Archive for February, 2012

Tunnels and Trolls Impressions

February 29, 2012

I’ve had a chance to give the 5.5 version of Tunnels and Trolls a once over.  T&T is billed as being easier to play than OD&D, and in some respects this is true.  In particular I like the way the game handles a mass melee.  Basically, everyone rolls a bunch of d6’s, based on the weapon they wield, and then add ‘personal adds’ to the dice roll, based on a character’s stats.  Monsters roll dice based on their total Monster Rating, adding 1/2 the MR to the dice roll.  Whichever side gets the highest result ‘wins’ the melee and inflicts hits on the other side equal to the difference in the results.  All-in-all a very simple way to resolve a complex melee.

One thing about this melee combat system:  two evenly matched combatants can fight back and forth with little damage done to either side for several rounds, until one side gets lucky and inflicts a bit hit on the other.  And then it’s a quick downhill slide, where the weakened side has virtually no chance to inflict damage on the winning side.  Thus victory becomes a foregone conclusion, and you’re merely taking the time to go through the dice-rolling motions.  While a similar fight in OD&D might be more complex, even if the outcome is a foregone conclusion a weakned enemy has some chance to damage their opponents.  Later versions of T&T add a ‘spite damage’ rule that, from my understanding, let a weakened enemy do a little damage to a stronger enemy.

Ranged combat uses a different system based on ‘saving rolls,’ determined by distance to the target and the target’s size.  This is perhaps more ‘realistic’ but it’s also a departure from the more abstract nature of melee combat, and a bit more complicated (at least to my reading).  There are also optional rules, like giving characters saving rolls to dodge attacks, or allowing ranged attacks to hit automatically if done at point blank range, which I think further serve to complicate things.  This is mercificully mitigated by limiting ranged attacks to the first round of combat…after that everyone is too mixed up in a general scrum to safely make ranged attacks.  Still, I would have preferred a system that worked more seemlessly within the existing melee combat rules.

Spell casting is another mixture of simplicity and frustration.  On the whole, spell casting uses a fairly simple point-based system.  However, certain combat spells add their ‘hits’ to the total hits generated in melee combat (due to the ‘shock and awe’ of the spell) to determine which side wins the melee, but those hits are not counted double for the purposes of damage.  So, the spell may have let you win the melee round, but you don’t inflict any additinal damage for winning.  This is an entirely reasonable rule, except that again it seems to add a needless layer of complication.  Why not remove the ‘shock and awe’ effect of the spells and resolve their effects separately from melee combat (I guess nothing would stop me from houseruling that)–it seems that automatically inflicting a bunch of hits on the enemy, with no chance to defend really, would be sufficient shock (and likely turn the tide of battle).

Of course, all this is based just on my reading of the rules.  In actual play many mechanics that seem complicated to me might in practice turn out to be very simple.  And, of course, a game is more than the sum of its mechanical sub-systems.  From what I’ve read, playing T&T had a very different ‘feel’ from playing OD&D.  Someday I’d like to play a game of T&T with a GM well-versed in the game’s rules and play style to really get a feel for the difference between the two games.

PFBB Magus

February 28, 2012


Here’s the next Pathfinder conversion for the Magus.  This was a lot more straight-forward than I thought it would be.  Let me know if you have any questions or spot any typos.  Next up is the Gunslinger.


Tunnels and Trolls

February 27, 2012

A game I’ve had on my mind lately is Tunnels and Trolls, and today I received a copy of the 5.5 rules from Paizo.  Haven’t had a chance to look it over yet, but I have read a bit about the rules on the web (you can get the free quick rules here or here).

I remember seeing T&T in game stores back in the ’80s, but I dismissed it as a cheap D&D knock-off, being completely ignorant of its history and rules.  I regret that now, but better late than never.

What appeals to me about the rules is the highly abstract nature of combat and its fairly ‘light’ ruleset (even moreso than OD&D).  As I’m always scratching around for blogging content, I’ll post my impressions once I’ve had a chance to give the full rules a read.

In the meantime, I hope to have the Magus conversion by tomorrow, or Wednesday at the latest.  Cheers.

Sword & Shield v2

February 24, 2012

Just a quick FYI, for anyone who’s interested, version 2 of Sword & Shield has been posted.  You can get it here (there’s also a non-pocketbook ‘longsword’ version).

The main difference is that skill rolls now use the same die roll vs. die roll mechanic as combat and magic, and some initiative rules were added.


