Tunnels & Trolls 5.5 vs 7.5

An overview of the changes that I’ve noticed between T&T v5.5 and v7.5  All the comparisons phrased in terms of what 5.5 has/lacks vs. 7.5, since I read 7.5 first and went over it extensively.  Also, some of the changes in 7.5 appeared in 5.5 in a couple-page appendix of Ken St. Andre’s house rules:


  • No WIZ stat, spells are powered by STR.  Advantage: 7.5  STR to power spells isn’t a deal-breaker, but it makes the archetype of the frail old but nonetheless mighty wizard a problem.
  • SPD is an optional stat only used for movement rates, which are fairly complicated. It can’t be increased.  Advantage: 7.5  Even if you view Speed strictly in terms of how fast you can run, that’s certainly something you can improve with training, at least as much as you can improve your Intelligence or Charisma.
  • No Triples Add and Roll Over. Advantage: 7.5   Not a big deal, but it’s kind of cool. (This is one of the KsA houserules.)
  • Weight Possible and Weight Carried emphasized more in 5.5 including rules for how long you can carry how much.  Advantage: 7.5  I’m not enough of a Grognard to value the added bookkeeping.  It’s good to have a rule-of-thumb, but I don’t like tracking it.
  • No Specialists or Citizens.  Advantage: 7.5  Anything that increases the number of viable archetypes without unduly burdening the system with complexity is a win in my book
  • Warriors don’t get Level adds in Combat Adds. Advantage: 7.5  Something besides the armor bonus as a reward for leveling up is nice to have.
  • Warrior-Wizards instead of Paragons. Toss-up. It’s harder to be a Paragon (you need a triple somewhere in your roll-up, not just everything >=12), but the 7.5 advantages are better: they get to double their armor instead of add 1, they get to invent new spells once they reach 10th level, the Wizard’s Guild will sell them spells.  Both versions are rare enough that I doubt it matters which you use.
  • No Talents.  Advantage: 7.5. I like Talents…maybe the most out of any skill system I’ve seen published.

Saving Rolls

  • Saving Rolls have a minimum for success of 5, and are calculated as the SR – Luck = number to beat (instead of roll +Luck > SR?). Advantage: 7.5   The mechanical result is the same, but roll+add is easier for most people; whether it’s better to have 3 is an automatic failure or <=5 is a toss-up, but I’d personally give the edge to the players succeeding more often.


  • Monster dice as well as adds get reduced as Monster Rating goes down during combat; this produces a much sharper death-spiral effect.  Advantage: 7.5  I don’t really see any advantage to having nearly every combat the PCs win end with several anti-climactic rounds that are rolled (if at all) just to see how fast they can finish.
  • 5.5 Makes it clear that armor doesn’t subtract from hits for magic (though a magic amulet might).  Advantage: 5.5
  • Missile fire isn’t added into the side’s Total Hits, but some magic is–at least up until the point when it would double-count hits.  Advantage: 7.5  This rule actually puzzles me in 5.5.  If you’re worried about double-counting damage, why does magic get to (semi) double-count and not missiles?  There’s a sort of explanation that Take That You Fiend! jars or shocks nearby foes and makes them less effective, reducing their attack up until it makes them lose the round but never delivering more hits than the magic’s damage, but Freeze Please and Blasting Power are spread out, while other spells don’t, and…It’s far simpler to my mind to just add everything up, and that lets your rear-rank guys like archers and wizards actually figure into whether you win or lose the round.  The whole “the monster can lose the combat because of magic adds, but not take extra damage” calculation makes my eyes water.
  • Damage is divided evenly between all the losing side, except that if it doesn’t come out evenly the Wizard (if any) can take the smaller parcel.  Advantage: 7.5   Dividing the damage up is one of the few tactical decisions that the party gets to make during a turn, and I like the idea that the fighters can choose to bear the brunt of it and protect the weaker party members.  I can see play-by-post going with even splits to reduce the back-and-forth, but flavor-wise I think 7.5 is much more interesting.
  • Missile weapon fire requires multiplying a distance factor by a size factor to get the SR level, but archers get twice the DEX adds when firing a bow. Advantage: 7.5
  • Dodging is handled by an SR against Luck if the players agree that monsters get the same SR. Advantage: 7.5.  There are several points in 5.5 where the rule to be used is negotiated with the players, which I kind of like, but the 7.5 version of just doubling the SR level if the target is dodging or moving erratically is easier and quicker.
  • No spite damage.  Advantage: 7.5  Even a stronger party bears some risk of injury in combat, and combats tend to get resolved faster because spite damage bypasses armor.
  • Rules for too-heavy weapons.  Advantage: 7.5  While it’s nice that 5.5 has an answer to what happens if you try to wield a weapon too big for you, the answer being that you knock yourself out in short order (your STR is damaged by the difference each round, with it increasing each round as your new STR is even less) is probably worse than just saying you can’t use it effectively.
  • Rules for Movement.  Advantage: 7.5  The 5.5 rules are simultaneously complex, with varying formulas based on encumbrance and type of activity (looking carefully, normal dungeon speed, sprinting) and fatigue rules based on CON and abstract, yielding nothing more than a rating of feet/minute traveled.


