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[Let's Read] Tunnels & Trolls 5th Edition

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Also, those who think T&T monsters are same-y because "they're only a number"...well...no imaginations. Not that hard to have some monsters with only an MR, some with MR and CON, some with armor, some with special abilities by way of SRs or, as in 7.x, by way of Spite Damage, or indeed some that have some power or effect that quite simply occurs when damage is scored. Heck, most of those things are indeed covered right there in the book, so it's not like folks have to figure out such things on their own. The argument that they're "only a number" and thus a GM would have a difficult time making monsters special or unique is a lazy one at best.
The most difficult lesson I had to learn in GMing T&T was to "break the rules."

I had this vague, gnawing sense that if I did stuff like you describe above that I was Doing It Wrong—even though I could clearly see that the players were having more fun when I played fast and loose than when I went by the numbers. "Maybe if I added more rules?" I would ask myself.

Finally I learned to loosen up and fly with it.
 

MachFront

Ugly is IN!
Validated User
The most difficult lesson I had to learn in GMing T&T was to "break the rules."

I had this vague, gnawing sense that if I did stuff like you describe above that I was Doing It Wrong—even though I could clearly see that the players were having more fun when I played fast and loose than when I went by the numbers. "Maybe if I added more rules?" I would ask myself.

Finally I learned to loosen up and fly with it.
True that.
I actually felt exactly the same way with ol' D&D for years. Though I can loosen things up nowadays quite easily, T&T feels a lot more forgiving of it.
 

ZenDog

Take That, You Fiend!
Validated User
1.7 Combat

Ahh, my old friends, the orcs Rummar Boartooth, Greyface the Grim, Sylvus Beggarsbane, and the human siblings Young Thorn Ripsnort and his sister Rowan Ripsnort ,are fighting it out down in the Hellhole Dungeon yet again.

This section explains the most basic level of combat in T&T, melee combat. It's very simple both combatants (or all the combatants on either side) roll the dice for their weapons or monster rating and add their Combat Adds (that explains the name) to that. This is their Hits or Hit Point Total (HPT). The numbers are compared and the lower number is deducted from the higher number. The difference is the damage dished out to the losers and taken off the losers Constitution minus any damage absorbed. Pretty simple.

It's all abstract and one combat round last for 2 mins with the assumption that a lot of that time is spent sizing up the enemy, squaring off, probing for opening and about twenty seconds of actual clashing swords.

How combat works is covered in less than a page, the rest of the 4 ½ pages that make up this section are filled with combat examples.

First there is a Monster vs. Monster example. Two orcs, residents of Hellhole Dungeon, Rummar Boartooth and Greyface the Grim (both with an MR of 18 (2+9) are fighting it out over an accusation of cheating at cards. This example shows us the combat system at work and illustrates how a closely matched combat can go for quite some time (6 combat rounds) and that when equally matched a combat can swing back and forth for awhile before the dice favour one combatant or the other, in this case Greyface is victorious.

The next example has Thorn Ripsnort a Human Warrior with a broadsword and leather armour fighting old Greyface. This combat goes for three rounds an shows how armour really makes a difference for player characters and how monsters are in trouble when there MR starts to drop and the death spiral kicks in. However more combatants are soon drawn to the sound of fighting. Thorns sister Rowan Ripsnort and Greyface's new poker buddy Sylvus Beggarsbane join the fray and a general melee ensues.

This final example, a melee, with team against team illustrates again how much difference armour makes. The humans lose the first round of combat by a difference of 8 hits and must take 4 hits each, Thorn is protected by his leather armour again, Rowan who has no armour must take 4 hits straight off her Constitution dropping it from 15 to 11. Luckily the plucky delvers prevail and another 5 combat rounds later both orcs are dead. Again this fight illustrates how close a fight can be and also how important the dice are. The humans lose the first round, the second is a stalemate and no one takes any hit, then on the third round the orcs roll bad and the delvers roll well. The result is a big hit to the orcs MR's and their combat effectiveness, turning the tide in favour of the PC's.

All very simple, but of course that's just the basics, there's still missile weapons, magic and unusual combat situations, where Saving Roll's come to the fore, to be dealt with. First we need to find out what a Saving Roll is in section 1.8 Saving Rolls.
 

castiglione

Registered User
Validated User
I never had a problem with T&T's MR system. It was basically a skeleton. It provided the minimum amount of information on the monster needed. You could add layers onto it.

The very first solitaire dungeon had examples a-plenty. Everyone must remember that @#$% octopus!!!!

I swear, that octopus must be to T&T what that darn carrion crawler was to Moldvay's BD&D.
 

devlin1

Human Paraquat
Validated User
I never had a problem with T&T's MR system. It was basically a skeleton. It provided the minimum amount of information on the monster needed. You could add layers onto it.

The very first solitaire dungeon had examples a-plenty. Everyone must remember that @#$% octopus!!!!

I swear, that octopus must be to T&T what that darn carrion crawler was to Moldvay's BD&D.
Heh. I just lost a character to that octopus the other night, actually....
 

zanshin

Registered User
Validated User
Yeah, if you dont beat the octopus big in the first round, you will be toast.

There is always run for the exit...
 

ZenDog

Take That, You Fiend!
Validated User
1.8 Saving Rolls

Saving Rolls? What are saving rolls? Saving Rolls are T&T, that's what Saving Rolls are. Without Saving Rolls, SR's from here on in, T&T combat would be either a grind or a one-sided death spiral, exploring and adventuring would be all DM fiat. SR's are what make T&T the freewheelin', fly-by-the-seat-of-yer-pants, funfest that it is. SR's are T&T.

