Thursday 28 September 2017

Observations from first edition Tunnels and Trolls

I've been having a re-read of the first ed of T&T and have come across some interesting stuff that I hadn't really noticed before.

  • The GM is called the Dungeon Master. I suppose this makes sense because up to then there was no other term for it.
  • Player actions are supposed to be relayed by one person on behalf of the group called The Voicer. Yep, one person leads the group and speaks for them.
  • Dungeons aren't drawn - they're 'dug'. I love this.
  • Magic-users (not wizards) can change into warriors. However, they lose all experience.
  • Misogynist is a monster type
  • If a monster reaches less than 10 con, players can enslave it temporarily until it revolts, or they can use magic to permanently tame it.
  • A Thompson machine gun has 16 dice
  • Magic-users are always the last to be hit in a combat
  • Supermarkets are built outside every dungeon
  • Monsters can go berserk

Tuesday 26 September 2017

New T&T podcast - Werewolf Blood

Tunnels and Trolls is kind of on the roleplaying fringe. A tonne of people have heard of it, some may have even played it, but there's very few people actually talking about it. There are at least a billion OSR podcasts out there and nothing for T&T (I attempted once, but failed to keep up).

Thankfully one Peter Seckler has launched Werewolf Blood, a podcast all about Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. It's just released its second episode (the first was a short intro), which you can find here:

Put Peter's delectable tones adjacent to your eardrums (along with some sweet bluesy riffs). I order you.

Sunday 24 September 2017

New dwarves

The dwarves only came into being by accident. It happened when Thren, the god of dark places, was slain by his treacherous brother Fiyal, god of hidden things, for rule over the darkness below. In the battle, the blood of Thren and Fiyal mingled in the flames of volcanic magma, cooling and solidifying. This shimmering rock became known as the Dwarrimstone, the birth mineral of the dwarves. One by one they clambered out of the cracked stone, squat, grey beings with lava in their blood. Fiyal, looking upon his creation, realised that he had an army at his disposal who could help him take on his final target of dark domains - Pella, goddess of the underworld.

Fiyal gave them the gift of the everforge, allowing them to craft metals into things unimaginable to the brightworlders above. They wrought cities from iron, great temples of steel and even clockwork beings to become their servants. It would be a millennia before they were truly ready to descend into the underworld and fight the groaning dead, but it would happen for Fiyal imbued it in their holy text - The Writings of Descent.

The dwarves (or dwarrim in their tongue) have a fiery temperament to go with the fire running in their veins. In fact, it's common for a dwarf to rage for hours, their eyes glowing yellow while they destroy structures and tear limbs from their own. This Molten Rage has become a problem in dwarf society, with those prone to it being locked in The Shell - a huge iron maximum security prison.

Dwarves do not have magic. Fiyal ever had a distrust for magical things as it tends to reveal hidden things. It is the domain of the brightworlders, so he taught his people the ways of craft and engineering instead.

Because they are literally made partially of lava, dwarves do bleed it. A decapitation causes a small volcanic eruption, and although it does little to harm the dwarves, brightworlders should stay clear unless they wish to be burned.

While dwarves are hairless beings, Fiyal's beard is iconic and holy to them. As holy garb they clad their faces in iron masks moulded with great beards in honour of their god.

Dwarves cannot and do not eat. They instead must inhale ash on a daily basis to maintain energy levels. Many use a special smoking pipe for this called a longshallow (describing the structure of the pipe).

Saturday 16 September 2017

Further thoughts on MetaArcade's Tunnels and Trolls Adventures

I wanted to create a separate post to talk about stuff I'd like to see in the Tunnels and Trolls Adventures app.

First off - a shop. You end up getting a bunch of loot during your adventures but nowhere to spend it. Potions and rations that increase your Con wouldn't go amiss here.

Magic. Currently you can only create warriors, which makes it simple to run a solo - wizard solos tend to require a magic matrix, which could be a bit fiddly, I guess. But the option to be a wizard or rogue would add some depth to the game.

