Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Advice Requested

Having spoken to enough people, I now convinced I need to give Tunnels & Trolls another shot. As I noted earlier, my disdain for it is based, at least in part, on unthinking prejudice and I'd like to correct that.

So, if anyone can point me toward what is generally considered the "best" edition of the game, I'd appreciate it. I'd be even more appreciative if said edition was one still available for purchase. I know that in recent years there have been at least two different editions published, but I'm not up on the differences between them, let alone knowledgeable enough to know which one would give me the "purest" experience of T&T's unique virtues. I'm sure someone among my many astute readers can point in the right direction.



  1. If you are a pdf sort of person, 7.5 is all that is available.

    The 5th (or 5.5) edition is what most everyone seems to consider the standard version of T&T.

    4th is available as well I believe, but I'm not familar with it.

    Who am I kidding, I'm not really the person to ask.

  2. I can highly recommend "The Mythical 6th Edition" by Outlaw Press. Even Ken St. Andre himself considers this one to be one of the best editions by now, as it takes the 5.5 edition and improves it.

  3. It's awesome to see someone else give T&T a try. I love 5.5 but 7th and 7.5 are great too.
    Go to http://trollbridge.proboards44.com/index.cgi

    It's an awesome T&T forum where I'm sure you'll get some great advice.

  4. The 5th Edition of T&T was "it" from 1979 till the early part of this decade. The 5.5 edition is the 5th edition with some supplementary material.

    The "7th/30th anniversary edition" in 2005 and the 7.5th edition this year are both good stuff, very worthy, but if you care about classics, it's hard to ignore the edition which was "current" for 26 years.

    BTW, I know a lot of people don't think of solo adventures as "real" games, but the T&T solos are wonderful introductions to the worlds that can be built for T&T, and to the various things you can do with the rules.

    There is an "official T&T world," Trollworld, but it wasn't presented *as* official in any rules set prior to the 7th edition, and it still kind of bugs me, because I don't think of T&T as tied to one world. In 5th edition the GM was expected to make up his own world (around the dungeons, of course).

    So if you want the Classic T&T Experience, get 5th (or 5.5) edition, and grab some of the cooler solo dungeons, if not to play, as idea-generators -- like City of Terrors, Sword for Hire & The Blue Frog Tavern, Sewers of Oblivion, and for a trip into Ken's Trollworld, Naked Doom and the Arena of Khazan. (The above list of cool solos is far from exhaustive. :)

  5. Fifth.

    It's your best combination of playable game and old-school goodness. Fourth was too rough around the edges (and is much more difficult to find), and none of the 7/7.5 changes do much except complicate what should be a simple game.

    I played 7th edition at GenCon SoCal with Ken St. Andre himself as the GM, and it didn't do much for me. I had fun and all that, but my first thought after it was over was, "I wish that had been 5th edition."

  6. I concur with Nerzenjäger. Head over to Outlaw Press and pick up a copy of the 6th edition. I happen to prefer the spiral edition, which is nicely put together for both reading and gaming, and I can attest to its durability as well.

  7. 5th edition (or 5.5) is a pretty good way to go. Nice simple rules that leaves room for the ref to do his own thing.

  8. James, based upon my understanding of your predilections from reading this blog, specifically your desire to come to grips with things in their most essential form, I'd highly recommend you start with the 5th edition rules. They are currently available from Flying Buffalo as the "5.5 version", which is the same set of rules that were the standard for nearly 30 years, along with 16 extra pages of material of varying value. (Ken's house rules: good, Mike Stackpole's skill rules: not so good) For my money, 5th is by far the most appealing presentation of the rules and their essential philosophy. My own house blend consists of 5.5 with bits cherry picked from 7th, and a few flourishes of my own.

    I'd also recommend browsing around at Outlaw Press which is really where the heart and soul of T&T publishing lies today. My personal favorite product of theirs goes by the unassuming name The Tunnels & Trolls Campaign Book which is a great little sandbox setting which combines high quality writing and presentation with just the right amount of T&T attitude.

    Whatever materials you wind up with, I hope you find them edifying, even if they are not your personal cup of grog.

