Friday, June 27, 2014

Deluxe T&T Beta Playtest Rules

The Beta version of the Deluxe T&T rules were released in PDF format to backers of the dT&T Kickstarter last week. Printed copies were also available at Origins. I've had a chance to look through the rules and am relatively pleased with the current product. The Beta rules include the Basic rules except for sections on magic and advice on running games. The Elaborations section is not present nor is the majority of the Trollworld material with the exception of the introduction. A PDF copy of the dT&T Preview Pack was also included at the end of the Beta Rules. This is useful for filling in some  of the gaps and actually being able to run a play test game (something which is definitely needed).

I will say that the overall appearance of the dT&T rulebook is excellent. The organization and format of the rules is, in my opinion, on par if not better than the 5th edition rules. The art program is amazing. There are pieces from a number of different sources including the previous rulebooks, solo adventures, GM adventures, and Sorcerer's Apprentice. There are also several new pieces.

The basic mechanics of the game have not changed too much in dT&T. The Saving Roll is still the main driver of the game and combat is handled in much the same way (except for some minor tweaks-for example Wizards and Rogues can cast spells and use weapons in the same combat turn). Talents have been retained, but lists of broad and talents have been provided for better guidance. This is a huge help. The Saving Roll bonus for talents has been set to a fixed +3 rather that the 1D6 of 7th edition. Characters still gain a new talent each level, but players now have the option of buying an extra talent with adventure points once per level. The weapons tables have received a bit of an overhaul. While there are still 10 pages of weapons tables, most have been changed into small, medium, large, and extra large categories. Each of these has lists of examples; Short Swords, for example, include the gladius, short sword, manople, punch sword, and sword cane from previous editions. All have the same dice (3D), cost, weight, STR and DEX requirements. In addition, weapon adds seem to have gone away with the exception of daggers and gunnes. Each step up in weapon size increases the damage by 1D or 2D.

The two big items of discussion, however, have been related to a new advantage given to the human kindred and the fate of the Rogue's  Roguery talent from 7th edition.

Human Advantage

This change has been the topic of most discussion around the dT&T Beta rules. In dT&T, humans get the new advantage of being able to re-roll any missed Saving Roll. That is a pretty big deal. Liz Danforth explained the reasoning behind the new rule in a recent post at the Deluxe dT&T blog.

I do like the idea of humans having some kind of advantage. The other kindred get some rather large boosts to their starting attributes and human characters are often left with much lower attributes. This results in lower Personal Adds especially now that negative adds have been removed. Also, given that levels are tied to attributes, nonhuman characters rarely start as 1st level characters. Most will start as 2nd and some as 3rd level (the dwarf with x2 STR and CON for example). So why bother playing a lowly 1st level human character with attributes hovering around an average of 12 and perhaps 3 Personal Adds? There are certainly "role" playing reasons to do so, but it is hard to escape the "roll" playing aspect. If you want to do as well as you can in the game, you take all the advantages that you can get.

Giving humans an edge on Saving Rolls is a nice solution. Their attributes are still not modified because human attributes are considered the base to which all others are compared. If human attributes also had modifiers, that could not be the case. Since Saving Rolls are often the difference between life and death, having an advantage on their outcome makes for a nice boon.

But it has been argued that the "do over" rule is a bit much, giving humans too much of an advantage on Saving Rolls. The chance of failure at anything may become too minimal. There have also been arguments that humans do not need any specific advantages at all. They have not had them before, so why start now?

I agree that the "do over" rule may not be the best solution; it does have the potential of making Saving Rolls a little too easy (although I have missed Saving Rolls several times in a row before). I have proposed two alternatives:

1. Humans can roll over any failed Saving Roll unless they fumble (roll a 3). Fumbles always fail.

2. Humans have a + Level bonus to all Saving Rolls. This was a rule added in 7th edition which applied to all characters, but it was explicitly removed from the dT&T rules. Bringing it back to fill this role would be a simple matter. 

Rogue Abilities

This one is a little vague. In dT&T character types have a set of Specific Skills and Specific Detriments. At least Warriors and Wizards do. Rogues seem less clearly defined, especially with respect to the Roguery talent that was added in 7th edition.

The 7th edition Roguery talent allows Rogues to make any Intelligence, Luck, or Charisma Saving Roll on the highest of the three attribute plus the talent modifier (1D6). That is a big advantage for Rogues.

