Thursday 3 September 2009

Farwell Mike and T&T Corner

I received an email this morning that saddened me. It was from a fellow Trollhalla dweller who has decided to leave the great Halla and take down the part of his website that stored some awfully cool T&T tools: Tunnels and Trolls Corner. The troll who handed in his resignation was Mike from Eposic, a very cool site dedicated to pen and paper roleplaying and speculate fiction.

I'm not completely sure of his reasons behind leaving, but, knowing Mike, they were damned good ones. I hope he still stays in touch with the Halla gang, but it looks like he and T&T have parted ways. It's sad to let an awesome troll go.

Fighting Fantasy makes you insane

Whilst I'm writing my multi-part Fighting Fantasy personal retrospective, I thought I'd show you an ad for the books. What I gathered from this small boy's flailing and variety of facial expressions is that FF turns you into a loony. I certainly can't remember swinging around an invisible sword at imaginary assailants.

I used a real sword.

Sunday 30 August 2009

Be inspired fellow warriors!

It's no secret that I'm a huge metalhead. Manowar are seen as the cheeseballs of heavy metal, but there's no doubt they make some catchy and empowering music. May they inspire you in your heroics.

Saturday 29 August 2009

Minotaur torture

I'm a sucker for anything to do with minotaurs.


I've taken Trollish Delver onto Twitter, as my current account is generally for journalism/PR/social networking gubbins. So add me as @trollishdelver if you want the T&T and RPG goods. Kapeesh?

Friday 28 August 2009

Chortling Chitpo's Comedy Club

It's all well and good after a hard day's adventuring to sit down and drink the night into a wobbly, vomit-smelling haze, but sometimes heroes need a bit of a laugh every now and again to help them unwind. After all, having a G'yiperna flesh demon gnawing at your leg as your trying to escape an erupting volcano doesn't exactly scream humour. Well, maybe to the G'yiperna flesh demon. But where do you go for a good laugh? Chortling Chitpo's Comedy Club of course!

Only the finest talent graces Chitpo's, which is open from sunset to whenever the jokes become less interesting than flicking peanuts in people's eyes. Heroes get in for half price on Friday nights (as long as they have purchased their annual Chortling Champion Card, registration of which involves the hero having to prove his/her worth by producing any kind of severed head) and drinks are pretty cheap.

Chitpo, the owner, is actually a dry, serious and cynical Naga with a nervous twitch. He can usually be found in one of the back rooms filling in tax returns and generally being quite stuffy about everything. His wife, Henga, doubles up as a cleaner and a bouncer, being 7ft 1 and tonnes of fun...well, that last part's debatable, but she has no problem with replacing your nose with a beer glass if you step out of line. Sometimes dwarves who are new to the establishment can't believe that they have a female bouncer and decide the best course of action to take is to jeer at her, asking if it's 'that time of the month'. The answer is, inevitably, a few less dwarves in the world.

Regular stand-ups include: Ellen Leafwind, Hairytoe Mcgubbins, Foster Dimble and Bill Bailey. The comedy minotaur duo, The Two Hornies, always get a great reception and are by far the highlight of any evening at Chitpo's.

Don't forget, hot food is served throughout the night.


Barbecued Bear
Skiffi sticks with cheese
Roast Mountain Chicken with Crow Sauce
Rimbet (a delicious bread)
Mammoth Skewers

Come to Chitpo's, where everybody knows your name, but they all hate you.

Growing up in Port Blacksand Pt.1

My cape fluttered in the mild evening wind as I stood overlooking the harbor. The pungent smell of seaweed mingled with trout hung in the air as the last of the traders shut their stalls up for the day, eager to get to the tavern for a few flagons of strong ale. I spied a shifty looking wiry old man, his greasy grey hair clumped with a day's worth of sea salt, leaning out of the shadows of an alley. He flashed a grin before shuffling over to where I was stood. I could smell the alcohol on his breath, some moonshine with the power to kill a whale, and noticed his left eye was milky white. "Do you know dice, wanderer?" The man croaked. I glanced at him with repulsion. He slipped his hand in his pocket and drew out two yellowed dice.
"I know what dice are, old man," I grunted, "What is it to you?" The old man chuckled and held out the dice in his filthy palm,
"Fancy a game?" He asked, his eyes fixed on my expression.
"What game?" I humored him. Again he laughed and pointed a long, bony finger at the dice.
"A game of luck. A game of skill. A game of adventure," he said.
"I'd hardly call a dice game adventurous," I said dismissively.
"Then you have never played my game," said he, "the game of Fighting Fantasy."

I was introduced to Fighting Fantasy when I was around 11 I guess. I'd played 'choose your own' books before, like a Sonic the Hedgehog one where you had to guide Sonic through a murderous fairground. I liked it a lot and played it multiple times. However, when I first got my mitts on Fighting Fantasy I was taken into a whole new world entirely, lost within the yellowing pages and awesome line drawings. I chugged through them, usually by cheating, and I gradually acquired more. Every chance I got I would wander the howling hills, drink ale at dodgy taverns, and encounter some annoying bugger at the infamous Port Blacksand.

The first book I completed without cheating was one of my favorites: Talisman of Death. Unlike many FF books, Talisman is set in the world of Orb, where you are inconsiderately teleported into from Earth. Not only do you have to find your way back to Earth, but you have also been given a talisman to protect on your way. You see, if some black cloaked git (that would be Death) gets his hands on it Orb is doomed. No pressure then.
Talisman is one of the thicker books and sees you travelling to all sorts of kooky locations, battling dark creatures, solving treacherous puzzles and getting wasted (maybe not).
The best thing is that you can get it cheap second hand, so if you see it do yourself a favour and part with a few quid.

Tune in next time for part 2, when I reminisce about piloting giant robots and beating the crap out of dinosaurs.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Thursday Question - Kindreds

Most people have their favourite something-or-other when it comes to gaming - whether it be your prized dirk called 'Mavis' or favourite dice mechanic. But in T&T what is your favourite Kindred?

Answers on a postcard (in comment section)

For the record, I'm a Minotaur man myself. Hail the horned ones!

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Troll degree

I won't be posting tomorrow as I'll be chucking a funny looking hat in the air and pretending to be Gandalf in my robes.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

New Stackpole solo on the way

Michael A Stackpole, the world renowned sci-fi author and game nut, has a new T&T solo coming out called 'The Elemental Dungeon'. Well, when I say 'new' I mean it was written way back in the seventies and has only just seen the light of day in the new millennium. It's sure to be a treat for us T&T fanatics. Here's some details about the solo from Outlaw Press:

This 32-page (6 by 9 sized) center stapled mini-solo was originally written way back in 1978 (and long forgotten), but it has now been resurrected and published for the first time. "Welcome to the exciting Elemental Dungeon. This is my idea of a Solitaire dungeon. It has an ever occurring theme throughout this solo you will face the ancient elements Earth, Air, Fire, Water. The foes you combat and the treasure you find will have some connection with that theme, in ways you can only imagine." If you have ever wanted to see a new T&T solo from the now famous author 'Michael A. Stackpole', now is your chance. It may very well be your last chance!

I'm really looking forward to this because a) it's freakin' Mike Stackpole! and b) I live in hope for the odd Shaft reference thrown in.

More on this to come.

Sunday 12 July 2009

The Hobbit Hole 15

I've just purchased a copy of the spanking 'The Hobbit Hole' magazine, issue 15, from the always awesome Boozer at The Hobgoblin's Tavern. Here's the contents of this edition:

This (8 by 11 sized) 88-page issue has amazing looking full-color front and back covers, just as you would expect. Inside it, you will find; EDITORIAL: Of Hairy Feet and Taters... T&T ARTICLES: The Animagus Specialist: The Eagle & The Elk, Gull: The Untold Story, BANG! - Explosives in T&T, A Monkey Throwing Stones at Monsters!, Trollworld History: Humans, Elves & Dwarves... and A Dragons Calendar. SOLO/GAMING: Bats in Dabelfry! - Written and illustrated by Jason Mills (A Tunnels & Trolls Adventure for a Handful of Low-Level Characters) and The Tree of Life -- By Dr. Sid Orpin (A full-sized Tunnels & Trolls Solo with an Arboreal Setting). FICTION: Monsters! Monsters! and Blood Duty. OTHER: Grumlahk's Troll Tales Comic, and many other comics as well as a new Trollworld Map.