  9. I dunno if I have posted it or not, but I did a pretty in depth review of it, that was posted in a generally nicer form here: http://aliveandoutofprint.org/forums/articles.php/?p=130

  10. You might be interested in my Tunnels & Trolls dungeon generator: www.apolitical.info/webgame/dungeon

  11. I was introduced with the 5th edition, and many folks seem to consider that text (greatly shaped by Liz Danforth) the "classic" recension.

    The treatment of armor therein seemed to me so to "break" the standard combat system that I wondered how the game had ever become so popular. Now, I know that previous editions differed notably in that (and some other) aspects.

    Originally, as I understand it, armor quickly got worn out. It was basically a frangible buffer of extra "hit points." After it soaked up so much damage, the wearer took hits directly to CON or MR -- and it was time to shop for another panoply.

    Unrealistic or not, that worked fine in game terms. I think that's key to understanding the design of T&T. It was perhaps even more consciously built to implement the "dungeon game" than was D&D, so trying to apply it to other sorts of game can be even more obviously a matter of the wrong tool for the job (unless you're up to retooling the tool). Some "role-playing-game" stereotypes we are prone to take for granted today were not so prominent in the original concept.

    Armor values roughly in the range of OD&D's scale (subtract AC from 9)came in later. They work pretty well, especially if you use the bigger dice allotments given weapons in 5th.

    A little more armor quickly becomes a lot more problematic, for reasons it would take a bit of mathematics to explain clearly. Experience should suggest as much in an intuitive way. The usual response seems to be bypassing the "broken" rules and relying on Saving Rolls instead -- an approach given little attention in 5th and perhaps not enough in 7th. It's also an approach that (IMO) makes the game too much like so many others, and too arbitrary to boot. The complexity of the probability calculations makes it tough for a GM to gauge what's right on the fly.

    I'm not familiar with the 7th edition, and find it introducing such novelties both conceptually and in jargon that it's often as hard for me to decipher what people are talking about as was the case with "3E D&D."

  12. I think Outlaw Press has 4th, a 4th-ish UK edition (highly recommended by some), and a facsimile of 1st or 2nd.

    In my experience, T&T devotees have retained to exceptional degree aspects of the "old school spirit" that pervaded the original D&D boxed set. Some of that may be due to verbal tradition, but even back in 1980 I was impressed by the tenor of the official rulebook.

    Besides the delectable mysteries, there were explicit acknowledgments of different ways of doing things (including ways favored in previous editions). It was (as I so love to put this) "descriptive" rather than "prescriptive." As with OD&D and the Arduin Grimoires, there was a keen sense of being addressed not by "the pros" but by peers in exploring this new field of endeavor.

    With their "Advanced" versions, D&D, Squad Leader and Star Fleet Battles got weighted into ruts with baroque superstructure. T&T never went through that transformation. The rulebook remains not the end but the opening of a frontier.

  13. I read somewhere that when they premiered at the same Gen Con, T&T mopped the floor with D&D.

  14. Go with 5th. Play it as written first, then check out some of the online house rules or 6th and 7th ed, but try 5th ed as written first including all the kinks(like STR for spell casting).

    Ron Edwards has written some interesting posts on T&T, especially on getting the most from the Saving Roll mechanic.

    Dungeon of the Bear or Uncle Uglies Underground Doom are worth taking a look at as examples of classic T&T dungeons from back in the day but you can't go wrong with follwoing the example in the 5th ed rules of creating your own alter-ego dungeon owner and creating a dungeon themed around said alter-ego and your own obssesions.

    For Example: your alter-ego might be a 21st level Wizard who created his dungeon becasue he wanted to experiment with his new fangled philosophy of 'Gygaxian Naturalism'

  15. The purest version of Tunnels & Trolls is the heavily house-ruled version that you make yourself.

    By the way, there's a cut-down version of the 5th edition rules at www.freedungeons.com/rules

  16. I can do little but echo what's already been well covered. Fifth (5.5) is the venerable standard by which T&T is judged.
    It isn't perfect. For one, the main ability warriors have is the 'doubling' of armor. Unfortunately, that is equipment-dependant. I use Mythical Sixth Edition's idea of a warrior has a 'natural' armor bonus, so that he's protected by way of his skill armored or not.

    Perhaps T&T was built as a dungeon delving game, but I totally disagree that it can't be used as a general fantasy system. I almost never, ever run dungeoneering-type adventures and use T&T most of the time. I've used it for high fantasy, low fantasy, sword & sorcery, swashbucklers and I'm working on a T&T Warhammer game right now. House rules across those different version have been very slight and minimal.

