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Category Archives: FRP Games


Three is for 3D6 (three six-sided dice).  That’s what you roll to create the beginning statistics for Tunnels and Trolls characters.  That should produce a nice bell curve of numbers ranging from 3 to 18 with average values being betwen 9 and 12.  But it doesn’t!  Because in T & T, triples add and roll over (TARO).  Thus, the lowest possible attribute a character could have is a 4.  Except it isn’t.  Some characters have reduced or multiplied attribute ratings.  For example: a Hobb only has 1/2 X STR.  Thus if you rolled a 1, 1, 2 on your 3D6,  you’d have a 4 times 1/2 = STR of 2.  That’s a terrible attribute, even for Hobb, so throw that character away and start again.

Three is also for triples.  When you roll the same 3 numbers on your dice for an attribute,  you may create a Specialist character in Tunnels & Troll 7.5.  His/Her specialization should be based on the attribute that is a mutant ability as indicated by the triples.  If you tripled in Speed, for example,  you might want to create a Messenger specialist–the character has the unique ability to move around very quickly.  All sorts of specialists could be created–it just depends on your imagination and how much rope the Game Master is willing to give  you.

Three should also be for the Triune Goddess.  I love the Goddess, and she’s in Tunnels and Trolls as Lerotra’hh, the Death Goddess, patroness of the Monster Kindreds, but she really isn’t triple, so that connection simply isn’t there.

Half elf, half uruk, the Death Goddess of Khazan is all hellcat!

Three is for Third Level.  T & T characters are third level if they have one of their key attributes in the 30s.  Thus, a Warrior with a Strength of 35 would be third level; a Wizard with an Intelligence of 39 would still be third level.  Third level is a great level to play–powerful enough to do a few unusual things–not so powerful that the character overshadows everyone else.

Of course, the level thing could be said for any number (grin).  I’ll try not to use it again, but I might have to use it for 31.

There really aren’t that many threes in Tunnels and Trolls, but I can think of one more.  You’ll see it on my site at  The challenge reads:  If a member of Trollhalla you would be, you must answer questions three.

I’ll award a free membership to Trollhalla or 300 trollish victory points to the first person to identify the source of that quote in a comment.

Come back on May 4 to see what I have for the number 4. 

end (a word with 3 letters)


Yin and Yang. So much of role-playing is built upon it.

It’s all about Duality–Twoness.  It took two guys, Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax to create Dungeons and Dragons.  See any twos there?  I see two of them.  It’s not just Dungeons.  It’s not just Dragons.   My game, which also has its dual elements (Tunnels and Trolls) was the second role-playing game to come out.  My other favorite rpg is Runequest.  Two elements–runes and quests.  🙂  (Okay, I’m kinda reaching there), but when I think of Runequest I think of two guys again.  Greg Stafford and Steve Perrin.

Once you get into a role-playing game duality is very important.  The universe is built on the double standard.  Man/Woman.  Positive/Negative.  Creation/Destruction.  (You ever notice how the creative principle is usually male–Brahma.  The destructive principle is usually female–Kali.  Even though it is women who actually give birth.  In Greek mythology Zeus is always going around creating new demigods–lusty old Zeus!  Hera is always trying to kill off those sons and daughters of Zeus.  Odin, the male god rules the bright realm of Valhalla–the  place all of us Norsemen really want to wind up in.  Hela, the female goddess rules the cold and barren realm of Hell–the place we don’t want to go when we die.–I could continue this line of thought for a long time, but I’ll leave it to you readers to find more example or even more fun contrasting examples.  There are always at least two ways of looking at things.)

Getting back to important twos in Tunnels and Trolls, we have the Good Kindreds (from whom you should be creating most of your player characters), and the Monster Kindreds, who are actually more fun to play.  Unlike some other game systems that use the duality of Order and Chaos, or Good and Evil, Tunnels and Trolls doesn’t use those much.  Evil is just a point of view.  So is good.  Another important two-ness in T & T is magic-user and non-magic-user.  Some people have the ability.  Some just plain don’t.

Tunnels and Trolls really does use tunnels . . .

Another important duality is Simple/Complex.  We all know that life itself and the universe in general is highly complex.  But you know what?  Your life will be better (as opposed to worse) if you can Keep It Simple, Sam!

and trolls!

Another important thing in Tunnels & Trolls is using 2D6 to make saving rolls.  You roll 2D6 (doubles add and roll again–DARO) and add that number to the base attribute or Talent being tested, then compare it to a target number you were trying to reach–such as 20 for a Level One Saving Roll.  If you equal or surpass the target number, you made the saving roll–hooray!  Good things will happen, or at least bad things won’t happen.  If you go under your desired target–yikes, you’re in trouble!  Saving rolls alway use two six-siders.

This roll on the dice always fails the saving roll, no matter how good your attribute may be.

Come back tomorrow!  And I’ll see if I can find any important threes in Tunnels and Trolls, and maybe rpg in general.


Mike Monaco, who does the very fine Swords and Dorkery blog (which you can find here: seens to be issuing an rpg challenge to fill the month with blogs based on numbers.  Since May is a month with 31 days in it, I have to go his d30 one better by rolling a d31 .

Counting starts with 1, unless you’re a computer programmer who starts things with zero.  In fact, you could start counting wherever you want, but one seems both logical and traditional.  As rpg ers we are nothing if not traditional.

So, 1 is for Once Upon a Time.  Once upon a time there was a world full of crazy godlike wizards who created many underground habitats which they called “dungeons”.  They stocked these dungeons with every kind of monster and trap, and they baited them with fabulous treasures.  What value does mere wealth have to a wizard of godlike power?  He, She, or It can create its own wealth, or steal the wealth of kings with relative ease.  Wealth is just a tool for wizards of godlike power.  Once upon a time, and that time still continues in the modern era, god-wizards like Gristlegrim, and K’snarganblatzen, and Huit!!zi!!lo!!  (where !! represents a shrill whistle impossible for human vocal chords to articulate) and thousands of others,  filled Trollworld with dangerous places (with lots of tunnels in them) and then sat back to watch the fun as mere mortals tried to take that wealth for themselves.

What’s more fun than life and death? Especially someone else’s life and death!  This is the basic premise behind the world of Tunnels and Trolls.

Has your curiosity been whetted?  Come back on May 2, and I’ll explain the importance of 2 in Tunnels and Trolls.