game design

The Fellowship reunites! But why?…

The old gang plays dT&T as a group! Plus, who is the mystery guest?

The old gang plays dT&T as a group! Plus, who is the mystery guest?

Last week I had the pleasure of host an extremely rare gaming event, where  Ken St Andre, Liz Danforth, Rick Loomis, Bear Peters and myself (Steve Crompton) played a T&T adventure together as a group.  Though we’ve all played T&T together in part at one time or another, this is probably the first time that all 5 of us have played at the same time in the same game.  Liz, Bear and Ken probably hadn’t played together in 30 years.  We all had a great time, and Ken ran a terrific and exciting adventure as the rest of us tried to get down from the top of the castle to the basement to try to close a portal that was allowing Drats (half-dragon/half rats) to swarm into the castle and wreck havoc.  I shall never forget it!  Great fun for all.  The event was even filmed, so maybe one day we’ll get to see that footage.

But the big question is WHY we were all gathered? What is the Fellowship of the Troll up to now?  We really can’t tell you anything at the moment as its all hush-hush. BUT in the picture above you’ll see that one of the other players  in our game has been blurred out of the picture. We can’t reveal his identity – yet. But some time in the future (perhaps soon) all will be revealed. Something cool is about to happen, but for now you’ll just have to guess and wait.

Also during the rare Fellowship gathering, four of us decided to take a visit to the old Flying Buffalo game store, which is now called the Game Depot.  Dave Petit  was the manager of the Flying Buffalo Game store, and now he owns the Game Depot.  We bought a game, said hi to the folks there and dropped off a couple of dT&T rulebooks; then we headed back to my place to play some more.

Ken, Bear, Liz and Steve go to the Game Depot for a visit.

Ken, Bear, Liz and Steve go to the Game Depot for a visit.

IN OTHER NEWS:  If you haven’t been getting or reading the dT&T Kickstarter Updates,  I wanted to be sure to add that as far as Flying Buffalo is concerned all the Kickstarter books and items have long since been shipped.  If you still don’t have yours, you need to contact Flying Buffalo and let them know.  A few items did come back as non-deliverable and we’ve tried to contact those people with no luck.  So if you are one of those few remaining Kickstarter backers, let us know.

OK that’s it for now – let the speculations begin!  What’s YOUR guess as to what secret project is the Fellowship of the Troll up to?  Let us know below…

 

 

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, game design | 7 Comments

MAJOR DT&T ACHIEVEMENT!

The Long trek nears its end as the Fellowship gets to Mt Doom and drops the ring into the fires.

The Long trek nears its end as the Fellowship gets to Mt Doom and drops the ring into the fires.

By the Fellowship of the Troll

Today we can officially announce that the finished text for the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls book is complete! This is a MAJOR milestone in the process. Everything Liz needed to write, revise, edit, and game-develop has been turned over to Steve for final layout. This includes the Core Rules, the Magic Section, the Trollworld section, the GM adventure and the Solo adventure — parts you’ve seen before now. The last bits completed were the Elaborations (which includes the many other non-human kindreds as player characters) and Liz’s city of Knor.

It looks like the book is going to be over 300 pages! You’ll definitely be getting your money’s worth.

“But when will it be out!?!” Of course that’s the question you want answered most!

Continuity checks and final proofing still need to be done. Liz is finishing up the cover painting and the last of the interior illustrations that were commissioned. Steve has been an ironman working on the layout and graphics. We hope to go to press by the end of February and start shipping the books by the end of March! Is that a guarantee? NO, but we are in the final stages of getting this book out to the world. If this were the Lord of the Rings movie, where we’re at right now would be the equivalent of having dropped the ring into Mt Doom.  All that’s left is getting rid of the orcs and returning to the Shire in one piece. (At least that is how THIS Fellowship sees it).

What Liz did was in many ways similar to her work on the vaunted fifth edition, but on a much bigger scale. As editor and game developer, she has had a fairly thankless task. If she does a great job, no one will know (as is the case with any editor of a book). Yet anything people don’t like about the game will probably get laid at her door.Ken has been incredibly supportive of the team throughout this long process, perhaps the most patient person of all. He wrote and turned in the draft rules, participated in discussions, and then had to wait (and wait) while everything was further analyzed, revised, poked and prodded by a gang of fans, friends, and pros alike. In the end, we believe the game still holds true to his vision for Deluxe T&T, raised to a high polish both in the written content and visually. It should become the summit of the T&T rules pantheon.

Stay with us just a little longer.

