Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 11 / APRIL 1981 / PAGE 46

The Mysterious And Unpredictable RND

Bob Albrecht and George Firedrake

From a book of the same name by Dymax Publishing Company; copyright ©1980 Dymax. Permission to reprint by teachers for classroom use is granted.
Editor's Note: You may reach Bob & George by mail at:
P.O. Box 310
Menlo Park, CA

Create An Adventure

Have you played Dungeons and Dragons or Runequest or Tunnels and Trolls? These are fantasy adventure games. To play these games, you create a character. You then guide your character through adventures in a world created by a Gamemaster and... sigh... completely controlled by the Gamemaster.

If you don't know about these games, we suggest you get rule books from the following companies.

  • Dungeons and Dragons (D & D) from TRS Hobbies, P.O. Box 756, Lake Geneva, WI 53147.
  • Runequest from the Chaosium, P.O. Box 6302, Albany, CA 94706.
  • Tunnels and Trolls from Flying Buffalo, Inc., P.O. Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ 85252.

To create a character to play any of these games, you will need to roll three six-sided dice several times. We will demonstrate by rolling a character to play Tunnels and Trolls. Why? Because T & T is the simplest game for beginners to begin with.

An adventurer has six Prime Attributes: STRENGTH, INTELLIGENCE, LUCK, CONSTITUTION, DEXTERITY and CHARISMA. The six Prime Attributes determine the character's ability to speak languages, use weapons, overcome monsters, sense things, use magic, and...go successfully adventuring in the Gamemaster's world.

The Prime Attributes are usually abbreviated, as follows.


In T & T (Tunnels and Trolls), these are the Prime Attributes:

STRENGTH is primarily the ability to exert force—lifting, shoving, pushing down, etc. It shows how much junk (measured in weight units, see below) the character can move around. If his strength is ever depleted until it goes to 0, the character is dead.

INTELLIGENCE is the measure of a character's ability to reason clearly, solve problems, remember well, etc. It is also a factor in language ability.

LUCK is the ability to be in the right place at the right time, or to put something else in the right place at the right time. It is useful in avoiding traps, striking luck blows with weapons, and gambling of all sorts.

CONSTITUTION is the general measure of a character's health. It is also the measure of endurance and how much punishment the body can absorb before it dies. Hits taken in combat are subtracted from Constitution. If CON ever goes to 0, the character dies.

DEXTERITY refers to manual dexterity and general agility.

CHARISMA is the measure of one's personal attractiveness and leadership ability. It is not necessarily synonymous with personal beauty, although there is often a high correlation. Charisma is the only attribute which can fall to 0, or even go negative, without resulting in death. Generally speaking, characters with charismas less than 7 are unappreciated in human society, and anything less than 3 is positively unwelcome. Monstrous characters, when rated with attributes, have negative charismas.

And so we come to the final tasks of this booklet.

Exercise 15. Write a program to roll a T & T character. A RUN might look like this.

STR     15
IQ      11
LK      8
CON     16
DEX     14
CHR     9

Hmmm...obviously a fighter. Remember, when we roll three dice, the possible outcomes are 3 to 18. So, our character is strong (STR = 15), agile (DEX = 14), with a very high ability to sustain damage (CON = 16). He or she is about average in intelligence (IQ = 11), obviously not a leader (CHR = 9) and must depend on skill, not luck (LK = 8).

The definitions of the Prime Attributes are taken from, the rulebook TUNNELS & TROLLS, copyright 1975, 1977, 1979 by Ken St. Andre, published by Flying Buffalo, Inc., P.O. Box 1467 Scottsdale, AZ 85252 and is reprinted by permission.

In fantasy games, usually a bunch of characters get together to explore the Gamemaster's universe. So, let's roll some more characters to accompany Fibak the Fighter, who awaits in the frontier town of Ziredrac, hoping to collect a company of adventurers to explore the caves under Mt. Skybison, a place of jagged (but sometimes fuzzy) peaks and mysterious dark valleys that sometimes light up with brilliant flashes of wisdom.

We RUN the program again.

STR     14
INT     8
LK      15
CON     7
DEX     6
CHR     14

This is, indeed, a strange character! Strong (STR = 14), but easily damaged (CON = 7). Clumsy (DEX = 6). But look at luck (LK = 15) and charisma (CHR = 14). This character will convince others to follow her or him into…what? (Again, look at INT = 8.) But, there is that luck.

Help! Let's roll another adventurer.

STR =   11
INT =   17
LK =    12
CON =   12
DEX =   8
CHR =   15

Saved! Our group is saved! Windstar the Wise wandered by, saw our forlorn little group of adventurers and decided to take charge.

Exercise 16. Describe Windstar as we described Fibak and Clutz. Also describe the way in which Windstar, Fibak and Clutz might work together to explore the Gamemaster's universe, overcome monsters, acquire treasure and…survive!

Exercise 17. (and last of this booklet…) The group of adventurers now numbers three: FIBAK, CLUTZ, WINDSTAR.

Too small a group! They could never survive in the Gamemaster's world. They need at least four more adventurers. More are OK. So, you roll up four more adventurers, then tell who they are and how they relate to and work with our three adventurers.

The Dragons of Pern wish you well in your adventuring.

Do it wisely with luck.

Editor's Note: Next time we come to the end of a series, we'll be printing "Solutions & Stuff"; the author's solutions to the problems raised in this series. Hope you've enjoyed it.