A couple of years ago I sponsored a contest to find effective behaviors for wizards in combat. I thought I’d share some of the strategies that members of Trollhalla came up with. It doesn’t have to be all “Take That You Fiend, Blasting Power, and Hold That Pose.”
Here are some unconventional spells and unconventional ways to use them to liven up your next T & T melee.
That’s a Natty Beard Combat Tactics
by Angus of the Longbeard
A strange new spell included in 7th ed. At first glimpse, That’s a Natty Beard (TNB) appears to be a complete throw-away useful only for comic relief. As with all good magic ideas, it is the little details that make TNB a useful spell in combat, “… regardless of gender.” In other words, a beard grows even on beings who normally cannot grow facial hair. Couple this simple statement with, “… this spell can cause the beard to be fashioned into … any other such style and shape, as the caster wishes.”
Combat Tactic #1 – the Blind Beard: Grow a beard and sideburns very long and fashion it into a big frizzy puff ball sticking up into the target’s entire face. The target loses a great deal of sight and should face an immediate combat penalty of ×1/2 to their generated HTP until 1 round is taken to clear the eyes by cutting the beard shorter.
Combat Tactic #2 – Tripped up: Facing down a stampede? Perhaps just a charging army… In this case, cast TNB on the creature at the head of the stampede. Grow its beard very long and thick to literally trip the creature up with hair underfoot. The target trips and falls and is likely to be trampled by those behind it. Please remember the spell’s 20 foot range and be prepared to take advantage of the limited chaos.
Combat Tactic #3 – Loudmouth: One opponent leading the others? Someone giving a lot of commands and needs to be stopped? Use TNB and grow another amazingly long beard fashioned straight down the being’s throat and into the lungs. It’ll quickly choke to death within 2 combat rounds. Perhaps someone will be clever enough to pull the beard back up saving the victim from immediate death. Still it will take some time for the victim to fully recover having hair dragged out of the lungs and across the vocal cords.
Combat Tactic #4 – Hair in the Machine: This last tactic only works around mechanical devices. Gears and pulleys have a habit of dragging in loose clothing or hair. At this point, you may completely understand this tactic. Make the beard grow long and aim it at the nearest set of gears. Normal creatures will be mangled in the process.
A caution must be given when using this spell. That’s a Natty Beard must overcome the target’s Kremm Resistance.
Spell Casting in Combat
Although a combat round and it’s associated combat total, represents all the dodging, weaving and opportunity blows that occur, spell casting is a standalone, distinct action.
That means that if a wizard casts a single spell that has instantaneous effect, what does he do for the rest of the two minutes of the combat round other than stand there and get pummeled? They get no further combat totals or combat rolls, nor do they get to cast another spell…or do they?
Tunnels and Trolls uses the character’s attributes as the basis of most things, so why not use them as the basis for determining the characters ability to perform actions in combat.
In the basic game, there is no real need for initiative, or any of that other mucking about, but when you are a magical type who has very little combat ability, knowing if you can get a spell off before you are splattered is a major benefit.
So, if the spell casters speed is higher than the highest speed on the opposing side, they can cast a spell that takes effect BEFORE the combat roll is made by either side. This is always good if the spell would impair the opposing sides ability to fight. All normal rules for the spell and it’s effects in combat apply. Only one spell can be cast before the combat roll, but, it can be of any level.
The next issue comes with the fact that a spell that takes no time to cast, bogs down the caster for the next two minutes preventing them from casting more spells – well that is not really the case. Spells take a certain amount of concentration, dexterity, finesse and raw power. Combat is not really conducive to performing such an action, in fact, combat could be considered downright hostile to the entire spell casting process. But still, a high level spell caster would be experienced enough to deal with those situations and still let fly with an arsenal of spells, so how do we show this in the game?
Every wizard can cast a number of level of spells equal to their speed divided by 10, round up, per combat round, with a minimum of one spell regardless of level.
What this means is that a spell caster with a speed of 24 can cast three “Take That You Fiend” spells at level one, each spell at a different target. The total number of levels cast can never be higher than the spell-casters speed divided by 10, with a minimum of one spell, regardless of level. This maximum also includes any spell cast before the combat roll is made.
Now, a spell caster can face multiple opponents or perform a wizards dual, all the while having a fighting chance.
(Khalfrrrd was once of our most enthusiastic and innovative members. He developed his own highly original variant of T & T, and the better that system got, the less time he spent around here. Like most creator gods, he got good enough to move on and do his own thing.)
By Betty the Bountiful, the Unknown Wizardess
The most frustrating part of using Porta-Vision is the patience required to become a Level 6 Wizard. The wait is worth it. Porta-Vison can be used to tell stories as this illusion comes with motion and sound. In otherwords, Porta-Vision does not have to be limited to one item. Here a clever wizard takes advantage of people’s assumptions, and it just gets better when employed with other spells. Some spells help remind us we get further with our friends.
