Thursday, March 29, 2012

Human Kindred Modifiers Part 2

Continuing my discussion of human kindred modifiers, here are three ways of making the human kindred a more appealing option. With each I've provided an example of the effect of the modifier.

1. Start with more gold

My own idea was to provide human characters the chance to start with more gold. This is equal to 3D6 x 10 gold pieces with a 2x modifier (my new personal favorite level of upgrade). My logic behind this house rule was that humans tend to rely on equipment to keep them safe from harm; giving them more gold at the start allows them to acquire more gear. Here is a potential outcome of this house rule:

Standard: Roll 3D6 x 10 = 70 gp

Modified: Roll 3D6 x 10 = 70 x 2 = 140 gp

That's 70 more gold for the human over the other kindred. That's enough for a wide variety of extra weapons, an upgrade in armor, a nice set of miscellaneous equipment, or a few first aid kits. Here is how you can equip a human and a dwarf with these amounts:

Human (140 gp): Spear (3+1), 2 Banks (2+3), Leather jerkin (1 hit), Bracers (2 hits), Greaves (2 hits), Coif (2 hits), Buckler (3 hits), Backpack, Flint and steel, Lantern, 2 flasks of oil, 50' hemp rope, waterskin, large sack, first aid kit, 2 gp, 6 sp

Dwarf (70 gp): Taper axe (3), Adze (3), Bracers (2 hits), Greaves (2 hits), Buckler (3 hits), Backpack, Flint and steel, 4 torches, waterskin, large sack, 3 gp

That's a pretty big difference as you might expect. The human gets more armor and weapons and more complete set of general gear including a first aid kit. Overall this may help him survive despite his relatively lower strength and constitution. But of course not every human has to start with a lot of gold. You could always roll low; even with a 2x modifier the nonhuman may end up with more gold and consequently better gear.

2. Roll 4D6 for all attributes and drop the lowest:

A common idea to give humans a boost is to roll 4d6 for generating all attributes and dropping the lowest die. This provides a potentially huge advantage for starting human characters. The logic behind this rule is that human delvers are not the normal human stock, but are exceptional. Rolling 4D6 allows one to create these exceptional characters. But what about the other kin? Do they not produce exceptional individuals? Do only common dwarves and elves go delving?

Below is a sample outcome of this rule. For the sake of comparison I rolled 3D6 for the standard method, then rolled another 1D6 for the modified and dropped the lowest die.

Standard (3D6):
ST 8
CON 10
SPD 15
INT 11
LK 10

Adds +1

Modified (4D6 drop lowest):
ST 10
CON 15
DEX 10
SPD 16
INT 26
WIZ 10
LK 15
CHR 13

Adds +7

As you can see the 4D6 method resulted in a very different character, potentially a 2nd level Rogue, Wizard, or Specialist Mage in fact according to the 7th edition rules.

We can compare this to a dwarf or elf using the attribute modifiers from 7th edition and applying them to the 3D6 rolls above:

Dwarf (3D6):
ST 16
CON 20
SPD 15
INT 11
LK 7

Adds +4

Elf (3D6):
ST 8
SPD 15
INT 17
WIZ 10
LK 15
CHR 16

Adds +4

In all accounts I'd say the human has the better attributes. The elf might make a decent wizard, but he lacks the Dexterity to cast even first level spells. The dwarf has more problems, he's clumsy, unlucky, and kind of ugly. But this is not all together bad because these kinds of below average attributes can be used to define a character as much as the above average attributes. The problem with the 4D6 method is that you produce characters that don't have these fun quirks.

3. Replace one die roll with a '6'

This house rule actually comes from a OD&D variant play-by-post game that I am involved in at the OD&D Discussion Forum, Deep in the Hinterlands (Yes, I do play 'that game'). With this rule, a player may choose one die roll from any attribute and replace it with a '6.' This is not the huge advantage of the 4D6 method because it only affects one attribute. I like this option, however, because it can produce one exceptional attribute. This can be any attribute and it will vary from human to human. This really reflects the variability present within the human gene pool.

