Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tarot Card Dungeon Generator: The Magic Tree



When I write my own adventures, I find that the “large scale” writing—the NPC’s, the factions, etc.—comes relatively easily for me, but the “small scale” writing—maps, rooms, and the content within (namely, the important stuff)—is more difficult. This generator makes dungeons big enough for at least a single session, and fast enough that you could theoretically improvise the dungeon during play (although I would still recommend preparing the dungeon beforehand whenever possible) depending on how familiar you are with reading your tarot deck. Plus you get to roll a bunch of dice right on top of your tarot cards which gives me a thrill every time.

First, deal out nine tarot cards in a 3x3 grid. To me, the true spirit of a dungeon is hidden in the wandering encounter table; so, before starting in with maps and rooms, take a moment to fill out a d6 wandering encounter table with the grid of tarot cards. I like to read multiple cards at the same time—I believe that cards in a well designed deck "talk" to each other in interesting ways when read in clumps. Use the three cards in the top row for the first wandering encounter entry, the middle row for the second entry, the bottom row for the third entry, the right-most column for the fourth entry, the middle column for the fifth entry, and of course the left-most column for the sixth entry. Remember that a wandering encounter doesn't need to be a monster—it can be someone to talk to, an interesting environmental factor, a mysterious event, and so on. Of course, if you’re improvising a dungeon, you can skip this step for now until you need a wandering encounter.

Now take nine dice and drop them on top of the tarot cards. If any spill outside the grid, just drop them back on the grid. Next, drop an additional number of dice equal to the number of “1’s” you rolled. Make sure that you rolled a good mix of numbers: you want at least one die in the 1-2 range, one in the 3-4 range, and one in the 5-6 range. No value should come up more than three times; if you have more than three dice with the same value, re-roll the extra.

On your sheet of paper, make a note of roughly where the dice landed with circles, and then sequentially number them. Connect the circles with lines to form a graph. No need to over-think it—it should be relatively obvious which circles connect to which. A good graph will have three or four interconnected loops and a dead end or three. Put an "S" on a line or two to indicate a secret door of some type between two circles.

This graph is your dungeon map. Each circle is a room or a hallway junction with something interesting inside, and each line on the graph is an empty hallway. I call this dungeon generation method "The Magic Tree" because the graph, um... looks a bit like a tree when its done.

Now the fun part—putting interesting things in the circles of your graph. Each circle is a room of the type rolled on the circle's corresponding die according to this table:

1. "Blank" empty room
2. "Detailed" empty room/possible dungeon entrance
3. Obstacle room
4. Treasure room
5. "Talky" monster/NPC
6. "Fighty" monster/NPC

Read the tarot card on which the die landed to determine what is actually inside the room. If the die landed in-between two cards, read both the cards to find your answer. While reading the cards, keep balance in mind. If you rolled a lot of treasure rooms, they might be smaller treasures or the real valuable treasure might be well hidden in the room. If you only rolled one monster, make it a doozy.

That is essentially the entire generator, but here is a greater description of each type of room along with some questions to think about when reading the tarot card.

"Blank" Empty Room—these are the rooms that only have one or two things in them—your "there is a table and a few chairs in this room" kinds of rooms. Keep in mind that even the barest of rooms tell a story!

What furniture is in this room? What does it smell like? How is the room decorated? What plants grow here? What color are the walls?

"Detailed" Empty Room—these are the empty rooms that might not have any obvious obstacles, but still tell a story. There is usually a thing or two in this kind of dungeon that players can interact with—a chest to open, a window to inspect, a mysterious glove to examine.

Who uses this room? What did they leave behind? What's in the chest? What happened in this room? What is the interesting thing in this room?

Obstacle Room—these rooms contain some sort of trap or obstacle that the players have to use their wits to overcome. A good obstacle doesn't need to be riddle with a "correct" solution—its your job to get the PCs into trouble and their job to think their way out of it.

What is the obstacle in this room? What does the obstacle hide? Is the obstacle a hidden trap or an obvious impediment? is there a trick to the room? How do the people who live here get around this obstacle?

Treasure Room—these are the rooms with the good stuff: treasure. Keep in mind that not all treasure lays about in heaps on the floor. Sometimes great treasure might not be obvious—the powerful sentient broom might be haphazardly leaning in the corner, ironically caked in dust.

What is the treasure in this room? Where is it? How much of it is there? Is it magical? Is it hidden in the room?

"Talky" Monster/NPC—these rooms contain the kinds of monsters that are at least sentient and able to talk...if they chose to do so. They might have their own goals and motivations that players can leverage to their advantage.

What does the monster/NPC want? Is it something the players have or want for themselves? How many of them are there? Why are they in this room?

