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Old 01-02-2018, 10:23 PM   #51
Steve Jackson
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

And I will think about it . . . but these were meant as games, rather than sims, and they were meant to be fast.

I have sent a letter of inquiry to Ty Beard's business e-mail (the only one I have, afaik) and we'll see if he is still interested in TFT.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:10 PM   #52
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

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And I will think about it . . . but these were meant as games, rather than sims, and they were meant to be fast.
And since you already have a great sim game why compete with it?
Fast and simple still has a niche. I think its part of the reason so many card and board games are still popular, even in the age of computers.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:18 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by David L Pulver View Post

- Mages and ST: There's something to be said for the elegant rules as written, but allowing mages to buy an "magical energy" talent (every point spent on it gives you 3 points) or some such can avoid Conan the High ST Mage. If doing so, however, suggest capping missile spells at 3d maximum...
I actually built that into my setting, called everyone a Spirit so high ST and weakening yourself to cast spells made a certain kind of sense.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:18 PM   #54
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
And I will think about it . . . but these were meant as games, rather than sims, and they were meant to be fast.

I have sent a letter of inquiry to Ty Beard's business e-mail (the only one I have, afaik) and we'll see if he is still interested in TFT.
It turns out to be remarkably realistic though. Most fights with blades are close and finish. Any experienced fighter has to assume 3 or more on one. Basically, it requires 3 to box a victim in for a robbery or worse.

Whatever became of Starleader: Assault! I remember a play test being worked on sometime back. It was just notes at the time and something that disappeared along with Metagaming.
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Old 01-03-2018, 01:19 PM   #55
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

Steve, since we're on the subject of rules issues, one of my main ones has always been "attribute bloat." I've written about it several times over on Mark Tabyanan's fan-site, and pretty much every house rule I've ever made for TFT has been dedicated to overcoming that issue. If the average human female has a ST of 9-11 and the average human male has a ST of 10-12, being able to bump a character up to a ST of 43 seems...excessive. Similarly, if an IQ of greater than 14 is considered "genius," and we know that actual "geniuses" are rare in human history, an IQ of 36 somehow seems extreme. DX, at least, tends to be self-limiting to some extent -- after about 20 it's really sort of pointless to add in extra DX points for the most part.

Nonetheless, in the rules as written, you have to bump up to these extreme levels in order to be able to become that master wizard, or Conanesque warrior. Which goes back directly to the XP system wherein you are only allowed to spend XP for attribute plus-up, and how IQ limits learning in the game.

I've spent a lot of time (a couple of decades!) thinking about this, and have some thoughts I'd like to share with you on the topic.

XP expenditures should not be limited solely to attributes; in addition, using XP as a method of acquiring new skills and spells can be used to basically eliminate all the confusing rules on how new spells, languages and skills are learned and old ones are unlearned.

XP for attribute increase should be high. I'm thinking on the order of 200 XP to increase an attribute point at the "up to 36 total attribute points" level and doubling thereafter at each stage as listed in ITL (i.e., 400 at the "37-40" level, 800 at the "41-45" level, and so on), but even without changing that, the following system still works (attribute points are just more attractive than they otherwise would be, for a while). However, new Skills and Spells could be acquired by spending XP to earn them directly, instead of via attribute increases. This not only forces the players to make "resource management" decisions, but also effectively can simulate the time it takes to learn a new thing.

For Wizard Characters, the cost to gain a new Spell might be 20x the IQ level of the new Spell; while for non-Wizards it could be 60x Spell's IQ level. Spells have a higher cost because they don't have a built-in "difficulty" differential in the form of the number of IQ points they absorb to learn (they are all 1-point items).

Likewise, skills for the non-Wizard could be at 10x IQ level of the skill, while for Wizards it could be 30x the IQ level. Since skills (or "Talents" currently) are given varying "difficulty levels" in the form of the number of IQ points they absorb when you learn them, you could add in a modifier for the difficulty by again multiplying the number of XP by the existing number of IQ points the skill absorbs (that is, a 3-point skill would cost three times as much in XP as a 1-point skill). So, learning PHYSICKER (IQ-11, 2 points) would cost the non-Wizard player 220 XP to learn, and could only be learned by a character with an IQ of 11 or higher.

This would also require decoupling the number of skills/spells a player can have from his total IQ, and would instead enable a much freer construction of character type -- IF you survive long enough to accumulate the required XP. It also forces the player to choose between new skills, and new attribute points in expending XP. Finally, it also puts some effective limits on the number of attribute points a player gains -- at least until he acquires every single skill and spell in existence... Finally, it removes the need for "learning time" rules because the acquisition of XP requires time, and effectively handles that issue for you. Certainly, an FM could still require a player to state what skills/spells/languages/attributes s/he's working on improving, if the FM so chooses, but even that really isn't necessary...it sort of comes out in the wash with this concept. It also removes the need to "forget" things before you can acquire others, which always struck me as an artificiality we were more or less forced into by the "IQ limits the number of Skills/Spells/Languages you can know" rule.

