One of the common problems debated in the community is that of IQ levels in The Fantasy Trip. The tie between the number of spells and talents and that of character IQ often leads to super-genius characters–characters that are supposed to be well, dumb.
The problem is that as characters gain experience and try to gain more talents or spells, their IQ can grow to ridiculous levels. Because the IQ attribute limits the number of spells and talents a character can learn, players have to keep adding to add IQ levels just to gain useful talents or have a higher spell capacity.
This obviously limits wizards and their ability to learn more spells, but it also limits heroes who want to learn additional combat or practical skills. And what about talents that are useful for roleplaying? TFT throws those into a Mundane talents, or “here are some other talents” category.
How do you incentivize players to give up the ability to have extra talents or spells–and a super-high IQ–in order to roleplay? How do you allow the extra talents or spells without fundamentally changing the TFT system?
What Can You Do?
A number of options have been written about on the Internet. One option is to just keep the system as it is. Clean, simple and easy. Everyone knows, no changed needed.
One other option is to simply reduce the cost for spells or talents. This would allow characters to have a lot more spells or talents, but at the cost of game balance. Forcing players to make tough choices during character creation is part of the fun of the game, though.
Another is to add an attribute, sometimes called “skill/spell points.” On creation, the character gets spells or talents just like in the In The Labyrinth rules. After that, experience points can go into IQ or talents.
One option, too, is to change the way talents and spells are done in TFT, and use a system like GURPS where players put points into attributes, but also into “skills” and spells. That moves away from the simplicity of TFT and to the dreaded complexity of GURPS.
Finally, some people have proposed a split IQ system where a character’s IQ is limited at creation, and used for IQ checks, but a secondary IQ level is used to limit spells and talents.
The challenge is how to keep things simple, but stay within the spirit of the original rules. It’s tough–and that is why there are so manu house rules with different solutions.
What I have come up with is to have a combination of an IQ limit by race, but with levels above that determining spell or talent limits. In the Labyrinth does not have a limit for IQ, but one could be assigned for humans at around 20. After reaching 18, the character could then add spells or talents by increasing IQ normally–but any roll against IQ would still be limited at 20.
While this is not a perfect solution, it does solve two problems: One, it caps IQ at a reasonable level. Two, it allows players to gain spells and talents based on experience.
However, it does not solve the problem of a high IQ for a dumb character. The argument could be made that such characters would not be able to learn that many spells or talents in the first place. Regardless, that would take roleplaying to adequately portray such a character.
Another problem is that IQ limits would have to be defined for each player character race. The number 20 just comes from the top end of the Advanced Wizard spell list. You could apply that across the board for all sentient races–with some races being lower, such as giants.
Still, I think this solution is very simple to play by, sticks to the spirit of the original rules, and still allows characters to gain talents or spells as their experience allows. It allows them the ability to add talents for roleplaying, but maintains that cost. It also gives players the incentive to raise their character’s IQ, but keeps the it at a somewhat reasonable level.
What do you do think? What house rules do you have to solve this problem–or do you just let the IQ levels grow?