Monday, April 16, 2012

Converting to Tunnels & Trolls - Part 5 - Adventure Points

(I originally started writing these 'Converting' posts regarding some of the issues/topics that would spring to mind as I started getting a bit more involved with T&T as opposed to what I have been playing pretty much my entire life, which is some form of AD&D 1E and 2E.)

I guess I am not so much 'converting' to T&T anymore, at least not from the player side of things. Between the various online sessions via Google+, local conventions, and Troll Hoots, I have played more T&T than really any other game as of late. I have also written a GM adventure for an upcoming Elder Tunnels and begun running a MSPE campaign for the boy, converting our Top Secret characters.

Awarding experience has always been a rather arbitrary process no matter what system you run. That is not to say that some rules systems do a better job than others when offering guidelines or rules around how it should or is recommended to be done. Case in point is the aforementioned Top Secret (TSR) system which I still cannot really wrap my head around.

For AD&D 1E, the awarding of experience almost exclusively revolved around values for slain monsters or opponents. There was also experience awarded for magic items and gold piece value that my group over the years never paid much attention to. In fact, as I have played over the years and created house rules and different ways to handle things, I sometimes forget what the actual rules are as written. While doing some research on this topic, I ran across this statement in the 1st Edition DM's Guide, page 85 regarding the proposed system for converting GP to XP:
While it is more "realistic" for clerics to study holy writings, pray, chant, practice self discipline, etc. to gain experience, it would not make a playable game roll along. Similarly, fighters should be exercising, riding, smiting pelts, tilting at the lists, and engaging in weapons practice of various sorts to gain real expertise (experience); magic-users should be deciphering old scrolls, searching ancient tomes, experimenting alchemically, and so forth; while thieves should spend their off-hours honing their skills, "casing" various buildings, watching potential victims, and carefully planning their next "job". All very realistic but conducive to non-game boredom! ~page 85, Dungeon Master's Guide©1979 TSR Games
This is an interesting take on the notion of character 'downtime', but at the same time, really puts the focus on combat and treasure acquisition that so often gets associated, and rightfully so, with AD&D. You get experience by defeating monsters - that is all. Everything else is just boring..

The 2nd Edition DM's Guide did a much better job of providing some guidelines that could be a bit more useful. Still there is the focus on experience based on defeating your foes, but also now officially presented in AD&D is the awarding of class specific experience.
  • Warriors (and Bards) got bonus XP for defeating his foes. 
  • Priests got bonus XP for successful use of granted powers, casting spells, and for creating potions, scrolls or magic items. 
  • Wizards got bonus XP for casting spells, researching spells, and for creating potions, scrolls or magic items. 
  • Rogues got bonus XP for successful use of a special ability and for gold piece value of treasure obtained
An optional rule in 2E was to use general 'Individual Experience Awards', basically for role-playing. This was quite common in 2E where the goal must have been to 'ease' the old timers into the new edition by offering these rules with the 'Optional' tag. These experience awards included XP for clever ideas, role-playing well, encouraging others to participate. What was once primarily a wargame pretending to be a RPG was now officially actually acknowledging the role-playing part of the RPG in the system.

When it gets right down to it, TnT has these types of things already covered. I do not have any copies of previous editions, but the below chart that is in the MSPE rulebook basically lays out in a bit more detail what you can read about on pages 102-106 of the 7.5 rule book. Adventure Points are awarded for 'Daring',  'Combat', 'Saving Rolls', 'Role-Playing', and anything else that would deserve AP's.  

Coupled with the use of AP's to increase your character's abilities, the AP system for Saving Rolls is wonderfully efficient and I have found, very rewarding, pardoning the pun. While in many other systems, you have to wait until you reach a certain plateau to get your all or nothing level advancement benefits, T&T gives you the ability to constantly 'level up' so to speak by increasing those things that you use all the time - your attributes.

Sure - it is nice to get that level bonus for your saving rolls when you do advance in level in T&T, and getting that new talent is always going to be something to look forward to. But, being able to immediately improve in areas that you know you need to work on is one huge plus in my opinion. It just seems to work quite well. Thankfully, it is only x10 in 7.5 instead of the x100 to increase an attribute in 5th edition. That does seem to be quite excessive.


  1. Good article! I didn't know about the AP bonus for beating tough/many enemies. I need to buy 5.5e or 7.5e soon...

  2. Nice post. Just a nitpick - AP x 100 was 7e T&T, not 5e. In 5e it was always a cumulative total that had benchmarks for levels. 7.5e was dropped to x10 after 7e was playtested and the realization that x100 was way too much.

  3. Thanks GB...the way I interpreted pg 103 I thought ken was revering to 5E