Saturday, June 18th is Free RPG Day ‘11 and with it comes a slew of new and interesting little releases. They can usually be divided between tasters for new games that will be released at Gen Con this forthcoming August and support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera. In general, the tasters for the new, “hot” games are highly anticipated and on the day itself, in high demand, but come the day, it would be remiss of us to ignore the less-in-demand titles. Many of these it should be made clear, are worth your time and effort to make it to your friendly, local gaming store to get hold of a copy. One of the publishers that has long supported the event is Flying Buffalo, which with Rescue Mission, once again provides another introduction to Tunnels & Trolls, the fantasy RPG that first appeared in 1975.
Rescue Mission presents a short version of the Tunnels & Trolls rules, the solo adventure “Rescue Mission,” and the short scenario, “Riverboat Adventure,” which previously appeared in the Tunnels & Trolls Quickstart Rules made available for the inaugural Free RPG Day back in 2007.
Physically, Rescue Mission is mostly text that you can feel printed on white glossy stock. It feels very rough and the varying fount size and typeface from one section to the next only contributes to that feel. As does the perfunctory layout and the mushy quality of the advert for Tunnels & Trolls on the back page. Overall, the impression is that this booklet has been put together in a rush.
The rules themselves, and the rules used throughout Rescue Mission, are for Tunnels & Trolls 5.5 published by Flying Buffalo rather than Tunnels & Trolls 7.5 published by Fiery Dragon. These cut down rules allow for the creation of Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human characters, as either Warriors or Wizards. The rules cover character advancement up to fifth level and spells up to fourth level.
The solo adventure, “Rescue Mission,” runs to just forty entries. It is designed more for warriors than wizards and casts the player character as one of the renowned Death Minions of Lerotra’hh, an Agent of the Empress. T’rann Qann, son of the chief of the Flame Uruks, has been captured by sea rovers and as part of the treaty with the Empress, the tribe has asked for aid in rescuing him. The focus of the adventure is on getting safely across to the sea rovers’ island and either attacking the pirates or sneaking in as part of the rescue attempt. It is playable in about half an hour or so and is an easy way of getting used to the rules.
As to the full adventure, “Riverboat Adventure,” my opinion of it has little changed since 2007, so I might as well repeat what I said four years ago. Here goes: “Riverboat Adventure” is understandably a direct and simple affair. It gives a quick run through of what the GM and the players need to do prior to the adventure itself, essentially getting the characters started in the city of Khosht where they have taken employment as polemen/guards aboard a riverboat. The adventure really only consists of two encounters along the river journey, but the GM can easily add more by developing the NPCs included as passengers and by designing encounters of his own to include.
Although Rescue Mission does a reasonable job of presenting the Tunnels & Trolls rules and supporting them with two adventures, including one that is a reprint. The overall effect is not all that satisfying, primarily because it does not go out of its way to present itself in more than a cursory fashion, and that feeling just persists throughout.