Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Troika! Character Sheet And Thoughts

My vision of a Chaos Champion.

  1. A Russian carriage, wagon, or sleigh drawn by a team of three horses abreast.
  2. Any group of three persons, nations, etc., acting equally in unison to exert influence, control, or the like; a triumvirate. 
In the game, Troika is the name of a city.

Troika! is a game based on the Advanced Fighting Fantasy books of yesteryear, which I swear, I only heard about this year. How is that possible? I don't know. I must have seen them in bookstores way back when, but maybe not, were they even sold here in the states?

It's a little hardback book with cool interior art that reminds me of a deck of cards. The imagery is surreal and abstract which allows you to make of Troika! what you will and as you can see by my art above, I chose to make of it -- Sword & Sorcery, Dungeon-Crawl, Savage  Bad-Assery!

Things I like:
  • 3 main stats (Skill, Stamina, and Luck) randomly rolled that never change. I would keep it that way. Though, I could see adding to stamina a tiny bit here and there over time.
  • The Luck stat is your all-encompassing saving throw that diminishes every time you use it, pass or fail. Awesome. Push your luck and you'll be out of luck. This is like a built in clock that tells the party, "It's time to rest."
  • Provisions that heal when eaten. A tangible reason to pay attention to food.
  • An inventory system that makes you pay attention to where you store that food.
  • As many (Advanced) skills as you want or need.
  • As many flavorful backgrounds (classes) as you can dream up. 36 in the Troika! book. 36 more in Acid Death Fantasy. Many more all over the web. Not created equally, but all full of flavor. This is the old-school way.
  • You can create a monster in seconds.
  • A magic system that cost stamina to use. Cast too many spells, you die. Cast any spell and you risk death no matter who you are do to the OOPS! table (rolling double 6's.) All of the usual tropes are there, but they're powered down, e.g., you can try to put one person to sleep.
  • A roll under and roll over system. Keeps you on your toes. 
  • Opposed roll combat, loser takes damage (I mention below that I would separate this into attack and defend.)
  • Damage charts for weapons. At first glance I was like, eh no, but upon further examination, I approve. Some weapons are more dependable than others (swords), dealing moderate but steady damage. Yet, a clumsy weapon like a heavy maul varies from a little damage to a bruising lot.
  • If you like the sci-fi element to the game, rifles are long barreled "Fusils" and guns are "pistolets." Ammo is a "plasmic core" that can also be huffed by wizards to fuel spells. I kid you not, this is cool stuff. Even if I left out the guns I would keep the plasmic core and rename it in some sorcerous way. Fallen Angel Dust, Essence of Dragon, etc.
  • Deadly combat.
  • Armor matters, but takes up space. This will break down if you ignore the inventory system and then everybody will be wearing heavy armor + shield. In which case, you should apply some sort of attack or damage roll penalty.
  • You can use these rules for any genre.

Things I would alter or add:
  • Initiative. It's cute, I get what they're going for: Chaos! But, collecting and drawing tokens (potentially lots of them) every time there's a fight, is way to fidgety for my taste. I would keep it more traditional, players roll a d6, monsters roll a d6 and add their initiative score. This way initiative still favors monsters. Perhaps a monster can attack after every PC goes. Perhaps you could roll a chaos die after every one goes, on a 6 the round ends and if you didn't get to act, too bad. Anyway, I would do something different.
  • I would add an XP system. I'm not a fan of "getting better" whenever the GM says so. I like something a bit more concrete. I would keep the numbers low, hundreds not thousands. You would get it for the usual reasons, killing things (XP = their stamina) finding things, etc. And when you have enough to "level up" you would get 3 improvement rolls wherever you want them (or use the tick system and only improve skills used successfully as in the rules) of course they're not guaranteed to succeed. Perhaps every few "levels" you add 1 stamina. And every so many few levels, you can add a new skill or spell -- randomly(?). Something like that. You could maybe even create specific advancement skill/spell roll charts based on specific backgrounds.
  • Prices. There are no prices (some baubles are priced in the intro adventure, listed in P (Pence) and SP (Silver Pence). No conversion is mentioned. This is no biggy, make up your own system. Of the top of my head, a weapon would cost in SP a number equal to its damage column 7+ (plus or minus 1d6 due to market prices.) Armor could cost it's bonus x 10. Any "item" might cost 2d6, 3d6 or 4d6 depending on the market (multiply by 5 or 10 for homebrew magic items.) Perhaps it takes a skill roll to find something. Perhaps create a black market skill for shady types. A Barter skill could be cool. To keep things simple, I would probably ignore the P and just use SP. Anything listed as P would be 1 SP. Or maybe gold with a silver standard.
  • Magic items. Have to be careful here, a +1 to hit or to damage roll, that's it. If an item granted a +2 there should be a serious price to pay. Many items would simply grant spell-like powers. I would give magic items an unknown finite number of uses, a "depletion" score like in Numenera (an idea I like for any game.)
  • Scrolls and a Use Scroll skill. Pretty straight forward here. Perhaps they don't drain you, but you can still roll OOPS! Or perhaps they drain you unless you roll doubles. And they would be expensive, 100 SP per casting cost. Or maybe just 50.
  • Separate combat into attack and defense rolls. You might live a little longer. Combat seems more like a duel. More interesting. You defend as many times as you are attacked.
  • The Strength skill could add +1 to damage rolls or perhaps let you carry more. Just a thought.
  • Mighty Blows damage armor (as well as ((or instead of)) doing double damage) so that heavy becomes modest and modest becomes light and light becomes nothing. Likewise, a mighty blow could destroy a shield.
  • Rolling doubles. Double 1's & 6's are both good and bad in this game, but you could make any doubles interesting to add a little spice to combat. You hit on a double, you get a free attack or action. Or you add +1 to your damage roll. Or maybe your spell cost 1 point less. Roll doubles on defense, get a free riposte, etc. Snake-Eyes and your weapon breaks or your foe gets a free attack. Also could add effects for magic weapons (1d6 extra armor-ignoring shock damage, or some such thing.) Roll doubles on a successful spell casting and it costs 1 point less, doubles on a failure and it costs 1 point more.
  • Mutants. You could always add a random list of mutations for weird magic or mutant backgrounds, claws, wings, acid spit, chitinous skin, etc. But, for every beneficial mutation there should also be a negative one.

