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Tunnels & Trolls (Sept 2018)

Tunnels & Trolls (Sept 2018)

Monday 22 June 2020
In June 2020 we revived the September 2018 Tunnels & Trolls Bundle featuring the Deluxe Edition rules and many solo and GM adventures for the venerable Flying Buffalo FRPG Tunnels & Trolls. Since its 1975 debut — the second fantasy RPG ever published! — the simple, high-spirited, and streamlined Tunnels & Trolls has stayed in print continuously from the same publisher, guided by the same designer, and remained rules-compatible across all editions — an unequalled record of longevity.

Founded in 1970, Flying Buffalo Inc. marked its 50th anniversary in 2020. Rick Loomis, Buffalo’s founder and president passed away in August 2019, a day before his 73rd birthday. At Rick’s request, longtime company manager Steve Crompton and other FBI stalwarts have kept Flying Buffalo going, shipping orders and fulfilling outstanding Kickstarter obligations. “To celebrate our anniversary, we have released seven new or long out-of-print products for T&T and Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes,” Steve says, “including Alice in Weirdworld, Overkill, Beyond the Wall of Tears, the Continent of Arabor campaign book, Grimtooth’s Tomb of the Warhammer, and How to Write a Solo — and we have more adventures in the works. We’d like to think Rick is pleased with our efforts.”

T&T emphasizes roleplaying and gamemaster rulings over charts and reference books. In straightforward dungeon crawls, play is quick and exuberant. T&T is known, perhaps notorious, for its bumptious sense of humor, seen most prominently in its naming of spells, such as “Oh Go Away,” “Alaka-Scram,” “Poor Baby” (a healing spell), “Upsydaisy,” and “Take That You Fiend.” In a December 2009 Grognardia retrospective, Old School Revival blogger James Maliszewski confessed the spell names, in particular, made him snobbish about T&T in his early years: “Whimsy and humor were antithetical to ‘serious roleplaying,’ and so games that evinced either were seen as unfit for play by discerning gamers. […] If I were to pick a single mistake I made in my gaming education to call ‘tragic,’ it would be my rejection of Tunnels & Trolls back when I had the chance to become better acquainted with it. […] I’ve been missing quite a lot. T&T is a very cleverly designed game: complete, simple, and flexible, yet easily expandable. It’s not math-heavy and looks to be quite amenable to the kind of off-the-cuff gaming I enjoy these days. It’s also unambiguously old-school, as its rules demand both player cleverness and referee adjudication for satisfying use. […]

“Older and wiser now, I no longer see silliness as necessarily antithetical to seriousness. Indeed, I often think it’s an important complement to it. My games nowadays are filled with whimsical asides and comedic moments, in addition to grim and perilous encounters and philosophical musings. This isn’t an either/or situation, at least not in the way I used to think it had to be. Gaming is supposed to be, above all else, fun and, reading T&T, you can tell that author Ken St. Andre had a lot of fun with his creation. That’s as it should be with any RPG and, while I don’t think Tunnels & Trolls should become a model for all other RPGs any more than I think that of OD&D, I do think the hobby might be a more enjoyable place for all if the ethos of T&T were more widely imitated. That, for me, is the greatest lesson I took away from my investigations into this venerable game, whose community, while smaller than that of my own preferred system, is no less enthusiastic, creative, and open to newcomers. […] I still don’t like the spell names, though.”

T&T is famous for its solitaire pick-a-path dungeon crawls. Flying Buffalo produced the first solo RPG adventure ever — Buffalo Castle — and followed with dozens more. This revived Tunnels & Trolls Bundle once again presented Buffalo Castle and no less than eleven more solos — most in their upgraded Deluxe editions — along with several gamemastered modules, the 2015 Deluxe rulebook (funded in a powerhouse January 2013 Kickstarter campaign), and Ken St. Andre’s standalone spinoff game Monsters! Monsters!

There were no less than thirteen titles in this revived offer’s Solitaire Collection (retail value $53) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • A fun 64-page manga-style set of Tunnels & Trolls quickstart rules, produced by T&T Adventures Japan (where T&T is big) and presented here in English translation. A perfect intro to the game, this booklet gives all the rules you need to play the solos in this collection, plus a solitaire and two gamemastered scenarios.
  • Five starting T&T solos: Battle School, Buffalo Castle (the first solo RPG adventure ever published for any game), Sea of Mystery, Sorcerer Solitaire, and Goblin Lake Deluxe.
  • Three mid-level T&T solos: Agent of Death, Naked Doom, and Sewers of Oblivion.
  • Three killer T&T solos: Arena of Khazan, Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon, and perhaps the most fondly remembered of all the solos, Michael A. Stackpole’s City of Terrors.
  • New in this revival! Elven Lords Deluxe, Mike Stackpole’s 1990 follow-up to City of Terrors, in an expanded edition with new art by Liz Danforth. (If you bought this offer during its original September 2018 run, you automatically received Elven Lords on your Wizard’s Cabinet download page and in your DriveThruRPG Library.)
Those who paid more than the threshold (average) price¬†also got this revival’s entire Gamemaster Collection with ten more titles worth an additional $53: Ten percent of each payment (after gateway fees) went to this offer’s pandemic-related charity, Direct Relief. Direct Relief gets protective gear and critical care medications to health workers, with emergency deliveries daily to medical facilities across the US and to regional response agencies across the world.

Tunnels & Trolls resources