Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Trollish Taproom - Levels in Tunnels & Trolls

Levels in Tunnels & Trolls don't have the same meaning in Tunnels & Trolls as they do in Dungeons & Dragons. In all of D&D's various incarnations, level gain means an increase in Hit Points, additional spells memorized for the spell casters, possibly a new level of spells to cast, possible increases in THACO and Saving Throws, turning undead increases for clerics, increase in thief abilities and the rest of the cornucopia of abilities that D&D characters posses.

In Tunnels & Trolls, gaining a level has much fewer benefits for most characters. In 5.5e and earlier, gaining a level results in a stat increase (in 7.x, stats are increased with AP earned, and stats decide character level). For Rogues and Wizards, it gives access to higher level spells. For Wizards, it can decrease the cost of casting lower level spells. Oh, and 7.x also gives Warriors a +1 bump per level to their Combat Adds.

I personally don't like deriving character level from stat number. I do, however, like the idea of spending 10x current stat to increase the stat by one.

So, I figure I'll use the stat increase method from 7.5e (7e is 100x stat... way too harsh), while keeping the total AP earned to determine character level.

Not a bad compromise IMHO.


  1. What I like about the 7.5 method is that the range of abilities that fall within a "level" is more meaningful, so that a set of high or low rolls doesn't permanently hobble or embiggen the character in comparison with his cohorts on the same level.

    I used to play 7.5 with the M6E advancement table, but now the only house rules I use for advancement are these:

    * Unfavored abilities can't be raised higher than you lowest "level" attribute. This makes the level attributes of your Type more focal.
    * For faster advancement math, I set the cost of raising your stats at 100x current Level instead of 10x current stat value. It's commensurate with the book's method, but you can buy multiple "raises" at a time without recalculating the cost after every bump.

    7.x offers another level-related bonus, that I didn't grok at first: If you fail a SR by less than your level, you succeed. I almost never remember this rule in actual play, but I like the idea of using the "near miss" to introduce complications and twists.

  2. > You can buy multiple "raises" at a time without recalculating the cost after every bump.

    What I mean is that after a rowdy session, you can look at the your 1000 AP and see immediately how many stat-bumps you get: If you're character is level 1, you can make up to ten raises. A level two character can only afford five stat increases. Once you hit level 3, a thousand points will only buy you three bumps. I find it easier to explain and more intuitive for players at the table.


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