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Author Topic: [Tunnels & Trolls] Half-elves are poncy nancy-boys  (Read 32959 times)
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2003, 12:56:29 PM »

Hm. It really does look like you're kind of in a quandary. The only thing I can suggest is similar to what I do with new players in UO: Power leveling.

Generally, the more experienced characters take the "back-ups" to fight fights that the other characters know they can handle easily enough, but that are a challenge to the lower levels, so they gain more experience. Any experience/loot/whatever the higher characters is a drop in the bucket, or nothing at all, but the lower level characters gain nicely under the protective wing of the others.

However, this ignores the over-arching plot. I can take a newbie to fight lizardmen in the same place over and over again until the newb gets good enough to fight something else, and the lizardmen never care. In a table-top RPG, the lizardmen might eventually be exterminated, or flee when they see the same people coming, or get angry and use mass tactics.
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~Lance Allen
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Hunter Logan
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2003, 01:11:20 PM »

I have always liked the Dark Sun solution to the dead character quandary. If characters can die, then players may need more than one character. So, Dark Sun formalized the arrangement. Each player had a "character tree," a stable of characters the player could rotate in and out of play. The character in play earned full experience. Then a portion of that experience went to the other characters. I forget the exact arrangement, but I suggest a 2 to 6 character tree. All characters in play earn full experience. Each character in waiting earns 20 - 50% experience. That way, the player has an incentive to rotate characters and has a logical backup in the (likely) event that a character dies. The other benefit here is a player can try out lots of different character possibilities in the same game. Of course, the dead character is replaced with a fresh character maybe equal to the weakest character in the tree.

edit: Numbers adjusted, rhetoric softened.
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jrs
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« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2003, 06:20:37 AM »

Being one of the players in this T&T game, I'm not certain what would be a satisfactory way of dealing with character death.  I don't think I would enjoy cloning or buying up levels for a new character; it doesn't really fit the spirit of the game.  I also do not like the idea of separate forays with the backups; although the incorporation of the backups as additional party members would be okay.    

I have played countless hours of nethack without using backup saved games, so that when the character dies ya start over from square one with the only possible benefit being that you might encounter the dead character's ghost and treasure.  This has put me in pretty much the same mindset that Mike describes-- it's a gamble and that to me is the point of this type of game.

Julie
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2003, 08:39:22 AM »

Quote from: jrs
I have played countless hours of nethack without using backup saved games, so that when the character dies ya start over from square one with the only possible benefit being that you might encounter the dead character's ghost and treasure.  This has put me in pretty much the same mindset that Mike describes-- it's a gamble and that to me is the point of this type of game.
Heh, funny. I was just posting what works, not my own preferences. I play Angband, but "cheat" by saving. The way I figure it, one four hour session of play is all that one ought to risk in terms of real life time spent in play. Other day's progress is sacred. :-)

In T&T terms, I would prefer to be allowed to come in with a character at the same level. Sure there's no loss condition in terms of advancement. But there is one in terms of attachment to the character in question. And I'm not talking in Narrativist terms. I'm talkin in terms of their current level being a work of art to have gotten them there. Having that work die, and be relapced, and not saying that that's a loss condition is like saying that building a kit car, and having it destroyed in a fire and replaced by insurance with an already built car is an equal replacement. Just not true.

BTW, Half-elves Rock, and anyone who says otherwise is a scum-sucking sewer-rat! Sorry, the signal to noise ratio had gotten too high in this thread.

Mike
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contracycle
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2003, 01:59:28 PM »

In similar sundry D&D style games, I also the used the new character a few levels down.  I strongly agree with Mike about the fact that character loss is bad enough, we didn't feel it warranted the extra burden of starting from scratch, simply due to the logistical difficulties mentioned above.  This is where we employed the "PC glow" because the frequency with which this happened meant that new introductions became implausible.  I'm afraid we never found an elegant solution to this problem.

Some other observations.  Apart from the PC glow, I think this sort of thing has also produced a lot of the discussion of balance, for precisely these reasons.  Not usefully, I hasten to say, but I think that there was a part of this dilemma which prompted it, i.e. the need to keep a 'Fair' reduction of the losing players new characters abilities such that the new character was a 'junior' partner in the group - otherwise the other players would be denied the satisfaction of their own survival, or at least have it devalued.

