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.

A few years ago, Patrice G. 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.

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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