Sunday, April 15, 2012

April A to Z - N is for Tunnels N Trolls part 1 - an interview with Ken St Andre

Ken St Andre is the creator (yes - creator!) of the Tunnels and Trolls RPG which was started back in 1975 (you can read about the history of TnT here), an RPG with a dedicated fanbase that is still going strong today.  Ken works tirelessly on TnT and remains very close to his fans through websites such as Trollhalla (where he is known as the Trollgod).  He has also been very gracious and granted me an interview.  Here it is...

What was the first gamebook you read?

Buffalo Castle by Rick Loomis.  To the best of my knowledge that was the first programmed instructions style of game ever created for frpgs.

What is your favourite gamebook?

Don't really have a favorite.  Usually, it's whatever I picked up last.

What gamebooks/interactive fiction would you recommend to a newcomer to the genre?

The newcomer would do well with Battle School (not out yet), Khara Khang's random rainbow mazeThe Wizard's TestBufffaloCastle, There are plenty of good ones for beginners.

Summarise what a gamebook is to a newcomer in 100 characters or fewer.

YOU pick up a book, start reading, and find yourself playing a game.  More complex ones like T & T requiare dice, paper, pencil and a character you make up.

Why are gamebooks great compared to games or books?

Dunno, Stuart.  I like them all.

What was your aim with the Tunnels and Trolls system?

I just wanted a frpg my friends and I could play without weird dice and miniatures conventions.

Did you write the system with solo adventures in mind?

No.  A friend of mine named Steve McAllister came up with the idea.  It seemed a good idea, however, so I grabbed it and ran with it.

How did you get into publishing so many solo adventures for Tunnels and Trolls?

This is the Age of Self Publishing on the web.  Don't dream it, do it!

Why are solo adventures important to an RPG system?

Many gamers are isolated and don't have a gaming group.  Solos allow one to have some fun and gain a better understanding of the game system.

Are there RPG systems that solo adventures won't work with?

I doubt it.  Howver, there are systems where it's an awful lot of work to try and set up a solo version of the game.  That Other Game whose initials are D & D comes to mind.

What's the most important thing when making an RPG?

You want to write an adventure, situation, world, or character that you personally enjoy.  Story is most important.  Game mechanics is a far distant second.

What have you got coming up in terms of your projects?

I'm glad you asked.  Solos that should be done soon include Battle School and Rescue Mission.  A little further down the trail is Gristlegrim: Khosht.  Rick Loomis and I are talking about a Tunnels and Trolls Deluxe edition.  There are plans for a Trollworld sourcebook.  I want to keep re-issuing the T & T calendar with new material in it about every 3 months.  I plan to do a series of teaching blogs on the Trollhalla outer sanctum page discussing things like T & T magic.  Beleve me, my plate is very full.

Do you have any other sites besides Trollhalla, Tunnels and Trolls, your blog and your Twitter feed?

There's a Facebook page under Ken St. Andre, a blogger page that I have mostly forgotten about, and I don't know how many other sites I have opened briefly and abandoned.  I think my SFWA page is still in existence.

What do you think the future of gamebooks is?

I suppose they will die out when I do, or when dead tree publishing completely disappears.

To learn more about Tunnels and Trolls, go to its homepage here.  To interact with TnT fans and Ken St Andre, the Trollgod himself, you can do so at Trollhalla.  There is also a Tunnels and Trolls forum.  You can buy many Tunnels and Trolls products from Flying Buffalo.

1 comment:

  1. I rather like T&T, but never played it much. I should pick up a new copy of it some day.

    I am trying to read all the A to Z blogs, but coming back to the ones I really like.
    Looking forward to seeing what you do all month!

    The Other Side
    The Freedom of Nonbelief