D&D's oldest rival is making a comeback thanks to the developer of Sniper Elite

Two adventurers battling a monster on the cover of the Tunnels & Trolls rulebook.
(Image credit: Rebellion Developments, Flying Buffalo)

In 1974, TSR released Dungeons & Dragons—the world's first commercially published tabletop role-playing game. In 1975, a librarian named Ken St Andre published the second—Tunnels & Trolls. You'd be forgiven for never having heard of it, but it may be about to take on a new life under an unlikely new owner.

Nearly 50 years after its original release, Tunnels & Trolls has been acquired by Rebellion—the developer behind the Sniper Elite games, and owner of other properties as eclectic as the 2000AD comics and Whitaker's Almanac. In a statement celebrating the game's landmark place in tabletop history, the company says it's working on  "the next chapter of Tunnels & Trolls releases". 

Though it arose very humbly out of material Andre wrote for his own gaming group, Tunnels & Trolls was a big deal at launch. At first it was D&D's only competitor (obviously), but even after other RPGs sprung up, it remained one of its biggest rivals throughout the '70s and even into the early '80s. Pitched as a simpler, easier alternative to the relatively complicated D&D, it also used only six-sided dice, making it accessible at a time when polyhedral dice like d20s were a rarity. 

Since then, though, it's largely faded into obscurity, its small but dedicated fanbase kept alive by pretty sporadic releases. A successful revival certainly seems possible, however—were I in charge (I so rarely am) I'd be looking to put out a sharp new edition that stays faithful to the original rules and tone, and aim it squarely at the very popular OSR scene 'Old School Renaissance), which is all about modern games deliberately recreating the style and mechanics of old school dungeon crawlers. 

My only word of caution to Rebellion: please don't include detailed rules for shooting Hitler in the balls. 

Robin Valentine
Senior Editor

Formerly the editor of PC Gamer magazine (and the dearly departed GamesMaster), Robin combines years of experience in games journalism with a lifelong love of PC gaming. First hypnotised by the light of the monitor as he muddled through Simon the Sorcerer on his uncle’s machine, he’s been a devotee ever since, devouring any RPG or strategy game to stumble into his path. Now he's channelling that devotion into filling this lovely website with features, news, reviews, and all of his hottest takes.