THE HUMAN ADVANTAGE

by Liz Danforth

One of the more controversial rule-changes appearing the beta edition, leading to lengthy discussions in Trollhalla, is about the human advantage — the ability of a pure-blooded human to get a do-over on an missed saving roll.

This is a brand new rule, never seen before, and as such it should get extra scrutiny. But I think a few words and pictures might illuminate how I came to this choice. (I’ve grown fond of the “quick sketch to encapsulate ideas” so don’t expect tight finished drawings. The purpose is idea, not fine art.)

THE MISSING CONTEXT
Let’s start with something NOT apparent from the beta rules. This was then:

That Was Then

 

And this is now, a big part of what I’ve been thinking about at as I work on the rules:

 

How the relative power of the kindreds seems to be changing.

How the relative power of the kindreds seems to be changing.

Overall, Ken’s draft manuscript has made the playable illkin bigger, badder, stronger, smarter, better, faster, taller, wider, regenerative, numerous, quicker, naturally armored, elusive, poisonous to be around, and overwhelmingly rolled up as mid-to-high level characters. Orcs (uruk) used to be x1 all attributes, for example but, as written right now, they start out overpowered right from the get-go. Other monstrous kindreds were worse. (Just look at the rock troll character in the Free RPG Day book. Completely OP for a brand new character, particularly when you compare it to the other sample characters.)

A WORLD OF MONSTERS
I’m crunching numbers on the monstrous kindreds, trying to find ways to make them wonderful and playable and monstrous and fun without breaking the game.

But in addition, I am the champion of the human spirit, the way Ken champions monsterdom. Whether in literature or in games, humankind holds their own even amidst a universe of older, wiser, smarter, tougher, more magical, more deadly races. Why? WHY? This makes absolutely no sense.

I am not interested in just paying lip service to our species. We might as well all switch over to playing M!M! Don’t get me wrong — M!M! is a fine, fun-as-hell game, but but it isn’t T&T. One of my key jobs with the game’s development is to keep the game recognizably T&T.  Monsters! Monsters! is a different game.

Humans:  the other Red Meat

Humans: the other Red Meat

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS
I spent about 10 days mulling over ideas for mechanics to support humankind. Some things I came up with were just plain clumsy. Some were weak. I absolutely wanted something T&T-deadKISS-simple, and yet powerful enough to make a human worth playing at all.

I tossed suggestions back and forth with Bear and ran things past Ken. Ken reminded me that he had a rule implemented at some time about humans getting heirlooms, hand-me-downs from their elders, and that would be their advantage. I felt this was, at best, weak. Look, there are half a dozen ways in use to get old weapons and armor, and the “legacy” weapons already fit more than one option there already.

THERE HAD TO BE SOMETHING BETTER
Saving rolls are a key mechanic in T&T. Tweaking a human’s ability to live or die on a saving roll is powerful as hell, yes. It’s also pervasive… it lasts the entire life of the character, not just making them OP at the time they’re rolled up.

But it is also self-limiting. Getting two bites at the apple doesn’t change the statistical odds of making or missing the saving roll... it simply gives you a second opportunity. You can fail just as badly as ever.

2ndBite at Apple

 

Moreover, it never takes place “off camera.” No 3-attribute specialist “But it really rolled up that way! I was so lucky!”

I also believe that a game shouldn’t be all about SRs… it should be thinking and RPing and not an unending clatter of random die-rolls and forced chaos. (Ken favors more chaos than I do.) Saving rolls should be used for turning points, and for the hand of fate to step into the mix now and again.

And that is exactly why I think the mechanic is so appropriate to benefit humans who have absolutely nothing else going for them. Something has enabled humankind to thrive on Trollworld. It’s sure not evident in our prime attributes, our backstories (which are infinitely varied, and every kindred can have those anyway), or in our weapons or armor or ability to acquire provisions, or boondoggle our way past foes.