Talents. While the T&T rules are fairly open with talent selection, selecting from a list to get a bonus shouldn't be difficult to implement and means that characters aren't similar. I suppose the only annoying thing for MetaArcade would be to programme where each talent can be used.

Illkin. Yeah, maybe it'll unbalance the (pretty unbalanced) game, but let me be a minotaur already!

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Automata kindred for T&T

Well, what can I say? I can't refuse a request from Kyrinn S Eis, can I?

There are two kinds of automata kindred: magical construct (or MagCon) and extraterrestrial.


This automata was forged in fire from iron and given a spark of life from a wizard (and less often, a rogue). They are bulky humanoid beings that clank and creak when they move. They are powered by a magical crystal in their heart called the Vostrum.

Attribute mods: ST X2, DX x0.75, INT x1, SP x0.5, CON x1.75, WIZ x0.5


This automata came from somewhere 'out there'. Nobody knows how they were built and by whom, but it is known they run on a strange viscous fluid and have an organic beating heart. They are sleeker and less haphazard than MagCons and their voices are smooth.

Attribute mods: ST X1, DX x1.5, INT x1, SP x1, CON x1.5, WIZ x0.75

Automata abilities:

- they don't sleep. Ever
- they can detect heat signatures through 1ft of wall
- spending an hour analysing a written language allows them to gain a rudimentary understand it. However they cannot speak it. This extends to 5 hours for the language of rare kindred
- they do not need to breathe

Automata for T&T

Despite the lack of technology available to the people of Trollworld, deep in the strange corners of the world machines do exist. Some are dreamt up in the fever dreams of mad wizards who fashion iron into nightmare constructs, while others awoke in the subterranean landscape inside the silver craft that plunged into the planet a millennia ago.

Automata are robots - some running on steam and gears, others on magical crystal cores, and some on actual souls. Automata are not to be trifled with.

Servitor Automata
MR 40 (5d+20)
Spite: 1/1
Special: The Servitor goes into emergency mode of its master is harmed, firing a laser at one assailant on its turn. The target makes a L3SR-DX or suffers 2d6 Con damage. Once used, the laser must power back up. Each round roll a d6. On a 5 or 6 the laser comes back online.

Servitors are a staple in the steel magician's abode. They clean the premises, water the plants, take care of the toddlers and often sort out the paperwork. While they aren't bodyguards they do have armaments and will try to kill anyone harming their master. Otherwise, they are pretty placid.

Octoid MK III
MR 84 (9d+42)
2/ pocket rocket: a small heat guided missile is fired at one target within 100ft. They must make a L4SR-DX or take 2d6 Con damage.
3/ stranglehold: rubbery tendrils target 1d6 targets within 60ft, wrapping around their necks. Targets take 3d6 Con damage and cannot move in the next round.
Special: The octoid will attack anything moving. It is blind if you stay perfectly still.

Octoids are alien beings who reside in underground spacecraft which can be up to a few miles long. They are sentry automata, guarding their ships with extreme prejudice. They have a single lens in the centre of a bulbous head and eight long rubbery arms that can rip the heads of multiple targets simultaneously. They run on a purple fluid that, if drank, increases INT by 5 for 3 days.

MR 48 (5d+24)
Spite: 2/ soar: the snekker take flight for the next round and can only be attacked by missile weapons.
Special: Snekkers have heat vision, able to see the heat signatures of warm blooded creatures through 1ft wall from 100ft.

Snekkers are sleek silver humanoid automatas from the Therian dimension. They are completely sentient, intelligent and dangerous. With retractable wings, they are able to hunt from the sky and the ground, making them terrifying foes.

Monday 11 September 2017

T&T micro solo: Come, Come Into my Coven

This adventure is suitable for delvers with at least 30 adds. Ranged weapons can only be used in the first round of combat - it then turns to melee. No magic.

