Monday 28 February 2011

My Ferrenai warrior

A couple of days ago I detailed my conversion of Nicholas Cloister's awesome Ferrenai race, for Tunnels & Trolls.

So far I've run him through both Buffalo Castle and Eye of the Serpent. I'm using my hybrid of 7.x and 5th edition rules, which seems to be a popular way to homebrew these days. As you can see I've not yet spent the money I got from nicking the emerald in EotS, but I think I'll get him some new armour and a better weapon than a common spear, although it has served him well so far.

Err, yeah his CHA is zero. He started off with 3 and let's just say he had a bad experience in Buffalo Castle.

Tre'Nlow Mudwater
Lv 1 Ferrenai Warrior

ST 13
DX 25
CN 16
LK 11
IQ 9
CH 0
SP 8
WZ 10

Adds: +14
Armour 16
Talent: Gymnast 29 (DX)

GP 1313
SP 176
CP 80
AP 284

Common Spear (3+1)
Misericorde dagger (2+1)

Arming Doublet (3)
Magical Bracers x 2 (2 each)

Green silk cloak (35g)

Monsters in my letterbox

I came home today to find this on my doorstep.

It's a signed copy of Monsters! Monsters! I bought from Ken St. Andre himself. I'm going to write an adventure and write up a play report real soon plus a review of the game.


Saturday 26 February 2011

Twisting kindreds

Recently I wrote an article on about how developers should focus more on original fantasy races than the usual Tolkienesque elves, dwarves and hobbits.

Anyone who has read Ken St Andre's A Fragmented History of Trollworld will know that his versions of these classic fantasy races are slightly different. For example all dwarves are vegetarian (all their teeth are molars) and trolls are the most wise and ancient of races.

I've made some adjustments to a couple of common T&T kindred myself:


Elves are a wild people who live in small tribes in forests and jungles. They often use tree sap and colouring to dye their skin to identify themselves in a certain tribe and to make themselves look fearsome to other tribes. Elves are skillful hunters, using makeshift bows and spears to take down their prey. Their metabolism allows them to eat meat raw and elves are often found tucking into the meal they have just killed right on the spot. Elven mystics, known as Shabolei, use the natural energies around them to fuel their magic.
Elves are wary of outsiders and will almost always attack those who wander into their territory. Sometimes curious elves leave their green homes in search of adventure, especially the young ones. Elves have almost limitless age and the old ones can be distinguished by their long noses and fingers. It is not yet known if an elf has ever dies of old age.


Fairies live in a world between worlds, where stone circles in the real world are gateways to their realm. Fairies are a peaceful race who seek to help others in need. Although fairies are only a few inches tall, they are able to grow to human size for 5 hours a day, however they still retain their wings (which grow in proportion). Fairies have a blueish tint to their skin and their touch is particularly warm. Fairies always carry a totem of some form with them when they are travelling to worlds that are not their own. If they were to lose their totem they would not be granted access to the fairy realm until they found it again. As a result many fairies have become trapped in the real world and have slowly been driven to madness, even savagery. The fairies are known as Falara, or 'The Lost', in fay tongue, and can be spotted by their reddish skin. Fairies can usually last years in the real world without returning to the fairy realm, but merely days after the time when they should return home they begin to change mentally.

New Kindred: Ferrenai

Disclaimer: I didn't invent this kindred, nor do the awesome artwork above. All that hard work was done by Nicholas Cloister from RPG Creatures. All I've done is re-stat it for Tunnels & Trolls


The Ferrenai are intelligent beings, but emotionally and socially quite different from the typical human. They never greet each other through words or gestures, but seem to take other tribe members for granted. This wordless acceptance of their fellow beings prevents many conflicts in the Ferrenai tribal life. To them it is natural that opinions differ and they never really bother with changing the minds of others, until matters of life an death emerge. The hierarchy of the Ferrenai tribal system solves most disagreements very swiftly, and if not, a ritualised fight to the death is undertaken.

Read more about the Ferrenai here.

