Tunnel Quest

Tunnel Quest is a brief but complete set of fantasy role-playing rules.

The original ideas were spawned by Paul Elliot (of Zenobia fame; if you’ve never heard of it, Google it!) and further developed by myself.

The system favours a quick and easy style of play with limited bookkeeping for the GM – a single dice roll for combat determines whether the character hits or gets hit – no rolling for the GM!

NPCs can be described with a single number or detailed with unique abilities – examples are of both styles are included in the text.

This is a low-power low-fantasy game which uses small numbers and only 2 six-sided dice. Paul originally conceived the game to appeal to his young children but my players range from 21 to 48.


Mike Hill

The Basics

When the result of a character’s action is in doubt, the Game Master (GM) asks for a dice roll to determine the outcome. The player rolls 2-dice and must get equal to or greater than the Difficulty umber. In a fight the Target Number is the Rating of the Foe. Most tasks can be rated in this way (climb portcullis might be 6). A Difficulty Number of 8 would be a typical challenge; 10 or more would be difficult and 13 or more would be formidable for starting characters, at any rate.

In many circumstances, the character may possess a Skill applicable to the situation; in which case, the player may add the Skill level to the dice roll. The character’s Experience Level is usually added to the roll but only if the GM feels the task warrants it, given the character’s calling.

Example: Yuon the Barbarian is hunting small game with a bow and arrow. Yuon has Archery at +1 and the GM allows his player to add the character’s Level (+2, for a total of +3), as the activity seems like the sort of thing Barbarians get up to. Later, Yuon attempts to use his Repair Skill (+2) to fix the hem on Maid Morron’s court gown. Yuon does not get to add his Level in this particularly un-Barbarian-like activity!


12 Responses to “Tunnel Quest”

  1. Neuicon Says:

    Looks like fun, thanks for uploading!

  2. Mike Says:

    Take a peek at Tunnel Quest 1.1 here: http://web.me.com/hogwrite/Site/Game_Play/Game_Play.html

  3. Neuicon Says:

    1.1 was way fun! Thanks again; great game!

  4. RB Says:

    I’ve played around with it (both the 1.0 and 1.1 versions) for a little bit and I really like it! Thanks!

  5. Dakila Says:

    Wonderful, I used this to introduce my Wife, Sister in law, and two of my children to rpg’s. The rules were simple and flexable enough to keep the game flowing for a party of all new players.

  6. Mysterious Hu Says:

    Hi, looks fun – I’ll try it out on my group of players as an anitodote to a recent nasty outbreak of MERP.

    I noticed the following:

    “Level: warriors add their Level to the combat roll; a mage does not. Rogues add their Level in
    combat only if they have 2 or less Magic. If the rogue has a Magic stat of 3 or more only add
    half the Level (round down), rogues with high Magic points have devoted too much time to the
    arcane arts to focus on effective combat. Priests add half their Level (round down).

    “Example: Haldric, priest of The Horned Man is currently Experience Level 3, he adds +2 to
    attack rolls.”

    That low down, cheating priest is rounding his attack bonus up!

    I really like the “double roll triggers special ability” rule. I think I might also add a “double” routinely inflicts two hits rather than one and permanently damages armour. This would work against foes as well as characters.

    Do you have any guidelines on treasure rewards? Do you have any sample adventures?

  7. Catodon Says:

    Finally, a game perfect for when family members and hangers on get curious. It will be fast starting even if they make thier own characters, has easy mechanics and contains many of the features of full size games.

    And pushing the definition of ‘comments’…
    The idea of these house rules is to add variety without adding complexity. Characters and players not using these house rules can also play alongside players who do use them because these rules add no extra power. These rules give veteran roleplayers more creative freedom for generating satisfying characters. The aim is to produce a game for veterans and newcomers.

    Concept is a way of building variety into the callings without inventing new rules. The player chooses a one word concept and writes this on his character sheet next to his Calling. When adjudicating whether the character can add his level to a roll the referee should judge this based on the concept not the calling (a character without a concept still uses his calling). This is the only effect concepts ever have. Yuon the barbarian remains a good example. The concept should fit with the calling. Some ideas are given below.
    Mage: wizard, necromancer, mystic, scholar
    Priest: cultist, druid, cleric, friar
    Rogue: thief, bard, ‘adventurer’, investigator
    Warrior: knight, soldier, barbarian, archer
    Jack-of-all-trades: vagabond, Renaissance man, day-labourer, ‘adventurer’
    Note how adventurer appears for both rogues and jack-of-all-trades. There are many other concepts that could fit more than one calling. A sailor could easily be a rogue or a warrior, a noble concept fits every calling except priest and mage.