It has been three days since Vinnie hired you to take care of his witch problem. He spotted you glugging Dwarfmeister grog down the Pig and Muck in Gull and approached you about a job. Vinnie owns a farm out west and has lately been having witch troubles. First it was one, casting a spell here and there, then two showed up and now he's got a whole coven of the bloody things creeping around his land making newt-based mischief. It all came to a head when the buggers turned all his horses into adders and his poor wife got bit on the ankle. He asked you to take care of the coven.

You arrive at the farmstead as evening draws in. You scan the fields but see no sign of witches dancing widdershins and what have you. From your vantage point you see two possible places they could be:

Go to the dark wood - turn to 2
Go to the sinister cave - turn to 3


The ominous hoot of a lone owl sounds above you as you trudge through the murky wood. The very trees look like they would rough you up and take your wallet. Soon you come to a small hovel, sole spiralling from the chimney. Seems witchy enough.

Burst in through the door - turn to 4
Try lure the witches out - turn to 5


You head over to a craggy outcrop where the mouth of a cave waits, gaping at you. Lighting a torch, you enter cautiously, walking into the stone belly of the beast. Make a L2SR-LK. If you succeed, go to 6. If not, go to 7.


Mustering your courage you tell a battle cry and smash down the door. The hovel is a single room littered with all sorts of odds and ends. Petrified toads, a jar of something particularly evil and monkey's paw. However there's nobody around. You suddenly hear a noise coming from underneath an upturned glass. You see a tiny person trapped beneath it, hammering on the sides with their little fists. It's a boy, no older than nine.

Free the tiny boy - turn to 8
Ignore him and have a good rummage - turn to 9


You know full well that witches love the smell of delicious bacon. They can't get enough of it. You pull a few rashers out of you bag and waft them in the air. Unfortunately, you forgot that other things love bacon too, like the wendigo standing right behind you. The creature leers at you with its antlers and deformed monstrous face before charging. You must fight it. It is MR 32 (4d+16). If you survive you end up splattering its head all over the side of the hovel.

Burst into the hovel - turn to 4
Decide to go to the cave - turn to 10


You manage to quickly dodge the razor sharp spear that was heading towards your face. Looking back, you see a large humanoid mole with a scorpion tale. Mithids! You should have known. Two more appear out of the shadows. You just fight them. They have a combined MR of 56 (6d+28). If you reduce them to 20 con, the remaining ones will flee. If you survive, turn to 11.


You feel a spear pierce your back and you fall to your knees. Behind you three large humanoid moles appear with scorpion tails. Take 2d6 con damage. Within moments you are strung upside down over a roaring fire, the creatures flailing and chanting beneath. The day isn't going great, let's be honest. You feel yourself lowering and the heat getting intense.

Try wriggle free of the rope - turn to 12
Try swinging clear of the flames - turn to 13


You lift the glass and the boy lets out a tiny cheer. "I am Roy," he says, as if on helium, "My father is the farmer here. You must make a potion to turn me back. I know the ingredients for the one that shrunk me, but I don't know the remedy. I'm sure you can figure it out though. The original potion was: a vole, a cockroach and a sparrow." You look at the ingredients to hand.

Cat, calf and eagle - turn to 14
Ant, spider and rat - turn to 15


You don't have time to speak to a small child in a glass. Instead you start rooting through the stuff in the hovel. Make a L1SR-LK. If you succeed, turn to 16. If you fail, turn to 17.


Night has fallen quickly and darkness is all around you. You get the sense you're being watched. Out of the darkness you can make out several shapes. Four crones wearing tattered black dresses reach out to you with pale, withered hands. The witches have found you. It's time to fight. They have a combined MR of 60 (7+30) and if they roll three sixes you are momentarily petrified, losing half your adds for that combat round. If you defeat them, turn to 18.


You tear one of the Mithid's tails off and ram it into its face before dispatching another. The remaining ones flee, squealing into the night. Exploring the cave further you find the remains of several delvers. One is carrying a glittering sword (3d+3). Another wears a Ring of Frost Fist. This conjures a giant fist made of ice once per day that acts as a 9d weapon. You loot the bodies and leave the cave. Turn to 10.