I've been looking to get The Tree of Life by Dr. Sid Orpin for a while now so I was pleasantly surprised to see it nestled in this issue.

I'll give a full review of the mag when it arrives. In the meantime, you should go and buy things from Boozer. He likes the shiny pennies.

It's about time!

After being dragged to Hades and made to suffer the seven torments whilst fighting off great demons I arrive back in our world to continue with Trollish Delver. Apologies for being away for a while, but this was due to two things: fatigue and general laziness. I think you can see how both of those reasons relate to each other.

Anyhoo, I'm back to update TD once more and perhaps finally get round to setting up a campaign.

Now, I just need a gaming group.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Dollhouse system follow-up

Thanks to everyone who put forward suggestions for a system to run Dollhouse in. Savage Worlds and FATE came up more than once, as well as Primetime Adventures and Tri-stat DX. However, I was drawn to Aaron's Dollhouse system, What You Don't Know, that he based on Risus, a nice rules-lite game that offers flexible mechanics that are easy to use. I read over the rulebook he made and I found it to be a pretty good adaptation of the show. It allows for quick character creation for each imprint and includes various rules that make the setting feel true to its source material. It's worth checking out if you want a lite system to run a Dollhouse game. I'll also be checking out the other rules that were suggested by my commenting delvers and see how they weigh up against each other.

So, thanks again.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

English folklore in T&T

I'm going to start talking about incorporating creatures and characters from English folklore into your T&T games. I'm a huge lover of all aspects of world folklore, but as I'm from England, something in our quirky little tales resonates with me more than any other. I mean, we have Wibblywoos for crying out loud: strange jelly cows that flop around in bogs. The green man is also a big folklore icon over here, symbolizing new growth in nature.

I want to cover quite a lot so I will probably set aside a day for it - shall we say Folklore Friday? I'll probably travel from the north of England, making my way down south, checking out the weird and wonderful beasts, folk and magical items to be found around England and how to put them into your game.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Suggestions for Dollhouse RPG system

Now I've pretty much finished university, having handed in my dissertation, I can concentrate more time on the blog.

Us Dollhouse fans are celebrating Fox's decision to renew the show for a second season or transhuman angst, albeit on a lower budget. For those who haven't seen the show I'll explain it. There is an ominous organization called 'the Dollhouse' that takes in volunteers (at least we think they are at the moment) and wipes their brains of all memory and data apart from basic functions, essentially putting them in some creepy complacent kid-like state. The cool part is that these 'dolls' can be programmed with different personalities in order to be hired out by wealthy people to do, well, whatever the hell they want. The main character, played by Eliza Dushku, is called Echo and to date we've seen her become a negotiator, assassin, midwife, dominatrix, security guard, spy hunter and more. However, without giving any spoilers away, Echo has started remembering things and is becoming slightly self-aware, which shouldn't happen.

It's an excellent show and would make a brilliant RPG as it has almost unlimited possibilities. But I was wondering what system would fit best for the premise? I'm pretty sure T&T wouldn't work as well as other mechanics, but I really want to use it so I can call it Trollhouse.

Any suggestions?

Saturday 9 May 2009

Mythological weapon : Gram

I'm eagerly awaiting the postman this morning. At any minute a brown box will drop through the letterbox and inside it will be the latest posthumous work by J.R.R. Tolkien - The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. The book is an epic poem based on a famous Norse tale in which the writer drew much of his inspiration for The Lord of The Rings, including a corrupting ring and a sword that was broken and reforged like Aragorn's Anduril.

The name of the remade blade is Gram, which is pretty damn strong as it can easily slice through an anvil. How cool would it be to use that in your game? Well, here are the stats:

Dice + Adds: 20 + 70
STR req: 30
Dex req: 26
Value: 100,000
Weight: 180

Notes: Gram cannot be found in any old tunnel in any old chest or on any old goblin. When the delver comes across the sword it will be stuck in a tree called Barnstokk and she will have to try and remove it. It was stuck in there by Odin in the story but you can change the deity to suit your campaign. Nevertheless, it takes a unique hero to remove it from the tree. Make a level 9 saving roll on strength. Success means you slide the sword out with ease, although it breaks as soon as you do. You must get it reforged if you want to use it, otherwise it is useless. Once reforged Gram taken on the stats shown above.

Friday 8 May 2009

Spreading the minotaur love

I haven't been updating regularly lately because of university work, so I apologize for that. I have another week to go before I can cool off and dedicate more time to the blog.

I was happy to see that Character For Every Game had recently posted up a T&T minotaur rogue character and a little bit about what they think of the game.

I have to say that minotaurs are definitely the way to go. They're so damn cool, I just wish my warrior delver, Golon Bloodslinger, was still alive. I miss that big lug.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Pixel to paper

By now you'll have likely heard that Green Ronin Publishing has been sought out by game developer Bioware to create a pen and paper version of their Dragon Age: Origins game, aimed at further expanding the Dragon Age universe.

Pen and Paper Portal quite rightly pointed out how amusing the situation is, what with Bioware's first popular game being Neverwinter Nights, which based on D&D.

Stepping into the realm of the 'real' RPG is a pretty clever move as it allows for those interested in roleplaying to check the video game out and the gamers who may have never played a pen and paper RPG to have a go at it, which is good for the hobby.

This is not the first time video games have been converted into dice fodder. In 2002 Sword and Sorcery Studios released a D20 Everquest game and shortly afterwards White Wolf published rules for a World of Warcraft game, which was later converted to D20.

Creating p&p RPGs from video games allows a world which was once limited to become a sprawling and unending epic, only limited to the imagination. I wouldn't be surprised if more game developers started looking to the p&p crowd to produce RPGs to provide a more immersive experience to their game.

Saturday 2 May 2009

Solo review: The Amulet of the Salkti

This is the first in a series of reviews covering classic and new T&T solos.

Tunnels and Trolls is well known for being a balls-to-the-walls deadly game. It's a system that likes to keep the old-school RPG 'you will die at any instant' mantra, rather than new D&D which coats dungeon walls with silk padding and gives first level characters powers to rival Superman.

Although in T&T the GM'd games are deadly, the solitaire adventures often actively seek out to destroy anything that sets foot in them. The Amulet of the Salkti is one of these solos.

Designed by David Stephen Moskowitz, Salkti is a classic solo where you have to seek out the lost amulet to save the city of Freegore from Sxelba the Slayer, a wicked demon who looks like he got his name one day from a random string of alphabetti spaghetti, and his orc army.

Sxelba was accidentally summoned by one of the ancient people, the Salkti, and proceeded to wipe the Salktians out of existence. Some of the Salkti fled for their lives, whilst others began to forge an amulet to destroy Sxelba. Unfortunately, the demon found the amulet-makers just before they could finish the item. They used it, but not to its full potential, trapping Sxelba for at least 200 years.

The thing is, that was 300 years ago and Sxelba is back doing naughty things like destroying towns. Finding the amulet is the only hope the people of the region have of combating the evil menace.

The adventure has 209 sections and is written for delvers level 1-8 with up to 33 personal adds, but you're going to have a hard time going in there with a low-level character as it's simply too difficult for most. Your delver will be tested to her limits in the dungeon and will most likely get her brains splattered all over the walls if you're not skilled enough.

Salkti introduces an items matrix that could be referenced to see if you can use a certain item on a specific page number. Once you have cross-referenced the chart you will be told to flip to a page that will give you the outcome of your action. There is also a button matrix for all your button mashing needs, and a travel matrix. They are all really nice ideas that are simple enough to use.

There are some cool traps that require a little noggin use and some tough opponents to battle. The toughest part, though, comes in the form of many, many saving rolls at one point in the adventure.

Salkti is fun and full of nice ideas but taking in a delver any lower than 4th level would probably be suicide.

