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Category Archives: Tunnels & Trolls

The Wisdom of Tunnels & Trolls

One of the big changes in the new edition of The Fantasy Trip is that Steve Jackson has recanted on the old rule that IQ provided a harsh upper limit on the total number of spells and/or talents a character could have. The reason is… under the old advancement system there comes a point where attributes get ridiculously and pointlessly high. So Steve’s solution is to have players buy attributes early on in their adventuring careers… and then at some point switch over to buying more talents and spells when the usual method of advancement becomes cost prohibitive.

I like the idea, mostly because I’ve long been hung up on the old first edition AD&D Fighter/Magic-user multi-class ever since I saw it. A great idea, but a clunky implementation to be sure. The idea of slower advancement is preserved here under the new rules here for The Fantasy Trip: non-wizard characters are going to pay triple the experience points for each new spell they acquire!

But of course, Steve isn’t channeling the more baroque elements of the biggest fantasy gaming franchise on the planet. No, he’s merely rolling back to a key element of The Fantasy Trip’s predecessor, Tunnels & Trolls!

See, the justifiably infamous Ken St. Andre had this hilariously brilliant “Rogue” class. This one was not like any of the Rogues in more ubiquitous games of today. It was an offbeat first-class treatment of the fighter/magic-user hybrid. Rogues didn’t have double armor ability of the warriors, though they could still use any weapon that they had the strength attribute for. (Shades of GURPS and The Fantasy Trip!) They could cast spells like a wizard, but didn’t get the strength cost break that wizards got from magic staffs and from casting spells at lower spell levels than their character levels.

And note again… because Tunnels & Trolls had Constitution be a distinct stat from Strength when determined the energy reserve, T&T avoided the “Conan the Wizard” problem that The Fantasy Trip accrued to itself due to its overly elegant design framework! Problem solved way before GURPS even came close to being on the drawing board!

The real genius of Tunnels & Trolls lies not just in its development of the ultimate fighter/magic-user combo. It’s that additional spells were doled out in that game in exchange for gold, not experience points. Wizards pay a flat rate to the guild, of course. But Rogues have to learn from other player character wizards. And they have to pay whatever amount those players are asking!

This is awesome. Not only does it inject a healthy amount of old school “XP for Gold” into T&T’s gameplay, but it also keeps the wizard players out in front of the rogues when it comes to spells. Not only are rogues limited to selecting from the spells the wizards have already purchased, but wizards can also relieve the rogues of all their spare cash… and then turn it over to the guild for even more spells!

This is particularly brilliant because the stupid stuff players do to min/max character generation and advancement is always inferior to the hi-jinx that ensures when the players start playing off of each other.

Score another one for Ken St. Andre, y’all!

A Key Line of Influence in the Development of Roleplaying Games

One of the ways that it becomes clear that Appendix N is more than just a list of books is that there are clear lines of influence running through it, chains of authors that inspire each other in succession. Everyone has been reminded by now that Leigh Brackett’s entire career was predicated on her reading and emulating an Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter novel. Fewer have marked the fact that there would have been no Conan were it not for Tarzan, but it’s true all the same. Jack Vance, Philip Jose Farmer, and Michael Moorcock each wrote books that even if they were not outright pastiche nevertheless hewed closely to Burroughs’s template.

But there’s more to it than just Burroughs being the real author of the century. Science fiction legend Jack Williamson set his sights on imitating the Lord of Fantasy A. Merritt. August Derleth and Margaret St. Clair each continued on in the same vein Lovecraft mined. And Lovecraft’s career in fiction was in turn directly inspired by the work of Lord Dunsany.

There’s a story there, a sprawling conversation that spanned decades. There are lights there that shined so brightly, voices so powerful that they defined how even the idea of fantasy could even work.

Another such conversation played out in the mid-seventies as the foundations of the roleplaying game hobby were laid down.

Some of the lines of influence are pretty obvious, of course. Traveller in its original incarnation was released as a set of three “little black books”– a very careful adaption of original D&D’s “little brown books” to a science fiction theme.

The core rules to GURPS have been called a “Basic Set” from its initial release because it was originally patterned after the phenomenally influential Basic D&D sets created by Holmes, Moldvay & Cook, and then Mentzer.

Looking at the precursor to GURPS, Steve Jackson’s The Fantasy Trip… it’s hard to imagine such a tightly engineered masterpiece of design could have been produced when TSR was in the process of developing the nigh incoherent early D&D rules to the ponderous and outright unplayable AD&D system.

