Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Silly Thing

For some unknown reason, Tunnels & Trolls, a game I do not now nor have I ever played with any regularity, has always impressed me by its inclusion of small dice.

I can't quite say why, but I simply love the fact that, going back to its fifth edition at least, one of its integral components is a set of tinier-than-normal six-siders. It's utterly silly to be impressed by this, I know, and yet I am.


  1. I always think of funny dice when I think of Flying Buffalo. One time I ordered some T&T stuff and they included some free trap and door dice. Pretty nifty.

  2. I guess it's an habit from Minis battle gamers. Nowadays, they use tons of tiny dices, which are practical when your roll a lot and needs to get the minis stable.

    I wrote some suggestions about the link to OD&D / Chainmail to Tunell & Trolls, and some nice people completed the informations : http://odd74.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=chainmail&action=display&thread=2816

  3. Are they 12mm brown ones? The ones I got in my T&T box a few years back were and they were consistently the highest rolling d6s I owned. So good it got ridiculous and I retired them.

  4. The current version of the game -- a boxed set -- comes with slightly smaller than normal six-sided dice.

  5. I loved the tiny D6s included with Metagaming's microgames. Also impressive: the insanely tiny 15mm twenty-sided percentile die that FGU put in some boxsets, like "Star Explorer"!

  6. Are they tinier than the dice from the Pirates of the Spanish Main constructable card game? Those were about the size of an airsoft bb.

  7. I still pine/search for the small d6s that came with my MegaTraveller box...

  8. They're just so much easier to shake/randomise in one's hand. The bigger/normal d6s sometimes don't feel quite so random..

  9. Victory Point Games, who are in many ways the modern inheritor of the microgame mantle have just recently started including teeny-tiny dice in their games.

  10. I got my d6's from the boxed set of warhammer fantasy battles, you've got to love shaking 6d6 with one hand

  11. In a recent game of Klingon Armada I got to roll 39d6... twice. Very satisfying. I picked up an entire Koplow Brick (tm) of 36, plus 3 borrowed from my gracious (and soon to be vaporized) opponent. 78 drone hits... what a wonderful world!

    Yes, I also like the T&T dice that came with my 7.5 edition. I wanna play that crazy game some time. I was thinking about using it with Conley's PoL II.

  12. I alway thought the dice in the 7.5 boxed set was kind of funky. I wasn't aware that 5th included tiny dice as well.

    The MegaTraveller dice weren't that small, were they? Mine were standard sized ones. I still have them.

  13. My copy of the 5th ed. boxed set (circa 1992) came with yellow and white dice that were definitely smaller than normal. My copy of the 30th anniversary edition (circa 2005) came with blue dice that were about the same size. Shallow boxes don't allow the headroom for "regular" sized dice.

    And, no, they were not near as small as the dice that come with Pirates of the Spanish Main; those are kind of ridiculous, I don't trust them to be properly balanced at all.

  14. Tunnels and Trolls had tiny dice because combat was resolved by rolling A LOT of dice. As in Rolling 10D6 or 8D6 and totalling the pips.

    I wasn't crazy about the game though. The class systemw as very much like OD&D (Wizard Fighter Rogue) in an age of AD&D. There was very little in the way of Dungeon design (unlike Moldvay and DMG). Nothing compared with AD&D spell list.

    The only ULTIMATE great thing about Tunnels and Trolls was an awesome melee weapon list and illustration art. You had weapons like Bhujes and Grand Shamsheers, Jambiyas and Asseghai spears. I had to go to encyclopedia and see what those weapons were! Compare with ho-hum long sword, short sword, broad sword, bastad sword (and no description in AD&D of what made Bastard Swoprd work and what it was). Problem with T&T was, of course, all this awesome weapons, the magic of names of those weapons, and NO GAME MECHANICS for those diferent weapons types to make a diference. Not enough game stats to describe each adeuately! Neither did AD&D ome to think of it, that's why I had to invent my own hosue version, where a THINKING warrior, thief, mage will prevail over a DIE-ROLLING one!

  15. But what you get Brooze the Bear, is the awesome mechanic of Saving Rolls, which allow you to do anything.

  16. Not anything.
    No saving rolls.
    Weapons have a purpose and a capability that they were designed and historically used for. Decicive effects that influence the outcome of combat if the attack succeeds. Impaling by spears. Attacks around shield by flails. Pulling riders off horses by hooked pole arms. Using axes to break shields and pull them away from the defender. Weapon's reach and various bands at which melee combat occurs; AD&D modifiers agaisnt different armor.
    Two guys armed with pole arms can hold a swordsman off at bay. That kind of detail allows a warrior to pick the best weapon for the job and turn the combat into his or her favor, especially if the playeers fight as a team. One guys is fencing agaist the opponent, the other is trying to hook his shield and pull it away with an axe on the long pole, the third spearman trying to stab the exposed enemy in the face, for example. Educated player is my best customer.