The SR mechanic provides that advantage, the potentially more-generous hand of fate that can still slap you down, still make you pay full price for failure. It’s a reflection of the human will, the spirit that drives us further than reason dictates, and sometimes we over-reach ourselves to our doom. But it’s not an I-WIN button.

I-WIN-brokenW

IMPROVING ON THE IDEA
I’ve heard two suggestions made about how to fix the mechanic (aside from simply throwing it out — which is always your option).

(1) Make the do-over apply only to Luck saving rolls. I strongly disagree with this idea, myself, because you’re only compounding chaos and saying nothing about what it means to be human. Reaching down to the marrow of your bones to lift the car off your kid (a STR saving roll), the dying warrior staggering forward with twenty arrows in his chest to strangle the bowmen shooting him (CON saving roll), or the child gnawing her lower lip determined to parse the confusing language on a Magic card (IQ saving roll) … we are not all about luck. That isn’t the only aspect that should be in play, I feel.

(2) Make a fumbled roll of 3 on a first saving roll a failure, period, with no do-over. I’m okay with that, actually. Nothing Fate loves more than rubbing our noses in our overweening expectations. So, just when you get cocky enough to think you’ve got the situation sewed up? BAMMO, you fail and fail hard. The only downside I see to this is a slight complication to the KISS principle, but it’s not severe. I’d go along with making this the final rule — that’s what playtesting and feedback are intended for, after all.

THE BOTTOM LINE
For those who think a second SR for humans is just too powerful, there are two observations I’d make. One: perhaps you’re relying on SRs too much. Two: as is always true with T&T, nothing inhibits you from tossing the rule entirely, even with the core rules.

You asked the team to make the best game we could, and I believe something is badly needed here, some reason for any human to be a desirable PC. This is a sleek, elegant, simple rule, a piece of background and story-augmentation that lets humans continue to compete with and against the other kindred in the crazy mixed-up world of T&T.

(Be sure to add your comments below…)

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Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, game design, Trollhalla.com | 53 Comments

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53 thoughts on “THE HUMAN ADVANTAGE

  1. stefanorenco

    This is well explained!

  2. Rob Barrett

    I thought the new rule was fine as is, Liz, no modification needed.

  3. I don’t have access to the Beta rules, but how about requiring Humans to burn a point of Luck in order to re-roll? They can then “replenish” their Luck only by spending AP in the usual fashion (10x current value, etc.).

  4. atroll

    Personally, I kind of like Liz’s suggestion that humans get a second chance on missed saving rolls. my only real objection to it is that it slows the game down slightly, but not enough to make a significant difference in play, so I say fine.

    We all know what the true human advantages are in (life and) Tunnels and Trolls. They have no statistical disadvantages. Almost every other kindred has a weakness–a multiplier that is a fraction less than one. Dwarves are strong and tough, but they fall down in Luck, INT, or CHR. Elves and fairies aren’t tough. The true human advantage is a kind of adaptability that is hard to showcase in a mere 8 attributes. Humans live in every climate on earth. They are amazingly inventive–they adapt whatever they can find into tools that control that environment. And they breed relatively quickly compared to such beings as elves. They tend to live longer than such beings as orcs or goblins. They are social and gather in great numbers, and they use their numbers to overwhelm weaker kindreds. They are flexible in their attitudes. If combat doesn’t work, perhaps negotiation will carry the day. These advantages are hard to demonstrate for a single adventurer in a game. Perhaps it could be done by only allowing humans to have talents with their advantages on making saving rolls, but logically that can’t be justified. There is no logical reason why any intelligent being couldn’t have a talent of some sort.

    Of all the other kindreds in T & T, I think Orcs are the most adaptable. Although the origin story says they are really degenerate elves (very, very degenerate–as if you devolved a human back into a pithecanthropus), I really think of them as the equivalent to some of the nomadic peoples of the earth–Mongols or Apaches or Berbers.

