Prepping Tunnels & Trolls

Started by Peter Nordstrand, October 18, 2008, 05:19:06 PM

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Peter Nordstrand

I am preparing a Tunnels & Trolls game for the first time, trying to follow the good advice I got in the thread apltly named Tunnels & Trolls advice.

Are you playing T&T with me? Don't read this. It contains spoilers.

My dungeon is based on a map from an old D&D adventure that I haven't even read. I'm using the map, and allow myself to be inspired by the map key ("guard tower", "great hall", "kitchen", etc.).

The setup is straightforward.

Player info:
Someone has been raiding the surrounding farmlands. There's an old abandoned castle nearby. The raiders come from the castle.

GM info:
The castle's owner was (and still is) Graf Hunor von Oben. Hunor became obsessed with the magical sciences of transformation and abandoned his duties as a noble. He still lives in the lower levels, continuing his obsessive experiments, but he has transformed into the wicked werecreaturething Hunor the Rat Bat.

A band of ruthless bandits have moved into the upper levels, with Hunor's blessing. Hunor promises them access to his Amazing Magic Feats® in return for some basic services, such as feeding him and his fruit addiction. I am thinking that Hunor's magic may very well mutate the bandits (and other castle denziens) over time, to the chagrin of the adventurers.

I have a few ideas for a possible third faction that may arrive and turn things on their head if some more havoc needs to be wrought. But I'll just save them as a possibility for now.


I've only just started stocking the dungeon, but I have some ideas. The first level will actually be outside the main building of the castle. The area is guarded by the bandits, who have lookouts, and will use archery and slow retreats as a tactic in their favor. The players will have to come up with ways to gain entrance to the castle without confronting the entire band at once. My plan is to divide the bandits into four or five groups, each group being about as strong as the PCs are.

I'll try to come up with a colorful bandit leader or two.

In principle, the area above ground belong to the bandits, while below ground is Hunor's realm.

Level 2-4 are the three floors of the castle above ground. Level 2 is the ground floor, etc.

Level 5 is the dungeons in the cellar. Level 6 are the caves where Hunor lives. They are probably connected to the old family catacombs or somesuch.

Hunor's wizardly background will allow me to come up with all kinds of traps, tricks and other surprises. Failed experiments may still be roaming the corridors, and so on.

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law

Callan S.

Perhaps with the bandits decide how they might naturally clump together (a few might conspire together, or a large clump might be getting drunk together) rather than balance each group to the PCs group. I think you might be trying to make a puzzle of how to get in, when you can leave it to the games combat system, luck rolls and magic spell options to make a puzzle and gamble of it. Mind you, leaving it up to this system might mean it's incredibly easy or incredibly hard, still. Tell people even you as GM don't know how tough it'll be :)

Also, probably more importantly, I think with Hunor you've decided he's the ending of this adventure. From reading T&T 5.5, It seems like the authors alter ego in the dungeon never actually faced death. He faced his cherished creations or favoured goons being stomped, but not himself. In order to adjudicate Hunors death I think you'd have to become detached from him, which defeats the alter ego connection. Perhaps instead Hunors building some great creation he dearly cares about, and the PC's know he's making something terrible. Draw a picture of it, make the noises it'd make, decide how Hunor would dance around it happily, and stuff! That way Hunor will suffer if(when?) it falls, but you don't have to become impersonally detached from him to adjudicate procedings. And if by some whim you do feel like making Hunor's life at risk at that point, go with your heart! :)

Peter Nordstrand

Thank you for making me think about what I am doing here!

I don't think I am making a puzzle for the players at all. I may very well have the wrong approach, but I don't think so. The thing is, I am not planning the players' actions at all. Instead I am trying to focus on what the NPCs/monsters are doing at the start of the game. How prepared are they for a party of delvers and in what way have they prepared? I'm just playing my characters in a way.

Hence, Level 1 (the courtyard) consists of lookouts armed with bows, a patrol, and a number of traps and warning devices that alert the guards that intruders are coming. The watchmen and the patrol are instructed to delay intruders and send for backup! Therefore, I've made a few decisions about the backups as well, such as how many they are and how long it will take for them to get ready for a fight. When the players come up with something unexpected, as I sure hope they will, I'll embrace that. As I understand it, the players coming up with stuff is what it is all about.

Regarding Hunor, I haven't really made any decisions about him at all. I'm just making up a menacing character. Although he began as my alter ego (in a bizarre and twisted and most unrealistic way), I don't really see why granting him some special GM protection or plot immunity would improve play experience. I'm not saying you are wrong, just that I don't get it.

Hunor lives in a cave below a castle inhabited by monsters and bandits! I can tell you right now, that that's not me in any meaningful way, and no cave dwelling dungeon managing freak is ever going to be. I'm attached to him only insofar as I am looking forward to seeing what will happen with this feakish, exaggerated parody of some of my personal characteristics, but that's it.

Does that make sense?
Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey's Law


I think Callan makes to much of the idea of a GM persona for the dungeon. Sure, many times in the old dungeons it was the GM's dungeon and "he" was the one who sat at the centre of the web and sent minions out to harass the players. Note though that it *is* gamism. What Ken would say is probably "it's just a game". The GM persona is probably, if it's a good gamist dungeon, sitting way behind the lines directing his troops, but why should he be invincible? He is just a character in a game, not the GM.
Andreas Davour

Callan S.

I think I'll wait until Peter has played a game before really discussing further (looking forward to the account!). But I'll say this - from the fragmentary accounts in 5.5, it seems bosses never died. I'd estimate that it's because when the GM loses, if his boss characters alive he can act out his character being defeated in the game world. If his boss character dead, he can shake your hand and congratulate you, but he could have done that in a card game just as much (ie, why roleplay if that's exactly what you want?).