Sword & Shield

February 22, 2012

I wanted to highlight a new rules-light rpg I discovered a couple of days ago.  Sword & Shield is a quick and dirty game of dungeon bashing that comes in a handy little 8 page pocketbook.  It uses a die roll vs. die roll mechanic for combat and magic resolution (for example, your fighter rolls 1d10 in melee combat while an orc rolls 1d6, high roll wins, the difference is damage done to the loser).  Another perfect game for teaching kids about rpgs, or a good beer-and-pretzels rpg when you don’t have a lot of prep time.  And it’s easy to house-rule and customize to your heart’s delight.

I only have one minor quibble with the system.  Where combat and magic use a die roll vs. die roll mechanic, the game eschews this for a fixed target number mechanic when it comes to skill rolls.  I have to wonder why the die roll vs. die roll mechanic wasn’t carried over to skill rolls as well.  Something like: Easy = d4, Average = d6, Difficult = d8, Hard = d10, Heroic = d12.  There’s nothing that says a rpg must use a uniform mechanic for all systems, but for a light game like this I think a uniform mechanic would add to its charm.  At any rate, the system is easily house-ruled if you don’t like it.

The author has already put out a clever character sheet and a short intro adventure.  You can download everything here (and it’s free!).

Edit:  Meant to add, it’s been a hectic week for me, so I probably won’t be able to finish the Magus class conversion until next week.  Then Gunslinger is next after that.  Cheers.

Thoughts on Magic Items

February 20, 2012

I finished watching The Lost Room yesterday.  It was a SyFy mini-series from 2006, or thereabouts, about a motel room stuck in another dimension, and a bunch of seemingly mundane items, called Objects, taken from that room.  The Objects, however, could do some crazy stuff, sort of like a serious version of Warehouse 13, and they were named after what they were.  For example, The Key, The Pen, The Watch, The Clock, The Bus Ticket, etc.  Naturally, this got me thinking about magic items in D&D.

I’ve previously talked about my hypothetical campaign, where all magic items would be unique in the world.  So, for example, there’s only one bag of holding in the entire world.  Now, linking this idea back to The Lost Room, it wouldn’t be called a bag of holding, or even the bag of holding.  It would simply be known as The Bag.  Anyone familiar with magic items would see it and say “Oh, I see you have The Bag.  You know what that does, right?”  And since these items are unique, everyone and their pet monkey will be looking for them, so they develop a reputation for bringing nothing but trouble to their possessors.  Probably entire organizations, kind of like the Object cabals from the series, are dedicated to tracking down and acquiring these magic items.

Borrowing further from The Lost Room, maybe the magic items can be used to track down one another, if you know how.  Maybe if you get enough of them together, in the right combination, they do somethign really cool, like open a portal to Hell or Carcosa (little difference, really), or raise the dead or bring about the apocalypse.

Could be a lot of fun…for the GM anyways. 🙂

Battle Beyond the Stars

February 18, 2012

I’ve been wanting to watch this Battle Beyond the Stars (Roger Corman) for a while now and it finally showed up on Netflix instantview.  It’s basically a sci-fi version of Seven Samurai, with a bit of Star Wars thrown in for good measure.

Starring George Peppard, Robert Vaughn, John Boy (Richard Thomas), plus plenty of weird aliens (including a Space Valkyrie — gotta add that next time a run a sci-fi game!) and a villan worthy of being blown to smithereens (John Saxon).

The acting and special effects are okay given its low-budget nature.  If you like old cheesy sci-fi movies, like I do, you should enjoy Battle Beyond the Stars.

PFBB Templates

February 16, 2012

Here are the templates I use for my PFBB class conversions and race addendums, in Rich Text Format:

PFBB Class Template

PFBB Race Addendum Template

Please let me know if you have any questions.  Thanks.

PFBB Alchemist Correction

February 15, 2012


Minor correction on the Alchemist, pointed out by S’mon at the Paizo boards.  Apparently I gave the Alchemist the Sleight-of-Hand skill, which is not in the BB.  Oops, sorry about that.

Here’s the corrected version.

If anyone notices any other errors, please let me know.  I’ll correct them as soon as I can.  Thanks.

PFBB Summoner – Alternate Version

February 15, 2012


Here’s the “this is how I would do it” version of the Summoner class.  It ended up diverging from the core class even more than I thought it would.

I’m not a big fan of pets, especially not in complicated rpgs.  So what I did was make the eidolon an idealized spirit form of the summoner which cohabits the summoner’s body while it is present.  Thus, while present, it grants the summoner bonuses, most of which are gained by spending evolution points.

As this version is so different, you probably should not use it if you eventually plan to move on to Pathfinder Core.

PFBB Summoner – Alternate Version

Have fun.

Edit:  Forgot to mention, this form of the eidolon changes the dynamic of the Rejuvinate Eidolon spell a bit.  I’d treat it as essentially a ‘heal self’ spell, that only works while the eidolon is cohabiting the summoner’s body.