On Being Human in Tunnels and Trolls

Recently there’s been some discussion at the Trollhalla Inner Sanctum about the advantages and disadvantages of playing human characters in Tunnels and Trolls. I personally seldom play a human character, because I like having a couple of attributes that start out significantly higher than normal. Since I also prefer the magical types over brawny types, I’ve always played more elves than any other kindred, but have played my share of dwarves when in the mood to play the brawny types. So for me, Trollworld’s adventurer population consists primarily of elves and dwarves, with a smattering of other kindred thrown in occasionally to mix things up. Though humans are the baseline, they aren’t the predominant kindred for adventurers in my games.

Read more at The Troll Mystic, on Eposic: http://eposic.org/pub/2012/03/02/on-being-human-in-tunnels-and-trolls/

Michael K. Eidson

I'm a software engineer, an author, and a music lover. I've written and published a few speculative fiction short stories, online tools for gaming and fiction, and a number of Tunnels and Trolls supplements and adventures.

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On Being Human in Tunnels and Trolls
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5 thoughts on “On Being Human in Tunnels and Trolls

  1. There’s been a bit of discussion at Danhem’s ‘Lone Delver’ blog along the same lines:


    I suggested ‘cherry picking’ (i.e. taking the best 3 of 4 d6s rolled) in combination with confining the TARO rule to human characters during character generation, in addition to giving starting human characters a modifier to the amount of gold they have to play around with from the get-go – ‘cherry picking’ plus TARO for humans only during char gen makes it much more likely that human characters will be Warrior-Wizards/Paragons, & thereby gives players an extra incentive to bother rolling up a human character at all.

    • I see this ‘cherry picking’ as serving to push humans away from the baseline they are supposed to represent with regard to attributes. Their average attribute is no longer 10.5, and so they are no longer actually human, but some sort of superhuman. You could say this ‘cherry picking’ only applies to humans who go adventuring, that all the other humans in the world represent the baseline, but you are still then saying that there is no such thing as a human PC, only superhuman PCs.

      • Human ‘Citizens’ are (still) the baseline – human ‘adventurers’ (i.e. the human characters we’re rolling up to go dungeon delving) are exceptional; otherwise, why go adventuring with one when you’d be better off adventuring with one of the other kindred?

  2. Just worked up a spreadsheet of the effect of the ‘cherry picking’ house rule suggestion on (a) the chance of a human character being a ‘freak’ (i.e. ‘cherry picking’ plus TARO gives them one or more starting Prime Attribute values > 18) & (b) the chance of a human character being (i) a Warrior-Wizard under v5 T&T rules or (ii) a Paragon under v7 T&T rules.

    Approximate probabilities are:
    (a) 32.03% (vs 10.18% without ‘cherry picking’);
    (b) (i) 7.33% (vs 0.31% without ‘cherry picking’);
    (b) (ii) 3.17% (vs 0.05% without ‘cherry picking’ – it’s hard to roll up a Paragon in v7 T&T!).

    These results indicate that, by itself, a ‘cherry picking’ house rule in human character generation is pretty powerful (perhaps too powerful, & such a rule certainly shouldn’t be combined with a gold modifier and/or a TARO use restriction to human characters only), which bears out Michael’s point – that you’d rarely come across mere human adventurers under a ‘cherry picking’ + TARO approach to human character generation. Which also bears out my point – given the fairly useful modifiers to starting Prime Attribute values available to non-human kindreds & monsters, only exceptional human beings would expect to make it as dungeon delvers at lower levels of proficiency (otherwise they’d have stayed on the farm, or stayed blacksmithing, or trading, or labouring, etc as ‘Ctiizens’).

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