The man that set the stage for this incredible little game was none other than Ken St. Andre, the creator the second role-playing game system Tunnels & Trolls. That game system did much more than blaze the trail for solitaire gaming modules which would inspire Steve Jackson from his earliest Fantasy Trip and Car Wars supplements. It would remain a cornerstone component of his vision even in his magnum opus of GURPS.

But look back into the offbeat T&T variant Monsters! Monsters!– which was published by MetaGaming and edited by a very snarky Steve Jackson– and you’ll find key innovations that were very quickly embraced and refined by Steve:

  • One of the six core attributes– constitution– is used for hit points instead of having a separate hit point stat. In The Fantasy Trip, Steve Jackson would trim things even further, folding the idea of both constitution and hit points into the strength attribute!
  • Instead of having a weird set of off the wall saving throw stats that are a function of class and level, Ken St. Andre used a more generalized “saving roll” against the luck stat. Again, Steve Jackson generalize things even further by making nearly every roll in his system be against one of his very few core attributes.
  • D&D has an elaborate tradition for statting up monsters and foes that is entirely distinct from the one used to generate player characters. With Monsters! Monsters!, Ken St. Andre showed how to make monsters a first class element of the game system, giving them all the same attributes and means of advancing. Steve Jackson would maintain this approach within The Fantasy Trip.
  • Weapon choice (and thus damage output) in Tunnels & Trolls is a function of the strength attribute. This concept is carried forward into The Fantasy Trip.
  • Magic staffs are used to reduce the cost of spells cast in Tunnels & Trolls. In The Fantasy Trip, staffs are used as mana repositories.
  • The primary benefit of being able to level up in Monsters! Monsters! is that you may increase your attributes, which define the lion-share of the character’s capabilities. In The Fantasy Trip this is taken even further and the concept of class and level is (finally) removed altogether.

There’s more. And its well worth your time to pick up copies of both Tunnels & Trolls and The Fantasy Trip to go delve into every nugget of all this.

Another thing you’ll see in Monsters! Monsters!, though, is a great number of references to what would later become known as the books of Appendix N. Balrogs from Lord of the Rings, of course… but also Living Skeletons from Fritz Leiber’s works, Lovecraft’s, Shoggoths, the demon from De Camp’s The Fallible Fiend, and a full page illustration of Roger Zelazny’s Shadow Jack. (Hilariously, in a footnote, Steve Jackson corrects Ken St. Andre on the proper way to stat up The Grey Mouser in the Tunnels & Trolls system!!)

Gary Gygax and Ken St. Andre might have had their disagreements when it came to roleplaying game design, but one thing’s sure: they had an almost identical conception of  what the best works of fantasy were.

REVIEW: Saving Fang from the Pits of Morgul by Ken St. Andre

This is one of those things that just needed doing. I mean… can you imagine an edition of Tunnels & Trolls not being supported with solitaire adventures? I know, shudder to think, right? Well, thankfully with the “Deluxe” edition being in the works these past few years there was plenty enough reason to get this one nagging detail taken care of. And by the progenitor of this iconic game no less!

So… how is the only adventure designed especially for the first edition of Tunnels & Trolls? Well, in keeping with the line’s traditions it’s lavishly illustrated. Even better, it’s loaded with dash and charm. And I must say, the gratuitously captivating “Cherry” adds far more than her share of pep to the proceedings. But the best thing about it is that it does a great deal that the monstrously large Deluxe edition of the game does not do:

  • First, it takes you into Troll World and gives you a glimpse of the city of Khosht and what it’s like adventuring in its vicinity. After reading in the Deluxe rules that this was the first city developed for the game and that it was even the city that got burned down via the premise of Metagaming Concepts’ Monsters Monsters!, I have to say that I’m thrilled to have (in effect) gotten a guided tour of the place from Ken himself.
  • It illustrates how a Tunnel Master can use a couple of higher level non-player characters to throw one or two novices into more of an epic scenario. You don’t have to play out the details of their actions; you can use them to provide a frame that allows the low level characters to focus on the part of the adventure that depends on them! This is a neat trick and I’m glad to have it incorporated into my game mastering arsenal.
  • It shows how combat situations can be broken down into multiple parallel encounters. The various editions of Tunnels & Trolls suggest this sort of thing, of course… but it’s great getting a glimpse into how an old pro applies these suggestions in an actual gaming situation. I am much less likely to simply total and compare the combat results of the players and the monsters now.
  • It has both a set of fully stated and defined monsters and some fleshed out NPC characters to go with them. ( know… it’s crazy to me that the big Deluxe book doesn’t quite do that, but the ghouls, skeletons, zombies, and necromancer are really useful to someone that is flat new to the system.