ST x1
DX x3/2
CH x1/2
CN x1
IQ x1
SP x1
LK x1
WZ x1

Special Abilities
Fishy Flashback: The Ferrenai are able to tune into the memories of fish and other aquatic creatures, though the information gathered is often quite unreliable. They have a 50% chance of reading a fish's memory. This ability can only be used once a day.

Natural Armour: The Ferrenai's skin is hard and resilient and cannot succumb to burns, frostbite or skin disease. Their skin acts as a natural armour granting 2 armour absorbtion when not wearing armour. This does not stack with full suits of armour, as full suits take precident over natural armour.

Beholder for T&T

MR: 80 (8d6 + 40)
Armour: 5 Hide
AP: 100


1 Spite/ Fire Ray - Target must make L2SR-DX or suffer 1d6 fire damage
2 Spite/ Hypnosis Ray - Beholder casts Mind Pox. It must roll LXSR-DX where X is equal to the level of the target. Beholder has 15 DX.
3 Spite/ All Rays - Target must make a L4SR-DX or suffer 4d6 fire, lightning and cold damage. The target is also unable to act in the next combat round.

Beholders are bizarre floating creatures with large, gaping maws, many eyes protruding from its head on stalks, and one large eye in the centre of its face. Each eye can fire a ray of elemental energy at its target and the main eye is capable of hypnotising its prey into a zombie-like trance.

My T&T Collection

This is more of an inventory for my own use, but I thought it might be nice to share this with you guys.

Tunnels & Trolls 5th Edition (Corgi)
Tunnels & Trolls 6th Edition
Tunnels & Trolls 7th Edition
Tunnels & Troll 7.5 Edition
Monsters! Monsters! (signed)

Buffalo Castle
Naked Doom
Castle Death
Deathtrap Equalizer
Captif d'Yvoire
Beyond the Silvered Pane
Amulet of the Salkti
Arena of Khazan
Rogues Gallery
Dungeon of the Demon Mage
Beneath the Temple of the Stormgod
Khara Kang's Random Rainbow Maze
Deeper Delving (signed)
A Traveler's Tale (signed)
Quests of the Leprechaun
Rat on a Stick
The Caverns of Isahil 1st edition
The Caverns of Isahil 2nd edition (?)
Dark Harbour (signed)
The Djinni's Power
Halls of the Gorgon
The Hidden Halls of Ogul-Duhr
Tree of Life
Strange Destinies
Sea of Mystery
Blue Frog Tavern
Dungeon of the Bear
The Tomb of Baron Gharoth
Hot Pursuit
Temple of Issoth
Devotion to Duty

A Fragmentory History of Trollworld
Elder Tunnels Halloween 2010
Hobbit Hole #15
Dungeoneer's Digest #? (is somewhere else at the moment)
Selection of Tavernmaster Games pencils

Review: The Ice Cavern of Isahil

The Ice Cavern of Isahil is yet another solo module from classic T&T writer Andy Holmes. Andy kindly included both copies of the solo when I ordered it from Hobgoblin's Tavern (site is currently down) - the first edition and the reprint with a much nicer cover, bigger font size and better quality paper.

As a mini solo it won't take you long to get through; that is if you survive of course. There is at least one place I can think of where you probably won't stand a chance, but it's possible to emerge alive. There is a nice part at the beginning in which you can absail down an icy crevasse into the cavern below. However, to do this you must pass 10 saves. This means even at the start of the module you could plummet to your death, similar to how in Halls of the Gorgon you can be killed even before you enter the dungeon.

Monster-wise you're going to come up against some meaty ones, so prepare yourself in advance of the adventure. Disappointingley the random encounter table is only small but then again Holmes doesn't go crazy with the random encounter locations. Most of the time you have to roll a one to come across a beastie. The 'pre-programmed' encounters are really good, but don't expect a big showdown at the end unless you want it to happen. By far the best part of the module is what happens after you've slayed a room teeming with Ice Goblins. It's awesome, but I won't give it away.

There's some nice treasure to be found in the cavern, including a deadly dagger that my dwarf warrior keeps strapped to his ankle.

