We return to ‘blast away the fiends of boredom’ with another T&T episode. This time we are joined by Big Jack Brass, Jon Hancock.
0.15 Introduction. We had feedback from non-other than Ken St Andre himself…
4.05 Open Box. Jon talks about his early life in role playing and why he was drawn to T&T.
24.04 Actual Play. Jon is the GM for Monsters! Monsters!, where the ill-kin are the heroes.
You’ll find more from the Whartson Hall gaming group at UK Roleplayers forums.
34.01 Gamesmasters Screen. Why is T&T so good? Jon counts the ways.
1.17 Actual Play. Blythy joins Dirk for a solo game and a reluctant example of actual play.
1.31 Postbag. Feedback and thank you to new Patreons.
16 thoughts on “Episode 7 (Part 2) Tunnels and Trolls RPG”
I just finished listening to this episode! Your tales and perspectives made me genuinely laugh with delight. So much that Jon and you remark on as clever or innovative? It just seemed natural to us at the time, not crazy deliberate schemes, just trying to make things that were fun. Yet it worked for you and others, evidently. So strange to see one’s work from someone else’s perspectives. So very very cool, too.
And no, only Ken is a retired pensioner. I work as a full time freelancer, as does Crompton, and Bear remains with his long-time employer. I listen to a lot of podcasts while slaving away at the art table (as was the case today), but I don’t think I’ve grinned so much or been so happy to be listening since I first discovered Welcome to Night Vale. (Consider that high praise.)
Thank you, thank you for all your kind words, your insights, and for sharing your perspective. I feel honored and delighted to have had a part of making something wonderful in your lives… even if it took a few *cough*decades*cough years to become apparent. Cheers! And thank you.
It is nice to see people so dedicated and passionate about the games of the past. No one wants to see their hard work forgotten or minimized.
Good show as always. I played T&T back in the early 80s, and it was my second FRPG after Holmes Basic D&D/AD&D. It was fun, though only one of our group had the rules….which unlike you guys was a rarity in our circle. It was fun, but the light-heartedness got to us in a negative way, so it was back to D&D.
BTW, I tried emailing you a queston to the gmail account you give on the show, but it keeps bouncing for me. Could you give it as a contact on the website?
Save or Die Podcast
Hey DM Mike,
Great to hear from you again. Pleased that you’ve enjoyed our T&T coverage.
I’m looking forward to listening to your latest episode about IMAGINE and Pelinore. Our forthcoming November episode has an interview with Paul Cockburn, the editor of IMAGINE. Your pod will make a great companion piece.
The email is email@example.com – I’ll add it to the contacts.
Though one of the art pieces from T&T always stuck with me (no pun intended). It was the Giant with the arrow in his head saying “Ha! You missed all my vital spots!” Classic! 😉
Phun Phact: It was in a Tunnels & Trolls advertisement that the term “Fantasy Role Playing Game” was first coined. D&D was trying to protect it’s property, so you couldn’t say “D&D style game” and there wasn’t another term for it. So they had to invent one.
I’ve heard this Phun Phact before, and I’d like to know the cite. It might have been a T&T ad that put the words into print at an early stage, but we at Flying Buffalo never held some late-night confab musing about how “We can’t say D&D style game” so let’s invent something; oh I know, let’s say “fantasy role-playing game”. Since I was running the productions department for many years, and thus responsible for the advertising, I think I would have remembered such an event. I suspect the phrase came into use amongst gamers early on.
To be honest, I’d only heard it recently, mentioned in the book Empire of Imagination by MIchael Witwer. The quote was, “After TSR’s threats of copyright infringement, Tunnels & Trolls maker Flying Buffalo removed all mentions of Dungeons & Dragons from its advertising, instead choosing to refer to D&D and other TSR games as ‘other fantasy role-playing games.’ The first appearance off the term appears in a Tunnels & Trolls advertisement in the August 1, 1976 edition ot the Metagaming Concepts catalog. Thus the term role-playing game was born.”
Hmm. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’d wager the author made a (logical) deduction that happened to connect dots that suited his narrative, but might not have been accurate to the reality of the time.
I find myself thinking of “Hamilton” here, and “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.”
(Just FYI, since I realize the Tourach gravatar isn’t saying this: this is Liz Danforth speaking to this question.)
Well, look at it this way. You can take the story and run with it. “The term Role Playing Game? Yeah, that was us!” Good PR for Flying Buffalo!
Indeed! Yes, I’d like for this to be true, and I can’t absolutely say for sure it isn’t. But I’m skeptical for two reasons: (a) precisely *because* I’d like for it to be true, which makes me pull out my confirmation bias test-kit; and (b) because it’s a nice tidy bit of story that might be just a little toooo tidy.
But in the end: it’s a nice shiny bit of folklore to love up with. Okay. I’m done. It really happened, midnight confab and all. 8D
I never got on with T&T, like Blythy the daft spell names put me off, and i may have misunderstood at the time (very likely) but i can remember finding the combat adds thing weird. Did it not mean that if you were fairly lowly and came up against something with a load more combat adds you were essentially dead, a forgone conclusion. This seemed a bit unsporting, although probably essentially the same in other games, but there was the fiction you had a chance.
I was delighted to hear that Jon’s discovery of Warlock of Firetop Mountain was near exactly the same as mine, i too read about it in that sunday supplement article and couldn’t comprehend how a game where you could do anything could possibly work, presumably the roleplaying craze was being described in the piece as background for the book. Likewise i got a copy very soon after and never looked back. Strangely enough i can remember exactly which room i was in and where, the dining room of my grandmas house, both now long gone.
As for listening to actual play podcasts i know what you mean, far too many braying people you just don’t want in your ear, with the exception of the Whartson Hall Players. When they’re round the table it’s often comedy gold, good friends having a laugh.
I can recommend the pirate campaign they ran, there’s plenty of tea spitting out moments and it has the best ending, (a great bit of character acting Jon).
It’s a shame that all seems to have ended, as i cant really get on with the newer internet-play based ones.
As ever a really enjoyable podcast, Dirk and the team you really seem to be settling in to your roles, and there’s an easy confidence about the podcast.
Very kind of you to mention our recordings, Rog. The Whartson Hall policy is to aim low and see what we hit, so I’m glad we’re not completely off the mark. That ending, for those who’ve not heard it, replaces the last, lost session of the campaign. I think that the fact you enjoyed the recording where none of us were gaming says a lot about us 😁
I just stumbled over these recordings and I’m about halfway through the first TnT one. I had the license from flying Buffalo to print TnT in the UK and this has brought back a lot of happy memories.