— The Fellowship of the Troll

“From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth… Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side… Darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time… The stars wheeled overhead, and every day was as long as a life age of the earth… But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is done.”

“My task is still not yet done, but its ending beckons to me from the horizon…”     Gandalf –  Lord of the Rings  

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design, Trollworld | 5 Comments

NEW – Special Talents for Character Types

Rogues, Wizards and Warriors have special talents in the new dT&T rules.

Rogues, Wizards and Warriors have special talents in the new dT&T rules.

This month, we are going to delve into some of the changes and adjustments that have been made to dT&T in regards to talents and character classes. This is new information that is not in the Beta test edition and was based on feedback and suggestions by playtesters and the Fellowship.

TO OUR PLAYTESTERS: A tweak is being made to how character types start, and by extension, to certain talents. These talents are in addition to all the talents and talent-based rules already established. These special qualities are for the benefit of their particular character classes, and the roles the character types fulfill in the world at large.

The biggest change is that warriors no longer get the weapon and armor bonuses as part of their type-template, but will still be able to take one or the other benefit automatically. Because all characters also get one “normal” talent at level one, a warrior may choose to take the other benefit as his or her L1 talent — and therefore, warriors CAN begin exactly where they started before this rule change. They just won’t get a “colorful” personality talent from the main list if they do…. they’ll have to get those later, paid for with APs or advancements in level.

Rogues, who had no special qualities in the Origins beta, now have an extensive selection of free-if-you-don’t-fumble qualities, and can select abilities that mirror warrior and wizard qualities (with limitations). Their unique options are particularly suited to the underlying concepts of being a rogue in T&T.

Professional Abilities

Every character type receives ONE special talent or ability at the time they are rolled up, available only to members of that type of character — a “Special Studies” ability, which could also be called “Professional Secrets.” This initial “professional talent” costs nothing in AP and is in addition to other talents a player selects. It requires no saving rolls, is always successful, and can be invoked at any time, up to once per combat round.

Thereafter, as the character progresses, they may choose to take another course in “special studies” instead of a talent from the regular talent lists, at the same AP cost as any other talent. However, the professional talents will never require a saving roll, will always be successful, and can be invoked at any time, up to once per combat round. A character’s free first-level “normal” talent can come from this list of professional talents (with the benefit of being a special talent) or from the general talent list (which must be handled with saving rolls and all the other mechanics of talents).

If some of this is confusing, remember that newly-created first-level characters get talents this way:

ONE “normal talent” automatically for being first level.
and now, ONE professional “special studies” talent, limited by their character type.
They can select a SECOND professional “special studies” talent instead of their “normal talent”.

Thereafter, as characters level up, they can acquire up to two talents per level —
ONE “normal talent” for going up a level
The option of ONE additional “normal talent” which has to be purchased with AP (using the basic talent rules).
At any time, they can select another professional “special studies” talent instead of taking a “normal talent.”

A warrior’s “Special Studies” options:
Weapon Proficiency: This is the same as the Weapon Bonus a warrior got previously.
Armor Skill: This is the same as the Armor Bonus a warrior got previously.

A wizard’s “Special Studies” options:
Adept: Wizards can choose one school of magic (any one of the ten schools of magic), and thereafter any spell from that school of magic costs -3 WIZ points to cast. Magicians can take studies in the SAME school of magic up to three times (paid for as a talent), allowing them an additional reduction of casting cost thus: -3 the first time a given school is taken, -5 the second time that same school is taken, and -10 the third time that school is taken. As always, no spell can be cast for less than 1 WIZ.

A rogue’s “Special Studies” options:
Magical Studies: Like a wizard’s Adept ability, the rogue can choose one school of magic, and thereafter spells from that school cost -3 WIZ points to cast. However, rogues can only take a maximum of TWO schools of magic (total, including another taken later, after gaining “life experience” in the form of level increases, or spending AP), and may NOT take the same school of magic more than once. (If they were more studious, they would have been mages to begin with.)