Oh, and starting characters should be limited to four or five skills/spells at the time of character creation, just for simplicity's sake...

Languages would be handled a bit differently. Your starting language is a free "skill" that every character has and which does not count against starting skills. (Literacy in that language might be a different issue, though!) At its simplest, learning new languages would require, say, 150 to 200 XP per language learned. Since there are no "IQ requirements" to learn a language, that would be a straight requirement across the board (and the same for both Wizards and Warriors).

Of note, this is an overly simplistic depiction of languages. Learning "pidgen" is infinitely easier than learning Latin, and learning Latin is much easier than learning Mandarin Chinese. To my mind, there ought to be a "difficulty level" for languages. Not tied to IQ, but just a recognition that some languages are easier to learn than others. It could be handled in the same way as skills currently are -- 1 to 3 points of "difficulty."

Literacy in a language is an issue too, and currently TFT has the LITERACY skill which doesn't really work the way it ought to because it requires IQ points to learn. Technically, just because you are literate in one language, that doesn't mean you are in any other. Sure, for those languages using the same alphabet, it's easy enough to transfer across, but if anyone thinks literacy is easy, try to read a Russian street sign, or an Arabic protest banner.

If I were going to use a different system for languages, I would probably say that learning to speak a language is a 150 point XP spend (based on the revised costs for other things I've listed above). You could complicate things more, if you wanted, by requiring multiple spends to improve fluency in the spoken version, but in that case the individual cost for levels of fluency should be dropped to, say, 50 points per level. You might have 3 levels -- 1, can make oneself understood, 2 fluent but obviously a foreigner, and 3, idiomatic -- which would keep in line with the 1, 2, and 3 point skills already existing in TFT. Some languages (like pidgen, again) might only BE a 1-pointer -- you either know it or you don't and there is no such thing as being idiomatic.

However, learning to write and read the language is an additional XP spend costing some additional number of points based on the written form; if you already know a language using the same kind of alphabet, and you're literate in that alphabet, it's free; while if you have to learn a new alphabet it's 50 to 100 points, and if you have to learn thousands of ideographs, it's a lot more (200? 300?). You could also place languages into "families" which lessen the learning difficulty if you already know one language in the family, but again, that's a complication and is tied to specific game worlds for the most part, and may be way overthinking this whole subject.

Another way to approach this would be to simply assign "difficulty levels" to languages -- e.g., Sorcerer's Tongue is a 3 pointer, while Common is a 1 pointer, and so on, with the cost to learn a language set at, for example, 100 XP times the difficulty level (and trader's pidgen being only 50 points perhaps). Actually, if I were using this system, I wouldn't even have "Common" since it's a purely Tolkienesque "lingua franca" artifice that defeats the purpose of having different languages anyway. Trader's Pidgen would take it's place as a "universal" tongue, but since it's limited pretty much to trade talk, it really isn't much good for tactical combat orders or peace negotiations...which more or less requires players to spend some XP learning the local language.

Steve, I know you're probably sick to death of unsolicited ideas for your baby (TFT), but really, the attribute bloat issue is the one consistent problem that has eventually contributed to the end of every campaign I've ever run -- when you've become a God-like, 200-point character, regularly slay 14-hex dragons without breaking a sweat, and can out-cast a platoon of other Wizards, what's left to pique your interest? Giving the players other things to spend their hard-earned XP on increases their resource management burden and slows the approach of God-hood to the point that even a long-played character still has to worry about that NPC fencing master that he honked off about 20 sessions ago catching up with him!

If I've wasted everyone's time with this, I apologize, but needed to say something on this topic, and where better to say it to than here, with the guy who made the magic happen in the first place? Besides, this gives people the opportunity to shoot my ideas full of holes, which is helpful to me, at least...

Last edited by JLV; 01-03-2018 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:26 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
I actually built that into my setting, called everyone a Spirit so high ST and weakening yourself to cast spells made a certain kind of sense.
I did something similar to Mr. Pulver's suggestion -- players burned "Mana" initially to power spells, but could then, once their mana was gone, use ST to power them until they went unconscious. How much Mana did they get? Mana = IQ! Simple. ST batteries were no longer ST batteries, but now were Mana pools. For religious types, "Favor" was used instead of Mana -- how much Favor did you get? Favor = IQ! Simple. And religious symbols or items could become "Favor pools." You "re-charged" Favor by praying, and you re-charged Mana by meditating. How long does it take per point? The same time as "resting" takes to restore a point of fatigue! Simple. Those were the mechanics -- roleplaying it was more fun -- the Priest did something against what his deity represents? Oops, he can't restore Favor until he gains forgiveness from his deity! The Wizard can't both rest AND meditate at the same time...and he has to do both to be ready for the next day's business...