    While I'd heartily recommend Fifth Editon, I'll personally add this:
    To get the full T&T experience, I'd still contend that one would benefit from reading 7.5 as well as the unofficial Mythical Sixth Edition and, like others mentioned, a handful of the solos. I found that the solos, even more than the rules themselves, opened my mind to T&T and helped me to NOT look at T&T through my D&D eyes.


  17. And the Trollbridge. I also agree with the recommendation to join us there. Great forum! :)


  18. The Saving Roll rules are indeed the heart of T&T, of any edition, but in 5th edition they are presented almost offhandedly and with little explication. Their use would be obvious to someone whose mindset is already in the correct mode, but they'd be completely passed over by someone viewing T&T as "just another D&D". At least that was my experience, while I owned a copy of T&T for a long time, it was not till I came in contact with T&T fandom and its oral tradition did I really begin to understand. Now when I go back and read the text it's all obvious, but that is hindsight speaking. 7.x seems more explicit about these things to me.

    The SR rules and the philosophy attached to them are also I think the key place where the T&T old school tradition and the D&D old school tradition differ most.

  19. RE: the awesomeness of the saving roll rules, that's one place where the solos are nice; you can view them as a training ground for fun things to do with the rules (e.g. wide application of Saving Rolls.)

  20. I oughta check this game out. I recall it being described as slightly more tongue-in-cheek than D&D, and to me that can only be a good thing.

  21. "That it can't be used as a general fantasy system" was not my contention. I observe that it was from the start more "just a game" (as opposed to any sort of "simulation") than other responses to D&D. The original combat mechanic was designed with a thoroughly "unrealistic" treatment of armor -- but one that worked with the handfuls of dice and other elements quite smoothly. When other aspects strike people as unsatisfactory, the dissatisfaction tends (from what I've seen) to be founded on a perception of lack of verisimilitude. For instance, if there's any game-mechanical problem with using ST to cast spells, it's one of which I've never heard.

    Solitaire scenarios in my experience really highlighted the armor problem in 5th -- because making up SRs called for more "acting as one's own GM" than I considered seemly. I think that if the writers had expected that to be par for the course, then they would have specified applicable SRs.

    Arena of Khazan stands out (IIRC) as the solo that really does present a lot of interesting approaches to combat resolution. That's part of what gives the otherwise very simple scenario such replay potential.

    Chalk it up to the venerable influence of 5th that a "system breaking" scheme introduced at that late stage is so widely regarded as definitive.

    If I were preparing a new edition, I would give much more attention to providing advice on how to use SRs in combat. However, I would also build on the tradition of mentioning alternative approaches presented in earlier versions, going on to detail more of them! Besides the several armor schemes, I would present the old missile fire table as well as the rule from the Outlaw Press version of 6th edition.

    Among other things, I would add a table of simplified weapon classes for those not so much into "mini maxing" and ironmongery. Going in the other direction, I would expand the selection of armor parts (which probably calls for keeping the higher suit armor values).

    Encouragement of customization to suit one's taste seems to me one of the "old school" elements that have for so long been prominently preserved in the T&T community. As a Jewish response to a once popular bumper sticker put it, "We Never Lost It" might be T&Ters' answer to D&Ders rediscovering roots!

  22. Dwayanu, I'm curious about the "armor problem" you keep hammering on, as I've never had any problem with it, and all my experience is with 5th onward. Is the problem to which you refer in anyway mollified by the nearly canonical house rule of "Spite Damage" (included in Ken's notes in 5.5, and official in 7.x) which I have always used?

    Also I'll admit that while I've flipped through solos, I've never played one except cursorily. All my play has been GM driven, which of course avoid the "making your own rulings" problem ;)

  23. "Spite damage" simply makes armor irrelevant.

    As I said earlier, an explication would involve a bit of mathematics -- and I don't want to get into that here. If you've really never encountered the problem, then you've somehow been playing so as to avoid it. Using "house rules" instead is one way not to notice a problem in "rules as written!" Different strokes for different folks.

    Consider that the absolute (and incredibly rare) maximum damage from a combat turn with 3 dice per side (e.g., any of several common types of sword) and equal adds is 15 points. Even before doubling for a Warrior, Mail and Knight's Shield in 5th stop 16 points.