We too used thwe hireling approach with occassional rotations into action; this occurred more or less accidentally when the characters acquired sufficient material wealth that they needed someone reliable to guard it while they were off killing people and taking their stuff.  When they got to the longer delves with a basecamp strategy (and this was often planned from the outset) they took retainers down with them to cover night watches and carry lanterns and haul loot and so forth.  So the retainers were close to the thick of it, often fell down holes or got eaten, and tended to develop lives of their own.  Anyway, what this meant was that as others have mentioned, the retainers were the obvious candidates when the PC glow was not invoked.  But coupled with the sense that a re-starting player was not going to be at the same level as existing players, and that this was sufficiently fair in terms of the levelling ethic, it worked pretty well.  Furthermore, while the retainers are in backup status, raher than activley played, they are fair game for the GM's machinations and can turn traitor or be mind controlled or bitten by lycanthropes and so forth; in fact I fairly freqently used retainers as the exemplary fall guy who gets the magic trap full in the face so that I could present a credible threat.  

Another thing about new characters is that if the player has really enjoyed a character, the next character may well be radically different.  This is why the retainers were not the perfect solution, as they are already established and none my suitable.  Again, I have no elegant solution, this was why we kept falling back on the PC glow (although at times the party incorporated itself and publicly hired; Forgotten realms sometimes had spots were adverts could be posted).
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2003, 07:08:58 AM »

Hello,

I think that the T&T text, my players, and I are agreed that playing more than one PC at a time is perfectly all right. Whether they are being run simultaneously (i.e. "my warrior dodges right, my rogue dodges left") or across-scenes seems fine, either way. That should solve any and all issues I've raised about it, and it'll also let us see a bit more variety in spell-tactics and (I hope!) inter-player Rogue-Wizard interactions regarding spell costs.

Regarding the puzzles, I think the disconnection between puzzle content and the in-game world is actually supported by Tunnels & Trolls texts, both the rulebook and the adventure modules. I think the attitude is, "Look, anyone can roll better than the orc band. Screw your character; can you figure out which door George should open first? If not, yer a Loozer!" As I said, given this rather harsh approach, my goal is to make the puzzles as independently funny as possible.

Best,
Ron
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Rod Anderson
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« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2003, 07:19:20 AM »

Does the text address the inevitable situation of a player making a rogue AND a wizard? "They're twin brothers, see, and they're really tight -- the wizard gives all his spells to the rogue. Yeah."


Rod
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2003, 07:22:24 AM »

Hi Rod,

Yup! A rogue may only purchase spells from another player's wizard character. The text is most definitely explicit about that. It's also gleefully explicit about the potential inter-player wrangling over this captive economy.

In-game justification? None at all. 'S a rule.

Best,
Ron
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efindel
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« Reply #23 on: July 11, 2003, 07:46:35 AM »

All this stuff about "PC Glow" and the likes reminds me of something completely unrelated...

Once upon a time, I was running a Torg campaign, and a couple of former members of the group dropped in one night, and wanted to play as well.  The group was in the middle of a city, on a mission, and I didn't want to spend half the session working in two characters "logically", when they wouldn't even be here for the next session.

So I had a bit of mad inspiration, knowing that one of my players was always quick to catch on to puns:

GM (me):  "As you're walking into the building, two guys pull up in a small, foreign car.  They get out, wave as if they know you, and walk up to you."

David:  "Hi... uh, do we know you."

GM:  "The first one says, 'We're here to join you,' and points to the manufacturer's logo on the car."

Craig:  "I walk over to take a look at it."

GM: "There's something odd about it... the car looks like a Fiat, but the logo says GM."

Craig:  <nods, then yells back to the rest of the party> "It's okay, guys.  They're here by GM Fiat."

Yeah, I know... it's bad.  But I felt a need to share.  :-)

--Travis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #24 on: July 11, 2003, 08:12:33 AM »

Hello,

That's a funny story, Travis.

But - just to make it absolutely clear for this discussion - the players are getting no breaks in this T&T game. Levels result from EPs, EPs result from stated stuff in the rules. No free levels for any player-characters, ever.

So the only solution seems to be the stable, which, by the way, is both recommended and called a "stable" in the T&T rules. I'm emphasizing that to establish its precedence here in the late 1970s in T&T rather than in the Dark Sun rules, which is where everyone seems to have encountered it.

