The Original Arena of Khazan

Ken St. Andre - wrote Arena of Khazan and Tunnels and Trolls.
Flying Buffalo - Publisher of the Tunnels and Trolls game system. Still available for purchase.
Liz Danforth - Illustrated Tunnels and Trolls. She has done Collectable Card Game art for Magic: The Gathering and others.
The Arena of Khazan Game Books Entry

The year was 1983. The home entertainment system on the market was the first Atari console. The home PC was the TRS 80. ET: The Extraterrestrial was all the rage, and MTV was actually showing music videos *gasp*.

Role-playing games were pretty big at that time. My friends and I had tried to do Dungeons and Dragons, but the advanced version was kind of a complicated game. At some point, somebody brought in a game system called Tunnels and Trolls, which was pretty easy to play and left plenty of room for improvisation. Better yet, it came with something called Solo-Dungeons, which meant that nobody had to Game Master a session... we could just kind of play against the book.

Of these Solo dungeons, there was one title that my friends and I constantly returned to. The name of the adventure was The Arena of Khazan. Very cleverly written, it didn't matter how many times you played against the book, your adventure would be different. The concept was simple... as a gladiator in The Arena of Khazan, you had to survive three combats and make it out alive. And you never knew what you were going to be thrown up against... Orc, Troll... giant spider maybe. Our characters were killed on a routine basis, but those that made it out were usually far richer for the experience.

More than any other aspect of the game system, it was the well written Solo dungeon books, and most notably the Arena of Khazan which kept us playing the Tunnels and Trolls game system.

The thing that has kept The Arena of Khazan in my mind all these years is it's purity. For me, it is the sum essence of a fantasy game. You hope your gear is good enough, you hope your sword is sharp enough... because when you walk out onto the sand you don't know what you're going to face. Only that whatever it is, it's all that stands between you and the winnings for the battle. The core attribute of struggle and combat for ultimate glory and wealth is given a vivid intensity when you are role-playing a gladiator in the pit. The book was designed to capture fantasy combat for combat's sake and does so admirably.

When I built the original CBUB web site (at that time Callisto's Battle Circle) the first thing that popped into my mind was throw them into The Arena of Khazan. Ken St. Andre, in his adventure, had described a Death Goddess named Lerotra'hh who would bestow a great boon upon those who won an amazing 10 Arena combats. (And let me tell you, that was a tough piece of work). So, it only made sense to throw my favorite villainess Callisto (from Xena: Warrior Princess) into that role. The adventure Arena of Khazan has certainly inspired much of this fight site. And you know what? I still got my dog-eared copy of that adventure which has traveled with me since the early 80's. If there is a more well used copy of that book anywhere, I'd like to see it.

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The above art came mostly from Arena of Khazan, and from a couple other Tunnels and Trolls items.

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