Ken St. Andre is a very gracious referee. He’s no Monty Hall, sure… but he allows players of this dungeon to take whatever equipment they want from the lists in the first edition rules. Even better, he grants players of the Rogue character type the option of selecting any first level spell they like right from the beginning. (That’s really nice of him. While that is standard operating procedure in the Deluxe edition, in the first edition rules there’s no telling how long it’d take a rogue player to scrape up enough funds to convinces a wizard player to teach him something…!)

Playing this out strictly by the first edition rules, I am convinced now more than ever that the streamlining of the Deluxe edition is (for the most part) spot on. In my game, I dutifully looked up the monsters’ dice ratings each time I did damage to them. (The dice progression is not only much more predictable in the latest version of the game, but they keep their dice rating throughout the combat, so there’s nothing to rethink there.) I also applied the rule of the monster only getting one quarter of their rating in adds starting with the second combat round. When the monster dropped below ten hit points, I was even rolling zero dice for them. You just don’t lose anything by dropping this sort of extraneous detail.

Now, I’ve lost many a player character in these Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures previously, so I expected the worst. I probably didn’t have to be so paranoid, but I took every measure to see to it that the guy I rolled up was competitive. In this case… that meant playing an elf. Here he is if you want to use him in your game:

ST 12
IQ 14 + 7 = 21
LK 15 + 7 = 22
CON 10
DEX 8 + 4 = 12

Type: Rogue
Kindred: Elf
Level: 1 (First Edition rules)
Weight Possible: 1200
Experience Points: 0
Languages: Common, Elvish, Trollish… and seven others?!
Combat Adds: 10

Spells: Take That You Fiend (costs 6 strength to do damage equal to IQ)

Bastard Sword (Weighs 75, does two dice damage… may spend one strength to go two handed and do three dice damage instead.)
Dragon Venom (Weighs 10, 20 applications, quadrupals edged weapon damage before adds.)
Light Crossbow with 20 bolts (Weighs 105, 2+3 damage)
Chain Mail (Weighs 500, takes 5 hits)
Steel Cap (Weighs 25, takes 1 hit)
Shield (Weighs 300, takes 2 hits)
Total Weight: 75 + 10 + 105 + 500 + 25 + 300 = 1015

Now… as you can see here, going with the elf kindred is basically just free attribute points. In this case, the bump in Luck even went straight into my combat adds! The lack of a WIZ attribute meant that the same resource that paid for exerting myself in combat was paying for my spell. And yeah, I did end up using the bastard sword two-handed on occasion because that extra die in combat was well worth the fatigue it cost. And finally… I did go the full munchkin and took in the Dragon Venom with me. I wasn’t sure how well that stuff would have worked against undead, so I didn’t actually use it in play… but man, that stuff is awesome. Of course, that one item was worth more than the loot I took out of the dungeon, but seriously… what adventurer is going to turn up his nose to such gifts?

One thing I wasn’t clear on was how the armor provided protection. Now… my assumption is that it works like damage resistance in GURPS. But the first edition Tunnels & Trolls rules talks about how they merely add to constitution. The implication seems to be that the armor is destroyed as soon as the player applies his damage to them! Is that really the intent of the game designer…? I’m not really sure. If it is, adventurers are liable to go through a lot of armor!

Now… I gotta say one thing about Tunnels & Trolls combat here. It really seems to me that a lot of the times in one-on-one combats, it’s really only going to turn out one way. In GURPS, anybody can get lucky and do serious harm even to a Navy SEAL. But the three fights I played out when I ran myself through this one…? I don’t think I was ever in much danger. I think some of the issue with this would be ameliorated if the monsters in a situation were diverse and the players had to allocate their characters to different combats without knowing the exact ratings that their foes had. But still… this is very different from Moldvay Basic D&D where the players can be outclassed, but gain initiative, drop a single foe, and then watch the bad guys flee due a failed morale check.

And another thing… the “big gun” spell of first level Tunnels & Trolls is not an “I win button” like D&D’s Sleep. It’s more like a bigger better Magic Missile! The tone of the gameplay is very different as a consequence of these contrasting design choices.

