Five More Things Jeff Likes About Tunnels & Trolls 30th Anniversary Edition
Nifty Weapon Selection
This is something that T&T has always had, but I still wanted to mention it. Each weapon is weighted for minimum Strength and Dexterity to wield, as well as dice of combat effectiveness. So two warriors with differing stats will probably have different ideal weapons. I really dig that. Also, unlike most of the other fantasy RPGs I've seen, the weapon list is not a direct descendant of one of Gygax's lists. Instead, the weapon list has its own crazy set of hang-ups and preferences. Very groovy. And instead of limiting Wizards to daggers, they can use any weapon that does less than 3 dice of damage. That's a very neat mechanic and opens up a fair amount of choices for the spellslingers.
D&D'ers know kindred as "races", but I think I like the term kindred better. The Common Kindred are Dwarf, Elf, Fairy, Hobb (rather than switch to Halfling, St. Andre justed dropped the last two letters), and Leprechaun. Instead of flat bonuses to stats, each race gets multipliers, so that Dwarves are literally twice as strong as humans, while Fairy's get one-quarter Strength. One cute bit is that most PCs start with a small amount of silver pieces, while Leprechauns get a pot of gold pieces.
Then there's Rare Kindred, which include a lot of the playable races from Monsters! Monsters!, St Andre's game of getting back at those smug humans. M!M! holds a special place in my heart because one of the greatest modules of all time, Rat on a Stick, was written for it. But I'm probably weird for loving an adventure where you play a goblin selling fast food in a dungeon. Anyway, the basic deal is that, GM willing, you can play a Dragon, or a Skeleton, or a Troll, or several other baddie races.
Box Full O' Toys
I have been unable to find the cable that allows the digital camera to talk the computer. Otherwise I'd be sharing some photos in this section, because I absolutely love how this set is put together. First of all, the box is a little tin container measuring approximately 5" x 7" x 1". Fiery Dragon published this under license from Flying Buffalo, so if you've ever seen one of Fiery Dragon's other tin boxes you should have a good idea what I'm talking about. Rather than coming off completely, the lid is hinged. One gripe I have with my copy is that the locking dimples on the non-hinged side don't line up. The lid and box should snap into place, but they don't quite. I use a rubber band to keep mine together.
Of course the real fun begins once you get inside the box. The main rulebook is 120 pages wire bound. That's the kind of binding that looks kinda like the coil binding that notebooks for school come with, but instead of one long coil there's a series of rings. This style of binding allows the book to lay flat. I hate it when rulebooks refuse to lay flat. Whenever I get a PDF done at the Kinko's, I always get wire bound And now that I think about it, Encounter Critical could really use a wire bound edition. The book itself is laid out very cleanly. It lacks an index, but the Table of Contents is functional.
The box is chock full of other stuff. Two more little booklets. One of which is the monsters and treasure booklet, the other of which I'll talk about in a little bit. You also get a CD-ROM chock full of stuff: 2 character sheets, expanded equipment lists, lengthy combat examples, the Buffalo Castle module, and old T&T computer game. Great stuff!
The box also contains counters with more art by Claudio Pozas. The sorceress who takes fashion tips from Vampirella doesn't seem to fit in with the tone of the rest of the counters, but I'm not really complaining. To go with the counters you get two little tactical grids. These dungeon grids are really cute. They've got the stonework effect similar to S. John Ross's nifty Flagstones font, but in full color and sprinkled with little dungeon tidbits like bones and bloodstains and such. Much more fun than a blank battlemat.
And you get dice! Two smallish d6's in a nice marbled blue effect. I don't normally dig marbled, speckled, or otherwise munged dice. I want to be able to read my dice, not display them in a museum. But the marbled effect on these little guys is much more subtle than most and I really like it. The numbers are big and bright white, so there's no concern about reading them. I'm seriously considering tracking down some more of these little suckers. There's room in the box for a few more.
Two RPGs for the price of one!
In the comments to part one of this post Captain Rufus complained "I keep wondering which version of T&T to pick up, but there are like 3 or 4 out there that at least someone says is great. Makes me totally confused." I was totally in the same boat a while back, but here's the easy answer to that conundrum, Captain. The T&T 30th Anniversary box comes with two different editions! The 120 page rulebook I mentioned above is the 7th edition of the game by St. Andre's numbering. The box also comes with a little 32-page booklet labeled "Alternative Rules" that present a whoel 'nother version of T&T. To my eye (and I am by no means a T&T expert) the smaller book looks like it rolls back some of the changes introduced in this new edition, so you basically get New Coke and Classic Coke in the same bottle.
At least one cool cat has tried to tell me that the new Talents rules weren't sufficiently old school. Well, I don't give a crap because these rules are awesome. Talents are open-ended widely applicable skills your PC can pick up. And they aren't defined by anyone but you and your GM. There's no list of Talents to choose from, only an example or two. I like that a lot. Talents basically allow you to do Saving Rolls (the basic "how to do anything but whack a guy or cast a spell" that's the heart of T&T) in new and interesting ways. Well, those ways are interesting as long as you're on your toes. You don't get any help beyond the simple permission to go forth and be cool.
Bones Goblin Shaman
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