    An advantage in adds or dice sufficient to get some damage past such armor before the combatants (or players!) die of old age turns the affair pretty much into one with a foregone conclusion. It makes the whole business of rolling dice superfluous.

    That was not the case when (as originally designed) the game produced a substantive effect with any lost combat turn: at the least, some points of armor were lost.

  24. Again, "Different strokes ... ."

    I suppose it possible that it would not have hindered D&D's popularity to have specified that to score a hit on a Fighter protected with Leather and Shield required a roll of 25 or higher on 1D20. I think it, though, unlikely.

    Nor did T&T initially (from what I understand) make analogous demands. It was designed actually to be playable in accord with the guidelines given! That's how it had earned a good reputation through 4 previous editions.

  25. I can't believe we've got somebody who grumbles that the newfangled 1979 rules ruined T&T. You win the grumpy old man award!

  26. Hah! I'll put that on my curmudgeonly trophy shelf. I'd like to thank my mother, and my agent ...

    There are potentially other purely "game function" problems, especially if one puts much stock in modern concepts of "balance" (e.g., the Kindred factors).

    For the most part, I find those no more bothersome than the wide range of hit points (especially at 1st level) in D&D.

    One can "get a clue" that they were not considered impediments when the game first rocketed to popularity.

    I "hammer on" the armor issue because it's an example of trying to "fix" what was not exactly broken in the first place -- and thereby making the game actually less easily playable insofar as it's described by a particular set of rules (presumably, to my mind, just what one is purchasing).

    Having recently plunged into the Apocalypse that is "4E D&D," I find this a point of some interest.

    Those examples are in a sense opposed: 4E ticks like a Swiss watch when it comes to mechanical practicality! Its great flaw is that it smothers with its weight of abstract rules the improvised "simulationism."

  27. OK, I just dug out my recently acquired copy of 4th edition T&T.

    In 4th edition, the typical sword does 2 dice instead of 3, and chain mail, ring mail, and plate armor provide 5, 7, and 10 points of protection respectively. Under normal circumstances, armor's effectiveness is *not* decreased by use. You don't "use up" armor by taking hits with it.

    Except... fighters can choose to multiply their armor by their level for one combat turn, but in doing so, they destroy it completely, which is a little bizarre.

    The "only one side takes damage" factor is mitigated by two optional rules, one, that the winning side takes back 10% of the physical damage dealt to the losing side, and two, that the winning side must make a saving roll and take the difference in hits. In both cases, though, those winning-side hits are absorbed by armor.

    4th edition T&T has an awful lot of optional rules.

    5th edition T&T seems to leave more of those things completely up to the GM, to work out according to individual circumstances, instead of providing a menu of option to choose from. Less "this is our house rule" and more "in these circumstances, with these tactics, we'll adjudicate it with this ad hoc rule that's likely to include a Saving Roll."

    If you read the combat examples in 5th edition T&T, e.g. the fight against the ogres, you find that the GM is expected to adjudicate and adjust the rules for any unusual circumstance or tactic. E.g. Ogres throw rocks at delvers. The GM demands saving rolls and assigns hits according to how they are missed, instead of looking for rock-throwing combat rules somewhere. And when the wizard gets his CON reduced to 3 in one blow, the GM asks for a saving roll to remain conscious, considering the severity of the blow he took. The rogue gets a similar roll when she blows almost all her strength in a gigantic attack spell. She falls unconscious. At that point, following straight combat rules, the ogre would wipe her out easily (divide hit points equally), but the warrior states that he wants to try to lead the ogre away from her and take all the hits, and here the GM adjudicates a saving roll for the Ogre, using a hastily-rolled-up IQ stat, to see through the ruse, which he fails. The GM had also ruled that even if the ogre made the SR, they should still divide hits by 2/3 - 1/3 instead of half and half, because simply by standing up to him the fighter could get more in the ogre's face and take more of the hits.

    The point is -- you know that whole "rulings, not rules" thing? It applies to T&T combat in a big way (The thing is, in T&T, GM rulings are often accompanied by saving rolls). This was a demo combat, in the rule book, intended to show off how the combat rules work, and yet it still included a number of instances of GM adjudication!

