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Ye Trollgod and his Minions greet thee! (art by Greywulf)

I have been thinking about how to make Trollhalla.com a better site for everyone who likes Tunnels and Trolls.  With advice from the Elite of Trollhalla, I have decided to create an Outer Sanctum to correspond to the Inner Sanctum.  In this outer sanctum we will post all the Tunnels and Trolls news that we can get, including blogs from guest bloggers, art from our artists, news of new developments in Tunnels and Trolls gaming.  If a new T & T product comes out, we will talk about it here.  If new art is created for Tunnels and Trolls, it will appear here.  And if you should decide that you want to be a member of Trollhalla, you will be able to sign up here. Continue reading «Trollhalla for Everyone!»

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Something that isn’t going to be in Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls

  • tntweapons
  • Q and A about Weapons on Trollworld
  • by Ken St. Andre
  • Where do weapons come from? Somebody makes them.
  • Who? Someone with the resources, knowledge, and ability.
  • In terms of Trollworld kindreds who would that be? Mostly humans, dwarves, elves–a few other kindreds. Not Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, Ogres . . .? They don’t have the technology or culture to do much in the way of weapon making.
  • Since those kindreds are generally well-armed, where do they get their weapons? They trade for them, steal them, take them in conquest, perhaps make a few of the poorer weapons like stone knives, bow and arrow, spears, tomahawks.
  • Previous editions of Tunnels and Trolls have assumed that the characters could buy anything they wanted at fairly reasonable rates. Is that true? Logically, it would only be true in fairly large cities and towns, some place with a large population of humans or dwarves, some place where metal is easily obtained and worked.
  • How are weapon prices determined? Completely arbitrary numbers pulled out of thin air based on the idea that larger weapons requiring more knowledge to make would cost more. However research has shown that these numbers bear little or no relationship to reality of weapon costs on the only world we really know about, our own Earth.
  • Should weapons have an arbitrary cost? I don’t think so. The truth is that in a place like Trollworld, every weapon would have an individual cost ranging from free to thousands of gold pieces depending upon location and situation.
  • So where do characters get their weapons in the game? Do they just go to a smith or an armory and buy them? Logically, that could only happen in the largest towns and cities. Even then, choices would probably be extremely limited. A swordmaker is going to specialize in one or two kinds of swords and knives. A gunsmith will only make guns. Anything out of the ordinary will be a special commission. Humans in the game have something called Heritage–that is a beginning character can inherit a special weapon or armor. Similarly, warriors often get their weapons from their employer. When some overlord creates an army, that army must have equipment which the overlord commissions and pays for. Soldiers and warriors who muster out of such armies generally retain their weapons. The weapons of those who are slain, defeated, captured, etc. are generally gathered up and re-used or sold to those who are willing to buy used weapons.
  • What shall we do about the cost of weapons and armor in Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls? I don’t think they should have a cost. Under the new rules I favor starting characters at some point in a career they have already established. They already have things like weapons and armor because they have been living and adventuring for years. What they have would logically be determined by what they can wield. Thus, I would give characters almost any basic weapon that they have the necessary STR and DEX to use. Players should make up a story about how they obtained the weapon if that seems important to them. Example: “This double-bladed axe? I took it from the corpse of a minotaur warrior that I killed with an arrow in his eye during the raid on Silverhold that the Broken Horn tribe made last year.” In special cases, I would require a saving roll from the character who wants a weird or very expensive weapon. Gil the mad hobbit wants razor-wire bolas . . . well, he can have them if he can find a kobold bola maker, and that requires a level six saving roll on either his Luck or Intelligence. (Level of saving roll could be determined by GM fiat or rolling dice for it.–I think rolling 2D6 might be fair to determine what level saving roll it would require to find a particular weapon.)
  • What is a basic weapon? A basic weapon is any non-magical weapon that can be mass-produced or is made to a common pattern. A broadsword, a scimitar, a sax, a waraxe, a spear, a self-bow or a crossbow, a single-shot musket–these are all basic weapons. Most of the weapons in the Tunnels and Trolls game could be considered basic weapons. Special items like the mithril weapons of the elves would not be basic weapons.
  • What about kindred specific weapons? Some kindreds have weapons that are unique to their kind, generally identified by putting the kindred name in the weapon name. Example: the urukish scimitar–specially made weapons for uruks (by humans), the trollish warhammer, the dwarven spike shield or greataxe, the centaur lance, the goblin fishspear and flensing knife, the elven hunting knife, and so forth. Most weapons–about 80%–are made with the average human in mind and just have a common name; i.e. broadsword, battleaxe, tower shield.
  • So do we have enormous extended lists of weapons for players to choose from? We’ve always had pretty great lists in the past, but I think we should discourage the idea that anyone can just walk into a store somewhere and find any weapon they want. That isn’t true even in our own world of super technology. A person has to search and be willing to pay a lot of money for anything unusual.
  • Any other questions? 

