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Title: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: rafial on June 25, 2007, 12:04:18 AM
To anyone who thought that Ron might have been hallucinating when he talked up Tunnels & Trolls a couple years back, you need only check in with one of the madmen that played in my con closer game at Go Play NW.  I used the utterly fabulous Tunnels & Trolls Campaign Book, which is available from Outlaw Press (http://www.geocities.com/hobbit_lands/index.html), who are singlehandly keeping T&T community alive and growing.

There was total gang rush as people ran to sign up when I wrote the event up on the board, and I wound up with six players.  Only two of the players had tried T&T before (I think), but they took to it like ducks to water.  They pushed the saving roll system as hard as they could, with marvelous results.  One incident that stands out was the Dwarf Warrior (name of Pigface), whose talent was "Batterning Ram", lumbering through lines of goblins scattering them like ninepins, and then turning around and charging back through the lines, finally shoulder checking one on to the point of the Elf Warrior (Moonrazor)'s sword.

We also had an Elf wizard (Metro Natural), an Elf rogue (Legolamb), and a pair of brother & sister Leprechauns (Rabbitpunk* and ??(crap, I can't remember, somthing like "Glamsmack")) with a bad case of sibling rivalry, and a penchant for satyriasis.  This also had to be one of the most hilariously unwholesome T&T games I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with.  It included such gems of tastelessness as the line "You've found a dead woman, what other treasure do you need?" and a spontaneous Leprechaun on Elf B&D session that broke out while my attention was otherwise diverted. (Safety tip... never leave an oversexed Leprechaun alone in a torture chamber for too long).

Did I mention we also featured elf parkour and plenty of gleeful looting of the bodies?  It was an utterly madcap return to the joy of "let's roll up some characters and clean out a dungeon".  I've been refining both my presentation to new players, and my skill with the required combination of "speak loudly and carry a big fiat" that running T&T requires.  The only downside to this game is that the rules themselves do not fully reveal their application to they not already prepared eye, requiring a certain immmersion in the oral "lore" of the T&T fan community.  But when properly brought to bear, this is one true gem from the dawn of hobby.

Oh, and GPNW was additionaly awesome on so many levels.  But more on THAT later.


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: Trevis Martin on June 25, 2007, 11:00:52 AM
Which version of T&T were you using?  I have the new 7th edition rules but I've heard that 5.5 are the best ones.


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: rafial on June 25, 2007, 06:20:20 PM
I like some things from each.  5.5 is definitely the more attractive book, being filled with Liz Danforth art and that nice 70s typography.  7.0 makes some stuff official that were widely used house rules for 5.0 (5.5 includes Ken's house rules tacked on in the back, so you'll find out what they are).  I like the way 7.0 rationalizes levels and increasing ability scores.  I like the basic concept and motivation of Talents from 7.0, but the implementation is lame.  I used my own house rule, which is that a talent lets you roll 3d6 for a saving roll, and DARO still applies.  7.0 has a bunch more spells, and some of them are really good.  But it's missing Wink-Wing, so Leprechauns are confused.  The kindred charts in 7.0 are completely messed up.

I think it was best put by one of the players in my game last night: "The T&T rules are rough spec for a great game, which you can then develop to your taste".


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 25, 2007, 06:58:42 PM
Hiya,

Quick clarification: 5.0 is the big paperback with the Danforth art. 5.5 is a recent re-release of that edition with some additional material by St. Andre in the back. Personal cop: I don't think the additional material is worth a lot. I consider 5.0 to be the apotheosis-moment of T&T.

Here's my question: did you read the part about dungeon design in which it's suggested that a given dungeon have a given NPC manager? Who is best based on the GM? If so, did you try it? If so, what was the dungeon manager character like?

Best, Ron


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: rafial on June 26, 2007, 12:07:06 AM
Quote
Quick clarification: 5.0 is the big paperback with the Danforth art. 5.5 is a recent re-release of that edition with some additional material by St. Andre in the back. Personal cop: I don't think the additional material is worth a lot. I consider 5.0 to be the apotheosis-moment of T&T.

In general I agree.  However I do appreciate the inclusion of Ken's House rules, of which spite damage and the promotion of Speed (and the introduction of Power/Wiz) has long been accepted lore in the T&T fandom.  The Chronology of Trollworld is fun just to get an idea of the kind of stuff that Ken was populating his world with.  The Buffalo Castle solo is primitive, and the Mike Stackpole stuff is a bit antithetical to the spirit of the game.

7.0 also adds/changes some rules I like, but are better grafted on the 5.0 skeleton than used as is.

Quote
Here's my question: did you read the part about dungeon design in which it's suggested that a given dungeon have a given NPC manager? Who is best based on the GM? If so, did you try it? If so, what was the dungeon manager character like?

Yes, I've read that, and of course the Trollstone Caverns example dungeon in the 5.0 book includes such a manager (which I've used when I run it).  My own home grown T&T dungeon (which is actually based on the sample adventure from Donjon) does not contain such a central figure.

However in this case, I was using the Vaults of Skolari module which is contained in the above mentioned T&T Campaign Book.  I'm not sure if the Vaults are so constructed, because I had not read the module prior to starting play.  This was not intentional (normally I like to read over modules so I can prepare and customize) but in this case it became part of the fun, firstly because I as the GM was as surprised by various encounters as the players were, and secondly because the players were reveling the "old skoolness" of it all, and so having the GM flip pages and read flavor text directly out of the book was a source of considerable merriment.  In point of fact, the entire game took pace within two rooms, and a corridor before exhaustion set in and we called it a con (one hour of character generation and shopping, and two hours of play).  Yet everyone seemed completely satisfied with the outing.