    Human adaptability does show in the adventure points rules. Because a human STR is likely to be 12, it only takes 120 adventure points to bring it up to a 13. A typical dwarf will need twice that many adventure points to improve his STR by 1 point. Percentage wise an increase from 12 to 13 for a human is twice as great as an increase from 24 to 25 for a Dwarf and it comes at half the cost. You may say that the dwarf is still stronger, but over a broad range of people and time, it shows the humans as improving themselves faster than dwarves can. This “human advantage” is true for them when compared to any of the monster kindreds with attribute multipliers greater than 1, but it isn’t something immediately obvious, and it doesn’t help the individual adventurer who finds himself outclassed by a nonhuman.

    I do like the idea that there is no second chance when a catastrophic failure of 1, 2 is rolled for a saving roll. That adds drama to the storytelling.

    –Ken

  5. I’m fine with the SR mechanic but I won’t use it. My campaigns are humanocentric just so that being human offers nonstop roleplaying advantage everywhere except the underworld and all the time except when delving. I’ve never felt pressure to justify campaign axioms, but would probably toss off a comment about the divine order or Fate or whatever before dropping a meteor or carpet of giant ants or ogre migration on them.

  6. See, this is why 5th edition was the pinnacle of 20th century T&T — you multiply Ken by Liz and get a multi-dimensional game designer brain, each thinking from a different perspective than the other, the whole thing more than the sum of its parts.

  7. Before weighing in, I’d like to know what are the differences between T&T and M!M!.

    • SSCrompton

      At the moment there is not a new version of Monsters! Monsters! Nor is there one being worked on. If you want to wait until that game is redesigned – you may be waiting for a long, long time. Compare the Beta Rules to the current M!M! if you want, that’s as close to an answer as you are likely to get for now. The Fellowship still have to get dT&T done first.

  8. If nothing else, the rule should (“should” doesn’t mean “will”) encourage more recklessness or daring-do for human characters. I quite agree with Khenn in that adaptability is the Real World advantage of humans. This adaptability, however, is something which is only evident over long periods of time – sometimes generations. Far too slow for a quick-moving game. And TnT is probably the quickest moving RPG of today; it was definitely the fastest moving RPG of the 1970s & 1980s.

    I see the 2d SR advantage creating a lot of Grey Mousers. And that is a VERY good thing!

  9. Galadrion

    I’ve been thinking about this since it came to my attention. As an alternative, how about reducing the level of the saving roll for humans by one? This would have the effect of making humans “unexpectedly” more successful at anything they turned their hands to, without being overwhelming. The only downside I can see to this (for human characters) is that it would reduce, to some extent, the AP they get from saving rolls – but, as Ken pointed out above, compared to other kindreds, humans spend less to get a greater percentage increase anyway. Overall, I think THAT aspect of it would be a wash.

  10. I have two concerns:
    1/ (as already mentioned) What about human-only games?, e.g., playing in Feudal Japan?
    2/ I use SRs *a lot*, even in combat, for special manoeuvres, etc. so that looks like a HUGE advantage.

    But I’ll be definitely play-testing this rule during the summer!

    G.

    • SSCrompton

      If you are playing a human only game, then all the humans get a reroll and things are still equal for all the players. Or you can just not use the reroll in an all-human game, either way its fair for all the players.

  11. Thessaly

    I would support an advantage that was say, humans receiving 20% more experience. I would support adding a humans level number to the save. But i don’t like humans getting a “do-over” on every save at all. Humans will ALMOST NEVER fail a save with this rule. Yep, my players make a LOT of SRs, and no, i don’t think we use ” too many” SRs. If anything the Saving Roll mechanic is UNDERUSED in TnT. So saying this mechanic is swell unless you use SRs too much doesn’t work for me. I think this change actually kinda ” breaks” the game. I REALLY hope is is changed, amended, or dropped before the final product

    • In support of the re-roll rule… I have played through Buffalo Castle with a new player created using the beta dT&T rule, and he missed two L1 DEX SRs in a row, resulting in his untimely demise.

