11 January 2021

Troika! Bundle of Holding Benefiting Direct Relief #troikarpg

 I, among several other very extremely wonderful and talented third-party publishers of Troika! conent are in the Troika! Bundle of Holding

I own and rather like everything in this bundle, even if I never have the time to write about them.

Adventurer! This Troika Bundle presents the Troika! tabletop fantasy roleplaying game from Melsonian Arts Council. You are a wizard, a warrior, or maybe a macrame owl, dimension-hopping in your golden barge among the crystal spheres strung like pearls across the hump-backed sky. The simple Troika! rules, inspired by the 1980s Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, let beginners and jaded roleplayers alike go wild in crazed cross-planar pursuits. Whether you're pruning a Floral God, infiltrating the Palace of Tigers, or helping His Moist Magnificence, the slug monarch King Juniper Jupiter Lexx-Hafwall IV, Troika! lets you trip the light fantastic, or maybe just trip out, in visionary adventures fueled by hallucinatory creativity.

Fighting the pandemic

Ten percent of your payment (after gateway fees) will be donated to this offer's pandemic-related charity, Direct Relief. Direct Relief sends protective gear and critical care medications to health workers, with emergency deliveries to medical facilities across the US and Canada and to regional response agencies around the world.

09 December 2020

What do you do with Ultraviolet Grasslands?

 This isn't going to be particularly in depth or ordered because idc. This is my blog not a scholarly forum.

I backed the kickstarter. I own the standard physical book. I like Luka a fair amount. And this isn't going to be a rate and review.

This is going to probably be continually added to because that's just how my brain works.

