Muscularity Obviating Limber Lady Intellectuals

All page references are to The Fantasy Trip In the Labyrinth rulebook, unless noted otherwise.

A collection of my own musings, not to be taken too seriously. -HJC

Errata for In the Labyrinth rulebook, page 16: "Most starting 32-point Goblins are notably bigger [smaller] and stronger [weaker] than an ordinary member of their race, ..."

A properly designed three attribute system has no dump stats

Melee was one of the first role playing games to define characters through allocation of a fixed number of total points amongst a small number of attributes at character creation and then through character advancement. This basic system was continued through the original The Fantasy Trip with character creation defined by attribute allocation and experience points that could only be used to advance attributes. The result is that all characters however they started tended to advance all three attributes over time. This was because there was no practical cap on total attributes, no other use for experience points and each of the three attributes was sufficiently broad that there were no Dump Stat that could be avoided by using the other two attributes.

Warriors needed ST to carry larger weapons in order to inflict more damage, DX to hit first with their weapons, and IQ to learn talents and spells.

Wizards needed ST to power their spells, DX to cast their spells, and IQ to learn talents and spells.

The only partial exception to this three attribute balance was the Scholar sub-type of Hero who would focus mostly on IQ to provide supporting talents for the Warriors and Wizards.

The new edition of TFT upset this balance in the following ways.

The ultimate 40 attribute point human

From the beginning a character can reasonably be assumed to grow to no more than 40 attribute points over time, with each point increase above this costing as many experience points as all the points before that step. How then to allocate these points?

If the character is to learn Unarmed Combat V then they will require ST 12, DX 14 and IQ 14, which is 40 points of attributes.

The ultimate Master Fencer will have ST 10 (for the saber), DX 14, and IQ 13. This is 37 attribute points required so the three additional points are best allocated to DX to enable wearing of armor or much better chances to make shrewd thrusts.

The ultimate wizard will have IQ 20 (to enable casting of the highest spells), leaving 20 points to divide between ST and DX. Leaving ST at the human minimum of 8 leaves DX 12 and hence a 26% chance of spell failure in most cases.

But the game does not stop at human limits. The IQ 20 human wizard can hope to wish for DX 14 or wear a +2 DX ring.

Enter the goblin

Another way of overcoming human limits is to play a non-human character. Elves, Halflings and Goblins can allocate less than minimum human ST and so can eventually have ST 6, DX 14, IQ 20 wizards with only a 9% chance of spell failure. If they get a +2 DX ring then they can wear it with leather armor (which is lighter than human armor for the halfling and goblin). So the "ultimate" 40 attribute point wizard is ST 6, DX 14, and IQ 20, but what is her race?

First I will skip over the obvious solution of an old human man or woman who has used aging losses to strategically lower their own ST. This trope has been done to death so just yank away their walking sticks and see who's sorry now.

The elf would seem to have the advantage in mobility, but her armor is at full human weight, and that's the heaviest single item she's likely to carry. Also there is the creepy freak outs so drop an illusion of a green slime on her and watch her go all Carrie.

The halfling is of course the most powerful choice. Just imagine the halfling evil high priestess with Theologian, Charisma, and Word of Command: Believe who is out to conquer all of Cidri with her fiendishly crafted religion of peace and love. Best to just nudge her into the octopus pit early on.

The only advantage the goblin seems to offer is the ability to start with IQ higher than 16, but surely one attribute can't fully substitute for a critical lack of the other two?

Staff of Mastery, staff of doom

Another big change in the "legacy" edition of TFT is the inclusion of new staff powers. These are briefly summarized as:

The Staff V step appears to offer the least extra benefit, especially to the starting wizard who won't have any Mana at all for a long time.

Compare a human wizard with ST 8, DX 9, IQ 15 and Staff IV vs a Goblin with ST 6, DX 9, IQ 17 and Staff V. Both can combine occult zaps with either dodging or defending and the human can do this five times before becoming weak, while the goblin is limited to three non-weak zaps.

The human does almost one point more damage, but it takes her two more turns to do this and she requires thirty minutes more rest afterwards. Plus her long-term advancement is more limited as seen above.

The elf is non-competitive because of the lack of Staff IV (or at least Staff V) powers. Without these the elf can only attack or defend, not both at the same time. An interesting alternative is an elf with ST 6, DX 11, IQ 15 who has Staff IV and the Two Weapons talent to do a double parry and zap, but that would be the subject for a different article.

The Occult Zap is a thrown spell

The "occult attack" of the Staff spell takes a little bit of crisscross referencing to disentangle.

All of the Staff spells are marked with the (S) for "Special Spells" and as noted at ITL 140 these are treated the same as Thrown Spells unless they specify a different range modifier.

Does this mean that a wizard can point at a spear or sword somebody else is holding and announce that it is now her staff and he can drop it or die? That seems unreasonable and the Staff spells already define their Special Spell range of one or two hexes.

A more reasonable assumption is that creating a Staff is a creation spell (and hence immune to Remove Thrown Spell) that can only be cast on an item the wizard is holding, while it is the occult zap that functions as the Special Spell which is a Thrown Spell with specific range rules. This means that the occult zap can at the very least be used against insubstantial(ITL 31) targets and more broadly be used against anything not specifically immune to thrown spells. so while bashing a green slime(ITL 99) with your Staff I does no good, the occult zaps can kill it.

The basic starter Molly

the basic Molly is then:

Goblin wizard
ST 6, DX 9, IQ 17, MA 10
2-h wooden maul/staff-v(1d/1d+2)
robe(no protection)
goblin and sorcerers' tongues.
staff-v spell.

in combat she will defend or dodge while applying occult zaps, with the magical weapon cudgeling as a last resort.

after spending five memory points to learn one spell she is left with a mere dozen memory points for other abilities. (i.e. the leftovers are more memory points than most humans start with.) here are some suggestions for where to spend these memory points(MP).

Because she is a wizard, Molly is expected to know at least a few spells. Here's some that work for a low-ST, low-DX, high-IQ wizard:

Joy of the Dagger-Staff

The dagger is one of the allowable physical forms for a wizard's staff as listed at ITL 148. The dagger has several advantages for a wizard's staff, especially for a Molly:

The major limitation for the dagger-staff is that it can't be a Missile Spell Rod (ITL 163) due to the Rod form restriction at ITL 155. This restricts the dagger-staff user to three die bolts unless they tie up their free hand with a magical rod.

Staff as a replacement for other spells

The +3 DX for Staff III and its two-hex range in any direction, the free action zaps of Staff IV, and then the extra two points of damage from Staff V enable the use of an occult blast in place of other spells. In each of these cases I don't care if the target has mundane armor, but magical armor would largely negate these:

Molly's progression

Using occult zaps from the second rank while using Alertness to spot all traps and hazards should keep Molly alive for a while. Her first 400 XP need to go into DX and get that up to 12 so that her spells work 74% of the time and her occult zaps land 95% of the time.

At this point multiple options open up, and the choices depend on the items and allies Molly has found along the way. She can:

Even with the ultimate goal of ST 6, DX 14, IQ 20, Mana 40, Staff-V and Dagger Mastery locked into place, there are many decisions to be made about how to get to Molly's mountain top and what additional pieces to add along the way.

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This game aid is the original creation of Henry J. Cobb and is released for free distribution, and not for resale, under the permissions granted in the Steve Jackson Games Online Policy.