Deadliness: a rogue is able to take a warrior’s Weapon Proficiency in one of these categories of weapon, and all weapons in the chosen category can get the Weapon Proficiency bonus. No proficiency bonus is available for a weapon over 4d6.
daggers
bows (up to 4d6)
unclassified hand-to-hand weapons
unusual projectile and thrown weapons (up to 4d6)
Stealth and Subterfuge: a rogue can take any one of these talents as a professional secret, with the added advantages of no saving rolls, always successful, and can be invoked at any time, up to once per combat round.
Physically agile:
acrobat
dodge
evasion
Manually dexterous:
sleight of hand
lock picking
pickpocket
Potion mastery:
alchemist
poisons
Cleverness (IQ skill checks succeed automatically except for fumble roll, up to 3 levels above the character’s level)
Charming (CHR skill checks succeed automatically except for fumble roll, up to 3 levels above the character’s level)

Sample Spells

In other news: Sometime in the next 30 days (probably less) we will be releasing the magic system and spellbook for dT&T as a PDF to those of you who have pledged on the dT&T Kickstarter or are on our playtester list. We are pulling all the stops to get the rules finished up and are in the last laps of the editing process. We are very sorry it has taken so long, but hang on just a bit longer – dT&T is coming!

Meanwhile take a look at this new rules info and let us know what you think.

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design | 26 Comments

THE HUMAN ADVANTAGE

by Liz Danforth

One of the more controversial rule-changes appearing the beta edition, leading to lengthy discussions in Trollhalla, is about the human advantage — the ability of a pure-blooded human to get a do-over on an missed saving roll.

This is a brand new rule, never seen before, and as such it should get extra scrutiny. But I think a few words and pictures might illuminate how I came to this choice. (I’ve grown fond of the “quick sketch to encapsulate ideas” so don’t expect tight finished drawings. The purpose is idea, not fine art.)

THE MISSING CONTEXT
Let’s start with something NOT apparent from the beta rules. This was then:

That Was Then

 

And this is now, a big part of what I’ve been thinking about at as I work on the rules:

 

How the relative power of the kindreds seems to be changing.

How the relative power of the kindreds seems to be changing.

Overall, Ken’s draft manuscript has made the playable illkin bigger, badder, stronger, smarter, better, faster, taller, wider, regenerative, numerous, quicker, naturally armored, elusive, poisonous to be around, and overwhelmingly rolled up as mid-to-high level characters. Orcs (uruk) used to be x1 all attributes, for example but, as written right now, they start out overpowered right from the get-go. Other monstrous kindreds were worse. (Just look at the rock troll character in the Free RPG Day book. Completely OP for a brand new character, particularly when you compare it to the other sample characters.)

A WORLD OF MONSTERS
I’m crunching numbers on the monstrous kindreds, trying to find ways to make them wonderful and playable and monstrous and fun without breaking the game.

But in addition, I am the champion of the human spirit, the way Ken champions monsterdom. Whether in literature or in games, humankind holds their own even amidst a universe of older, wiser, smarter, tougher, more magical, more deadly races. Why? WHY? This makes absolutely no sense.

I am not interested in just paying lip service to our species. We might as well all switch over to playing M!M! Don’t get me wrong — M!M! is a fine, fun-as-hell game, but but it isn’t T&T. One of my key jobs with the game’s development is to keep the game recognizably T&T.  Monsters! Monsters! is a different game.

Humans:  the other Red Meat

Humans: the other Red Meat

WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS
I spent about 10 days mulling over ideas for mechanics to support humankind. Some things I came up with were just plain clumsy. Some were weak. I absolutely wanted something T&T-deadKISS-simple, and yet powerful enough to make a human worth playing at all.

I tossed suggestions back and forth with Bear and ran things past Ken. Ken reminded me that he had a rule implemented at some time about humans getting heirlooms, hand-me-downs from their elders, and that would be their advantage. I felt this was, at best, weak. Look, there are half a dozen ways in use to get old weapons and armor, and the “legacy” weapons already fit more than one option there already.

THERE HAD TO BE SOMETHING BETTER
Saving rolls are a key mechanic in T&T. Tweaking a human’s ability to live or die on a saving roll is powerful as hell, yes. It’s also pervasive… it lasts the entire life of the character, not just making them OP at the time they’re rolled up.

But it is also self-limiting. Getting two bites at the apple doesn’t change the statistical odds of making or missing the saving roll... it simply gives you a second opportunity. You can fail just as badly as ever.

2ndBite at Apple

 

Moreover, it never takes place “off camera.” No 3-attribute specialist “But it really rolled up that way! I was so lucky!”

I also believe that a game shouldn’t be all about SRs… it should be thinking and RPing and not an unending clatter of random die-rolls and forced chaos. (Ken favors more chaos than I do.) Saving rolls should be used for turning points, and for the hand of fate to step into the mix now and again.

And that is exactly why I think the mechanic is so appropriate to benefit humans who have absolutely nothing else going for them. Something has enabled humankind to thrive on Trollworld. It’s sure not evident in our prime attributes, our backstories (which are infinitely varied, and every kindred can have those anyway), or in our weapons or armor or ability to acquire provisions, or boondoggle our way past foes.

