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Tunnels & Trolls RPG – Looking Forwards to Deluxe

November 12, 2013

tunnels_and_trolls2_6431So I was reading Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition again, and comparing it to 7.5. I’m still a huge fan of 5th – I think the GMing advice is crucial, and Liz Danforth’s editing style makes the book at once intimate, friendly, and very clear. However, I do like the Talents rule from 7.5 – it’s very neat, and interfaces with the T&T paradigm very smoothly. I also love the Spite Damage mechanic, especially when you start breaking it out into a “power die” approach for special abilities, as 7.5 implies you can with its monstrous powers. Very cool.

There seems one huge difference, though – and bear in mind I’ve never played 7.5, only 5th ed. Namely, the way in which damage is shared out amongst the members of a losing side in a combat (what The Kids today would call a “group extended contest”). 5th ed states the damage is shared out as equally as poss among participants, with any low damage going to the wizard; 7th ed states you can share it however the losing side wants.

This is a massive difference. If you have a warrior in your party – even one with a measly leather armour and buckler shield – they can easily have 18 or more armour points. In a melee, that’s a massive soak; in 5th ed, it protects the warrior, but in 7.5, it effectively protects the whole party from harm.

One thing I’m hoping for from the upcoming Deluxe T&T is a discussion, either in the rules or in the community, about the “player tricks” you can do with Saving Rolls, etc, which spruce up T&T conflicts, making them more tactical, etc. A typical example in 5th ed might be the warrior making a Dexterity or even Charisma SR to try and attract multiple attacks to him, taking a greater share of the Hit Point Total than the “equal share” method would give him, effectively making him more effective and more protective in combat. In 7.5, that option is removed by the “share as you like” approach to the HPT.

Anyhow, just musings about Tunnels & Trolls, which I’m re-appraising these days as such a cool little system. It was the first RPG I ever owned, way back in 1980, and I played the hell out of it. I’m looking forwards to reading the new incarnation, especially in the light of the various indie and narrative games about these days that I think owe a hidden debt to its innovative mechanics.

Oh, yes, and I played Buffalo Castle last night, too. First time in *harrumph* *cough* -ty years. 🙂

Rich delvings and mighty thews to all!

Myrella the Much-Dinted, Who Will One Day Wield a Great Shamsheer…

ps: remind me to post about “opposed rolls” in T&T too. Some cool nuggets there…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2014 1:36 am

    Regarding talents. There’s a beta document available to KS backers and members of Ken’s Trollhalla. Even if you aren’t in either category, there’s a good discussion regarding them on the Trollbridge. ( With dT&T making progress and Ken’s free newsletter launching, it’s a good time to be a troll.

  2. Geoff permalink
    November 19, 2013 11:52 pm

    Thank you for the blog. I agree about the major distinction in combat rules. I too favor the 5th edition rules with the belief that tricks can change that dynamic if one tries to do so. Another difference between the two systems which I think is important is the XP for attributes dynamic in 7.5 edition, vs. much slower progression in 5th edition. It sharply changes the sense of character arc, and while I prefer 5th editions more gradual progression (with a modified AP/Lvl chart) I think 5th edition makes it a tad hard for the non-attribute blessed (aka human) Wizard characters to progress with their attribute assignments at each level. I’d like to see that be tweaked in future editions, but happy that it is such a house rule friendly system.

  3. November 12, 2013 2:12 pm

    That a change that I had forgotten about. Almost all changes in 7th ed feels like they are motivated by quick and generous convention play. I think it’s a bid sad that con play becomes the standard way to play in the book. Like you I think 5th ed promotes more tactical play.

    • November 14, 2013 10:29 am

      The Talents rules look very strong for more tactical narrative play, though, Andreas – very seamless, too, so I’ll be slotting them into my game.

      I’m very interested to see what happens with Deluxe; re-reading 5th ed, there’s a lot of between-the-lines hints & tips for doing “player tricks” and other stunt-type manoeuvres with Saving Rolls, etc – I’m hoping that kind of tactical goodness might make a showing in the new book.

      • November 14, 2013 4:57 pm

        Yeah, I totally agree there’s a lot in 5th kind of hidden in between the lines.

        I’ve not totally sold on Talents, but I have had some fun happen in my games using Talents. My favourite was when when a player decided his character had a Talent called “Cooking” based on LK. That was kind of crazy…


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