Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tunnels & Trolls - Taking a Look

I was at my FLGS last night and found a copy of Tunnels & Trolls v5.5 for a mere $6.  So I took the plunge and bought it.  It's certainly a fun looking RPG, and the rules are different enough from D&D that it might be a nice game to add in to the rotation.  It appears that T&T was first published in 1975 - one year after OD&D.

This is certainly NOT a review of T&T.  I just wanted to share a few observations from skimming the pages this morning!  And I've never played the game and know very little about it.

First, I found a couple of interesting passages in the book:

"In an alternate world where fantasy is alive and magic works (a world somewhat but not exactly similar to Tolkien's Middle Earth) there exist numerous enchanted tunnel complexes (call them Dungeons or Underworlds if you wish) that are liberally loaded with many types of treasure, and abundantly guarded by every imaginable form of monster, magic and trap.  Generally speaking, the greater treasures and most powerful monsters are found further below the surface.  Brave men and women arm themselves and venture within the tunnels at risk of body and soul to seek treasure and experience.  Those who survive and return from such expeditions will increase in experience and wealth to hitherto undreamed-of heights of power and glory over a long period of time.  Every time your character escapes from a tunnel alive, you may consider yourself a winner.  The higher the level and the more wealth your character attains, the better you are doing in comparison to all the other players."

I'd say that sums things up nicely for a fantasy RPG.  :)  I really like the following passage too:

"Characters and players should speak for themselves.  But, with everyone trying to talk at once a game can rapidly degenerate into a shouting match (that can be fun sometimes, too), so it is recommended that the GM keep the number of players in his party small - two or three players with up to four characters apiece is ideal.  When it is necessary for a GM to try and cope with more than three players, it may be necessary to limit the number of charcters they can use at one time, and/or to invoke some form of parliamentary procedure to determine who gets to talke when."

I've not seen too many RPG products that endorse having limited players with multiple PCs each.  I actually kind of like that style of play - but I'm sure there are many who don't.

In perusing the book, I think the combat systems look pretty interesting.  Definitely much different than D&D.  For example, there are a wide range of weapons - but not everyone can use them.  Want to use a Morningstar?  Fine.  But you better have a STR of 17 and DEX of 11 to use it optimally.  Otherwise you will tire very quickly.  And combat resolution is far different than D&D.

Armor and shields can take a certain number of "Hits" before they are destroyed.  They also require a STR score to use them effectively.  Chaimail requires a STR of 12 to use, while a "Knight's Shield" requires a 5.  So a character needs a STR of 17 to use both together at maximum effectiveness.

Another observation is that very few pages of T&T are devoted to treasure and monsters.  There are certain key stats for monsters, but not a lot of detail is given.  Same with magic treasure.

Solo play is a huge factor in T&T.  It appears that they produce more solo adventures than multi-players adventures.  So this is obviously a big part of T&T.

I know there are some very hard-core T&T guys who are avid supporters of the game.  In my brief perusal of the book it looks very cool.  Then again, I have "Gamer's A.D.D." so everything "looks very cool" when it comes to RPG products.

Have any of you guys played T&T?  How was it?


  1. T&T is a great system. 5.5E isn't the easiest to read, at least when it comes to character generation. Organization is lacking, but worth the hassle.

    Making monters for the PCs to combat is easy as pie.

    I think T&T works best with a party of 3 to 4, but YMMV.

    Armor absorbs hits, which the losing side of battle takes.

    Oh, and make sure you have handfuls of d6s, you'll needed them ;)

  2. Thanks Erik. When you say it works best with a party of 3-4, are you talking about the number of players or number of PCs?

    Thanks for the armor clarification. That makes more sense. :)

  3. Yes, I have played it. It is



    I'm serious, dude. "The Best Game Ever" is a purely objective title, but as things go T&T certainly makes a great case for itself.

  4. Which version do you guys like best?

  5. I've never played, but Scott from Huge Ruined Pile got me curious about it.

  6. I enjoyed T&T several years back when a gaming group decided to try it out (back in the early days of OSR). We ran a 20(ish) session campaign. We loved how quick and cinematic combats were. Generally the game played great. The only problem we ran into was the big challenge for the DM in terms of balancing the game for more serious play and magic in the version we played turned out to be pretty broken. "Take that you fiend" negating armor and doing direct damage was just brutal against the parties foes and against the party. So we'd run in and the mage would auto one shot the boss and then the combat would ensue. If the DM used that tactic against the party it just was too powerful so they tended not to.

    All in all though for some beer and pretzels style old school gaming one shots T&T is awesome. I think we were playing either 5th or 6th ed. I know T&T has extremely loyal fans, etc. etc. who might differ with what I just described, but that was our gaming groups experience with T&T and we've revisited the game a few times for one shots in the years since. Its a game worth owning for sure.

    1. Yes, the Take That You Fiend spell can be pretty deadly under the 5th edition rules. With the 7th edition, things changed: 1) the magic-user must make a level 1 saving roll on his Intelligence to cast a first level spell and 2) his Wizardry/Kremm must be higher than the WIZ of his target for the spell to succeed.
      Also, TTYF only works on one enemy at a time.

    2. Grrraall: thanks for stopping by. I was checking out your T&T blog and it looks cool. Question: I own v5.5. Is this a good version to get introduced to the game, or would I be better suited getting a more updated version?

  7. Paul - I'll go read that post. Thanks.

    Lord - thanks for the nice writeup there. From the outside looking in, beer & pretzels is kind of how I've always thought of T&T. I'd like to hear from someone out there who's had success running long term, high-level campaigns with T&T.

  8. T&T was the second RPG I ever played. I like the 5.5e rules... you got that at a steal for 6 bucks! I think it is a good system overall and is definitely a lot of fun!

  9. As written, I think a high level T&T campaign would break under the weight of the extremely strong Wizard class. TTYF! and Oh Go Away are very powerful 1st level spells, and will only get better (and cheaper to cast) as the Wizzie levels.

    You could allow a save vs either as a Saving Throw with a difficulty equal to one half the wizzies level, rounded down (minimum 1) for half damge from TTYF and negating the effect of OGA.

    As for the number players and PCs - wednesday nite's one shot had 4 players and 8 PCs and it worked fine. YMMV

  10. Thanks Erik. Good to know about those wizard spells. If I play the game, I'll keep that in mind.