You probably don't want to take a fresh first level delver into the Ice Cavern unless you're feeling lucky. You can use 5th or 7.x rules pretty easily with the solo (I used my 5/7ed mashup).

Overall, The Ice Cavern of Isahil is a good, if challenging mini solo adventure that makes up for its small amount of random encounters with it's excellent pre-programmed monsters and various hazards.


Friday 25 February 2011

Mogwrath the Dwarf

Mogwrath Mosschewer
Lv. 3 Dwarf Warrior

ST: 40 (42)
DX: 19
CH: 13
IQ: 15
LK: 30
CN: 38
SP: 15

GP: 273
AP: 3008
ADDS: 53 (55)
MISSILE: 60 (62)

This is my current T&T character. He's definitely the best I've had in the game, especially after a fortunate run through Beyond the Silvered Pane where he received a 7 point upgrade in every stat. His weapon of choice is an enchanted scimitar (9d6) which he plundered from Ogul-Duhr. He also has a ring that allows him to control any feline creature and a shield which absorbs TTYF spells. The reason some attributed are in brackets is because his Ring of Power gives him +2 ST when worn.

In short, I don't want this guy to die.

Thursday 24 February 2011

Gauntlets & Goblins is now Derring-Do

I haven't updated on my rpg project Gauntlets & Goblins for a long time. Well the game has gone through quite a transformation and I'm pleased to announced the game it has become - Derring-Do, a rolelaying game of pulp heroes.

What? That's a far cry away from the original game about Arthurian legend, but I felt the mechanics I wanted to use didn't work particularly well with the genre. However, I found that pulp 1930's adventure was a much better fit.

I've just got back from playtesting with my regular group and it went down really well. Of course I made lots of adjustments and it'll need a few more weeks of playtesting before I can release in onto the wild digital yonder. However I will be posting weekly updates on characters and mechanics. The G&G blog will be changed too. I look forward to finally showing you guys the finished product and hope you enjoy it.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Review: The Hidden Halls of Ogul-Duhr

Following on from The Halls of the Gorgon, Hidden Halls is a mini solo that lets you delve into the secret second floor of Ogul-Duhr. You don't need to have played the previous solo to play this one. Hidden Halls is superior to Gorgon in many ways and stands out as a classic Tunnels & Trolls adventure.

Orcs have taken over Ogul-Duhr now the Gorgon has been slain. However you are told of great riches that can be found in the secret second level of the dungeon and set out to find it.

There's much more happening in Hidden Halls than Gorgon, from deadly traps, a giant golem, lots of passageways and truly tense moments. The 1d6 encounter table from the previous solo has been upgraded to 2d6 and features more humanoid monsters than before. There is also an arena where you fight some awesome foes, including a hydra that can permanently increase your strength if you cut it's heads off. There's also a trap table and a teleport table, making this one of the most varied and detailed mini solos I've played.

One minor problem I had, however, was that the directions tend to lead in bizarre direction. I always map my solos when playing and I was finding that a room in the south east of the dungeon somehow linked to a room in the far north in the text. This could get annoying for keen rpg cartographers.

Hidden Halls is a much more exciting solo than Gorgon. The variety of enemies and traps as well as the arena and logic areas make for a brilliant game of T&T.


Wednesday 16 February 2011

Interview with Ken St. Andre

This has been on Youtube for quite a while but no doubt someone you won't have seen this great interview with the Trollgod himself, Ken St. Andre.

See how awesome he is? His cheeky grin and wicked sense of humour makes St Andre instantly likeable. The detail he goes into about his typewriter and the James Shipman controversy is something every T&T and RPG fan should see.

Monday 14 February 2011

Review: The Halls of the Gorgon

Mini solo dungeons are difficult to pull off. You have a limited number of paragraphs to play with and it's easy for it to become too railroady. Andy Holmes' The Halls of the Gorgon succeeds for the most part, offering a winding dungeon full of passageways in only 60 paragraphs. However there are a couple of technical flaws and a lack of memorable monsters that hold this solo back from being a classic.