Combat Tactic #1 – Who’s There?: When in the thick of battle, say aloud, “We’re under attack by the unknown! Oh There It Is!” Instead cast Porta-Vision to create menacing looking purple glowing fiends. Works best when your side knows of this tactic. A well timed, “About time they got here!”, “Cancel that spell, you’re giving away the People Eaters’ positions!” Fear and confusion will reign throughout the enemies ranks. It will reduce their combined effectiveness (multiply their HPT × 3/4).
Combat Tactic #2 – Doubles like Me: A classic diversionary tactic with a helpful twist. Use this spell to create duplicates of yourself. It is reasonable to assume a decent wizard can produce at least six (6) copies stepping out from your space. Each copy is busy casting a horrible spell while advancing menacingly. Immediately follow up this spell with a Protective Pentagram about one of the copies, the one casting a dreadful Summoning, “Blood and Souls for my Lord Arioch!” I know illusions cannot actually cast spells, but if it looks and sounds like a spell how many people will risk standing still to question it? Other wizards can help by casting actual spells that you mimic. A smart friend might even cast Slush Yuck underfoot of a copy.
Combat Tactic #3 – Wyrm Friend: A mighty wyrm suddenly bursts forth from the ground. It screeches a blood curtling shriek of hunger. Its attention swivels to the foes as you cry out, “Behold Master I brought you dinner!” Make sure you point at your foes. Even a balruk might hesitate. Goblins just hope to outrun their companions.
Combat Tactic #4 – Ashes to Ashes, Stone to Stone: Two wizards should practice this tactic. One casts Slush Yuck underfoot of your foes. Simultaneously, the other wizard casts Porta-Vision. A horrible scene unfolds of a massive and bizarre new spell melting those caught in the area covering them in lava. Foes melt into ever spreading glowing magma flow. Include some screams to keep everyone on edge. In a round or two, cast Hard Stuff to bury the evidence and change the Porta-Vision to show nothing but cold ashes.
While Porta-Vision is not a death dealer, it does wreck havoc distracting foes and unsettling their ranks. Routing the less courageous will more than halve the ranks of your enemies. Do they know how powerful a wizard they face? Doubtful. Is it wise to assume the wizard seeks to trick them? No, Trollworld is a place where spells kill fast.
Hidey Hole the Specialist’s Perspective
By Hill Bert Master of the Unseen
Hidey Hole is not for the weak or cowardly. It is the life-blood of the small folk. We live literally underfoot or in the rafters of the most dangerous predators. Speed, agility, and a plucky attitude are the prerequisites to reading this journal. What I teach here are life lessons to finding your place in the annals of history. While big folk can try these maneuvers they should keep in mind, the magic works best for those who can move quickly and keep one step ahead of others. Leprechauns, Fairies, and Hobbs have natural gifts that make them naturally superior combatants. Make sure Kremm is on your side.
Combat Tactic #1 – Solitary Confinement: Find yourself alone in a dangerous place? Facing impossible odds? Then pit the enemy against each other. Get within five feet of your first victim. Cast Hidey Hole. Now you and the victim are invisible, but wait there’s more. Now dodge and weave like a bee and get more than five feet away while getting closer to someone else. Cast Hidey Hole. Remember that, “People covered by the same HH are visible to each other, but not visible to those within a second HH spell.” So your first victim(s) cannot see the second. Repeat as many times as your Kremm lasts. The chilling effect, the group watches their colleagues vanish in ones or twos. In the end, you can see them all, they can all see you, and few can see each other. It is hilarious to see their faces as they swing at you miss and cut one of the companions. The spell ends for the one hurt, but his unseen attacker must avoid a counter attack!
Combat Tactic #2 – Work with Betty: A great team spell. Classic HH stuff. Turn your team invisible while your wizardly pal creates a Porta Vision of the team behind the enemies. The illusionary team laughs, “Outflanked them again”. Naturally, the enemy will turn to face “you”. Silently run away or shoot your enemies in the back. When the team becomes visible everyone should laugh, “Outflanked them again.” It is funny when they turn around to attack the non-existent “invisible” team.
