Monday, October 27, 2014

Old D&D editions and clones - Tunnels & Trolls 1st ed.

Now, some of you might object to that title. Surely T&T is not a clone of D&D, and it surely isn't an old D&D edition!? No, it is not, but it is the first published game inspired by D&D and it fits right in here in the series about how much the old games inspire and engage today.

Those of you who have read or played later editions of T&T should really take a peek at this edition if you get the opportunity! I own the 2013 reprint, which might be available yet. I do not know. Anyway. What's interesting about this game are two things, how it differs from later T&T editions and how it differs from D&D.

I found it interesting that on the first page you get a short summary of how to run a game as a GM, how to play it as a player and even the point of sitting around the table talking get across well. I like it a lot. This little section is actually a fairly good primer of what it's all about. Fun details is that the caller is mentioned, as the "Voicer".

There are many fun small idiosyncrasies in this game, but most of it is in the presentation that is extremely colloquial. Ken even jokes about the illustrations right beside the current paragraph. The rules are fairly easy and smooth and there are not multiple odd subsystems.

I like some of the advice for how to run the game, like the emphasize on house ruling, "this is not my game". It is a hack of another game that grew into its own and it is paying its dues. Then there's the suggestion to put in lot of stuff in the dungeons, since "Nobody likes to mess around in a dull dungeon". Here I think Ken is onto something. The big empty dungeon is something I feel have been overvalued in the OSR conversations. I'm not so sure it was a regular feature of the Old Ways even.  Ken goes on with some other good advice suggesting that all the threats in the dungeon should be avoidable or be possible to nullify by smart players.

Much of the rules is as you'd expect, with the suggestion you start with a horisontal cut away fo your multi level dungeon, and there are rules for reaction rolls and capturing monsters. I also love the fact that there are names to the character levels. A Veteran is someone who has reached 3rd level, by the way. Not first.

Comparing this to modern versions of T&T and there are some differences. Armour is ablative, Saving Rolls are mainly done on Luck and you get XP for gold and deepest dungeon level penetrated.

I would actually gladly pick up those for all editions, liking them a lot. In general, I like this edition a lot. Expanding Saving Rolls into the "meta mechanic" it got later on and I feel you've almost hit the sweet spot for T&T rules. There's a rawness to the rules, but it's brimming with enthusiasm and small snippets of the life in the Phoenix campaign, like how they all have 3-15 characters per player! For me the rules feels like a big smiling invitation to just roll some dice and dive in the deep end. This is another winner. I really want to play this game!
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