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.