  • No special abilities for monsters. Advantage: 7.5  The whole spite-damage activates special monster abilities like stoning gaze or fiery breath makes them a lot less bland, IMO.
  • Wandering monsters.  Advantage: 5.5  5.5’s rules are vague, but at least it has some.
  • Monster reaction chart.  Advantage: 5.5  Another inexplicable hole in 7.5 is no discussion at all of anything monsters might do except attack and fight to the death.


  • No Kremm resistance.  Toss-up.  I don’t really know whether the whole kremm resistance thing is worthwhile, and I suspect I won’t until I’ve played a bunch.

There’s more, including stuff on learning languages, berserk fighting, a really elaborate set of optional marksmanship rules, hirelings and slaves, some nice discussion of designing a dungeon, and so forth, but that’s the gist of it.  There’s also a fairly substantial (and controversial) change in how experience is allotted, going from advancement in level granting you the right to improve one attribute by an attribute-specific formula (e.g. +your new level to your STR, but only 1/2 your level rounded down if added to your DEX) to a uniform spend your current attribute x 10 xp to raise it by one, with level back-figured from changes to one of your class’ primary attributes, but I haven’t yet bothered to figure out what that would mean for a typical character at various levels.  I suspect 5.5 would tend to preserve initial differences in stats more, since you can only pick one stat to advance per level, and levels take more and more XP to achieve as you advance.

As you can tell, by and large I think V7.5 is an improvement in most ways.  I think 5.5 is a better introduction to RPGs…I’m not sure somebody new to RPGs could really understand what to do with 7.5, and certain things are either cryptic or accidentally ommitted in 7.5 (such as what the 2nd figure for DEX under DEX required for knives meant), but most of the individual rules changes in 7.5 are in the direction of making things simpler and more uniform, and where they add complication (Talents, Specialists) they get a lot of bang for the buck.  Still, I’m very pleased to have both sets of rules now, and I like T&T even more for having read where it is coming from.

update: Commenter G’Noll points out that I was confusing the requirements for Paragon with the other Specialists; Paragons in 7.5 have the same basic requirements as in 5.5: 12+ in every attribute before Kindred modifiers are applied, though that’s much harder to do with an extra two attributes.

11 thoughts on “Tunnels & Trolls 5.5 vs 7.5

  1. You might be interested in adding a PDF copy of T&T 7.0 to your collection; Firey Dragon sells them for $10. There aren’t many differences, but you might find them interesting. Talent advancement was significantly different, and characteristic improvements cost ten times as much. BIG change, there… It cost roughly three times as many APs to increase one characteristic in 7.0 as in 5, and in 7.5 it only costs about one third what it did in 5.

    I am not sure there was a deliberate change in the way missle and magic damage is handled between editions, as much as the required text got left out in 7.x. The idea in all cases was that magic and missle damage ALWAYS takes effect, regardless of who wins the round. But it gets confusing, and if care is not taken to reserve the logic of the world (to use your very apt term), it is easy to double up on the damage. I will have to re-read the relevant portion of 5e before I say more.

    Also: You don’t have to roll a triple to be a Paragon in 7e, but you DO have to roll 12 or better on all 8 attributes, which is more than seven times harder than it was to do on only six attributes in 5e. (1/2557 v. 1/360) You have to roll a triple to be an Archer, or a Leader, or a Specialist…

    All told, I think 5.x is a better set of rules, but 7.x is probably a better game– which is what you said.