    If even the example combat includes a lot of "well, logically this would happen, so this is how we'll play it" that's not covered by the rules taken literally and in isolation, I think it's pretty clear that the T&T combat rules are never supposed to be treated as a closed simulation system which can run on its own, in the absence of GM rulings. Circumstances always matter. Actions taken outside the plain old "we fight!" that the combat rules assume always matter. These things affect combat.

    So the fact that, with only the basic rules taken in isolation, it's very easy to set up absurd situations, shouldn't matter that much. Because if you are using the combat rules in isolation, you're not really playing the game right.

  28. Dwayanu -- fair enough! And enjoy your trophy. :)

    It's not like 5th edition is perfect. I just am not confident that previous editions were as relatively unbroken as you think they were, or that this particular kind of brokenness matters that much when it's played in a Rulings Not Rules old-school fashion. :)

  29. Thanks Dwayanu, now I see why I haven't run into the problem. It's a combination of the fact that starting warriors simply can't afford to pack on that much armor, combined with the case that they are usually fighting MR rated opponents, which typically have higher adds than PCs. In addition the warriors are usually maneuvering to suck up more than their fair share of the damage in order to protect the squishy wizards.

    And James, apologies that we T&T grognards have taken over your forums with our internecine squabbles ;)

  30. In 5th, a suit of leather (6 hits) and buckler (3 hits) cost but 85 GP and weigh but 275 units (ST needed = only 3, the minimum one can roll).

    Doubled for a Warrior, that's 18 hits of armor -- invulnerable to 3 dice of damage.

    When someone reports finding no problem in this, I know I must ask for "the rest of the story."

  31. Oh, my mistake, it's clearly hideously broken, and we have in fact been writhing in agony every time we play ;)

  32. Such hyperbole is not conducive to productive conversation. Spirit masters certainly were one way to get out a D&D fanzine -- but the Internet has some advantages. Likewise, WotC's "4E D&D" is unequivocally a game called Dungeons & Dragons, but ...

  33. ... there's the necessary-to-understanding "rest of the story."

    As I said above.

    No more, nor less.

  34. We're dealing only in statements of fact insofar as 15 being less than 16 (or 18, or 32) ... and in "take the difference of the Hit Point Totals and then subtract armor" being the rule given in the T&T rulebook.

    My valuation is that would prefer to have that actually work. That's not a One True Way-ism in the same league as (say) Al Qaida's. I'm not gonna drive a fertilizer truck into your game room.

    I would gratefully be informed of the methods you use to overcome that mathematically certain futility!

    Why do you insist on treating that reasonable curiousity as some sort of terrible assault?

  35. The rulebook remains not the end but the opening of a frontier.

    That's simply beautiful. Now I must get a look at this game.

  36. BTW, I know a lot of people don't think of solo adventures as "real" games, but the T&T solos are wonderful introductions to the worlds that can be built for T&T, and to the various things you can do with the rules.

    Which solos do you think are the best of the lot?

  37. Whatever materials you wind up with, I hope you find them edifying, even if they are not your personal cup of grog.

    The more I look into the game, the more likely it seems that I will find much to educate and interest me, even if I will likely remain a diehard D&Der. T&T seems to be a game that managed to stay "small" and thus avoid the perils and pitfalls to which D&D has succumbed over the years. It's hard not to like that.

  38. The purest version of Tunnels & Trolls is the heavily house-ruled version that you make yourself.

    That's pure gold.

  39. I can't believe we've got somebody who grumbles that the newfangled 1979 rules ruined T&T.

    A man after my own heart!

  40. And James, apologies that we T&T grognards have taken over your forums with our internecine squabbles ;)

    No need to apologize! I find these discussions quite edifying and in fact make me much more interested in T&T than I otherwise have been. I think it's absolutely terrific that fans are still arguing over how best to interpret/implement the rules. It's exactly the kind of mentality that seems to have been lost from much of the hobby and I'm glad to see that T&T still retains it.

  41. Which solos do you think are the best of the lot?

    City of Terrors must place in the Top 10, I think.

  42. For some reason, I thought you had already seen a T&T rulebook.

    In 5th, the "monster manual" pretty much boils down to Ken's writing

    What lurks and slithers in your imagination I don't know, but in mine there are fire-breathing dragons, crocodiles, unicorns, snarks, sharks and boojums ... misanthropes and misogynists, manticores and lots more.