The problem is that, in the Beta rules at least, the Roguery talent is not defined in this way. It is mentioned in the Rogue description, but just as one of many other talents that could be chosen. On top of that, the Rogue type has only one Specific Skill, Magical Attunement. This skill allows Rogues to cast spells at their listed WIZ cost and start with any one spell they have the INT and DEX to cast (regardless of level). This can be viewed as a big disadvantage over Warriors and Wizard that have multiple Specific Skills including those that confer increasing advantages with increasing levels (i.e., increasing the number of dice rolled in combat, decreasing the WIZ cost of spells). The lack of a skill that improves with increasing level makes levels kind of pointless for Rogues since there are no other general advantages of going up a level.

My suggestion here is to redefine the old Roguery talent as a Specific Skill for Rogues and using their already defined disadvantage as a Specific Detriment for the sake of symmetry:

A Rogue's Specific Skill: Roguery

Rogues gain a +1D6 bonus to all Intelligence, Luck, and Charisma Saving Rolls per level.

Roguery was pretty clearly defined in 7th edition including the justification for its use. If need be the name could be changed to avoid confusion. I like this rule because it scales with level and each attribute is independent, so you cannot use Charisma to try to read a strange scroll or avoid a boulder plummeting toward your head.

A Rogues Specific Detriment: Outsiders

Rogues cannot learn spells from the Wizard's Guild and must find ways to learn spells often paying outrageous costs.

This is the major problem Rogues face. They can cast magic, yes, but how do they find their spells? Wizards already have to pay a hefty sum to learn new spells. How much will they charge that sketchy Rogue especially if they risk severe punishment for doing so?

With any set of RPG rules, I am sure that most will not agree with all of the new rules in dT&T. There have been omissions and house rules for every other edition, so why should this one be any different? In the end, seeing the Beta rules gave me a lot to look forward to in the new edition. Given the amount of discussion being generated and the play testing being done I also think it was a very smart move. Any game system is going to have some bugs. Getting those bugs worked out takes a group outside of the design team.

I still have more of the Beta rules to go through in detail and I hope the discussion will continue. I'll be posting more of my thoughts on the rules in later posts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Small Press T&T Releases

There have been  a number of new releases from various T&T small publishers over the last few months including four solo adventures, four GM adventures, and new 'zine, and a monster supplement. It's great to see so much publishing and creative activity especially in the realm of GM adventures which tend to be less common for T&T. Best of all, you could get PDFs all 10 items for only $26.

Darkshade Publishing

Meandering Monsters 
Meandering Monsters is a supplement for the Tunnels & Trolls™ role-playing system. Scenarios, monsters, articles, and other features have been designed for use with the 7.5 rules edition. Material can easily be adapted to earlier editions of T&T as well as other role-playing systems.
Featured in Volume 1:
Monsters: Creeping Crawler, Hippogriff, Lizardmen of the Great Forest
GM Scenarios: A Hole in the Ground, For a Few Scales More
New Spells: Grab That, Don't Go There
New Magic Items: Conduit (sword), Warden (shield)
Game Aids: Baggage, Character Sheet, Simplified Hits Table
PDF: $4.75
Print: $8.06

Rarr! I'm a Monster Publishing

Monster Menagerie
Monster Menagerie is a collection of 8 new player character kindreds for Monsters! Monsters! and Tunnels & Trolls.  Be a Prometheous, Shroom Kin, Darlk Walker, or Eeek!
Features a cover and artwork by Jon Towers!
PDF $1.99

Peryton Publishing

Cave of the People Eater
A GM adventure for Tunnels & Trolls.
A day's ride from the town of Rangle, dwells an ancient evil. Of course that is the direction every adventurer wants to go. This mini-scenario involves the tradition of T&T's deadly purple beasts, so be warned. Suitable for 5-7th Levels using any edition of the game. Great for convention play.
Half the proceeds go to the Jeff Freels Kidney Fund.
PDF: $1.00

The Froggy Island Horror
A GM adventure for Tunnels & Trolls
On the island Dunmorrin, a few miles south from the shores of the Dragon continent, the strange sorcerer Belvidore delved into magicks best left untapped. To this very day, his experiments make the island a dangerous place, which is why it's the place to be. Come get your dose of cosmic terror and sword and sorcery in this scenario.
PDF: $2.99

