Saturday, April 23, 2011
T is for-
Trolls; I get that EGG got the prototypical regenerating D&D troll from one of the books I haven't read from appendix N, I get that. My question is why? We English speaking (and I am guessing speakers of any Germanic language) peoples already had a vast wealth of mythology about trolls, so why on earth would you completely change that and confuse the issue? I guess it doesn't matter because the D&D troll won, they are everywhere now. Fantasy has adopted it pretty much wholesale, with a couple of exceptions. I was pleased to see the trolls in Harry Potter were old school.
T is for Taxes. Most D&D realms are libertarian tax free zones. I guess I get that, half the time you are getting hired by the local authorities to bust up the nearby humanoid tribes' encampments anyway, at least that's a pretty common adventure hook at low level. But taxes aren't just for peasants, adventurers should pay their fair share towards the maintenance of the realm too, all those roads and regular patrols and city watches don't pay for themselves. Adventurers just never seem to, and when confronted by the possibility of actually having to would rather raise a much more costly rebellion than pay a portion of their worth as a tax. Like most people, they enjoy the benefits of civilization but don't really want to help pay for it; and, as successful adventurers, they have the means at their disposal to not have to; and the benefits of civilization in D&D worlds are even better than they are in the real world.
T is for Time. I used to be a real stickler for tracking time in a dungeon too, it's one of my lost habits. I track time usually in hours and days and weeks now, all the game-isms are pretty much gone, but I do recognize their utility and plan to bring them back, at least somewhat.
T is for Towns, which are more than just the "home-bases" for adventurers. Towns are also the economic lifeblood of a medieval kingdom. Towns are where trade fairs take place and towns are where tradesmen craft their goods. Pretty much every specialty item in the medieval world is only going to be made in a town, and if you need something really specialized like, say, armor fixed or altered you are going to need to go to a town and hope that the right type of craft is represented there. Sure, you can get a lot of things in any no-horse hamlet in the middle of no where, maybe a warm meal, a strong drink and roof over your head, maybe some new clothes, maybe new shoes or old ones fixed, but the best quality stuff and the greatest variety is only going to be available in a town.
T is for Trades, which are kind of related to towns above. Trades are specialized, players always forget that stuff because none of these medieval skills means anything to us because we can buy anything we want at the local Walmart cheap and quick. I spent years in college learning about some of the boring aspects of medieval trades, like the fact that glovers are different than tailors or hatters. Blacksmiths don't make weapons or armor, they don't fix them either. They are different skills, related in that they all work with metal, but different. It's kind of like assuming that because someone can fix your car he can fix your computer too. Seriously, I went to college and studied the middle ages so I could immerse myself in the glory of their chivalrous feats and heraldic pageantry and romantic notions of nobility; instead I got competing law codes, a deeply religious society and it's attendant heresies, trade guilds and the embryonic middle class and a bunch of self absorbed power-hungry douche-bags at the top of both the ecclesiastical and secular power structures that make you wonder how Europeans ever came out of the medieval period when their leadership was like that.
T is for Travel, which in the real medieval period was bloody dangerous, ironically it's usually safer in "standard" D&D. I find myself seeing travel in one of two ways when I play, either travel is the adventure, like a sandbox hex-crawl; or travel is to the adventure, in which case it mostly gets glossed over except for the occasional random encounter or misery inducing swamp trekking scene :)
T is for Tithes and I think pretty much every PC should be paying them. When the presence of God(s) is (are) obvious and well known, particularly to adventurers who travel with Clerics, paying out a little of your income for the upkeep of the temples and the wages of the temple staff isn't really out of the question, now is it? When you see the healing magic you can't really pretend to be agnostic, much less atheist.
T is for Tactics. As a wargamer who DMs, particularly these days, for non-wargamers I find I have to tone down my tactics for most bad guys; to not try so hard to win every battle. I have found that randomizing attacks rather than using my metagame* knowledge and adding the B/X morale rules to AD&D has helped a lot.
T is for Technology, I was going to write a post about why D&D technology is medieval, but just read this instead.
T is for Temples and every no name village should have at least a small one. Here in the USA we call them churches, my hometown had something like 600 people when I was little and 3 churches. I am from the northeast, not the bible belt. Just something to keep in mind.
T is for Thieves. I kind of hate them. They took what should be handled by player skill and turned it into a skill check roll. That and all of my friends growing up loved the sneaky bastards. I never saw a use for any character that wasn't going to be a team player in the party, and even the illustrations in the Players Handbook seem to encourage maximum dickery for people that play Thieves. My standard contract for Thief characters that join any party in which I am a member is that if they get caught stealing from the party they will be summarily executed. Mike F. came up with that clause, it really applies to all party members, but we know it's there for the Thief. Thanks Mike!
T is for Traps and I have to admit that I hate them too. I think I remember a point in my life where I actually enjoyed traps, but then I realized that even minimal use of traps slows adventuring down to an absolute snails pace, or you get a PMD; neither of those is an acceptable outcome for me. I like to keep things moving along at a pretty brisk pace, it helps to keep everyone focused on the game.
T is for Temujin which is the birth name of Genghis Khan.
*You know, target the spell casters to disrupt spells, target the wounded to take them down, etc; all the stuff that EGG actually told us we should do to keep our players challenged, I am guessing he played mostly with wargamers.