    (It's a loooong paragraph!)

  43. I have in fact seen T&T. I even played it a bit back in the early 80s, but I never owned a copy of the book myself and I never really had a chance to study the rules in depth or grok the philosophy behind them. So, this will all be effectively a first time experience for me, even if it's not technically so.

  44. I typed the whole thing into Story-Games a while back...


    "Having good guys without bad guys would be pretty dull stuff. What lurks and slithers in your imagination I don't know, but in mine there are fire-breathing dragons, crocodiles, unicorns, snarks, sharks, and boojums, black hobbits, giant spiders, cave lions, pythons, centaurs, toothy non-flaming dragons, wyverns, wurms, griffins, hippogriffs, werewolves and vampires, balrogs, basilisks, ghosts, jubjub birds, slithy toves, cave bears, sphinx, enchanted warriors, zombies, reptile men, flame fiends, harpies, orcs, ogres, gremlins, goblins, trolls, giants, two-headed giants, three-headed giants, mushroom monsters, cockatrices, giant slugs, banshees, mummies, barrow-wights, living statues, shoggoths, wraiths, demons, leopards, octopi (giant economy size), gnoles, minotaurs, slime-mutants, drooling maniacs, half-orcs, hydrae, living skeletons, bandersnatchi, jabberwocks, pithecanthropi, ghouls, mad dogs, poisonous vipers, blood bats, night gaunts, lamiae, cannibals, witches, warlocks, rabid rats (ulsios), chimerae, hags, giant slimy worms, yeti, tigers, gorgons, bigfoots, invisible stalkers, were-creatures of all varieties, misanthropes and misogynists, manticores, and lots more. If you want more, look through books of mythologies of ancient cultures, or books of science fiction and heroic fantasy. In no time at all, you'll be inventing your own too."

    Bonus points if you know on what planet "ulsios" can be found.

  45. Bonus points if you know on what planet "ulsios" can be found.

    I suspect most regular readers of this blog have visited Barsoom at least a few times.

  46. Dwayanu --

    I guess if you look at the combat system in isolation, the armor rules can seem pretty broken. The point I was trying to make is that there's always, potentially, more going on than a straight application of the combat system to its logical conclusion.

    Indeed, you can start a first level warrior who's invulnerable to a single opponent with a sword, and that's kind of ridiculous. (Indeed, you can easily have two first level warriors who are *mutually* invulnerable, and that's kind of ridiculous too.)

    But when a ridiculous situation comes up, there's always, potentially, a GM there to say "OK, me boyo, clearly this is going to come down to endurance. Let's start making CON saving rolls each combat turn, both of you, and if you lose one, your opponent gets the difference in combat adds against you." Eventually somebody's going to get so feeble with exhaustion that the other guy pounds the snot out of them.

    It's trivial to come up with a way out of any particular ridiculous situation, and in general, it's not a problem to have a warrior who's immune to a large pile of damage as long as there are potentially critters out there who *can* beat him down. And there will be.

    Oh... also, look at the rules under "Weight Possible" in the character creation section for a largely-ignored, fairly brutal set of fatigue rules based on weight carried, if you *must* have a solution based on the rules as written. There it is suggested that one's weight possible divided by weight carried times constitution is how many turns you can go without a rest before collapsing with exhaustion. So... in the case of our mutually invulnerable warriors, even if you don't bring in any reasonable GM rulings, somebody will collapse first and die.

    I guess I only see this "brokenness" coming up in particular isolated situations, and only if you never allow any other ad hoc rules (saving rolls for special tactics, e.g. called shot to an unarmored area to bypass armor) to come into account.

    And if you never allow any ad hoc rules to interfere with a single-minded application of the combat system, you're not really playing T&T.

    That's "the rest of the story."

    ALL THAT BEING SAID, we live in a blessed age where anybody can plunk down $16 and grab 4th edition rules, or plunk down however much the new versions cost and get the newer versions that fix all the arguably broken bits from 5th edition...

    So more power to ya if that's how you feel.

  47. I don't want to be branded as a T&T apologist, but guys with statted armor and weapons are supposed to be fighting dudes with MR. And the rules specifically suggest that armor that takes damage over and over might wear out (see end of combat examples). And given how generous T&T is with combat adds, ignoring them seems problematic.

