One thing that happened to me in New Zealand was a great deal of rules discussion with my players there. I believe I have converted Khaghbboommm and Quoghmyre to 7.5 rules. But some interesting new ideas did come up.
This game encourages game masters to play by their own House Rules. The so-called T & T rules are not meant to be thought of as RULES, but more like a book of Guidelines and Suggestions. I was surprised at some of the House Rules that my friends were using, but you know what, they worked.
So, here’s a new House Rule for my game. There are only 20 levels available to T & T characters.. Under the current guidelines character level is determined by attribute magnitudes. A warrior with a strength of 300 would be 30th level. One benefit of levels is you add 1 per level on saving rolls that you would normally miss. Thus a level 30 warrior could add 30 points to all saving roll attempts–only the autormatic fail is ever going to stop him. A line needs to be drawn somewhere. In my game, I’m drawing it at level 20, and I am seriously considering drawing it at level 13. Spells don’t go higher than level 13 in the rulebook, so why should levels go any higher?
What seems like a very reasonable benefit for low-level T & T characters can turn into an incredible system abuse for high level characters. Yes, I’m still talking about Saving Rolls! T & T gives adventure points for trying to make saving rolls. If you roll a 5, 2 while trying to make a level 3 save, then you gain 21 adventure points whether the saving roll succeeds or not. A level 10 saving roll would be worth 70 adventure points and would almost certainly fail, but is an easy way to get lots of adventure points. Since adventure points can be spent to gain attribute points, the player wants as many of them as she can get. House Rule: No character will ever be asked to make a saving roll more than 7 levels higher than the character’s level. It’s too easy to abuse the system with impossible saving rolls. We talked about saving rolls that should be considered automatic failures, but instead of thinking about a sliding scale of automatic fails, I think it’s better not to go into that kind of territory. Why 7? It’s a magic number and fits in as a natural limiter to medium level characters.
And there’s another thing about saving rolls that needs a house rule. Players try something and fail, then everyone else wants to try it, especially if it’s a high level attempt worth lots of points. Sometimes the same player wants to try again and again until she succeeds. And why not? In real life practice makes perfect. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Some GMs might allow that, but it’s a system abuse. House Rule: Only the first try to make a Saving Roll is worth adventure points. Copycats don’t get any. It follows logically that players should only get one attempt to make any saving roll . . .
Unless: If the challenge is set up as a series of saving rolls then the character gets adventure points for the entire saving roll sequence. Example: a character needs 3 level 1 saves on DEX to climb a rope. The challenge is to make 3 saving rolls in a sequence, so the player gets advanture points for all 3 tries.
There were a few other things that came up while I was gaming in the last 2 weeks. One of the things I have been thinking about is de-emphasizing the importance of killing things in T & T. You know, it isn’t really the kill that makes a character a bette character. It’s the fight that teaches the player character. Is it right to give a player 1000 adventure points if he never leaves the farm, but kills 1000 chickens with a monster rating of 1 point each. You could do that in an internet game like World of Warcraft of Runescape, but somehow it seems like cheating to me. Applying some kind of moral code to the game, do I really want to reward mindless slaughter? No. Actually, I don’t. Young Ken St. Andre didn’t consider such things when making up the game. Old Ken St. Andre is inclined to say that what is important is facing and overcoming challenges of different types, not just killing things. I am moving towards a philosophy of awarding adventure points for challenges faced instead of creatures killed.
We need to put together the manuscript for T & T Deluxe Edition soon. Don’t be surprised if you see these House Rules turned into official Guidelines for the future.