Behind the Scenes with Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls   4 comments

This morning about 8 a.m. I went back to Complete Print Shop and picked up a proof copy of Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. It is standard practice for a printer to show the publisher what he intends to print before the presses really start running. This is the last chance to correct any errors before the book actually gets printed.

In this case, I’m not the guy who would make or order corrections, but I am the guy who lives closest to the printer, so I get to do the legwork.  Around 8:30 I was talking to Dennis Dunn again, and he handed me what looked like a ream of typing paper and a big color wraparound version of the cover.  Of course I took some pictures.


So, I drove 20 miles to Scottsdale and delivered the package to my layout artist/editor/producer Steve Crompton.


This is the crucial document right here. Before they print, we have to check one of these boxes–we’ll go for the second one, as we found at least one problem–and where it says customer signature, Rick Loomis, CEO of Flying Buffalo, Inc. has to sign and authorize the printing.


This is the back cover. If you look in the center right at the bottom, you will see: PRINTED IN THE USA. It may cost a little more to print the books here, but we want the world to know Tunnels and Trolls is an American product.


This picture shows the major error that we found, and I’m the one who spotted it first. The spine, as planned, is not wide enough to hold all the pages in the book. It actually needs to be about half an inch wider to accommodate our contents. Steve measured the thickness of all the pages and compared it to the width of the spine. He will have to get back on his computer and redo the spine to make it wide enough for the book.


This should be a treat for fans of Liz Danforth’s art, a forgotten illustration from 1992 rescued and inserted into the rules.

KY7-15p10Portrait of an artist at work–not the fun part of the work drawing pictures, but the crucial part before publishing, making sure that the job is being done right–checking every detail. (Note: this doesn’t mean the book will be perfect from cover to cover–it’s amazing how many errors creep through, no matter how often you proofread something, but nothing major will be allowed to mar this work.)

I want to set the record straight here. Tunnels and Trolls is my game (and your game, too, players). None of this happens without me getting things started, stirring things up, running for over a decade, and gathering an amazing team of friends to help me with all this. I’m the one who first got Liz Danforth to do some illos for Tunnels and Trolls. I’m the one who brought Steve in on some T & T projects back in 2012 that resulted in us deciding to do a deluxe edition. I’m the one who thought up the saving roll system, the character attributes and layout, the use of talents, the numbers for the weapons and armor, the monster rating system. I did all that.

But this man, Steven S. Crompton, is the one who made the project happen. He’s the one with the master plan for the work. He’s the one who kept us on target over the course of more than two years. He’s the one who fixed the details, set the type, chose and approved the illustrations, dealt with printers and artists, created title pages, quietly fixed the small errors that popped up. Steve is the indispensable man for Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. If I got it started, Steve made damn sure  it got finished. He is still working on that–making things come out right for fans and players, authors and publishers.

I don’t mean to downplay the prodigious efforts of editor/author/artist Liz Danforth. She worked harder and suffered more than any human being should ever to have to work on a book projects. Publisher Rick Loomis provided the business acumen that makes the project possible. My friend, James “Bear” Peters added color and interest and help with the weapons. It truly was a Fellowship for us. Without the five of us working together, Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls simply would not happen.

But, Steven S. Crompton, is the key figure in this project. If any of the others in the fellowship had dropped dead, they could have been replaced. Nobody could replace Steve’s contributions and dedication. (Side note: Steve has frequently been the magic that made Flying Buffalo publishing projects happen–he’s the one that finally finished Ace of Aces for FBI last  year, and he’s the main artistic force behind the 50th Anniversary Nuclear War project currently in the works.)  Steve is a gifted storyteller and artist in his own right, but I’m not going to talk about his stuff here. I just want the world to know that he is the go-to man for Deluxe, and a great friend/ally/asset to have when push comes to crunch and you have to get something finished.


This shows how thick Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls is really going to be.


Deluxe will combine the best features of the classic 5th edition and my 21st century update of the 7th edition.


And here you have at the end of the book one of the oldest existing jokes in fantasy role-playing gaming, the original illustration by Rob Carver, the first T & T artist, who did the “missed all my vital spots” cartoon showing a troll with an arrow through his head. This joke dates back to 1975 when T & T was first produced. I was running an adventure for Rob and Bear and some other friends one night, when a giant cave lion attacked the party. As it leaped into them Rob’s character shot it with a heavy arbalest and did 40 points of damage to it. But the cave lion had a monster rating of 100. It did not die. It attacked and mauled the party severely before they finished it off. Rob was upset. “I shoulda killed it before it ever touched us,” he argued. “You missed all its vital spots,” I answered. The next day Rob presented me with this cartoon.

So, I’m fairly satisfied with the day. I think it was a morning well spent, and you can see, dear reader, what actually goes on in the production of those game books you like so much.


If you’ve ever helped with the production of a book, why not leave a comment?


4 responses to “Behind the Scenes with Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

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  1. I am getting way too sentimental in my old age, because I find myself all teary-eyed about a game book, for crying out loud!

    So many memories, so many good times, and amazingly enough — they seem to have been shared with a LOT of people who weren’t even there – whom I’ve never even met.

    That dTnT lives up to and reawakens all those good times – is nothing short of a human miracle. I just know I’m going to bawl like a baby when I first hold the book in my hands.

    PS: Is that enormous stack of paper REALLY the size of dTnT? Surely the manuscript which is tormenting our favorite Crampton, is a single-sided manuscript. That looks more like 1,500 pages than 400 pages!

  2. Pingback: I have the only official physical copy of dT&T in the World! | Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls

  3. Well I’m very flattered by some of the things Ken had to say up there! I don’t know if all that’s true, but my goal has been to do whatever I could to keep the ball rolling and move the book forward every day.

    It is my hope that you all enjoy the fruits of this vast effort to take T&T to new heights. Certainly for us these rules are a Mt Everest that we have conquered. There were times when we truly doubted if we would get this task completed, times when the Fellowship was strained to its very limits and times when we joyously embraced each other as we overcame great obstacles. Savor this book, for you are unlikely to ever see its like ever happen again. It was like lightning striking. And I think making this book almost killed two of us…

    • It may LOOK conquered, but it isn’t a mountain. TnT continues to live, breathe, and grow. You’ve conquered – and BUILT – the current “mountain,” but it’s continuing to mature, mutate, and mystify. Face it: you guys created a monster (at least ten times) and it can never be conquered.

      YIKES! I scared meself!!!

      Best TnT edition EVER! At least for another 50 years. Please train your sons and daughters to be prepared to conquer the mountain again.

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