Monday, August 29, 2005

Tunnels & Trolls, 7th Edition

I totally love Tunnels & Trolls, 7th edition.

T&T was my first roleplaying game ever. I don't know when I started but it was sometime in the late 70s, when I was a prepubescent child. Liz Danforth's illustrations defined fantasy art to me for many years, and Tunnels & Trolls was gaming.

I played solos a lot, which I'm sure gives me a warped perspective on gaming and its social aspects. On the other hand, many of those solos had incredible writing and really imaginative contents. They were a lot of fun.

I haven't played in a long time, but the new edition makes me want to play again. The rules are a bit more complex now, but not more complex than I like them. There is a lot more opportunity to make your character unique and interesting, by giving them special "Talents." Levels are now nothing more than a summary of how high your attributes are, which is a way of acknowledging what was always true in T&T -- "level" is pretty unimportant; attributes are totally important. Now adventure points increase attributes directly instead of mediating through "level."

T&T has abandoned the idea of being world-neutral; it's now explicitly about gaming in Trollworld, the world where the cities of Khazan and Khosht exist on the Dragon Continent, and ships trade with Gull, City of Terrors, on the Isle of Phoron.

Magic has been made more specific -- it is the use of a natural "The Force" type stuff called Kremm (when I played with Ken St. Andre he went off on how the word Kremm is nearly identical, but pronounced a bit differently, in all of Trollworld's major languages, which made me extremely curious how much "conlinguistics" has been done for Trollworld. Oh, the Common Tongue in Trollworld is the language of the empire of Khazan, kalled "Khaz'ni".)

There are some really neat rules, such as that as a player you should be able to buy whatever weapons, or play whatever race of character, you feel like, with GM approval -- the example is given of the GM coming up with stat modifiers for Angels off the cuff because a player wants to play one. That is all kinds of awesome.

This is an old school game. It is a game about descending into tunnel complexes, evading, tricking, or killing the monsters that live there, harvesting their treasure, and coming back to the surface all the richer and wiser.

This being T&T, it's about flexibility and cleverness, not just kicking ass with your +12 HackMaster. The Saving Roll system (and the way Talents play into it) means it's all about thinking on your feet, not walking through preplanned possibilities. And that makes it cool.

I wanna make a dungeon. I've been totally busy with work and a side project and I've been carrying the T&T set around with me and a pad of graph paper wishing I had time.


Bankuei said...

T&T has me debating if I want to drop some cash into buying a dungeon mapping program.


Ron Edwards said...

Pfeh. 5.0 forever.

I bought 7.0 for celebratory purposes, but 5.0 is both the game and the shiznit.

Ed said...

I don't know, man. I see 7.0 as a worthy heir, ruleswise. In terms of the sheer amount of quality writing in 5th, it can't compare.

Liz Danforth said...

It's nice to see 7 taking off, though I had nothing to do with this particular edition. But your compliments are still nice to read, both about the art and the editing/writing I did on 5!

--Liz Danforth

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the comments about the quality of the v. 5 edition and about the editing and artistic added value of Liz Danforth' work. I started to play T & T in 1980 with a Franco-British friend. In 1984, it was translated in French, my mother tongue and I still play today... with my kids !
Version 7 has good ideas too (thanks to spite damages, even heroes might fear for their lives, the levels have found their right place behind attributes, the monsters are tougher than before because their adds don't deplete, etc.).
Apart from that, the format is nice, the cover (thank you, again, Liz Danforth !) is cool, and Flying Buffalo accepted that another company stepped in to keep T & T alive: great !
There are many fans out there on the web and the solo line is expanding :-)
Patrice Geille

Anonymous said...

Havent obtained 7th edition yet, but after a few years away (solo 24 was my last purchase) fascinated to see the T&T scene revived by independent publications (tavern master and outlaw). I have to agree that 5th edition rocked - the beautiful Liz Danforth pics (we are not worthy!) and the great writing. Planning to get up to date

Anonymous said...

I have every edition of T&T. All of them have merit. The version I play is Fifth edition. The holes in later editons really irk me. I don't know why Ken didn't just pick up the flawless 5th edition manuscript and add the bits he wanted.

Spit is kind of old-news so I wasn't surprised to see it in 7th edition. If you really want to avoid stalement in combats, roll back weapon and armour values to 4th edition. It was the wholesale doubling of values in fifth edition that caused the problem. The more dice you roll, the more your results cling to the bottom of the bell-curve...