12 Dec 2012

Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

THOSE WITH YOUR EAR to the rails are already aware that Tunnels & Trolls is in something of a renaissance. The game that my colleagues and I worked on so feverishly out of the Flying Buffalo offices, back in the 70s and 80s, has never gone away despite the rise and fall of many more widely-purchased and -played games. We never broke sales records, but we were always in the mix. Various modules might go out of print, but the core game rules kept plugging away in various editions and multiple translations.

Despite being declared dead a time or two, Tunnels & Trolls has had the temerity to stay out of the death cart like in a classic Monty Python skit, declaring “I’m not dead yet!” And we are indeed still happy, still alive and kicking, and no one has yet managed to bonk the game on the head and send it to the mass grave of venerable but now long-forgotten games.

La Sorciere, wizard

Waiting to meet you in the new edition…

The fans kept the game alive. Ken St Andre kept writing new material. Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo kept things chugging along. Things were good.

And now, we’re getting better. Really. Follow me over the jump and I’ll give you a peek.

FIRST OF A NEW BREED
A few years ago, Patrice Geille of Luxembourg translated the 7.5 edition of T&T into French, and then sought out Ken St Andre for some rules updates. He had me do a little bit of new artwork. And he brought on Steve Compton do the layout and graphic design. That edition, generally considered a kind of 8th edition now, turned out magnificently. If you didn’t read French, that was only a bit of a problem — the book was just that good.

Château Bison, Buffalo Castle's French revisionIf you care to see what Patrice has wrought, check out his website Tunnels & Trolls: Le Retour d’un Grand Ancien. Not only is the core game available, you can see Patrice takes very seriously the effort to translate and reimagine new editions of solitaire and GM dungeons alike, and to bring out completely new works as well.

If you’ve followed this erratic blog for a little while, you might remember I talked quite a bit about the pleasure I took in reillustrating the venerable Buffalo Castle solitaire dungeon, now the all-new Château Bison. Steve’s graphic skill made it shine, inside and out, bringing my black-and-white linework to living color.

INSPIRATION
In fact, the new edition of T&T was so glorious to see, the old team at Flying Buffalo was blown away. Me too. I don’t live in the Phoenix Metro area any more, but the experience was the same for all of us. No sooner had it arrived than we started talking (or in my case, emailing) about how we’d like to see a new edition in English that looked this good.

Ken wanted to further develop ideas he had. I wanted to do more artwork. Bear Peters got excited to be involved again, hauling out long-forgotten maps and sheaves of notes about places our characters lived and adventured in, dungeons we delved, cities we razed, lands we explored or only talked about in whispers. And Steve Crompton sat back, chuckling, and saying “Mwwwhahaah! My clever plan worked!”

See, Steve worked at Flying Buffalo, yes, but not in the early days of T&T. He is the youngster of the group, and making the French edition hearkened back to the glory days of the game for him. In the end, the edition reminded the rest of us what we loved back then.

And still love, despite the years and the considerable mileage.

We’re all been working on this project for some time now — this is one of several reasons my posts here have grown even more erratic. The future of Deluxe T&T is almost ready to unveil. And as I said at the start of this post, if you have your ear to the rails, you have already seen this video. You know what’s coming.

And if you have not? Then this is just a  taste of things to come. Stay tuned.

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24 Responses to Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

  1. mkhall says:

    This is very, very good news! I’m looking forward to having a copy in hand.

  2. Mike Jarvis says:

    …and I, for one, cannot wait!

  3. Knick says:

    “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”

  4. Grandpa Chet, the MormonYoYoMan says:

    Please, mum, I want some more.

    And you are responsible for me sending that YouTube clip to my wife, creatle Very Loud Haw-Haws that can be heard all over the complex.

  5. What? Little ol’ me with a secret plan to reforge the Trollish Fellowship an start anew the age of greatness and wonder that once reigned supreme in gaming fandom?
    A new age of greatness where I get to work on Tunnels & Trolls in a more than ancillary way?…
    Ridiculous – I never gave it a moments thought. Really.
    heh heh…. Steve

    Seriously – this is gonna be REALLY cool! You’ll see…

  6. rRob says:

    Where’s the ‘like’ button? :) I’m very excited to see the result of this reunion!

