The most difficult lesson I had to learn in GMing T&T was to "break the rules."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.
True that.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.
Heh. I just lost a character to that octopus the other night, actually....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.
. . . 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.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 ...