Jan 7, 2019
Trollbabe is a unique game, even by our standards, and we had a lot of fun unpacking what just happened.
Mechanically-speaking, Trollbabe is the very definition of lightweight. Character creation, for instance, was a quick experience. The only real decision you need to make is to decide your character’s single stat, a number between 2 and 9 that determines how good your character is at combat, magic, and socializing. After that’s decided, everything else is details that help round out your trollbabe’s personality and history.
This one stat system is both Trollbabe’s greatest strength and weakness. On the plus side, all dice rolls are quickly resolved: roll below your stat to fight, roll above it to cast a spell, and roll with the worst of the two, inclusive, to convince somebody. The downside of this mechanic is that your character will either be very good at fighting or magic, or just OK at everything. This feels awfully like min-maxing.
Trollbabe’s most unusual aspect is its approach to conflict. On paper, it looks extremely complicated, but it actually works very smoothly in practice. Deciding the pace of a conflict is a conversation between player and GM, and once the conflict is underway one can breeze through it quite quickly. Most intriguing of all, the reroll system allows players to introduce new plot elements and NPCs on the fly, allowing the narrative to evolve in unexpected ways. At its heart, Trollbabe is a collaborative storytelling game, and the conflict system embodies that fact.
The world of Trollbabe is a mishmash of Germanic history, Norse folklore, and swords-and-sorcery adventure. If this isn’t to your liking, the book gives you plenty of freedom to define the setting in any way you like. One of Trollbabe’s strengths is that it is extremely adaptable, and the setting could conceivably be adapted to suit any setting.
Overall, we were very pleased with our experience with Trollbabe. It’s a game that’s easy to pick up and play with a small group of friends. If you enjoy a rules-lite storytelling experience that can be picked up quickly, then Trollbabe is an experience that you don’t want to miss. However, if you want a more tactical, mechanical system, then maybe stay away.
To find out for yourself, you can purchase it at http://adept-press.com/games-fantasy-horror/trollbabe/