If you want a copy of this solo you can find it at Paizo.

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Vologes - sounds yummy

Not a big post today as I'm hard at work finishing up my dissertation, I just wanted to inform you that Scott from World of Thool has launched a new blog for his new campaign setting Ordained Dominions of Vologes, which may sound like a cult that worships pasta, but is in fact a high fantasy setting inspired by authors such as Tolkien, Andrew Lang and Peter S.Beagle. It's old fashioned green rolling plains and magical adventure, and it's looking damned good.

Monday 27 April 2009

The results are in: T&T makes top 10 RPGs

The results of the RPG Blog II favourite RPG survey are in and the big question is where did Tunnels and Trolls rank?

Well, it finished in 8th place out of 25, fending off titles such as Vampire, D&D 4e and Pendragon. I'm really pleased that the fans voted to give T&T the recognition it well deserves.

Check out the whole list here to see where your favourite ranked.

The Chronicles of Arborell: Windhammer

As I've mentioned before, I hold solo games very close to my heart. I've got a stack of Fighting Fantasy books I pick up time and again and when I get chance (not very much at this time, damn university dissertation) I hop into a T&T solo. However, if you don't own any of these and would like to do some soloing, then look no further than The Chronicles of Arborell.

I don't know how many of you will be familiar with Arborell, because it has been on the net for a while but I've never heard anyone mention it. Basically, it's a series of free online gamebooks, novels, short stories and diary entries that together spin an epic fantasy tale. There are a few short stories up at the moment and the gamebook Windhammer, as the Chronicles are a work in progress. But from what I've read and played of it, I know it's going to be something spectacular.

In the end there will be three main gamebooks that tell a big chunk of the story, Windhammer being the first of these, and then 11 smaller gamebooks that either tie in with the larger ones or come before them chronologically, outlining the history of the story. Each core gamebook will have a companion series of novels and there are a few novellas already available that tell the stories leading up to the gamebooks.

Windhammer is the only core gamebook available at the moment and can be either downloaded or played online. It is 600 sections long, which is a fair amount, but compared to the other two big books, it's nothing. The second, Earth and Stone weighs in at 1250 sections and the third and final book is The Jotun War, totaling a whopping 2000 sections: that's a lot of game. Bear in mind that almost all of these sections are around a page long, containing amazing description and story-telling to rival other fantasy novels, you're getting quite a lot of bang for your no buck.

Here's the blurb for Windhammer:

In a world on the brink of annihilation a condemned man is given one chance to save himself and his people. Sent by his sworn enemies on a mission to find a legendary fortress, he must delve deep within its labyrinths to restore the one power that can save them all. Through the wilds of Arborell and the dark corridors of Stoneholme, it is only cunning and skill that will keep him alive. In the world that is about to unfold you are that hero, and it will be your choices that will determine your ultimate destiny.

The fighting system is really similar to Fighting Fantasy mechanics, roll 2d6 and add your combat points; do the same for the enemy and dock points off endurance (health) depending on who won and by how much. However, there is an added depth to the game with the inclusion of skills like Bushmastery and talents such as Beast Slayer, which give you advantages in certain situations.

It's a great game to play on a rainy day, curled up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate. If you're like me then you'll find yourself eating up the vast and interesting history of Arborell.

Friday 24 April 2009

A sword and an apology

I hold my hands up, Tom K. He quite rightly called me up on my use of "classes" and "magic users" in my Brooding Trollpunk post. I had been perusing Labyrinth Lord, D&D and other such RPGs before I wrote that, so I had become somewhat deluded and prone to spouting gibberish. What I meant to say instead of classes was "character types", and instead of magic users, "wizards", for these are T&T's variations on those terms. So, I'm sorry my T&T friends, I truly am.

After being so epically humble, I now want to present you with a new sword. Lately I've been researching tonnes of different types of swords from different eras and geographical locations (we all know how much T&T likes to use some weird and wonderful blades). I'll be posting one up every week so watch out for them.

Schiavona - The Enslaver

A type of broadsword with a wider blade than the common civilian rapier and measuring 93cm in length. It has a unique leaf-shaped brass basket hilt to guard the user's hand (in style, might I add) and a pommel that resembles the head of a cat.

Dice + adds: 3+5
Str req.: 15
Dex req.: 11
Cost: 80
Weight: 120

Thursday 23 April 2009

Play-by-post T&T game part I

Vin's T&T Trollbridge is a smörgåsbord of ideas, new rules and edition discussion. There is also a fairly new play-by-post game started up that I decided to take part in. I made my first post today and I'm looking forward to getting into it. The member who created it, Ragnorakk, is a great GM and it's good of him to take on such a mammoth task for everyone's entertainment.

The character I'm using is a dwarf warrior called Cobble Ripfoot. His stats are here:

NAME: Cobble Ripfoot
Level 1 Male Dwarf Warrior

Height: 4'6", Weight: 196 lbs.

ST: 22
IQ: 7
LK: 9
CON: 16
DEX: 6
CHR: 8
SPD: 14

Adds: 7, Missile Adds: 4

Weapons: Mitre 3d6 (90lbs)
Armour: Leather 6 (200lbs)


Ordinary torch (10lbs)
hemp rope (50ft) (250lbs)
delver's package (20lbs)
2 days provisions (40lbs)

Wt. Possible: 2200, Wt. Carried: 700.0
Dwarvish (native language)

Gold: 25 gp

A curious fellow with a terrible sense of humor. Seriously, don't even try to joke around him, he won't get it and he'll just start growling. His thick red plaited beard sometimes gets in the way when he's trying to move quickly and it's a surprise that he can see through those thick eyebrows of his. However, he's as hard as a rock and courageous to boot.

I will be reporting the game as it progresses, mainly for my own amusement but I hope it might give those less familiar with the game a better idea of how it plays.

Wednesday 22 April 2009

Brooding trollpunk

It is widely noted that Emma Bull pioneered urban fantasy with her 1987 book War for the Oaks, splicing the fantastic with modern mundane grit. Since then, writers, artists and game designers have been churning out magical tales set in bustling metropolises, such as the ever-popular Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and C.J. Carella's brooding roleplaying game, Witchcraft. The genre has been shifted right out of the underground in recent years by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of Mike Mignola's Hellboy, and is capturing more imaginations than ever before.

So it would only be natural to cast our beloved T&T fantasy exploits into a time-warp, shooting it into the here and now. Classes can stay as they are: magic-user and warrior (if you're using 5th edition rules) but creating sub-categories in keeping with the modern time frame would be a good idea. If you're a warrior then you could become a fed, a soldier, a cop etc. A magic-user will still be using magic, but warlock, witch or, indeed, wizard, would suit the setting. Of course, you don't have to use subcategories; you can just as well have a warrior and call her a warrior.

Swords, bows, axes and the like all have their place in urban fantasy so they can stay. Guns are obviously more prevalent and advanced so use the same rules for Gunnes in the rulebook but replace flintlock, handcannon, musket etc. with modern variations like 9mm, shotgun and M16. Automatic weapons fire more so use more dice. Similarly, armour is transformed from plate, mail and leather into varying grades of flak jacket, army helmet and riot shield.

For campaign inspiration, check out The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison's The Hollows, and Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales. If you're familiar with Carella's Witchcraft then by all means borrow elements from that universe.

If you do decide to have a go at Trollpunk, let me know how it goes.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

The alternative to dying could be epic

The final breath of a PC when she meets the cold edge of a blade, all those experience points slashed out of existence like her sloshing innards, is a frustrating time for any player who has put time into carving their character into their own intricate awesome vision.

If the player hasn't already thrust the dice across the room in rage and stormed out, they are either rolling up a new level one or pleading the GM to find a way to resurrect Mindy Bloodletter. Unfortunately, giving in to the player isn't fun and it fails to progress the story, but a friendship could be wire-thin at this time; so what to do?

