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Tunnels & Trolls short game

For 09 and 16 Sep Mr Tiddles is away. So that you can scratch that “old school solo adventure hastily reskinned for group play” itch, I will be running the second ever published RPG - Tunnels & Trolls.

We’ll have a short, two-week adventure* set in Gull, a.k.a. “The City Of Terrors”. If you’re not careful, you might end up in Gull’s state of the art sanitation network, a.k.a. “The Sewers of Oblivion”.

I handed out some copies of the character generation rules last Sunday. We’ll go through them at the start of our first session. It won’t take long. Character generation is pretty random, and second in brutality to Classic Traveller (at least you can’t die during character generation in T&T).

The rough timeframe, for those that know their Trollworld history, is shortly after the Battle of Overkill.


* yes, I know the last time I said that, we ended up with a campaign that’s been going for around ten years now.

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

One difference to normal T&T character generation, is that players will be offered a choice of “backgrounds” for their characters.

A background is basically a ready-made back story which will lead to significant sub-plots for your character during the game. Each one has some advantages and disadvantages that will affect gameplay in small ways. The more you put into furthering your personal sub-plot, the more you will get out of it. Be warned: one of the backgrounds will significantly transform your character.

The backgrounds are sealed at the start of the game. You will only be able to see the (possibly misleading) titles. A “dice off” will determine in what order the players get to choose backgrounds.

Here are the titles:

  • ”You weren’t there, man! You weren’t there!”
  • ”Hello Kitty”
  • ”I love you, Honey Bunny, even on a dog day afternoon”.
  • ”The Mousetrap”
  • "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia!"

Have fun puzzling over those! Meanwhile, the game will begin at the gladiatorial arena, where an unusual contestant has suddenly entered the ring...

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

The Death Host of Lerotra’hh, she who is called “The Death Goddess of Khazan”, was on the march again. They had just successfully defended the Empire against the savage assault of the fierce pirates known as Rangers. Winning the Khazan-Ranger War meant that the ocean borders of the Empire were safe. Lerotra’hh once again cast her eyes to the south.


The cities of the south, most notably Knor and Khosht, had forgotten the might of Khazan. During the wars they had supported the Empire in voice only. Determined to restore order, collect her tribute, and shatter the spirit of the southern cities, Lerotra'hh ordered General Shang to take her hordes south. 


Led by the elite veterans of the Khazan-Ranger Wars, the hordes found only token resistance in the south. Then, at the southern end of the mountain pass known-as the Gap in the Teeth of the Gods, they halted. Before them loomed an ancient and mighty fortress.


The veterans knew many stories about this citadel; they knew it had withstood many assaults. The owner of the castle was a wizard named Marionarsis. The veterans called Marionarsis a sorcerer-butcher and a necromancer. In whispered voices they called his castle: OVERKILL.

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)


It has been found that having an aid to concentration helps greatly in the casting of enchantments and spells. This aid most often takes the form of a staff - although there are also other things that serve the same purpose. For instance, enchanted jewels or crystal globes. For our purposes, all will be called 'magic staffs', as this is the most common form.

Magic staffs (or staves, for anally pedantic grammar fascists) all reduce the cost of casting a spell by the same number as the level of the magic-user - as long as they are a wizard or a warrior-wizard. Rogues (a.k.a. rogue wizards) cannot benefit from using a magic staff. Examples: (1) a lst level wizard with her ordinary staff in hand may subtract 1 from the cost of the spell; (2) a 5th level warrior-wizard may subtract 5. Staffs will not reduce the cost below 1, though.

Staffs may look very different — wands, walking sticks, sturdy quarterstaves, or even rings — but aside from their outward form there are 3 basic kinds of staffs: makeshift, ordinaire, and deluxe.

A makeshift staff is any piece of wood picked up and used to cast magic. It requires 1 ST point to enchant it into being by casting the L1 spell, Hocus Pocus. Not all wood is suitable, so the first time such a staff is used to cast magic, the mage should make a first level saving roll to see if the makeshift staff explodes. (This is in addition to the l-ST point enchantment spell, which reveals nothing, but which must be done.) If the makeshift staff does not explode, then the mage can cast up to twice his lQ in ST points used through the staff before it burns out and is no longer of any use.

A staff ordinaire is wood already tested and enchanted; it is of permanent use, but has no other special abilities or attributes other than to reduce the cost of spell-casting by directionalizing one’s concentration. These cost 100 GP each.

A deluxe staff costs 5000 GP. It has a name, is semi-sentient, and is (almost) indestructible. It also remembers every spell ever cast through it. The common theory is that a demon, or some supernatural creature – or a soul! – has been bound forever into the substance of the staff — or is the substance of the staff… or some magical b******s like that, whatever — and it is this being that is named and which remembers the spells. Anyhoo, these staffs are created by a small secret clan of wizards who rigorously and jealously guard the secret of their construction; some say these wizards are only 17th level, but it is likely they are more powerful than that.

If the first owner of a deluxe staff is slain or the staff is stolen and comes into the possession of a lesser mage, it may take command of the magic-user. In effect, the staff may use its new owner as a battery to provide power for the casting of spells. At the GM’s option, such spell-casting might not always be appropriate or desired by the mage who holds the staff, and in some instances could be fatal should the staff drain off all the character’s ST in a misguided effort to cast a higher-level version of a desired spell. In circumstances like these, the GM is fully within rights to ‘play’ the staff as a separate character under his own control.

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

For those playing TUNNELS & TROLLS on Sunday, here is a link to a PDF of a 'crib sheet' with all the important reference stuff you might need.

Please Note: this includes a couple of my house rules:

  1. Spite Damage (originally introduced by Roy Cram in SA#13)
  2. A tweak to the missile combat rules to make it easier to hit, but doing lower, more reasonable damage. And by 'easier', I mean 'possible'.

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Here are some more links to some useful PDFs.

My character generation rules:

A T&T 5th edition character sheet:

“I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.” Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)