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Re: (TFT) Masters of the Amulets

Guy McLimore <guymc@evansville.net> wrote:
> Was I really editor of Interplay? Gosh. I must have slept a couple of times
> since then. I'd completely forgotten that. (Maybe I'm just in denial...)

You were on the masthead as "Contributing Editor," which I always assumed
was handed to anyone who wrote more than one article, and was probably
in lieu of payment.

"Hey, Guy, how about 750 words every other month on TFT items?  Can't pay
you any more money, but we'll list you as a Contributing Editor.  Looks good
on a resume!  Whaddya say?"

> The long-time members of this list may remember that there was yet another
> TFT spinoff that was never printed. HIGH NOON was the working title of a
> TFT-based wild west shootout game by David Tepool. 

I've read about this for a long time, and it always bothered me for some
reason, and I think I can nail it down.  From a pure "fantasy" standpoint,
which is tied to Middle-earth, Shannara and the like, gunpowder doesn't
exist.  It can't, really, since it would completely screw up the balance
of power to the first side that invents it.  Eventually, though, both sides
learn the secret, and it re-balances, but the old methods of conflict
resolution (swords and clubs, usually) disappear, to be replaced by the
arquebus, the Colt .45, and eventually the Uzi.

I think that's actually one of the lures of fantasy literature - it is a
simpler time, with good and evil more clearly defined and with serious
involvement required in a fight!  That's why GrailQuest never seemed out
of place in TFT.  It was of the same time and technology as was spun out
for Cidri.  The purists could argue the Camelot wasn't on Cidri, so why
should this game exist, but there were no additional rules to adapt to;
swords and sorcery was the order of the day.  (Of course, you can always
argue that all the fantasy authors were just trying to rework legends of
the Arthurian period anyway, and you wondn't necessarily be wrong.)

So a Wild West or a Superhero "Fantasy Trip" module always seemed strange,
but it shouldn't.  TFT was a conflict resolution system that didn't need to
be tied to any particular time or place, but there would need to be a new
set of rules for the new technologies, and they may not fit.  Just as in
the scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indiana Jones is confronted
by a man with a _large_ knife, a 42-point hero with a 3d greatsword still
doesn't stand a chance against a .44 Magnum.

So how does it get done?  You have to rewrite the rules with an assumption
that there's a balance of power for the new technologies, whether that's
firearms, electricity, or super powers and abilities far beyond those of 
mortal men.  That can certainly be done, and done effectively.  There's
a SF variant of TFT that's outlined in Interplay #4, for example, that seems
very workable.

So all that's really required is a shiftin location, and probably of scale.
I can equip my SF character with a Ronald Raygun that does 2d+1 damage and
a force-shield that takes 3 hits per attack, and things work well as long
as I'm battling a foe equipped with a 2d proton blaster and 4 hit energy
barrier.  It all falls apart when I hit the time portal and encounter a
sword-wielding orc, though - I'd fry him from 10 megahexes away!

The aforementioned Interplay article also mentioned a spaceship with a
60d particle weapon, and a hull strength of 200.  That's where scaling
the personal combat system of TFT really falls apart; rolling 60 dice is
not very practical!  At that point, I'd be working on an integration with
that most elegant of space battle systems, WarpWar ;-)

But what this proved to me was that the personal combat system in TFT
really holds up to lots of permutations, as long as they aren't expected to
interact, and that my "bothers" were just the failure of my head to scale
it down.

Well, there's a helluva lot more than I'd intended to write about this,
but I didn't have anything planned for the last 45 minutes anyway :)

        Joe Hartley - jh@brainiac.com - brainiac services, inc
 PO Box 5069 : Greene, RI : 02827 - vox 401.539.9050 : fax 401.539.2070
  Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa
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