OSR Retrospective: Tunnels & Trolls

You know whenever people talk about old-school games, they always talk about old D&D but there’s a lot more than that out there. Heck, even here I do that but those non-d20 games are also on my mind and on my shelf. This time I want to rant a little bit about Tunnels & Trolls.

Tunnels & Trolls is special for many reasons. First, it was one of the first games to come out that wasn’t just D&D reskinned. Second, it’s the only old game that I can think of that is still with original publisher and still being supported by the original creators. I know this is the Internet, if I’m wrong some one will tell me. Plus Flying Buffalo was the pioneer of online gaming such at was back in the day of a BBS.
So what about the actual game itself. Tunnels & Trolls does keep the class/level dynamic and has similar attributes and that’s about all. Races and separate from class and uses a multiplier type system for any racial bonuses. Classes are generally familiar if you’re used to gaming. The only real oddity is the Rogue because this class isn’t a Thief but a Rogue wizard. No guild bennies for you. For dice, it just uses d6’s. That’s it. But it does use a lot of them.
At it’s most basic, combat works like this. Player rolls a bunch of d6’s based on their character and weapon. The GM rolls a bunch of d6’s based on the monster’s rating. Compare results and the difference is the damage to the loser. When multiple characters are attacking the same monster add the player’s totals together and compare the monster’s result. Of course, chances are it’s a pretty tough monster so it’ll be a lot of dice. If the monster wins then the damage is distributed between the player characters. Yes, it is abstract but it’s up to the players and GM to narrate what’s going on.
There have been other changes and innovations to the game over the years and editions. Things like spell casting, saving throws, and talents have evolved over time but the basics of the game has generally remained the same. So if you’re tired of rolling d20’s and just want to do something completely different then it’s well worth a look.
And there’s a whole selection of stuff on Drivethru.

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