The Fantasy Trip

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Moonglum

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The new edition of The Fantasy Trip (TFT) was recently released in pdf form to Kickstarter backers and will be rolled out to the general in various pieces and formats over the coming months. If you are new to the party, this is an official revival of the line of combat-focused board games (Melee, Wizard, Death Test) and the related roleplaying game (In The Labyrinth) published by Metagaming in the late 70's and early 80's. Steve Jackson Games has acquired the rights to the parts of that line that SJ himself wrote (pretty much all of the core), and just sent a truly amazing boxed set off to be printed. Some relevant links:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sjgames/the-fantasy-trip-old-school-roleplaying?ref=user_menu
http://forums.sjgames.com/forumdisplay.php?f=100

This has been my main table top rpg system for close to 40 years and I played it frequently throughout that period, so I suspect I'm one of the more devoted fans out there. The new edition is really wonderful: completely true to the original, with careful Banzai-tree-level pruning, editing and subtle additions of new material. I would say the end result is most like comparing 2nd edition Runequest to 1st, or 5th edition Tunnels and Trolls to the previous editions: clearly the same game, clearly a product of 70's era game design concepts, but tightened up and modestly pumped up.

If you don't know about TFT, it is a very distinctive fantasy roleplaying system. On paper you could convince yourself it is GURPS-lite, but this is not really right. It is clearly the direct ancestor of GURPS, but has quite a different feel in play. It is highly tactical and very 'game-y' in its approach to combat. Its magic system in particular is the most integrated A very clean, streamlined system as a fully rpg. Very, very deadly to PCs (basically, just assume you will turn over characters at a fairly regular clip). Very bouncy and fun with lots of creative details.
 

Dumarest

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I reviewed the original set here. Looking forward to the box sets arrival! Someone should do a PbP.
Would combat work well in that format? Seems like a fight would drag on for days unless all involved parties committed to posting several times a day. It's part of what made me rethink the feasibility of play-by-post Flashing Blades.
 

Moonglum

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I don't have any experience with PbP so I can't offer an expert opinion. But, combat in TFT follows very logical, specified rules governing movement and actions and order of events. If you had a hex map with coordinates in each hex, I imagine you could resolve combat in just the same way you would in a PbP game of chess (and with a similar overall feel). Combats in TFT tend to last roughly 5 turns, on average, if that gives you a feel for how long it would take to finish something like that.
 

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As I recall it's very lethal so combat doesn't last long.
 

Moonglum

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Combat is always very fast for 1 on 1 fights, although these sort of situations don't reveal the coolest elements of the system. Once there are three or more combatants on the map things start to get interesting fast because the rules governing movement, facing, reach, range and charges make the game very chess-like: Whereas a 1 on 1 fight in TFT has an outcome that is pretty easy to predict from the opponents' stats and gear (much as for D+D), a fight with multiple combatants on each side is pretty strongly controlled by your choices during movement.

The speed of big fights depends enormously on how experienced people are with the game. A big complicated battle could take 15 minutes if both sides are making and executing choices fast, or 2 hours if they are dithering. The correct pace should look like chess played with a move clock.
 

Dumarest

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Combat is always very fast for 1 on 1 fights, although these sort of situations don't reveal the coolest elements of the system. Once there are three or more combatants on the map things start to get interesting fast because the rules governing movement, facing, reach, range and charges make the game very chess-like: Whereas a 1 on 1 fight in TFT has an outcome that is pretty easy to predict from the opponents' stats and gear (much as for D+D), a fight with multiple combatants on each side is pretty strongly controlled by your choices during movement.

The speed of big fights depends enormously on how experienced people are with the game. A big complicated battle could take 15 minutes if both sides are making and executing choices fast, or 2 hours if they are dithering. The correct pace should look like chess played with a move clock.
That's at the table, though; play-by-post suffers from everyone waiting on someone else to clearly state where they are moving to, how they are faced, and what they are doing. A 15-minute tabletop D&D battle ends up taking a full week to resolve. I think The Fantasy Trip would need to be face-to-face either in person or online to avoid grinding to a halt. It's those long waits that make people lose interest in play-by-post.
 

Moonglum

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That's at the table, though; play-by-post suffers from everyone waiting on someone else to clearly state where they are moving to, how they are faced, and what they are doing. A 15-minute tabletop D&D battle ends up taking a full week to resolve. I think The Fantasy Trip would need to be face-to-face either in person or online to avoid grinding to a halt. It's those long waits that make people lose interest in play-by-post.
Correct; I've never done PbP so this hadn't occurred to me. I suppose it could go either way: if the pace of PbP is dictated by the total number of TURNS (where each turn involves quite a few choices per side), then PbP Movement phase could be fast because I can turn around decisions about 10 figures fast enough for it not to seem like a PbP delay. But the action phase would slow to a crawl as you work your way down the DX order, making action choices that respond to prior actions. I think the only way to play TFT as a PbP game would be to 'bin' the action phase of the turn in the same way you do the movement (one side does all its actions then the other side does all its actions). This could turn it into a reasonably fast game.
 