The solo is set in an ancient Dwarf mine called Ogul-Duhr, which has become the home to the more sinister things of the world, namely a Gorgon (I.e. Medusa). If you're unlucky you could face the Gorgon before you even enter the mine. The dungeon itself is mostly a series of winding potholes separated by caverns. Most of the random encounters in Halls take place in these narrow corridors. There are plenty of options in where you want to go, so you better draw a map. The larger cavern areas are generally devoid of much, except maybe a bridge, and there are few set enemies, so you'll be rolling on the encounter table a lot. The creatures themselves are mostly natural, such as beetles, snakes, spiders and centipedes. You will rarely come across a humanoid in the adventure.

The Gorgon herself is the star of the show. She stalks the dungeon and can spring up unexpectedly. Holmes has done a great job in giving the illusion that the Gorgon is slithering around everywhere, forcing you to constantly be on your guard. Actually bumping into her as you explore is a good thing, as she isn't at full power. That's not to say she isn't deadly. She's not strong herself, but uses a 5d6 magic sword, can turn you to stone if you fail a luck roll you take every round, and she can knock you over with her tail to get a free attack against you. Really you have to have a strong, lucky and fast warrior to defeat her. If you face her in her chamber then you have a very slim chance of killing her. Trust me.

One niggle I had with Halls was that some paragraphs required you to go back to previous one without warning. If you don't keep track of your paragraphs then it can be annoying to flick through the book to find the right one. Fortunately it's a small solo do this isn't a big problem. There is also a broken paragraph that will leave you reliving the same challenge over and over.

Halls is lonely and claustrophobic, which is how it should be. It feels like Alien and you're trying to kill it before it gets the jump on you. It says no more than 20 adds should be used, but that could make it very hard indeed. Holmes is a great writer and Halls is a solid solo, even with it's flaws.


Wednesday 9 February 2011

My new D&D accessories

I've decided to take my 4e D&D game to the next level. Up to now I've been using a vinyl mat with annoying 1.5" squares and occasionally Gaming Paper. Now all that's changing.

I've been thinking a lot about how to run an excellent game and realised that the story, although important, isn't the sole aspect of the enjoyment of D&D. A big chunk of it comes form the visual aspect. So I've decided to invest in a few things:

- Gamemastery Friend and Foe cards
- Gamemastery Essential equipment cards
- Gamemastery Wonderous Treasure cards
- Gamemastery Temple map pack

I'll also be investing in a new large vinyl mat with 1" squares as well as some 3D terrain. The Gamemastery cards will do wonders in helping players visualise the NPCs they come across and the items they collect and I'll be using a lot of dungeon tiles and map packs to augment the vinyl mat.

Now my question to you. Can you tell me where I can get reasonably priced 3D terrain and terrain pieces (e.g. barrels etc)? I would need a UK site since that's where I'm based.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Edition wars are stupid

It seems like most games that go through multiple editions have their own fan spats. Clearly the most prominent at the moment in the D&D 4th edition 'war', where the 'new school' crowd embrace aspects such as skill challenges and powers, while fan of earlier incarnations rage about these exact things, saying that it strips away the potential for roleplaying.

Guys, this in-fighting is ridiculous. So what if you don't like 2nd edition AD&D? Don't play it. Hate 4th edition with a vengeance? Play any other edition.

Look, Dungeons & Dragons, no matter what the edition, is Dungeons & Dragons. Someone who plays only B/X has as much right to say they love D&D as the person who plays 4e. Can't we just take all these editions, no matter what their merits and faults, under the same banner of D&D? We love D&D. The grognards playing 1st edition love D&D. The 3.5 players love D&D. The 4e players love D&D. When 5th edition comes along it'll be the same old thing. But whatever. I'll give it a try and if I like it I'll play it and if not I'll play another edition. No skin off my rosy nose.

Of Dabbers and Yexils - A Gamma world report

On Thursday I GMed my first game of D&D Gamma World and I thought it rocked.

