I don’t get Tunnels&Trolls.

I tried my hand with Tunnels&Trolls again tonight. I even used the pretty good 2-dice combat rules to minimize the oodles of dice rolled, and (even more important to me) to minimize math, even if it’s only addition and subtraction.

What can I say? I lost. I lost against the rules. Again. I can’t tell how often, how many years I’ve been trying to get T&T. But each time, after adding and subtracting high two-digit numbers, only to find out the difference between two rolls (=damage) is stopped by armor, I just lose interest.
As a SOLO game, a combat between a Dwarven Warrior wearing leather armor and using a sword against two ogres took me 5 minutes, and at that point in time, both sides had lost a total of only 22 of 80 constitution points (hp). A quarter hp gone within 5 minutes, with possibly 15 more minutes to go. So I stopped. Again.

See, the problem is not that I don’t like T&T. I want to like it. It’s the second rpg I ever bought, in the early 80s. And yet, it didn’t click with me.

I know, playing it in a group is different. All players (if their characters work together in combat) roll their dice together, and add their “adds” (bonuses), and the referee does the same for the baddies. Then, same die results on both sides cancel each other out, and the rest is added together. It’s the process of chucking lots of dice and eliminating them that’s fun. I get it.

And I also know that, when playing T&T in a group, Saving Rolls (stunt rolls) are used often, to do other things than just straightforward attacking the monsters.

And the idea of the Monster Rating as the single defining value of a monster that determines its combat effectiveness and when it activates its special powers – that’s brilliant. I get it.

But the system still sucks.

And always, after coming to that conclusion, my next thought is, “Risus could do it so much better and quicker”, and I find myself converting the Combat Adds and Weapon Dice to Risus Clichés. This works, of course. And it’s lightning fast because I use an alternative rule (Evens Up) so I don’t have to use math in the game.

But that’s not Tunnels&Trolls. So could it be that I want to like the idea of that game, but not its rules? If it is so, and it’s quite possible it is, what is left? Just the idea of dice pools rolled against each other. And a memory of the 80s, tinted in nostalgia, when we were sitting around the table in my room, rolling handfuls of six-sided dice.

Hm. Maybe it’s time to let that game go. A weird feeling, this. It’s like saying farewell to a friend I always liked having around, but never really talked to.

2 thoughts on “I don’t get Tunnels&Trolls.

  1. I’m in love with 1st Edition’s aesthetic and attitude. I’ve played it and had fun; but I could never help thinking there was a great minimalist system inside just waiting to get out. Maybe cannibalize that sucker…

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    1. James, I have to admit, I bought the 1st edition a longer time ago on Drivethru, but I have never read it… and with T&T, I’m totally clueless how to go about FKRing it AND keeping the feel. Really weird.

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