The only difficulty, which isn't much of one, is that T&T doesn't make it clear just how a stable is "managed" by players and GM during play itself. The text Alan quoted offers a few hints, but that's all. As Hunter pointed out, Dark Sun's "character tree" concept provides some experience to characters who aren't being played at the moment, but T&T doesn't support that idea, or really, any particular idea except that gaining EPs seems to be one-character-one-reward.

I plan to permit multiple characters per player (which is to say, to accord with the rules), and for EPs to be granted just as if each character had its own player. The only tricky part is when a player gets EPs for fully-metagame stuff, which does happen in T&T to a small extent; and my inclination is to permit the player to assign those points to one (and only one) character per award, of his or her choice.

Best,
Ron
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efindel
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« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2003, 09:04:10 AM »

A few random thoughts and questions for Ron here...

On Adventure Points for combat, are you using the system where all participants in the combat get the full MR of foes slain, or where the MR is divided by the number of participants, and each gets that many APs?

It seems to me that the former case encourages having multiple PCs... there's less of a drawback to it.  In the latter case, if everyone has 2 PCs in a single fight, then each PC gets half as many APs.

On the other hand, going the second way could influence players to want to "split up" their parties... that way, they can explore the dungeon faster, and APs generated from combat don't have to be divided up as many ways.

A second bit to note is the gaining of APs from saving rolls.  Combining this with the fact that SRs can be player-generated from using interesting tactics, this gives players an extra incentive to use interesting tactics (more APs!) and, in the case where each player is keeping a stable of characters, adds a resource-allocation bit on SRs called for by the GM.  For example, if the "point man" for the party is always the same, that character will tend to get more APs by virtue of having to make more SRs.  Of course, this can lead to a viscious circle -- someone gets put out in front because they have the best SRs for most traps, they gain extra experience from those SRs, and because of that experience, their advantage on SRs increases even more.

This, though, is a resource-management challenge -- do I constantly use my best resource, or do I take a chance by using a lesser resource, and thereby allow it to advance?  To me, having to make those sorts of decisions seems like it would actually contribute to my enjoyment (assuming I'm in the right mindset for T&T at all).

(Editing; forgot the other question I meant to ask):  Ron, could you be kind enough to tell where you found the mention of multiple characters as a "stable"?  Section number preferably; I have the Corgi edition of 5th edition, which has different page numbering from the "standard" version.

--Travis
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Hunter Logan
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« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2003, 09:20:59 AM »

Hunter can definitely get behind Ron's solution. On occasion, Hunter has played the whole f'in party and really liked it. Hunter has no idea why he is referring to himself in the 3d person.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2003, 10:14:22 AM »

Hi there Travis,

A list of questions? Oh boy!

Quote
On Adventure Points for combat, are you using the system where all participants in the combat get the full MR of foes slain, or where the MR is divided by the number of participants, and each gets that many APs?

It seems to me that the former case encourages having multiple PCs... there's less of a drawback to it. In the latter case, if everyone has 2 PCs in a single fight, then each PC gets half as many APs.


As mentioned in my first T&T thread, we're using the full-MR method; my thinking at the time was simply to run the game on "high" so we could enjoy the levelling-up. Your point makes a hell of a lot of sense as well, and fortunately supports the choices I made earlier in this thread.

Quote
A second bit to note is the gaining of APs from saving rolls. Combining this with the fact that SRs can be player-generated from using interesting tactics, this gives players an extra incentive to use interesting tactics (more APs!) and, in the case where each player is keeping a stable of characters, adds a resource-allocation bit on SRs called for by the GM. For example, if the "point man" for the party is always the same, that character will tend to get more APs by virtue of having to make more SRs. Of course, this can lead to a viscious circle -- someone gets put out in front because they have the best SRs for most traps, they gain extra experience from those SRs, and because of that experience, their advantage on SRs increases even more.


As it turns out, the SR increases are fun, but they are piddly in comparison with the combat rewards. You get, usually 2d6 from SRs, whereas (in our game) a solid monster fight gets each player-character around 100, at this point. The SRs are worth just enough to keep people motivated to do nifty things, working toward their PCs' strengths as I described above, but not enough to override plain old combat acumen.

