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Tunnels and Trolls an RPG

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Many fans of classic pen-and-paper role-playing games lament the current state of play in the RPG field. Rules have become complex to the point of totally obscuring the collaborative story-telling aspect, and game mechanics behave more like MMORPGs than the simple systems of arbitration. Games have become so bogged down with keeping track of counters, statuses, initiative order, and other variables that even the simplest encounter has become a drudgery of record keeping that would make an accountant cringe.

Unfortunately for gamer parents, these complicated rules make bringing their children to the gaming table difficult. Kids are interested in telling and hearing stories, and especially take delight in being a part of those stories. Bloated rules systems only get in the way of those narratives by needlessly breaking up the action into tiny increments. The game becomes tedious and you risk losing your kids’ attention entirely.

Fortunately, there has been a push lately, a revival even, of the classic, minimal rules RPG. Many gamers yearn for simple, streamlined systems that act more as an impartial referee to aid the game master than a rigid framework of logic that forces players into a very specific play style; consequently, the market has been inundated with “old school” gaming systems and clones of classic rules sets.

Among the oldest of these still on the market is the iconic Tunnels and Trolls, written by Ken St. Andre and published by Flying Buffalo. Tunnels and Trolls has been in continuous print within the same publishing house since its arrival in 1975, and is frequently heralded as the second modern role-playing game (after Dungeons and Dragons).

Tunnels and Trolls is particularly appealing to gamer parents who want a fun and easy RPG to play with their kids. Its tone tends more toward silly than serious and its rules system is stripped down to the point where many encounters can be resolved with just a few dice rolls, leaving plenty of room for story telling. Its simple rules even allow solo adventures, which play like choose-your-own adventures with dice rolls.

So, if you’re looking to introduce your children to the world of pen-and-paper RPGs and want something simple for them to cut their teeth on, Tunnels and Trolls is an excellent option.

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