Once again, another cool game, not unlike the magnificent Mörk Borg. This game's mechanics hit a lot of the right buttons for me. And to think most of these rules have been around for decades.

So here's the character sheet I came up with. At first, I thought the rules were too simple for a full page sheet, but that's when you can make it interesting. I'm pretty pleased with this one.

Here's the sheet in action with the Chaos Champion I drew at the top of the post...

And as a bonus, here are stats I made for a Morning Star (flail.) It's not quite as good as a Mace, but it ignores shields. So, if you're fighting someone protected only by a shield, rolling a 2, 4, or 6 will result in 1 more point of damage than a mace would. It's also 1 point better than the mace in the 7+ column to account for the extra momentum gained from that perfect strike. Still, the more armor involved, the mace becomes a better choice. (And for God's sake when wielding a Morning Star, wear gauntlets!)

Until 2021...

Sunday, December 6, 2020

What Happened In That Town?

What Happened In That Town? 

Roll 1d20...

1. Food Poisoning
: Some inn/tavern served you rotten/tainted food. Save vs poison or be bed-ridden for 1d4 days and lose 1 point of constitution. If you make your save, roll another save, if you make the second save as well, gain 1 point of constitution.

2. Purse Cut: You were robbed of 1d4 x 100 GP worth of treasure (or all of your coins if you didn't have that much) unless, you make a successful attack roll vs leather armor, which means you gut the bastard gaining 2d6 x 10 XP.

3.Charmed: You met a new friend. You liked them so much that you loaned them all of your cash, i.e., unless you saved vs spells and broke the asshole's nose gaining a +2 bonus vs all Charm spells from now on.

4. Royal Hunt: Somehow, you found yourself a guest at a Royal Hunt just outside of town. Make 3 ranged attack rolls vs leather +1 armor. Make all 3 and gain 1 point of charisma as word of your prowess spreads and people are pleased to meet you. Make 2 of 3 and you've impressed a nobleman who might sponsor your next expedition or spring you from jail, either way, you've got a royal favor in your back pocket. Make 1 of 3 and nothing changes for your forgettable ass. Miss all 3 and word spreads of your incompetence, lose 1 point of charisma as folks chuckle when they hear your name.

5. Stolen Steed: If you had a horse stabled at the Inn, it's gone. (Stable boy sold it.)

6. Old Friend: Old friend (of the same class and level as you) is now: (1d8) 1. A useless drunk lying in a ditch. 2. Captain of the guard. 3. A cultist selling flowers. 4. The owner of a brothel. 5. About to be hanged. 6. Leaving on a dragon quest. 7. Bootlegging magic potions. 8. Tells you that you've got a lot of nerve coming here...

7. Beggars: "Alms for the poor," she said as you walked through the Alley of Sadness. Did you give? What kind of coin? Copper--she nods and blesses you. Silver--her eyes light up as she thanks you and quickly hides the coin, others take notice. Gold--she's speechless, yet can't hide her hunger for the treasure, another tries to take it from her, but she fends him off. Platinum--she didn't even have a chance to react as she is buried beneath a mob of jealous beggars. Her fate was grim, but you meant well and the Gods that matter grant you a boon: You can reroll your next 1d4 failed rolls. 

8. Witch Burning: She sure as hell didn't look like no witch, but you watched her burn just the same. And before the flames really started licking, she caught your eye and stared. And stared. And stared. And if you don't make 2 out of 3 saves vs spells you are now cursed with a -3 to all rolls until you can find and convince a member of her coven to set you straight. It won't be easy. It won't be cheap.