As friendly as the Deluxe rules are overall, I have to say that playing this solitaire makes me a lot more comfortable with the idea of running the game. Looking at the notes for running this as a GM adventure, I think this is probably a better introductory scenario than what is included with the big fat rule book. (Note that the stats in the back are all for Deluxe edition anyway, so the designer may well have anticipated this particular use case!)

And while I’m glad I gave first edition a shot, I can say that I’m sorry to put the spartan spell descriptions and incomprehensible “Advanced Weapons Chart” behind me. On the other hand, a pruned down version of the Deluxe edition’s weapon list might be a good idea. The weapons and armor lists on the new GM screen looks a lot better to me if I’m going to be walking new players through the process of creating characters…!

There were a couple of errors in this product. In my play-through, I went to a location where I got my weapons back even through I had never lost them. Also… the experience point award for the monsters looked different from what the rules seemed to indicate. And there is a magic item in this thing that is not completely defined and which doesn’t come with an appropriate first edition style experience point award. In fact… there is one section that describes some of its effects… but you cannot get to that location of the text! This did not ruin things for me, though… and given how good everything else about this adventure is, I can still recommend it for people that are just now breaking out their brand new Deluxe Edition rule books. Experiencing the iconic city of Khosht through the virtual refereeing of the system’s original designer is well worth the price of entry. And of course, I’ve already raved over the value of the first edition reprint.

So check it out!

The big puzzle with some of these classic solitaire adventures is figuring out the best combination of equipment purchases to optimize your chances. I attempted to do that before I’d read that Ken was giving me whatever I wanted. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I would have had a harder time getting through things without the fancy gear. Here’s the stuff I originally picked out:

Weight Carried: 220 + 250 + 25 + 1 = 496
Gold: 140 – 75 – 50 – 10 – 5 = 0
Battle Axe (4 dice)
Leather Armor (2 hits)
Steel Cap (1 hit)
Curare (3 applications)

Comparing First Edition Tunnels & Trolls to the Deluxe Edition

“Please realise that more than almost any other game still in commercial production, Tunnels & Trolls (and MSPE) is flexible and utterly independent of endless rules books; Ken, Liz, Mike and company having delivered all that you would ever need to stimulate your group’s imagination while laying a solid foundation off which to build your own games.” — Kyrinn S. Eis

It really does surprise me how excited I am about this game. It’s exactly what I needed in my life all those years ago when I was struggling with Gamma World third edition as a twelve year old that didn’t quite comprehend role-playing games. As much as I love that dear old train wreck, it seems to me Ken St. Andre had a much better grasp of how to take zany, wide open wa-hoo adventure and put it in a format that a novice could actually run and comprehend.

There is very little in the new Deluxe edition rules that I feel that I absolutely must change before I could play it. Honestly, some of the nuance of first edition hurts my head and I just don’t always want to dig back into it to figure out what exactly they were doing back in the seventies. However, as far grasping the spirit of the rules goes, I have to say… a close reading of first edition really is essential– especially given just how many things have disappeared from the latest version of the game. In fact, there are places where I think some unnecessary interpolation is required in the Deluxe rules… but the original game goes a long way towards filling in the gaps.

Here then are a few comments on first edition that I noted after giving both rule sets a close reading back to back:

