Ken St. Andre, creator of the second oldest RPG, Tunnels and Trolls, has a bit of a reputation for putting down Dungeons & Dragons. I can’t blame him. My preference for D&D may be simple nostalgia and what I grew up with. The first time I saw T&T in a store (having heard about it from White Dwarf and Dragon magazines), my brother & I flipped through it and were turned off by the character generation rules. We were looking for rules-heavier gaming, not rules-lite, at the time, and were getting into Rolemaster and GURPS.
Twenty five years later, when I started blogging and got more interested in older games, I was a little surprised to find that T&T never really lost its following and has gone through a number of editions (none of them, apparently, as dramatic as the changes in D&D‘s editions). And I hear that Ken still runs T&T at conventions and still ‘takes the piss out of’ D&D. But imagine my surprise when Ken announced he was promoting a D&D game!
Only it’s not Dungeons and Dragons, it’s Dwarves and Dragon, and not an RPG but a board game.
If you see Ken at a convention you can probably get it from him; he was kind enough to sell it online too for those who aren’t going to conventions this year. Based on the brief synopsis I saw (dwarves robbing a dragon lair) and the tag line (“a game of strategic agility”), I decided it would be a good gift for my brother, who is a stinking dwarf-lover and pretty clever at strategy. (Well he always beats me at war games, but that might not be setting the bar very high…)
Anyway I got Ken and the artist to sign a copy but was a little underwhelmed by the presentation (cardstock “cover” sheet, foldable paper rules sheet and a folded card board with counters to cut out). Heck, Ken himself admitted that a real game company could have made a prettier product with components. But as he said, this is just an opportunity to make your own. It’s not like I don’t have some miniatures I could sacrifice for game components. So below, the full, minis enhanced version of the game I gave my brother.
The dwarves are from a Warhammer boxed set I bought several years ago for the miniatures. The dragon was painted & mounted on a metal washer by Scottsz; I think it is from a more recent WotC game. I added a matte board base so he’ll take up six squares like the provided counter. The coins are some old arcade coins I found recently. The boulders are some pebbles mounted on washers (don’t worry, I eventually painted them too, after the pics were taken). I guess he could still cut out the counters and use them for a travel version of the game, but I put it all into a box to keep the minis with it. Naturally I covered the box with wood grain shelf paper to capture that OD&D look. I also made some custom dice according to Ken’s suggestion (dragon on the 6 face for the dragon’s die, eyes on the one for the dwarf die) — not pictured!
I have looked over the rules a little and they are pretty simple. The board is a 9×9 grid (the spaces are rectangular, rather than square, which means the dragon actually covers six squares if aligned one way and 4 the other way, which will antagonize rules lawyers and munchkins … I assume it supposed to fill six spaces however he’s aligned. The other counters all fill one space. It’s important to know which space(s) a piece is in. The dwarves all have a power they can use once for ‘free’ and then only when they roll a 1 on a d6, so you might need to keep track of which dwarves have used their freebie. I think a few counters or something on would work; otherwise you have to remember. I could make a little track out of matte board but don’t know if it is really necessary.