Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Swordplay You Say? The Debate Continues

Following up on my recent post, the debate continues over at the Tunnels and Trolls Google+ group with much division on the subject.

Check out the latest update below or, if you've only just come across this blog you can catch up with the debate to date here, along with the original question, here:

Mat Fowler: My game is all about story telling, and anything that helps nudge that along is a bonus. Talents are meant to be ambiguous to give your imagination wiggle room to use them. Some talent examples from my players are 'breaking things', 'magical detective', 'golden tongue', 'annoying', 'distraction' and 'nine lives'. They have been used for a wide variety of situations, all requiring some skill to convince me that they would work. They havebeen used in combat but normally as a way to create a situation or escape route rather than to kill. I try not have sessions become long periods of hit damage attrition, but find it more fun to solve interactions in a fresh way each time - when possible. If it sounds good I go with it. If you want balance then T&T may make that difficult as people 10 times stronger than others is common place - how do you explain that other than 'its a magical world'? That works for me. Scrawny young farm hands can become muscle bound heros, given enough Adventure Points.

Geoff Sears: I feel that Talents offer a few avenues for exploration. I am ambivalent about improving combat since the example provided to me violates that notion, and in the long run the +1-6 benefit does not equate to a huge benefit, especially combined with a 1 in 12 change of a talent test coming up "3" and automatically failing, with I would assume some significant downside for the attempting PC.

I think the main intention of talents is to provide for some backstory, and a way to distinguish one Warrior, Rogue, Wizard from another. When I asked one of my kids what did they want their "Vampire Wizard" to be talented at doing, she surprisingly said something which got boiled down into Carpentry. She wanted him to be able to make boxes I think was the gist. When she and her sister started talking about Vampires turning into mist, it dawned on me that talents were a way to capture special abilities as well, so... "Turns to Mist" came up as a Talent based in her case on WIZ.

The other imagined utility of Talents was to make sense of the Saving roll mechanic which was left intentionally ambiguous from previous editions. Everyone I have read seems to use SR's differently in combat, and by having specified Talents, you are in effect predefining those mechanics for your character, and throwing a benny their way. Is your trademark move tumbling behind your opponent to strike from behind, then Tumbing (Dex) is your friend, and if I was running it, I would give them a one turn bonus based on how much they made the test by on their Hit Point Total for that round. I'd set the difficulty based on either the level of their opponent, or perceived difficulty in getting past them, etc...

I am hot/cold on the changes made in 7th edition. When I flirt with running a T&T game again, I waver between the streamlined effectiveness of 5th edition, and the more pragmatic advancement scheme of 7th edition. I think the original rules through 5th edition were responding to a different set of expectations on the part of players, than 7th edition is. While I can relate to those expectations, I think there is some benefit to changes like Talents. 

Me: I think that works quite well in group play but my view point is more that of a solitaire player. I do like the idea that a Talent can be just about anything you like but, I would like to see them become more functional in respect of their application when it comes to the lone player.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that combat is the begin all and, end all of solitaire play (or play in general) but, it is certainly a BIG part of the game (just look how much of the rulebook contains rules on combat, weapons, armor, combat magic etc). Instead of just looking at +X adds in combat though, maybe some spell-like abilities as Talents would help.

Nothing beyond low-level magic, and nothing that causes direct-damage (so no TTYF!).

So as well as Talents within combat, how do we feel about spell-like abilities as Talents?

Mat Fowler: For no other reason other than I worked out our in my session yesterday, i want to mention that the chance of getting a 1 and a 2 on two d6 is 1:18, or just over 5 percent.

Geoff Sears: stand corrected. I had transposed numbers in my head incorrectly. They point is that the change of fumble is there, and for something used with great regularity, there is a consequent chance of "bad things" happening such as not contributing at all to rounds HPT, (just like the chance a spell doesn't get off)

Chris Palmer: On the topic of solo adventures, I do wonder if having a list of 'standard' talents would help with some of this.  I know that one author has done this (used the same list of talents for a couple of solo's and provided that list at the front) and I liked it a lot.  Unfortunately I just flipped through a bunch of solo adventures and can't remember or locate that author.

Talents are so free-form right now that's unlikely you'll see the same one used in two different solo adventures so they end up mostly being background narrative for solo gamers.  It's not uncommon for solo authors to add in combat stunts to their games, and I could see talents coming into play pretty well there.

I could put together another page and let authors collaborate on common talents there, I suppose.  But my experience has been that not many authors would use it.

Me: I believe that the author you are referring to is Stuart Lloyd, and I have to agree that having a standard list of solos at the  beginning of an adventure does help you. It gives your character more of a sporting chance. There is of course the downfall that as not all solos are using the same list, some of the Talents you pick may not be the most useful later in play.. That could be said of any Talent though.

Chris Palmer: Yes!  You're right, it's Lloyd.  I do think a more standard list of some core talents would help alleviate their uselessness in solos and make their lack of direct combat influence less of an issue.  But I also don't have an issue with someone taking Archery as a talent and having that be applicable to their to-hit SR's.  That seems perfectly reasonable, especially if missile adds aren't being used.

Me: I got to thinking about standardised Talents last night after reading your post Chris and remembered that someone had done just what you proposed. Well sort of. Thinking about the matter at hand I recalled a pre 7.x web page that converted the MS&PE Skill list for Tunnels & Trolls use. It's pretty good and, can be found here:

http://aramis.hostman.us/tandt/tandt_whr5.html

However in Googling for that page I also came across these two which set out to much of the same but, look as if they have been written since the advent of 7.x:

http://www.geocities.com/~athorne/trolls/talents.htm
http://www.angelfire.com/co3/talonfire/docs/T_TSkills.htm

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