Candlelight and Murky Water
Keeping the Swamp of Doom from going over to the dark side has never been easy. The crocodile folk and the demons aren't helping.
This scenario is set in Scott Malthouse’s Peakvale campaign setting. While it can be incorporated into any other T&T world, such as Trollworld or Elder, we recommend that you check out Trollish Delver Games for details first. The player characters should either have Combat Adds of 50 or more or be able to cast at least a couple of 3rd level spells. It is assumed that the players have survived the Temple of the Hag but the scenario can just as easily be played as a standalone adventure.
It should be noted that while this scenario is designed for T&T 7 and 7.5, it can easily be adjusted to any edition.
PDF: $2.25

Trollish Delver Games

Plague of the Dread Acolyte
Darkness has fallen over Rookwood. Creatures that were once people prowl the streets in search of flesh, in search of others to turn. What is the evil secret behind this plague that has descended on the idyllic village? It's up to the players to find out as they make their way into a nightmare that has only just begun to unravel.
Plague of the Dread Acolyte is the first in an episodic series of adventures designed to be played in one session. This adventure is part of Season One of the Mask of Destiny campaign, with three adventures per season - more coming in the future.
Plague of the Dread Acolyte can fit perfectly into your current Tunnels & Trolls campaign, or it can be used to start the Mask of Destiny campaign.
This adventure is designed for use with 5th or 7th edition Tunnels & Trolls. It will also be compatable with the future Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.
PDF: $1.02


The Goblin Cave
Do you remember when you were 13 and how the world seemed a simpler yet more wondrous place? Here is the first offering by a new player who wanted to take the reigns and do something more interesting than his classmates for an English project.
If you think the odd saving roll is too demanding, take the advice of the legendary Mad Roy Cram and cheat egregiously!

Two Bites at the Cherries
Dare you enter Old Man Gruber's garden to impress the other kids in your new neighbourhood? If you get some of his precious cherries the guys will follow your lead and the girls will be putty in your hands. And then there's Gruber's house for the truly fearless... Boys disappear in this town, at least they fo if they mess with Gruber.
A Tunnels & Trolls solo adventure for new immature characters - the rewards are to die for and so are the dangers.
Illustrated by Stanley Ditko.
PDF: $2.99

Joy Ride
Ken played this one for a while by email. Any level character, nit made for magic. You arrive at a city filled with whacky characters when it is being plagued by theft. Can you get to the bottom of the mystery without getting killed? High on humour, particularly good for nostlagia if you are English, this is a big edventure which has a soft heart - you may well get saved from death time and time again so the fun can go on!
Packed with new art and introducing the duck-kin, you might even wind up as a second hand cart dealer.
PDF: $2.99

David Ullery

Fractured Fairy Tales
Think you know your classic fairy tales? Well, think again!  Over 30 fairy tales and fables get the RPG treatment and become "fractured" and twisted in this Tunnels & Trolls adventure. Just shy of 300 paragraphs and containing almost 50 new, never before seen illustrations (with at least one illustration per page). This Mega Solo can be played in groups, but was made for solo adventurers, and can be used for quick in-and-out time saving adventures or as a longer "dungeon crawl." It is also easily adaptable for not only any edition of the T&T rules, but other RPG game systems as well.  Also, it is easily "leveled up" for more advanced characters, but made for 1st to 3rd level warriors.
PDF: $5.99
Print: $9.99

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Free T&T Supplements Links

I've added new list of links to the column to the right for Free T&T Supplements. These links lead to online tools and free downloadable supplements to help with your T&T games, both solo and GM. You can find the link to access the abridged version of the T&T rules which comes with the solo adventure Goblin Lake and the GM adventure Riverboat Adventure, the fantastic online character generator at Ardenstone Adventures, the online dice rolled (it even handles DARO) at Eposic, the T&T fanzines TrollsZine! and The Snollygoster, an online version of the abridged T&T rules, a nice T&T character sheet from Darkshade Publishing, and a series of supplements from Khaghbboommm Press including world maps, a summary of different T&T PC kindreds, and a handy spellbook containing all of the various T&T spells included in previous editions.