20 August 2020

Scarlet Heroes w/ Pathfinder

There are two possible assumptions I see in one aspect of Scarlet Heroes. Damage and monster hit points are scaled down coarsely by 1/4. And a lone PC is roughly 1/4 of an assumed party size. In the context of grognard d&d, a party isn't always assumed to be only 4 or so PCs. B1 3-8 PCs and/or hirelines total. At the risk of coming off poorly, I won't be pulling through my modules for character numbers and levels, especially as some also have an "roughly X total character levels.”. In any case that is one of the assumptions I see, which is probably the best one to use for using SH with newer iterations of D&D, such as Pathfinder, in this specific case Mythic Adventures Pathfinder.
The other possible assumption is that as monsters use d8s for hit dice, they have 4.5 hit points per hit die, so by quartering and chunking damage, those match, with the accompanying side effect of increasing the combat survivability of the lone PC. Since the effect is also that it makes a PC have 4x the normal hitpoints, this is probably an erroneous assumption on my part.
This interrogation of SH came about through the first few sessions of using it with Mythic Adventures Pathfinder, as hit points for everything is much greater, damage is greater, and in particular, my PC Cassondrica does between 1d10+3 to 1d10+9 depending on whether she's using the weapon 2hd and in her armor, as her class the Aegis can boost stats etc when using the psionic armor, and therefore will always do 10 damage on the die is where the table in SH ends, so she does 4 damage just out right. The question being, is this what we want and if not what can we do to change this. Spoiler we've decided to not change anything about for the time being. Which is that we read the stat blocks as per SH, just the total hit die, and that is the monster hp. Otherwise I feel that combat would become the sort of horrible slog we hate in Pathfinder.
Another thing that I noticed on the PC end, is how Challenge Rating, has a big effect on the Fray Die mechanic, which is to say, for level appropriate encounters, Cass can't use the Fray Die we felt was most appropriate as on the whole, monsters/npcs have higher hit dice/levels than the CR. Level X Cass can't use the Fighter's 1d8 Fray Die against CR X monsters. In her case, I asked/suggested that I change it over to the Magic-User's 1d4 Fray Die as she is a psionic character. We haven't had a chance yet to test this. There is also the obvious solution of basing against whom the Fray Die can be used on the CR and not the HD of the monsters. Also, it should be noted that she's made it to level 3 without actually using her Fray Die more than once or twice thanks to the 1d10+9 damage and being able to spread overflow. Which will become less viable as time goes on.
The next thing I've been thinking about is what to do with Mythic Tiers or Ranks. Since Cass hasn't faced any foes with MT or MR, I don't know yet for sure, but I think that simply treating those as additional HD might be sufficient as that is one of the adjustments from MT and MR.
To reference the earlier, and imo incorrect, assumption that damage is quartered because 4.5 hp per HD, I spent some time getting an idea on the hp per HD and CR in Pathfinder, 8 and 15 or so respectively, and did my own damage chart based on dividing damage by 8, my math suggests this a terrible idea, I think. In addition to be work that probably didn't need to be done.
A couple of takeaways. I've had some big sweat "oh fuck is she going to die here" moments despite having more hp than even the average PF PC by virtue of her Mythic Tier. I haven't done near as much combat in that game as all this work and the combat heavy nature of the games involved would suggest, (cue d&d is shitty for basically everything because it's about combat commentary). Because of the close to the SH damage cap she is with her primary weapon, she's still using a 6ft tall statue as a melee weapon instead of upgrading to something with better damage.
I was thinking about adjusting the SH table to have a 3 and 5 damage entry instead of the jump from 2 to 4, or at least some number higher than 5 using the reasoning behind the 0, 1, 2, 4. Possible jumping to either 6 or 8, but I'm unsure as to where to put the breakpoints. This is because of the massive damage Cass can deal and the related, this is supposed to very over the top mythic combat. Or that is my hope with the game I'm playing in.
Currently we're playing through the first installment of the 3pp Adventure Path, Way of the Wicked, but we're talking about transitioning from that to Ultraviolet Grasslands in part because I'm not as stoked about the framing of Way of the Wicked as a solo player. I'd be cooler with playing an evil ap with a group. Don't know why I'm not so keen on it solo, or if it's just how we workshopped Cass's background, she was pulled from Athas with some degree of amnesia and also that Athasians are basically mythic tier creatures when out of the bullshit harshness of Athas.
Because of the nature of the rules combo we're using, I'm about to begin the process of annotating UVG, with ink on the pages, with relevant numbers for PF. The current question is how to translate level and the terse descriptions to PF. The build a monster section in the PF bestiaries are focused on derived attributes by CR. Fortunately, the monster builder in Pathfinder Unchained has HD and CR equal, so I can probably make terse PFUC blocks from the entries in UVG.

14 August 2020

[Review] Prismot: A Troikawave Zine

Prismot is written by Jared Sinclair with art & layout by Micha Anderson.

This is as the title suggests, another Troika! zine. It has art of a digital collage type, with some nudity, the compositing done to '80-'90ificate the stock images. Across 12 pages it has 6 backgrounds, assembly instructions for the magical three-dee glasses, a table of random 90's trash, 6 spells, 2 monsters, and cut-out not actually 3d glasses on the back cover.

Summation out of the way.

A vaporwave sphere for Troika! is perfect, especially if you have it as contra-sphere or the contra-side of, a cyberpunk sphere. Get those two 80s-90s sf kinds of flavors.
It does a lot of things I think Troika! that is good to see in Troika! 3pp material: new backgrounds with flavors, new NPCs, new spells, and random shit to set more flavor.

Get it here:
Jared Sinclair's Gumroad
Jared Sinclair's Itch
Exalted Funeral

13 July 2020

What's So Cool About Jam?

Hey nerds,

Have you heard about this cool little game that I consider to be a hybrid of the very good Tunnel Goons, and the very classic old school game Traveller, What's So Cool About Outer Space?

One, check it out.

Two, check out the game jam on itch.io that I am hosting.

Three, feel deep within your soul the desire to write a hack, splat, adventure, idk a fucking essay, of What's So Cool About Outer Space?

Four, submit it and feel good because you found a way to stretch some of that rpg game writing muscles in a different way.

Five, you could even write a game SPECIFICALLY ABOUT JAM & OTHER PRESERVES!!!