You kick your legs frantically, trying to loosen the rope. You can feel it slacken, so you continue. At last! Your feet are free, but you are plummeting towards the fire. You are at once engulfed in flame, never to emerge from the cave again.


You use your body to swing away from the cloying smoke and burning fire. The Mithids shriek, watching you try to escape. One throws a spear, missing you and catching the rope sending you tumbling onto the ground. You quickly get to your feet and flee out of the cave, spears whizzing by your head. Soon you are in the dark field, far beyond the evil cave. Turn to 10.


You throw the disgusting ingredients into the bubbling cauldron and make a viscous stew. Grabbing a ladle, you scoop out the brown mixture and feed it to the boy. The a pop Roy becomes normal size again. "Thanks for your help. But those witches are still out there," he says. You nod and tell him to run on home - you'll take care of the witches. Turn to 10.


You concoct a grotesque green mixture in the bubbling cauldron and feed it to Roy. He begins to grow and doesn't stop. His skin becomes blackened and scaly and his mouth stretches into a maw riddled with ivory teeth. The roof of the hovel bursts open as the Nightshade Dragon opens its wings. You must fight it. It has MR 68 (7d+34). If you defeat it you leave into the night. Turn to 10.


Under a pile of clothes you discover a pair of purple tinted glasses. Wearing them allows you to see what someone is really thinking in a situation. You chuckle and leave the hovel. Turn to 10.


As you rummage you accidentally knock over a vial of liquid. It shatters on the ground releasing a noxious gas. You find yourself changing physically. You are now a golem. Your attribute modifiers are as follows: ST x1.75, DX x0.75, INT x 0.5, CHA x 0.5, LK x 1, SP x 1, WIZ x 0.5. Seeing yourself in the mirror you let out a shriek and flee the hovel. Turn to 10.


You leave the pile of witch corpses in the woods and rest up in the farmstead. The next day you are woken by Vinnie, who thanks you for ridding his farm of the witches. If Roy is alive, he pays you 400gp. If he isn't he pays you 200gp.

Review: Tunnels and Trolls Adventures by MetaArcade

The best roleplaying session I've ever played was a Tunnels and Trolls adventure (it was one of my own published adventures, not to brag). I have an affinity with the game - it's the reason why Trollish Delver exists. So it's taken me a shocking amount of time to get around to playing Tunnels and Trolls Adventures by MetaArcade.

The app allows you to purchase and play several solo adventures - a hallmark of the T&T system, including classics like Naked Doom and Buffalo Castle, along with more recent entries like Grimtina's Guard and The Seven Ayes - the latter being shorter adventures. While Naked Doom is free, you have to pay to play the others, either by spending hearts, which give you one play, or buying the modules outright with gems. Alright, it's one of the few apps that I'm cool with pay to play, but considering it costs the same to buy a bunch of gems as it does a bunch of hearts I have absolutely no idea why you'd buy hearts since the gems give you the full adventure forever. Bizarre!

Thankfully MetaArcade has kept the ability to use the same character between adventures, levelling them up and gaining treasure as you go. When you begin you have access to a handful of pre-made characters, but you also have the ability to create your own using the usual T&T rules that can result in either really weak or ridiculously strong characters - I love it. Levelling is also kept the same, gathering adventure points for every creature you kill, saving roll you make and adventure you complete. Oh, and even if your character dies, you keep everything. For me, this is a little too lenient - I prefer permadeath, but that's just me being a sadist.

I've played through all but one of the solos on the app - although I have played the remaining adventure as a physical copy. Each contains some great art from a mish-mash of artists, including perennial favourites Liz Danforth and David Ullery. This is really old school art, much of it black and white and most of it lovely. Not only do you have the art, but the app also has some great atmospheric sounds that match your situation - so if you're standing in a tavern you will hear the din of chatter and the clanking of glasses. This is a nice touch.