However, as presented in 5th ed they're more of an Attribute based Saving Throw rolled against a character's Luck Attribute to avoid traps and other such nasty surprises. The whole concept is summed up in one page and there's only one paragraph that hints at the flexibility of the SR where it's briefly mentioned that SR's may be made on other Attributes such as IQ to throw off the effects of a hypnotic gem, or Dexterity to run across a shaky rope bridge.

I should also point out that it's all about the GM asking for SR's to avoid something nasty happening to a character, not about players asking for SR's so characters can do Awesome Stunts and Shit! ™

So, how come everyone raves about SR's in T&T? Well they don't. Many detractors claim SR's are just a glorified version of D&D's Saving Throws and point to 1.8 Saving Rolls as proof. Of course, this to me marks them out as either a) not having read the rules in their entirety as there are examples later in the book of further, more player orientated uses of SR's, or b) being disingenuous and wilfully ignoring later examples in the book in order to criticise the game.

It's an unfortunate side affect of being only the second ever roleplaying rulebook that the rules have little quirks such as placing all the more imaginative examples of SR use in other sections.

And of course there's that quote. The Ron Edwards one. If anything that has just muddied the waters when it comes to SR's and how they're used in T&T. Here it is . . .


T&T wants nothing to do with verisimilitude - it's all about strategy. You've got attributes, weapons, armor, and spells. Fighting's all about what weapon and armor you've got (attribute dependent), magic is all about your Strength resources. Effectiveness is all about your Strength, Dexterity, and Luck.

Levels just add to your attributes. Money pays for more spells, more armor, and more weapons. (That's right, never mind "learning" spells. Buy them. Get over it.) Your characters will die, probably. Make up a few and make sure that the dead characters' maps make it topside so your new ones can use them.

What makes all of this more interesting than a mere statistical grind is what the rules call, in their 1979 blessed innocence, "Saving Rolls." They are not frigging Saving Rolls - they are attribute checks. You have seven attributes and the Saving Roll rules apply all the time, in the most open-ended, mind-bogglingly flexible task resolution system ever.

Let me illustrate - my li'l 2nd level fighter stares in horror at the balrog. If we use the Weapon + Adds vs. Monster Rating method (the standard system), my character gets roasted and eaten post-haste. But I can come up with any strategic action, base it reasonably off any attribute that makes sense, and the GM will assign me a "Saving Roll" at some difficulty level. If I make it, we just ignore the combat system and carry on with whatever I wanted to do. Maybe my character jumps onto the balrog's head and then hops off behind him (DEX). Maybe he suddenly sells him a used sword (IQ). Maybe it's a chick balrog and ... (CHR).

Way before "raises" in L5R. Way before skill checks and skill lists. Way before so-called free-form role-playing or any silliness about roll/role. It's all right there.

Yesterday, the hobbit character made a DEX "saving roll" during a fight scene, in hopes of slicing a hand off a foe, at the player's request. She succeeded. During the next round, the player stated that the character *chases the other bandits around with the hand* during combat.

I awarded her another Saving Roll, this one on Charisma, to see if the character was so obnoxious such that the other player-characters got free shots at the bandits. She succeeded.

Dude, this game is ... unspeakably simple (and even bloody-minded), and yet as you play, this incredible secondary system kicks in and you suddenly realize that Amber and Over the Edge had merely re-invented or simply drawn attention to elements of an already-existing wheel ...
. . . like I said it muddies the waters. On the one hand it is a great example of how SR's can be used and people who might have dismissed T&T, thinking the Combat system was a grind, might read that and suddenly things fall into place for them.

On the other hand, Edwards seems to be the Marmite of RPG's, people either love him or hate him. Just his enthusiasm for T&T may be enough to put some people off the game. For T&T detractors, and sadly there seem to be quite a few of those, it's ammunition. They can claim that we were all just making Luck SR's to avoid pit traps back in the day until Edwards put his GNS spin on SR's and that we're retrospectively rewriting the games history.

I think if you've read, but never played, T&T back in the day and then read Edwards quote you might think that, but those of us playing T&T, although we might not have had such a clear meta-game understanding of what Edwards' is getting at, certainly found our way to the kind of free-form SR use he talks about.

For one thing throughout the book there lots of examples of further uses for SR, in combat, as special powers for monsters, etc. I'll cover those in more detail in later posts. Then there's also the solo's. Some of the published GM Dungeons and most of the Solo's are full of clever uses for the SR's with many examples of using them for all the Attributes, not just Luck. Solo Adventure #12 The Arena of Khazan is pretty much Ken St. Andre's master-class on using SR's in combat.

Of course, many detractors will cry foul. No fair, they say, the solos' aren't the rules, the rules don't mention clever ways to use SR's, T&T isn't clever they cry, look, look at the rules! Not clever!

Piffle say I. I doubt there was ever a T&T group (and here I'm talking about people for whom T&T was the if not one of the main games they played) that didn't have every solo they could get their grubby little paws on. I know mine did. The solo's were as much, if not more, part of the T&T world as we saw it in those early days. Not only did they inform the way we played the game, they were also like mini source books filled with glimpses of the T&T setting.

But it wasn't just the solo's that showed us the way when it came to SR's. You see you also got Adventure Points (xp) for SR's. It didn't take long for our group to make the connection between SR's not only saving your character from certain death (and us from throwing bucket loads of six-siders) but they racked up the AP's too. Add those two things together and you get players using SR's plenty. Of course, there are more ways than just SR's to rack up AP's, more on that next in 1.9 Adventure Points.
 
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