Walk like a Man

I liked this blog so much that I asked the author if I could run it here in Trollhalla.  Apologies if you’ve already read it, but this site is also for those who may not be card-carrying members of trollhalla, and as such, it needs to talk about subjects of general interest sometimes.  Plus, I had a few  thoughts on the topic that I will add at the end of this essay..–trollgod 

Humans in FRPGs: Awe and Wonder

My post on a potential Human Kindred Modifier at the beginning of February sparked some good discussion here and seemed to spark even more at Trollhalla (or at least I assume it was my mention of the topic; I could be wrong). So it seems to be a worthy topic to continue here.The fundamental question raised by most is: why play a human inTunnels and Trolls, or any fantasy role playing game for that matter, given the inherent mechanical advantages of nonhumans? I typically play human characters in T&T and other games so I feel that I can provide an answer to this question. The primary reason has nothing to do with game mechanics and everything to do with role playing.Playing a human provides a sense of awe and wonder.Nonhuman characters, dwarves, elves, hobbs, leprechauns, fairies, are fantastic in nature; they are a part of the fantasy world that you are exploring. If everything and everyone is fantastic in nature, then where is the marvel over the fantasy? Where is the awe and wonder as you explore the world? Dwarves were raised in huge underground cities. Elves live hundreds of years and are effectively immortal. Leprechauns and fairies are inherently magical. Fairies can even fly. You may even decide that some of the nonhuman kindred like dwarves and elves can see in the dark (I am glad Ken did not).Will these nonhuman characters care if they are exploring an ancient ruined temple or castle? Will exploring a cave be anything other than like returning home? Will that dark forest fill your characters with a sense foreboding or a sense of nostalgia instead?Raised in a small town or even a city, human characters will find such locations to be mysterious and wondrous. An alien world lies out there waiting to be explored; lost cities, lost civilizations, and lost treasures guarded by unknown beasts and strange creatures. All of these things have a powerful force of attraction to adventurous humans, but they still instill fear and even terror. What is a man or woman in comparison to these supernatural forces after all?My basic point here is that the fragility of the average human character is an appealing trait to me. Those human warriors, wizards and rogues are heading out into a world where most things are tougher than they are with just some skill, knowledge, and equipment to set themselves apart. When they do go to explore those ruins, caves, or dark forests those locations will be as alien to them as another planet, full of mystery and unknown terrors.Of course I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion. Feel free to give your own thoughts on the matter.

(This blog, and other interesting ruminations can be found at “http://danhemsgamingblog.blogspot.com/“)
Trollgod speaking now:  Many people have wondered why anyone would want to ever play a human in T & T when other kindreds get game advantages with multipliers on some of their attributes.  Humans are  times 1 all the way across, and that was done deliberately to set a standard to compare all other fantasy races to.  Most other races have disadvantages.  Dwarves are unlucky; Elves are puny; Uruks are disgusting, and so forth,  Still, one can overlook those flaws and work on building up the weak spots in the characters.
I’m not going to change the rules and give humans a multiplier of greater than 1 in any area.  It was suggested that they get extra money, but not all humans have extra money.  I do, however, have an idea that should make Humans more enticing at the character creation process.
 Heritage.  All kindreds that have no attribute multiplier greater than 1 get an advantage called Heritage.  Heritage is something the character inherited through his/her family from some earlier adventurer.  For example, Jaysee the warrior might have inherited a magical sword from his grandfather–it glows in the dark and gets double its normal dice against any nonhuman Kindred.  Or, he might have inherited a perfectly good, if old-fashioned suit of plate armor, that he wouldn’t have enough money to buy as a beginning character.  Or he might have a magical charm that helps him locate gold/girls/gaggles-of-geese–you name it.  Heritage is a free gimmie for Human characters that can only be used once when making up the character, and is subject to the approval of the G.M.  It is also subject to the Be Reasonable rule.  The player wants a family recipe for making delicious pancakes, give it to him.  If he wants a nuclear bomb, don’t give it to him.  She wants her one Talent at +7, give it to her.  Wants the Talent at + 100, don’t.  Heritage is meant to be a slight advantage for a new human character–not a game-destroying Edge.  There are bound to be some people who habitually “game the system” who will say that Heritage is such an undefined advantage that players can use it to “break the game”.  Such people are “rules gamers” not “roleplaying gamers”.  Yes, Heritage could be used to get an overwhelming advantage for Humans, but it shouldn’t be.  That’s why the Game Master has ultimate power, not the game rules.  If something is unreasonable, and breaks the system, you, as Game Master can simply disallow it.
With the addition of Heritage, I hope that Humans will be seen as just as viable as any other Kindred in Tunnels and Trolls.
If you have any comments or thoughts about playing Humans in T & T, why not make those comments here?


Trollgod is the ruler of all things Tunnels and Trolls. He may or may not be a real entity.

