Tunnels & Trolls

Nikola Adamus 

Title: Tunnels & Trolls, 1ed.
Author: Ken St. Andre
Publishing date: 1975

Tunnels & Trolls was one of the very first role-playing games. It was an answer for Dungeons & Dragons written in a couple of weeks by Ken St. and published by Flying Buffalo. It was very successful.

Reviewing such old game in 21st century might be seen as a waste of time, but reading Tunnels & Trolls nowadays gives us a great insight into the style of role-playing in the 70s and 80s. What is more important is that playing it in retro style means a lot of fun.

In this game the only thing you care about is to survive in the dungeon. One teammate draws a map, another is the caller who communicates with a Dungeon Master just like it was in the beginning of role-playing games. Mechanics is quite simple, but it requires from us some improvisation when interpreting the rules.

Today we would say that this game is just badly designed, but actually when you start playing it, there is something engaging in mimicking retro style of playing – mostly because it is so different from games nowadays and such experience gives us a nice perspective on RPGs evolution.

Tunnels & Trolls it is not a “must-have” on your gaming shelf, but certainly you will enjoy playing, even just for sake to know how first role-players were playing. Apart from playingrelated features, Tunnels & Trolls shows also a stance towards women in 70s and 80s – that they are not actually present, maybe only as barely clothed amazons and in sexist jokes which is also an interesting information connected with RPG history.

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