What’s not to love about Tunnels and Trolls?
The game does not ignore this thing called balance. Instead, it cheerfully pushes balance to the floor then kicks it in the nuts while it is down. There is the DARO and TARO rules – if you roll a double with 2d6 or a triple with 3d6, you roll again and add them to the original roll. Unless you roll a double or triple again, in which case you roll again and add both values to them and so on, leading to obscene values for stats. On top of that non-human races can double certain stats. And what’s more, it’s all dandy with Trollgod (Ken St Andre, the creator of Tunnels and Trolls).
Yes, it’s the game that spits in the face of logic in the name of enjoyment. Who cares why there are dungeons full of gold and monsters scattered all over the place and that some people are mighty warrior, powerful wizard or all rounders who are quite good at both, or, if your stats are high enough, get to be the paragon class where you enjoy about 3/4 the benefits of warriors and 3/4 the benefits of wizards? It’s fun!
And what adds to the fun is that the rules are not overly complex. D6s only are needed (although you might need a few of them!), monsters generally do not need a ton of stats, but a single value called a monster rating which determines how much damage they deal and their hit points. Stalls in combat are broken by a rule called spite damage.
In combat, you roll a certain number of d6s depending on your weapon, and add a number to that value. The monster does the same. The one who rolls the highest deals the difference in damage – any armour that the defender is wearing. However, for every 6 anyone rolls, they also deal 1 point of damage ‘in spite of’ (hence the name spite damage) armour or who won, and this can really add up when you are rolling 10d6 for a weapon (which you might – I told you about lots of d6s).
And then there are the solos. Tunnels and Trolls has tons of solos as it’s been doing them pretty much since it started. I’ve written a few myself , so has Scott Malthouse and you can try some quick ones out here. A lot of the older ones are quite deadly (Ed Jolley has put a lot of TnT posts in his blog and you can find them in the index here. Only one is highlighted yellow, meaning he beat it), but they are quite fun to read.
And finally, another thing I love about Tunnels and Trolls is the aesthetic. It hasn’t lost its old school charm. I don’t know what it is, but I find the whole old school feel comforting.
You can visit Trollhalla.
You can read the Zine for free.
There will be a new edition of Tunnels and Trolls out soon (it is probably out when you rad this). Take a look!