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: Simon C on June 26, 2007, 04:18:19 AM
I still recall with pride that my Wizard was the sole survivor of over fifteen forays into the "Dungeon of the Bear", outliving several generations of compatriots.  My favorite quote from the game:

"I climb up the back of the statue, and careful to avoid any eye lasers, pull the gem from its forehead."


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on June 26, 2007, 05:37:27 AM
I am Pigface.

This game was a great deal of fun. I'd played T&T once before as the GM and didn't get it. Combat is slow (argue if you like, but I won't agree), and I didn't get that saving rolls is where it's at. I was using 7.0, which may have been a bit of the problem.

Anyway, I got it this time, and even though we were intentionally over the top, it worked well, and the in-character antagonism combined with out-of-character teamwork was awesomely nuts. I think my favorite part was increasing my Speed stat after getting Advancement Points (Adventure Points? whatever) for running through a door, and imagining my guy speeding up as he ran his 540 lb dwarf ass through a dungeon.


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: rafial on June 26, 2007, 11:32:52 AM
Combat is slow (argue if you like, but I won't agree)

I totally agree.  Rolling big handfuls of dice, while satisfying, results in a long adding up process that is tedious even for hardened Champions grognards such as myself.

Quote
Anyway, I got it this time, and even though we were intentionally over the top, it worked well

I posted my AP to the Trollhalla fan list, and there was general agreement that our grasp of correct T&T play style was spot on, right down to the character names.

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I think my favorite part was increasing my Speed stat after getting Advancement Points (Adventure Points? whatever) for running through a door, and imagining my guy speeding up as he ran his 540 lb dwarf ass through a dungeon.

For those following along at home, I use the 7.0 rule that AP are spent directly to raise characteristics.  The official 7.0 rule is that the cost to raise a characteristic is 100 x the new level (i.e. 1600 to go from 15 to 16).  I typically run with a multiplier of x10 instead of x100, so that the cost in this example would instead be 160.  The fact that big crazy stunt rolls immediately feed back to raised stats seems to make players no end of happy :)  And I thank TSOY for teaching it to me!


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: John Harper on June 27, 2007, 08:03:36 PM
I am Moonrazor, wielder of the flaming vorpal Great Shamsheer, lover of leprechauns, haver of crazy punk hairdos, master of Le Parkour.

This game was the fulfillment of the promise of every dungeon adventure game I have ever played, read, or heard of.

I was so tired by Sunday of the con I could barely stand, but I would not have missed this game if I had to play while lying under the table. T&T was everything I wanted it to be, apparently thanks to Wilhelm's sage interpretation of the canon.

I wish we were playing again this Sunday.


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: joepub on July 08, 2007, 07:28:37 PM
I am Rabbitpunk Asterix, wielder of a mini-crowbar, a leather suit and a face mask. My talent was seducing *anything*.

Greatest moment for me: Trying to seduce an octopus out of the fight. I needed a 40 to succeed, and managed to get a 39.

Things I like about the game: rolling buckets of dice. exploding dice. the shopping list had fun and random stuff on it (crowbar and leather and a face mask! There was a full kink ensemble for me!) The talent.

Thing I disliked about the game (or at least our session): Sometimes it's easy for some characters to get shafted. Moonrazor and Glamrock Rainbow (something like that, sorry for forgetting it Daniel) didn't get to act at all while Pigface charged into the next room and then the next room... because what they wanted to do lay back in the first room. There was a push to keep advancing through the dungeon, and that shafted the characters who weren't charging blindly into the next room.

I'd implement this house rule, personally: if you want to do something and the GM declares the saving throw as a Challenge 1, you can always introduce new elements to increase the Challenge Rating. If I say "I want to seduce the goblin", and you declare it a Challenge 1, then I should be able to say "Oh, but it's recovering from a recent break-up and thus not ready to get entangled in something new, so that increases the Challenge Rating to 2".

I partially suggest this based on how experience works and also because it's lame to know you've totally got something in the bag because it's a low difficulty challenge - tension is fun when rolling buckets of dice!


Title: Re: [Tunnels & Trolls] Vaults of the Skolari
Post by: rafial on July 08, 2007, 11:36:56 PM
Moonrazor and Glamrock Rainbow (something like that, sorry for forgetting it Daniel) didn't get to act at all while Pigface charged into the next room and then the next room...

I think that I can take the rap for that as GM...  I should have tried to keep the action flowing around the table a little more than I did.  I think any game with a large number of players can fall victim to this if the GM isn't vigilant.

Quote
I'd implement this house rule, personally: if you want to do something and the GM declares the saving throw as a Challenge 1, you can always introduce new elements to increase the Challenge Rating. If I say "I want to seduce the goblin", and you declare it a Challenge 1, then I should be able to say "Oh, but it's recovering from a recent break-up and thus not ready to get entangled in something new, so that increases the Challenge Rating to 2".

This deserves some thought, because in my experience, players are always willing to inflict far more grief on themselves than a GM ever will.  I think you'd have to couple it with something where if the player bids up the SR level, then GM gets to attached bigger consequences of failure.  Hmmm, I may just give this a whirl in the future.