Tabletop Review: Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack
Publisher: Flying Buffalo Games
Page Count: 18
Cost: FREE
Release Date: 6/15/2013

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls releases later this year, but Flying Buffalo doesn’t want fans of the system to wait until then. They’ve already released an updated version of Buffalo Castle on DriveThruRPG, and for Free RPG Day 2013, they released this Preview Pack to not only whet the appetite of those waiting for the release of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, but to also draw in both new gamers and those that remembered T&T but haven’t played it in forever. I picked this up on Free RPG Day, and was excited to see what is in store for the 1,637 Kickstarter backers that helped make this new edition of T&T possible.

Out of the eighteen pages in this document (which includes the insides of the cover), sixteen are pure content. The inside front cover is an introduction to the system, as well as the history of Tunnels & Trolls. The back inside cover is a plug for Buffalo Castle, and tells you have to get a free PDF version of the adventure. So in fact, you’re getting two products for free if you picked this up on Free RPG Day 2013. AWESOME, especially since Buffalo Castle in an incredibly fun solo adventure for a 1st Level Warrior. Between this Preview Pack and that adventure, you can try the game out on your own before moving on to play the included multiplayer adventure in the preview pack.

There are over a dozen pieces of art inside the Preview Pack, not counting both outside covers. The art is excellent and really showcases the high fantasy, and sometimes bizarre, nature of Tunnels & Trolls. The Preview Pack is worth flipping through just for the art, to be honest.

The Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack contains both simplified rules for the game and a full adventure for up to four players. Five pages are devoted to the rules, with a sixth containing three pre-generated characters: A Level 1 Human Warrior, a Level 2 Human Wizard and a Level 3 Citizen Rock Troll. It’s interesting that they chose characters of different levels, as the Troll is so powerful compared to the other two combined, I have a feeling that’s the one everyone will want to play.

The rules for T&T were meant to be a simpler alternative to Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not necessarily sure that’s true though. Character creation is simple enough, as it’s 3D6, and if you roll triples of any number, you get to roll again and add your previous score to the roll, continuing until you stop rolling triples. This means you can have a character with an Attribute of 4 minimum and a maximum of… whatever! This is an interesting concept, and doubly so that your CON roll is also your Hit Points in T&T, so a Warrior could have say, four hit points and a Wizard could roll 32! As well, to create a demihuman, you have to engage in fraction multiplication instead of a +X or –y to an attribute. For example, to make an elf, you have to multiply Int (IQ is the actual abbreviation in T&T) and DEX by 3/2 and CON by 2/3. That’s fine for most of us, but I can see little kids or those that are terrible at math disliking this aspect of character creation. The Preview Pack gives rules for Humans, Eleves, Dwarves, Hobs (Hobbits/Halflings), Uruks (Orcs) and Rock Trolls, which is a really neat variety of playable races. It also gives a list of six classes to choose for this preview adventure, and in reading the descriptions, you’ll see that the system is very rules light, where you can just make a skill and add a number to it for a descriptor. So you could have a Rogue (which is actually a Wizard/Warrior hybrid and not a thief) with a skill of say, finger painting and another with Oratory. It’s a very interesting open system that people tend to love or hate.

The rules system then gives you a list of weapons and items and a short summary on how to run combat, be it melee, missile or spell based. Basically, each side rolls its dice, called a “Hit Point Total,” which I know is sure to confuse many a person when they first see Hit Points used in that way. The side with the bigger roll subtracts the roll from the smaller side, and the end result is the damage done. From there, you’re shown how Saving Throws and Experience Point accumulation and spending works. There’s even a list of spells for levels 1-5. In essence, this is a pretty detailed set of quick start rules that should give you a good idea on how Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls will play, as well as if it is a system you want to invest in or not. One thing the book doesn’t really do a good job of explaining is how tongue in cheek and silly the game can be sometimes. I love comedy, but I know there are others who like their tabletop games to be SERIOUS BUSINESS so, there’s a head’s up for you.

The adventure in this Preview Pack is entitled, “The Chambers of Z’Tpozz the Madd Dwarf.” It’s all about an evil Dwarven Wizard who has kidnapped a princess and sequestered her inside a live volcano. The PCs will have to enter the volcano, get through the twelve room dungeon, survive trips and monsters and find the princess before their supply of potions that allow them to resist the intense heat of the location wears off. It’s an interesting adventure with a few unexpected twists, like the chance of the heroes accidentally killing a potential ally, an interesting secret about the Z’Tpozz and a twisted fate that can befall the kidnapped princess. It’s not the best Tunnels & Trolls adventure, but for a freebie it will definitely do the job of helping gamers decide if they want to play it or not.

I’m really happy with the Tunnels & Trolls Preview Pack. It confirmed that my decision to back the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls Kickstarter all those months ago was a good one, and although the rules and adventure contained in this packet aren’t for everyone, it definitely it worth tracking this down if you didn’t manage to pick it up on Free RPG Day 2013. Who knows, this little free introductory kit just may get you to pick up the core Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls book when it is released later this year.

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