9. Assassin Strikes!: Only you know why that assassin tried to kill you. It was a tedious dual, but you fought him off.....or did you? Make 3 attack rolls vs leather +2 armor, succeed on 3 of 3 and you gain +1 to-hit. Succeed on 2 of 3 and you gain 1 hit point. Succeed on 1 of 3 and the assassin's poison saps you permanently of 1 point from a randomly rolled ability. Fail all 3...nice knowing you pal.

10. Tavern Brawl: You don't no whether he bumped you or you bumped him, or maybe you just hit on his girl, either way, it's on! Start making unarmed attack rolls vs unarmored. Make 3 in a row, you win and gain +2 to all reaction rolls in this town forever. Miss 2 in a row, you lose, spend the next 1d4 days in the stockades for unlawful behavior and suffer -2 to all reaction rolls in this town forever.

11. Fire!: There is no more town. This really sucks, but, anything that you weren't carrying on you was lost when the inn went up in flames. Sorry bud.

12. Plague: This is not the place you want to be right now! Sores and boils, bleeding eyes and cracked skin, vomit and shit. Turn around! Too late. Save vs paralysis until you have 3 consecutive successes or 3 consecutive failures. Pass and you're good, gain 1 point of constitution and immunity to this plague. Fail and you lose 1d4 hit points permanently and also lose 1 point of charisma due to plague scars.

13. Peasant Unrest: Chaos reigns. The taxes were too high, the royal abuses too many, and the food too scarce. Now, there's a Guillotine around every corner, buildings burn, neighbors pillage neighbors, and bodies hang from the bridge. You, my friend, were caught right in the middle of it. Make an attack vs leather to fend off the mob. Save vs breath to avoid the flames. Make another attack vs chain to beat back the guards. Save vs paralysis to avoid hunger. And save vs spells to forget the disturbing scenes of urban madness. Gain 100 XP for each successful roll you made, but, if you failed all 5 rolls you lose 1 point of wisdom as your mind is just a little more numb than it used to be.

14. Succubus: You are haunted by a Succubus every night until you make 2 consecutive saves vs Paralysis (1 save per night.) Every save you fail costs you 1d4 non-heal-able hit points, which ultimately return at a rate of 1d4 per week. If you made the first 2 saves in a row, she flees and you gain 2 points of Charisma...there's just something about you now.

15. Taxation: Property, trade, land, boarding, services, etc. Everything was taxed at ridiculous levels. How else was the king supposed to pay for his latest crusade? You're out an additional 3d4 x 10 GP. And if you don't pay, don't come here again, the guards know your face.

16. Strange Customs: Man, this fucking town. They made you eat something alive and squirming from the river, save vs poison. They don't bathe here, and neither did you, save vs disease. And why did it have to be snakes that they revered so much and allowed to squirm all over you no matter what you were doing? -save vs petrification. Also, if you wanted milk you had to drink it directly from the cow, because, that's how they did it, save vs poison, again. Curious how everything in town was painted in a dizzying, black and white checkered pattern, including these long winding streets and circular your head, save vs spells. If you make 3 of these 5 saves, gain 1 point of wisdom as you are now just a bit more worldly. But yeah, fuck this place.

17. Stalker: Someone is stalking you but they always manage to disappear before you can reach them and you're the only one who notices: (1d8) 1. Street urchin. 2. Cloaked figure. 3. Beautiful woman. 4. Handsome man. 5. Corpse. 6. Ghost. 7. Raven. 8. What is that thing...?  How are they moving? (1d6) 1. Walking 2. Gliding 3. Sideways on walls 4. Tentacles 5. Crawling 6. Phasing in and out.

18. Festival of... (1d10) 1. Lights. 2. Saint So-and-So. 3. Beer! 4. Solstice. 5. Music. 6. Tournaments 7. Theatre. 8. Harvest. 9. The Dead. 10. You have no idea, but it was fun! Your wallet's a wee bit lighter now, 2d6 x 10 GP lighter to be exact, but, you gain half as much in XP for all the strange games and ceremonies you participated in. Good times.

19. False Accusation: "It was that one!" Screams the dirt-covered peasant surrounded by guards. Make a Reaction Roll as you plead your innocence: (2d6) 2-3. You're placed under arrest, hiring an advocate to plead your case costs you 3d6 x 10 GP and 2d4 days of time. 4-6. They're not buying it, roll again with -4 to your roll. 7-9. You're kind of convincing, roll again. 10-11. They believe you, but you suffer -2 to reaction rolls in this town for the duration of your stay. 12. They arrest the accuser for bearing false witness!

20. Siege: That's right, hero, you're stuck here for the next 1d6+6 months. Save vs poison to avoid starvation and rotting food supplies. Save vs wands to avoid artillery. Save vs paralysis to avoid the elements. Save vs breath to avoid their dragon. Save vs magic to avoid their wizards. Pass all 5 saves, congratulations you survived the siege and gain a level. Fail all 5 and lose 1 point from 3 random abilities due to stress and malnutrition. Otherwise, just be thankful you're alive.

Castles & Crusades: Saving Throws... Focusing On Death

In the earliest editions of D&D, death , along with poison was your best save. In Castles & Crusades, the  death  save is a charism...