Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/16/tabletop-review-hobb-sized-adventures-tunnels-trolls-7-5/
Being a big fan of solo adventures, I seized the opportunity to review this set of six adventures, all of them very short. Designed for use with Tunnels & Trolls 7.5, which I actually am not very familiar with, these adventures range from the slightly serious to the overtly silly. I’d say all of them could be played in less than twenty minutes (twenty minutes each, I mean). Did I enjoy them? Let’s go through each adventure and I’ll give my thoughts.
Tomb of the Toad
This is a very short adventure, probably doable in five minutes. You are chased into an old, slimy tomb, and you may or may not run into its primary inhabitant for a boss fight. You have a few rooms to explore, but you’re pretty much railroaded into either meeting the big guy or running away. The linear nature didn’t really bother me, it was kind of fun just to have an adventure that felt like a small slice of a larger adventure. What is also really nice is that the adventure is narratively bookended by the main character (you) being chased by a big, nasty monster, so there is this feeling of continuity that is intriguing (as opposed to the standard adventure ending of “You Win! The End”).
This is one of the sillier ones. An old woman harasses you into going and getting a “duck” from the pond for dinner. This one I enjoyed the least, since it involved wandering around a pointless and unnecessary maze-like edge of some village, retreading the few entries again and again until I somehow hit the right road to the pond. There are a few humorous twists that I appreciated though, and the in-game humour written into the characters of the story was also really fun.
The Challenge of the King
Oh sweet Xenu, this one was pretty funny. Damn annoying, but funny. You have been randomly chosen to be wed to the King’s “daughter” (notice now two subjects of the story in quotes?), but first you must pass his test. This involves being pushed through a portal into a strange series of rooms entered and left by other portals. Inside each room is a nasty surprise like a monster or trap but also treasure. Fun for the whole family, really. Several endings are “happy,” and some are actually happy. This adventure is notable for its extensive use of tables and randomness.
Tower in the Marsh
This enigmatic adventure is a bit more sober, beginning with an adventurer finding a strange tower. Again, the adventurer is being chased by some nameless monster and must get inside. Inside, there are some creeps and scares, and some strange goings-on. One way or another, you’ll find your way out (possibly into another story). I liked this one, the tower had an air of mystery around it that I enjoyed and that made me want to explore more. The endings were funny and/or as wistful and mysterious as the rest of the adventure. Again, feeling like I had just played a few minutes in an adventurer’s shoes was cool.
The Harvest of Souls
This is a horror-themed adventure about being persuaded by a frightened farmer to go and confront an evil pumpkin-gourd-vine demon that lives in the pumpkin patch. Another of the more serious adventures, this one can take some time to read since a lot of the entries are quite long and full of dialogue and narrative. I found it to be less snappy and interesting than the others, essentially consisting of combat and another maze to stumble through. A bit like playing through a short young adult story a la Goosebumps or something.
Beware, the Viper!
This is perhaps the shortest adventure of the bunch, and probably the silliest. I won’t ruin the punchline for you, but in this context I thought it was pretty funny. I can just imagine Steve Jackson or Ian Livingstone turning the concept into a whole 400-entry book and at the last paragraph…the joke. Ah, I would die.
Overall, I found this to be a fun exercise in solo adventuring. The author has done a good job with different takes on short solo adventures, using different techniques in each one for various effects. The silliness and jokes are generally well-done, and in the end the stories feel like tales that villagers tell each other around a campfire or in the tavern. The adventures have recurring characters and places, and it starts to feel like a little world-building has gone on here. It’s nice.
I dunno, I feel like I should deride these adventures for being anti-grandiose but I really like them. They feel very “slice of life” to me and not stressful or overwhelming. The production value isn’t bad (it’s not great), and the propensity to substitute “to” for “two” is a bit unsettling, but there were no glaring errors that ruined the play of the adventures, and I think that’s what really matters here. For under four bucks, I think they are definitely worth a read and a laugh. Play through them when you have a few minutes, bring them on a plane or bus ride, whatever. I should also mention the artwork by a Jon Towers, which adorns the cover, but I think just clipart was used for the images in the adventures. If you like this book and want more adventures, check out the website at Hobb-Sized Adventures. I enjoy and endorse this style of adventure, and I hope to see more of them in the future.