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Re: (TFT) Masters of the Amulets

Joe Hartley at jh@metheny.brainiac.com on 11/8/98 6:58 PM said:

>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?"

It was something like that. I think I did copyread a lot of the articles, 
but I had no real input in selecting articles for publication, which is 
really what an "editor" does.

>> 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.

It depends on how well the gunpowder works. On the World of Terrae (form 
Pocket Warrior) for example, the standard Black Powder is pretty lame. To 
get any kind of decent results with the dwarf-made hand and shoulder 
cannons, you need to use what they call "dragonpowder", which is harder 
to make and always in short supply. Other backgrounds can have similar 

>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.)

GrailQuest was never really intended as a Cidri adventure, but rather 
used the TFT rules in an Arthurian context. I never understood why we 
didn't get more game submissions that were in different world 
backgrounds, as there was never an editorial restriction that said you 
had to set your MicroQuest adventures on Cidri.

>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.

As long as the guy with the magnum can draw and shoot accurately first. 
That 3D greatsword will still do you a world of hurt otherwise.

>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.

Which is why I never understood the need for StarLeader. (Or UnderEarth, 
for that matter.) I think Howard wanted to change TFT just to change it, 
to get it away from Steve's vision. Don't get me started on Metagaming's 
marketing mistakes...

>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!

If you had 10 megahexes of clear space between you. Take a walk in the 
forests on Cidri and you're probably dead human meat, leaving the orc a 
cute little toy to play with (if he doesn't blow his fool head off 
playing with it).

>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 ;-)

One thing we were working on was a scaling system that would have let you 
roll one die for every 10, or every 100. It seemed to work out pretty 
well. Yes, without scaling TFT breaks down for megaweaponry.

>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.

It had it's limitations (many of which get addressed here daily), but 
it's still a hell of an act to follow. I hope COMPACT COMBAT holds up as 

Guy McLimore / guymc@evansville.net
MicroTactix Games
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