Tabletop Review: Tunnels & Trolls: Adventurers’ Compendium

Tunnels & Trolls: Adventurers’ Compendium
Publisher: Flying Buffalo Games
Cost: $4.95 (Digital)/$14.94 (Physical)/Free (to Kickstarter Backers)
Page Count: 92
Release Date: 05/01/2014
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

Although the deluxe version of Tunnels and Trolls is nearly a year late (for very understandable reasons), Flying Buffalo Games has done a great job of putting out the Kickstarter backer stretch goals like clockwork. So far, we have gotten remakes/reprints of Deluxe City of Terrors, Saving Fang From the Pits of Morgul, Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeons, The Complete Dungeon of the Bear and of course, the Quick Start Rules for DT&T that went out last Free RPG Day. So although the core product has been delayed due to illness and other issues, Kickstarter backers have definitely gotten their money’s worth and then some. Even better, none of these re-releases have been Kickstarter exclusives, so if you are a T&T fan, but you missed the Kickstarter, you can still pick these up… but you do have to pay.

The latest release from the Kickstarter is the Adventurers’ Compendium, which collects old adventures from the long defunct Sorcerer’s Apprentice Magazine. Now, I was born in 1977, and by the time I was learning to game, SA had been gone for a few years. I discovered Tunnels & Trolls later in life and loved the solo adventurers that were put out for the game, because it was a lot like the Lone Wolf or D&D solo books that I loved in elementary school. So for me, all of these adventures were brand new. Now, a few adventures come from other sources, like Pocket Adventurers, but the majority are rare and long out of print adventures that were originally published in magazine form. You’ll find ten solo adventures and three adventures for a party. Now the back cover only says nine solo adventures, but as you’ll see below, there are ten. Hey, you’re getting more content than you expected, right?

The layout for the Adventurers’ Compendium is a bit odd. You have the first nine solo adventures, all complete with “Choose Your Own Adventure” format up front. There is also an introduction to the tenth adventure, Circle of Ice. Then you have all the content for the first nine adventures. Then you have the beginning of the tenth solo adventure all by itself (which at first seems to be a second adventure by the same name, which is VERY confusing), and then you have the three GM/Party based adventures. This gives the book a strange feel when you just flip through it to peruse the contents. I think Adventurers’ Compendium would have flowed better with the GM adventures up front and the solos in the back, but then the primary appeal of the release is the solo adventures, so it makes sense to some degree that they are front and center.

I should also point out that the first nine solo adventurers are not separated out. Instead, you get the first page of each of the nine adventures in a row, and then all the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style of formatting has the contents of the adventures lumped into one big mass. I’m not sure why they did that for the first nine but not the tenth, as it adds to the strange formatting feel of the piece. You might completely miss the second Circle of Ice intro due to the layout if you aren’t careful. While the lumping all of the adventure content together in bulk form may sound strange in this review, it works really well when you actually play the adventures. Because each solo adventure is so short, it would be easy to see all the content and “cheat” your way to a successful completion. With everything mixed together it’s harder to do that, and come on, everyone who has ever played one of these types of adventures has done so at some point. So you may have to wrap your head around the fact each adventure isn’t segregated out, but once you get over it, you’ll find the adventures play better for it, even if reading the collection is harder with this layout.

So let’s take a quick look at each of the solo pieces.

  • Kingwalker. This is an adventure for a 1st to 3rd level character where they complete a series of trials. Originally published in SA#1.

  • Seven Ayes. This adventure is for a 1st to 3rd level non-magic using humanoid. The adventure can determine what your character is if you don’t have one already, and it is best to go that route. The choices are Dwarf, soft-hearted Orc or evil Human bandit. The adventure is pretty much a bar brawl. Originally published in SA#2.

  • Golden Dust, Red Death. This adventure is for a 1st to 3rd level character. Most spells and missile weapons are not allowed, so a fighter might be the best choice for it. Here you are a skeezy drug smuggler. Originally published in SA #4.

  • A Sworded Adventure. This adventure is only for a sword wielding warrior of 4th level of higher, so it’s a toughie. It can also lead to adventures NOT in this collection, so be warned. While I found Naked Doom on DriveThruRPG.com, I had no such luck finding Arena of Khazan. As such, this might be the hardest adventure to play through as originally intended, but the text does give a slight workaround. The adventure is basically about your character going shopping at a bazaar and the weirdness that befalls them. Originally published in SA#5.

  • Stop Thief! This adventure is for non-magic using characters of 6th Level or less. Your character is hired to stop a group of thieves from their regular looting of the docks. Originally published in SA #7.

  • Thief For Hire. This adventure is designed for rogues or warriors between Levels 1 and 4. Your character is offered 1,000 gold pieces to steal a scroll from the royal library. It sounds simple, but it definitely isn’t. Originally published in SA#12.

  • The Legend of the _____(adj) _____(n). This is a comedy solo adventure where your friends help out beforehand by filling in the various blanks with the adventure Mad Lib style. Class and levels aren’t important. It’s simply meant to be a very silly adventure with a very silly trial at the center of it.

  • First Command. This adventure is for a humanoid character between Levels 2 and 10. You are put in charge of your own ship (complete with a slave galley), and your mission is to sail south to pick up a tribute for your Empress. Originally published in SA#15.

  • Hot Pursuit. This adventure has no class or race restrictions. You are hired by the captain of the city guard to ferret out spies from an organization known as The Rangers that have infiltrated the city.

  • Circle of Ice. This adventure is for characters of any class between Levels 1 and 4. As mentioned earlier, you are given an intro page on Page 18, similar to the first nine solo adventures. Then you have all the choose your own text for the adventures except this one, and finally on page 58 (61 in the PDF), you get another, DIFFERENT intro to Circle of Ice, and then the text for playing it. It’s all very oddly done. It’s a fun adventure, just like the rest of them, though.
  • So that’s it for the solo adventures. Now we have the three GM based adventures designed for an entire party.

  • SeaReaver’s Tomb. This adventure is for a party of middle to high level characters on a general tomb robbing expedition. The adventure relies more on wits and puzzle solving than straight forward hack and slash though. It’s a fun little dungeon that can kill characters in a lot of ways. Originally published in SA#3.

  • The Tomb of Axton. This adventure is for seven characters, with each player controlling two or three of them. I don’t see why you couldn’t do the adventure with more players controlling less PCs though. This is another dungeon crawl where you rob a grave of a long dead guy for profit and glory. It’s a small dungeon, only fourteen rooms long, but each one takes a while to get through. In some ways it is very similar in style, theme and climax to SeaReaver’s Tomb. Originally published in Sorcerer’s Apprentice #9/10 (it’s what the text says).

  • The Black Dragon Tavern. This adventure is for characters below Level 9. It’s not a normal adventure, being more a collection of encounters characters may or may not take part in, depending on their actions. There are NPCs to meet, games to partake in and things to eat. It’s not an adventure in the way most people think of them. Rather, it is a regular place for characters to meet and story seeds to be planted. Originally published in SA#11
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    So there you go – fourteen long out of print adventures for only five bucks! That’s an excellent deal no matter how you look at it. Adventurers’ Compendium also includes a Sorcerer’s Apprentice cover guide, a random treasure generator, a few puzzles and more. Long time T&T fans who remember the SA magazine will no doubt love this collection. Younger gamers or those new to T&T will be impressed by the fact you are getting so many adventurers for such a low price, not to mention getting all these old, out of print pieces without spending time and a lot of money tracking them down on the secondary market. Adventurer’s Compendium is a must have for any T&T fan. It’s that good.

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