Tunnels & Trolls: Chargen

At first, the mechanics seem fairly standard.  You have 8 Attributes: Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Speed, Intelligence, Wizardry, Luck, and Charisma.  (Wizardry is apparently new in 7+…previously Magic used Strength, which meant that powerful Wizards were also amazingly strong.)  You roll 3d6 for each Attribute…and here you run into the first somewhat unusual thing: if you roll triples, you reroll and add.  So a beginning character has a minimum of 4, and no real maximum, though scores higher than 20 will be rare.  When Russell rolled up a sample character, he got a 20 for STR right off the bat.

As characters progress, their Attributes get higher and higher; in fact, that’s the basic advancement in the game.  Your level is determined by how high the stats relevant to your class are…to be a 9th level fighter means to have one of your STR, LUCK, DEX or SPD in the 90-99 range. (Again, this seems to be a change from previous versions where going up a level gave you points to spend on stats, so they were correlated but not equivalent.)  Since there are no real rules for how much various attributes mean (such as how much a Strength of 90 can lift compared to Strength of 15), you’re free to interpret the attributes as you see fit, but it strikes me on the whole better for a setting where because of magical enhancement or whatever powerful characters are capable of literally super-human feats.

Speaking of super-human, this leads into the next thing that strikes me as quite unusual compared to most of the games I’ve played:  Selecting a race (called Kindred in T&T) modifies your Attributes by a multiplier.  So, for instance, Dwarves get to double their STR and CON, while multiplying LUCK by 0.67.  Love the two-decimal precision.  Height and Weight also get adjusted, but they have no mechanical effect.  So, Russell decided to make his character a Dwarf, which meant his starting STR was 40, which automatically makes him 4th level from the git-go.  That actually seems like it would work reasonably well, assuming that you have him face challenges appropriate for a 4th level character.

There are more playable races than I’ve seen in a game since, well, Monsters! Monsters!  In addition to the usual suspects (common kindred) of Human, Dwarf, Elf, Fairy, Hobb(it), and Leprechaun (!), there are stats for 32 rare kindred ranging from Balrukh (Balrog?) to Vampire, with stops in-between for various fantasy staples like Dragon, Ghouls, and six kinds of Trolls, as well as instructions for how to stat up new ones if you can convince the GM to let you play, say, an Angel (actual example).  The purpose of the Rare Kindred charts seems to be as helpful guidelines for statting monsters as NPCs, and not just to let players try to sweet-talk the GM into letting them run a character with 10 times normal STR, 7 times normal CON, 2 x DEX, 5 x CHR, and 4 x WIZ (but only 0.5 LK… poor thing).

The character’s combat ability, called variously Adds, Combat Adds or Personal Adds, is the the number of points above 12 in each of STR, DEX, SPD, or LK, minus the number of points below 9 for the same stats.  CA could be negative if you have low enough stats.  Warriors get to add their level, as well.  So Russell’s dwarf had +28 for STR, +8 for CON, -2 for Luck, +4 for Level = 38.

There are no figured stats.  CON is your hit points.  WIZ is your magic points.  Weapons and armor will have STR and DEX minimums.  Spells have Level, INT, and DEX minimums.  The core mechanic, outside of combat, is the Saving Roll.  You roll 2d6 (doubles reroll and add) and add the appropriate Attribute to beat a target number.  The target starts at 20 for Level 1 Saving Rolls, and increases by 5 per level (2 = 25, 3 = 30, etc).  You also get to add your Level in, but only if you would otherwise fail.  So far I haven’t found any reason you don’t just add your level in and compare, though I can imagine if there’s ever a roll-off of Saving Rolls it could make a difference.

There six Types (classes) of characters: Citizen (your basic NPC type, no bonuses and half the usual adds, and need to make saving rolls on both INT and DEX to cast a spell), Warriors (any weapons or armor, no spells, add level to combat adds, double the protection from armor), Rogues (actually Rogue Wizards, any weapons, armor or magic, and a special Roguery Talent that lets them use the best of Luck, Charisma or Intelligence for any save against any of the three, they also get 1 free 1st level spell but have to obtain new ones through play–the Wizard’s guild won’t sell them to Rogues), Wizards (any armor, no weapons greater than 2d6 damage, start with all 1st level spells and can buy new ones from Wizard’s guild as they level up, get a discount on the WIZ points a spell costs when it’s lower than their level, and can use a spell focus such as a wand or ring for further discounts), Paragons (a combo of Warrior and Wizard, but only available to characters that have 12 or greater in every stat prior to Kindred modifiers) and finally Specialists, of which there are three varieties, each with a particular qualification requirement: Magic Specialists need to have rolled 15 or higher in WIZ and choose one of the 4 schools of magic (Combat, Cosmic, Metabolic and Conjuring) and get all those spells for free and cast at half the WIZ cost but are forbidden spells fromt he other schools; Rangers need to have rolled triples in DEX and gotten a score >= 15 (likely if they rolled triples in the first place) and are master archers…they only have to make a Level 1 Save to hit any target in range of their bow; Leaders require a natural triple and score >= 15 on CHA, and only need a Level 1 Save vs CHA to persuade any one of anything.  That last seems pretty broken to me, but in the hands of the right GM and with a player who didn’t insist on pushing it I could imagine it being fun.

The next step is to pick your initial Talent.  Talents (also apparently new in 7+) are what T&T has instead of skills.  Talents are a really broad class of things that you can get a Saving Roll to attempt, such as Thievery, Swordplay, Acrobatics, or so forth.  You can make them wide or narrow, but there’s no advantage for defining a talent narrowly, so Ken St. Andre explicitly advises players to define them broadly, while suggesting that GMs give NPCs fairly narrow ones.  When you pick a Talent, you choose which Attribute it’s based on, and the talent is that Attribute + 1d6.  E.g. you might have Thievery DEX +3 or Persuasion CHA +2.  The bonus you roll never changes as your attribute changes, but you get to pick a new Talent every level.  Combat talents never figure into your Combat Adds, but can be used in combat to attempt some feat of derring-do such as disarming an opponent that isn’t directly covered by the fairly abstract combat rules.

Finally, you roll or assign your height and weight (modified by the Kindred charts), write down such things as eye and hair color, roll 3d6 x 10 for gold, select your additional languages (1 per point of INT over 12), and hit the equipment lists, which are unbelievably extensive when it comes to weapons.  I haven’t seen such extensive charts since I played RoleMaster, and the polearm list looks like something Gary Gygax came up with.  Fortunately there is a 14-page (!!) glossary of what the weapons are, because half of them I’ve never heard of.  Armor can be bought piece-meal or as suits, and there’s a table of guns (excuse me, Gunnes) that cover various primitive black-powder weapons appropriate to medieval warfare.

And now you have a character, and are ready to adventure.  There’s also a point-pool method of character creation, but since that doesn’t allow for Kindred modifiers I can’t imagine it’s that popular.