Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A New T&T "Class"... umm....

Scott Malthouse, little Werdna, has just released his Shadow & Blade: A Guide to Assassins in Tunnels & Trolls (Assassins!). Now the dude has done about one thousand items since I met him, way back when. He has, when he's worked on T&T, been always pretty cutting edge. At the same time, he's always had a good grasp of the mechanics of the game as it should be written, that means "With two six-sided dice and mathematics." This current project is a bit of a departure, so it has piqued my interest beyond just the initial read. Let's start out with Assassins! being a Godzilla of a product and work from there.

Mind everyone, I try not to give out spoilers.

The cover art is in color and isn't a piece of clip art, at least as far as I know. I personally think it's a picture of Scott doing a weird David Bowie which I can't complain about, but must award a Sasquatch to the rating. That's "Godzilla+" in my greater scheme of things.

Jumping into the work, I see a bunching of houses or guilds where RPG players can affix their assassin Characters to in any campaign. Indeed there is no mention of a rules system relevant in this section. Not a bad tactic, but there is no introduction. I am not being academic here. As a T&T player/GM/author, I've never needed an "Assassin" as a full Type ("Class" for the D&D-head reading), a bit of salesmanship would have avoided my subtracting of two Saquatches-- that's a " -Godzilla,"  now.

When the organizations give way to prosaic rules, there is more than one kind of assassin. I am treated to three categories of assassins. It's kind of a paradox here. It is all very generic, though the Assassin types's and their mandated skills required are not. I am speaking about the ease at which Malthouse makes his assassins easy to relate to to any gamer. This is a RoboMonster-sized plus (almost back up to a Godzilla). BUT... .

Then there is a solo-dungeon, the big T&T selling point since 1979. Who can argue with that? A neutral point to me, though I am sure it sells like hot-cakes.

As maybe the last of the "real" T&T players in the world remaining, the rest have been sidetracked into tepid almost-celebrity worship qualified with money-giving, I still don't get it. All my Warriors, Wizards, Rogues, and Warrior-Wizards can be assassins as needed already.I am not going to be buying any D&D products because it is T&T adaptable. While the author makes sense of why anybody would bother to add "assassin" to literary-based fantasy setting, there is a slip in getting some full-out high fantasy need for them.

No Malthouse (all grown up now, lil' Werdna) , I can't give Assassin! a Godzilla. Work on the explanation, even if it is filler. You've got the math down for T&T, easy enough. Now get the literary bit down. Maybe work on your titles and subtitles to be more interesting. Shadow & Blade: A Guide to Assassins in Tunnels & Trolls is a King Kong worth of a work.

By the way, folks, "King Kong" is on a scale of "Smurfs" to "Godzilla." This is about the best gamer literature on assassins as PCs that I've ever read.


  1. Thanks for the review, Tom. I do a pretty damned good Bowie impression. Totally agree with your comments though - should go some way to improving future output.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. (previous reply deleted for correct comma placement)
      To be fair Scott, you are doing well enough with your projects. You don't need a lot of advice. Thank you for paying attention to a whiny, old log's nitpicks.