Treasure of Tarmin (1983)

Treasure of Tarmin’s key feature is another amazing cover dominated by circles and monsters. I do not know why the adventurer is dressed in khakis and a safari shirt, though. I guess anything is possible in a land of magic and mystery.

I only learned of the existence of Treasure of Tarmin a few years ago, when I found a copy at a flea market. I’ve never played it, but I’ve gleaned a few things from the instruction booklet.

First, though the game’s systems are more complex than Cloudy Mountain, Tarmin is still Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in name only, a game at best inspired by the spirit of AD&D with the licensed name slapped on the box to help sales. For instance, your health is divided between your War Strength and your Spiritual Strength. Physical monsters attack the former, while creatures like wraiths attack the latter; some, like the boss monster, the Minotaur, attacks both (that’s him on the cover of the instruction booklet, by the way – intimidating!). Your weapons are also divided between war (physical weapons) and spiritual (your spells). All this is explained in a section of the manual titled “Secrets of the Universe.” Also, for what it’s worth, Spiritual Weapon would make a great name for a metal band.  

The roster of monsters is much more monstery compared to Cloudy Mountain, with giants, ghouls and giant scorpions all showing up to the party. Amusingly, they are grouped into three difficulty levels: Bad Monsters, Nasty Monsters and Horrible Monsters. It seems a missed opportunity that those categories never showed up in the pen and paper game. Monster Manual 2: Nasty Monsters would have been a hit, I know it.

A surprising feature of the game is that it is faux-3D and arranged in a first person perspective. I’ve no idea where that fits in a historical context, but Tarmin, released in 1983, feels early. I also suspect that there is a clear strand of DNA connecting it to the Eye of the Beholder games that appeared nearly a decade later.

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