–end

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T and T Newsletter–Your Christmas Present from the Trollgod

Your Trollgod gets sluggish in his old age. Old trolls sleep a lot. But, I still do things once in a while, and my trusty assistant Mosk’qorg does good stuff like this latest newsletter every two weeks. If  you read carefully, you will see a Longest Night present for you in this newsletter.

Welcome to issue #22 of the Tunnels and Trolls Newsletter. We say goodbye to 2014 with another glimpse of 2015’s most important release…

DT&T update:
Last issue we revealed a rough version of kindred distribution on Rrr’lff. If you compare the image below to the previous release at (http://trollhalla.com/outer-sanctum/2014/11/17/who-lives-where-part-2/) you’ll note some changes as the map gets ready for the 16-page color section of the rulebook.

Was it a colorist mood swing? War between the species? Unnatural disaster? Steve Crompton promises an update soon at http://www.deluxetunnelsandtrolls.com/.

He also informs us that the color pages will include a map with the location of the Flying Buffalo-published adventures, city maps of Knor, Khost and Khazan, portraits of famous NPCs, a pictorial guide to troll breeds by Miika, and much more, including new Danforth color art.

Product announcement:
The Trollgod, Ken St. Andre, has released Rock & Rule: The Spellbook of Gristlegrim’s Dwarves, the first in a series of tomes of arcana used by Trollworld kin.
Between now and New Year’s, Ken is offering a special discount for newsletter readers: you can get 50% off this David Ullery-illustrated volume by going to: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?discount=9b3e7f1802. Additionally, members of Trollhalla’s Inner Sanctum can earn 1000 TVPs when they purchase a copy. Just let Ken know at kenstandre@yahoo.com.

Product Announcement:
Although it’s summer where he lives, Mark Thornton (Khaghbboommm) understands the need for adventure to help fill long winter nights, and has therefore released his 538-page, 2500+ paragraph solitaire adventure, Missing Inaction. Among the 200 characters you’ll meet is our own Ken St. Andre who writes the introduction. A PDF release is planned, but you can get your hardcopy now at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/mark-thornton/missing-inaction/paperback/product-21955020.html.

(Want a taste of Mark’s work? Check out his new puzzle-room adventure at: http://gemsandgiants.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/escaping-from-octagon-room.html)

Call for submissions:
The Snollygoster is not quite full, and so its editor/caretaker is still seeking monsters, rule variants, adventures, art, stories and other T&T related submissions (especially those with a holiday theme). Send yours to charlie.fleming@gmail.com with “Snollygoster” in the subject line. (Previous issues can be found here: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?keywords=snollygoster ).

The deadline is December 20, 2014, so get to work!

Product Announcement:
H.P. Lovecraft. Wynn Mercer. Ken St. Andre. Alfred Lord Tennyson, and more. Who else would you expect to write stories set in the Sidhe, the Greek Underworld, Jotunheim—and the city where the divine residents of those locales and other (presumably) mythic realms all interact?

Their stories comprise Mythic Tales: City of the Gods 2 (Volume 2), the latest installment of the City of Gods series.

As with all City of The Gods products (see www.CityOfTheGods.com) there’s plenty of interior art, including work by Trolldom’s Steve Crompton and Liz Danforth.

Get your copy at: http://www.amazon.com/Mythic-Tales-City-Gods-Volume/dp/1505302951/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=AMFDV8UO0N7A

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Gristlegrim, Once Upon a Time

I’m not a perfectionist. I have never been a perfectionist. I’m not really interested in perfection. I just want things that work. Bear that in mind when you see the following diagrams.

My first solo dungeon was Deathtrap Equalizer. Deathtrap had the novel idea of getting rid of halls and corridors and tunnels. The action was mostly in the rooms, so why not make it all rooms? You have to get from room to room, so let’s make it random access–that’s easily done by letting the dice select the room for  you.

Deathtrap

 

Deathtrap gave me an idea for another Room Dungeon. I wanted one that I could lay out at a moment’s notice, so I wrote room ideas down on large 5 X 8 cards.  The cards were large enough to have the descriptions of 3 rooms on each one, so the same card could be something different on any one of three levels.  The card would look something like this:

L1:  Empty room but paintings of trolls on all the walls. The exit doors are all secret doors that must be found by searching the paintings. (L1SR on LK or IQ to find the door.) The idea of the room is to delay the party long enough to allow a group of random monsters to teleport in and attack them.

L2:  This room is a big swimming pool full of piranha–the water is 50 feet deep. There is a narrow edge around the pool, but the path is thin. L2SR on DEX to avoid falling off it. Open treasure chest full of coins, clearly visible, at the bottom of the pool. The only exit is on the other side of the room.