It is possible to allow the player to keep their PC without totally bending time and space to the GM's whim, no matter how sumptuously fun that can be. It's not all that far-fetched in a world of fantasy that the player's soul has been sucked into a hell dimension where they will have to fight their way into the land oft he living or be caged for eternity in a molten chamber. The GM could set up a separate dungeon for the character, though it would have to be small as to not consume game time for other players, possibly with only one or two ferocious enemies to slay. Or perhaps a quicker way could be to pass a saving throw as a test of will, a success allowing the character to return to life with minimal health, and a fail denoting her fall into the dark oblivion forever. To make the test more fun, after a successful roll the GM could describe the epic fight against the swarming demons, the slaughter of devils and banshees and a description of the hellish domain the character escaped. This tale could serve to develop the character further as well as the story.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Why T&T is a good gateway RPG

Most people seem to stumble into the hobby almost by accident. Whether it was the curiosity switch being flicked when they spotted the little white booklets of D&D or watching a group roll those wacky polyhedrons around and shout words like "magic missile" or "pit trap", there were many who introduced roleplaying to themselves.

The rest of the populous was likely introduced through a friend or relative, and that introduction probably took place in the land lovingly fashioned by one Mr Gygax: that was my gateway drug and it was the game I shared with my high school friends, who I'm sure are eternally grateful.

Although D&D is the most played RPG in the world, it's probably safe to say that under the weight of its rule system, 4th edition or otherwise, it may not be the best game to bring to the newbie table. It's not that people are any stupider now and it's not about this current generation of World of Warcraft digi-geeks not wanting to get their fingers ink-smudged; it's just a scary world to step into when there are two book cases dedicated to D&D supplements.

Tunnels and Trolls, however, is easy to learn quickly (score one for old school transference to instant gratification cyber-culture) and there isn't a vault load of material to wind your head around. Instead of having to deal with various flavours of saving rolls, there is just one simple mechanic, the noble SR. Ordinary dice are used, although they will always be a D6 to me, which makes the conversion from familiar board games to RPGs much less taxing. The magic system is easier to grasp (though, much less in depth) than many other games and combat requires elementary mathematics at the most. Surely T&T is a great game to introduce to new players.

It's not that T&T is for the simple-minded, in fact it can be as complex as the player wishes, but it's a game that can be stripped to its bare bones and absorbed in a single sitting. And it's not that it's a mere stepping stone for "higher" games like D&D or Vampire, because as much enjoyment can be squeezed out of a T&T session as anything else. It's just a nice starting point to those who are perhaps wary of taking the RPG plunge (I'm making it sound like a cult initiation - fuel for Jack Chick) or who may not have the time to absorb a stack of rules, although I would urge everyone to try all games on offer. Moreover, the credit crisis/crunch/downfall/scaremongering has affected people's ability to splash out on big name systems and they may be more inclined to pay for the relatively cheap T&T rules, solos and GM modules.

Many may disagree with this, and it's understandable. But it doesn't change the fact that T&T is a good gateway RPG in these rocky times.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Member of RPG Bloggers Network, yay!

My application to join the RPG Bloggers Network, the awesome place for aggregated RPG blog posts, has been accepted.

I also want to apologize for not updating lately. My internet has been off for a while and has just come back on, so a big hurray for that.

Now I can get the word out about T&T and hopefully get more people playing and loving it.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Whitespire Academy

Continuing my effort to flesh out your campaign with new locations I though I'd create an academy for wizards - Whitespire. You can put the building in any city you wish, but there is only one in the world and it has to be in a large affluent city with a scholarly air.

Whitespire Academy is a beacon of magical education, its white corridors filled with robed students marching back and forth, leather bound books in hand, between classes.

The academy has been around for thousands of years when it was founded by master mage, Dellik Willowood, who set it up to teach youngsters who possessed kremm how to reach their magical potential.

Now Whitespire has grown into a monumental piece of architecture. The sun reflects its pure white surface, making it glow radiantly like a celestial object. It has 500 classrooms, a theater, a huge and famous library, an assembly hall and a beautiful courtyard lined with lush green trees and multi-coloured flowers.

As a prestigious school it only accepts those who show the most potential in becoming great magic-users. The entry exam is notoriously difficult, forcing low level wizards to focus all their kremm into pulling of spells to impress the examiners, of which there are three: Jaro, Como and Porro, three hard nosed brothers who take delight in failing people.

The current Dean is Leaf Frost, a gentle man who wears round shaded glasses and is easily recognizable. He carries the Willowood Staff, which was created by Dellik Willowood himself and contains incredibly powerful spells, including one that can bring back the dead. However, Leaf is usually found studying all sorts of arcana in his office or in the library, rather than out fighting with his staff, which he uses as a walking stick.

Tuition fees are 100,000 gold a term, of which there are two per year, but concessions can be made for those who show incredible talent but lack the funds to attend the academy. Students are either full or part-time. Full timers will spend five years at Whitespire, with summer breaks lasting a month, whereas those on part-time courses will attend every other month for ten years. Once they graduate they are known as Wizards of Whitespire, an honored title in the realm of magic.

Whitespire is linked with the Wizard's Guild and as a result is able to teach every spell in the spell book. Once the tuition fee is paid, the spells are free to learn, but first years only have access to low-level spells. As they progress each year, more spells will become open to them and by the end of their time they should know up to 10th level spells. This training definitely does not come easy, as the annual exams are notoriously difficult to pass, weeding out the weaker students. If a student fails one year, they receive a percentage of their tuition fee back, depending on what year they dropped out.

David L. Arneson dies, age 61

The family has sent out a letter about the death of Dungeons and Dragons co-creator, David Arneson:

Shortly after 11pm on Tuesday, April 7th, Dave Arneson passed away. He was comfortable and with family at the time and his passing was peaceful.

The Arneson family would like to thank everyone for their support over the last few days, and for the support the entire community has shown Dave over the years.

We are in the process of making final arrangements and will provide additional details as we work them out. We will continue to receive cards and letters in Dave's honor. We are planning to hold a public visitation so that anyone wishing to say their goodbye in person has the opportunity to do so.

Cards and letters can continue to be sent:
Dave Arneson
1043 Grand Avenue
Box #257
St. Paul, MN

Visitation will be on April 20th
Time: yet to be determined
Bradshaw Funeral Home
687 Snelling Avenue South
St. Paul, MN 55105

He was a great man who will live on in the memories of all he touched through his magnificent work,

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Brigheim - a new town for your campaign

Located at the foot of the Cascade Mountains lies a small mining town called Brigheim. The town has a population of two hundred and eighty people, most of which are in the mining business, descending into the foot of the mountain to extract coal for trade with nearby cities.

Brigheim was founded three hundred years ago by the Brigheims, a large family who moved to the mountain to escape the war that had come to their home city of Malash, which is now a desolate crumbling wasteland populated by a horde of Hill-Trolls. The Brigheims discovered that the mountains were rich in coal, so they decided to start a mining industry to trade with a number of cities.

The town began to thrive as more people from the cities moved there to earn some gold in mining and soon many houses began to spring up.

Now the town has a pub called 'The Mineshaft' owned by Helen Osrich, a young lady with an acute business sense. She caters for many traders and miners, bringing in a pretty penny. As a result, her pub is now well known in the region for its fine ales (Corsair Ale and Mountain Mead being the bestsellers) and she is soon to have a second floor constructed so it can be an inn for weary travelers.

The blacksmith, Bari Notch, is probably the brightest blacksmith you will ever come across. He has a love for geography, owing to his father's profession as a cartographer, and is able to tell travelers much about the region. He specializes in forging axes, having almost every type for sale, including his own creation, the boulder cutter (6d + 4, ST 17, DX 13), although he does stock a small variety of swords, but no pole arms.

There is a stable, run by Henrietta Willis, that provides horses for trading journeys. They are strong from lugging coal for miles and can be hired out for a tidy sum. There are ten horses in total, four black, three chestnut and three white.
A quaint little book shop has recently sprung up in Brigheim under the ownership of Mr and Mrs Rummykin. They specialize in texts about mountaineering and even have some magic scrolls up for sale. The couple are good friends with the resident wizard, Gofberry, who has a pokey little house near the town hall. His main role is magical adviser to the mayor, John Brigheim, but he also does diplomatic work as well.