Combat Tactic #3 – Team One-Two Punch: A personal favorite and another team tactic. Cast HH using Combat Tactic #1. Meanwhile, your pals liberally cast Protective Pentagram and Slush Yuck. Big groups are quickly isolated. One or two trapped inside an impenetrable PP with a powerful invisible wizard, big Poo Poo. Others bump into the PP from the outside or step in a SY yucky mess. Also a good way to teach your young impressionable apprentices. Your young apprentice cast support spells. The Hold That Pose apprentice freezes up those still visible getting too close to you. The Sparkle apprentice casts Sparkle all over the place including the body armor of mutually invisible foe (i.e. single HH made the apprentice and the foe both invisible). Everyone will see the light will anyone attack the bait? Oh There It Is apprentice must judge carefully when the right time to make everyone glow. The most nimble apprentice can be assigned Oh Go Away to keep a mutually invisible foe chasing him or if lucky running away from the budding mage. Beings tend to run into each other when they cannot see each other. Pretty funny to watch.
Combat Tactic #4 – Mix and Match: Surely you can see more opportunities here by now… Very well, one last tidbit cast HH around your team and followed by Upsidaisy on your archer. It is like shooting fish in a barrel. An invisible archer shoots invisible arrows from an impossible place. BTW, a clever flying wizard can get close and cast a second HH on the archer. Makes the archer invisible even after someone else on the team takes 1 point of damage. Don’t let your archer fall. He really hates when you do that.
Hidey Hole is really cool. Oh There It Is lasts one only combat round while the great HH lasts five times longer, plus Oh There It Is only reveals outlines. Hidey Hole does not target anyone specifically. “Makes user and all within the radius of the spell invisible for 10 minutes”. As an environmental spell there is no Kremm Resistance. Don’t believe me? Read up on Mind Pox now that spell targets individuals. Isn’t invisibility fun?
Explaining Kremm Resistance
Adam the Wizard is going to cast a TTYF at an MR 10 Carnivorous
Crumpet, a monster distinguished by having a WIZ score equal to its
MR. Adam is a level 1 Wizard, with INT, DEX, and WIZ of 15 each; he is
at full strength, and is not using a focus. The spell costs him 6 WIZ,
and does 15 points of damage to the Crumpet, killing it.
Later, Adam runs into the Crumpet’s big brother, which has an MR (and
WIZ) of 20. Adam is back to full strength, but gets the “bad feeling”
as he prepares the spell. He casts the spell anyway, and cuts the
Crumpet’s WIZ from 20 to 14. Adam is going to need help…
Bruce the Wizard also encounters an MR 10 Carnivorous Crumpet, and
casts a TTYF at it. Bruce also has INT, DEX, and WIZ of 15 each, and
is at full strength, but Bruce has a CHA of 30, and is therefore a
level 3 Wizard. Bruce also has a staff enchanted as a focus, so the
TTYF spell only costs him 1 point of his personal WIZ. The spell does
15 points of damage, just like Adam’s did, and this Crumpet also dies.
Later, Bruce also runs into an MR 20 Crumpet. He prepares his TTYF,
gets the “bad feeling”, and casts the spell anyway. Now we have the
controversy: On targets with 15 WIZ or less, Adam’s spell and Bruce’s
spell are IDENTICAL, even though, by virtue of skill and superior
tools, Bruce’s spell only cost him one point of personal WIZ, as
opposed to Adam’s 6. It might seem logical that the two spells would
continue to be identical when cast at targets with 16 or more WIZ, but
that is not the way Kremm Resistance works. To understand this, a
couple of metaphors (and some details about spell casting) will come
The Carpenter Metaphor: Two carpenters each set out to build a chair.
One has next to no experience; the other is a master. The master will
build a better looking, stronger chair, and use less wood, fewer
fasteners, and less glue in the process. This is the equivalent to the
“level v. level discount”. ALSO… The beginner will have very limited
tools, while the master will have a whole shop full; this is
equivalent to the “focus” discount.
The Catapult Metaphor: Suppose, as a medieval artillerist, you want
launch a firebomb over the wall of a castle. If your catapult doesn’t
have enough range and lift, you will NEVER get the bomb over the wall;
this is equivalent to the basic phenomenon of Kremm Resistance. If you
WERE to get the firebomb over the wall, it would cause significant
death and destruction, but since you don’t have enough lift, all it
does is crash into the wall. The wall isn’t flammable, so the bomb
doesn’t do nearly the damage it would normally do, but it is still a
heavy object hitting the wall at high speed, so it does SOME damage.
This is equivalent to the phenomenon of Kremm Ablation.
How Spells Work: A Wizard decides to cast a spell. He pulls out one
point of his personal kremm, and weaves a rough framework of the
spell, including, if the spell requires it, throwing an ectoplasmic
tendril (or some such) to the target of the spell. It is at this point
that he will get the legendary “bad feeling”, if his current kremm is
lower than the target’s. If the wizard gets the “bad feeling”, he can
go ahead and finish weaving the spell, but it is, at this point, a
broken spell; as soon as he got the “bad feeling”, he knew it would
never do what it was supposed to do, so essentially all he is doing is
throwing spell fragments at his target’s kremm.
