It’s happened before. I get an old solitaire module for Tunnels & Trolls. I try it three times and get brutally destroyed very quickly every time. Then I run it for one of my kids and they just go through it like it’s nothing.
Naked Doom is especially brutal, though. It opens up with your character getting shoved stark naked into a dungeon and the first thing that happens is that you get to make a couple of saving rolls to avoid being shot in the back with poisoned arrows. It sort of goes down hill from there…!
My son rolled up ST 14, IQ 13, LK 12, CON 11, DEX 11, CHR 7, and Speed 11. There’s really no reason not to be a dwarf if you’re playing a warrior, so that doubles strength and constitution at a small cost to charisma.
With ten hits taken from an arrow hit and another point of damage coming in for every saving roll made after that, this character that was not even worth naming had a very small amount of time to find a way out. Then something weird happened and he got plus ten to each of ST, IQ, LK, DEX, and CHA. (!!) Compared to a lot of “old school” D&D adventures, this is insanely generous.
But then my son found a way to get into Death Trap Equalizer Dungeon– which is kind of cool because it makes this adventure a lot bigger than it could have been otherwise. He found a magic treasure worth 1000 gold and which functioned as a four die weapon. Even better, it added seven to strength and doubled luck and dexterity.
Now, here’s where I made a judgement call. This treasure had an adventure point value of 6000– enough to jump his dwarf warrior up to level three. I ruled that he could apply his attribute bonuses for leveling to his constitution immediately. That would be five more hit points, enough for a fighting chance as the poison continued to wear him down.
Then he managed to find another one of this crazy magical treasures. Thus, he made it out of the dungeon with one of the craziest Tunnels & Trolls characters I’ve ever seen: ST 52, IQ 23, LK 88, CON 27, DEX, 84, CHR 14, Speed 13, Adds 188, Warrior, Dwarf, 4th Level and 12,312 adventure points.
This is insane. As in… the existence of this character out of the gate substantially impacts what my tunnel design will look like. It’s sort of like that time where I gave my son a light saber for GURPS Dwimmermount just because. The usual concepts of pacing and balance just go out the window!
While the guy can take out a balrog single-handedly, he’s still relatively fragile. If I was a player, I would run other characters for scouting missions and then bring this guy in only for pinpoint strikes. Because if he keeps going into the dungeon, something’s bound to go sideways sooner or later. Mainly, though… if you’re using these modules as a model for how to design your own adventuring environment, then this changes a great deal. Take the craziest thing you can imagine in a D&D game. Now make it ten times more over the top. And add ten times as many of that sort of thing as you normally would.
That’s the Tunnels & Trolls way!