What's So Cool About Jam? TELL US!!

08 July 2020

Is This 6e

Player Character
3d6 Strength
3d6 Intelligence
3d6 Wisdom
3d6 Constitution
3d6 Dexterity
3d6 Charisma
Backstory 5d6 pages
Adv Skills
You have no Luck or Stamina.
You have no Skill.
Each time you must test anything, use one of your special possessions as Luck, spending 1d3 point each time.
Each time you take damage subtract that much from a single special possession as if it were Stamina.
As your special possessions are neither stamina nor luck, they do not replenish. Good luck getting more.

06 July 2020

Power Move: No I don't Die

The following is some shit in a .txt that I don't feel like rewriting.

Alright nerds. Let's talk about death and dying and that game with double ds and all the games that are derived from it, which are a LOT.

So we got all these old ass games, as far as games from the 1970's to present can be OLD, where characters just DIED at zero hit points. Sure there were eventually resurrection spells etc, which costs MONEY. But as time wore on there started to be things like being knocked out at 0 and then dying at some negative amount.

Power Move: No I don't Die
Check a box on your Impending Death tracker
Roll 2d6
2-5: Describe the only thing you KEPT in-spite of death and check off an additional box.
6-8: Describe three things you LOST because you didn't die.
9-12: Describe one thing you LOST because you didn't die.


Combat as War?
Combat as Sport?
How about Combat as Game.
Does it matter that Sport is equivalent to Game?
Not at all. Words have meaning.
As War and As Combat imply from WITHING the fiction of the game we are playing. As Game implies a metastance. We are playing a game, and part of that game is the combat of the game.

Is death always the best consequence for failure in combat? Does any replacement need to advance the state of the game? What does advancing the game even fucking mean though?

How to handle Death in your game with Combat.

The simple "Your Character Only Dies If You Say They Die."
The replace consequences are, and I dislike spelling it out but, discuss with your friends.

"You're a Ghost (For) Now."
Yo. Your PC died. Now hang with your friends as a Ghost with Ghost Powers. Maybe you only do it for a bit until you get your body back, or you stay a ghost, or maybe even you have a limited amount of ghost time before really being gone.
You can get ghost powers, which are powers ghosts have that the living cannot use. But let's also consider, powers that can only be learned by ghosts from ghosts that can be used as both or even only as the living.
Ghost Sight?
The Secret Soul Battering Knee Technique?
Ultimate Dam Building Skill?
"The Undead's Soul Is Drawn To The Bonfire"
Lots of MMOs and other video games do this. Death doesn't end the game; it puts you back at a check point of some kind. Maybe any character advancements are lost, or there is some other additional penalty, but always the main penalty is having to traverse all the territory you just traversed only to die.
It's a failure forward. PC knowledge should be continuous, ie they retain the in character knowledge gained between the last checkpoint and death.
There is the accompanying "(almost) everything resets if you die" effect. We're being gamic (not gamist fuck off with that) so major things like bosses wouldn't reset.

03 July 2020

Breaking Troika's Bones Against Chesterson's Fence

So I learned about Chesterson's Fence, glibly renamed Gygax's Fence, which in short is a "before you change a thing, think about why the thing is the way it is." Super echoes some of views on the AC vs DR of armor and hit points aren't meat arguments in D&D/OSR.

This will be really brief, and to best of my ability specifically about the idea that you can write content for a game wrong.

Starting from the premise that you can write content for a game wrong, and beyond the idea that writing anything wrong exists only as far as it is not understandable. How can you write content for a game wrong? I argue that 1. only if you are writing official or possibly licensed content for that game's publisher or 2. that your content is unusable to anyone who is also using the base game.

Accepting that these are true premises, can a fan actually write wrong content for Troika in specific? I argue, only in as far point 2, as the 3pp writer isn't writing official content, and almost entirely only as far as matters of taste are concerned.

But what about Chesterson's Fence (CF for short)? Why does it matter here?

