Friday, September 23, 2011

Will Solo Play Be the Slow Death of Tunnels & Trolls?

Tunnels & Trolls has always had a pretty secure hold of the "solo play" corner of the RPG hobby.  It really is what T&T is known for.  The thing is, treating it as a solo only system, or a solo first system, really shrinks your pool of potential players (and customers).

It isn't just perception that T&T is aimed at solo play even though the rules are written with group play in mind.  Look at the adventures published by Flying Buffalo.  Dungeon of the Bear and Isle of Darksmoke are the only GM adventures I can think of off the top that FBI put out.  The list of FBI solos is huge.

Mike Hill pretty much wrote about the same in the editorial of The Hobbit Hole issue #12: "... if T&T is to grow, writers should turn their attention from the potentially self-indulgent solo arena and back to the group."  (thanks to the Trollgod for mailing it out so quickly)

Just think... if you want to play solo, computer games and console games are king, even for RPGs.  Group play excels on the table top, whether it is real or virtual.  Solo play with T&T is going to be targeting a smaller and smaller audience.

Fans of Tunnels & Trolls will be best served if writers would move from solos to GM / group play adventures.  With many gamers dissatisfied with D&D 4e, now is a good time to present an alternative that is easier to learn and play.  


  1. Good points, and something I've been thinking a lot about recently, oddly enough.

  2. Ok now...stop reading my mind...I can't get this aluminum any tighter :)


    With Elder Sign just released from FFG (for 1-8 players) I've been pulling out all my solo material and am about to start up some kind of trouble.

    I just gotta get my hands on that Elder Sign.


  3. A point well taken. I'm not sure that solo play will necessarily be the death of T&T. I suspect many players, like me, gravitated toward T&T because it lent itself well to solo play. But that being said, I think you're absolutely right that there might be an opportunity here for T&T to exploit dissatisfaction with the latest version of D&D and try to draw in new players from the D&D disillusioned demographic.

  4. If solo play was going to be the death of Tunnels and Trolls it would have died back in 1980 when me and all my friends bought tunnels and trolls for the solo games and played D&D for face to face games. What actually seems to kill games is author-publisher disputes and publishers owning the rights but going bust.

  5. I think within the T&T fanbase, solo adventures far outsell GM ones - but this could be a cause and effect thing.

    I've started writing GM adventures in Elder Tunnels and I'll be starting a new bi-monthly series of T&T GM adventures starting in December published by Peryton, who do some great T&T products. I hope this will revitalise the market somewhat, because I do agree we need more.


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