The SR mechanic provides that advantage, the potentially more-generous hand of fate that can still slap you down, still make you pay full price for failure. It’s a reflection of the human will, the spirit that drives us further than reason dictates, and sometimes we over-reach ourselves to our doom. But it’s not an I-WIN button.

I-WIN-brokenW

IMPROVING ON THE IDEA
I’ve heard two suggestions made about how to fix the mechanic (aside from simply throwing it out — which is always your option).

(1) Make the do-over apply only to Luck saving rolls. I strongly disagree with this idea, myself, because you’re only compounding chaos and saying nothing about what it means to be human. Reaching down to the marrow of your bones to lift the car off your kid (a STR saving roll), the dying warrior staggering forward with twenty arrows in his chest to strangle the bowmen shooting him (CON saving roll), or the child gnawing her lower lip determined to parse the confusing language on a Magic card (IQ saving roll) … we are not all about luck. That isn’t the only aspect that should be in play, I feel.

(2) Make a fumbled roll of 3 on a first saving roll a failure, period, with no do-over. I’m okay with that, actually. Nothing Fate loves more than rubbing our noses in our overweening expectations. So, just when you get cocky enough to think you’ve got the situation sewed up? BAMMO, you fail and fail hard. The only downside I see to this is a slight complication to the KISS principle, but it’s not severe. I’d go along with making this the final rule — that’s what playtesting and feedback are intended for, after all.

THE BOTTOM LINE
For those who think a second SR for humans is just too powerful, there are two observations I’d make. One: perhaps you’re relying on SRs too much. Two: as is always true with T&T, nothing inhibits you from tossing the rule entirely, even with the core rules.

You asked the team to make the best game we could, and I believe something is badly needed here, some reason for any human to be a desirable PC. This is a sleek, elegant, simple rule, a piece of background and story-augmentation that lets humans continue to compete with and against the other kindred in the crazy mixed-up world of T&T.

(Be sure to add your comments below…)

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, game design, Trollhalla.com | 53 Comments

BETA PLAYTEST EDITION of dT&T RELEASED!

Beta rules

At Origins in Ohio we officially released the Beta Playtest version of the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rules. The 105 page dT&T Beta Core rules release includes; character creation, character types, playable kindreds, equipping your character, weapons, armor, saving rolls, basic talents, combat and the intro to Trollworld.  We have also included the Free RPG day dT&T mini-rules.  However it is not a complete set of the rules.  Magic is not in here for example.  Nor are the elaborations (extra cool and weird things you can do with T&T.)   Also we are not including the Trollworld section or the gm and solo adventure (although all those are done) Mostly because those sections do not need to be “playtested” in the same way the actual rules do.

If you are a Kickstarter pledger, you should have already received a FREE downloadable pdf copy of the Beta rules.  We also printed a limited number of the betas, which are being sold at Origins and Gencon.

As some of you know, we had our share of doubters who thought we might have abandoned working on dT&T and all gone on a cruise down the Danube River using the Kickstarter funds.  Fortunately for us – the vast majority of you knew better.  We have in fact been working our asses off getting as much done as we can.

So what else have we done since the Kickstarter ended?

We did updated versions of Deathtrap Equalizer, City of Terrors, Dungeon of the Bear and Buffalo Castle.  Then there’s the world map, the coins, the GM screen, Adventurer’s Compendium, Saving Fang solo, the Free RPG Booklet and the reprint of the 1st edition T&T Rules.  Plus t-shirts, a postcard, bookmark, pencils, dice, and blog updates… And then on top of all that, we’ve been working on the rules, which we couldn’t really show you until now.

We hope you’ve liked all the stuff that has come out and we are sorry we aren’t done yet.  There is still a fair chunk to go on the rules.  They’ll be corrections and tweaks as we get feedback from the playtesters and T&T fans.  We still have the Elaborations yet to put together.  But at least you know we are getting close, and you have now seen what we have been up to.

We want to give a very sincere Thank you, thank you, for being there for us and for your patience.  We have really been pushing hard to get deluxe Tunnels & Trolls finished and make it the best version of the rules we can possibly make.  So stay tuned… for the best is yet to come!

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design | 5 Comments

January – Are We Talented, or what?

This month, I thought I just put in a progress report on what the Fellowship has been working on since December, so you know what forward momentum is being made on Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls.