  12. The new rule massively changes the statistical odds of making or failing an SR. If the odds of failing a particular roll were 20% or 1 in 5 they are now 4% or 1 in 25. If nothing else I’m glad you see the sense in “A fumble is a fumble – you’re a loser!” the current rule changes the odds of a fumble from 1 in 18 to 1 in 324 and that’s a game spoiler.

    Personally, I don’t see any logical reason why humans should be given such a big advantage. It’s never been an issue. With such an advantage you should throw away all of the Trollworld section of the deluxe rules 15,000 BK Humans come to Trollworld. 12,000 BK Humans kill the last of the Trolls and Dragons. Who was Khazan? 🙂

  13. What about rolling 3 dice for human characters for each saving roll and choose the best 2? This way, you don’t get a second chance, you just do your one saving roll, but you still get a small advantage for your human characters.

  14. The “what mechanical rewards are there for playing a human?” is something the designers grappled with in 3E D&D, too (they eventually added extra skills and a bonus feat for human PCs). It’s easy to dismiss the premise of the question by answering, “people will play humans because they want to roleplay as humans,” but that doesn’t explain why humans are such a dominant force in a game world filled with stronger, tougher, longer-lived, and/or faster-breeding monstrous races. If the mechanics are a model of the world, the humans need something in their mechanics to model their success over hundreds of years; it can’t all have been luck over and over in the wars against monster-kin (if it were, humans would have a Luck bonus!).

  15. David Crowell

    I like Grimtooth’s suggestion.

    A do-over on failed rolls doesn’t really feel like humans are more flexible and better at overcoming obstacles. It feels like they always get a second chance.

    The advantages Ken talked about work very well on a world scale, but in the context of a typical RPG adventure none of them will come up in actual play. How many people have actually had a character live long enough in play to die of natural old age? And the Dwarf may gain strength more slowly but for a long time he will be stronger than the human, so the rate of gain almost doesn’t matter.

    I use SRs a lot too. I don’t want my players re rolling all their failed SRs. It takes away too much sense of danger I think.

    Picking the best two out of three dice seems to give a better chance of success, but still a chance of failure if all the dice are low. What might throw a kink in the works is DARO. With Best two out of three the odds of throwing a pair of something are definitely higher. Unless the human must take the highest total score of two dice, and only if that is a double get DARO. Although I think that complicates the rule more than simply saying “Roll three dice, pick two out of three to be your roll”.

    “Humans roll three dice for SRs and choose two to keep as their roll” is how I would word the rule. If you roll 2,2,6 do you keep 2 and 6 and hope 8 is enough, or do you pick 2 and 2 hope to roll better than a 4 total on the second roll? Yes, the odds favor the DARO, but… 1,1,6 yields a sure 7 vs a possible if unlikely 6. At 3,3,x and higher pairs always take the DARO.

    Actually it seems DARO really isn’t a complication after all. It is almost always a sure bet that DARO will be better.

  16. Remember DARO? Rolling three dice and picking 2 makes it absolutely impossible to Fumble an SR.

    • You’re right, Deck, Rolling three dice and picking 2 means that human characters will never get an automatic failure. They can’t fumble 🙂

  17. Sometimes I play a human in a role-playing game (whether it be T&T or other scifi, fantasy, or modern game) just because I know it is a bit more of a challenge. It’s like playing a Pure Strain Human in Gamma World. You don’t get the flashy powers. But you’re HUMAN and that gives you some prestige all on its own. For me the rules matter less than the role-playing, but I do like the bonus given to humans. Sometimes humans seem to just WANT it more, for whatever reason, and that gives them the advantage.

  18. It just ain’t broke in my little world. Good luck to all that sail these new human-happy oceans but my ship will be on a different compass bearing.

  19. John Briquelet

    I like the change, Liz. Alternatively, I also like rolling the best 3 out of 4 dice when generating human characters. Why? It is a darned tough and competitive world out there, and only a complete stud or an absolute lunatic would venture forth in a world where your people are, on the average, significantly inferior to nearly all other races. I envision humans recognizing this fact and training their folk to the utmost to level the playing field.