Now, let’s go back to Bruce and his MR20 Carnivorous Crumpet. He has
options. They are not, immediately, GOOD options, but he has them. He
can hurl the broken spell as originally planned, costing himself one
point of kremm, and ablating one point of the Crumpet’s kremm. Or he
could choose to NOT use his advantages, and hurl 6 points of broken
spell at the Crumpet, and ablate 6 points of its kremm. In either
case, though, he would still have to find some other way of dealing
with the beast if he did not wish to be Crumpet Chow.
All of this suggests one minor tweak to the rules, and a new spell:
The tweak is that, if a wizard gets a “bad feeling” and decides to
abort the spell, he should probably still be out ONE point of kremm.
The spell follows.
Spell Name: Ablate Kremm [Combat]
WIZ Cost: See Below
Range: Line of sight up to 100 feet.
Power Up?: Double range for each level increase.
Description: This spell destroys one point of the target’s kremm for
each point of WIZ spent. This spell specifically ignores Kremm
Resistance, and DOES allow level versus level discounts and use of
(1)This spell shifts wizard versus wizard combat from “high kremm
wins” to a tendency to stalemate when the two wizards are fairly close
in WIZ. It allows Wizards to chip away the Kremm Resistance of high MR
creatures and eventually make an effective attack.
(2) Game masters should seriously consider making this one of the
“Standard” first level spells that every Wizard knows.
Paul (G’Noll) Haynie
By Hsul Syuk the Rotund
Many wizards have survived awful fates by relying on Slush-Yuck. It is a simple spell with clear uses. That does not mean this spell lacks finesse. A surprising mage uses the familiar in new ways to achieve victory against the odds. It is important to remember that Slush-Yuck is flexible, “This spell transmutes up to 1000 cubic feet of stone into a semi-liquid form resembling quicksand.” As well as self correcting, “At the end of the spell, it reverts back to stone.” In other words, the spell caster can melt any 1000 cubic foot area of stone or less and reshape it; features key to using this spell in combat. Wizards should always embrace environmental spells to beat their foes regardless of Kremm Resistance.
Before we get into combat tactics, we need to appreciate the weight of rock. Use this chart as a starting point in your studies. Being able to recognize different types of stone helps you in more areas than just wizardry. You’ll find all the rock densities to be for dust/fillings and solid stone, a very important distinction. I find that Slushed stone always functions closer to dust weight.
|Type||Density (pounds per cubic foot)||Type||Density (pounds per cubic foot)|
Combat Tactic #1 – Mud Slinging: Having studied the table of rock densities, you should immediately see the obvious. Mud is heavier than rock. Use Slush-Yuck to make a deep 10-foot wide hole 40 feet in front of you (maybe underfoot of the charging foes). That leaves a 100-foot deep pit of mud. (Adjust width as necessary if you worry about not having enough earth below you.) The next round, cast Upsidaisy on the mud and sling it at one or more foes (size permitting). Ideally, you will wrap part of a body or just body parts in mud. Generally, most foes should be burdened with additional weight. Third combat round, Slush-Yuck has hardened back into stone, and Upsidaisy allows you to still move it about. At the very worst, the rock bound enemy must move forward while you hold the attached rock in place. At the very best, you have crippled a foe wrapped in rock. Best used on goblins. Do not try this on trolls. They are strong enough and likely to enjoy a quick snack.
Combat Tactic #2 – Slip n’ Slide: Best when cast in a narrow corridor, cast Slush-Yuck 2 feet deep and the width of the corridor. In a common 10-foot wide corridor this gives you a 50-foot long corridor filled with mud. Not only blunts an effective charge, but also traps foes ankle deep in rock. Some will make it across. Dispose of them immediately, and then cast Oh Go Away on the trapped to watch ankles snap (running toward or away from you does not matter in the least). Worried about disposing of those who cross? Isn’t that what warriors are for?
Combat Tactic #3 – Cave in: A maneuver to use only in the direst situations. Helps if you know Protective Pentagram or Blow me to…. Cast on the rock ceiling above (natural stone or cut stone does not matter). The subsequent collapsing ceiling will prove quite deadly. This is a great spell for expert architects who can collapse areas with less worry about weakening structural integrity. For those ignorant of structure, be careful. You may weaken the area and cause a greater collapse.
Combat Tactic #4 – Undermining: The opposite of tactic #3 and requires deep knowledge of local geologic formations. Nothing more effective than dropping your enemy into an underground cavern or aquifer.
There you have a wealth of ideas to help you confound your next game master. And we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you have some ideas on how to use magic creatively in combat, why not leave a comment?