|Art by Liz Danforth|
The original Tunnels & Trolls allows for three 'types' of (beginning) characters: warriors, magic-users, and rogues; they are “modeled respectively on Conan, Gandalf, and Cugel the Clever.” (T&T has no 'Appendix N' or bibliography; St. Andre takes for granted that his audience is familiar with these characters.)
“Magic-users are not supposed to fight in ordinary combats, at least not physically,” states St. Andre, “though they may be doing their best with lethal spellery.” This statement is true of Dungeons & Dragons as well as Tunnels & Trolls. However, in the midst of D&D combat, magic-users can stay at the back of the party and be shielded by more durable characters. In contrast, T&T magic-users are “in the thick of it” and are exposed to the same amount of damage as other party members. Later editions specify that if the amount of damage a party sustains in a given combat turn cannot be divided equally among the party members, magic-users should be subject to a lower amount. (e.g., If a party of three sustains 20 points of damage, it would have to be 7/7/6 split, with the '6' being applied to a magic-user.)
On the other hand, T&T magic-users are allowed to wear armor. In addition, T&T magic-users are on equal footing with other character types with regard to the amount of damage they can sustain; all characters – regardless of type – can survive a number of hit points of damage equal to their constitution Prime Attribute. In last week's post, I described the concept of “adds” a character receives in combat as a result of high strength, dexterity, and luck. Magic-users do not benefit from such personal “adds,” except when fighting unarmed or with a quarterstaff. Later editions would permit magic-users to apply their “adds” to all weapons they are allowed to use (i.e., those weapons that inflict damage of two dice or less).
“As warriors are assumed to become increasingly skillful at defending themselves,” St. Andre writes, warriors can use armor more effectively than other character types. According to the original rules, at the cost of destroying armor (and/or shield), a warrior may increase the effectiveness of that armor (and/or shield) by a multiple equal to the warrior's experience level. For instance, in the original rules, chain mail 'absorbs' five hit points of damage per combat turn; a fifth level warrior may “burn up” that armor and have it absorb twenty-five points of damage. In later editions, this rule would be removed. Now, armor is twice as effective for warriors (of any level) than it is for other character types.
Also in the original rules, a warrior can use a weapon in each hand. In such an instance, the warrior's strength and dexterity are compared to the combined total of the weapons' strength and dexterity requirements. In later editions, any character would be able to fight with two weapons without considering the combined strength and dexterity requirements; however, personal “adds” would not be applied twice.
T&T characters can go berserk in melee combat; this is not restricted to warriors – “Even a magic-user...can go bananas on you.” (In later editions, it seems that a character must be using a weapon of at least three dice to go berserk. Since magic-users cannot use weapons in excess of two dice, they cannot achieve a berserker state.) A result of doubles (or better) when rolling damage allows the player to choose if the character goes berserk. However, characters with an IQ of 8 or less must go berserk under these circumstances; characters with an IQ of 16 or greater cannot normally go berserk.
If berserk, the dice resulting in doubles (or better) are rerolled and the result added to the original total. If the reroll is also doubles, the process continues. So, berserkers can cause much more damage than they normally would, although “adds” are not applied to damage from berserkers. On the following combat turns, if the character is still berserk but does not roll doubles, the second-lowest die result is adjusted to the lowest die result, thereby 'creating' doubles for the berserker to build upon. Berserkers still suffer damage like any other character. In fact, berserkers suffer a (temporary) loss of two strength points per combat round of being berserk. (Since “adds” are not applied, a low strength will not negatively modify damage.) Once a berserker's strength is reduced to five or less, he or she is “exhausted” and no longer capable of fighting. After the enemy has been defeated, a berserk character will attack his or her own party until exhausted, killed, knocked unconscious, or otherwise calmed by the wiles of charisma.