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Welcome back to the Numerology of Tunnels and Trolls!

When it was all said and done, I realized that I left out an important 4 thing in Tunnels and Trolls.  In 7th edition  you learn that Magic can be divided into 4 schools: (1) Combat Magic  (2) Cosmic Magic  (3) Conjuring Magic, and (4) Metabolic Magic.

Combat Magic deals with all spells meant to be used to  harm foes.  Its most famous example is: the spell called Take That You Fiend!  TTYF does the caster’s INTelligence rating in damage to the foe’s CONstitution rating.  At higher levels it does multiples of the Casters INT in damage.

Cosmic Magic deals with all spells that have a direct effect on the ral universe including “divinatory”‘ magic.  Levitation is a cosmic spell.

Conjuring Magic deals with all spells that summon, banish, or control beings, substances, and energies.  Summoning Invisible Fiends is conjuring magic.

Metabolic Magic deals with all spells that directly affect character health or attributes.  Attributes in T & T are used much more directly than they are in D & D (and its many clones).  For this reason, metabolic magic could be called Constitutional Magic.  Although the 4 C’s of magic sounds pretty good, I used metabolic instead, as I didn’t want anyone to get confused and think the 4th type of magic dealt with writing political and governmental documents.  🙂

Now on to D5:

This is how T & T looked in its prime.

Five is for the classic 5th edition of Tunnels and Trolls.  Rewritten from my notes, organized, and mostly illustrated by Liz Danforth in 1979, back in the days when we honestly thought we might compete with Dungeons and Dragons and get into book and game stores all over the country, the 5th edition was the definative form of Tunnels and Trolls for about 25 years give or take half a year.  At the end of 2004 Rick Loomis decided to increase the size of the fifth edition and add a few new rules and articles.  Although the job didn’t get back from the printer until early 2005, edition 5.5 was conceived at the end of 5 times 5 years of plain old 5th edition.  Many gamers still consider 5th edition T & T to be the best and classic form of the game.

But the truth was we really needed something new to invigorate the game.  In 2005 Jason Kempton and the Fiery Dragon staff proposed a 30 year memorial edition.  They had an idea for a kind of miniatures game based on T & T which they would sell in one of their trademark tin boxes.  When I heard of this, I offered them a complete rewrite of the T & T  rule.  Jason very kindly allowed me to do that, and so the 7th edition of Tunnels and Trolls came into being.

5 can also be for Fifth Level spells which contains the all new Trollgod’s Blessing combat spell.  With little touches like this, I inject a tiny bit of my own wacky, chaotic personality into the rules.  I don’t know if the revered Mr.Arneson or Mr. Gygax ever did anything like that to their frp rules.  (I really haven’t read them.)  The Trollgod’s Blessing spell (created by Trollhalla member Mahrundl who lives in South Australia–isn’t the worldwide web wonderful?) has this description: A large club appears avove the head of the target and “blesses” him–that is, hits him on the head.  The club does 5D6 points of damage plus the caster’s personal adds.  Only head armor may absorb the damage from this effect.  If the caster fails his INT saving roll when trying to cast, the Trollgod’s Blessing hits the caster instead.

I think that’s pretty cool, and it would be absolutely hilarious in a game.

The Trollgod's Blessing just waiting to happen . . .

5 is also the number of Humans and humanoid races.  Human is a 5 letter word.  Oddly enough, Troll is also a 5 letter word.  So is Dwarf.  So is Fairy.  So is Hrogr–the real word for Ogre.  5 is an important number for kindred types.  Humans have 5 appendages on the body–1 head, 2 arms, 2 feet.  Each hand should have 5 fingers.  Each foot should have 5 toes.  5 is a prime number, and the only prime number that actually ends in 5. 

Come back again on May 6, and I’ll tell  you the importance of the number 6 in Tunnels and Trolls.


P.S.  Please feel free to point out any other numerical correspondences in your comments.  I write these blogs fairly fast, and it’s easy to miss things–even important things.



  1. There are five letters in each of ‘Taran’ and ‘Dracon’. So: I like 5 as well. Ugh! Or, rather, make it Ugghh! (The five letter version).

  2. Excellent article on the number 5 in T&T. I particularly enjoyed the background you gave for the 5th edition rules and how 7th edition came about. Have you ever considered writing a history of the making of Tunnels and Trolls? I would love to hear some more stories of the early days of the hobby and some of the challenges and obstacles you faced.

  3. Trollgod’s Blessing is one of my favorite T&T spells!

    The number 5 is also the number of other humanoid and not so humanoid beings: pixie, trolf, trelf, ghoul, harpy, satyr, djinn, golem, demon, giant, drake, lamia, naiad, bogie, alien, imugi, ghostangel, kirin, gnome, hydra, yowie, sidhe, mummy, nymph, balam, and even the Trollgod’s favorite, the siren. And I could go on… the list is endless. ;D

    • Dean Courter (Burraggha)
    • Posted May 5, 2011 at 9:09 pm
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    • Reply

    Still love the 5th edition and still play it when I can get players together. I haven’t ever seen 5.5. I see they have a great deal on them on ebay and will buy it sooner or latter…

  4. When wizards in 5th edition reach 5th level, they can invent spells.

    (Did the ability to invent spells go away in 7th edition? I’m not able to find it in the 7.5 rulebook I’m looking at right now.)

  5. I’ve always been a big fan of ‘TrollGods Blessing’. Actually, the spells in T&T are my favourites from any game system. ‘That’s a Natty Beard’ and TTYF being to of my other most liked spells.

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