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Re: (TFT) HT's views on complexity

On Dec 29, 2007 1:41 PM, Joe Hartley <jh@brainiac.com> wrote:

> On Sat, 29 Dec 2007 11:18:23 -0500
> "Cris Fuhrman" <fuhrmanator@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Did everyone read the 1980 letter from Howard Thompson about TFT? It's
> > pretty scathing, and slams the complexity of TFT.
> I've wondered from time to time whether this really represented HT's true
> feelings, or whether this was mostly sour grapes.  I can't say I recall
> anyone thinking TFT is too complicated; opinions seem to range from "just
> right" to "too simple".

So, hindsight is 20/20. Egos clash. We all know how complex GURPS is, and in
principle, Steve Jackson had no other people constraining him on that
endeavor. He was working for himself.

Melee had a huge draw. Wizard, as well. Metagaming wanted to capitalize and
take it to the next level. SJ had great ideas and a huge drive.

If I were to simplify and say what the SINGLE most important added value of
each TFT tome was, it would go like this:

ITL: Talents
AM: Weapons
AW: Spells

HJ is right that it shouldn't have taken 2 years to come up with that. I
think he valued the "KISS" (keep it simple stupid) principle more than SJ.

It doesn't mean that TFT is too complicated.

> I'll have to go take a look at Underearth again to see where things got
> stripped down and whether it seems better - I haven't done that in years.
> My feeling though is that if I'd liked it better, I'd have played it more.

I just went back and looked at the Combat module for 5102 Dragons of the
Underearth. I see that it basically sticks to the added value mentioned in
HJ's letter. It's much simpler, e.g., here are the rules for thrown weapons
and intervening figures:

10.2 Intervening Figures: A figure may throw a weapon over one friendly
figure in a hex adjacent to its own without penalty or danger. Weapons may
not be thrown over enemy figures or any figure which is not adjacent to the

Very much KISS. No rollplaying :-) Also, the missile rules (combat and
spell) on intervening figures refer to 10.2.
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