When I learnt Rick Loomis passed away, I pulled out my copy of his Buffalo Castle, the first solitaire RPG adventure. I played a lot more solitaire RPGs than in-person, and I have Rick to thank for that. (I met Rick once, at a convention, of course.) You can play along with me:
- Purchase a revised edition.
- You’ll need Tunnels & Trolls to play. I recommend 1st Edition, because Rick originally sold Ken’s 100 copies from the ASU copy shop, and it’s actually a love letter from @Trollgodfather (Ken St. Andre, the designer of Tunnels & Trolls) to a group of friends who made up the game together. Plus, go Sun Devils!
- You’ll also need this treasure table (not in 1st edition).
Play along! I created a character. Key thing to note when you do: “Constitution” is what you will probably think of as health or hp. “Hit points” in T&T are for each round of combat: “The hit point total is the sum of a characters [sic] dice roll plus whatever adds may be coming to him.”
- On my first game, I went through the left door, and I tried to sweet-talk my way past the troll (spoiler!), only to have him kill me in one blow.
- On my second game (same character), I went through the center door, was teleported to the troll (1 out of 12 paths!), to be killed in one blow after I missed my saving roll by 1. (“Saving rolls are made with 2 dice. Doubles add and roll over so that you need not give up hope.”)
- On my third game, I went through the rightmost door, fell into a pit, and crawled out to be rewarded with “You have entered room number six.” I drank from a fountain and lost 2 charisma. I then failed my saving roll twice and got: “The walls smash you flat. Sorry about that!”
Yeah, so this was like a 1970s arcade game. You’d just expect to die a lot and have to puzzle your way through. This reminds me of a BASIC or FORTRAN IV program, which is not surprising as Rick claimed to be the first person to buy a computer just to play games!
I eventually came up with a strategy, bought different weapons, and won!
So celebrate the life of Rick Loomis by playing this pioneering game and returning, momentarily, to what gaming was like in 1976.