Friday, March 25, 2011

Converting to Tunnels & Trolls - Part 2 - Monster Rating

As I continue to tackle the issue of MR and monster toughness, the one thing that continues to trip me up is the lack of consistency within the published T&T rules system, at least in my mind. I may be alone in this. Some conversation about this can be found here.

A few things that are crossing me up are:

1. The Adjustable MR theory

I understand that basic premise of MR within the T&T rules; for any monster that you want to use, add up the number of dice your party of delvers is rolling and base the monster rating off of this. If you have a party that is rolling 20 Dice with their weapons, make your Troll a 192 MR Troll that would be rolling 20 Dice +96 adds because this would represent a fair fight or challenge. But - should a troll ever be a 200 MR monster? Is a troll a base 100 MR monster, but a well trained Troll could be a bit higher MR, or 200MR?. The 'adjustable' MR system makes some sense, but it is overly simplistic, especially when considering that based on these rules, the number of combat adds is equal to half the MR for the monster.

To me, an orc is an orc, an ogre should be an ogre, and a giant ant should be a giant ant. A minimum for a monster should or needs to be consistent, or at least it will be in my game. Which brings me to my second point...

2. Lack of consistent description of size

How big is a troll? How big is a giant? How big is a Giant Ant? It is a common, oh so common, trait in T&T rules to leave things very vague, I am assuming by design.

Amphisbaena, MR 98
A 'large, two-headed serpent...': that is it. 30 feet long, 40 feet long? How large is large? It has a monster rating of 98, so it must be pretty freaking large, right? But wait - it gets better. "If captured, tamed, and subsequently worn by a pregnant woman, a live amphibaena guarantees healthy children, most likely twins".


A 98 MR monster can be worn around the neck of a (what I am assuming) a normal sized woman for a healthy child? So that brings this wonderous snake back down to a size between what, 5 and 10 feet?

There is no consistent description of size whatsover in this book (Monsters and Magic Book, Special Edition) that came with the 7.5 boxed set. Below is a list of the first 10 or so monsters (non-human) in the book along with the closest thing to describing size in the text:

Amphisbaena (MR 98) - "large"
Barghest (MR 196) - "monstrous"
Cerberus (MR 145) - "three-headed watchdog"
Chimera (MR 147) - "fearsome mixture of lion, goat, and serpent"
Cyclops (MR 245) - "giants"
Dire Bat (MR 95) - "these giant bats often have wingspan of 5 feet or more"
Dire Lion (MR 148) - "massive creatures nearly 9 feet tall at the shoulder"
Dire Wolf (MR 95) - "massive"
Dragonling (MR 25) - "humanoid...diminutive"
Goblinkin (MR 294) - no description
Harpy (MR 245) - "lower body of predatory bird with head and chest of a terrible woman"

From this short list - I have 2 monsters I definitely know how big they are. From the rest I know that I don't want to mess with a Goblinkin because "they are evolved and warlike unlike their hunchbacked cousins" (and then some obviously with a MR 294) - I just don't know how big they are?

My point - is there a point? I know that 'Massive' means 9 feet tall at the shoulder, and giant means a 5 foot wingspan - but that is about it...

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