November 14, 2013

TFT - No Skills

The Fantasy Trip was a role-playing game that came out in 1980 with the release of In The Labyrinth, the core rule set. It also included Melee (tactical combat) and Wizard (spellcasting), as well as the Advanced versions of them. The game was written by Steve Jackson who later used the system as a base for GURPS. This series of articles is a look at the rules of The Fantasy Trip as seen through modern eyes.

The Fantasy Trip (TFT) does not have skills. Instead, it has Talents. Talents allow a character to do things that characters without Talents can not do. Talents consist of such things as Swimming, Boating, Literacy, and Fencing. Talents can either allow a character to make use of an ability that they normally could not (such as Swimming - without this you will drown), or provides some sort of bonus with another ability (such as Fencing which increases your crit chance with a sword). Some Talents, such as Sword, can actually be used without the Talent, but with a penalty; this makes some Talents similar to Skills in other systems, but the majority of Talents do not allow their use unless you know the Talent. This sets TFT apart in its use of "skills".

Talents are also the core of the system; the thing that sets characters apart from each other. TFT really does not have classes. At character generation, a player must decide to either be a spell-caster or a non-spellcaster; those are the only two choices available. And this choice confers no abilities to a character, other than the ability to cast spells. It's the Talents wherein a character gains definition. If you want to play the typical fighter you take the appropriate weapons and armor Talents. If you want to play a thief you need to take the right thiefly Talents, such as Remove Traps.

TFT Talents are different from Skills in other systems in a number of fundamental ways...
-They do not require a die roll to use them (other than combat). A Talent either works or doesn't.
-They never change. Some systems allow for Skills to get better as a character progresses, but not TFT.
-They all have requirements. Every Talent requires a certain level in Intelligence (IQ) before it can be taken. Your character can be too dumb to take certain Talents. Some Talents also have additional Talents (such as the Fencing Talent which requires the Sword Talent and a Dexterity (DX) of at least 14).

Again, this is an interesting approach. Of course, because the system is so tightly bound to the stats as the driving force behind getting anything done, they can get away with not having any extra system for resolving actions.
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