  2. T&T was my first foray into RPG’s followed by AD&D. I loved it and still do to this day. I could also call Flying Buffalo at the time and get answers to my questions over the phone. Rick Loomis is also a friend of a friend. T&T 5.5 has rules for Gunnes (Guns) I didn’t see that in my 7.x version.

  3. @G’noll – I’m pretty sure that magic and missile fire is a deliberate change from 5.5.

    p97: “Magic that does damage always counts as part of his side’s HPT.”
    “Calculate Your HPT: count all damage that actually happens–points of magic taken, missile damage, and hand weapons.”

    What might have been dropped accidentally is a step where after the winner of the round is determined, and the difference between the winning and losing totals is calculated, the difference is further reduced by the magic and missile totals of the winning side, so as not to double-count. On the other hand, since the magic and missile totals of the loser have already reduced the damage the losing side would take, wouldn’t that be double-counting as well? So it really should be only the excess of the magic and missile totals of the winner (if any) that gets subtracted from the damage.

    In the end I think it’s much simpler to just do what the rules actually say: count everything that does damage, compare and subtract. Then if the result seems strange (like one side’s total is from nothing but missile and magic, and the other side only melee, so you really would be double-counting every point), the GM can adjust it for that round, just like he can adjust anything.

  4. Hmmm. Discounting missle fire (which is problematic anyway (The reason most games forbid archers to fire into melee is that an archer who manages to shoot one of his comrades in the back will likely have all of his fingers cut off after the combat…)), the way I see combat as working is like this:

    Wally the Wizard (Lvl 7, IQ 50), and his rented stooge, Wilbur the Warrior (3D+10), are attacked by five rather optimistic MR 25 goblins. Wally lets loose a 2nd level TTYF (which costs him one point of kremm, all he thinks this is worth). The goblins roll up 124, Wilbur rolls a 19, plus 100 from the TTYF. The goblins win, and Wilbur and Wally split 5 points of damage plus 3 spite; one of the goblins dissolves into pink mist. Second round, same tactics: The goblins roll 92, Wilbur rolls 21, plus 100 from TTYF. Another goblin dissolves into pink mist, and the survivors split four points of damage. (There is also some spite damage, but it seems irrelevant at this point.) Third round, same tactics: The gobins roll 76, Wilbur rolls 20, the TTYF is good for 100. A third goblin goes to pink mist, and the two survivors split the 20 points of damage Wilbur did between them. Round Four, the goblins either run away or die.

    If we discount the “shock and awe” value of the TTYF, which I will admit that 7e seems to do, the goblins slaughter Wally and Wilbur after a turn or two. This would be a huge and, I think, unfortunate change. It may be what was intended; I will have to ask around among those who were there at the time.

  5. Hm. You seem to be using a house-rule that only the overkill–the damage by the spell in excess of what was needed to destroy the target–counts towards the hit-point total. What would happen if they were fighting a single creature with MR of, say, 250? Would they win the rounds where the total magic + weapons were > the creature’s, but do no additional damage because once you subtract off the damage inflicted by the TTYF, the remaining damage by Wilbur is less than the creature’s total? It would prevent double-counting, but what happens if part of the goblin’s total was also magic?

    As far as I can tell, the official 7.5 way to do it would have the goblins dividing 29 that second round (TTYF blows one up and counts fully towards the HPT).

    My friend Russell suggested you could track the magic/missile and weapon damage separately…counting it in the totals to see who wins the round, but then only comparing the weapon damage to see how much (if any) damage the losing side takes. I’m unsure whether the added complication is worth it. That would mean in your example that the only damage the goblins would be taking would be from the spell…

  6. We seem to be having some kind of communications disconnect; one of us is missing something. Do you mind if I move this discussion to the Trollbridge, to get some additional opinions?

  7. Ok, solved the communication disconnect; I figured out what you meant by “seem to be using a house rule”.

    Having said that, it’s still time for me to open a new thread on the Trollbridge.

  8. Glad we’ve got it straightened out. It would be a decent subject for a thread on TrollBridge, if you care to.

  9. The best thing about T&T, I’ve found, is the fact that if there’s stuff from one Edition you like better, you don’t have to settle for half – you just rip those rules out & stick ’em in the Edition you prefer.

    It’s like you were able to pull Feats and Challenge Ratings out of D&D 3.0 and retrofit them into your 1st Edition game, almost seamlessly. Or pick up a 1st edition copy of Tomb of Horrors and run it, practically verbatim, with D&D 3.5 rules.

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