The Trollmanac (Tunnels & Trolls)
Publisher: Trollish Delver Games
Page Count: 53
Release Date: 01/20/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
I was never a big Tunnels & Trolls gamer as a kid – mainly because I didn’t know anyone that played it. As I’ve gotten older though, I’m really finding I enjoy the system for its wit and whimsy, along with the adventures people write for T&T. That said, I still haven’t found anyone else that plays the game, outside of online forums. However I’m hoping that changes with the release of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls as its Kickstarter campaign has over 1,700 backers, two of which I not only know, but have are writers for the site! In preparation for the release of DT&T I’ve been flipping through some third party releases for the system, one of which, The Trollmanac is what we’re reviewing today.
The Trollmanac is a collections of snippets and pieces from the Trollish Delver website. Now you might be asking, “Why should I pay for something that is free on the internet?” Well , the same reason you purchase web comic collections. You get everything in one spot, without having to have dozens of bookmarks on your computer, and Cthulhu forbid the website ever goes away, you still have your copy. Considering The Trollmanac is less than two dollars at the time of writing this, you’re getting a pretty good deal. Hell, there are two full solo adventures in this compilation alone, which should make it worth the while of anyone even remotely interested in Tunnels and Trolls.
So what’s in this collection? A lot of different things, all of which I found to be a lot of fun. There are basically seven sections, and we’ll look at each one in turn.
First up is “Character Types.” Here you are getting six different new classes for your Tunnels & Trolls game. The Skywatcher seems to be part astrologist and part astronomer. The Storyteller feels like a specialized Bard. The Ministrel is the more stereotypical bard you see in games like D&D, although this one is the only Bard I know that gets to use “Enter Sandman” as a magic spell. The Wytchfinder, well… finds witches. The Burglar is a disguise and lockpicking specialist, and the Wildfarer is like a D&D ranger. All are pretty interesting and would be a lot of fun to use in a game.
“Character Options” are basically ways to modify an existing class to make the character stand out a little more. The Lifekeeper is a healing based mage. Godsword is the equivalent of a D&D Cleric, since Tunnels & Trolls lacks that option. The Assassin is a warrior that relies on stealth instead of heavy armour and brute strength. Again, all are fun. I liked the Assassin best here.
“Kindred” are new races for your Tunnels & Trolls game. The Darkwitch Night Elves are basically Drow, which is the only negative I had for this book. Not everything needs DARK ELVES you know? The Toath are the mushroom people out of Super Mario Bros. The Automatons are basically Warforged. This is the weakest section in the book, and I personally didn’t care for any of these races, but I know others will get a kick out of them.
“Monsters” gives you a horde of new creepy crawlies to throw at players. The Icy Deathseeker is a snowy assassin. The Hexwood Crawlers are sharp toothed little animals that attack in packs. The Green Man is straight out of United Kingdom folklore. The Hulking Hornblower is a giant golem. The Bliztfrost Razor is basically a Winter Wolf. The Shivering Crawler is an odd mix between a Bullywug and a Carrion Crawler. The Hoboleth is a weird collection of eyeballs. Bashannonoth sounds a lot like the Black Dogs of British folklore.
“Items” gives you several new magic items for players to monkey around with. The Oak Staff of the Seven Flames is insanely powerful and is best left as a MacGuffin or unobtainable artifact. Gorgon-zola is petrifying cheese that showcases the sense of humour T&T is so well known for having. The Sword of Absolute Awesomeness is similar to the Oak Staff, but for Warriors instead of Mages. Gloves of Chainbind give a player a special grapple attack. After this, the section turns into three smaller sections (Magic Items, Awesome Armour, and Weapons of the Uber-Awesome) containing even more magic items. The Pruning Shears of the Damned are my favorite.
“Guides” is a section of mini-essays on how to DM a Tunnels and Trolls game better. It’s a sad state of affairs that the first essay is on playing vampires, but look what’s happened to them in this day and age. Other essays include optional combat rules, how to run an Uruk (orc) and one on running sea based adventurers. All three essays are well done and a lot of fun to read despite their brevity.
Finally, we come to the two solo adventures. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure, but where you roll dice. Both adventures are short but cute and well worth the asking price of this collection. “The Creeper in the Temple” has you going one on one with a fiendish thingie while “The Mine of the Witch King” is a bit longer and more involved.
All in all, The Trollmanac is a fantastic collection, especially for the low, low asking price. You do need to be quite familiar with Tunnels and Trolls to get any use out of the collection (or to even understand it) but for those of you who love the second oldest fantasy RPG system, you should definitely snag this ASAP.