th unto the latest edition Warriors have also gotten a boost by adding extra damage. I think the +1/lvl kind of makes sense as the armour suddenly absorbs more from 5th ed on, but 1d extra damage per level as in 8th ed just sounds ill thought out. They mention in a side bar it was questioned in play testing. That should have told the game developers this was a bad idea.

The magic wielding class have been very uniform through the editions. All first level spells have been available for all wizards, and apart from the 7th ed era where they needed to make a Saving Roll to cast, they have been able to lob spells freely, paying for then by WIZ or STR points. From 5th ed they have been upgraded combat wise with the ability to not only use 1d weapon, but 2d weapons. Then they also got the ability to use adds from high stats, which they were forbidden before. Interestingly, before that switch they had the benefit of being assigned hits last.

How about the opposition then? Monsters can be stated out like characters, or they can use the more basic method of just having a Monster Rating. The basic idea is the MR gives the dice rolled, and the adds you add to that in combat. From 5th ed on you use the same amount of adds for each combat round, and before that the monsters used to loose steam as the fight progressed, loosing dice and adds. Interestingly enough, before 5th ed. the rules stated that monsters thrived in darkness and got double their rating in darkness! As sometimes is the case, the British edition adds in a line about rolling the dice off MR to generate the amount of hits a monster can take. Feels a bit odd if you already have the MR, right?

So what does this all mean?
I think we can see how the power of the classes have increased in lockstep with the die ratings for weapons and armor. There are some quirks on top of this, like the Wizards being last to take a hit, that I had either not noticed or just plain forgot. There was one quite interesting note in the editions before the 5th about monsters on deeper levels. I guess they game expanded out beyond the dungeon. But, that suggestion was to multiply the dice the monster rolled by the level to make it easier on the GM when rolling many dice. It seems like the rules writer and developer somehow changed their minds about big dice pools being a hassle.

It's not very far fetched to think that if you feel the present edition is cumbersome, just roll scale back all the numbers! In my next post I will consider that, and some other options.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A bucket full of dice - how the dice have changed in T&T through the ages

Like I wrote in my last post, it seems the biggest issue people are having with dT&T who have come to the game cold, are the dice pools. Since the basic combat mechanic is you roll all dice on one side of the conflict, add it up and subtract from the sum of the other side, you will roll a lot of dice. There ways to either roll fewer, or to sum them up, but I'm going to focus on the historical perspective.

So, was the game always like this? Let's take out the old books. I have in my possession the 1st ed reprint, the 2nd ed, the British 1st ed (1st ed with The T&T supplement included), 5th ed, 7th ed, the revised 7th ed and now dT&T.

Let's take a look at how some of the weapons have looked like through the ages.

1st2nd1st British5th7th8th
Bastard sword
1st2nd1st British5th7th8th
Great axe
1st2nd1st British5th7th8th

Can you also see a trend here? I could take more examples, but I think the point I'm trying to make is clear. The game has become more unwieldy because of  dice inflation.

It kind of reminds me of how D&D grew out of proportions in 4th ed. where the hit points of both player characters and monsters were in the hundreds! The game wont feel more epic if all numbers are raised, it will only take longer to play. I think WotC proved that for all of us who played that edition of D&D. But, wait! Did T&T raise all numbers? Let's look at some armor.

1st2nd1st British5th7th8th
1st2nd1st British5th7th8th

Even though the Plate armor is not increasing all the way, we see the trend here as well. The fact is, the situation is more complex than it seems. In the earliest editions, armor was ablative! That 18 points of damage reduction you get in 7th ed is even better than the 10->18 step looks like!

So, the damage dealt have increased, and the damage absorbed by armor have increased. You could try to figure out the relation between those, but I will just state that in that increase you have also increased another thing. The time it takes to resolve a combat.

In my next post I will take a look at some other rules that have changed during the years, and in the final post I will serve up my take on how I would use the rules in my game.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Some thoughts on the latest T&T edition

So finally did the big book arrive! The Kickstarter campaign was not really the most pleasurable experience you could imagine, but it no shit-storm either. It was overdue, long overdue, and sometimes you wondered why. But, here it is at last. Let's read.

I own multiple editions of T&T, from the reprinted 1st ed, the 2nd ed, the British 1st, 5th ed, 7th ed, 7th ed revised and now the 8th AKA dT&T. I have some seen some trends and changes from 1975 to today, and I was actually worried about some of those carry on into the latest edition. The worst fears were not realized, luckily. But, some things have clearly been changing for better or worse.

My biggest complaint, which seems to mirror most of the play reports I've seen from peoples who have come to the system cold, is that there's too much arithmetic and too many dice. While it's not hard to add 1 and 4, or 6 and 6, it becomes more cumbersome to add 1 and 4 and 6 and 6 and 4 and 3 and 2 and 2 and 4 and 6 and 6 and ...

Have you tried any wargames lately? I have found that what makes a hex and chit game workable for me today with family and commitments outside gaming is mostly the amount of counters. I figure it's the same thing for a miniatures game. The more you have to handle during your turn, the longer it takes.

So, doing simple things multiple times is time consuming? Great insight, Sherlock!

Well. I have some data I want to talk about, and a suggestion to make those problems mentioned less acute. Stay tuned.
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