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(TFT) TFT: Playtested Expert/Master Talents

   Hey guys.  As some of you probably remember, last year I did a study of
Ty's expert and master weapon talents and found them to be /way/ too
powerful compared to what one pays for them.  Today I gave it some more
thought and tried to come up with some reasonable talents that would be
balanced, and below is the result.

EXPERT AXE/MACE (3): Prerequisites: Axe/Mace and DX 12.
   This talent represents advanced fighting techniques
   with an axe or mace-type weapon (or even a club).  A
   figure with this talent is harder to hit - opponents
   suffer a -2 DX penalty when trying to strike an
   expert in melee combat.
      If desired, an expert may do /maximum damage/
   against any stationary target, including Am Bushes,
   helpless foes, inanimate objects (such as ropes), and
   any figure he is attacking by surprise.
      An expert can also use his weapon like a quarter-
   staff to disarm a foe - same rules apply (see AM8).
EXPERT KNIFE (3): Just like Expert Axe/Mace, but with
   knives instead.
EXPERT POLE WEAPON (3): Just like Expert Axe/Mace, but
   with pole weapons instead (including the naginata).
EXPERT QUARTERSTAFF (3): The same as Expert Axe/Mace,
   except applying instead to the quarterstaff.  Excep-
   tion: Disarm attempts are made at only -2 DX.
EXPERT SWORD (3): Exactly like Expert Axe/Mace, but with
   swords instead.

MASTER AXE/MACE (3): Prerequisites: Expert Axe/Mace and
   DX 14.  An even higher level of skill with axes, maces,
   and clubs.  Anyone trying to strike the master in melee
   must roll an additional die to hit him - 4 dice normally,
   5 if defending.
      A master can /take away/ his opponent's weapon.  Same
   procedure as a quarterstaff disarm, but at -6 DX and
   the master must have a hand free.  If successful the
   master can catch the airborne weapon with a 3-die DX
   roll, otherwise it falls in his hex at his feet.
      A master may also /throw/ an axe or mace, even if
   such a weapon (like a battleaxe) cannot normally be
   thrown!  (Remember the Black Knight in "Monty Python and
   the Holy Grail?")  Treat this like throwing any throwable
   weapon, but at a -2 DX plus the normal range penalty.
   (Non-masters can attempt this at a -8 DX.)
      A master can also automatically and safely catch an
   appropriate weapon that is tossed to him by an ally.
   The thrower must make a normal DX roll to hit to get the
   weapon into the master's hex (use missile weapon range
   penalties).  The master must spend a turn to catch it -
   whether or not the tosser hits - but it becomes ready
   once caught.  (Non-masters can do this but a 3-die DX
   roll is required).
MASTER KNIFE (3): Just like Master Axe/Mace, but with
   knives instead.
MASTER POLE WEAPON (3): Exactly like Master Axe/Mace,
   but with pole weapons instead (including the naginata).
MASTER QUARTERSTAFF (3): Like Master Axe/Mace, but with
   a quarterstaff.  Also, a master can use any improvised
   long piece of wood (1 1/2 to 3m) as a quarterstaff
   without penalty (including most pole weapons).
      If a master's quarterstaff breaks, he is left with
   a club in each hand, and may still use them together
   like a whole quarterstaff!  The only maneuver the master
   can no longer do is a sweeping blow.
MASTER SWORDSMAN (3): Just like Master Axe/Mace, but with
   swords instead.

Designer's Notes:
   To playtest these talents I followed the same procedure as the last test.
I created (for the IQ 10 talents) a 35-point IQ 8 control character and a
35-point IQ 10 test character with the appropriate talent.  Otherwise each
character had identical adjDX's, leather armor, and a small shield (i.e. my
idea of "average" armor protection).  I fought them against each other in a
couple dozen mock battles to see what would happen.  The control character
won about 60% of the time, but I found this acceptable since the talents
give a character some other intangible benefits, plus it's more fun and
sounds cooler to be an "Expert Swordsman" rather than just a plain old
boring swordsman.
   The same was done for the master talents, except I used 38-point
characters to keep things rational.

   Three assumptions I used to create these talents:

   1. The difference between an expert and a normal fighter is /defense/.
Any fool can swing a sword and hit someone standing right in front of him.
An expert will know how to better defend himself and parry blows to keep
from being hit himself.  This is especially important with such deadly
weapons being wielded, when one good sword stroke stands between victory and
death.  This is why -- at least in the movies -- a duel between two
swordmasters (such as Obi Wan and Darth Maul, or D'Artanian and whoever he
fought) takes so long.  For this reason the talents include /defensive/
bonuses and not simply increases to DX or damage (experience and magic cover
those two bonuses more than adequately).
   2. Like many of the ITL talents, the talents above include intangible
benefits to the user to increase their value, make them more interesting to
play with, and giving players more fun options in combat.  I imagine these
bits of chrome enhance roleplaying too.
   3. The talents follow the same general pattern as Ty's original talents
of the same names.  This makes it easy to "grandfather-in" these (in my
opinion) better talents into existing characters.  The master talents got a
boost from IQ 12 to 13, and all of them cost 3 IQ points each, just like
Fencing, Two Weapons, and all of the master professional talents in ITL.
   (To grandfather in a talent, I recommend simply /giving/ the character
whatever he needs to meet the higher requirements.  If he has (for example)
Expert Sword, give him two more IQ points to cover it.  For the master
talents increasing his IQ by one is sufficient.  This is how I'm handling
the one expert swordsman in my campaign (who is a 16-year old warrior
princess, played by a 12-year old girl).)

   What do you think?

   Next subject: Let's talk some more about gates.  Instead of having a
wizard on staff all the time to man and refresh a gate, why not just have a
backup gate in the same building?  If one goes down, hire a wizard just long
enough to set up one end of a new gate, travel through the backup, and set
up the other side.  Seems like a cheaper solution to gate failure.
   By the way, what should it cost to travel through a commercial gate?

Pfc. Dave Seagraves   101st Airborne Division
Texas Military Historical Society (WWII reenactors)
Sniper squad forming to defeat the krauts -- join us!
1 (512) 835-7527   http://members.aol.com/txmhs

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