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Re: (TFT) How would you modify HaOW? (Heroes and other worlds)

I haven't yet purchased Heroes & Other Worlds, but I've been really intrigued ever since I first noticed on this list a few days ago. Since that time I've dug up as many reviews and play reports as I could find. So my first disclaimer is my comments are based on second-party sources, I haven't actually read the rules.

The second thing I should mention is that my favorite version of the TFT rules is Basic Melee + Advanced Wizard + Legends of the Ancient World skills and experience. There are a few too many things about Advanced Melee that force mini/maxing down a particular path, in my opinion. And I don't like Into the Labyrinth's talent system. I think it's a really interesting idea that was poorly executed. I also don't like the ITL experience system. The whole "killing blow" thing is used in a lot of games, and I've always thought it was a broken mechanic. Fortunately, I LOVE the LAW skill system. I think the individual skills are really simple and intuitive. But I also love the tactical game play of Melee and Advanced Melee, which I feel is lacking in LAW. That's why I've found my sweet spot in combining Melee/Wizard combat with LAW skills.

So there are two things that intrigue me about Heroes & Other Worlds. The first is that the author seems like a super-producing maniac. He's already converted a Robert S. Conley hexcrawl (and I LOVE Robert S. Conley's work). He's in the process of converting a Saxon setting (and I LOVE the Bernard Cornwell Saxon series so I'm really intrigued by this), he's produced a sandlot style adventure, and he appears to be producing a regular magazine to support the game. This all gets a big thumbs up for me.

The second thing that intrigues me is that, based on the list of spells he released for his spell supplement, it appears he's making a genuine attempt at making Heroes & Other Worlds compatible with D&D. I don't love the TFT magic system. Believe it or not, I prefer D&D. For whatever reason D&D has always felt more evocative (no pun intended) to me, and I've always felt it encourages creative use of spells. I know that's probably unique to me, since most people hate the Vancian spell system. In TFT, magic just doesn't feel THAT different from mundane archery or melee combat to me.

So, at bare minimum, I'll probably pick up the Robert S. Conley conversion and the spell list for use in my Melee/LAW combo games.

The verdict's still out on whether I pick up the actual game rules, however. From what I've read, here are the things that appeal to me:

1) Endurance. I think this is a great bonus to give player characters. Without healing magic, TFT is a little too lethal for long-term RPG play. I also think separating Endurance from Strength for Wizards is great from a flavor standpoint.

2) Square grid support. In my opinion TFT really shines as a skirmish game, more so than an RPG. The mechanics are perfect for a Warhammer Quest or Mordheim style game. But I want to use it with cool dungeon tiles, which are grid rather than hex based. Also, old D&D modules are all grid based. I've tried to convert TFT to a grid and failed. The trouble is you end up with two extra rear hexes or two extra side hexes, which makes getting outnumbered even more deadly than it already is, and makes taking down big monsters like dragons and giants even easier than it already is. I'm not sure how the Heroes & Other Worlds rules implement square grid support. If it's simply to add two rear or side hexes, well then I'll be disappointed.

3) LAW-style skill system. Again, I don't know if this is really true, but that's the sense I get from what I've read. I really like LAW's skills so that's a big plus from me.

Things I'm suspicious or leery of:

1) No characteristic improvement with experience. One of the things I love with Melee/Wizard is that, thanks to the bell curve of 3D6, there is a default hierarchy among warriors. Unarmored militia can be effective at 32 points. Leather-wearing light infantry can be effective at 34 points. Chain-wearing Huscarls/Household retainers/oathsworn types can be effective at 36 points. Chain-wearing mounted Knights can be effective at 38 points. Plate-wearing heavy Knights can only effective at 40 points or higher (that all assumes typical historical gear, i.e., not a plate wearing knight armed only with a dagger). So you have a natural funnel effect where most combatants will be militia and only the rarest combatants will be the heavy knights. Without increasing stats, how can you possibly achieve heavy knight status? That plate mail is too big a drain on DX, and the mounted combat drains it even further. I suppose you could do it with Weapon skills, which one
 could say is far more realistic than having an 18 DX reduced to 12 from Armor, Shield, and Horsemanship. But I'm suspicious as to how well this works.

2) Poorly conceived ST requirements for weapons. I read somewhere that there was a much more even distribution of ST or "heft" requirements for weapons. I think your post mentions that there's nothing over 12. In my opinion, this undermines one of the coolest aspects behind the Endurance idea. I like that you have to choose between ST and END. END seems to be a superior defensive stat, since it regenerates more quickly. But you still need ST to gain access to those good weapons. If you don't really need ST to gain access to weapons, well then it seems like a no-brainer. Just put all your points in END.

3) IQ used to cast spells. LAW does this too and I really don't like it. Admittedly in TFT casters are weak because they have to spread out their points too much. But END should solve this problem. In LAW, the problem is that casters can be too specialized. Just pump up your IQ and you can be a super caster. I like using DX for casting.

4) I read somewhere that the tactical parts of the game have been simplified or stripped out, LAW style. In particular, facing, pole weapon special attacks, and engagement are extremely important to me. I think it was the comparison chart between the various versions of TFT I saw somewhere that suggested these aspects of Melee were not used in Heroes & Other Worlds, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I'd love to hear your response to the above and whether you think my pre-conceived notions are completely invalid or unwarranted. Thanks!


On Fri, 8/2/13, Joel BoardgameRpger <joel.siragher@gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: (TFT) How would you modify HaOW? (Heroes and other worlds)
 To: tft@brainiac.com, "John Linzy" <jslinzy@gmail.com>
 Date: Friday, August 2, 2013, 7:11 AM
 How would you modify HaOW? Heroes and
 other worlds?
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