Here are some examples (attributes with an asterisk have been modified):

Standard (3D6):
ST 9 (1,3,5)
CON 10 (4,2,4)
DEX 10 (5,2,3)
SPD 7 (1,5,1)
INT 12 (5,3,4)
WIZ 10 (4,1,5)
LK 14 (5,3,6)
CHR 8 (1,4,3)

Adds +0

Modified 1:
ST 14*
CON 10
DEX 10
INT 12
WIZ 10
LK 14

Adds +2

Modified 1:
ST 9
CON 10
DEX 10
INT 12
WIZ 10
LK 17*

Adds +3

Modified 3:
ST 9
CON 10
DEX 10
SPD 12*
INT 12
WIZ 10
LK 14

Adds +2

Three different choices and three different characters depending on what the player wants. The third choice was the safest, eliminating the one real weakness of the character: Speed. This option can also help a player create a character with attributes that favor a particular type, for example boosting ST or DEX for a warrior or INT or WIZ for a wizard.

As I've stated before, I have other reasons to play human characters in T&T so mechanical advantages are not really necessary for me. These house rules do help to improve their chances of survival in a dangerous world, however, especially in the realm of solo adventures.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Lone Delver Logo

I have a new logo for The Lone Delver and Lone Delver Games courtesy of Simari Design and Illustration. One well-equipped delver forging into the unknown torch in hand ready for fame and fortune; please note that he is also human. I'm really very happy with the way it came out and I cannot recommend Simon Lee Tranter and Mari Volmar highly enough. I'm currently working on updating the design and color scheme of my blog to match the new logo so be prepared for some frequent changes in appearance.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Types and Combat Ability in 7th Edition

After looking through the 7th edition rules recently, I thought that a short review on the combat abilities of the different character types in 7th edition T&T would be a good thing to do.

Probably most important is that all character types may use any armor or shields as long as they have the required strength. As I've said before I love this about T&T. Go ahead and put your wizard in plate; in 7th edition you don't need to worry about plummeting Strength scores.

Here are the specific fighting abilities of the five standard types:

Citizens may use any weapon but fight with half of their normal personal adds.

Rogues may use any weapon with full personal adds.

Warriors may use any weapon with full personal adds, get +1 personal add per level, and receive double protection from armor and shields.

Wizards may use any weapon with 2 or fewer dice with full personal adds. They may use any weapon with more than 2 dice, but get no personal adds and may not cast spells while using the weapon.

Paragons may use any weapon with full personal adds and get plus +1 personal adds per level.

That's a nice range and progression of combat abilities between the types which, while it clearly favors a few, allows all of the types to be at least minimally effective in combat (yes, even wizards).

A couple of points that deserve note:

The bonus adds for Warriors was one of my favorite additions to 7th edition types (yes, I know it was a house rule for many long before 7th edition). This bonus made Warriors masters of weapons as well as armor, which is as it should be.

Wizards, although considered noncombatants, can use larger weapons like broadswords, great axes, halberds and longbows; they simply get no personal adds and cannot cast spells as long as they are actively using the weapon. If you're a Wizard with a high dexterity, packing a good bow is a solid option. If you can hit your target, you can still do a lot of damage even without personal adds. Of course, give a Wizard a couple of daggers and he'll leave you wondering what noncombatant means.

Citizens are considered untrained, but they can still pick up any weapon and use it in combat; they simply receive half the number of personal adds. At first glance this seems odd. There are a lot of very different weapons available in T&T, but any average Citizen can pick up any of them and put up a decent fight. Could I pick up a broadsword and use it without hurting myself in the process? Well, maybe. What about a flail? Unlikely. But how many of those weapons will a character actually come across and try to use in his/her career (i.e. before a gruesome death)? Five or six? One could assume that the character has at least encountered those five or six weapons before. This rule does lead me to wonder, why can't Wizards do this if they are also considered untrained? I suppose that Wizards are less trained than Citizens except for those smaller weapons.