Talents

DELUXE TALENTS: Liz and Bear took Ken’s Talent system, then honed and expanded it to give it more structure.  For those of you who don’t know, Talents in T&T allow players with specialized skills to be able to use them to make difficult tasks a little easier.  Here’s an example:  After you have rolled up all the attributes for your character, decide, perhaps with the help of the GM, what your character’s Talent will be. Let’s say I’ve just made a new character, Zamthor is a Rogue, and I want him to be a thievish sort. Thus I choose Thievery as his main Talent. Whenever Zamthor is in a situation where he must steal something, or know something about how to steal things, he will use this Thievery Talent to determine success or failure.  The quality of the talent supplies a modifier to a given attribute, and the attribute+ modifier is tested with saving rolls under applicable circumstances.

To make this work in a game, you need some kind of system to allow the GM and the player be able to keep track of the Talents and generate numbers for using these talents that are fair and logical.  A few days ago, a playtest version of the Talents section was sent to the Kickstarter pledgers and a select number of T&T fans at Trollhalla.  We are now awaiting feedback from the players to see what they think of the Talents system and to see if they have any suggestions to improve it.

SHIPPING ACE OF ACES: Meanwhile Rick Loomis has been shipping the rewards for his Kickstarter project for Ace of Aces.  If he hasn’t shipped all the Ace of Aces items yet – he soon will be finished. This will clear the way for him to be able to ship the Deluxe T&T rewards when the time comes to start doing that.

FAMOUS GAME DESIGNER CARDS: Rick and Steve (me) also got a new Kickstarter going for the Game Designer Playing Card Deck.  (Which we have done several times in the past)  For more info about that project or to even get a card in the deck for your gaming business or product, go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/994700393/famous-game-designer-playing-cards-2014?ref=users

This is the almost done cover to the Adventurers Compendium.  The gorgeous painting is by Stephan Peregrine who painted this for Circle of Ice back in 1980.

This is the almost done cover to the Adventurers Compendium. The gorgeous painting is by Stephan Peregrine who painted this for Circle of Ice back in 1980.

T&T ADVENTURERS COMPENDIUM: Ken and I have also been very busy with the T&T Adventurers Compendium.  This is one of the dT&T Kickstarter items that were promised.  The book is a collection of almost all the GM & solo adventures that appeared in Sorcerer’s Apprentice (SA).  Most of them were written by Mike Stackpole and Ken St. Andre, but there is also a solo and a GM adventure by Liz Danforth (along with plenty of her art)  The book will also include the solo Circle of Ice, which has been out of print for over 20 years.  Getting this project done meant that I had to scan in all the solos from the seventeen issues of SA, then convert the scans into text files, so that Ken could reorganize it all into one manuscript.  Once that’s all done, I’ll lay it out and include art (both new and old.)  This book is not done yet, so don’t try to order it.  We’ll let you know when it’s ready, probably sometime in the spring.

dT&T ADVENTURERS FOR THE RULEBOOK: We also got the solo adventure put together for the dT&T Rulebook and  Bear and Ken are working on GM adventure that will go in the rules as well.  (More about those in a future blog post!)

So there you have it, that’s been our month.  We’d love to hear what you think or answer any queries you might have about Talents in Deluxe T&T or the new Adventurers Compendium…

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design | 5 Comments

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ART: DANFORTH ART RE-DISCOVERED

Long-Lost and unpublished Citybook illo by Liz Danforth

Long-Lost and unpublished Citybook illo by Liz Danforth

Back in August, I visited Liz in Tucson and together we searched through her art archives, some of which had not been looked at in over a decade.  At the time, we were looking for a map of Knor, a town that Liz had created back in the early days of T&T.  Though we didn’t find the map, we did find some other amazing items from the days that Liz worked as Flying Buffalos art director and lead artist.

The illustration above was one of the main discoveries of that search back in August.  Liz had done this illustration based on the painting that Stephen Perigrine had done for the first Citybook. In fact she credits Stephen next to her signature. And although certain elements are similar to his painting (such as the border and some of the buildings and people in the background, it is still very much its own piece of art and distinctly a Liz Danforth classic.

What makes this piece even more fascinating is that as far as I can tell, it has never appeared in print in the USA.  A small piece of it was used for an ad in Sorcerer’s Apprentice, but the full illustration was never used in any of the Citybooks or elsewhere.  So this will be the first reveal of a truly fabulous view of what one might expect to see in Knor or Khosht.