  7. 1986 fan who sho still thinks its great likes’

  8. Stefan Jones says:

    My only question is “how can I help?”

    Besides pledging to the Kickstarter, of course.

    • Liz Danforth says:

      Kickstarter is just over the horizon. We’ve done a lot on our own, because we didn’t want to sell pie in the sky. (Castles in the air, maybe! But not pie. Ozone flavored pie is just icky.) But we can’t do it all, and we’ve been concocting some interesting incentives I think. Like I said — stay tuned!

  9. Daniel Arthur says:

    I am really looking forward to this….what great nostalgia combined with bringing a new start to a classic game!

  10. Dhonn says:

    Ah, long nights spent in a friend’s father’s intimate, evocative, and appropriately subterranean nightclub… flagons of ale (we didn’t have to role-play that) and fists full of dice… the adventures of Byll the battle-dwarf… Balrogs and Ribzotty Gibberbats… Sorry, drifted away there, yes I’ll be pledging!

    • Liz Danforth says:

      Ribzotty Gibberbats??? Now that I’d like to see. NO, WAIT… forget that. I do NOT want to see Ribzotty Gibberbats, at least not unless my wizard was well and truly surrounded by shieldmates and boon companions…!

  11. All I need now is for someone to reissue all the Sorcerer’s Apprentice magazines and life will be complete!

    • Liz Danforth says:

      Patrice also brought that up, a year or so ago. But magazines generally purchase only “first rights” (or one-time reprint rights if something has seen publication elsewhere, as was the case with some of the fiction we bought). Somewhere I have a disc with all of SA collected together, to go through and see what we *could* reprint … but I think it would be pretty thin fare. We’ll have to see.

      • Now, that’s a disk I could happily steal from you!!! :) I did have a conversation with someone a while back about this and it was mooted but the problem would appear to be tracking down all the contributors. I did suggest that a simple copy to disk would be more than adequate – that is, it wouldn’t have to be printed – and for those old enough to remember it would be a wave of nostalgia and for those young enough to be new to the game it would find a ready market. Sadly my collection got misappropriated when I got divorced some years ago.

        • Liz Danforth says:

          Whether the content is on a disk or printed, there would be issues of rights I could not personally countenance transgressing, Philip. :) And in truth, many of the contributors have disappeared or passed away over the years: Manly Wade Wellman, Roger Zelazny, Fred Saberhagen, Karl Edward Wagner, Stephan Peregrine, and many others are no longer with us. While some of them surely have estates to approach regarding these rights, I am equally sure that some heirs and assigns would say nothing more coherent than “whhhhuuuuutttt???” even if we could still find them.

  12. Crrrreg says:

    Any general idea when the kickstarter will “kick off”?

    • Liz Danforth says:

      Soon…. ;)

      ETA: Okay, that’s not a very fair answer although accurate in its vagueness. Expect Santa to bring something to make your holidays more interesting, if not sooner. We’ve got some hoops to jump through still.

  13. anen kram says:

    Boy, am I glad I survived the drought of the 90’s with no new T&T stuff. I can’t wait for the new edition & am glad the team is back together again.

  14. Patience is a virtue! All things come to trolls that wait :)

  15. Looks like a ton of fun! Now with MOAR TROLLS?! Yes please. I am not sure how many were originally in it, but I imagine more is always good (unless they are hungry for human).

    • You can never go wrong with more Trolls … well, unless you’re sat in the middle of a clearing surrounded by Trolls who are all looking at you as if you’re some particularly esoteric piece of potential food they haven’t quite figured out the recipie to use for yet and are mentally trying to draw lines bisecting limbs to indicate their prefernce for cuts …

      *ahem* Sorry, been editing today. Need to come back to the real world … Ignore everything before and just go with “More trolls are good” :)