John Brigheim is one of the wealthy descendants of the original family, of which there are now five that share the surname. He is a clever mayor who puts his town before anything else, famously including in the law that no person should ever venture into the mines without wearing proper safety gear, which can be bought from Tarrel Offman, along with any mountaineering equipment needed.
The mayor created a crack team of guards to police the city and keep intruders at bay. They are headed by captain Drell Morton, quite a young fellow with a love for apples, indeed, he is rarely seen not munching an apple.

There are plenty of miners in Brigheim who brave the mountains every day, going almost a mile deep into the rock in search of coal. They then pass on their cartloads to Gam Hollett and his traders who travel far and wide, delivering the fuel and returning with money. His caravan is always guarded by a band of stalwart men (and fiery, red-headed woman, Shryana) who fend off trouble when it rears its head.

Delvers should be aware that the Cascade Mountains are incredibly dangerous and potentially lethal for inexperienced mountaineers. It is worth consulting the Rummykins before attempting to climb the mountains. There has been talk of Mountain-Trolls roaming around eating mountain goats and letting out booming roars that echo throughout the town.

Industry trounces WotC, gamers pleased

After the uproar about Wizards of the Coast pulling all their PDFs and cackling around the boardroom, the rest of the industry has responded by having a sale and pledging they will not do the same.

Probably the best statement came from industry giant, White Wolf, who promised to keep their PDFs online and also have a massive sale, including giving Exalted 2nd edition away for free. Needless to say my copy is downloading as we speak.

Other companies such as One Bad Egg, Green Ronin and Paizo are selling their PDFs at discount prices, taking advantage of a cyber world without WotC.

For more offers go to Mad Brew Labs.

Vote for your top 25 RPGs of all time

Zachary over at the wonderful RPG Blog II is holding a competition to find the top 25 rpgs ever. He wants you to send him a list of your top 25 and give some reasons for your picks. He is also looking for sponsors to give him prizes to give away to a handful of lucky people who submit their lists. I've done mine, guess which is at the top.

Thoughts about Deluxe Magic Staves

Of a Wizard's arsenal, the magic staff is probably the most useful. It allows the user to focus her power through it, reducing the cost to cast a spell by the user's level. They can come in all shapes and sizes, some magic-users prefer to have a wand, crystal ball or walking stick.

There are three types of staff: ordinaire, the regular enchanted staff with the powers described above, makeshift, a staff enchanted by the delver but which burns out after time, and the deluxe, a semi-sentient, almost indestructible staff which remembers every spell cast through it. These staffs were created by a small sect of powerful wizards, their construction a closely guarded secret.

Over at Vin's Trollbridge forum, some of the members have been throwing around some good ideas to flesh out the deluxe staff with new rules. Majyc made a good suggestion that the deluxe staff contains the mind and power of the first wizard that made it. This means that a new staff would come equipped with some powerful spells already installed, rather than forking out 5000 gold it only to find there is nothing in it.

A question was raised about whether the magic-user could learn the spells from the staff or do they need the staff in order to cast the spells. I would say that, being semi-sentient, the staff can remember the spells but isn't able to communicate them to the wizard directly. However, Majyc suggested that there could be a way of learning spells from the staff, but it may involve seeking out a great mage from the guild or compromising with the staff to teach the user a certain number of spells. Either way is good, it depends on the GM.

I would rule that any level wizard can cast these spells using the staff, but if the wizard's level is less than the level of the spell being cast they should roll a saving roll on the average on IQ and CHA (mahrundl's suggestion). If they fail the SR, the spell fizzles and the WIZ is used up.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

David L Arneson Lives!!!!!!

Grognardia has now posted that David Arneson is, in fact, alive and being cared for in a hospice. This is amazing news and my spirits are lifted substantially. I do have to apologize though for misreporting this. I'm sorry, but that's the trouble with the internet, when news spreads it spreads fast, even if it's false.

Unfortunately Dave is in really bad health, so we just have to wait and see what happens. It's a great thing that we haven't lost this awesome man, but things don't look good for him.

The Trollgod unearths some treasure

Ken St. Andre has recently come across some old T&T writings whilst cleaning his back room. He has been persuaded by a few people (holds hand up) to preserve these gems and publish them on the web. So he has put the first of his writings up on the web, a script for what would have been the Naked Doom comic book. Naked Doom is a great, if deadly solo adventure you can find at DriveThruRPG.

We want more!

Monday night Labyrinth Lord

So I, along with my good friend Steve, went into the city last night to play some Labyrinth Lord. Yeah, most people our age usually go out clubbing at night and get paralyzed with alcohol, but I find that gaming costs less and is much more fun.

The unfortunate part was that the room was pretty full when we arrived (early, may I add) and there was only one small circular table for us to use. I was hoping that people would come and sniff around the table and ask to join in, but as we were squished in with two chairs around the table, it wouldn't have been feasible to play with more than one player.

We played through the module, a really short adventure, and I scaled it way down and added a cleric NPC for good measure. Hilariously Steve's Dwarf, Bill, died in the first corridor, hacked up by the swinging blades that the cleric, Gorat, easily dodged. As we'd been there for only half an hour I decided to bring him back with 1hp and had Gorat cast Cure Light Wounds on him, bringing him up to 5 (he had a max of 8).

There was an encounter with a bunch of skeletons after that. Gorat was fairing great against them for a while, wildly swinging his mace, but he eventually got caught off guard and suffered massive damage, collapsing in a heap. Bill wasn't too happy about this, but he fought on a defeated them.

Further on there was an empty room that he decided to search. Unfortunately he failed to see the trap door on the ceiling until he was directly underneath it and a big rock was coming at his face. Splat!

He was close to the final encounter so I allowed Bill 2 to appear and take all of Bill's stuff. Anyway, he fought the final ghoul and killed him.

It was short, fun game with character. I'll be teaching him Tunnels and Trolls the next time I see him, so stay tuned for Monday nigh T&T.

WotC are corporate hams

The news has spread like wildfire throughout the RPG blogging community that Wizards of the Coast have ceased selling PDF downloads, citing piracy as their main concern. Way to alienate every single one of the fans you still have left.

I've no idea why WotC/Hasbro thought this would be a good idea. Now there's a big hole in the market people will be downloading their pirated PDFs for free, this whole act completely encourages pirates to put the books online to download.

But what about those people, like myself, who have paid for the PDFs? If we lose any from our hard drive then we're screwed because there's no way of downloading them back.

Piracy has been around for a long time, remember the furore about taping CDs? Those must have been such hard times on the wealthy booming music industry. It's obvious that people want things for free so they will do their damnest to get them. However, the majority of people, and we're talking gamers here, who aren't exactly the most criminally minded individuals in the world, will buy PDFs.

It's like if the police turned around and said, "Well, people are robbing, killing and raping. Let's just put everyone in the world in prison. Problem solved."

And surely this is a lousy decision as far a market competition goes. People who would be downloading D&D can now turn their attention to other games like...T&T.

Maybe it isn't so bad after all.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Gearing up for Labyrinth Lord

Next Monday night I'll be hosting a Labyrinth Lord game at my local game store. It'll be an introductory session to those unfamiliar with the rules and I'll be using the free module The Tomb of Sigyfel, a short dungeon crawl.

I'm not sure how popular Labyrinth Lord is here in the UK, but I'm sure it will garner some interest in those who come along. Most people there will be playing in an ongoing 4th edition campaign, so the juxtaposition of OD&D and the latest incarnation may lead to some interesting discussion.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Review: Tunnels and Trolls 8th edition

It's been a long time coming but it's finally here, Tunnels and Trolls 8th edition, and for the first time this looks like it could be a competitor in the major RPG market, bashing heads with the likes of WotC and White Wolf.

There are three core rulebooks, all gorgeously illustrated: Trollmaster's Guide, Delver's Handbook, and Tome of Monsters. Although T&T had grown popular in the past because of its simple system that only required one rulebook, to compete with the best Ken St.Andre decided that complicating the rules and endeavoring to make as much cash as possible would be the best way to go.

