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Old 01-31-2020, 08:43 AM   #1
larsdangly
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Default 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

This thread is to discuss the main villain from Tomb of the Witch King, Kalinore the Lich, and more generally the ways major NPC's are presented in the published materials. If you don't want to know anything about him, I suggest reading no further!



The issue, as I see it, is that this great NPC concept was expressed through quantitative stats in a way that makes very little sense from the perspective of the game's rules and the character's back story.

Kalinore is described as an Archmage who used powerful lost magics to turn himself into a Lich. When he was magically transformed, he gained 4 points of IQ (according to the general description of liches). He also bears a magic ring that further raises his IQ by 2.

Kalinore is presented as: ST 20, DX 12, IQ 20. That means that at the time of his tranformation, he, as a living archmage, had ST 20 or less, DX 12 or less and IQ 14 or less.

This is a totally possible character: It would be not unreasonable for a character to rise through experience to ST 20 (though obviously his or her other stats would need to stay quite low because of the slow rate of progression at high stat totals), though a few Wishes would almost certainly be required to get to a stat block of 20 - 12 - 14. And, of course, Kalinore could have had lower stats than this when alive and raised them through the long years of XP accumulation after becoming a lich.

But the point is, this Archmage is presented in such a way that IQ and DX must have been similar to those of a starting character (and never raised through the centuries over which the lich learned gobs of spells). It is possible, but very odd, bordering on totally implausible — when alive, Kalinore would not have been employable as a top-tier Town Wizard.

If this were the only NPC like this I wouldn't pay it much attention, but several from Tolenkar's Lair are also oddly statted (in those cases, in ways that likely can't be reached within the games rules).

So, the question is, what is going on with the NPCs in the official materials? Is this an intentional choice to present powerful NPCs as beings that live outside the rules and normal patterns governing PC attributes? Or is it a less purposeful thing?

It is hard to say, and not particularly important to know the answer. But I think it is worth having players provide feedback as to whether they do or don't like this approach. Personally, I dislike it, as it goes contrary to the very structured approach the rest of the game takes to attributes, prerequisites, etc.
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:49 AM   #2
hcobb
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

The gigantic problem is that this breaks the game assumption that spellcasting is limited by humanoid rest.

NOTHING ELSE ever recovers fatigue so rapidly without draining it from living humanoids.

If you wish to play this scenario and don't want to turn your entire game into "Let's all become Liches and cast unlimited spells" then use my version of the Lich.
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Old 01-31-2020, 11:17 AM   #3
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

That is a completely separate issue that I hope does not derail the intended purpose of this thread. For what it's worth I have no problem whatsoever with Liches recovering spell-casting ST every turn: it is a clearly stated supernatural power of this particular being, and could be explained in any number of 'fantasy game logic' ways (or left mysterious).

What I am commenting on is something completely different and simpler: we have a set of clear rules explaining how various beings, like powerful human magicians and liches, are supposed to 'work' in the game, but then the one example we have of a powerful human mage who turns into a lich doesn't look like he was made using those rules.
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Old 01-31-2020, 11:31 AM   #4
Skarg
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

I don't remember from proofreading Kalinore what liches are exactly or how they work. Is it not possible he was ST 8 DX 12 IQ 20, and the lich process or aftermath increased his ST to 20 through magic undeadness or something?


In any case, it seems like your point isn't about Kalinore or liches (which aren't usually anything in TFT outside this scenario's special descripton). You're talking about whether NPCs and/or nonhumans should/do use different rules for increasing their abilities and the limits of that, and what the thinking is/was for published adventures (and so by extension, guidelines for TFT GMs) about how to think about the limits of NPC abilities.

Which is a great question.

I think that Legacy edition has some unfortunate gaps that the original game didn't have, by having one XP table for everyone (or at least, not saying what the systems for non-humans or NPCs would be) with an exponential cost to raise attributes making increase by XP practically impossible above about 40-42 points.

Using that table has weird effects on non-humans who start with different point totals. High-ST races like giants would never be able to get anywhere near the higher end of their listed ST range, for example. Lower-total starting PCs are only briefly disadvantages compared to other PCs if the table is used RAW since it's implied they can catch up at the lower rate per attribute. And then, yes, Tollenkar's Lair reduced some of its characters from their original values, but left some of them at levels seemingly-impossible to attain for PCs, unless a GM chooses to say "you get enough XP to gain an attribute point!" (Even if it'd be hundreds of thousands of XP.)
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Old 01-31-2020, 11:39 AM   #5
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

That would be a great answer if Liches worked that in the ~500 word essay about them provided with the module. The only effect of 'lichification' on your stats is a +4 increase in IQ. There is no suggestion that liches become supernaturally strong. And, even if it were simply a result of massive accumulated XP over centuries (which would also be fine), it still implies that our lich had IQ 14 before transforming. That is the main thing to which I'm responding.

Also, I agree with your general take that the XP costs of advancement of things other than standard humanoids needed to be better laid out. E.g., how is any giant supposed to gain a single stat point when they start adult life with more than 40! It wouldn't take more than a couple hundred words of well thought out rules to clear this all up, but it will take someone on the design team to do it in a way that won't just result in a chaotic mix of divergent house rules. Maybe a hexagram article would be a good place to do this.

Last edited by larsdangly; 01-31-2020 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:37 PM   #6
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

Summon a lesser demon every minute of every hour of every day for hundreds of years.

Why isn't this guy running all of Cidri by now?
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:15 PM   #7
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

What would he get out of that other than a huge back log of minor wishes? It's not like they hang around. Plus it makes the whole dungeon smell funny whenever one shows up.
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

The demons can go anywhere and (attempt to) grab anything.
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:23 PM   #9
KevinJ
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcobb View Post
Summon a lesser demon every minute of every hour of every day for hundreds of years.

Why isn't this guy running all of Cidri by now?
Even if he rolled an 18 on the control roll, is that a bad thing for this Lich?
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Old 01-31-2020, 02:25 PM   #10
larsdangly
 
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Default Re: 'Kalinore' from Tomb of the Witch King (spoilers)

There's a lot of things I could do for a minute every hour of my life that I choose not to. I could eat a cup of pudding every hour on the hour for the rest of my life, but it just isn't something I want. I assume this is how Kalinore feels about Demons.

Or maybe he's been doing just what you say and it led to something fun!
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