  20. My initial reaction to the rule was negative, it seemed ‘too powerful’. But I was determined to try the rules as-is in play.

    My players didn’t react as strongly. In fact, only one of five chose to play a human, and the second roll on failure was forgotten in play. Not the best data point, but the fact that the players didn’t all jump on the human bandwagon says a lot by itself.

    I see a lot of racial choices driven by players trying to fill in a bad attribute roll, or to take a high roll and make it exceptional. In other cases, it’s to better fit the attributes to a desired character type. The player I see the new human character appealing to is someone who feels pretty happy with their attribute rolls and who feels comfortable enough with the GM’s play style to take a longer view toward the character’s success than the security of higher attributes right away.

  21. John Lach

    Ok, here is a lot of soup for a small amount of oyster

    Target Non Human
    number human Human 3 fail
    3 94.5 99.7 94.2
    4 94.5 99.7 94.2
    5 88.9 98.8 93.3
    6 77.8 95.1 89.6
    7 66.7 88.9 83.4
    8 50.0 75.0 69.5
    9 38.9 62.7 57.2
    10 27.8 47.9 42.4
    11 22.2 39.5 34.0
    12 16.7 30.6 25.1

    Above is the success rate of making a SR where the Target Number is the SR number needed – Prime Attribute

    Assumptions:
    All DARO is a success (I know it isn’t but it makes the programming easier)
    Human % is (1-Failure squared)*100
    Human 3 fail is Human – 5.5 % for rolling a three the first time.

    I’m sure better programmers and/or statisticians can refine this but I think this make a case for the 3 auto fail but Humans reroll others gives the Humans a good but not overwhelming advantage.

    I believe this is on par with most nonhumans starting at level 2-3.

    • John Lach

      Sorry for the formatting. It looked better until I submitted it

  22. SSCrompton

    Hmm… I’m no math whiz by any stretch so can you please explain a bit more about what those numbers mean? I’ll pick one set and you break it down for those of us who sat in the back row of the math class.

    6 77.8 95.1 1 89.6 OK I assume the number 6 is the die roll, but what does 77.8 mean? what does 95.1 and 89.6 mean? A saving roll involves 2 dice, but you seem to have 3 numbers, so I’m afraid I don’t follow their significance. If a human gets to roll both dice twice – how does that connect to the three numbers in row 6?

  23. stefanorenco

    6 = The target number
    77.8 = The percentage chance that a non-human will make the roll.
    95.1 = The percentage chance that a human, with his second-chance roll powers, will make the roll.
    89.6 = Chance of the human succeeding if an initial roll of three is an automatic failure, with no chance to reroll.

  24. SSCrompton

    OK great thanks! Now I get it!

  25. I do not have access to the Beta so I’m posting this based on backer reports:

    I do not like humans getting a second chance at everything.
    I like the idea of Rogues getting an ability linked to level
    I like the idea of Rogues being jacks of all trades

    I’d give Rogues a number of re-rolls per session equal to their Level on IQ, DX, LK and Cha saving rolls.
    I’d give Humans a hefty (+20%?) AP bonus

  26. Not keen on the messing with such a tried and trusted basic game mechanic. If some feel that it is important to give Humans an advantage in this way perhaps the best place for this is in the elaborations. Having the exception makes it harder to explain the rule to beginners and the Saving Roll is such a main part of the game.

  27. It is really good to see everyone’s comments here — thank you for taking the time and effort to weigh in. And I mean that with absolute sincerity. I know this is a contentious change, which is why I posted my explanation to begin with, opening it up to discussion.

    It would be an unending tarbaby for me to try to address each comment individually, and point by point. I believe my time is better spent working on the next chunk of things instead of debating how many humans can dance on the head of a pin. Some of your observations are on point and thoughtful; some I feel are more heat than light. I think some fail the KISS test or begin from problematic assumptions. In most ways, I would love to get into the discussion, truthfully, but it would never end.

