Tunnels and Trolls
Tunnels and Trolls 5.5 (Role-Playing Game)
Chateau du Buffle (French)
Buffalo Castle (Digital Gamebook)
Danforth, Elizabeth (Liz) T.
June, 1982 (reissue)
0940244012 / 9780940244016
It's difficult for me to be completely objective in reviewing Buffalo Castle; it is the second (out of many) Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures that I played when I was a kid.
Buffalo Castle was one of the first (if not THE first) role-playing solitaire adventures; I have even heard that it pre-dated the Choose Your Own Adventure books. As such, the adventure opened Pandora's Box in much the same way as a set of three booklets penned by messrs. Arneson and Gygax paved the way for a plethora of RPG's.
The plot of Buffalo Castle - well, there really isn't a plot. The adventure is an unabashed "dungeoncrawl" of the "old-school." Nothing motivates the solitaire adventurer except for the prospect of fame and (most important of all) fortune. The Buffalo Castle in question is the locale of the adventure - an old ruin which the adventurer enters in search of booty. The adventure is designed for 1st level warriors, although nothing would really prevent rogues and/or wizards taking part. The adventure is fairly standard - one wanders through a maze, avoids the standard sorts of traps, encounters wandering monsters, etc. It is really very reminiscent of the sort of adventure most RPG'ers started off playing back when the hobby was in its infancy. Back then, we didn't really need too much in the way of "plot" - we were just happy being able to live out our Tolkienesque fantasies in one fashion or another and skewer some poor orc.
The adventure runs around 30 pages - with about five paragraphs on each page, making a grand total of approximately 150 paragraphs. Not too impressive when compared to the Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks (which usually had 400 paragraphs) but these adventures were meant to be fast playing romps, not the agonizing "keep playing until you finally get a character to survive" missions that comprised the FFG's.
The version I have is one of the earlier printings, so it was written with the "early edition" T & T rules (4th edition and under) in mind. It comes with a disclaimer which states that those players in possession of the 5th edition rules would do well to add 10 to the monster ratings of all the denizens of the castle in order to still have a challenge - I always found this +10 modifier to be inadequate due to the "souped up" dice and adds for the weapons in the 5th edition (not to mention the more protective nature of armor) compared to the earlier editions. A cousin of mine had the 2nd edition, which condensed the adventure into fewer pages (cramming more paragraphs onto each page) but had no disclaimer about modifiers for those in possession of the 5th edition even though the monster rating values for the monsters had been unchanged.
One interesting feature of Buffalo Castle is that it had a "get out of jail free" option for the player if he met up with a monster who was more than he could handle - he could "run for the exit" which meant he had to make a level one saving roll on luck - if he made it, he managed to run ALL THE WAY (!) to the exit and get out of the castle alive (after fighting a random wandering monster)! It seemed a bit weird that a player could run clear out of the dungeon "in one go" but it did provide the player with an option other than fighting it out to the bitter end against all hope (which was a common occurrence in Tunnels & Trolls due to the nature of its combat system).
Despite its obvious short-comings when compared to the later Tunnels and Trolls adventures, Buffalo Castle remains the one adventure I played more than ANY of the others. Part of the reason was because it was a "crucible" of sorts that I put ALL my 1st level characters through when I first rolled them in order to "beef" them up (or have them die ignobly in the attempt), but another part of the reason was its utter simplicity. It was a "dungeon" pure and simple, no apologies, no attempts at "window dressing" to make it seem to be more than it was. It was a DUNGEON. And I kind of liked that. There was no underlying plot and I didn't mind one bit.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Braldt Haak for the 1980 (pink cover) reissue cover scan. Thanks to Pedro Panhoca for counting the numbered/lettered sections.|
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