Sunday, December 1, 2013

Deluxe T&T Update 43 is out...and it actually worried me a bit

If you're a backer you can go read Update 43 on the Kickstarter page (or in your email) and see what Liz has to say about the ongoing development of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls. It's a bit past due (originally slated for August iirc) and as most KS's are wont to do it is going past the original deadline.

The update Liz Danforth provided is interesting...perhaps too interesting for comfort. I admit to being a 90% purist when it comes to T&T. The 5th edition of the game was pretty much the gold standard for me, not only for what defined T&T but also for what defined a reasonably robust yet mechanically simple system. I have only ever had two issues with T&T:

I've always had an optional set of rules for slightly more nuanced combat, which were generally little more than a few tricks and options to spruce up the standard combat systems. In T&T combat is either a group vs. group comparison of "hit point totals" or you try a snazzy maneuver, make a save, and either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences; my rules additions mainly served to enhance these options, though on occasion I worked out a more blow-by-blow style of combat as well.

The second thing I always wanted T&T to have was skills. A skill system for the game was actually presented in Sorcerer's Apprentice Magazine, as well as used for the modern sister game Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes. That system saw its way into the anniversary edition of T&T (edition 5.5) and then T&T 7 and 7.5 arrived with the talent system, which worked quite well.

Beyond that.....the core of T&T, a game about humans, elves, dwarves, fairies, leprechauns, halflings (hobbs), and other kindred taking on the classes of fighters, rogues, wizards and warrior-wizards (or paragons if you will) and delving deep into the dungeons of the world was pretty much the defining point of the game for me, conceptually. Also, silly spell names. Those don't usually make much sense if you're trying for serious fantasy, but they do a fantastic job of reminding you not to take fantasy too seriously, if you know what I mean.

Mechanically, T&T is about the save mechanic, leveling up by stats, hit point totals, adds, and thinking creatively to stay alive; also, being able to roll up a replacement character in less than five minutes.

So if the Deluxe T&T edition manages this, it will have succeeded for me. That means that I would please hope that the new edition does not make the following mistakes, and based on Liza's update it sounds like the game won't, but not for lack of consideration:

1. No racial classes. No overthinking what the game is about; a handful of core classes and a bunch of racial options have worked fantastically well for forty years now, we don't need to start going all Marc Miller on the subject of nonhumans and their perceived alien-ness. Even Tolkien's elves and hobbits were definable in terms of a few classes.

2. Keep the classes, please! Removing classes fundamentally changes the style and feel of the game. If I want classless systems I have Runequest 6 and GURPS 4E for that, among others. If I want to play a crazed hobb warrior delving with his leprechaun wizard buddy, I've got T&T for that, thank goodness.

Thankfully it looks like Liz is of this mindset in her update, indicating that classless was trashed, and the idea of race-as-class was also dispensed with. The game's core sounds humanocentric, from what I am reading, but I also feel this seems like a needless distinction; humans have always been "core" as a conceit but the rules themselves presented plenty of kindred options without much fuss.

I love T&T, but I love T&T when it's managing to be somehow larger than its rules would suggest it is....and the writing style of the 5th edition ruleset is archetypal for how to write a game system that is inherently simple yet enormously dynamic. I hope Liz makes Deluxe T&T just as great.


  1. I always loved the art of Liz Danforth. I'm curious about your optional combat rules.

  2. I published some alternative combat mechanics here on the blog:

    I also have a variety of rules options including pretty much all of my alternate/enhancement rules options designed for core T&T in The Troll's Companion, here: