Mark struck first with his purchase of the Tunnels & Trolls 5th edition rules from Flying Buffalo. I was really impressed when Mark showed me his copy and I knew that I had to find my own copy - and get some of those "solo dungeons" that used the Tunnels & Trolls system. It didn't take long for me to find the rules and copies of Arena of Khazan, City of Terrors, and Beyond the Silvered Pane. Before I knew it, I was enjoying hours upon hours of role playing fun. I had a file card case full of combatants for Arena of Khazan, and a handful of characters who survived long enough to become precious to me.
While there are some detractors of the Tunnels & Trolls game system, I have always thought that the game was not only enjoyable but also innovative.
- Liz Danforth's art and editing in the 5th edition of the game set it apart from many other publication of the era. The 5th edition is a truly professional edition and prior to the soon to be released "Deluxe Edition" it has been my go to edition of the game.
- Ken St. Andre's version of the Saving Throw as presented in T&T has had a deep influence on the gaming industry. Where D&D at the time had saves for "spells," "poison," and "rods, staves, wands" T&T had a system that used a character's attributes against a target number. It took D&D several generations before they adopted something similar with the 3rd edition rules set, and completed the transition with their own 5th edition. Prior to 3.0, stat checks in D&D were typically "roll stat value or less on d20" and 3.0 changed that to roll d20+stat modifier vs. target. T&T's system uses a simple formula [15 + (level of challenge x 5)] - Statistic = Target Number on open ended 2d6. Dan Eastwood does a nice statistical breakdown of the system here.
- The concept of exploding dice was new with T&T and though T&T explodes on doubles where some other games explode on largest value, it isn't hard to see the influence of T&T.
As I mentioned earlier, Moldvay Basic was the first rpg game system I owned, but T&T 5th edition was the first edition that I spent my own allowance on. It was my first purchase, and it is still one of my first loves. I might just crack open that file card case this evening.