Apologies for the delay in posting this particular chapter. Work has had me tied up recently and I haven’t been able to do any sort of reading on TOR to make a post in time. That said, let’s go ahead and take a look at TOR’s Character Development.
The first thing that TOR tells you is that there are two experience tracks. Experience points, and Advancement points. Everyone knows how the first one works. Advancement points, however, are used to bump up common skills. Interestingly, you can only obtain Advancement points if the use of a skill turns out to make the game interesting and exciting, or if it ties in with a given Trait.
Valour and Wisdom
Another interesting gauge in TOR are the Valour and Wisdom stats. These scores increase naturally as the Player Heroes encounter and overcome all sorts of trouble, and represent internal attributes of a character.
Valour is the Player-Hero’s courage and willingness to face danger, while Wisdom is the Player-Hero’s capacity for good judgement. These scores are important as increasing them is often accompanied by a boon, with special abilities called Virtues for Wisdom, and Rewards for Valor.
Furthermore, Valor and Wisdom are also stats that are used to resist some of the more insidious methods of the Shadow. Fear tests are resisted by Valor, and Corruption by Wisdom.
Virtues and Rewards
I guess the closest thing I could compare these to would be Feats from D20. I know it’s a crass sort of comparison, but it serves. Virtues and Rewards are little perks that manifest in a Player-Hero when they reach their second rank in Wisdom or Valour, and so starting characters often start with at least 1 Virtue or 1 Reward depending on how they distribute their starting points.
Virtues range from general advantages like “Fell-handed” which raises the character’s close combat Damage rating by one. To specific Cultural ones like “Durin’s Way” for the Dwarves, who gain a +3 bonus to their Parry rating while fighting underground.
Rewards on the other hand take the form of improvements to existing equipment. These can be anything from weapons to armor, to a helm or a shield. The qualities that can be gained are again general, like Close-fitting (for armor) which improves the item’s Protection rating by +1, or Cultural such as the King’s Blade of the Hobbits, which automatically inflicts Piercing blows on a great or extraordinary success on an attack.
Life and Death
Let’s face it, TOR isn’t a “happy-happy anime-inspired, can’t die unless it’s dramatically appropriate” sort of game.
TOR characters are built to suffer. That much is clear. Given the sheer number of conditions detailed in this portion, from Weary, Exhausted, Miserable, Wounded and Poisoned, there’s plenty of fun to be had by all parties.
I’ll not get too involved in explaining each of the conditions but I do find that having them here is great for playing up the very real threat of being out in the wild without the comforts of modern life.
Adventurers are viewed as strange exactly because they go out and take the crazy risks that put them though all sorts of life-threatening and unenviable positions, but the rewards are great, and their heroism serves to help society as a whole (most of the time.)
I’ve never had a chance to run Fantasy games much, but this sort of thing really hit me only while reading TOR. The Heroes in TOR are taking real risks, this isn’t just about playing whack-a-mole with goblins for XP and gold pieces.