Dumarest

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Correct; I've never done PbP so this hadn't occurred to me. I suppose it could go either way: if the pace of PbP is dictated by the total number of TURNS (where each turn involves quite a few choices per side), then PbP Movement phase could be fast because I can turn around decisions about 10 figures fast enough for it not to seem like a PbP delay. But the action phase would slow to a crawl as you work your way down the DX order, making action choices that respond to prior actions. I think the only way to play TFT as a PbP game would be to 'bin' the action phase of the turn in the same way you do the movement (one side does all its actions then the other side does all its actions). This could turn it into a reasonably fast game.
Maybe we should give it a test sometime. Voros Voros might be up for it.
 

Moonglum

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In what way has it been 'pumped up'?
There are new spells, talents and creatures that don't fundamentally change the game but add more meat to the bone. I would say the talent list ha been expanded by ~20 %, and the spell and monster lists by ~10 %. The most significant new editions for game play are talents for weapon and shield mastery and a series of spells for expanding the power of the wizard's staff (most significantly, over time it can become a pretty big ST battery for spell casting).

There are bigger increases in physical components: beautifully made maps, new counters including a 14 hex dragon, an expanded scale of hexes to permit play with standard size miniatures. The game is physically much improved (at least, based on what we can see from pictures of prototypes).
 

Skarg

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I've played and run quite a bit of Play-by-Post and play-by-email TFT and GURPS, and although my appetite and tolerance for such mapped tactical combat is greater than most, I don't think it takes particularly long. TFT combats generally only last a few turns, or several for a larger combat. I suppose it could take a very long time if you waited for each player to react to each player, but a GM can just ask everyone what they want to do and then resolve most things without needing to go back-and-forth, as long as the players are OK trusting the GM to make appropriate small decisions based on what they said they wanted to do. The GM often should post a map image however, and update it to show the situation once or twice per turn.

I'd be happy to participate or run a combat for you guys.
 

Skarg

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I'm up for it
You seem to already have a counter picked out.
120.jpg
 

Voros

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That's at the table, though; play-by-post suffers from everyone waiting on someone else to clearly state where they are moving to, how they are faced, and what they are doing. A 15-minute tabletop D&D battle ends up taking a full week to resolve. I think The Fantasy Trip would need to be face-to-face either in person or online to avoid grinding to a halt. It's those long waits that make people lose interest in play-by-post.

I'm a bit of a heretic and would just play the combat theatre-of-the-mind rather than minis-on-a-mat.
 

Skarg

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TOTM will reduce a lot of what TFT combat is, though. That is, a game about situations where your tactical choices matter, the greatest one being about where you and your allies move and face relative to the terrain, foes, and other objects, so as to result in the situations of who can attack whom under what circumstances (and what other actions can be taken), which is turn tends to be the main thing that determines who wins and who dies. TOTM would reduce that game into talking the GM into having the situation go your way, or not, in the GM's mind rather than on the map.
 

Voros

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TOTM will reduce a lot of what TFT combat is, though. That is, a game about situations where your tactical choices matter, the greatest one being about where you and your allies move and face relative to the terrain, foes, and other objects, so as to result in the situations of who can attack whom under what circumstances (and what other actions can be taken), which is turn tends to be the main thing that determines who wins and who dies. TOTM would reduce that game into talking the GM into having the situation go your way, or not, in the GM's mind rather than on the map.

You're obviously a maps-and-minis true believer. I can respect that but I played ttrpgs as 'theatre-of-the-mind' from the very beginning and never had an issue as a player or a GM.

That said, if we're going to do a PbP I'm happy to play however everyone else prefers!
 

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I'm a bit of a heretic and would just play the combat theatre-of-the-mind rather than minis-on-a-mat.
Well, I was talking about a test of whether play-by-post The Fantasy Trip combat is even feasible when so much hinges on positioning and facing. I'm skeptical just based on how long a round would take.
 

Voros

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Well, I was talking about a test of whether play-by-post The Fantasy Trip combat is even feasible when so much hinges on positioning and facing. I'm skeptical just based on how long a round would take.

Yeah without a visible interface I'm not sure how that would work. We'd need to use Roll20 of something.
 

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Well I've never read the rules or played the game but Im not the type of fellow who let's a little thing like that stop me from opining on the subject.


I believe it started as a tactical board game and grew into an RPG without ever leaving it's tactical origin. It might be more of a stretch to go TOTM for it than say D&D.
 

Moonglum

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I play TFT remotely quite a bit (at least once a week these days), and the way we manage is by just playing through Skype and training a camera on the battle mat. It seems to work well enough, though the GM has to help a little to cover for players who make a dumb move simply because they didn't see the situation as they would have in person. But even that is rare.
 

Skarg

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I don't know if you guys missed it or don't believe me, but I've run and played many TFT and GURPS combats using forums and/or email. You just need a GM or referee who understands how to do it, and who provides images for the current map position. Players can either mark the image and send it back, or just say things such as:

* I move to the spear-orc's left side hex, facing him, and will attack with my hatchet.
or
* I move N, N, NE, NE, and face SE, and do a two-hex jab with my halberd at the bowman.

If the situation changes (as it often does if the foes move second), then the GM may need to send the final positions before the action phase, so players can say what they do. And sometimes the action itself will change the situation so the GM may need to ask a player what they actually do given what happens, but that's not usually particularly common, and can be headed off by players saying things like:

* I'll shoot at the wizard if there's a free shot, if not I'll shoot at the nearest crossbowman I have a clear shot at, or any foe who ends up double-teaming one of our guys.
or
* If I end up facing more than one opponent, I'll Defend. Otherwise I'll hack at whoever I'm facing, unless it's the goblin, in which case I'll try to knock him down with my shield. If I've got no one to hack at, I'll dodge if someone shoots at me, or if not, I'll try to disbelieve the wolf.
 

Moonglum

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Getting stoked for my weekly game of TFT tomorrow night. We're using the new rules set (I'm a KS backer, so I got all the pdfs early), but playing in a campaign setting I've had brewing off and on for 40 years. The whole thing is a bit chaotic, but so large and detailed after all those years that we can start campaigns by dropping a couple of new characters on the dock front of the main city and rolling for a random encounter. That's where we started a couple of months ago and the whole thing just snowballed into a wilder and more ambitious series of events than any plot I could have cooked up. Major highlights include a raid on a cult temple (for a basically personal reason), which went tits-up pretty much out of the starting gate, followed by the capture of the entire party by a lone ex-ninja bounty hunter, imprisonment in the temple basement and forced participation in several wild gladiatorial contests. After they proved tougher than expected, the head priest had them secretly dosed with a slow acting poison and has sent them on a mission to retrieve a Cthonic tome ... with failure punished by removal of the regular doses of antidote he's been giving them. They are currently deep in the labyrinthine basements of an ancient ruined manor, battling mushroom men and searching for the lair of the twisted renegade wizard who they suspect holds the tome. I don't understand how the party has avoided any fatalities so far, but that isn't likely to last.
 

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I don't know if you guys missed it or don't believe me, but I've run and played many TFT and GURPS combats using forums and/or email. You just need a GM or referee who understands how to do it, and who provides images for the current map position. Players can either mark the image and send it back, or just say things such as:

* I move to the spear-orc's left side hex, facing him, and will attack with my hatchet.
or
* I move N, N, NE, NE, and face SE, and do a two-hex jab with my halberd at the bowman.

If the situation changes (as it often does if the foes move second), then the GM may need to send the final positions before the action phase, so players can say what they do. And sometimes the action itself will change the situation so the GM may need to ask a player what they actually do given what happens, but that's not usually particularly common, and can be headed off by players saying things like:

* I'll shoot at the wizard if there's a free shot, if not I'll shoot at the nearest crossbowman I have a clear shot at, or any foe who ends up double-teaming one of our guys.
or
* If I end up facing more than one opponent, I'll Defend. Otherwise I'll hack at whoever I'm facing, unless it's the goblin, in which case I'll try to knock him down with my shield. If I've got no one to hack at, I'll dodge if someone shoots at me, or if not, I'll try to disbelieve the wolf.
I'm with Skarg, it helps if you uses a hex map where each hex is numbered (they were very common in the day, we used to use a judges guild blank campaign map with 1" hexes, we also tried some secret movement...hence the hex numbers). Using the numbers would be similar to chess, like I move to hex xxx (through hexs aaa and bbb) and turn to face hex yyy.
 

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I'm mad at myself for missing the TFT kickstarter, and then not having the money to "preorder" from Backerkit when I found out about that. It would have been nice if SJG hadn't set the preorder to end at the very end of the month and like let it go for another week.
 

Dumarest

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So when are we doing this play-by-post experiment? :dice: :hehe:

(I only have the original editions.)
 

Skarg

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No one showed up from here to play. I'm going to be running a slow PBP game there anyway, if anyone wants to show up. I'm going to give a shot at hcobb's simple Dragon Safari test, to give it context: http://www.hcobb.com/tft/dragon_safari.html
 

Skarg

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Hopefully folks will see it how and hop over to the Discord site to try (...) to hunt dragons. ;-)
 

Skarg

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The game is underway. We're currently doing six heroes facing a seven-headed hydra... So if you follow the Discord invite link I posted above and go the the #adventure-1 channel, you can HydraLedge005.gif check that out as well as the RP before it.
 

Belle Sorciere

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Oh you're over there too.

Not that I'm playing anything, but I can look at the Hydra fight. Nice.
 

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If you have ordered the Legacy Edition box set it is a thing of beauty. You could play from now to doomsday, based on just that box alone, including all the counters and tokens you would ever want.
 
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