All of these supplements are sure to add something extra to your game and also make a nice way to introduce new players to T&T. You can get a lot of fun out of the abridged rules, online character generator, online dice roller, and the many adventures and house rules to be found in TrollsZine! and The Snollygoster.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Snollygoster: A T&T Newsletter

The Snollygoster is a free "infrequent" Tunnels & Trolls newsletter/fanzine started by Charlie Fleming of Rarr! I'm a Monster Publishing and Hobb Sized Adventures. The first issue was released in September of 2013. Issues 2 and 3 were released in December 2013 and March 2014. Three issues in seven months is a really good start for a free fanzine, especially one billed as being infrequent.

Each issue of The Snollygoster contains 4-12 pages of T&T content including descriptions of new monsters, spells, magical items, and equipment, optional rules, GM advice, short stories, GM adventures, and even solo adventures. There has been a wide variety of material offered in the first three issues from a number of contributors including Charlie Fleming (of course), Mark Thornton, Stefan Jones, Ken St. Andre, and more. My current favorite article is from Issue #3, Bikinis, Boards, and Bongos, a T&T variant  set in the wild world of 1960s beach movies. Plenty of gonzo action to be had here for sure. Then of course there's the new character type, the Beermancer with a complete set of new spells from Issue #2. Much of the material is pretty tongue-in-cheek, but that is the true flavor of T&T.

You can get your copies of The Snollygoster from the Rarr! I'm a Monster Publishing T&T storefront at RPGNow. Remember The Snollygoster is offered for free so there is nothing to lose and lots of great new T&T material to gain. While you're there, have a look at the other excellent T&T solo adventures and supplements that are available.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Deluxe T&T Table of Contents

 A sneak preview of the Table of Contents for the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rulebook was released back in March through the Deluxe T&T website. It was described as being mostly complete, but with the possibility of changes as needs arise.
The Basic or Core Game: What you need to play

1. Introduction
2. Playing the game
3. Creating characters
    3.1 Prime attributes
    3.2 Personal adds
    3.3 Character Types
       3.31 Warriors
       3.32 Wizards
       3.33 Rogues
       3.34 Specialists
    3.4 The Playable Kindreds
       3.41 Humans
       3.42 Common non-humans (Peters-McAllister 2.0)
       3.43 Less common non-humans
    3.5 Height and weight
    3.6 Possessions and equipment
4. Character levels and adventure points
5. Saving rolls
6. Talents
7. The Hostile Opposition
    7.1 Enemies and monsters
    7.2 Monster ratings
    7.3 Attributed opponents
8. Combat
    8.1 Basic combat
       8.11 Spite damage
    8.2 Missile combat
    8.3 Special combat situations
       8.31 Multiple weapons
       8.32 Unarmed combat
       8.33 Berserk combat
       8.34 Kill vs stun damage
9. Magic
    9.1 Theory and practice of magic
    9.2 Spellcasters' tools and magical foci
    9.3 The Common Spellbook
10. How to put it all together (GM and player)
11. Appendix to the core rules
    11.1 Time and other considerations
    11.2 Possessions and equipment
         11.21+ Weapons and armor charts
    11.3 Useful charts, templates, and other miscellany

Elaborations: Optional topics that give the game more variety, depth, and/or flexibility
12. More character types
    12.1 Citizens
    12.2 Paragons
    12.3 Non-humans as truly not human
         12.31 The effect of societal norms on non-humans
         12.32 Kindred-specific weapons and armor
13. Languages
14. Alternative or expanded rules
    14.1 Character creation
    14.2 Equipping a character
    14.3 Talents
    14.4 Additional combat rules
    14.5 Enhanced magic rules
15. Miniatures
16. Virtual tabletops and other digital aids
17. Essays, charts, and other augmentations
    17.1 Treaure generation charts
    17.2 Money, property, jobs, and day-to-day life
    17.3 The kitchen sink

The World of Trollworld: Everything we can tell you
1. A Nexus of Realities
2. Trollworld’s History and Timeline
3. Major Continents and Regions
    3.1 Rrr’lff, the Dragon Continent
    3.2 Zorr, the Eagle Continent
    3.3 The Mane Land Continent
    3.4 The Land of Sona Ie
    3.5 The Eastern Isles
    3.6 The Farlands, the Newlands, and the Backlands
4. Prominent Locations of Rrr’lff
    4.1 Khazan
    4.2 Khosht
    4.3 Knor
    4.4 Phoron and Gull
5. Other locations of note
6. An Extended Bestiary of Trollworld
    6.1 Beasts: natural and less so
    6.2 Monsters: common, rare, and usually dangerous
    6.3 Intelligent and sometimes hostile kindred
    6.4 Supernatural and spirit creatures

