Tunnels & Trolls: Going Global

Earth from space TTblog

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.

gencon2016 a

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 Deluxe Sales Table blog

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.






Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News | 14 Comments

Post navigation

14 thoughts on “Tunnels & Trolls: Going Global

  1. Great to see the resurgence of interest in T&T. Here in the UK I’ve noticed lots of interest, boosted by the recent episode of the Grognard Files podcast, but unfortunately a familiar complaint: the game is out of stock.

    Perhaps retailers were wary of investing too heavily in an old RPG, but what stocks there were vanished months ago. Hopefully the situation will change soon, as right now it feels as though sales and momentum are being lost. There’s PDF, of course, but maybe one thing about old gamers is a tendency to prefer the heft of a book at the table.

  2. SSCrompton

    Thanks Jack – Retail distribution is a constant battle and distributors are ordering T&T in limited quantities. Many still see our game as that old rpg from 25 years ago and have no idea that the rulebook has been completely updated since 2014.

    We do what we can, but the best thing is word of mouth and requests to your local stores to carry the game. If you really want to help, run a demo of T&T at your store or a local convention. Tell the store owners that T&T is one of the easiest to learn for new players. Review our products on Drive-thru and Amazon. And be sure to share our news on facebook and your rpg forums. Any help is always appreciated!

  3. I recently showed my author copy of the French edition of “Dark Temple” to some francophone friends. It was interesting giving that book a thorough read-through, after so many years, to answer Patrice’s questions.

    If anyone out there has the English version, get in touch and I’ll send you my latest errata file.

  4. SSCrompton

    Be sure to sent ME that info so I can archive if for when we reprint that in English. Send it again if you already sent it before. It never hurts to have a backup copy. Also Stefan, are you in the US or elsewhere? Thanks Steve C.

  5. Hello, the Fellowship of the Troll! We are really proud of being accepted as a member of the T&T team.

    To tell the truth, publishing the Japanese version of “Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls” was hard work for us. We could not have made it without the continuous help from you.
    We made Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Japanese in a box style, containing three books (volume1: the core rulebook, volume2: Elaborations, volume3: Trollworld and adventures), a large color map, a gamemaster screen, 30 troll dice and an original calculator within it.
    We pre-sold 99 copies the 5th September, and they were sold out almost immediately.
    We, Group SNE, translated at the 5th and the 7th version of Tunnels & Trolls, and both earned great popularity.
    Still, it was a surprise for us to know that so many Japanese fans have been waiting for Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls being translated.

    We want to keep working on this game with you and the Fellowship over the world.May Tunnels Trolls be loved by more and more people. Thank you!

  6. SSCrompton

    Hello Michiko! It is really great to see your post here – thank you for being great to work with and for your efforts on T&T. Its wonderful to know that T&T is still remembered in Japan! I hope we’ll be doing more work together in the near future!

  7. Great blog post, Steve! And glad to see comments from Big Jack and Stefan — and especially from Michiko!

    I have had a wonderful time working on the solitaire adventure in your Group SNE magazine also, and still plan to write a blog post about it (when I can make the time!). You and your colleagues have been a delight to work with.

  8. The reason why Tunnels & Trolls has constantly been developing and thriving – with ups and downs – since 1975, both domestically and on a global scale, is because it has so many great assets.
    Firstly, the game itself is easy to learn, easy to play, and easy to develop, it’s fun and tongue-in-cheek, and it focuses on the role-play. Secondly, it can be played either with a group of players or with a solitaire adventure – and most of us do both. Thirdly, the wonderful core team of T&T (Ken St. Andre, Liz Danforth, Rick Loomis, Steve Crompton, and Bear Peters) is still actively developing the game while the community of T&T players/co-creators is growing and very active.
    I am very proud of being part of that community, and working with Ken, Liz, Rick, Steve, and Bear was – and still is – an exhilarating experience for a long-time T&T fan like me. We were all thrilled to see the new French edition of Tunnels & Trolls after Fiery Dragon’s 7/7.5 E. It showed us that improving the game was still possible. It brought the Fellowship together once again. It paved the way for a Deluxe edition that would include a whole section about the much awaited Trollworld we had seen glimpses of in the impressive range of T&T adventures, in the T&T fictions, in the T&T computer game, etc.
    T&T is back in Japan too. It was one of the first role-playing games to be published in Germany, where the recent developments have raised much interest for the game. And T&T is still around in Italy.
    Are Flying Buffalo Inc. a big RPG company? In a sense, yes, very much so, but certainly not financially. So, Rick, Ken, Liz, Steve, and Bear, did it because they are just incredibly talented – not because they had huge marketing muscles – and also because they have such an incredible gaming community to support T&T.
    So, one thing is for sure, me and my friends in France/Belgium/Luxemburg/Switzerland will continue to expand the T&T product range in French because we want to share our love for Tunnels & Trolls and we believe it’s a game that can still appeal to today’s gamers. To do that, we will continue to work with our international network of talented writers, designers, and illustrators – who all play Tunnels & Trolls by the way.

    • Thanks Patrice its great to hear from our European representative who is fighting the good fight to supply T&T in French! There is no doubt that without you I don;t know if there would even be dT&T in the US and Japan. Thank you for all you have to to help keep the game alive!

  9. allynh

    Just a comment.

    I spotted the globe of Troll World on page 227 of the Deluxe T&T manual, and it blew me away. I’d seen the maps, but never put them in perspective as continents on a world.

    In the Long Ago, and the Far Away, I would make paper dodecahedron globes of the Earth. I need to revisit those skills and start making globes again.

    Thanks for updating T&T.

    • Allynh, many decades ago, Bear gave me a red handball that had lost its bounce in order that he and I could get a sense of what the globe of the world we merely called “the T&T world” would look like “in the round.” Rhhalph (as we called it back then) was drawn in first. I think we “knew” there was a unicorn-shaped continent somewhere, hearkening back to our collective days playing the Amber game (http://www.lizdanforth.com/2011/03/city-of-terrors/) and I think we put in the eagle-shaped continent just because. And that was what our group played with while Ken was off having a library career and a family.

      Ken’s own Trollworld is much bigger and more elaborate, and he has assured us all that there are continents yet unknown. But somewhere in Bear’s house (I believe), there’s a red handball that was the planet-surrogate globe of the T&T world we knew back in the old days.

      • allynh

        Yikes! I should have said icosahedron rather than dodecahedron but both are great to build globes. I started looking online for designs and spotted these.

        Looking at Google Images “surface of the earth icosahedron globe” makes me want to start building globes again.

        I drew my globe Earth by hand (three inch triangles on edge, makes a six inch globe), then used a copier to make prints to hand color. The fused toner worked perfect as the out lines (stable, no running lines). I used a wash of Elmer’s glue to attach the sheet to poster board. Then just did washes of color using regular water colors. Then put a spray coat of clear lacquer to seal the surface. Then I cut the triangles out and reassembled the globe with paper hinges on the back surface so that they would fold together clean. Then ran a bead of Elmer’s glue along each edge to seal it. Built a stand using half a quilting hoop I cut up, attached to a board, and I had globe.

        They still look good and are stable after 30 years. Glad that I used Elmer’s glue rather than rubber cement. Good craft tip. Thanks…

      • Yep, here’s a photo of the first Trollworld ball ever, by Bear Peters 🙂

  10. SSCrompton

    Flying Buffalo have just signed a deal with a publisher in Spain that wants to publish dT&T in that language! This is great news and could really get T&T into places it hasn’t been in a looong time. The Spanish -speaking market is huge world wide and there’s a lot of potential to make yet another new generation of fans!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: