Tunnels & Trolls was the first game to offer solo adventures, which gave gamers the opportunity to enjoy an RPG on their own. This week, we begin our Adventure Spotlight series, in which we’ll provide a spoiler-free look at some of the best adventures Tunnels & Trolls has to offer.
First up: Ken St. Andre’s classic forced march, Naked Doom.
They caught you.
With these first words, St. Andre opens the prologue on one of the earliest adventures published for Tunnels & Trolls. From that provocative beginning, Naked Doom establishes what still holds up, nearly 40 years later, as one of the most challenging beginnings ever for a newly-created character in any RPG.
Convicted of some unknown offense in the city of Khazan and imprisoned in the seat of imperial power in Trollworld, you begin Naked Doom as a criminal. In order to regain your freedom, you must survive a lethal underground complex full of monsters, traps, poisons and other hazards known as the Royal Khazan Gauntlet of Criminal Retribution and Rehabilitation—more commonly known as Naked Doom, in no small part because you enter the dungeon with nothing more than your wits. Wizards and rogues are not permitted in Naked Doom, so you have no magic at your disposal, and any equipment you might have owned has been confiscated. As the adventure begins, you are quite literally naked and almost certainly doomed.
“I am honestly trying to kill your first-level characters”
Naked Doom was St. Andre’s second solo adventure. His first, Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon, broke new ground as the first solo to accommodate experienced characters as well as magic-using wizards and rogues. Deathtrap offered a serious challenge to veteran characters, but St. Andre later lamented that he hadn’t made his first outing difficult enough.
In his Introduction to Naked Doom, St. Andre sets the stage appropriately for the player:
“When I first designed the Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon I thought it would be tough, but really it is a pushover. There are too many situations in DED where you can walk in, do nothing, and walk out again better than when you started. This dungeon is not that way at all. I admit it at the beginning: I am honestly trying to kill your first-level characters when they go into this dungeon, and I think I have a good chance of getting them right at the start.”
Naked Doom still stands tall in the annals of RPG history in large part due to its uncompromising difficulty. Veteran players can vividly recall the feeling of entering a new dungeon, bereft of any of the dungeoneering equipment we’d become accustomed to in other games, and having to survive on nothing more than skill and the grace of good fortune. Short of a tremendous stroke of luck, players entering Naked Doom for the first time are indeed quite likely to perish in the first room.
And yet—all one needed to do was create a new character, build on the experience gained in previous attempts, and push forward a little further next time. Along the way, you could rest assured that all your attributes would be tested in feats of combat, athletics and reasoning. While you were never more than one bad saving roll away from death, skilled and tenacious players could ultimately negotiate their way through this epic challenge, and the rewards for survival were sweet indeed.
And So It Begins!
We at MetaArcade have a particular fondness for Naked Doom. For us, it exemplifies the heights of the earliest fantasy RPG adventures, placing new characters in a mysterious, forbidding high fantasy environment where players are forced to think their way through to survive. As we set out on our partnership with the Fellowship of the Troll, it became clear to all of us that the best place to start our project would indeed be Naked Doom.
Today we are excited to confirm Naked Doom will be the first Tunnels & Trolls adventure playable on our platform, and we are working hard to get this in your hands as soon as we can. Keep an eye out for more news, because it will be sooner than you might expect!