The Delver's Handbook outlines the rules of character creation and gameplay, both of which have undergone rule surgery to make them bigger and better. There are now seven types of kindred: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Ghastheim, Half-Orc, Half-Troll, and Wolfkin. They have slashed away pesky imbalanced creatures like Leprechaun and Fairy and also got rid of all the rare kindred. But now we have four new kindred who stand much more of a chance of getting through a dungeon than a Fairy Wizard.

Character classes have also been revamped. Whereas before there were Warrior, Wizard, Rogue, Citizen and Specialist, they have gone the D&D route to make the classes stand out more and give greater roleplaying options. The Warrior still remains but under the name Knight, but the Wizard has been split into Sorcerer and Mage. Ranger is now a class of its own, along with Cleric, Paladin, Ninja and Shapeshifter. All the new classes add more flavour to the game, with special powers and abilities that compliment each other in battle.

The system had been overhauled in favour of different polyhedrons rather than the old and used D6 method. Now character creation is done by rolling four d8s and discarding the lowest to find the attributes. Adds are gone, instead there is a set Fighting attribute for each class that you add to attacks. Armour is no longer absorbed, instead the number reflects how hard you are to hit, which is always a winning mechanic. Gone are the 5d6 broadswords, they have been replaced with '+' weapons, such as +3 dagger or +4 axe. The weapon chart is another thing that's been trimmed. It has lost all of those silly exotic knives and spears and now we have seven swords, three axes and four bows.

Magic is now free for every class to use and you don't need to pay to get new spells, they just instantly come to your head. WIZ has been taken out because spells are now once a day powers unless they are level 0, in which case they can be used as many times as you want. All the stupid spell names that Ken thought were hilarious have been replaced with serious labels. What used to be 'Take That You Fiend' is now the much better 'Energy Missile'. This aims to take the childishness out of the game and make it more accessible to serious players who want dark and bloody games.

The Trollmaster's Guide sets out rules for opening locks, sailing ships, making rope, eating round fruit, stroking sheep, close harmony singing etc. Everything now has a rule, instead of that silly universal saving roll mechanic. If you want to climb a ladder and smash a window you must first roll d10 then add your strength minus climbing modifier which will give you the target number on a d12. Once you have that number you must plus your dexterity and willpower, subtracting Common Fears and armour weight to get the final target result. It's fast, simple and effective.

The Tome of Monsters is an exquisite book outlining no less than 6000 monsters to use in your campaign. There are no more Monster Ratings, as they were far too simplistic for super intelligent gamer brains, so we have full stats for each monster with the inclusion of stats for different sizes, ages and weights for each monster. This offers a much deeper game and better encounters.

For £130, the three core rulebooks are a steal. St. Andre has said that there will be many more supplements to come so save your pennies. 8th edition is the game for the new market, with harder rules, less fun and a money grubbing mindset that will keep gamers coming back for years to come.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Preparing for Castle Death

Happy Saturday to all and I hope you're having a great weekend so far. I'll be finally starting A.R. Holmes' giant-ultra-mega-solo, Castle Death, tonight so I thought I'd roll up a character and present it on the blog. I don't expect him to come out alive, after all it is called Castle DEATH, but at least I'll be able to start mapping this massive dungeon for future use. Let's just say this character is reconnaissance.
Note that this character was rolled up using mostly 5th edition rules but with the addition of 7th edition WIZ, Speed and talents. I am using 5th edition advancement, otherwise he would be level 2.

Name: Re'Kon
Race: Dwarf
Class: Warrior
Lvl: 1
ST: 28
DX: 10
CN: 36
IQ: 6
CH: 10
LK: 13
SP: 15
WIZ: 9

Adds: 19
Missile adds: 19
Total armour hits: 16

Weapon: Mattock 3d6+2 (2 hands) (wt. 80)
Armour: Soft leather 10 (wt. 75), full helm 6 (wt. 50)

Wt. Possible: 2,800
Wt. Carried: 305
Languages: Dwarvish (native)
Talent: Sweeping strike (ST): 31 - can knock over an enemy to prone position

Wednesday 25 March 2009

New Magic Item: Gloves of Chainbind

Gloves of Chainbind look like ordinary gloves but have a slight bronze sheen in the light. Once donned (they grow or shrink to fit any size) the wearer feels her hands tingle and spasm for a few seconds before relaxing. In combat, during the spell casting round the wearer finds that she can unleash two red chains from her hands that wrap around an enemy. As it coils around them it begins to tighten, squeezing the life out. This causes 4d6 damage to its CON. Using Gloves of Chainbind costs 3 WIZ and counts as a combat turn. Chains have a range of 100ft.
The wearer may attack two opponents at once, one for each chain, but damage is now 1d6 per chain.

Gloves of Chainbind can be worn by all character types as long as they have hands.

If a member of Trollgod's Trollhalla is wearing the gloves they do 6d6 damage instead and 2d6 against multiple opponents.

Gloves of Chainbind have a value of 500 gold and weighs 10.

The Trollgodfather

Moonwolf over at Trollhalla has evidently been burning the midnight oil creating an excellent picture inspired by the Trollgod himself, Ken St. Andre.

You can see the picture here.

What a cute fella.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

New Weapon: Zweihander

Zweihander: A two-handed sword used to hew through spearmen and pikemen
Dice: 6+1
STR req: 17
DEX req: 14
Weight: 180
Cost: 250
Two-handed: Y
Special: +5 against an enemy wielding a polearm or spear

Monday 23 March 2009

New Monster: Blitzfrost Razor

Here's a new creature I created for your icy dungeons:

Name: Blitzfrost Razor
No.: 1-3
MR: 62 (7d6+31)
Spite: 4/Winter bite (when 4 sixes are rolled this ability is activated)

Winter Bite: The Blitzfrost Razor has the ability to concentrate the sheer power of deep winter into a freezing blast that many don't recover from. Winter Bite makes the player roll as L2 saving roll on the average of their DEX and LK. If the player fails they lose 4d6 CON and are frozen for one combat turn, meaning Blitzfrost Razor has a free combat round against them.

Description: Blitzfrost Razors are born in the high peaks of the Howling Mountains where they learn to hunt in the worst of conditions. They are savage beasts that often come down from their icy home to wreak havoc on the villagers at the base of the mountain. Often they are found in icy chambers deep in the snow caverns of Trollworld hunting for delvers who get lost in these cold labyrinths.

Edit: I changed the saving roll just to DEX as recommended by TomK. Frankly, he designs games so I can't really argue ;)

Sunday 22 March 2009

D&D Game Day - The Verdict

I hope everyone who took part in D&D Worldwide Game Day yesterday had lots of fun. I was up early to get the the train to another city where I was booked in for the 11-1 slot, much like going to the dentist but with less magazines about celebrities on the waiting room table.

I went alone so I had no idea who I'd be playing with, so I met them hanging around the table in the store (Travelling Man) before 11am and I quickly joined in their discussion about the differences between 3rd and 4th edition. After about 5 minutes we sat down, talked to the DM and waited for two more to arrive, of which only one did, but that didn't really have an effect on the game.

I chose to be the Tiefling Invoker and we promptly set off on the One Dark Night in Weeping Briar module.

Once we were all comfortable in each other's presence the roleplaying got much better and the table came alive. I'm not going to give anything away to people who haven't played the adventure so I'll just say that there were a few nice encounters and some good use of skill checks. All in all it was a bog-standard adventure, nothing really special and unfortunately we were assigned a 2 hour slot so we weren't able to finish it which obviously left us a bit dismayed, but I had a fun time and we were allowed to keep our character minis - score!

For me it was quite a special game because it was the first time I had played 4th edition. I have to say that I'm quite willing to buy into the system now; the combat was swift and fun, the powers are pretty awesome and none of this detracted from the feel of Dungeons and Dragons. It still felt like D&D to me but with less flicking through the rules. I enjoyed it, I really did.

So thanks to Travelling Man for holding this fine event and thanks to WotC for providing the materials.

