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RE: (TFT) Rant: part III

"All geometric systems are equivalent and thus no system of axioms may claim that it is the true geometry."
-   Poincari


News Headline reads "Howard Thompson HID the rights to TFT with the golden unicorn!"


Or let us assume that he did. Even if he did, and even if I had them in my hand, I'm not sure that republishing them would get entry into the gaming world. I have often wondered how to word a pitch to this effect though. "You gotta distribute this game for your own benefit. TFT was once #2 only to D&D itself." But that's a fine point of a negotiation phase of only one part of a long business plan. Using it as an "on cover" marketing splash seems counter intuitive as well. Why would one say that their product is number two? I would see similar, if not the same, problems with republishing Euclid's Elements. The original Greek foundation of geometry. Republishing basic geometry is not an advancement of the arts and sciences. The many fabulous derivative works of mathematics since Euclid though are advancements. Geometry has lead to some incredible works of brilliance and insight. Clubs of mathematicians have been invaluable to this, and they still exist as of this writing. That's thousands of years of work and evolution of thought. What happened to Howard Thompson, and why is TFT still not known to the gaming public at large. Scratch that! That's the wrong question. Try this one instead. If Howard Thompson's vision of TFT was so much better than Steve Jackson's can we finish it without him? That is to say, can we bring the body of work to a better conclusion than Howard did, both without him, and his phantasmal copyrights. I hazard to say yes. I believe Howard wanted to up-scale TFT. Have individual counters represent squads. And that one of his main criticisms of Steve's work was that it was too individualistic (my words) and that he put no work in on squad level conflict. Maybe wisely so, for Howard's squad level rules leave much to be desired.

    Math Detour

   Consider this derivative of TFT's foundation.

ST  8 x 3 hexes = 24
DX  9
IQ  7

ergo being a 3 hex creature costs 8 extra points.
my math instincts tell that a 1 hex creature (like a humanoid) should cost 1 extra point. So in reality starting humans are 33 point characters. One point goes to being one hex in size.

if we presume a "square" rule here for the cost of hexes...

a 1 hex creature costs 1 extra point,
a 2 hex creature costs 4 extra points,
a 3 hex creature costs 9 extra points,
but a 4 hex creature costs 16 extra points.

Riding Horse
ST 11 x 2 hexes = 22
DX 11
IQ  5
= 28 points

+ 4 points for 2 hexes
= 32 points

1-hex dragon
ST 12
DX 12
IQ 10
= 34 points

  +1 for 1 hex
= 35 points ( I recommend ST 11, DX 11)

2-hex dragon
ST  8 x 2 = 16
DX 12
DX 12
= 32 points

  +4 points for 2 hexes
= 36 points (the precise point that exp cost per point jumps to 250 instead of 125)

4-hex dragon
ST  7 x 4 = 28
DX 13
IQ 12
= 32 points

 +16 points for 4 hexes
= 48 points (A very experienced character. No wonder dragons' attributes like DX and IQ seem to go up so slowly for their age)

    End of the Math Detour

   Is this the underlying formula that was denied to Howard?  I doubt it.
Is this formula good enough to recreate all creatures in TFT? Not by a long shot. There is still natural armor, the ability to speak languages, opposable digits, can the creature learn talents, a ton of other unspoken factors. And let's not forget the many other things that are now considered Advantages/Disadvantages by gurps.

But I do feel that it is close enough that all the creatures starting statistics could all be brought in line with a formula of this nature. This alone is enough to create an advancement in the art and science of TFT. A newly copyright able material. One that both is the original and swallows up the original in one bite.

Another draw back is that the above is just the math. What is really lacking is the flavor. The art of the game itself. Somantics aside there are other types of derivative work. There are different mathematical approaches, and there are different conceptual approaches. Take for instance this different version of TFT. (once again, also an advancement I hope).

(pronounced veh-sur-ps)

the Very Specific Role Playing System.

"We are members of gate mapping society. Join us in exploring new lands and cultures. Find out who the ancients thought it was important to maintain trade with. Delve into the mysteries of the lost gate technology. Maybe we will be the first to come back with a lost spell. It shocked us all, when the gates were discovered, that magic actually works on the other side. But we are not the only ones going through and learning to cast these powerful spells. There are other societies with questionable motives racing against us. And there is a rumor that the ancients even knew how to raise the dead. Do we want our enemies to get this power and not us?"

The Very Specific Role Playing system is a game of exploration, dramatic scenes, and high adventure...

You get the general Idea. Here are some more, in the briefest of one line explanations.

a) "You play a magic item controlling a character. If that character is killed by a monster you play the monster. Follow the life of your magic item, be it to the heights of glory or the depths of hell. But if you are captured by another magic item you have to start over. Captured magic items can be traded in to buy new enchantments for yourself. b) "The GM will tell the players information that their characters are specifically not allowed to know. The players must play their character as though they didn't know, until the GM reveals the info in some random or pre-planed campaign event." Willful role playing is a game of dramatic moments. c) "The players will take 30 min to design a labyrinth and populate it with monsters. The GM will then take a series of small adventuring groups in to see if they can beat it." Turn the adventure around. They players have secret books of knowledge that only the GM can't look at. Can he conquer your lab? d) "We always knew the day would come when magic would present us with a bill for all the work it has done for us. Will we survive?" Realize the darkest fears of the Mnoren. End the world with magic! e) "When amassed, treasure creates monsters in the surrounding area at one monster character point per one hundred dollars, per week." Amass wealth, and fight to preserve that wealth. f) "Each player gets 250,000 silver and 576 character points for starting equipment, and starting figures." This isn't melee, it's War! g) "Now that the Mnoren have landed, the labyrinth is our only safe haven. Who knew all these dungeons were designed so we could hide from our former masters?" At last the question has been answered; where did the Mnoren go? We threw them off Cidri once before. Can we do it again? h) "Nature has ST infinite, Create Elemental, and is mad at mankind." Can your team survive long enough to make the peace? i) "Every starting character and monster equals 32 points." Play any character in the book. None of the spells exist yet. Invent them first and your team may conquer the world. j) "Every space walker learns Fresh Air by the age of 14." TFT on the Moon is a space opera game using fantasy rules.

I conclude with these words. The 26 letter alphabet is to hieroglyphs, what TFT is to D&D.

David Michael Grouchy II
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