Friday, June 11, 2010

Collection Showcase: Tunnels & Trolls

I love rummaging through my gaming collection. My wife would say that I have a large collection, I would disagree. The bulk of my collection is contained in 5 long white magazine boxes (the type you would use for comic books, except fitted for magazine sized periodicals). These boxes work out nicely for my RPGs, to include most of the box sets that I own. I thought it would be fun to show case some of my favorite games. I will start with Tunnels and Trolls by Flying Buffalo.

My collection is small, but I plan on growing it. Pictured here are: 5th (?) Edition Corgi Rule Book; two Solo Adventures: City of Terrors (Solo Adventure 9, Corgi edition), Caravan to Tiern(Solo Adventure 22), two GM Adventures: Castle Ward and Isle of Darksmoke; and I have one issue of Sorcerer's Apprentice #17. All of the listed items came in my box set that I bought directly from Flying Buffalo about eight years ago now. The box set also included Mages Blood and Old Bones, a collection of T&T fiction. I no longer have it, as it was destroyed by our family dog. I Also have Trollzine issues 1 and 2.

I plan on giving a more in depth review of my Tunnels and Trolls items, but that is not the intent of this post. My intent here is to give my history with T&T.

I heard of Tunnels and Trolls early in my fledgling gaming days (about age 10), but did not know much about it. I don't remember having an overall impression of the game at the time, as I was largely ignorant of it. I knew it existed, but not much else. I believe I largely wrote it off as just another D&D pretender. I thought of several games in this light, for instance RuneQuest was given the same treatment by me. RQ is a game I am to this day still largely ignorant about.

I did, a few years later (around age 13), have a passing interest in the game, as I was very much into Metagaming's MicroQuests. I played MQ utilizing loose leafed photocopies of Melee andWizard (both would later become The Fantasy Trip, another small part of my collection I am sure I will high light here at some point).

At the time, I was only aware of T&T through adds in gaming magazines and through these adds I learned that Tunnels & Trolls could be utilized for solo play. Near that time, I was one of very few in my small Pennsylvania town that still gamed, so I was having a hard time finding players for D&D and AD&D. I had largely turned to solo gaming.

My solo gaming started with hours of creating D&D characters and running them through the Monster Manual, Hit Die by Hit Die. Luckily, I discovered MicroQuests at Brass T-Shirts, a local store that sold a modest amount of games. MQ along with "Choose Your Own Adventure" books and a few odd Atari games, were my only gaming outlet. So learning of another Solo system with T&T excited me.

I would have liked at the time to have gained a copy of T&T and did try to, but was unable. About the same time I was seeking T&T, Brass T-Shirts closed, and a dark period of gaming began for me. However, that is a tale for another day. With the closing of Brass T, I did not give T&T another thought until many moons later.

Sixteen years after I wanted to play the game, I finally did so. Shortly after moving to Alaska, I began gaming with a fellow up here that was a T&T fanatic. I never played the game with him, but his enthusiasm for the game rekindled my curiosity enough that eventually I purchased a box set. So despite my wishes, Tunnels & Trolls is a game I did not try until about eight years ago, and I still have not played it much.

My only experience with the game is I ran a couple sessions. In both cases, I had my players roll up 1st level characters and I ran them through dungeons on the fly. I had plans to start up a T&T campaign, but it just hasn't happened.

Why do I like the game? It is easy to learn, I like the simplistic class options (Warrior, Wizard, Rogue - my favorite class, a very Fritz Leiber influenced class, and the rare Warrior-Wizard). There are no Clerics or Thieves, which I like. Clerics ,outside of D&D, always seemed forced to me, and would not make sense in T&T. Thieves are not needed unless a skill based system is being utilized. Most of all, I enjoy the inherent humor of the game. It never seems as if Ken St. Andre is taking things too seriously.

I think it is the humor/oddness of the game that now attracts me. It would work well for a humorous high fantasy dungeon romp. Someday I will run a T&T campaign. I think it would be a hit with my current players. I had one player before that refused to play T&T, and I will not knock him for it. He played it in the past, and had a bad experience. It happens.

Oddly, I still have not used Tunnels & Trolls for the reason I was initially interested: Solo play. I have decided to rectify that and plan on writing about my solo experiences.

However, I currently only own two Solo Adventures, so I must grow my collection. Gee darn, I must buy gaming products.

(By the way, I know there are several free solo's available on the web, but do me a favor and don't tell me wife that).

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