So I'm going to use an opinion from another blog on the rapid proliferation of Troika 3pp content, which is opinion of someone not affiliated with Melsonian Arts Council.

A summary of their opinions:

  • Troika is "hackable" which is inviting to creators to hack. 
  • This leads to a lot of content that runs counter to the spirit of the rules/game
  • This means a lot of backgrounds or creatures that demonstrate as they see a lack of understanding of the system (as a side note this is also a "the math is deep in Troika!" related opinion)
  • Intuitive content because of that
  • Can be destructive to play

So we have to ask, and he gives his own answers, which are to a degree echoed by myself and the larger Troika playerbase, what these all mean.
And to an extent I've probably already addressed all of these.

Upon using only d6's.

Well why does Troika use only d6's. It's based on (Advanced) Fighting Fantasy. I could ask Dan himself, but other than accessibility and to be cool and different from D&D all the other games with all the other polyhedra, that is most obvious stance. So game legacy and accessibility. That's pretty much it. Probability probably doesn't factor.

Upon not have a sufficient understanding of the system regarding backgrounds and creatures.

Why are the creature the stats the way they are? If you compare several the prime fantasy rpg monsters, like goblins and dragons, to their counterparts from Fighting Fantasy, especially in the From the Pit book, which is the FF equivalent of the Monster Manual, they are all almost identical or within 1-2 points. So again, legacy with the ancestral game. That's the why. But what is enough understanding to write new creatures? I'm not sure how super secret this knowledge is, but as the MAC discord is easy to get an invite to, I should think not very. Dan's advice is to eyeball and wing-it.

I should really make a post on that at some point, it comes up a lot. Your best bet is to go through the enemies section and think "ok, this thing is as dangerous as a manticore (skill) as tough as a bandit (knight of the road stamina) and as nippy as a gremlin (initiative)" or something along those lines. Pretty quickly you'll have a feel for the numbers and be able to stat things up off the top of your head.

Well what constitutes sufficient understanding of writing backgrounds for Troika? The rules say in short, be cool, not overly detailed, with about 10 points of Advanced Skills with values between 1 and 3, and probably not going above 3. It says they don't need to be balanced as far as numbers, just flavorful and enjoyable. And if you read through the backgrounds in the book, a lot of them adhere to this, but you see backgrounds with Advanced Skills of 4 or greater. The ones in the 5-6 range are very narrow, but the skills at 4 are almost all directly applicable to adventuring tasks, climbing and fighting and lifting.

Upon running counter to the spirit of the game.

What is the spirit of the game? That is on one hand a personal thing. In which case, you politely ignore content you don't like. I know I myself had to bite back some strong feelings about some of the backgrounds written for Troika Jam, keeping them in check in part because of my strong feelings about Mr Otus's post on doing content wrong. But on the other hand there can be an appeal to authority, which wraps back around to how do you write content wrong, which I argue is not following the style-guide when writing official content for the publisher or being unusable to the intended audience.

So appealing to authority, which can be done either from the text itself, see the introduction primarily, from the author himself, or from other folx working on Troika, see the list of credits of which the author and editors should be considered highly.

The text says, and I am not going to quote EVERYTHING:

In the copyright and legal matters page
Anyone may publish free or commercial content based upon and/or declaring compatibility with "Troika!" without express written permission from the publisher...
In the introduction
You now have the context and key terms to explore the medium independently and nothing I say here can fully instruct you...

The adventure and wonder is in the gaps; your game will be defined by the ways in which you fill them.

The math isn't that deep. There isn't a great deep reason on using d6s for everything. The stats are made up. The core game itself violates what some folx have said are rules for making backgrounds. Weapon damage tables are universally "winged" by both Dan in the core book, and Andrew Walter in Fronds of Benevolence. Additionally, Andrew notably didn't know shit about Troika when he wrote Fronds. So how much DOES the average random person playing Troika need to know to write good usable content for Troika? Fuck if I know.