The artwork was about 17 x 17 inches, so I had to scan it in sections and then carefully put the pieces back together. We’ll probably use it somewhere in the rulebook, so it will finally get to appear in print.  Below is a bit about the next visit to Tucson…

FELLOWSHIP GATHERS at TUS-CON NOV 10th
The Fellowship had a great and productive weekend in Tucson with Liz, Ken, Bear and myself. The highlight for the convention goers was the panel we all did to update the rest of the world on dT&T and give details on what’s done and what’s left to do. We also got to see our Kickstarter trailer up on the big screen (which was kind of cool) Ken ran two highly successful demos and made new T&T converts who came to the table and bought the mini-rules and a few other T&T goodies.

But it was off stage that the REAL progress was made. We worked together to finalize a map for Knor. Originally we had hoped that either Liz or Bear might still have a copy of the original map, but 6 months of searching yielded no results, so it had to be recreated based on the memories of Bear and Liz. I worked with them closely to take the discussions and get them down on paper. In the end we got the basic map created and now I have to create a final inked black and white version. Ken left Knor to Liz, (as she originally created it back in the 1970’s. Knor will have a different flavor, just as Khosht and Khazan do.

It was great to work with Liz face-to-face on this. I work directly with Ken and Bear fairly often, since we live in the same town, but with Liz being 120 miles away, I don’t get much chance for that. It reminded me of when we both worked in the production dept at Flying Buffalo back in the early 1980s! I probably drove her crazy (then and now) , but we had a lot of fun doing various projects together like Citybook, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the solos and GM adventures. Ahh sweet memories…

Anyway We also got a bunch of new art from Liz and some pencils which I will be inking for the new rulebook as well. Trust me, if you like Liz’s art – you’re going to LOVE the Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls rulebook – it’s going to have more art by Liz Danforth in it then any book ever, and it covers the whole range of her career, from the late 1970’s to 2013!

Let us know what you think of this latest art discovery and news…

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design | 7 Comments

Liz Danforth’s insight and update on dT&T Aug 2013

Steve Crompton, Rick Loomis, Ken St Andre, Liz Danforth & Bear Peters give an update on Deluxe T&T at TrollCon 2013.

Steve Crompton, Rick Loomis, Ken St Andre, Liz Danforth & Bear Peters give an update on Deluxe T&T at TrollCon 2013.

A week ago, I went up to Phoenix (well, Scottsdale actually) to attend Trollcon/FBIcon. This is a mini-relaxacon where I could visit with friends and the fans of FBInc and T&T, and to have a confab with the Fellowship to discuss the new edition of the T&T rules. Coincidentally, it let everyone see that I was back on my feet, at least to a degree, after my bout of pneumonia earlier in the summer.

On Sunday, the Fellowship gave a talk about what we had been doing, showed off the products completed so far, and answered questions from the audience. That talk was videotaped, and I understand you’ll see it on YouTube once all the umms and ahhs and dead air pauses have been edited into a watchable package.

Here are the Deluxe T&T products we have release so far; Deluxe mini-rules, Buffalo Castle, Deathtrap Equalizer, City of Terrors, TrollWorld Map,Saving Fang Solo, City of Terrors, Dungeon of the Bear & new Dice.

Here are the Deluxe T&T products we have released so far; Deluxe mini-rules, Buffalo Castle, 1st Edition T&T Reprint, Deathtrap Equalizer, TrollWorld Map,Saving Fang Solo, City of Terrors, Dungeon of the Bear & new dice.

After the convention, I had some people tell me privately that they were glad to hear from me, and I gave them a renewed confidence in the success of the project. Eeek? NO PRESSURE, AMIRITE? But they were right that I am not as visible as some, at least in terms of this project specifically. Being sick dried up even my Twitter and Facebook feeds, and my personal blog (www.lizdanforth.com) covers many topics of which T&T is only one.

I thought it was time to bring readers and fans into my back room, and let them see what I’m up to for Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls. Fans of the game know my artwork, so you know what to expect. What I’m writing here is about the editing and game development of the rules, because that’s a less obvious thing.

WHAT I AM NOT DOING
Let me start by saying that what I am doing with this edition is not what I did bringing out Fifth Edition. That edition, I worked from Ken’s original concepts but rewrote the whole shebang from top to bottom, and massaged the whole thing into a conceptual flow that daisy-chained from one step to the next. Ken answered questions when I had them, and put up with my stupid ideas (like negative charisma that evidently makes sense to no one but me).

“Game developer” wasn’t a term we used back in the day, so I am listed as “editor.” And while “game developer” is the term I am using now, I don’t intend the kind of draconian rewrite I did then. The game has changed over time, and Ken has produced a number of editions with no participation from me. Edition 5.5, 7.0 and 7.5 all have their adherents. (There never was a legitimate 6th edition, no matter what anyone tries to tell you.) Patrice Geille’s French edition had additional tweaks and is a kind of unofficial (but approved and licensed) 8th edition.