  17. > Tunnels & Trolls, a game I do not now nor have I ever played with any regularity, has always impressed me by its inclusion of small dice.

    Well, this one should be pretty much at the top of your list in that case, James; http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/harami2000/dinky_crop.jpg

    Sorry; couldn't resist! :)

  18. Bear, you misunderstood me.

    In the rules you have the SR mechanic. Since it can be used for anything it can be used for everything you list. Sure, it might have been nice to list some examples and be a bit more up front about it, but it's all there.

  19. Andreas, I am not sure what rules you are talking about.

    My model is simple:
    - You have to be skilled with a weapon to use it to speacial advantage.

    -Melee occurs at first contact of the longerweapon. It occurs at various bands: Lance/Pike, Spear, Two-handed sword, sword, short sword, dagger/fist, grappling.
    warrior with a shorter weapon has first toclsoe the distance before he can inflict any damage. Spearman versus swordsman. Both roll to hit. If spearman hits, he inflicts damage on swordsman and keeps out of swordsman's reach. If swordsman hits, he only fets to clse the distance to the swordsman's band. Next round s/e will be able to inflict damage, while the spearman will eiter have a to hit penalty or wil be using the spear shaft as a staff, if there is room. If both fail their to hit rolls, no dmaage is scored and swordsman fails to close the distace. Let's say that spearman drops his spear and draws a short sword. If he magaes to clse rthe distance to stabbing short sword/dagger range, he will fight without penalty, while swordsman will have a negative to hit modified, because he is now at close quarters, If the swordsman hits, he can now open the distance to be able to hit the spearman with maximum power.

    This simple mechanic, makes combat moreinteresting espcially for lower level charcaters, since the hits and damage are fewer, and opponents are always "dancing" for positional advantage.

    This also makes cmbat more challenging for the high level characters. A ninth level knight with a sword against three spearmen will no loner be a no-contest like he is in standard AD&D rules, where everyone rolls to hit, knight hits more often and wins since his HP will run out last. With the movement/melee band system, so long as one of the three spearmen scores a hit, the knight can not close the distance and damage anyone. Of course, the night can try to break the spear shafts, or charge (and risk damage), but those are complex maneuvers.

    Another feature of the system is that that there are progressive critical hit. Any hit has the potential to be critical, which has the ultimate chance of taking the opponent out of the fight (if you get a crit hit confirtmed with an 18-20 depending on the weapon used).

    Players also re encouraged to be creative with armor by making the armor more expensive, and also, metal armor will protect from critical damage. There is a hit location table, only used if the metal armor pieces are worn. If the crit hit is to the head and it is protected with a metal helmet, the AC for the purpose of determining crit hit becomes 2. This is significant because crit hits occur when you either roll a natural 18-20 (per 3rd Ed rules) OR you roll 5 higher than your minimum to hit number (to reflect the combat experince of the higher level characters). With Armor class 2 5 higher than to hit AC2 only becomes possible with 5th level fighters and 2-3+ level monsters, so plate mail starts to offer real combat protection! Sheild, if used will also offer AC2 protection to the Chest, shield shoulder and shield arm location.
    There are three locations for the head: Head, Face, and Neck. Steel cap will protect one, open faced help 2, and closed helm will protect all three. Of course, if you weal a full helm, your sight and hearing are limited penalizing you on search and awareness checks. Again, hit location table is only used if there is a crit hit and the character is using pieces of metal armor (as opposed to a suit of plate mail giving a uniform AC 2).

    This are the basic additions to the AD&D To hit roll mechanic to make combat more realistic (lethal) and to make it more amenable to equipmnt and to tactical maneuver.

    P.S. There is a real advantage to fighting from horseback. The skilled rider gains a to hit bonus against a footman and a footman neds at least a spear or a two-handed sword to fight the hirseman without penalty.

    With all of the afvatages to skilled use of different weapons, all of a sudden the choice of 4 weapon proficiencies for fighters becomes too few!

  20. Bear,

    Are we having the same conversation here?

    You are developing extra combat rules for AD&D. Feel free.

    I'm just saying that in T&T you have no such thing as weapon proficiency or special rules for different weapons.

    What you do have is a mechanic for doing everything you want in combat, including closing, charging, disarming or any other stunt you might want. It's not codified, but in old school fashion it's up to the individual GM creativity.

    I don't see any point to further continue this conversation beyond that.

  21. Andreas, I misunderstood you.
    What's the mechanic in TnT?
    Last I read those rules was in 1985, so my memori is bit rusty.

  22. The best answer I could give is to suggest you take a peek at these free abridged rules. Take a peek at what it say about Saving Rolls.