November 21, 2013

TFT - Playing When You're Not Playing

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) has a mechanic in place for character "down-time". This is the time a character spends in their life that is not taken up with an adventure. Each character has a job, such as baker, blacksmith or assassin. There is a base salary for each of these occupations and each span of down-time (one week) a character gets to roll to see how they fared. The results range from gaining money to gaining an attribute point (which is a huge considering the game is attribute driven) or taking hazard damage.  Different jobs offer different payment scales and different chances to succeed or fail. TFT sums it up with...

"...characters have lives of their own. A character can earn money, get experience, and get killed ... all without ever going on an adventure ... just like real life."

One one hand, I like the concept of things happening to characters when they are not adventuring. It adds a level of realism to a campaign. It also removes the concept of "murdering hobos" from the campaign. The campaign can focus on adventure and setting things right rather than the pursuit of gold.

However, I am not a fan of such huge changes to a character. I feel advancements should come as a result of adventure, not from toiling away as a clerk in a store. One question some players have is...why does my character adventure? If the benefits of not adventuring are as good as adventuring, why bother adventuring? It also removes the concept of choice. Rolling for downtime is a single die roll with no choice to be made by the character. During adventuring characters are constantly making choices - I prefer that over a simple die roll.

All that being said, I like downtime rolls - just keep any changes to a character at a low scale. Your thoughts?

Post a Comment