The combat abilities of the Specialist types are not clearly defined, although they can simply follow those of an appropriate base type, Specialist Mage and Wizard for example, or Leader and Rogue. My rediscovery of the of the Citizen weapon use rule has led me to refine the combat abilities of my Zealot specialist.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Zealot: New Specialist Character Type

In the 7th edition of the T&T rules, Ken introduced the Specialist character type to augment the traditional Warrior, Rogue, Wizard, Warrior-Wizard assemblage of character types. These operate a bit like Warrior-Wizards in that creating one requires a bit of luck. You must roll triples on some key attribute and then end up with a attribute value of 15 or greater. Ken provided the Specialist Mage, Ranger, and Leader as part of the rules. Since then others have created other Specialist types. In response to a recent query from Ken to the members of Trollhalla concerning the link between attributes and character types, I came up with my own new Specialist: the Zealot.

The Zealot

A Zealot is a fanatic who seeks to persuade others to follow his/her cause; the cause may be religious or secular in nature, it is entirely the players choice. The player does need to have a clearly defined cause or belief and a means to promote this cause and further it's spread through the world.

Zealots have powerful personalities; if you roll natural triples in Charisma and get at least a 15 in that attribute you may create a Zealot.

Zealots have received some training in weapons and are somewhat knowledgeable in the ways of magic. As a result, Zealots may use any type of armor or shield and any weapons that get 3 or fewer dice (unlimited adds) to full effect. Zealots may use weapons that get more than 3 dice but only receive half their personal adds when doing so. Zealots get bonus combat adds equal to their level but no armor bonus. Zealots may also learn to use magic one level beneath their own, but they must learn spells the same way as Rogues and have the same limitations as Rogues regarding magic use.

The Zealots true power comes from their ability to draw others to their cause. Whenever a Zealot enters a village, town, or city he/she may make a Saving Roll on Charisma. For each level of success the Zealot gains one Citizen follower. This follower will do as the Zealot commands as long as it is reasonable and fits into the fulfillment the Zealot's cause. The Citizen(s) will have attributes equal to 3D6 rolled in order and will have no weapons, armor, or any equipment other than the clothes on his/her back. The Zealot must outfit each follower and pay for his/her upkeep. Failure to provide for followers will lead to desertion or outright rebellion against the Zealot. If a Zealot fails the Charisma Saving Roll, he/she loses 1 point of Charisma. If the Zealot fumbles the Saving Roll (i.e. rolls a 3), then he/she loses 1 point of Charisma and the populace turns against the Zealot. The Zealot will be driven from the village, town, or city and may even be attacked or thrown in prison (GMs prerogative).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Humans in FRPGs: Awe and Wonder

My post on a potential Human Kindred Modifier at the beginning of February sparked some good discussion here and seemed to spark even more at Trollhalla (or at least I assume it was my mention of the topic; I could be wrong). So it seems to be a worthy topic to continue here.

The fundamental question raised by most is: why play a human in Tunnels and Trolls, or any fantasy role playing game for that matter, given the inherent mechanical advantages of nonhumans? I typically play human characters in T&T and other games so I feel that I can provide an answer to this question. The primary reason has nothing to do with game mechanics and everything to do with role playing.

Playing a human provides a sense of awe and wonder.

Nonhuman characters, dwarves, elves, hobbs, leprechauns, fairies, are fantastic in nature; they are a part of the fantasy world that you are exploring. If everything and everyone is fantastic in nature, then where is the marvel over the fantasy? Where is the awe and wonder as you explore the world? Dwarves were raised in huge underground cities. Elves live hundreds of years and are effectively immortal. Leprechauns and fairies are inherently magical. Fairies can even fly. You may even decide that some of the nonhuman kindred like dwarves and elves can see in the dark (I am glad Ken did not).

Will these nonhuman characters care if they are exploring an ancient ruined temple or castle? Will exploring a cave be anything other than like returning home? Will that dark forest fill your characters with a sense foreboding or a sense of nostalgia instead?

