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[Let's Read] Tunnels & Trolls 5th Edition

ZenDog

Take That, You Fiend!
Validated User
Seems like a good time to send some vibes T&T's way. This was the first RPG I ever played and I still love it, Ken St. Andre is still one of my RPG Heroes and Liz Danforth and Rob Carver are still two of my favourite RPG artists. I'll be aiming for a post a day(ish) as I read through the rules.

Back in the mist of time I had the UK 2nd printing of 5th edition. A small orange digest size book with black bindings. The front cover had an excellent and evocative piece of cover art by Liz Danforth . . .



Unfortunately I no longer have my digest size UK edition I now have the larger US version with a colour cover. The colour cover is also by Danforth, but I prefer the black and white linework she does. The colour cover seems a bit more cartoonish.

Contents (and Malcontents) page shows the book is in three sections: 1. Introduction & Basic Rules 2. Natural Developments (the game as it is played) and 3. Elaborations.

1. Introduction & Basic Rules

1.1 Troll Talk

We start with an insightful little intro detailing the background and history of T&T the 2nd Fantasy Roleplaying game and how far it had progressed by the time 5th Ed arrived in 1979.

In April 1975 Ken St. Andre sat down to write his own set of rules after deciding that OD&D was too expensive and too complicated. Having said that, he very graciously goes on to say how much of a service Gygax et al did for the gaming world. Ironically, he had to do so without mentioning D&D as they wouldn't allow him to use the name.

For me there are a few key passages in this intro . . .

Tunnels & Trolls will require that you actively use your imagination . . .

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to play, only suggestions.

. . . the cardinal rule remains: adjust the system as you see fit to suit your own style of play.

. . .this game is what you make it. To a very real extent you are all co-creators with me and my associates at Flying Buffalo in the continuing evolution of Tunnels & Trolls.

Ken St. Andre – July 1979
At the bottom of the page there is a nifty little Liz Danforth sketch of a Troll who has hold of a Fairy. The Fairy is waving his sword at the Troll. The Troll does not look intimidated.
 

Extrakun

Tinker of Games
Validated User
*pulls up a chair and read*

T&T is one of my first exposure to role-playing (I learn of it through the solo gamebooks). This is going to be fun.
 

Shadowjack

Cartoon Poet
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Ah, yes.

T&T was my first, too. (The first I owned for myself was Car Wars Deluxe.) The conversational style has stuck with me for many a year.

And, yes, Liz Danforth is Da Illustrator Supreme.
 

Feldrik

Retired User
5E seems to be the default or cross roads rules set that other editions lead to or grow from...
Let's see, 2.1 Character types..
Not defined classes that tell you what you can't do but rather they are your characters Forte'. There is nothing to stop you from developing the character you want.

If your stats seem more suited for a Wizard and you really envision a Ranger the new player may seem put out. What they need to realize is that, just like in real life, if you want to be a Ranger then you just need to do the things a Ranger does. Your Wizard is not bound by the 'robes and pointy hat' stereotype.

The same can be done for any character 'class'. Wanna be a burglar...start burgarling! Improve the stats that make you a good burglar as you go up in level.

Your type is Rogue but you have the heart of a Paladin...live up to it! Hunt bad guys, rescue maidens be a hero!

That is just the start of how to develope the basic appearing 'type' into your favorite fantasy Character.
 

ZenDog

Take That, You Fiend!
Validated User
1.2 The Basic Game

These days we've all read (or more likely skipped) plenty of "What is roleplaying?" sections, but section 1.2 of T&T would be only the second every such explanation. Its one page of five paragraphs, and a picture.

The first paragraph explains what the T&T world is a description that boils down to "a bit like middle earth but with numerous enchanted tunnel complexes full of treasure guarded my monster, magic and traps. The further you delve the more dangerous it is, but the greater the rewards."

The rest is about how you play, create a dungeon and characters, there's mention of who the players won't have all the information, the GM just tells them what they can see and observe around them, etc. and not to let a single player dominate the game, even if he has the best players.

The most interesting part is where it's suggested for ease of play that the GM keeps his party restricted to two to three players, each with three to four characters. That's the complete opposite of OD&D's one referee and four to fifty players with a character each, and worlds away from the modern concept of immersing yourself heavily in the role of one character.

The illustration is a Liz Danforth pic of a dragon on it's hoard, lots of nice detail.

1.3 Creating Characters

In this section we're introduced to the first elements of actual rules in the form of chargen. A T&T Character fits on 3"x5" index sheet and is pretty simple to create and explain. It's here that we first meet 'Fang the Delectable' the sample character that Ken creates as an example of how chargen works and it this, and all the other examples throughout 5th Ed, that to my mind are a large part of its charm and make it such a great read.

Throughout the rest of the book there are lots of colourful examples that as a kid really inspired me. Later I would be equally inspired by the examples that made up Rurik's Saga in Runequest 2nd Ed, but these days I rarely ever read a rule book quite as colourful or as fun to read as 5th Ed was and still is.

For his example Ken keeps things simple and makes Fang the Delectable a human Warrior, despite having a better IQ than ST, as Wizards, Magic and the other Kindred's are introduced in later chapters.

It's all straight forward enough, and everything is well explained. Simple enough even if you didn't what an RPG was, which would be most people back then.

Here's how Fang ends up by the end of this chapter . . .

Name: Fang the delectable Type: War. Kin: Human Level: 1
ST: 13 IQ: 16 LK: 10 Height: 5'8" Weight: 160lbs
CON: 13 DEX: 6 CHR: 12 ADDS: -2 Weight Possible: 1300 Weight Carried: 80
Gold: 80gps Adventure Points: 0
Weapons:
Armour:
Languages: Common, Elvish, Orcish
Magic: (None)
Other:
 

Mark Mohrfield

Registered User
Validated User
For his example Ken keeps things simple and makes Fang the Delectable a human Warrior, despite having a better IQ than ST, as Wizards, Magic and the other Kindred's are introduced in later chapters.
There's one other reason: Fang's dexterity is only 6 and it needs to be at least 8 for you to cast first level spells.
 

ZenDog

Take That, You Fiend!
Validated User
There's one other reason: Fang's dexterity is only 6 and it needs to be at least 8 for you to cast first level spells.
It's not for nothing he's named 'the Delectable.' Actually, looking again I got things back to front, he decides to make Fang a Warrior before rolling any dice.
 

MachFront

Ugly is IN!
Validated User
It's here that we first meet 'Fang the Delectable' the sample character that Ken creates as an example of how chargen works and it this, and all the other examples throughout 5th Ed, that to my mind are a large part of its charm and make it such a great read.
Well, technically, 'that Liz creates', as she's the editor of Fifth but actually wrote the majority of the work therein, basing it on Ken's original text from earlier editions (such text is still verbatim, such as the most of the text in section 1.2, from 4th ed.). Basically Ken's stuff was a skeleton, and Liz Danforth put on the meat that is 5th. Considerable meat, too, as 5th is about 40 pages longer than 4th.

But I'm jus' picking nits. :)
 
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