Monday, 6 August 2012

Solo Adventures: You Are The GM.

One of the biggest faltering points that I have found as a solo gamer is a tendency to adhere without question to the rules. Sure, you need rules but, there is more than enough room for "flexibility" in some areas of play. Namely for the purposes of this post, character design.

I will be honest and say that this hasn't always been the case for me and growing up on a steady diet of structure and order often left me clinging to the letter of the text when it came to rulebooks.

Tunnels and Trolls has helped me shake this off this bad habit though and, now I play the character that I want to play. Which is the point isn't it?

When I sit down for a solo adventure I want to have fun and, what fun is it to play a as a character that is little more than a collection of numbers? Playing a character for me doesn't mean just rolling a few dice and, picking the best weapon and armor my rolls will allow. It's about fleshing those dice rolls out and breathing some life into them.

So, whilst you may not be too happy with your dice rolls, you should still always be happy with your character. If you've done it right anyhow. A prime example of getting it wrong can be found here.

This guy followed the letter of the rules, felt down trodden by poor dice rolls that didn't allow him a sporting chance and as a result got splattered in his first combat encounter... But what could he have done different?

Well, with Tunnels and Trolls there are ALWAYS saving rolls! About to be crushed to death by a giant? Have a saving roll. Want to grab for that loose root on the cliff face as you are plunging to your death? That's a saving roll too and, combat is no exception. In fact there is a fine post on just that subject right here.

So, the Dwarf may not be quite as doomed to a quick and messy death as it would first seem but with attributes like that, it's only a matter of time.

As a rule of thumb if you have three or more attributes below 10 at generation, you may as well roll over. Don't get me wrong, playing the underdog can be fun but, with rolls like that, you won't be playing them for long!

The next thing I would have suggested doing do is ditching the concept of starting gold. After all, if your character had money to their name they'd probably be spending their time in the tavern seeking wine and song instead of opportunities to risk life and limb.

This is where my method of character generation comes in.

Once I have rolled up a characters attributes, I skip the gold roll and instead try to picture my alter ego mentally. What are they wearing? What are they carrying? What makes sense? Two daggers make a great combination for any starting character with sufficient DEX but, just how many knife fighters can you play without it becoming a tad unrealistic, even for fantasy fiction?

Instead, if I imagine my character as an archetypal knight, why can't they start play with a full suit of plate armor, shield and, broadsword? Maybe even a warhorse for a steed. The only real limitations I should be looking at here are, my characters attributes and common sense. If my character for example only had a STR of 10, then there in no way in hell that they could possibly stand up in that armor, let alone move. 

Now I know that this sounds simplistic but remember that imagination is the life blood of roleplaying, not dice rolling and, not look up tables. So as a result, the freedom of playing the character "as you see them" (as opposed to what your gold roll would have allowed), will give you a far more satisfactory experience.

Lets give it a try and see if we can create a Dwarf that has both a fighting chance and, that would be fun to play.

As I can't show you the image that I have in my mind however, lets take Borador of Baldur's Gate fame as an example.

Borador, Dwarven Rogue
Name: Borador.
Kindred: Dwarf.
Type: Rogue.
Level:  2.

Strength: (11) 22
Constitution: (12) 24
Dexterity: (12 TARO, 14) 26
Speed: 12
Intelligence: 14
Wizardry: 8
Luck: (16) 11
Charisma: 11

Combat Adds: +24
Missile Adds:  +36

Languages:
Common, Dwarf, Dark Elf

Weapon:
Short Sword (3+0, 30WU)
Light Crossbow (4+0, 120WU)

Armor:
A Suit of Soft Leather (5 hits, full body, 75WU).

Other Items:
A Small Pack (as a belt pouch but with a secure fastener, 5WU), a Set of 3 Lock Picks (on belt, 6WU), Concealed picks (one in his boot, one inside his glove, 4WU), 10 Quarrels (in a separate bespoke belt holster, 10WU), Clean clothes (100WU), Eye Patch (1WU).

Talents:
Roguery (CHR/ INT/ LK+6): As per the 7.5 rule book.
Ransack (INT / LK+2): When searching an object or location for loot Borador may make an open ended SR on his Ransack Talent (adding his Roguery bonus). Every level of success allows him one roll on the Random Treasure Generator as well as the possibility of finding key items (such as clues, keys etc) as appropriate.

Borador may only use this ability once per object or location.

Goal:
To repay the debt that his clan owes to the Dark Elves (65,000 GP), which will in turn restore both their honor and standing within the Dwarven community.

So there we have it and, what a transformation it is!

Borador is a Rogue, not a Warrior... Which is fine! Although the text in the adventure specifies that no magic users are allowed and, Borador is indeed capable of casting spells, he knows none. So, what's the harm?

Even if he could cast a spell there is no real reason why you couldn't use him in this adventure as the limitation is purely mechanical and nothing to do with the story. It has to be remembered Buffalo Castle was the first solitaire adventure, EVER, and it was sometime before the idea of the Magic Matrix was thought up.

So it is less a case of an anti-kremm field surrounding the castle itself and, more a case of that if you do want to use magic, you'll also to use your own judgment when determining it's effects. Combat magic is fairly straight forward though, so I see no reason that you can't throw a TTYF! or two about if you so desire.

Borador as we said though has no magic. Which is unusual as all Rogues in 7.5 begin play with one. So where did it go?

I swapped it! I have always hated the idea of Dwarves being able to use magic, no matter how high the fantasy and, the concept character from Baldur's Gate had certainly never shot off a Magic Missile in his life. He sure did love to ransack stuff though and, in fact begins the game with that very ability. So swapping his spell for a Talent that I essentially turned into a spell like ability was pretty much a no-brainer for me.

The ability had to be tweaked though. The original ran on a D% and Tunnels and Trolls is D6 all the way. That said the dice involved wasn't anywhere near as important as the function of the ability in my opinion, which was to loot extra treasure. Understandable considering the HUGE debt that Borador and his clan owes to less than savory folk. He needs it!

Lastly, I should give a mention to level. The adventure states clearly that it is for first level characters and Borador, even before his first delve is a level 2 Rogue. Not to worry though as this is again simply a matter of the old rules saying one thing and the new rules saying something else.

In older versions of the rules all characters began at first level regardless of their attributes. A character could TARO to the Nth degree at generation and they would still only begin play at the first level of experience.

This was amended in later editions however and, now a character's level of experience is based purely on their attributes (so it is actually possible to lose levels as well as gain them!) Borador was designed using these rules, so is really no different than a 1st level Dwarf from those earlier editions.

So, there we have it. A new way of looking at things and a new player character just bursting with potential. Next stop, Buffalo Castle. There's a troll he wants words with and rooms to be ransacked. ;0).

1 comment:

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