I'm hoping MetaArcade keeps adding new solos to the mix because it won't take you long to get through the existing ones. All in all, I'm impressed with the app, but I think being a die hard T&T fan does help. If you fancy some T&T action, but can't be bothered cracking out your books then this is a nice diversion - especially if you're on the move.

Sunday 10 September 2017

OSR micro solo: Ancient Sorceries

This is a micro solo adventure for OSR games. Stats for roll under and over rules are given.

Beyond the Dun Barrows of Akthania where the ghast kings dwell and further than the dread plains of Unreach where the Nevertribe makes its home lies the Husk Forest. Deep within the wood a stone temple has been left to the elements for over two centuries and it's history has become dust.

You stand before it, your mind still fractured by the horrors you have seen up to this point. Its crumbling grey pillars and haunted cavernous belly that resides just out of sight is both attractive and repulsive to you. But you have come too far to turn back now.

Its dim inner sanctum has been reclaimed by nature - vines crawl like fingers up broken walls, obscuring markings once made by worshippers here. A family of bats slumber in a dark corner and a skink darts across the stone floor. At the end is what remains of an altar, but fear prickles your neck when you see what rests on top of the structure. A perfectly preserved body wrapped in linen. It is a human woman, no older than thirty, but possibly hundreds of years old. Her face is pale, but it is noble and beautiful. In her left hand she clasps a silver sword and in her right a crystal vial containing an emerald liquid.

Take the sword - turn to 2
Take the vial - turn to 3
Explore the temple - turn to 4


Cautiously you lift the blade from her grip. Make a saving throw Vs spells. If you pass, you feel a vibration through the blade and drop it before it ignites into blue flame. If you fail, the sword ignites, you're covered in blue flame. You feel no pain, but you see an age into the past. You see the woman forcing a robed man to drink a green liquid. You see him change into a structure of horns, scales, and claws. You drop the sword. Lose 1d6 Intelligence points for the next 1d6 days.

The woman begins to rot away, leaving only a skeleton. The hand drops the vial, which shatters on the ground.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You lift the vial of liquid out of her hand gently and inspect it. Make an Intelligence check. If you pass on roll under, or score 12 or more on roll over, turn to 6. If you do not pass and want to drink the contents, turn to 7. After you remove the vial from her hand, her body rots away to bones, causing her to drop the sword, which erupts into blue flame and vanishes.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You brush the undergrowth out of the way to reveal faded pictures on the walls. A lake with a stone building in the background. Within the lake are beings swimming, monstrous things you wish not to have seen. As you search you find a wooden flute.

Take the sword - turn to 2
Take the vial - turn to 3
Leave the temple - turn to 5


The area around the temple is vastly overgrown, with willows looming over you like watchers. Moving behind the temple you find yourself in a clearing with a man-made lake. If you have the flute you may play it - turn to 8 but if you have the keyword Deep turn to 9. Or you may move closer to the water - turn to 10.


A sniff and a light taste tells you all you needs to know. Transmogrification magic. You can drink it by turning to 7. Otherwise.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


Your bones begin to crack and muscles convulse. You shriek as your skin becomes mottled scales and bone slides out of your head to form horns. Your hands elongate onto claws with webbing. Obtain the keyword Deep.

Explore the temple - turn to 11
Leave the temple - turn to 5


You play a simple melody that flows in the air. You don't know what you're playing, but it feels right to be playing it. Within moments the lake's surface is disturbed. Emerging from its depths comes a amphibious being with vast horns, yellowed eyes and a sinister grin. The creature means to devour your flesh, so you must fight it.

Beast from Below
HP 15
AC 14 (5)
Attack: +4 (roll under 15)
Damage: 1d6

If you defeat the creature, turn to 12.


When you cast your bulbous eyes on the lake you feel yourself being drawn to the water. Yes, the cool water will feel wonderful against your scales. You submerge yourself and laugh with glee. You go down further and further. Soon you are joined by your own kind, swimming together for eternity.


