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(TFT) Lethal

There is only one game in the world that is fair to the monsters, and that is

     There is only one game in the world that is fair to the monsters, and
that is TFT.  In Old AD&D the fighter characters used 1D10 for hit points,
with a possible CON bonus, but the poor monsters only got 1D8.  There are
completely different attack tables for monsters and players.  Now I take the
fact that much of this is being changed by Wizards of the Coast to be equal to
an admission that this was a mistake in the first place.

     TFT is a lethal game.  I haven't found anyone saying it isn't.  But the
important thing here is that it is lethal no matter which side of the table a
player is sitting on.  If that player is a monster, or a hero.  They both use
the same rules, get the same three stats, and face the same lethality.  TFT is
not covertly biased in favor of the players.

     This is quite a shock to many people who are used to other game systems.
Absolute empirical equality with one's enemy.  The most fair of all the games.
And somehow it is perceived as flawed, too hard, or too lethal.

     Ok, if you feel that way.  Have their mother be a goddess of the sea like
Achilles, dip them in the magic pool, and give them a ring of Stone flesh.
It's only a $4,000 investment, and their character will now have a hugely
overpowered and unfair advantage over everyone else.  More like the other
systems are by default.

     But allow me to argue for the gaming table that is not tilted.  Besides
the obvious point that there are many devices already available to a game
master who wants to perserve the life of just his players, I have a more
important point to make.  And this one is directed at the players themselves,
not the GM's.  Quit getting killed.

     Unless you are playing a straight up arena match with no GM, try role
playing the situation.  Fighting to the death at every single provocation is
not normal.  Additionally try making a leader character.  You know, the kind
with new followers, so even in the face of crushing defeat you can escape or
be ransomed and gather a new force to strike out again.

     But that is not even the really important point.  What is important is
that in TFT, unlike any other game, once you achieve power you become
absolutely deadly.  A person with Iron Flesh, and a +5 damage rapier is an
absolute super power.  They can wade into a and slaughter an entire herd of
club wielding goblins.  With a shield they can do the same to a herd of armed
orcs.  With a +5 shield and magic armor they can stand alone against a
squadron of flying archers.

     See this is important.  Yes TFT is lethal.  And thankfully so.  I have
heard this term lately used in derision, called "the grind."  It refers to
computer games that take an inordinate amount of time before a character can
really get anywhere.  Now I've looked into this, and apparently the reason it
works that way is that the designers business model depends on monthly
subscription fees.

     Well I payed my $15 for TFT over twenty years ago.  The lethality of TFT
is the important first lesson.  I suggest you do not allow the players to name
their first character.  And you only run un GM'd arenas until they have a
grasp of how deadly even the wrong facing can be.

     Then just like in the Labyrinth suggests, let them make a new character,
spend a few weeks finding a job, and work for a bit.  Allow them to be a part
of their society, with possible followers and gear to start.  Magic scrolls
are very inexpensive and incredibly overpowered in the hands of clever
players, as well.  But they should have no illusions that fatality is quick,
and ever possible.

     Now I wish to address the GM's.

     Quit making every single enemy a fanatical suicide berserker.  Why not
realize that in the history of warfare, 99% of everyone surrenders after the
first wound.  Try burying you players in prisoners for a change, see how the
manage that.

     This tradition of placing a monster on the map, having it fight to the
last breath, awarding exp for the DX then removing the figure is not helping.
If this is the way to tell a story then a Tolkien campaign would go like this.
Bilbo leaves home.  Gollum chokes Bilbo to death.  The end.

     I'm not trying to be funny.  Try this.  A demon comes into town, walks
into the local tavern, and sets up a poker table.  He's there all week playing
all comers.  Or what about the dragon who refuses to engage in direct combat,
and will only ambush people.  Oh, wait.  Isn't that supposed to be every

     Imagine a scene with two gun singers facing off in the middle of town.
People are running indoors, windows are closing, and a tumble weed rolls by.
Then BLAM!  Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam.  Both are still standing.  They go
for round two.  Blam, blam, blam.    One Finally runs out of hit points.  See
in TFT if someone draws a sword inside a Tavern, it should immediately have
the effect of clearing the room.

     High lethality is better.  And when you players figure out how to make it
work to their advantage, other games become mushy, and a time sink.  Like some
kind of pillow fight, where you both keep swinging until your arms get tired.
The ramp up time in TFT is very short.  Just get to 15 DX and get stone flesh.
The rest is gravy.

    Consider Cortez, his tiny force, and the thousands of hostile indians.
After the first few fights Cortez lost most of his men.  Then he went another
three years with the same fifty guys, and didn't loose hardly any of them.
And despite what you might be thinking.  No.  They used crossbows and swords
for those three years, having run out of powder and shot after the first three

    David Michael Grouchy II

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