    My broader point is, the "imagine two first level fighters in chain with longswords fighting each other" scenario doesn't really exist in T&T. After all T&T was not inspired by Chainmail, it was inspired by the dungeon crawl and the "fun fantasy romp." Two unimportant grunts duking it would not be statted as PCs, they'd have MR's. So I think it's okay to say that if you're playing this scenario, you really are Playing It Wrong.

    Which isn't to say that I think the fighter armor bonus was balanced and it's sort of a face-palm situation. :)

    Anyway, I have a hard time imagining James enjoying T&T considering the previous post. It's not for everyone. But I do find it a good representative of the "rules be damned, let's have some fun!" spirit (sort of like Arduin), which I think is an important part of the old school roleplaying world, and sometimes I see it as sort of the unsung forgotten fringe. Perhaps those people are all LARPing now...

    I'm not sure I'd say there was much within T&T itself to sink one's teeth into.

    The scenarios I remember fondly are Naked Doom, Deathtrap Equalizer, City of Terrors, Arena of Khazan, Sewers of Oblivion, and the one where you play a Troll who lives in a dungeon, can get attacked by PCs in your sleep, find a lost dwarven city, etc. (unfortunately I forgot the name).

    And if I were wanting to take a trip down these memory lanes I would also look through the first Grimtooth's Traps book and Citybook I, too.

    Finally, Liz Danforth was great! If nothing else, you might like to consider her art.

  48. @ Ed:It's a matter of taste.

    One is free to bang one's head against (say) World of Synnibarr if that's one's cup o' masochism.

    "But it's really not so bad!" If only you change x and y and so on until basically you're playing Powers & Perils instead.

    I would rather cut out the Middle Man and just play Champions instead of house-ruling "5E D&D" seven ways to Sunday.

    Somehow, you keep skipping over my point that it was not always so. This "problem" was a non-issue in the spark that set Phoenix gamers ablaze in 1975.

  49. Liz Danforth is the dreadful Queen of Trolls, whose minions at Ragnarok shall cast the House of Sutherland wailing into the maw of Ginnunga Gap!

  50. @ Ed: I'm quite familiar with the fatigue rules as a tie-breaker. I can set aside a weekend to read Mallory, if I'm in a mood for that sort of thing.

    That snarkiness taken in stride, I'm not talking out of my hat. I've been looking at this state of affairs for more than a quarter of a century!

  51. "Somehow, you keep skipping over my point that it was not always so. This "problem" was a non-issue in the spark that set Phoenix gamers ablaze in 1975."

    If what you're talking about there is:

    "That was not the case when (as originally designed) the game produced a substantive effect with any lost combat turn: at the least, some points of armor were lost."

    that's not true, or at least it wasn't true in 4th edition. On anybody but a warrior, 4th edition armor worked exactly the way 5th edition armor did.

    On a 4th edition warrior, instead of a permanent 2x bonus, you could get a one-time bonus of multiplying the armor's protection by your level, and then the armor was destroyed.

    So if there was a difference between 4th and 5th in terms of a broken armor system, it was in degree rather than in kind, and there's no difference at all when you're not talking about warriors.

    And when I am talking about ad hoc rules stuff which would make the "broken armor issue" not so relevant... I'm talking about the *normal course of play*, not about changing X and Y so it's not really so bad.

    The *normal course of T&T play, as illustrated in the rules examples,* is to allow ad hoc modifications of the normal combat rules based on circumstances and tactics. That's not a hack to fix a stupid rule, that's ordinary T&T play, in the context of which the rule isn't so terribly stupid.

  52. 4th is just a step back, not ALL the way back.

    A lot of burden has been laid on this beast ere first it stood up and gave D&D a fierce shake.

    The original concept (to some variation on which I find myself inexorably driven) was of armor as so many points ticked off, as opposed to armor as a perpetual constant in the equation.

    From that perspective, a lot of gyrations look like trying to make up for something broken.

    That's NOT some absolute value judgment. It's funny how the Holy Warriors prefer to keep things on that misty ground rather than sharing how they actually play.

    What the hell is so wrong with asking how you play it? Presumably (if you do actually play) you have an answer ...

