Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tunnels & Trolls: Down the River on the Drunken Dwarf

It was a ragtag band of characters that met in the market of Khost, at the tents of Friendly and Fair Fil the armorer. Wiped out of their gold by buying some basic weapons, Fil was happy to point them toward the river where he knew of a local riverboat captain looking for extra muscle from some guards.

The band includes the following characters:  
Fredo the Hobb, a Warrior (Riley), Fred the Zombie Slayer, a Dwarven Warrior (Jacob), Dorik the Hearty, another Dwarven Warrior (Josh), Sir Orik, a Dwarven Warrior-Leader, handsome in countenance and short on brains (Baxter), Knick Knack, dwarf Warrior (Jake), Foo Foo the Bunny, yet another Dwarf Warrior (Eric), Sam Urai, an Elf Rogue-Wizard (Ben), and yes, one human Wizard, Sillypants Jackson (Ethan).

The band was hailed by Captain Tardag and his first mate Long Torrm as being the right number for their crew. They could always use some extra muscle but mostly they were needed as guards since there were rumors of river pirates. They were promised ten gold per day but Sir Orik, with his brilliant leadership, managed to eke out the promise of more if possible and depending on how they did. With a shove off from the dock--and only a couple of them falling into the river--the Drunken Dwarf was off down the river.

Sir Orik was instantly smitten by Halalgalatidoofiel a beautiful Elven minstrel. As he was preparing to whisper sweet nothings in her ear, she was rudely shoved aside by Maroo the Marvelous! He was trying to sell magic charms but was grieved to learn the characters had little money to spare.

Some of the characters were picked for lookout duty. It wasn't long before they noticed the river seemed alive and seething. Turns out it was river snakes! The captain was called on deck, excited to have run into a mass of "good eatin'." Long Torrm hopped up on the prow with one of the poles. With a deft twist and flick of the pole, he flipped a couple of snakes up out of the water and onto the deck. A couple of crew members jumped on the slithering critters with clubs. The adventurers figured it looked easy enough and began trying, most deftly landing some snakes up on the deck.

They continued for a bit until they realized that there were more snakes landing on the deck than they could club at once. Plus, the were beginning to slither up on the deck too. They were everywhere. "OK, boys," shouted Long Torrm, "let's get rid of 'em!" They traded their poles for their weapons and began hacking, slashing and bludgeoning them to death. Some of the moves included tossing them into the air and batting them with a polearm or taking a nice golf swing into a pile of snakes with a warhammer. A shriek alerted them to one of the crew who had been overwhelmed. With several snakes attached to him, he quickly blackened and fell into the river. A bit later another shriek was uttered by one of the crew that had slipped and fallen into the seething water. After a bit more smashing and bashing, the last of the snakes on deck were dispatched. Karyla, one of the passengers who was relocating her restaurant to Knor, cooked up  a delicious meal of riversnakes.

During the meal, a couple of the dwarves were smitten by the sad sounds of Halalgalatidoofiel's lute. While they tried to smooth talk her they were suddenly accosted by Maroo the Marvelous trying to offload his charms. "You might have wooed her with this!" he said, producing a piece of paper with a rune on it. He was close to Dorik cleaving him asunder right there!

Three of the party volunteered for the night watch duty. Their eyes were heavy and Knick Knack and Fred didn't see what Sir Orik saw: several large logs approaching the boat. But not logs! Canoes! Knick Knack and Sir Orik slipped into the river as the canoes approached; Fred snuck off to alert the crew. As the canoes approached, they could see that they were filled with some ratty looking orcs, goblins and men. It was Captain Fyke's band of river pirates! And there were a lot. They swarmed aboard, each member of the party engaged with one pirate. Soon others were aboard. The party fought well and after trading lots of blows, the pirates all lay dead on deck or floating in the river. Some jingles alerted them to a few loose coins which they grabbed. Captain Tarndag stood with his foot on Captain Fyke's chest. With a deft swipe of his axe, he sent the pirate's head into the water and the body was tossed over next.

Suna, an old crone who had taken passage on the Drunken Dwarf, applied some poultices and salves and healed the party up a bit.

Just as dawn turned to daylight, the Drunken Dwarf suddenly crashed to a halt right in the middle of the river. River trolls suddenly began swarming aboard. With oily hair and frog-like heads their sharp claws began slashing. More than one crewman was grabbed and taken overboard, their shrieks turning to gurgles as they went under. The adventurers went full bore against the trolls. A warhammer smashed forth but was grabbed and blocked. Punch swords drew blood and pierced organs. Short swords slashed. Polearms thrust into ribcages. Nasty troll claws drew blood but the adventurers and crew fought strongly. After a brief struggle of ten or so minutes, the battle was again over, the boat safe.

Within the hour, the Drunken DwarfKnor. The crew began offloading their passengers' belongings. Captain Tarndag deftly handed each adventurer 20 gold. (The amount promised?) "Ye be welcome back anytime ye want to serve aboard the Drunken Dwarf, laddies! Ye done well and I thank 'ee."

The characters stepped off the boat. Halagalatidoofiel once again was seen, a sad look in her eyes. "What's wrong," they asked her. "I wonder if you could help me book passage further downriver. I must get to where my family was when they were killed by orcs." The party argued for a moment and then split up the sum of 25 gold for her. In a moment, they turned and she was gone, lost among the meandering crowd along the docks. Fuming, the party wondered what to do next...follow her?

Game Notes

One of the fun things was to see the players light up when they were told they could do just about anything they tried, with a simple Saving Roll. "You mean I can cast my spell and then trip him?" Since Combat Rounds in T&T are around 2 minutes,  that gives them a chance to realistically do a little more. The combat, though individualized according to the adventure, is much quicker than in D&D. Without a tactical view, this was roleplaying as I remembered it from my middle school days (though that was D&D).

As always, the criteria for the game was whether the kids had fun. They grokked the system pretty quickly and had a good time hamming it up. We'll probably go on next week; there's another adventure nearby perhaps. In some ways, the game is better for our library setting. The combat resolution makes it easy to have any number of players in the battle without adding any significant time. Downtime seems to be a bit less and there's less confusion since players don't have to know specific powers. While I don't foresee us abandoning our Dark Sun campaign, T&T offers a much simpler and easily engaging alternate campaign for roleplaying fun.

I can't believe I'd never heard of T&T but I'm glad I came across it online. It's a lot of fun and easy to run. We're using the 7.5 boxed set from Fiery Dragon as our version. The adventure we used can be had here, which is great since it's free!

1 comment:

  1. I discovered T&T about a year ago after trying 4th edition D&D and a couple other games with my family. T&T hit a sweet spot for my daughter and nephew due to the fast, flexible, and elegant Saving Roll system, combat, and quick character creation. The hardest part was buying equipment! I love it because the game offers so much scope for creative narration within the simplicity of Saving Rolls and combat, which can both liven things up and turn the tide.

    I've been playing Tunnels & Trolls with others too, and evangelizing it to anyone who will listen. It's got a very different sensibility than many other role-playing games, and to think it's been around longer than most of the games I've ever played!