  1. The first section of the rules after the introductions is some advice on how to “dig” a dungeon. The original Tunnels & Trolls was a game for people for whom the $10 and three booklets of OD&D was too much complexity and too much expense. It was a game for people that had no experience with either Avalon Hill or miniatures gaming. The use of only six-sided dice was an intentional design decision that meant that it was a game for all the people that would have been unable to get ahold of set of fancy polyhedral dice. While it was more comprehensible to a wider audience than original D&D, nevertheless… it still required a great deal of creativity to run. The referee was required to create an entire adventuring scenario as a first order of business– and with only the most spartan of advice to go on!
  2. Just how exactly a rogue gains his spells is somewhat ambiguous and varies across editions and gaming groups, but the intent of the original rules seems to be the rogues buy spells from player character wizards for whatever price they ask for!
  3. Tunnels & Trolls referees could not afford a fancy Monster Manual like what became de rigueur for that other game. Monsters could be created with the same attributes as player characters or they could be defined with a single number: the Monster Rating. There was no hard and fast system for how to do it– but there was a whole lot of enthusiasm for doing it however you wanted. One odd idea here is it was taken for granted that they way monsters were developed or that monster ratings were interpreted should change as after the first level of the dungeon. For instance, monster damage results might be multiplied by their dungeon level so that people would not have to roll fist-fulls of dice in order to keep up with them.
  4. One critical change: the monster originally got half of its Monster Rating as “adds” on the first round… and only a quarter of its remaining hit points on subsequent rounds. Presumably its dice would have been dropping as well, because they could not defend themselves when they got below ten! While no one has been keen on keeping up with this amount of math and chart lookups– the dice the monster gets for its monster rating is kind of wonky– nevertheless, having a cutoff point where the monster will beg for mercy and possibly even ask to become a henchman is a nuance that’s now lacking from the Deluxe Edition. (Note that a player character’s charisma would come into play when a subdued monster attempted to revolt against them.)
  5. Combat was assumed to be “theater of the mind”, but while it was even more simplified than the system in even the simplest editions of D&D, it nevertheless was not assumed to be some sort of die rolling contest. It was intended that the referee was to make many common sense rulings about how many separate melee battles would go on at once, when and for how long missile weapons would be allowed to fire, and what circumstances pole arms would actually be relevant and effective.
  6. There was a system for Monster reactions in the original game… and it did not survive the decades of development to make it into the Deluxe edition. (!!) While it did not include any modifiers for player characters’ charisma scores, it did include a range of possible outcomes that included the monster going berserk to parlaying to running away.
  7. The combat adds rules were very different under first edition. In the first place… there was no Speed attribute back then. Secondly, there were separate ratings for melee and missile combat. Thirdly, there was a penalty to the adds if the relevant attributes were less than nine. And finally… wizards did not get combat adds! (Under the Deluxe rules, a wizard loses the benefit of his adds if he elects to use a weapon larger than a staff or dagger.)
  8. The original rules for awarding experience points are instructive. The most obvious difference is that “xp for gold” was in force in the earliest edition and then dropped from the Deluxe rules. Unlike D&D’s occasionally byzantine rules regarding “xp for selling magic-items”, first edition Tunnels & Trolls gave out experience points for simply recovering them. Finally, the “xp for saving rolls” was originally developed when making such rolls meant that something bad was coming your way. When using saving rolls as a general task system, it doesn’t make as much sense to award experience for them. (And note that in the original game, if you failed a saving roll and took damage, you earned experience equal to the saving roll times the total damage taken. That’s kind of epic, really…!)
  9. The biggest change from first edition to Deluxe edition is that in the new game, characters’ levels are a function of the their highest attribute. The original game had it be a function of earned experience points. Upon leveling up, the player could raise an attribute by a given fraction of the new level number. In the newest edition, experience can be spent to any attribute by a point… and they can get really, really large…! (I really wonder how that will work in actual play over the course of a campaign.)
  10. First edition’s nifty slave and hireling rules are gone in the Deluxe edition.
  11. In first edition, monsters gained experience points, too! (Why have I not ever thought of that?!)
  12. The rules for creating new spells are completely wide open under the Deluxe edition. Originally they cost 1000 gold per spell level or (strangely) nine tenths of the wizard’s strength. (?!)
  13. In the Deluxe edition, spells have both an IQ and a Dexterity requirement. Originally they were limited only by IQ. The DEX requirements for spells were much more modest in the beginning. They started at 8 for level one and went up a point for each level thereafter. In comparison to that, the IQ requirements increased somewhat more steeply. (Also… there was no WIZ attribute and spell power was taken against Strength instead.)
  14. There are many more poisons in the Deluxe edition. (This was a central part of actual play back in the day, so don’t skip it.)
  15. It’s surprising, but the first edition had elaborate rules for weapon composition and breakage.
  16. There were relatively detailed rules for how to deal with berserk party members that continue attacking their friends after the monsters are defeated. In the original rules, the choice of whether to go berserk or not was made when looking at their damage throw. Also, the strength cost was two under first edition and has become 1d6 in the Deluxe edition. Finally… the rules for monsters going berserk was also different.

On the Table: Buffalo Castle

I actually bought this one back in the day. I never did play it, though… because I never actually came across a rule set for it. I held on to it for years… thinking I could maybe somehow adapt it to GURPS or something. Steve Jackson had said people might do that, but it was beyond my gaming powers. All I ever did was spend exorbitant amounts of time ogling Liz Danforth’s iconic illustrations and wishing that I knew how to run a role playing game…. I finally gave the precious thing away, not yet aware that this was basically the first ever “Choose Your Own Adventure” type solitaire game book ever made. Nuts! This was a work with a significance on par with Gygax and Arneson’s Dungeons & Dragons, Crowther and Woods Colossal Caves Adventure, and Scott Adams’ Adventureland. No one told me!!!