    No one — NO ONE — will be happy with everything in the rules. That’s an absolute given. I will be at TrollCon to discuss this with anyone who happens to attend next month, and I expect the whole of the Fellowship will continue to kick the tires on the entire beta. Again, thank you and … please, continue the discussion! I am absolutely listening for anyone to make their case.

  28. stefanorenco

    Hang in there, Liz & Steve!

  29. SSCrompton

    Every day, we are hammering away at dT&T in way way or another. Today I inked several pencilled pieces that I got from Liz. These will end up in the Magic and Elaborations sections.

    I also recently scanned in 12 more pieces of art I recently discovered by Liz, Rob Carver and myself. At this point, I think I have virtually every single piece of published art that Rob Carver ever drew from 1975 to 1982 (which was when he was actively drawing). For Liz, I have art from her all the way from 1975 to 2014. I have art from me from 1980 to 2014.

    Will all of it get used? Probably not, but the idea is to have a large wellspring that I can use to allow me to find just the right piece for the right places in the book. I can’t wait for you to see some of the art we have. Those of you that have seen the Beta have a fair Idea of how we are using it.

    Stay tuned – More to come!

    • It would be neat if you could collect any pieces which don’t make the cut into an art book. Even if only as a PDF, it might be a desirable item for fans and collectors.

  30. re: Sir Crompton’s latest update. Can I get a “Woo-Woo!” ?

    –Tzhett, the Unending Tarbaby

  31. Mary

    dekh, the odds don’t change from 20% to 4%, although I know where you’re getting that number. Say you have a 5-sided die and you need to roll a 1 to fail a SR–that’s a 20% chance. Now you have to roll it twice and roll a 1 both times to fail. If you were rolling two 5-sided dice and they both had to come up 1, then you’re right: there are 25 possible outcomes and the odds would be 4%. But you’re rolling 1 5-sided die two times and you don’t throw the die a second time unless the first throw is a 1, so there are only 10 possible outcomes: 1 to 5 on the first throw, and IF it’s a 1, then 1 to 5 on the second roll. The odds have gone from 20% to 10%. A lot of people don’t find this intuitive, but it’s the “What are the chances I’m going to have a boy?” math. If a couple has 2 kids, what are the odds that at least one is a boy? 75%, because there’s only a 25% chance they’re both girls. But if your first kid is a girl, it does’t give you a 75% chance of having a boy the second time: it’s 50-50.

  32. If 100 people roll a 5 sided die 20 of them will roll a 1.
    Those 20 roll a second 5 sided die. 4 of them will roll a 1.

    Of the original 100, 4 or 4% will have a final result of 1.
    This is basic probablility theory.

    There is a second probability error in the rules. On page 18 in the box:

    For the curious, there is a 1 in 36 chance of triples
    happening for any given attribute – less than 3%.
    Although you get eight opportunities – once for each
    attribute – the overall odds remain 1 in 36 because
    each roll of the dice is independent of previous rolls.

    I’m afraid not, the odds don’t remain 1 in 36. Each roll is a discrete event with it’s own probability. As only one of the 8 attributes needs to be a triple. You add the probability for each attribute roll so it’s 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 + 1/36 or 8/36 or 2 in 9 or 22.222222222222andlotsmore2s%

    Better than 1 in 5… Not so special after all.

  33. Lurker37

    So if the base power of races has increased such that humans are getting a buff, is there any chance of a fairy character starting with more than 3 hit points if they rolled 10 on CON? The 1/4 CON adjustment makes it a little too hard to keep starting level characters alive. (Speaking as the GM).

    Taking the example of 10 CON before racial adjustment: Would 1/2 CON instead of 1/4 CON really be so unreasonable? In terms of character advancement it would only cost 70 AP to go from CON 3 to CON 5, so the long-term impact is quite small, but it would make it much easier to challenge a mixed-race party if I didn’t have to regard anything doing more than two points of damage as a potential instant takedown.

    • John Lach

      With the new combat rules, the defender chooses how the damage is divided. So if the other party members want to protect the fairy, the fairy can survive.

  34. Lurker37

    Can that apply to traps, environmental hazards etc?