Raised in a small town or even a city, human characters will find such locations to be mysterious and wondrous. An alien world lies out there waiting to be explored; lost cities, lost civilizations, and lost treasures guarded by unknown beasts and strange creatures. All of these things have a powerful force of attraction to adventurous humans, but they still instill fear and even terror. What is a man or woman in comparison to these supernatural forces after all?

My basic point here is that the fragility of the average human character is an appealing trait to me. Those human warriors, wizards and rogues are heading out into a world where most things are tougher than they are with just some skill, knowledge, and equipment to set themselves apart. When they do go to explore those ruins, caves, or dark forests those locations will be as alien to them as another planet, full of mystery and unknown terrors.

Of course I don't expect everyone to agree with my opinion. Feel free to give your own thoughts on the matter.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Art Quiz: Do You Know the Source?

Welcome to a new regular feature at The Lone Delver. I thought that I would take advantage of the collective knowledge of the gaming community to identify some pieces of fantasy and sci-fi art.

Do you know the source of these pieces of art: the name of the artist, where it was originally published, and when? If you have any of this information, please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tunnels & Trolls Products For Sale

The number of legitimate places to purchase Tunnels and Trolls rules, adventures, and supplements is growing. Here is a list of places to go to find authorized T&T products for sale and for free:

Flying Buffalo (print)
Flying Buffalo (pdf)

The home of Tunnels and Trolls where you can find rules, supplements, solo adventures, and game master adventures old and new.

Fiery Dragon (print)
Fiery Dragon (pdf)

The publisher of the 7.x edition of Tunnels and Trolls, Fiery Dragon will be publishing more adventures this year as well as a new version of the 7.5 edition rules.

Lone Delver Games (print)
Lone Delver Games (pdf)

My own publishing company specializing in T&T solo adventures (five so far) but GM adventures as well.

Peryton Publishing (print)
Peryton Publishing (pdf)

An excellent site containing several T&T GM adventures, supplements, and the Elder Tunnels series which is a can't miss for anyone looking for a large number of T&T GM adventures. Peryton Publishing is also the official home of New Khazan the T&T science fiction supplement.

Tavernmaster Games (pdf & print)

A newly formed publishing company composed of a number of major talents including Andy Holmes, Sid Orpin, Jason Mills, Andy James, Jeff Freels, Mari Volmar, and Simon Lee Tranter. Tavernmaster is currently offering three excellent solo adventures with more to come.

Fabled Worlds (pdf & print)

The home of Jeff Freels T&T products including stock art and of course BEAN! the D2 RPG. I highly recommend Escape from Khosht by Andrew Greene which is an excellent solo adventure and FREE.

Zodiac Gods Publishing (pdf)

The storefront Tori Bergquist where you can find The Troll's Companion and The Keepers of Lingusia as well as issues of The Sorcerer's Scrolls.

Postmortum Studios (pdf)

Typically a storefront for buying some exceptional stock art, you can also find the T&T Specialists supplement which includes five new Specialist types.

Eposic (pdf)

Mike Eidson, who runs The Troll Mystic website, has published Seek and Ye May Find, a short solo adventure that features active links.

Slloyd14 (pdf)

Lloyd of Gamebooks storefront where he has recently listed his solo, Temple of the Fool God. Look for more to come.

David Ullery (pdf & print)

David Ullery has illustrated many of Ken St. Andres new solo adventures. He now has his own solo available, Tower of Terror. More are promised soon.

Trollish Delver Games (pdf & print)
Trollish Delver Games (pdf)

Scott Malthouse of The Trollish Delver blog has a T&T solo and GM adventure available as FREE pdf downloads or print on demand books.

TrollsZine! (pdf)

You can't forget TrollsZine!, the fan-created source of adventures, house rules, art and more that is available FREE of charge from the Flying Buffalo store at RPGnow / DriveThruRPG.

You cannot miss with any of these options. Now go forth and shop! Happy delving.