Adventures along the Vale: a deluxe Tunnels & Trolls campaign for Dwarves
Characters adventure along the Vale and into the far mountains to explore and perhaps reclaim the ancient Dwarf homeland of Ikkutas. As they pass through the various communities they have many opportunities to delve into dungeons along the way.
In the tradition of T&T, I expect light-hearted sessions, focused on what’s going on in the present, with some minimal thought to the adventure ahead.
T&T is traditionally high-fatality, but in the Ikkutas campaign I expect to kill or maim as a result of dumb moves, as opposed to save-or-die rolls. A word of caution though: T&T also traditionally honours quick wit and I will honour that tradition: if you fail to react, your character fails to react.
Some Tunnels & Trolls (T&T) campaign basics
The Vale is a long shallow river-vale, occupied by humans who live in late-Medieval-to-early-Renaissance-era style towns and villages. It has the kind of cool temperate climate found in Renaissance Europe. The people are collectively known as Nandil. A number of unique cultures, including demihuman, can be found tucked around this dominant Nandil Vale culture.
T&T does not have a great number. Each class has features unique to it. The Warrior makes armour work for him and gets better at combat with experience; the Wizard is proficient at using Magic; the Rogue has talent for both but no special training for either. During character creation, there is a small chance to roll up a Specialist, who possesses a Talent to an unusual degree. Talents or backgrounds are held generally, as well, except for non-Esgaroth characters.
T&T’s universe is a little less phobic than most others in the fantasy RPG genre. The ‘Illkin’ (races such as Uruks) are not necessarily evil creatures to be wiped out on sight. Humans are by far the most numerous in the Vale but all manner of other races may crop up. Not that all races get on equally well! You’ll generally find a certain amount of prejudice against Dwarves.
T&T magic mechanics are based partly on your recall (don’t try to throw a combat spell unless you remember it by name!) and partly on a characteristic named Wizardry, or WIZ. Wizards, being proficient, get better mileage out of their WIZ than Rogues do. The Vale is more or less a high-magic world: there are very powerful spell-casters and magic can be pervasive and continuous. Magic ‘items’ are not particularly common. Adventurers and law enforcers do gather items and use them.
Gods of the Vale are non-interventionist. Humans of the Nandil culture may worship a range of gods, none of them requiring enormous amounts of time and money. Some localities will seem monotheistic, most will not. Both Dwarf and Vale cultures have Priests but Priest is not a character class. Prayers to gods are going to be background ‘flavour’ for your own character, not things that actually help you.
Equipment and technology
As hinted above the Vale is roughly at the early Renaissance level of technology, give or take a bit of magic. Gunnes dish out a lot of damage but your reliable old axe will still be dishing it out after the gunne has exploded or run out of ammo. Gunnes are uncommon enough for heavy armour to be worth wanting.
Superior equipment, and inferior equipment, are both things. You might begin with shoddy gear that falls apart after a few days, and with cheap weapons that don’t do as well in combat as similar but better gear. Keep an eye and ear out for reputable artisans who turn out superior gear.
T&T combat uses a completely different concept from most other systems. A combat round lasts two minutes, not a few seconds. At its simplest, both sides roll dice and add in combat adds (which are like attribute bonuses, aggregated) and attrition decides a winner. But inside the combat round, characters can do smart things that call Saving Rolls (SRs) to gain some advantage or get out of trouble. Magic and missiles also play an important part in altering the shape of a combat round.
T&T uses the d6. Each weapon has a dice rating, expressed in d6 plus adds, for example 2d6+2 for a dagger, 4d6+4 for a sword. It is possible to use two weapons at a time if you have the requisite abilities. Outside of combat you normally roll 2d6, for a Saving Roll (SR).
The bread and butter of T&T action mechanics is 2d6, doubles add and roll over (DARO). Saving rolls are normally rolled on a single attribute, high is good. Players should look for ways to call SRs because they are the engine for experience. An inventive player that thinks of challenges will advance quicker than a player that simply sits and waits for the next combat. A player that can think of tasks or challenges for each team member to take on is an ideal leader.
Experience is taken in Adventure Points. They allow purchase of higher attributes and talents and your best attribute (divided by ten) defines your level. Because your Dwarf could begin with Strength of over 30 you may find you begin at Level 3. Challenges faced by higher levels may be too tough for others so min-maxing may backfire.
Character creation (and talents)
There are eight attributes, which are found by rolling 3d6, triples add and roll over (TARO). A TARO event marks the attribute as special, relating to a Specialist class. Because that ‘special’ nature of the TARO attribute will provide a lot of variety to characters, I would like starting characters to be rolled up straight with no re-ordering.
The attributes are:
Strength (STR); Constitution (CON); Dexterity (DEX); Speed (SPD); Luck (LK); Intelligence (IQ); Charisma (CHA); and Wizardry (WIZ).
Dwarves (and almost any other non-human race) apply racial multipliers to the final rolled-up attributes. These are:
Esgaroth-based Dwarf: STRx2 IQx1 LKx0.75 SPDx0.75 CONx2 DEXx1 CHAx0.67 WIZx1 Heighxt0.67 Weightx1
Other Dwarf: STRx2 IQx1 LKx1 SPDx0.67 CONx2 DEXx1 CHAx0.75 WIZx1 Heightx0.67 Weightx0.75
Your first character will have his start-point in Esgaroth, the big port-city of the estuarine Vale. He may be from one of the two Dwarf ghettos in the city, or he may be more of a transient. You simply need to provide him with a reason for seeking Ikkutas, and that may vary from a fierce desire to reinstate ancestral greatness, to ‘I heard it had treasure.’ A transient Dwarf will have slightly different multipliers to a City-origin Dwarf and will not be a specialist nor advance in talents.
We will also use Character Webs (modified to recognise the campaign’s nature) in session one, to set up possible relationships between characters, most likely relating to parents. This means you will have some kind of starting-point for your character’s background, even if it is ‘what I decided not to be’.
Regarding other optional rules for specialist weapons and magic: I’m generally in favour. Let’s talk about it.