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Re: (TFT) a survey of Melee and Wizard editions

This particular exchange raises an interesting point. To my mind (and I sin
cerely doubt I'm being original here) there are two kinds of players -- the
 "completionist/realism/detail oriented guy (or gal)" who WANTS rules for t
hings like where people land when they fall so they can get into the "meat"
 of realism in play; and the "play's the thing/'close enough'/ let's get on
 with the imagination guy (or gal)" who wants rules that work well but are 
simple enough to learn and run in a few hours at most so they can get down 
to the "meat" of having an adventure.
I think that's the only real dichotomy here.  We all, I think, felt th
at TFT could have been made better, especially if Steve had stayed involved
 with it.  But our definition of "better" is where we hit our differen
t strides.  Personally, I focus more on improving mechanics for things
 like wilderness adventures and how to run town events and so on (more of a
 GM's perspective, maybe?), where others want to massively re-work the nuts
 and bolts of combat or magic -- which seems a bit more player-centric.
Really, there's room for both of the types if we take a moment to understan
d where each of us is coming from.  For example, I really appreciate R
ick posting all of the excellent food for thought he's been putting up here
 lately (really, "re-posting" I guess), but at the same time, he's attackin
g a problem that doesn't bother me as much as it does him, so I read his st
uff, and then say; "Hmm, that's interesting..." and then tend to go on back
 to MY stuff.  Once in a while, someone will post something that hits 
MY sweetspot and I'll get all enthusiastic about it; but a lot of the rest 
of you come across somewhat negatively to that information (it's not of int
erest to you, and you make that clear -- not saying you're "hostile" to it;
 I've never seen much hostility here), and so it kind of goes away after a 
As a recent example, I prefer to run with Wizard and Melee as my basis (wit
h only a few of the Advanced Wizard or Advanced Melee rules in play at any 
given time), but someone (sorry, I forget who, now) basically demanded to k
now why anyone would think that was better.  I chose the soft answer (
much to the surprise of some who know me, no doubt) and simply said "differ
ent strokes for different folks" even though, frankly, I felt somewhat "att
acked" for not doing it the "right" way.  But that just serves to illu
strate my point -- that person was firmly convinced that AW and AM were far
 better than the earlier versions, whereas I remain unconvinced; to me, sim
pler is better and AW and AM merely focused on edge cases (though with some
 notably useful exceptions in both) at considerable length and increasing c
omplexity.  Now, were I a "realist" player, I would be much more enthu
siastic about all of that than I am -- but I tend more towards the "close e
nough" kind of play, at least in my RPGs.  Maybe I spent too many year
s as a wargamer arguing with rules lawyers about comma placement in the ove
rrun rule to get much joy out of complexity any more.  Heck, I haven't
 touched Campaign for North Africa in thirty years, now... ;-)

Anyway, just thinking about what DMGII and PvK had to say.  

      From: Peter von Kleinsmid <pvk@oz.net>
 To: tft@brainiac.com 
 Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 8:49 AM
 Subject: RE: (TFT) a survey of Melee and Wizard editions
Interesting. It is true I haven't very often read much ITL recently, 
but I nearly memorized it back when I ran campaigns with it, but 
decades ago. I have a very good memory, but not so much for word and 
phrase use. If we can run a count of pairs of words, though, I think 
"GM discretion" ought to appear a lot. ;-) My copy of ITL is worn 
soft like a broken-in shoe, and has plastic side tab labels I added 
for quick reference (same for AM and AW). Cidri is my sentimental 
favorite fantasy setting, and my actual favorite for generic "let's 
do some fantasy gaming" setting. My original TFT campaign flows out 
from the map of the Duchy of Dran in the back of ITL, stretching out 
several further maps in all directions until you need a fairly large 
empty room to lay it all out (using the same 12.5km hex map format 
and extending the map key).

TFT was my first RPG (when I was 11), and remains one of my favorite 
games, but after my friends and I had played it extensively for about 
7 years, we could often predict how combats would play out, and we 
were more and more sensitive to the limitations, so that it started 
to feel more like an abstract board game that wasn't satisfying in 
its representation of how violence might really play out, so we 
started inventing new rules, and then GURPS came out and covered 
everything we were trying to improve, but in a much more elegant, 
playtested and complete and ready to use way (than our own rules).

Many years later, from time to time I have also played TFT, and found 
that I still like it but that I still think it's missing several 
things (that I prefer and am sensitive to, which I know not everyone 
is) from GURPS, but (I was surprised to find) that it's also possible 
to add fairly simple house rules that do some of the same things in a 
fairly satisfying (to me) way.

I think I'm just a detail&realism-oriented simulationist player, and 
that has me always looking for detailed realism-oriented rules. It 
was only about 4 years after switching from TFT to GURPS that I 
started adding all sorts of detailed house rules to GURPS, too. I 
also show up on GURPS forums and talk about details like how I'm 
working on more detailed house rules for where characters should land 
when they fall down, etc., and how 4e GURPS dumbed down several 
things compared to 3e GURPS.

I certainly don't read and participate here to be negative. I didn't 
realize I was rubbing anyone the wrong way. I don't mean to be coming 
across as saying "GURPS is better", and I think I rarely if ever say 
that. I think when I do mention GURPS, I'm trying to offer something 
I think may be interesting or useful.


At 07:26 AM 3/16/2016, David Michael Grouchy II wrote:
>I'm sorry for delurking,  PvK always rubs me the wrong way.  For
>instance; in the word-count-analysis of ITL, the word "will" is 
>ranked as the most frequently appearing at 590 occurrences.  The 
>book is full of phrases like "the GM will", "the Player will", etcetera.
>But PvK asks "I wonder why 'will'? "  Causing me to wonder if he 
>has ever actually read ITL.  Which has now triggered me.  As I h
>always felt he was anti-TFT.  Like another contributor who's answer
>was always "g.u.r.p.s. is better".
>I have no stomach for a flame war with such hard headed negative 
>minded people.  I return to radio silence.  /grouchy's submarine
>sinks back beneath the surface.
>David Michael Grouchy II

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