    Your Race is your fantasy species.
    For example Aelfstan is a Warrior Archer Elf.
    Race is also a new statistic. If you have any points in race draw a new oval for race to the left of hits. Starting character can remove points from Hits and/or Skills at creation and place them into Race. Humans always have a Race statistic of zero, it never rises. Very human-like races, such as dwarves and elves, can also begin with zero race but can raise it with experience.
    Aelfstan the elf warrior removes one skill and two hits and places them into race. His final attributes are Race 3, Hits 6, Skills 1, Magic 0.
    Race uses the same rules as magic but rather than colours use the race’s abilities as a guide. A character is always considered to have a focus when using race. Note that the effects produced by race may or may not actually be magical, the great endurance of dwarves is not magic. When adjudicating race uses always compare them to what a normal human could do. This puts some power restrictions on the players’ choices. Race points are replenished after a night’s rest but not by restoration potions. Level is always added to the die roll.
    Pursued by ogres Aelfstan wants to run across a tightrope spanning a chasm. He could make a roll on the agile skill but the referee sets the Difficulty Number at 12. Aelfstan has no points in Agile so he calls on his race. The referee considers the situation as if it was a spell. The effect is unlikely +2 and last a bit longer than an instant, plus 1 base is a cost of 3 race. Aelstan decides to call on his innate abilities. He is a first level character so he adds a total of +4 to his roll.
    Some races or characters have abilities players will want to access ‘at will’. This is not required but if desired, work out the cost for the ability to have a duration of one day and then pay this cost every morning. This is especially important for stranger races.
    Cormac the 16 foot tall Firbolg wants to use his giant strength often. To perform feats beyond human capability (+3) for a Day (+3) has a cost of 7. If Cormac pays 7 points of race every morning as a second level warrior he can lift a horse, topple menhirs, lift portcullises, and the like with a +9 to these rolls whenever he wants to.
    Some races are larger or smaller than humans. Very small races, under three foot tall, use small weapons (-2 to combat roll) and half cost. Larger weapons look imposing but are treated as standard weapons. Similarly, larger armour is provides no extra protection, the armour may be thicker but the gaps are also larger. Except for small weapons, scaled gear costs the same as human size gear, perhaps because of differences in the strength and quality of materials. Other disadvantages from being larger, smaller, or stranger are assumed to even out with the advantages or handled by common sense. This is implicitly how the core Tunnel Quest rules handle most situations. Avoid altering difficulties except in extreme cases and never add new rules.

    Some common races are given below. Most are human-like but two stranger races are given as examples of what the system could allow.
    Elves are fast, agile and graceful. They have an affinity to the wild animals and plants of the forests. Elves are enchanting people able to charm and influence others. They can use race to see well in low light conditions but not in utter darkness. Elves age twice as slowly as humans until they reach 50 after this they stop aging and never die of old age.
    Dwarves are short and stocky, about 4½ feet tall. What they lack in agility and grace they make up for in endurance and tenacity. They are also known for their iron constitutions. Dwarves have a talent for mining, stonework and metal-crafts. They are known for working hard and playing hard. Dwarves can use their race to magically see in the dark. Dwarves age and grow old about five times slower than humans.
    Also called Halflings by some because they are about 3½ feet tall. Hobs are down-to-earth people with an affinity for domestic animals and cultivated plants. Their aptitudes lie in agriculture and homely crafts such as cooking, sewing, and carpentry. Hobs also have a talent for stealth and hiding. While they like to live comfortably when hobs are tested foes are surprised to find halflings have great willpower and iron constitutions. Hobs age at about the same rate as humans.
    Gnomes are the people of knowledge. They are small (two foot tall) and agile with quick wits and nimble fingers. Gnomes have aptitudes for mechanisms, fine crafts like jewellery, and scholarly pursuits. A gnome could use race to pick a lock, or decipher ancient writing. Many gnomes become mages. Like hobs they can be stealthy and are expert hiders. They are also are good at dodging and have keen senses. Gnomes grow and age ten times slower than humans.
    The firbolg (Fear-vulag) are an ancient race of fierce giant warriors. A firbolg looks like a muscular 14 foot tall ancient Celt. Players could look into the Celts who fought the Romans and the Irish sagas for inspiration. Firbolgs are noted for their great strength, fearlessness, and warrior honour. Firbolgs grow and age three times slower than humans.
    Optional race: Fairy
    Fairies have the same abilities as elves except they are also only six inches tall and can fly using butterfly-like wings. The ability to fly makes some referee’s nervous as a fairy can circumvent many challenges, then again so can a mage.
    Flying is something a human cannot do (+3) so to have the endurance to fly for an hour (+2) the cost is 6. Most low level fairies flitter in short hops and need to roll to make it over obstacles.
    Optional race: Drake
    A drake is a young dragon. Like crocodiles, young dragons are soon capable of hunting on their own and some seek independence from their parents as early as their fifteenth year, well before they are full size. Drakes look like perfect miniature versions of adult dragons without any baby features. Drakes can fly and breathe fire using race points. Assume a drake is 1 foot long for every hit and half this is neck and tail. Wingspan is twice this. Drakes get larger as they gain hits with experience. Dragons are quadrupeds and a drake’s talons are only as dexterous as eagle claws so they cannot use weapons. A drake can either bite, claw, or tail slap in a combat turn. As unarmed attacks these use the brawling skill. Drakes with 1, 2 or 3 hits are small and suffer -2 with these natural weapons. Whichever single attack he chooses all are standard weapons once a drake has 4 or more hits. The armour value of a drake’s scaly hide is included in the creature’s hits. Dragons grow ever larger throughout life and never die of old age. A drake over 10 feet long is usually called a dragon.

  8. Mike Says:

    Wow, thanks for all those great comments folks and for those sterling ideas too Catodon.

  9. Mike Says:

    A slightly updated version can be found here: http://sites.google.com/site/hogtunnels/home/tunnel-quest

    I’m working on a new edition that will include a basic GM moderated adventure.

  10. Mike Says:

    Apologies folks… That link should be as follows:


  11. Eddy Harvey Says:

    This is awesome i love this game!!! Thanks!!

  12. Jason Says:

    Mike, it looks like your latest link on sites.google.com is not functioning any more.