Of course, I also used IQ to roll for spell success instead of DX. And I let players store Mana in their staffs (Staff can store the owner's IQ equivalent in Mana, and Staff of Power can store three times the owner's IQ level in Mana).

(I understand the argument for DX as an element of spell casting, to say nothing of the simplicity of using the same attribute for all action determination, however IQ just seems more appropriate for spell success than DX does -- just as rolling against your ST to lift something makes more sense than rolling against DX to do so.)
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Old 01-03-2018, 02:26 PM   #57
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Default Re: The Fantasy Trip

I'm personally pretty happy with the TFT rules as is... aside from the mapping system, which I really think needs to be replaced.

As far as I know, few DMs use the existing rules for mapping, since maintaining different sheets of scenery for levels of dungeons, and quickly sketching buildings ect. over the grid is far easier than trying to construct a building out of hexes. There are also a few modular versions of maps for TFT out there that do that, too, which I use extensively in my campaign.

Most players I've run into on the net also rule that, for hexes with more than one terrain type in them, that whatever takes up the majority of a hex constitutes that hexes terrain.

Other than that, as long as the rules are all contained in one book, and easily glossed, I'll be supremely happy. TFT works very well as a quick, easy, and fun system, and I think the more it resists complexity the better. I like it's fast paced combat in particular, since I'm more interested in roleplaying a character.

With games like Pathfinder or DnD, I find the combat tends to get in the way of this. I feel in those systems I spend too much time just waiting around for combat to resolve. And then, the rules surrounding combat are so complex that when my turn finally arrives, I am at a loss on what to do. I much prefer the more realistic, and to the point style TFT has with combat.

Personally, I find the solution to getting a party to gain skills is not to try and force the rules to allow for the creation of jack-of-all trade types through character growth, but rather to simply create new, specialized characters. TFT is one of the few systems I know where players controlling multiple characters is a practical option, since character creation and stating is a fairly simple endeavor.

I also hope some of the solitaire adventures are included in any forthcoming release. A great option for those nights when you suddenly find half your adventuring pals have had to pull out unexpectedly, and you are left a very bored DM.
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Old 01-03-2018, 08:30 PM   #58
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I'm personally pretty happy with the TFT rules as is... aside from the mapping system, which I really think needs to be replaced.
It's a point of view, certainly. Over the last 30 years, the most common critique I've heard (other than the mapping system, which I agree, needs work) is over the problem of Attribute Bloat.

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As far as I know, few DMs use the existing rules for mapping, since maintaining different sheets of scenery for levels of dungeons, and quickly sketching buildings ect. over the grid is far easier than trying to construct a building out of hexes. There are also a few modular versions of maps for TFT out there that do that, too, which I use extensively in my campaign.

Most players I've run into on the net also rule that, for hexes with more than one terrain type in them, that whatever takes up the majority of a hex constitutes that hexes terrain.
That last is a common standard among wargamers -- but I do agree that the mapping system is...awkward...at best, and could use a good re-look to see if there's a way to make it work better.

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Other than that, as long as the rules are all contained in one book, and easily glossed, I'll be supremely happy. TFT works very well as a quick, easy, and fun system, and I think the more it resists complexity the better. I like it's fast paced combat in particular, since I'm more interested in roleplaying a character.
At the end of the day, I'm going to defer to Steve on all of this anyway; if there is literally something I can't live with in the game, I can either home-rule around it, or play GURPS; but I do think it's worth airing any issues we had with the original now, while the game is still in pre-development "limbo." If Steve chooses to not address those issues for whatever reason, well, as I've said elsewhere, he spent a LOT of time thinking his way through this system back in the day, and probably had his reasons for doing what he did at the time. (I'll admit, I'm hoping for some extensive designer/developer notes on all of this sometime, if for no other reason to help me understand why he did things the way he did...) The bottom line is that I'm going to be pretty happy with whatever Steve chooses to do, regardless of whether or not he listens to all the "good advice" I can give him! ;-) I'm really just ecstatic beyond belief that my favorite FRPG ever has this wonderful opportunity to once again see the light of day!