L3:  Hopscotch diagram leading to the center of the room. Clearly magical. Treasure in the center with gold pieces in it–number determined by how far along the hopscotch pattern the player gets. Each time through requires a higher level saving roll on DEX. Start with L1 and work up  to L8. Gold in chest equals sum of levels made before taking it. To fail is to activate a trap that does 10 times the saving roll in explosion damage to the delver.  Thus, missing a L3SR would do 30 points of CON damage–pretty much fatal for most characters. Skipping the hopscotch removes the treasure and teleports monsters into the room.

As you can see, I had a lot of fun making up these rooms. I’m thinking of doing it again, though it would just be repeating myself. Back when I was friends with Jim Shipman, he talked me into letting him publish Gristlegrim in a book form. It was an interesting experiment not long before the end, but basically it failed. Jim did some things I really didn’t like with Gristlegrim–including running the same rooms in different locations–thus increasing the number of rooms, but not the number of unique rooms, and using stolen art to illustrate it. When he was done I asked for my cards back. He said he had destroyed them when finished with each one. Grrrrrrr! That was the end of the Gristlegrim Dungeon. It survives today in legend as a place in the history of Trollworld.

Long before the end I ran an adventure by mail for some young friends in California.  I laid out an entire 6 level adventure for them to wander into, and drew (quickly) a 6 level map of Gristlegrim.  Last month I found those old drawings. I thought it might amuse people to see one of my old off-the-cuff dungeons, so I scanned those drawings and I now reproduce them here. Feel free to set one of your own adventures in this complex some time.

To build an iteration of Gristlegrim I shuffled all my description cards and then laid them out in square patterns of 3 X 3, face down so the text cannot be seen. When entering a new room, I would simply turn it over, see my description, and improvise a GM description from the notes on the card.  3 X 3 was not the only pattern possible–I could do anything, but it was the one most commonly used.

LEVEL ONE

No one was ever thorough enough to see all the rooms in even a single adventure, so there was practically infinite replayability.

No one was ever thorough enough to see all the rooms in even a single adventure, so there was practically infinite replayability.

LEVEL TWO

In retrospect I wonder why I bothered with empty rooms at all. It didn't seem right that every room would have something in it, and of course, the empty rooms were meant to be a place to let the players rest when I first designed GG, but I quickly decided that a resting player was a boring player, so I started teleporting monsters in if players tried to take a lot of time to rest and recuperate.

In retrospect I wonder why I bothered with empty rooms at all. It didn’t seem right that every room would have something in it, and of course, the empty rooms were meant to be a place to let the players rest when I first designed GG, but I quickly decided that a resting player was a boring player, so I started teleporting monsters in if players tried to take a lot of time to rest and recuperate.

LEVEL THREE

In the play by mail adventure I was running for Paul O'Connor and Tom Keefer, we never got this deep into it.

In the play by mail adventure I was running for Paul O’Connor and Tom Keefer, we never got this deep into it.

 LEVEL FOUR

One of my tricks was to have a standard-sized monster--say a goblin with a monster rating of 12, and then multiply the monster rating by the level of the dungeon. So if you met a goblin on level 4, it had a monster rating of 48. Even a small party of goblins with monster ratings this large can be quite a problem for delvers.

One of my tricks was to have a standard-sized monster–say a goblin with a monster rating of 12, and then multiply the monster rating by the level of the dungeon. So if you met a goblin on level 4, it had a monster rating of 48. Even a small party of goblins with monster ratings this large can be quite a problem for delvers.

LEVEL FIVE

Adventurers seldom got down as far as level 5. In retrospect, I kind of wish that we actually played campaigns in T & T instead of mostly episodes.

Adventurers seldom got down as far as level 5. In retrospect, I kind of wish that we actually played campaigns in T & T instead of mostly episodes.

LEVEL SIX

I only ever made 6 levels of rooms. There were 2 sets of cards: levels 1-3 on one set and level 4-6 on the other.

I only ever made 6 levels of rooms. There were 2 sets of cards: levels 1-3 on one set and level 4-6 on the other.

I think I created Gristlegrim originally in about 1978, and added to it for several years whenever I had a new idea. This was before the days of personal computers. As  you can see from my notes and drawings, I was more interested in speed and variety than in appearance and form.  40 years later, I’m still that way. I’ll take quick and dirty over slow and perfect every time. I mean, yeah, perfect looks good, but when you’re gaming, is perfect really more fun? I don’t think so. The real action is in the player’s imagination, not on the tabletop.

Today, 2014, the Gristlegrim Dungeon is like one of those fabled books from antiquity, where descriptions or synopses of the book have survived, but the actual text is lost and gone forever. For more glimpses of the glories that were Gristlegrim, take a look at http://Grisltegrim.com.

——————–

If  you’ve ever adventured in a randomly-created dungeon of some sort that was not on your computer screen, why not leave a comment?

–end

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