Tunnels & Trolls

The 5th edition of Tunnels & Trolls was published twice in the UK, the 2nd time by Corgi Press who discarded the illustrations of the American edition and instead used the work of Josh Kirby for both the cover and interior art. The Kirby art was also used for the 1987 Japanese edition of Tunnels & Trolls (とンネルズ&とロールズ). This was Shakaishisosha’s first RPG book and it sold well enough for them to justify another 12 books for the game. The success might owe something to the inexpensive bunkobon format (the Corgi Press edition was a British mass market paperback) and the game’s exclusive use of six-sided dice. These traits would be adopted by later Japanese games.

Kirby’s interior illustrations depict Higley (a warrior), Rethe (a female elf rogue), and Myrmar (an elf wizard) fighting a manticore and two ogres—all stuff straight out of the sample combat section from the text. Tunnels & Trolls combat has characters rolling a number of dice depending on their choice of weapon and adding modifiers for reasons such as high strength, dexterity, or luck. The party adds all their rolls together as do the monsters and the two numbers are compared, with the difference coming off the constitution of the players if they had the lower number. Otherwise it comes off the MR (monster rating) of the monsters. The system works well for solo play since there isn’t any need to make tactical choices for the monsters. On the other hand, it turns out that if the MR of the monsters is not in a narrow range, the outcome of the battle is pretty much a foregone conclusion. If the MR is in that narrow range the combat can go on for a long time, requiring 40 or more rolls to resolve.

The Japanese edition comes with a folded sheet with four character cards on it. Three are blank and one is filled out with a sample human male warrior called “Our Fang”. My copy also has an advertisement for the T&T Gamemaster’s Screen, sold separately.

Bunkobon 366 pp.

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