Here are some of the various editions of T&T that have been released since 1975.

Here are some of the various editions of T&T that have been released since 1975.

The game morphed until if feels like everyone is playing slightly different games. Personalization of the rules is great, but the Kickstarter gave us the opportunity to put together a full blown, definitive new edition that will set a new standard for T&T, and we hope the majority of fans will be able to use and enjoy playing it for a long time to come.

WHAT I AM WORKING WITH
Ken put his nose to the grindstone and delivered the manuscript in May, just about the time I started feeling ill. Reading through the draft, I had questions for him, and many of them wound up being discussed on Trollhalla. I asked the most motivated people to write me emails, and every one I got was read and put in my files for consideration as I worked.

Trollhallans will argue with anyone about anything — I consider that a sign of a healthy community — but it’s clear that no decision of Ken’s or of mine will please everyone. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it. Even Ken and I don’t always agree on every decision, but we are united in wanting to put together the best possible result.

WHAT I AM DOING
“Best” has many definitions, of course. Over time, as I worked and read and listened and conversed, I came to a few conclusions about the key principles I wanted to guide me.

  1. The game should remain recognizably Tunnels & Trolls. I am against changes so extreme that it is no longer recognizable as the same game. But if even large changes improve on Point 2, I’m glad to have them. Changes that do not improve on Point 2 are on the firing line.
  2. Game mechanics and accessibility are a primary consideration. I’m less involved in the society/ies or worldmaking. Nevertheless, if worldmaking decisions damage simplicity and elegance of mechanics, or raise a barrier to accessibility, I’ll take issue with them.
  3. The “shape” of the book will mirror Fifth Edition. The basic core rules for play remain up front, and the optional/alternative rules material are separated out. The narrowest world-content material comes after that. Concepts will build on prior concepts.

WHAT YOU WILL BE GETTING
I’m still mentally moving things from one section to another but here are some things I can say for sure.

In the front section you will find the basic rules for character creation — humans and a few widely-known non-human types. There are warriors, wizards and rogues, and the rules for playing them. The primary mechanics for combat, talents, and saving rolls are all there, as well as the familiar array of magic and how to wield it. There are weapons and armor to buy, delver’s packs, and more.

More colorful mechanics and optional rules will be next. Ken’s manuscript for Deluxe had many spells not seen in earlier editions, and at the confab, Bear described a model of differing spellbooks. There will be variant systems to create characters, and variations on the classes. Adopt these options if they improve your game, and know that others are working with the same concepts out in the wider world. You will all have common ground, with consistent standards, from which to build up the inevitable house rules.

And in the last section, the rules will feature Trollworld. The specifics of what will go in there are still being hammered out, but one of my fingerposts came from a correspondent’s concern that the game was becoming Tunnels & Trollworld instead of Tunnels & Trolls.

After almost four decades of the original designers telling players to create your own worlds, it is no surprise that you have done so. That may or may not resemble the Trollworld that Ken has created, and it won’t do to force the game’s mechanics and structure to support only Trollworld. To be honest, the world has changed so that I can hardly recognize it as the nameless fantasy world this group played decades ago. And that’s okay – Trollworld is still a lively, interesting creation with enormous potential and variety. Bear’s city of Khosht and my Knor still bear traces of that old world, and you’ll get those in the back section with much more as well.

Map-Khosht-Knor

Ultimately, my intention is to see that Ken’s creation, the Trollworld he has built up and explored in his fiction and for this game, is available to be played for those who want to do so. I do not, however, think that Trollworld’s specific ecology and cultures represent the only way to play T&T, and I am trying to balance the wonderful, but sometimes bizarre vision Ken brings to fantasy role playing with also delivering a game that gives the players room to make it their own without throwing away the core game itself. It makes no sense to me for us to say “Here’s a tight, narrowly-defined world and the rules to go with it, or… you can just go make it all up for yourself.” My aim is to give you a well-constructed skeleton which can be fleshed out like Trollworld or in the image of your own creation without missing a beat. I want the commonly-shared tropes of sword and sorcery fantasy fiction and our earlier games to remain accessible, the things that say “this is a fantasy game I recognize as such” … but with ample room to tweak and personalize, but without having to reinvent the wheel.

