Thursday, December 8, 2011

Converting to Tunnels & Trolls - Part 4 - Combat (Critical Hits?)

Combat in T&T seems to be more of a narrative than a blow by blow record like in AD&D. This made me start thinking, as I sometimes do, about one possible situation that you would tend to not have in T&T; the against all odds, call it a lucky shot, or call it divine intervention blow, that defeats the mightier enemy.
  • David slew Goliath with a single stone.
  • Indiana Jones dropped that sword guy with a well-placed shot.
  • Elric defeated Karandenus with a single swing of his sword.
OK. Elric was my PC that was very much a complete and utter rip-off of the Moorcock's 'Elric of Melnibone'. We played in a very cool campaign where the DM (One of the best - Chris S) used a lot of PC's from his other games as his NPC's. The DM was also very into city adventures which rubbed off on me; a lot of warring guilds, corrupt guards, and dueling wizards.

Karandenus was the bad-ass guy that just sat in the street wearing his oriental straw hat (coolie hat). I believe he was a master for one of the assassins guilds in the city. At any rate, for whatever reason, Elric decided it was time he took this guy down and challenged him to a fight.

I rolled a natural 20, a critical hit. We used a modified 'Critical Hits' chart that appeared in Dragon Magazine #39, reprinted in Best of Dragon #5.

There was about a 6-7% chance that on a Critical Hit, your opponent was going to be dead (decap, throat slit, heart pierce, and so forth). I made a roll to take off his head, and then ran for my life as his buddies and friends started chasing me through the city. It is another story what happened next to that character.

By my math, I had a 1 in 20 chance to roll the Critical Hit, and another 1 in 18 chance to roll the death dice. This gave me about a 1 in 360 chance to pull off an amazing attack.

Karandenus was a very high level NPC. In T&T terms, I would estimate that he was a character with at least 50+ more adds than my PC's T&T equivalent. If I decided to pull the same nonsense in T&T, there would be no question of the aftermath of the battle. It would be very cool to hear from the T&T GM just how the better skilled fighter in some gruesome way dispatched my moronic arse. Regardless, it seems there is no chance at all in T&T combat rules that I could even crack a 50+ combat add difference.

The one place where I can see in the rules where this could play out is the 'Surprise Attack' phase of T&T combat, where the defender does not get to roll for defense. But I guess this would be more of a 'Cold Cock' attack, not so much of a face off, I challenge you to a duel type of event.

So in T&T, if you are knowingly thinking of messing with something that by far outclasses you, you best not do it. The law of averages and the reality of the situation should be enough to steer you away.

Unless I am missing something.


  1. I understand your point, but you can do the same kind of thing in T&T with "stunts" and saving rolls worked into the narrative.

    Player: I want to feint at Karandenus and then reverse my cut in an attempt to decapitate him. GM: Okay, make a LxSR on your DEX or talent in sword play (whatever the GM thinks is a challenge relative to the NPC's ability). If you miss the SR you will fail in this gambit and your regular attack total for the round will be halved (which will likely mean that K instead kills you).

    This is just off the top of my head, and could be more elaborate, but I trust you get my point. One could argue that spite damage is the equivalent of critical hits as well.

  2. I just use an ASTRO (All Same terrific Roll On!)variation or DARO and TARO. David killed Goliath because he kept rolling doubles.

  3. Very helpful from both of you - thanks!