Also, characters can change a lot between levels in T&T, especially once you're past 3rd level. Say all this time you've been poking along with a Luck at 10, then you make 4th level ... increase LK by 8! Whoo, all of a sudden you're Luck-boy. Based on the published adventure material, characters with insanely high characteristics are common if they live long enough.

Quote
This, though, is a resource-management challenge -- do I constantly use my best resource, or do I take a chance by using a lesser resource, and thereby allow it to advance? To me, having to make those sorts of decisions seems like it would actually contribute to my enjoyment (assuming I'm in the right mindset for T&T at all).


H'm ... are you assuming that you increase an attribute by using it? That's not the case. Every level, you pick an attribute to improve. LK is the cheapest (add 2x new level #), IQ and DX are most expensive (add 1/2 new level #), unless I'm mis-remembering.

In other words, you can mainly use your best attributes and, when increasing in level, increase your less-good ones.

Quote
Ron, could you be kind enough to tell where you found the mention of multiple characters as a "stable"? Section number preferably; I have the Corgi edition of 5th edition, which has different page numbering from the "standard" version.


It's in the Adventure Points chapter (quoted it in the Gamism essay, by the way). I *think* that's section 1.9, but I do know it's in the first chapter.

Best,
Ron

P.S. Hunter, Ron thinks that Hunter referring to himself in the third person is perfectly reasonable if Hunter is (a) Cerebus or (b) the Hulk. "Cerebus thinks rich people are rich people first and whatever else they are second." "Hulk smash!" Which one sounds more like you?
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efindel
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« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2003, 12:27:58 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
A list of questions? Oh boy!


And I get answers even!  How cool is that?!

Quote from: Ron Edwards

As it turns out, the SR increases are fun, but they are piddly in comparison with the combat rewards. You get, usually 2d6 from SRs, whereas (in our game) a solid monster fight gets each player-character around 100, at this point. The SRs are worth just enough to keep people motivated to do nifty things, working toward their PCs' strengths as I described above, but not enough to override plain old combat acumen.


I take it most SRs in your game are 1st level, then?  The only thing I really have to go on for what's "normal" for T&T is the few solo adventures I have, and they seem to have a lot of 2nd level SRs.  I've been told that once upon a time, it was considered "normal" to have most SRs match the level of the character(s), but haven't seen that.

As a side note, I find it interesting that while the two options (everyone gets full vs. divide it up) are given for APs gained through combat, there's no equivalent "switch" for APs gained from SRs... so for people using the "everyone gets full" option for combat, APs from SRs count less proportionately than going the other way...

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Quote
This, though, is a resource-management challenge -- do I constantly use my best resource, or do I take a chance by using a lesser resource, and thereby allow it to advance? To me, having to make those sorts of decisions seems like it would actually contribute to my enjoyment (assuming I'm in the right mindset for T&T at all).


H'm ... are you assuming that you increase an attribute by using it? That's not the case. Every level, you pick an attribute to improve. LK is the cheapest (add 2x new level #), IQ and DX are most expensive (add 1/2 new level #), unless I'm mis-remembering.

In other words, you can mainly use your best attributes and, when increasing in level, increase your less-good ones.


I'm thinking more in terms of a player choosing to mainly advance a character in those things the character uses most.  It seems to me that, especially if players are allowed to have multiple characters, specialization of at least some characters might become the order of the day.  Then again, since the attributes are very broadly useful, that might be less likely.


Quote from: Ron Edwards

It's in the Adventure Points chapter (quoted it in the Gamism essay, by the way). I *think* that's section 1.9, but I do know it's in the first chapter.


Thanks!  It is indeed near the start of 1.9.

--Travis
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2003, 12:49:56 PM »

Hi Travis,

Something seems horribly wrong with our discussion of Saving Roll mechanics.

It doesn't matter what level the Saving Roll is: you still only ever roll 2d6. And the APs you get are always equal to the value you roll. The dice do explode (on doubles, add and re-roll), but the level of the SR is totally irrelevant.

To clarify: the TN of the 1st level SR is 20, of the 2nd level is 25, etc. You always roll 2d6 and add the result to your Attribute.

So the AP reward for SRs is always the same, from 1st level on. This does have the interesting consequence of devaluing the SR as time goes on (as it takes proportionately more APs to make higher levels), but it also makes your comment about 1st level rolls nonsensical. No matter what the level of the required SR or of the character making the roll, it will always yield 2d6/exploding APs.

Best,
Ron
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