If you can’t recognize the final result as Tunnels & Trolls, the fantasy role playing game you fell in love with, the game that over 1600 of you elected to support with your dollars and your Euros and your hopes and dreams, then we will have failed to deliver what we promised. It’s coming a little later than planned – check out my own blog to understand why I’ve not been working as hard as I intended to this summer – but we promised you the best edition of Tunnels & Trolls that the Fellowship could make.

I intend to deliver on that promise, with everything in my ability.

— Liz Danforth

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design, Trollworld | 8 Comments

GM SCREEN IMAGE & A CONTEST!

Steve Crompton emerges from his cave…

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Game Master screen art

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Game Master screen art

Hello all – Yes, its been awhile since I ‘ve posted here, but if it is any consolation that’s because I have been very busy working on various things for dT&T.  For example, did you know that we created a special preview edition of the dT&T rules for Free RPG Day?  Well we did, and it looks great (coming soon to a store near you).  Also I got the production art done for the pencil, the dice, the magnets, and have virtually finished the map. and scanned in piles of artwork for the rulebook.  Plus Buffalo Castle is on its way.

What finally lured me out of my cave and into the light was the completion of the art for the front of the GM screen.  (Yes that’s the image right up there)  In working on the City of the Gods books, I’ve gotten very good at removing images from famous paintings and then placing them in an entirely new setting.  So with the OK of the rest of the Fellowship, I selected various images from some of the classic T&T books and created this (hopefully stunning) image for the GM screen.  We hope you like it.  Please let us know what you think, by posting comments below.

So – just to make things interesting let’s have a CONTEST!
Can you give me the titles of the books I got these images from?  If you are a true hardcore T&T fan, you’ll have these in your collection. There is nothing tricky about this and there are no hidden images or anything like that.  Just figure out which books the various characters appeared in and email me your list.  The prize will be a signed copy of Ken’s novel Rose of Stormgaard.  (If you already have that you can instead pick the Mythic Tales anthology which has a story by Ken and art by me and Liz)  So the first person to email me a list of the book titles wins!  So don’t hesitate.  You can e-mail me at skcrompton@gmail.com  First correct entry wins.  I’ll post the winner’s name and the correct answers right here on the Blog.

By the way, the background image is NOT from any T&T book – BUT if you can also name the title of this painting(or even the artist)  I will include a copy of Mythic Tales with the Rose of Stormgaard novel.  OK Ready.. Set… GO!

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy role-playing games, game design, Trollworld | 17 Comments

New Places in Trollworld

This part of Trollworld is wild and mostly unexplored.  This is where I have located many of the places where your Trollworld and mine intersect.

This part of Trollworld is wild and mostly unexplored. This is where I have located many of the places where your Trollworld and mine intersect.

Part of the deal with the Tunnels and Trolls Kickstarter was that supporters would get to locate their places on the map of Trollworld.    I’ve been in a hurry to get that done, and have pushed my co-workers, especially Steve, to make that happen.  Until now, other things have taken priority.  But, yesterday I got together with Steve Crompton, and compiled all the places that people had asked me (paid for) to put on the map.  We had lunch. We talked about gaming projects and writing projects, and then we went back to Steve’s office, fired up his computer, and filled in all the blank spots on the map.  We added a few things that were not there before.

I thought you might like to see it.  Four new places were added to the continent of Rrr’lff.  They have been highlighted in yellow.  Most of the people naming things were naming islands.  All the islands that you see on this map with names were christened by Panjandrums who bought the right to name an island.

A couple of the islands named above came from supporters’ last names.  I’m sorry, but those people ignored me twice when I asked them which island they wanted, and what to call it.  One person did write back with a really great name, but it was a full day after Steve and I finished the map.  I apologize to the people who paid good money to name an island, and didn’t actually get to do so.  I gave you some of the largest islands that were left unclaimed, and put your name (or most of it in one case).

So . . . . . . take a look at the Backlands, I mean Badlands, of Rrr’lff and see if you can spot the four new adventure locations.  Go sailing through the islands and stop to visit those with names.  Beware of pirates.  There are a lot of lawless types up in that part of Trollworld.

There are other new names on the Trollworld maps including two places on the eagle continent of Zorr and several islands not in the Wings archipelago.  However, I don’t want to show you everything before the final map/maps are published as part of Deluxe.  So, if you know that you named something, but you don’t see it on the map above, then it is in another part of the world.  And if you’re one of the people who did name part of Trollworld, be proud.  You are helping create the world of Tunnels and Trolls!

–end

Categories: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls News, fantasy cartography, fantasy role-playing games, game design, Trollworld | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.