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With games like Pathfinder or DnD, I find the combat tends to get in the way of this. I feel in those systems I spend too much time just waiting around for combat to resolve. And then, the rules surrounding combat are so complex that when my turn finally arrives, I am at a loss on what to do. I much prefer the more realistic, and to the point style TFT has with combat.
Particularly when D&D jumped the shark with 3.5. But back in the OSR days, D&D's combat system left me cold for other reasons -- mostly having to do with too much DM "interpretation" in the tactics of the situation. TFT put it right there on the map in front of you and not only sped resolution, but also provided tactical insight much better than a DM's description ever could. The best part was that Melee WAS simple -- the old SPI folks tried something similar with Dragonquest, but I found their combat system too picky and detail oriented; it slowed things down too much and led to too many "rules lawyer" debates -- Melee was right in my personal "sweet spot" for combat. It let us get right down to cases and resolve combat reasonably, and then get on with the adventure.

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Personally, I find the solution to getting a party to gain skills is not to try and force the rules to allow for the creation of jack-of-all trade types through character growth, but rather to simply create new, specialized characters. TFT is one of the few systems I know where players controlling multiple characters is a practical option, since character creation and stating is a fairly simple endeavor.
Different strokes for different folks. I agree that TFT is one of the few systems (there may be others; I don't know every system out there) where playing multiple characters at the same time is "do-able," but I think the focus on "character development" sort of misses the point on Attribute Bloat. If you're only playing for a few sessions (say less than 20 or so) in a campaign, you are exactly correct. However, I've played/ran several campaigns over the past 30 years that lasted for over a hundred sessions, and in each case Attribute Bloat became an issue for the players and the FM by the end of the campaign... Not so much because of how the characters developed, but because the underlying, um, "unreality," of having a human character with a ST of 42 (where 10-12 is considered the human male average and Arnold Schwazenegger in his heyday would probably be somewhere around 18 or 19) made it harder and harder for the players to find worthy opposition, and to suspend their own personal disbelief and keep their heads in the campaign. Decoupling skills and spells somewhat from attributes has actually worked for me and my players to solve (or actually, probably better to say; "to minimize") the issue, since I started using the rules I presented above to do that. Which is not to say that "my way" is the best way, or the only way, or even a particularly good way -- simply that I spent some time trying to ensure Occam's Razor was sharp, and that they've actually been playtested to some extent by my groups over the years (certainly not as thoroughly as Steve would probably want, but there you have it).

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I also hope some of the solitaire adventures are included in any forthcoming release. A great option for those nights when you suddenly find half your adventuring pals have had to pull out unexpectedly, and you are left a very bored DM.
I STRONGLY second this opinion! But I would like to add that I hope to see Tollenkar's Lair make a comeback as well -- especially if we can get more information on Ardonirane in the mix!
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Old 01-03-2018, 10:43 PM   #59
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Default Re: December 26, 2017: The Fantasy Trip Returns Home

Just wanted to say congratulations on getting the rights back. I love TFT, my first and all time favorite RPG. 1982 was the year I was introduced to the gaming world through TFT. Have never found a game I have liked as much, and I have played many over the years. Kinda funny, I was always looking for one that would have the same feel to it as TFT. Some came close but no cigar. Really glad it's coming back.
I would vote to keep things simple. One role to hit, not a big fan of the parry, block, and dodge that are in GURPS. It's fine for GURPS but the real joy of playing TFT was how simple it was and how the combat didn't bog down. I would be all for a defensive score that made it more difficult to hit or be hit. Something along this line of thinking. For every increment of 2 above 10 on a characters AdjDX makes it a -1 to be hit. For example; my AdjDX is 12 so my opponent is at a -1 to hit me. 14=-2, 16=-3, so on and so forth. I don't know if that messes up any other mechanic, just brain storming here.
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Old 01-03-2018, 11:13 PM   #60
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Default Re: December 26, 2017: The Fantasy Trip Returns Home

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Just wanted to say congratulations on getting the rights back. I love TFT, my first and all time favorite RPG. 1982 was the year I was introduced to the gaming world through TFT. Have never found a game I have liked as much, and I have played many over the years. Kinda funny, I was always looking for one that would have the same feel to it as TFT. Some came close but no cigar. Really glad it's coming back.
I would vote to keep things simple. One role to hit, not a big fan of the parry, block, and dodge that are in GURPS. It's fine for GURPS but the real joy of playing TFT was how simple it was and how the combat didn't bog down. I would be all for a defensive score that made it more difficult to hit or be hit. Something along this line of thinking. For every increment of 2 above 10 on a characters AdjDX makes it a -1 to be hit. For example; my AdjDX is 12 so my opponent is at a -1 to hit me. 14=-2, 16=-3, so on and so forth. I don't know if that messes up any other mechanic, just brain storming here.
Actually, that's kind of what I was thinking of if a player opted to "DEFEND" instead of attack -- his defense adds to the attacker's dice roll (maybe +2?) -- so if the attacker has an AdjDX of 12, he now needs to roll a "10" or less to make it. Something simple, but that increases the defender's chance of survival long enough for his friend to move up and attack the enemy too...
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