Tunnels & Trolls: Japanese, French and US edition, along with the online Phone app.
With so much going on in the T&T universe, we thought it might be good to take an overview from a “global” perspective and see how the games resurgence has begun to manifest itself around the world. This probably doesn’t cover every point of history or development, but it should give you good snapshot of some of the main events in T&T’s “globalization.”
Back in the 1980’s Tunnels & Trolls reached Great Britain with a UK edition published by Chris Harvey Games. From there, Corgi books obtained the rights, and published T&T in English, Italian and Spanish. These editions where entirely illustrated by Josh Kirby, a well-known European illustrator. Other companies also published T&T in German and Finnish. T&T was also released in Japanese before D&D was.
Flash forward thirty years and a new era of globalization for Tunnels & Trolls was rekindled when French translator Patrice Geille (Bison Ailé) developed and published a French Edition of T&T in 2011. That edition included new material by Ken St Andre and new art by Liz Danforth, along with classic art from the 5th edition T&T rulebook. Steve Crompton was hired to layout that book and create additional art and graphics. This made the French T&T more up to date than the latest version of the rules published in the US at the time.
The more up-to-date look of the French edition, lead to the development of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls in the US in 2012. (See postings on this site for in-depth information) The great success of the dT&T Kickstarter brought a lot of renewed attention to Tunnels and Trolls, with many old school players (even those who’d never played the game) taking a second look at the “world’s second oldest rpg,” and many of those who noticed dT&T were not living in America.
During the process of shipping the finished rules, Flying Buffalo’s publisher Rick Loomis discovered that about ¼ of the backers where in fact living outside the US, mostly in Europe, though there were also some in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and even South America. Once dT&T was released in the US in 2015, the fan and reviewer response was overwhelmingly favorable, which of course brought more notice to the game.
In Poland one of the Kickstarter backers who had received the reprinted version of the 1st edition T&T rules, got permission to publish that in his native language, so there is now a Polish version of T&T.
The renewed interest in T&T was also recognized by computer gaming maven David Reid, who had played T&T as a teenager and had loved the solo adventures. In the intervening years, David had risen to the upper tiers of the computer gaming industry in NCSoft, Microsoft Xbox and Trion Worlds. He saw a particular digital niche and huge potential for Tunnels & Trolls. In 2016, his company MetaArcade began development of a Tunnels and Trolls app, made for smart phones and notebooks. MetaArcade already has a working prototype of Naked Doom that they are letting players “test drive.” In fact, at GenCon and PAX, upwards of 1000 people actually got to play the demo. When the T&T app becomes available to the general public, it too will have a global reach and will no doubt be available outside the US.
Gencon 2016: Rick Loomis sells the physical games while MetaArcade demos the phone app. T&T creator Ken St Andre basks in the spotlight, as people enjoy his game.
Japan also came calling in 2016. Group SNE a game company run by Mr. Yashita, wanted to take the new Deluxe T&T rulebook and translate that into Japanese. Originally they had planned to just use a couple of logos and a map or two, but as part of an effort to create better brand identity, Flying Buffalo self-titled “global brand manager” Steve Crompton worked with the translator in Japan to get them all the art from the rulebook, along with the graphics, backgrounds and maps. This allowed the Japanese to create a book that truly is a literal and visual translation of the deluxe rules. It premiered at Jgc2016 on September 2nd. They sold out all that they had brought. The response was so positive, that they have increased the print run to meet the increased demand for the the game. In a future blog post, we’ll take a look at the Japanese game and how it may influence the US edition when it is reprinted.
Japanese premiere: All 99 copies sold out in just 2 hours.
What’s next? The French edition has published numerous solos and adventures since 2011, In the US Flying Buffalo has also released a fair number of new (and updated) solo adventures and have a bestiary and several GM adventures in the works. Ken St Andre continues to publish his own mini-adventures and fiction under the Trollhalla banner. David Reid at MetaArcade is working to get the phone app fully polished and has engaged the services of the Fellowship to create new material for that project, while Group SNE is about to officially launch their version of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls in Japan and translate some of the existing US solos for use there as well.
So from a global standpoint, there is no better time than now to be a T&T player! Let us know your thoughts about T&T world-wide and when you reply, please let us know what country you’re from.