Friday 20 March 2009

T&T 5.5 vs. 7.5

Joshua has written up a detailed review of 5.5 edition versus 7.5 that highlights the major differences between the two editions and which version has the advantage in each case.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Saturday is Worldwide D&D Game Day

It's been a while since I played with a group so I'm looking forward to Saturday 21st March when I'll be heading up to Newcastle to take part in the Worldwide D&D Game Day at Travelling Man.

I haven't bought into the most recent iteration of the game, fourth edition, mainly because three core books (and the new Players Handbook 2) are too expensive for a poor student like myself. I've done a lot of reading about the system though and from what I gather there have been mixed reviews. Looking at the changes Wizards have made to the system I can tell that I probably won't be a big fan. But to be honest it's not about the system, it's about the social experience and having fun. I may have to grit my teeth through healing surges and At Will spells but I'm sure the game will be a lot of fun.

We get given a pre-rolled level 11 character, presumably to show off the epic potential of 4th ed characters. You're either:

# Ilvarra, drow avenger
# Markaria, tiefling invoker
# Roswyn, gnome bard
# Squeaks, warforged barbarian
# Balasar, dragonborn paladin

It's going to be quite a learning experience for me as I've never played a single one of those races or classes, although I'm more familiar with barbarian, bard and paladin. I may see if I can be Squeaks the barbarian so that I can compare him to my freshly rolled up Dwarf barbarian Pathfinder character.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

The adventures and demise of Himp the Leprechaun

So to celebrate St. Patrick's Day I rolled up a Leprechaun to run through the classic solo The Amulet of the Salkti, a very deadly adventure that I have yet to complete entirely.

I created Himp the Leprechaun, who was obviously a wizard (Leps are magical beings who can only be wizards, no warrior heroics for these little guys) and went in full of optimism: this could be the day.

The skeleton guards in the first room were easy, it took a TTYF each (depleting my WIZ to 0) to blow them into oblivion. I blew my slightly burning hands and carried on.

Now, I won't give any spoilers away, just in case you want to play The Amulet of the Salkti, but I will say that once you find the amulet (I believe it's THE amulet, but I can't be too sure) you will be thrown into a trial of wits, luck and strength. I survived for quite a while, the room throwing all it had at me, until finally I was grabbed and impaled with a poisoned spike because after all the IQ/DEX saving rolls I passed with ease I was forced to take a STR roll which I failed miserably as I had 9 STR. Ouch!

So Himp was brilliant for a while until his head was popped like a balloon. I hope everyone else who made a Leprechaun character today had better luck (hehe) than poor old Himp.

I'll be sending in a Sea-Troll later to scrape the green splat off the dungeon wall with a spatula.

St. Patrick's Day Blog Carnival: Bring on the 'Chauns

Oh how easy it is for a Tunnels and Trolls player to get in the Paddy's Day spirit. I mean, Leprechaun is a core race in the game!

Daniel Perez over at The Gamer Traveler has come up with a great idea for a mini blog carnival, one dedicated to St. Patrick's Day gaming.

So roll up a Leprechaun and the GM can perhaps put a few of these themed items and monster in the game:

Firetrap Guinness - There's nothing like enjoying a pint of smooth Guinness on St. Patrick's Day, unless of course it's cursed with an unbelievable spice. Firetrap Guinness is often served to the annoying/arrogant/obnoxious delver in the tavern, the one the bartender really hates. Once drank the fine black ale does 1d6 damage to CON and the victim will flail uncontrollably for 2d6 minutes.

4-leaf clover dirk - The 4-leaf clover dirk is a damn lucky weapon to have. It's an ordinary 2d6+1 dirk except that the wielder gains 8 LUCK when holding it. If it's lost or discarded the bonus is lost.

Animated Irish Stew - MR 80. Make a L3SR-DEX each turn to avoid getting the roof of your mouth burnt, resulting in 1d6 damage.

Happy St.Patrick's Day!

Monday 16 March 2009

You'd be Thoolish to miss this

World of Thool is a campaign setting created by the almighty Scott over at the World of Thool blog.

I've been following his progress in the creation of what looks to be a really interesting and exciting campaign world, inspired by such authors as H.G. Wells, A, Merritt and William Hope Hodgeson.

Scott will be launching the World of Thool zine on 1st May (if all goes to plan). According to him: "Each issue will feature an assortment of monsters, magic items, rumors, and setting tidbits."

There's no doubt that Thool is going to be a great setting to run a campaign in for Tunnels and Trolls and I look forward to the zine and the future product.

Sunday 15 March 2009

By Kremm!

You know when Yoda lifted Luke's X-Wing out of the swamp on Dagobah? Yeah, that's Kremm that is. Kremm is basically the magic power in T&T 7th edition that magic-users draw upon to cast all kinds of wacky spells.

Magic in Tunnels and Trolls is charming and above all, easy to use. In AD&D and 3e D&D spell casting can get a little complicated, having to sit down and memorize from a spellbook, use scrolls that crumble after use and having to take into account casting times and if materials have to be used to cast the spell. In T&T it's simple: If you're a wizard you begin with all 1st level spells and you can use them at a cost of Strength or Wizardry depending if you're using 5th or 7th respectively (although someone will have to tell me whether any other editions utilize magic differently). You must have the right IQ and Dex to be able to use certain level spells. 7th edition is a little more complicated, but I'll get into that.

Let's look at the differences between 5th edition magic and 7th edition. First off, as I mentioned before, when you cast a spell in 5th edition it saps your strength, which regenerates after a short time. I can see why magic has been handled this way but I prefer drawing from the WIZ mana pool in 7th edition because I believe the magic should come from a different ethereal place and shouldn't take its toll on your physical body.

In 5th edition you just spend your strength and the spell is cast, similar to OD&D. 7th edition changes this by having you making a saving roll on INT at a level equal to the spell level to see if you actually cast the spell. So if my Level 1 wizard was casting Call Flame to burn up an orc, he would first make a Lvl 1 saving roll on his INT, which is 14, meaning he would need to roll a 6+ for the spell to work. I like this way of handling spells because it makes spell casting feel like a challenge, like you're concentrating and putting effort into it.

However, one thing I'm not too fond of in 7th edition is the Kremm Resistance. This means you can't cast a spell on someone with a higher WIZ score than yours. If you do you get a "bad feeling" allowing you to stop casting and choose another action. This means your puny WIZ 9 ain't going to do squat to the WIZ 18 warlock looming over you. However, the rules state that if you do cast a spell against the target, the target's WIZ score is depleted by the number of points you used to cast the spell. This means that a group of puny wizards could take down the WIZ 18 warlock by spamming him with spells. I guess the Kremm Resistance rule echoes those bad guys in books and movies who can just hold their hands up to deflect fireballs etc. It's quite cool but it does require a handful of magic users to be in a party.

One of the best aspects of T&T magic is being able to cast spells at a lower level for a discounted price. A level 4 wizard casting a level 1 spell gets 3 STR docked off the casting price, one per level the wizard is above the spell. This symbolizes spells getting easier to cast with practice.

There are a couple more rules such as casting spells at a higher level, purchasing spells from the guild and the different magic classes in 7th edition (conjuring, combat, cosmic and metabolic) but I've covered most of it.

Magic in T&T is really fun, whichever edition you're playing. I tend to prefer 7th edition magic rules minus Kremm Resistance because there's more substance to it and it feels like you really have to try to cast a spell. I have yet to come across a system of magic in a game that is as good as this, but I'll keep looking.

Edit: 6th edition uses Arcane instead of WIZ, but essentially the same thing.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Some folk [retro love]

Labyrinth Lord is a brilliant retro clone that takes you back to the old days of D&D (something I would know nothing about, I'm the Wizards generation). If you play LL then Matthew over at The Dwarf and the Basilisk has a little gift for you in the form of pre-rolled NPCs that can be used as henchmen or party member replacements.

I love the back to basics feel of Labyrinth Lord, something that's refreshing when I've been playing 3e for so long. Not that 3e is bad or anything, it's incredibly enjoyable, but it's a complex system with so many supplements to choose from my head was spinning when I went into a games store. LL is the gritty dungeon crawl of yesteryear.

Retro clones are becoming ever popular on kitchen tables and one that I really like is Mazes and Minotaurs, which is completely free and well worth a try. It's D&D meets Jason and the Argonauts, which can only be all kinds of cool. I'll probably talk about it more in a future post.

But if it's retro you're looking for then T&T wins hands down because it has never stopped being retro, it's stuck to pretty much the same formula since its conception. Sure there have been changes in level advancements and classes etc but at heart it's still the same great game it always was, and it's cheap too! For something now in its 7th edition I'd say that's an incredible feat.

Friday 13 March 2009

Artist Spotlight: Simon Lee Tranter

Simon Lee Tranter, aka CreamTrumpet, is a freelance illustrator, artist and designer from Worcestershire, UK. He has done work for book covers, music CDs and roleplaying games, notably Tunnels and Trolls.

For T&T he has done the artwork for Dungeon of the Demon Mage, Castle Death, The Haunting of Tilford's Hollow, Scandal in Stringwater, Dark Harbour and Beneath the Temple of the Storm God.

His work is awesome. He can do high fantasy as well as eerie horror brilliantly and his pulp sci-fi art really echoes the golden age of science fiction. Playing games that have been illustrated by Tranter is a pleasure and he helps bring the adventure to life.

Check out his work at his website

You can buy Tunnels and Trolls modules and solos he has worked on here and here

My workspace is my playspace

Solos on the desk are: Castle Death, Treasures of the Mummy Queen and Dungeon of the Demon Mage. They were all written by the great A.R. Holmes aka Boozer.

Lone Wolf

It's Friday and I know that many of you will be having your regular gaming group over for puffed potato snacks and high adventure. There aren't many experiences that beat sitting for five hours with your friends storming a dungeon, piloting starships or investigating a graveyard in the comfort of your own home and where the supply of carbonated drinks seems limitless.

Unfortunately sometimes a couple of group members can't make it because of that pesky family or business reasons or you may not feel well enough to host a game. But how does one go about getting their proverbial hypodermic syringe full of roleplaying goodness? I just choose a T&T solo.

I rarely get chance to play with a group since I'm at university but when I return to my hometown in June I'll be hosting T&T games at the local games store. Until then I grab a solo off my desk if I don't have prior engagements and roll off a few hours.

Solos don't replace the group experience but they do provide good solid hack 'n slash fun and you could come out with snazzy new weapons, magic items or sexy armour that you can then take to your newly equipped character to next week's GM game.

In fact, this is one of the aspects that attracted me to T&T in the first place. I love the fact that after a session of adventuring with a GM you can go and play a solo to either beef yourself up or, erm, get yourself skewered in a spiked pit. As long as you play fairly; as in no taking a sneak peek at the next page (unless you're using magic that allows that, such as Dear God. Then you can go ahead and use the same character in your next GMed game.

If you're a GM then it might be a cool idea to give your players some homework, as in hand out solos at the end of the session to get through by next week. If you only have one or a couple of solos then give it to a different person each week, just make sure everyone gets a go. If they die then that's just part of the fun of it right?

There are quite a few free solos that you can play online, including Sorceror's Apprentice and Buffalo Castle. Here they are:

Free Dungeons
Buffalo Castle
The Bullow Lands/Queen Scorpions and Lady Nymphs/The Sunk of Tarsus

So next time you feel like gaming but can't be bothered getting the gang together, click a link or pick up a solo and, who knows, you may find some awesome treasure to brag about to the group.

Thursday 12 March 2009

The trials of war rolling

Umm, guys. I think we're gonna need some more dice

The beauty and madness of T&T

My book shelf is creaking under the weight of sourcebooks, player's handbooks and modules, many of them belong to just one system such as D&D 3rd edition. My hard drive is packed with PDF RPGs I've bought and downloaded from DriveThru RPG and I have a suspicion that most will only be played a few times.

But I reserve a special place for my Tunnels and Trolls materials. They sit in a small pile on my desk, waiting to be flipped through again and again. I also have a couple of PDF solos that I feel the urge to print out on luxury paper and bind just so my physical collection can grow.

The beauty of T&T is in its quiet, unassuming existence. It never pounces out at you on a banner ad and it doesn't take up a third of a bookcase at the local gaming store. It's not a bad thing to market a product, hell I'm all for getting more people's fingers stained with ink and rolling plastic rather than tapping the W,A,S,D keys for hours on end, but there's something dignified about the second ever roleplaying game to exist that is only known by a handful of gamers.

"Ah", interjects the critic, well-versed in RPGs, "But the T&T system is far too simple for our Jupiter-sized intellects. I prefer games with setting, backstory, economy, exotic means of transportation, a food catalogue. I want to know the population of each city and what they prefer to wear and I want to feel that I have a world already formed for me to step into." Then he laughs smugly whilst swishing his fine wine around.

Whilst the criticisms are justified they just highlight the beauty of T&T. It's easy to learn - you can get a game started on the same day that you've read the rules. It doesn't need a full background setting (although Trollworld is a good one) for the game to be fun. It presents an exercise in the limitless boundaries of the imagination whilst allowing interpretation in combat and carrying out skills. In T&T you won't find "Roll to hit," then, "I roll for defense," then, "Roll for damage." But you will find the dice flying and the party cheering as spite damage is inflicted upon a seemingly impossible opponent.

"Perhaps, but it still seems somewhat crazy," offers the the slightly drunk critic, "The spells are so stupid sounding and the monsters just have a Monster Rating and nothing else to show for themselves being a ferocious monster."

T&T is mad, it's funny and it's refreshing. Some games can get so dark and bloodthirsty that comedic respite is the much needed elixir. You can make T&T as relentlessly evil as you like, but the fact that there are spell names such as Take That You Fiend and Little Feets reminds the players that it's a game and there's no need to get too absorbed in the darkness.

As for the monsters I will refer you to a post by Joshua that sums up how basic or detailed monsters can bee in T&T. Having a single number to sum up a monster is pretty ingenious and allows the GM to easily create monsters of the top of her head.
Tunnels and Trolls finds beauty in its madness and it will always have a special place in my room, one that is easily accessible.

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Inevitable introductory first post

Hi, I'm glad you could make it to this blog opening. I've been told to remind you that refreshments can be found at the back, I think we have orange juice, cola and some sort of meat sandwiches. I'm pleased that our honoured guest, Bruce Campbell, could make it at such short notice.

I guess I should start with telling you what this new blog is all about. It all began about a year ago when I was searching for a solo role playing to play because my regular gaming group had split to go their own ways. I had a nice collection of Ian Livingstone and Peter Jackson Fighting Fantasy books that I would work my way through every now and again but, being the greedy scoundrel that I am, I wanted more. I began searching the internet for solo RPGs and before long I came across Tunnels and Trolls. I had heard of the game before but never knew that it could be utilized for solo play. So I bought the rulebook and a couple of solos and the rest is history.

Now I'd like to invite Mr Campbell up because he says he has something to say.

Bruce: Thanks Scott, it's great to be here at such a geeky occasion

Scott: No problem Bruce, take it away.

Bruce: I've known Scott ever since he began imagining that B-movie celebrities were his friends and I've even had the opportunity to play some D&D with him. I tell ya, he's one wild DM.

Scott: Oh stop!

Bruce: *laughs* Hey man, you are. Anyway, he called me up after his Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition rulebook landed on his doorstep and explained to me how amazing this game is. He waxed lyrical about the combat and spell system and how the creator, Ken St. Andre, wrote the book in such an engaging and humorous way he'd never seen in an RPG before. He was so excited that a month later he sent me the rules and a few solos to play through. I've never had so much fun, it's even better than fighting deadites in the woods.

Scott: I gather your fairy rogue didn't last very long.

Bruce: Definitely not. A few days ago I got a call from Scott to say that he wanted to start up a blog about T&T and I told him it was a great idea and to invite me to the first post.

Scott: And thanks so much for that Bruce, you're a real pal.

Bruce: Now gimme some sugar

Scott: Umm...

So there you have it, the beginning of another RPG blog. I'd like to thank you all for attending and I'll soon be passing round a collection tin to go towards more T&T stuff for me.