I've played it before but I was itching to create my own adventure in this awesome setting. I ended up using my home town as the setting. I originally had it planned that locations were named after ancient celebrities (Garbo wastes and Monroe Village for example) but I changed my mind at the last second. I'm glad I did.

The story began when two pure strain humans showed up in Crossed Gates claiming they could use their purifying machine to turn any mutant into a pure strain human. Naturally people jumped at the chance, including Marl Boro, an old lady with cigarettes for eyes. While this was going on (taking played in the shelled out shopping mall down my road) our heroes were investigating the humans' presence. That night the heroes woke to a scream and they rushed outside to see three weird plant lizards attacking the townfolk. After defeating them and a bit of investigation the group figured out that these three were the volunteers from the day before who turned into pure humans. After further investigation they realised that the 'humans' who came to town were Dabbers, intelligent racoon folk, who were clearly up to no good.

After following some leads the group found themselves trvaersing the wasteland to the Killing Beck (a place actually called Killingbeck) to the seemingly abandoned PeppoCorp factory. After hacking their way in they found 'Top Sekrit' plans that uncovered the Dabbers' plot to use the purifying machines to create evil creatures they could control. Plans were found for a Yexil Tank, which was basically a huge lion creature that can fire lasers from its eyes, but armed with two huge guns and power armour. The group found the parts for the armour and got to work trying to create armourand guns they could use themselves. This was really cool because I set a this task as a hard DC but the Yeti Swarm player used an Omega Tech card outside of combat to jack himself into a machine and enhance his perception, pointing out what should go where as another player used his high mechanics to create the guns and armour. I handed Omega Tech cards to the mechanic which represented the guns and armour they created and after a lot of 'Awesome! Check out all this damage" they were on their way.

With the help of a Russian Drillbot left over from when PeppoCorp was operational, the group broke into the factory floor and found a room full of Purifyers. There were two Dabbers playing around with one of them and a Shieldbot patrolling the perimeter. With some quick thinking, Vector the Plantroach scuttled up onto the ceiling, waited a minute and dropped down onto the bot, pinning it to the floor. Then the doppleganger electrokinetic 'JPEG' reprogrammed the Shieldbot to make it fly inbetween the Dabbers and explode, causing high damage. They then finished the Dabbers off with Omega Tech because a Yexil burst out of one of the purifyers. After an awesome fight with Alpha mutations and Omega tech flying everywhere the group prevailed and set the purifyers to overheat, destroying them.

I adore this game. I've found that those who are usually RP shy with D&D really get into RP here because the characters are so far removed from reality. The guy who played the cockroach plant did a great job of grossing everyone out by constantly eating things and vomiting while using there disgusting traits to the group's advantage. Omega tech and Alpha mutations are awesome and keep the game fresh. However, the only problem I have is that players tend to talk about their tech and mutations for a while when i'm trying to move the game along. I guess it's good to be excited, but it can break up play somewhat.

If you haven't tried D&D Gamma World, I urge you to get a group together and go for it.

Wednesday 2 February 2011

The folklore of roleplaying games

Folklore is a difficult word to define. Scholars throughout the ages have tried to wrap a one-size fits all cover for what constitutes folklore, but most of the time the definition remains too simplistic for such a rich and diverse field. I like the definition folklorist Alan Dundes used, describing it as “any group of people whatsoever who share at least one common factor…a member of the group may not know all other members, but he will probably know the common core of traditions belonging to the group, traditions which help the group have a sense of group identity.”

Doesn't this also ring true for gamers around a table playing a roleplaying game? Indeed it does, and folklorist B. Grantham Aldred once wrote a paper analysing folk identity at the gaming table that you can read an the Folklore Forum.

In this study, Aldred looks at jokes within the roleplaying culture and discovers that there are multiple folk identities that exist in these games. Reviewing a range of live gaming sessions, including a game of Changeling, Aldred found that references gamers use for their jokes can be incredibly intricate and complex, requiring wider knowledge of multiple pop-culture genres to understand.

It's an interesting study and well-worth a read, even if it's nothing ground-breaking to gamers.