But everything’s changed now, because I can finally play this quintessential piece of gaming history. Not only is an updated version of this classic adventure available again, but I also have the 4th edition rules to go with it! Ah, but how does it hold up…?

First off, the Liz Danforth art is just as good as it ever was. There’s more of it this time around to boot. Second… the Tunnels & Trolls system actually is really well suited to solitaire adventures. (Steve Jackson wasn’t fooling around when he mentioned that in his introduction to GURPS.) Third… if you do have just those fourth edition rules to run this, the monster, magic item, and trap examples in this adventure will go a long way towards illustrating how the game was intended to be played. (The rules back then did leave all of that to your imagination, after all.)

However… if you’ve got a freshly rolled up T&T character you’re excited to play, then DO NOT EXPECT HIM TO SURVIVE THIS! Having a high Luck score is helpful if you ever want to make a saving roll in this, but you’re going to need at least four dice worth of attacks and probably even some “adds” on top of that. (Hint: buy a pilum if your strength is twelve or greater. No, I don’t know what that is. The weapons glossary was cut from the 4th edition rule book and I’m pretending that Wikipedia doesn’t exist yet.)

Probably the one thing that will make  or break this game for a lot of people is the combat. In modern GURPSian terms, it’s a pretty well a straight ahead “contest of skills.” Each side rolls their dice and adds their bonuses. The losing side takes the difference as damage… with their armor supplying a reduction to that amount. Run strictly according to the rules, it will not bog down as you add players because each side rolls all together. You don’t roll individual initiative… you don’t even roll individual to-hit rolls. And there really isn’t even much of a sequence of play here.

If you’re happy with rules light “theater of the mind”, you can probably take this and run with it, making up all sorts of off-the-cuff rulings to embellish the action in an actual game mastered session. But this is a solitaire adventure. And the monsters are pretty tough. And 3d6-in-order for character generation can be a pretty fickle thing in this game. And there’s no system for bailing out of a fight once its started here. And there’s no way to sneak up on or outsmart the monsters in Buffalo Castle. And a certain amount of fighting is pretty well inevitable here. So, yeah. Spoiler warning: they’re going to eat you, man!

Which altogether makes for a fairly austere experience: there’s just not a whole lot of room for developing your tactics and your player skill. And if you thought you might slip in, grab a little treasure, and maybe come back again with the same character and with some better gear and all… forget it. The adventure is set up so that your character has only one chance to win the prize… and if you fail, you are too embarrassed to go back to town again. Doh!

This is not how one would design an adventure like this today. In fact, there is nothing here like anything produced today. The zany encounters and outright weirdness….The fantastic Liz Danforth artwork…. The raw excitement that charged the first comprehensible role playing system…. If you can overlook the foibles, then this is some seriously awesome stuff. Of course… at this stage of the game, the Tunnels & Trolls franchise was about 80% foibles. But what foibles!!!

I played this one three times and died horribly every time. I then sprang this on my eight-year-old daughter. (I’ve been searching for something that could be “our” game, but I may have beaten her one too many times at Incan Gold and Carcassonne.) I expected her to die quickly but… by golly, she beat this thing on her first try. I was floored.

Now… when rolling her attributes, she might have fudged a couple of dice rolls the few times that a D6 went flying off the table. (“That was a five!”) I pretended not to notice. Given the difficulty level of this adventure, she needed all the help she could get. Still, once she went in I adjudicated everything strictly by the book. In her first combat she rolled a perfect four sixes! I can’t remember seeing that happen with a 4D6 roll before. She was hooked from then on.

Anyway, here is my daughter’s first Tunnels & Trolls character:

Valeen — Warrior, Strength 14, Intelligence 7, Luck 15, Constitution 13, Dexterity 10, Charisma 15, Gold 815, Experience Points 1045, Pilum (4 Dice), Leather Armor (2 hits), +5 Combat Adds.

Note that although she leveled up after beating Buffalo Castle, she hasn’t added 2 to her Strength or Constitution or 4 to her Luck like she could. (Oh yeah, those attributes can go sky high once you get going!)

This is a delightful little game. I was surprised by how much enjoyment I got out of it…! It looks like you can have your old school gaming without the usual arguments that inevitably come with the D&D territory….