    • A zippy small target would take less damage in combat and probably get lower level SRs to avoid traps. I’ve seen fairies demolish dungeons, the ability to fly is a huge advantage.

  35. Brian Penn

    I may be late to the party of response. The saving roll do over is ok, but I prefer attribute bonuses to keep in the same field as other kindred. The simplest rule would be to only allow TARO to apply to humans. I have a number of more complicated options…

  36. I like artikids comment, but it’s more about rogues. I don’t think humans need a bonus and if then I wouldn’t give them a special bonus that changes a basic rule of the game. To give all humans 1 reroll per session would suffice to me. It could save his life and poses a choice to the player. But I think not everything is balanced and that is no bad thing. If you need an explanation you could say humans seem to be better than any other race in establishing organized, ruthless, pragmatic and humanocentric civilizations.

  37. Brian Penn wrote:
    > The simplest rule would be to only allow TARO to apply to humans.

    +1!

    I love this suggestion. You could then make the choice after rolling abilities, but before TARO is applied: Let the players pick a non-human kindred instead of getting the TARO bonus.

    Another method that I saw on the late Huge Ruined Pile blog, was to let players pick a non-human if none of their ability rolls came out higher than 12, making it the opposite of a Warrior-Wizard/Paragon.

    • grandpachet

      It might be well to collect all these suggestions and compile them in One Big Volume of Optional Rules.

      • SSCrompton

        Well some of these suggestions were already planned to appear in the elaborations section of the dt&t rulebook. No doubt the rest will become the house rules of some of the posters here. That’s the great thing about tunnels and trolls!

      • grandpachet

        More and more, I’m positive that Tunnels & Trolls is not the rulebook, but the attitude.

  38. I would like to respond to Liz’s post to say that “making a fumbled roll of 3 on a first saving roll a failure, period, with no do-over” is a whole lot more potable.

    My K-I-S-S preference is to eliminate the arms race of the kindreds rather than feed into it—that’s why I like the no-TARO idea for non-human kindreds.

    I have spent a lot of time playing 7th edition (and later 5th edition) with kids and adults who have never played RPGs before. T&T is just plain awesome for bringing people into the hobby, because of its simplicity. But my actual-play experience overwhelmingly supports the accuracy of the problem you identified: When new players roll a TARO, they almost always look for a kindred who gets a positive multiplier on that ability. Ken is right that the non-humans presented have slight drawbacks, but it doesn’t take a math genius to see that on balance they are all better than x1 on average, and my nephew always picks dwarfs for that reason.

    True story: Using TARO and doubling, one player rolled up a new dwarf at level 6 with 64 Strength. This is not unusual in my experience—finding a way to apply good multipliers to TARO’d abilities is the standard tactic for shrewd players.

    Anyway, if “no TARO for non-humans” isn’t on the docket”, I think “3 is a fumble no matter what” is a good proviso for humans using the Second Chance rule.

  39. Another approach would be to explicitly call out that playing a human cranks the game to a higher difficulty setting, for players who like to challenge themselves! Some players, especially OSR-minded players, take delight in succeeding in spite of the odds.

    The standard suggestion in the past has been that new players should play humans and warriors until they get they hang of it. But in the age of Peter Jackson and Harry Potter, the fantasy tropes of T&T are not strange concepts to the popular imagination. Maybe it’s time to invert that suggestion.

    “You might wish to start out by playing a fantastic kindred with enhanced attributes, but pick a human for a more challenging game! What you roll is what you get when you play a human. You don’t get any bonuses, but you don’t get any penalties either. If you want to test your mettle and skill against your GM’s deadliest dungeons and wiliest tricks, without any special favors, roll up a human today!”

  40. Reading this post makes me grateful to have a new edition of T&T in the age of the Internet. I can remember reading 5th edition back in the day and wondering why some things were the way they were. Here and now, I can read in great detail exactly why Liz and the team are designing the new edition the way they are. Thanks for sharing your thought process here Liz, Ken, fellow fans and players.

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