Sunday, 18 March 2012

Khazan City Chaos for Tunnels & Trolls (by Stuart Lloyd)

Khazan! Possibly the most famous city in the Tunnels & Trolls universe! Chewing up and spitting out players in countless adventures.

Khazan City Chaos
Khazan City Chaos may appear to be a small solo, but you will find that if you're playing this thoroughly enough that you will pass through a good many of it's 56 sections. A lot of the scenes provide the reader with the opportunity to test different abilities with Saving Rolls. This gives this solo a high "replay" factor, so believe me when I say that you are getting more than your value for money.

That's what this solo is all about: -money. Lucky fortune -and a fight- at the beginning will provide your low level character with more cash than they will see in a entirety of adventures. It's a pity there's no option to walk away at that point (not to mention that if you're a freshly generated character the introduction will provide you with a sack of cash). Now, I've played too many shoot-em-ups to know that free health and weapons usually means something big is around the corner... So let us a assume that a fool and their money is about to be easily parted. But you, the player, are no fool because this solo will probably cost you less than a dollar.

The author explains in the preface that he his developing his own standardised solo rules for Tunnels & Trolls – in this case the 7.5 edition. It's perfectly possible to play a warrior without spells talents and maybe even a character from 5/5.5 or earlier editions, but you'd be missing a treat, because Khazan City Chaos is extremely comprehensive in the instructions as to how to employ Talents and Spells from the 7.5 lists. T&T 7.5 in many ways encourages improvisation and special moves in combat -but this requires a creative and judicial GM to be on hand, which is not possible in solo texts. Less confident players also like to be led by the text in the section as to what they are able to do (despite some T&T solos claiming that the broadest interpretation of the text should allows player to do whatever their characters feel like). Mr Lloyd's genius here, in addition to all of the spell guidelines, is the implementation of “stunts” in combat – these are special saving rolls based on attributes or talents, which allow for dramatic and memorable moves. Many of the stunts are totally optional, which may come as a relief for fast-play players – just give 'em the MR and let 'em get on with it! ;)

The extra options reminded me a little of gamebooks, like Lone Wolf, where the character has options to use skills to effect the outcome of an encounter – they was always something strangely satisfying in this (when compared, to say, standard Fighting Fantasy). The stunts add a lot of flavour to combat. These along the many tests in the adventure result in a sense of ingenuity and achievement of behalf of your character – even when some of the trials in the urban world may seem without the thrill and zap of combat (although combat is only ever a section away).

Stuart Lloyd's narrative style is impeccably balanced between the do-or-die thrill of the quest, peppered with light hearted commentary about the characters and their environs, which fits perfectly with the traditional style of T&T solos. He appears to be planning a whole series. So be warned! By purchasing this you may find yourself collecting all of his titles as soon they hit the press!

This solo will entertain new players and be refreshing for the veterans too. GMs of all editions of T&T may like to take a look at this solo since talent guidelines, the stunt descriptions and many options to use attribute (or talent) SRs makes for inspirational game-planning.

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