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Walk like a Man
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10 thoughts on “Walk like a Man

  1. Dan’s post was worth repeating. I love the idea of Heritage! What a great, and realistic, way to give humans a bit of a boost, and it adds a nice flavor to the PC’s backstory. I like that it is an external benefit, one that can be lost, as opposed to an attribute mod which is permanent. A Heritage item could easily be a very important piece to a character, one they might even use over a more powerful item, one that would be used with pride. “With my grandfather’s sword, I shall vanquish thee, Evil One!” It could also spawn an entire adventure if the Heritage item is stolen, the character would probably go to great lengths to retrieve grandaddy’s sword. Excellent Ken, I hope this option makes it into the next edition!

  2. A special heritage item would be cool, but why should such a thing be only exclusive to humans? (Aside as a game mechanic to give the humans that little something extra to power them up/flavor their back story) I could easily see a Dwarf or Elf character with a heritage item from even further in the past due to their extended lifespans and whatnot. From my P.O.V. I’m all about playing for the story and the characters. Playing as a human should feel very different than playing as a fairy. As Ken mentioned the humans don’t get positive multipliers, but they don’t take the negative ones either. I guess you can say they are balanced. Adding a heritage option wouldn’t ‘break’ this part of the game, but there would need to be a limit or the player may as well choose a dwarf or one of the other races.

  3. Hmm…not to be contrary, but other races/kindred don’t have heritage? The implication there could be unpleasant.

    The original post is great, and a great choice for reposting. He nailed something I’ve felt myself going into T&T dungeons. The level 1 human was always going into a new adventure. Whether bold or timid, they were trying something brand new. For the level 1 dwarf or elf, it was another page in a chapter of things they’d already done, or could already relate to. I never connected that it’s related to the fantasy nature of the other kindred, but I think it’s right.

  4. Nothing in the universe is absolute, but think along with me here. No other kindred has quite the family structure of Humans. Elves and Dwarves are the closest, but Trollworld Dwarves are carved from stone–don’t really have a family. Trollworld Elves live forever, or nearly so. Adults can go thousands of years without having children. Hobbs are not Hobbits, despite having the same general stature–they are more like Hobgoblins. Uruks are usually savages with little in the way of family structure. Notable prizes are fought over, not given away. What other Kindreds do you have in mind?

    Bear in mind, please, that Trollworld is not Earth. The various kindreds are not the equivalent of the various races of Man. Elves aren’t British, Dwarves aren’t French, Uruks aren’t Amerindians. Note: I did not say that no other Kindred has anything like Heritage, only that Heritage is something for kindreds with no multiplier higher than 1. The kindred that comes to mind first is Humans.

    Will all Humans have Heritage? No. If you’re creating a human and you don’t care about having one special item to add to your starting equipment, then simply skip it. Can some other Kindred inherit things from progenitors? It’s possible, but it would be rare. So, don’t call it Heritage.

  5. The flip-side is someone should run a game for a young elf and his first time in the city. Nothing growing. All those strange smells. Things being burnt to cook them, smelt them and heat buildings. Masses of people crammed in all together – and all sweating (not to mention pissing and pooping). Having to go indoors and not see the starlight through the forest’s leaves….

    One person’s ‘heritage’ is someone else’s ‘awe and wonder’ surely?

  6. I’d have to agree with Ventrego. Other races have a heritage too. I say forget about modifiers, trinkets & so on. Let Human characters be themselves. 99% of my new characters get killed in my solo adventures regardless of race, so I really don’t see the point.

  7. Jeff Rients posted a great list of oddball items he gives out to all his first level characters. I have used it sometimes. It’s slightly like the heritage idea. I like it a lot.

    In my last T&T game I did let the hoomans roill 4d6 and pick 3. It’s probably way to generous…

    Crunching the math is too much of a chore.

  8. From an entirely game balance point of view I can see the urge to lett players with human characters take best 3 from 4 when rolling up stats. I personally would tend more towards the only humans get to re-roll and add triples. And by way of an in-world explanation….

    “It’s well known that the elves are long-limbed and lithe and live to see a thousand summers, while the dwarves of the undermountain are as strong and tough as the stones from which they are hewn. But ignore not the humans for they multiply much quicker, so as to cover the surface of the world like a carpet.

    “And they are a diverse lot. All dwarves are strong, all elves are fast but every so often a human youngling comes along that can best a dwarf with an axe or an elf with a bow.

    “They are rare, but they always grow to be the greatest of heroes, of whom the longest sagas are sung….”

  9. When combined with the TARO rule, a ‘cherry picking’ rule (i.e. best 3 dice of 4d6 instead of just rolling 3d6) for rolling up starting Prime Attribute values for human characters makes it around 24 times more likely that the character will be a ‘Warrior-Wizard’ under T&T 5 ed, & around 70 times more likely to be a ‘Paragon’ under T&T 7.5 ed. Adoption of a ‘cherry picking’ rule would therefore make it much likely that ‘Warrior-Wizard’ or ‘Paragon’ characters would come from amongst the human kindred (which can be explained in game terms as ‘only exceptional human specimens would stand a better-than-even chance of surviving as a dungeon delving character, given the kindred benefits available to other adventuring races, & monsters’).

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