You peer into the calm waters and could swear you just saw something move down there. A large shape growing closer. You back away and decide to flee this cursed place. The adventure is over.


You brush the undergrowth out of the way to reveal faded pictures on the walls. A lake with a stone building in the background. Within the lake are beings swimming, monstrous things you wish not to have seen. As you search you find a wooden flute.

Leave the temple - turn to 5


The beast lays on the ground in a bloody pool. You stand over the heap panting, black blood covering your clothing and face. You reach down and break off the horn, knowing you can get at least 300gp for it on the market. You walk away from the lake without looking back. This is where your adventure ends.

Thursday 7 September 2017

English Eerie

English Eerie is a game currently in development and due for release in time for Halloween. Why? Because it's real spooky.

It's probably a spiritual success to Quill - it's a solo storytelling game where players use a journal to create a horror story set in rural England. It's based around authors like M.R. James and Algernon Blackwood, as well as English folklore and folk horror films. Think things like The Wicker Man, The Willows and Lost Hearts. Scenarios use an oppressive and creepy English countryside as the backdrop - where natural beauty is only a veneer that obscures the true terror of the land.

The idea is that you're given a scenario (there are 10 in the main rules) and you use the prompts in there along with a rigged deck of cards to tell a scary story with rising tension. Each suit is tied to a type of event, with each scenario offering inspiration as to what type of event that is. It could be a secondary character trying to thwart your progress by whacking you with a tyre iron, or you may uncover a clue that helps shape your story. When obstacles crop up, you roll a d10 against the card number to see if you successfully overcome it, using Resolve points to increase your chances. Failure leads to your Spirit diminishing - the end of the scenario dictating what happens if you do or do not have any Spirit remaining.

Everything that happens is told in days and written as journal entries by a flickering candle. So far playtesting has gone well and it's almost ready to be published. It will also have a POD version.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Thoughts on new Fighting Fantasy art

Yesterday I was at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2, which was a hoot. At the event Scholastic launched its Fighting Fantasy line, complete with all new covers and interior art. This is generally par for the course when FF gets a new publisher, but Scholastic is a pretty big coup for the franchise considering it's the biggest children's publisher in the world and had school-based book clubs. This in theory should put FF in front of a whole lot of kids, which is a fantastic thing.

Because Scholastic has to cater for a market of digital natives who are used to a certain style in their app games and animated series, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson have kind of told us older fans that we've got to give the new art style a chance, and I completely agree. We still have our Nicholson, McCaig, Hough and other FF masters, but according to Scholastic these artists' works aren't going to resonate with the kids today (I don't agree with this - I think kids want quality and cool shit as much as the rest of us).

So let's talk about the new covers first. The first phase contains: Warlock of Firetop Mountain, City of Thieves, Citadel of Chaos, Forest of Doom, House of Hell(!) And the new Port of Peril. Guys, I really like these covers - particularly Forest. They're bright and a little trippy. Sure, they look like they've come from a gaming app but that's the point I think (not to be cynical about it).

I can't comment too much on the interior art, because I've only seen snapshots of some books, but I did pick up a limited edition hardback of Port of Peril (interestingly with a bloody amazing McCaig cover) and had a flick through at the art. Let's just say it's not for me and I can't see too many current fans being enamored. It's all a little flat and cartoony - a complete departure from anything done before in the series. The paragraph dividers are also quite poor - 3D rendered greyscale treasure chests that look like they've come from a generic fantasy app.

I don't know how engaging this art is to kids nowadays - I only know that the art of the old green spines were a joy to me as a kid and part of the reason I got into gaming. The art has stuck with me for two decades because of the absolute mind blowing detail, gore, and wonder it conjured. When I look through Port of Peril I can't imagine the art really affecting anyone in that way.

I'll have a review of Port of Peril on the blog soon .

Top image: Scholastic