  53. Personally, I sadden to see a crop of players turning to T&T claiming to "deserve" the blah blah blah better served up at http://www.white-wolf.com/

    If you can't handle some ambiguity between the extremes of a steamroller in your favor and one aginst, then you're not ready for the FRP game as I know it.

  54. Dwayanu:
    I can appreciate the point you're trying to make (and I recall your post on this matter at the TrollBridge), but Ed is indeed telling you how he plays. It's how I play. It's the way most T&Ters play as far as I've ever known. And that is to use plenty of GM rulings. Those rulings usually come with SRs "attatched". One..that's indeed BTB play for T&T. Two...To play T&T BTB is to play it in any way you wish no matter what. I mean, heck, the rulebooks says to basically totally ignore the rules if you want and certainly when common sense laughs in the face of the rules as written. As if I need to quote: "Keep things loose, and if a rule doesn't conform to a particular situation warp the rules - not the situation.", and also "If a general rule does not quite fit a situation, adjust it to fit".
    SRs are meant to be used to 'break out of the box' of the standard combat rules. This is shown in the example given later where the hobbit runs in between the legs of the huge creature that would have mopped the floor with him via the standard combat rules.

    The armor issue specifially, as I mentioned in the thread at TrollBridge, I'm not encountered ever. If I did, it wouldn't be noticed, since someone would far more than likely use an SR to make a difference. If, for some very bizarre reason, both the player nor I as GM, ever utilized an SR, then I'd make use of the rules for fatigue or some variation. Plus, I also use the optional rule that causes modifiers to movement and speed as well as DEX as shown in section 3.11, and some of those factors may very well come into play.

  55. "...one is free to bang one's head... if that's one's cup of masochism."

    "Somehow you keep skipping over my point..."

    "I sadden to see..."

    "If you can't handle..."

    "You're not ready for FRP as I know it..."

    OK, I'm bowing out of this thread. I've had enough of your condescending tone towards everybody who doesn't share your concerns, dwayanu.

    I expect more condescension and sarcasm as a reply, but I will not be here to read it.

    I've just remembered why as a rule I never bother with comment threads.

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  58. I am sorry for the condescension and sarcasm. My last post was particularly atrocious, likely to make offensive sense if any at all.

    I think it splendid that someone else should play just as he likes. There's no warrant for him to try to convert me to his house rules.

    Rafial introduced sarcasm in response to plain statements of fact. Ed raised the dead subject in order to impart a lecture with a false premise and the conclusion that therefore "you're not really playing T&T."


    It's curious that armor values introduced in the 5th edition are such a shibboleth to folks otherwise devoted to house-ruling.

    I'm delighted when others share their ways of playing. Knocking mine -- and by extension the players of the previous editions influencing me -- as somehow wrong serves no good end.

    What Earthly difference does it make to you? You can have your point-buy system, "Kremm," Wizardry stat, Magic Resistance, Talents, or whatever without forcing it on me.

    In matters of personal taste, New is not always synonymous with Improved. I happen also to prefer "Classic" Coca-Cola, and soda pop enthusiasts seem to take it in stride!

  59. In the foreword [to T&T 7.5] the designer Ken St Andre even says, "If you haven't messed with the printed rules and made at least a couple of changes, you aren't really playing Tunnels & Trolls."

    Maybe he's in a better position to lay down such a criterion?

    Really, though, I'm not going to change armor just to please Ken any more than I would refrain from doing so to please Ed. The opinions of people not playing in it don't dictate how I run a game.

  60. errm . . . yeah . . . anyway, Mike Sword for Hire was the first solo I played and the Arena of Khazan was the first one I purchased. I think both of those are good.
    Other favourites are 'The City of Terrors, The Sewers of Obvlivion, and Overkill. Those three have a lot of detail and flavour on the 'T7T' world as it was back then.

  61. Anyway, I have a hard time imagining James enjoying T&T considering the previous post. It's not for everyone. But I do find it a good representative of the "rules be damned, let's have some fun!" spirit (sort of like Arduin), which I think is an important part of the old school roleplaying world, and sometimes I see it as sort of the unsung forgotten fringe.

    You're absolutely right, which is why I feel a strong obligation to give it another try. It's likely it won't be my cup of tea, but that's OK. What is important is that I correct some misapprehensions I have about the game and fill out my old school education, both of which I consider worthy goals.