Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/28/tabletop-review-buffalo-castle-deluxe-tunnels-trolls/
Back in January of this year, I joined 1600+ other Kickstarter backers to fund Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls, which is the second oldest tabletop gaming system. Well, Kickstarter backers recently received their first digital reward: a reprint of Buffalo Castle. For those unaware, long before there were Choose Your Own Adventure Novels and things like the Lone Wolf gamebooks, Tunnels & Trolls was putting out solo adventures that a gamer could play by themselves. No DM, no group of friends. Just you, three six sided dice and the adventure itself. As a very young boy, I loved solitary adventures, because it meant I could play when I wanted to without having to organize some big session with other people’s schedules. For others, it meant they could play an RPG even if they couldn’t afford a video game or didn’t have enough friends to run an actual game with. These solo adventures were a wonderful idea, and for a whole, they spawned an entire industry. As such, it’s nice to have the progenitor of the concept back and readily available as the herald for the upcoming Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls line. Thirty years later, the adventure is still as fun to play through as ever, although you WILL need a T&T rulebook to make a character and play through Buffalo Castle.
Buffalo Castle is for a single First Level Fighter only, which is a good way to do things, as you get just the basics. You don’t have to worry about magic, speed or anything. This is an entry level adventure for newcomers and veterans alike, and generally the easiest way to start off an old school fantasy setting is with a Fighter. The plot of the adventure is simple: a sick child needs a magic potion and the nearest one lies within the walls of Buffalo Castle. Unfortunately, the wizard who lives in the castle and makes the potions is completely mad, so they need a brave warrior to enter and get the potion before the child succumbs to its strange disease. It’s not Shakespeare, but for an intro and/or solo adventure, the plot works and establishes a good motivation for why you are wandering the halls of a castle filled with monsters and things that want to split your head open.
The layout of Buffalo Castle will be familiar to any of you who have played a Choose Your Own Adventure or roleplaying Gamebook, in that you’ll be reading a numbered section which will then tell you to flip to a different section. This is to build suspense and keep the game fresh. It also means that the adventure is far from linear, and you can replay it several times, discovering new content and battles with each playthrough. At the same time, it also means you shouldn’t try to read the adventure like you would a normal one, as it will just come off as gibberish. I do love section 19E though. It made me laugh as I flipped through the pages trying to see what I missed on my playthroughs.
The last few pages of the adventure are a Wandering Monster table and a map of the Castle, in case someone wants to try and convert the adventure into one a group of players can enjoy together. I think that’s a nice touch. All in all, Buffalo Castle remains as fun as it has ever been, and it’s a perfect example of the somewhat humourous less “SAVE THE WORLD FROM A GREAT EVIL” mindset a lot of fantasy games have. It’s a simple low-level concept for a low level character, and it holds up thirty years later. If you’re a Tunnels & Trolls fan, more than likely some variant of this adventure is already in your collection. If you’re new to the system, the idea of tabletop game or solo adventuring just sounds appealing to you, I heartily recommend picking up Buffalo Castle along with the core Tunnels & Trolls rulebook and giving it a try. T&T is generally the system I suggest for people brand new to RPGs (along with the old Marvel Super Heroes RPG by TSR), and Buffalo Castle is a perfect example of why.