Solitaire adventure: Abyss
GM adventure: Adventures in Zorr: The Quest for Z'tpozz
On initial inspection I like that the rules have been divided into "Core Rules" and and "Elaborations" section just like the venerable 5th edition rulebook. This was something that was requested by a lot of backers and was certainly a major strength of the organization of the 5th edition rules in comparison to the 7th edition.

The Core section includes rules for character creation, saving rolls, monsters, combat, magic, equipment, and GM  information ("putting it all together"). Of special note, Talents are still in from the 7th edition rules, rules for berserk fighting are back in from 5th edition (and earlier), and there are rules for inflicting stun damage.

The Elaborations section contains an interesting assemblage of subjects, many from the 5th edition rules. Interestingly, Citizens and Paragons (aka Warrior-Wizards) have been moved out of the Core rules and made optional. Citizens I can understand being moved as they received a rather mixed reception from T&T fans (I like the Citizen type myself), but Warrior-Wizards have been part of T&T from the start. Equipping characters is also in the Elaborations section. This was explained by Ken at Trollhalla where he stated costs for equipment including weapons and armor would not be included in the core rules. Instead players (or GMs) are allowed to select the gear they deem appropriate for the character without worrying about rolling for gold and going shopping (this method is now an elaboration). I'm a little on the fence on this change since I like the idea of rolling for gold as I said in an older post. I'm also curious to see what the additional combat rules and enhanced magic rules turn out to include.

Following the Elaborations sections, there is the "World of Trollworld" section providing all of the information on the campaign setting of Ken St. Andre. This is the part of the new rulebook that I am really looking forward to. These aspects of Ken's Trollworld have been hinted at, but never fully fleshed out in any supplements with the exception of timelines and brief histories. Getting all of this information and the maps should be fun.

At the end of the book are two adventures, the first the classic solo Abyss and the second a new GM adventure Adventures in Zorr. Having two adventures included in the book and ready to go is a nice addition. Abyss was an interesting choice for a solo since it requires a deceased character to play. I would have preferred to see a nice 1st level introductory solo in the vein of the classic Sword for Hire or Andy Holmes' online solo Eye of the Serpent; in other words a solo that could be used to help teach the rules to new players. I won't complain too much, however, as Abyss is a solo that has long been missing from my collection. Adventures in Zorr sounds like it will be at least similar if not the same as the one included in the dT&T free preview rules. Perhaps it will have been expanded and improved?

In all the preview of the Table of Contents make me hopeful for the new rules. The hand of Liz Danforth is evident in the organization and I am happy to see it after the more haphazardly organized 7th edition rules. The wait for dT&T seems to be coming to an end.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

1st Edition T&T Reprint PDF Released

Flying Buffalo has released a PDF version of the 1st edition Tunnels & Trolls rules. This is a reprint of the original rules written by Ken St. Andre in 1975 complete with the original artwork by Rob Carver plus a couple of newer ones.

The 1st edition rules hold up rather nicely after 39 years and the differences between this rules set and the 5th and 7th edition rules are minimal. While some of the details have changed, the basic mechanics have not. The basic game is covered over the first 16 pages of the rulebook which includes rules for character creation, basic equipment, weapons, and armor, saving rolls, combat, monsters, and dungeon creation. A 21-page elaborations section covers rules for nonhuman kindred including hobbits, fairies, and leprechauns (the original Peters-McAllister Chart), magic, spell lists, advanced weapons and armor tables, and berserk fighting. It does take a fair amount of house-ruling to make the game work effectively. The 1st edition rules lack the details of running a game that were included in the 5th edition rules, for example. For a good example of how these blanks can be filled in, check out Burke's 1st Edition Wild Lands Game at the Trollbridge

The PDF of the 1st edition T&T rules are available from the Flying Buffalo storefront at RPGNow for only $1.95. If you backed the Deluxe T&T Kickstarter you should have received a code for a free copy. Either way, getting a copy of this piece of RPG history is easy and should not be passed up.