"Fighty" Monster/NPC—these rooms contain monsters/NPCs that are either not-sentient or not willing to talk. "Fighty" monsters aren't just there for players to use the combat chapter of the Player's Handbook—they're there to make the dungeon dangerous. There's no reward without risk.

What makes this monster interesting? Is there anything interesting in the environment that could be used in the ensuing combat? How does this monster fight? Why does this monster fight? Is there something interesting that the monster guards?

I was hoping to write an example dungeon using this method, but I underestimated how involved this post would be. In any case, I hope that this simple generator is useful. Many thanks to Logan Knight for his many, wonderful die drop generators.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Monster, Map, and Mini-dungeon #2: The Bone Key

I’ve been working hard on some more stuff for Queensmouth, but it has been taking a while. In the meantime, here is another in the Monster, Map, and Mini-dungeon series, this time set in hell. The idea with this series is that it gives you some starting ideas for a sphere and a mini-dungeon to get your game rolling. Any mechanical information is for the Troika! system, but if you hack it to something else, then your secret is safe with me.

Monster: Jora


Art above was done by my four-year old daughter (who loves monsters). Jora is a demon made of regret that has been heated and hardened into glass. Jora’s body is sharp and hard, but light catches and glows within beautifully, casting rainbows wherever she walks. She lives in a glass house on the banks of a river of blood. The house is stained and twisted like the shards of a broken stained glass window that have been swept up in a pile. Imprisoned there is her daughter, Jaral, the half-demon. Jaral took pity on her father, the ancient Mesopotamian King Nezzo, and visited him in the Honeycomb of Suffering. There, she taught him how to fashion a key from one of his ribs—the Bone Key. Jora never forgives and imprisoned Jaral for this trespass.

Skill: 7
Stamina: 20
Initiative: 2
Armour: 1
Damage as Longsword

Mein:
1. Inconsolable
2. Lashing out in grief
3. Blaming
4. Quietly judgemental
5. Irrational
6. Serene

Map



In the above map, the red thread represents the river of blood, the purple thread represents the road of weapons (a road made from weapons descended to hell from earth’s wars, hammered down to make a road), and the brown thread represents a trail in the forest of bone. Travel to each “dot” takes four hours.

Locations

Glass House of Jora: Please see mini-dungeon below.

Honeycomb of Suffering: an immense prison of human souls. It is built like a honeycomb and looks like a wasp nest from the outside. It is guarded by an industrious tribe of demons. King Nezzo is imprisoned inside, keeping the bone key secret. King Nezzo desires only to give the Bone Key to his son, Nazrad.

Toll Both: An old man (who looks and sounds a bit like Noam Chomsky) attends the tall blue tollbooth (Stamina 5 Skill 5 Initiative 1 damage as knife). He demands 7 copper pennies for passage along the road of weapons or along the banks of the river of blood. Copper pennies are a treasure of extraordinary value in Hell.

The Eye Tree: This tree is protected by seven knights (Stamina 8 Skill 8 Initiative 1 Armour 1 damage as sword). There is a large eye on top of the tree, radiantly glowing. The eye will answer one question per day, but it answers by psychic transmission of sometimes cryptic images. It belonged to the demon Azzazz, who would desperately like it back.

The Sanguine Priest: Hundreds of years ago by the way time is reckoned in Hell, a priest traded his own soul to free the soul of his illegitimate son from Hell. The priest lays on a stone table, a knife in his gut. The blood pouring from the wound is the source of the blood river that flows through this part of Hell.

The Bone Shaman: A crazy shaman lives in the bone forest (Stamina 8 Skill 8 Initiative 2 damage as knife 3 random spells) in a hut that she carved from a giant’s femur. She wants the knife from The Sanguine Priest’s wound.

The Mist: Inside this mist is an open door that leads out of Hell to freedom. Unfortunately, space bends around the mist, so it is impossible to walk directly into the maze. Only those who hold King Nezzo’s bone key can enter the mist.

The Tower: In this tower lives King Nezzo’s earthly son, Nazrad. Nazrad has cut ties with his father and became a wizard. The tower is hidden deep in the Bone Forest. Does living in a tower make you become a wizard, or does wizardry require a tower?

Random encounters: Roll for an encounter every four hours

1. Artist, vain and narcissistic believes that the he created the Mist from his sighs of love (false). He seeks his beloved in the strange hills (he doesn’t actually have a beloved). Stamina 6 Skill 6 Initiative 2 Knows the poison spell and will use it every opportunity possible.

2. Horse Demon riding a team of men. Seeks to punish all those he meets. Stamina 15 Skill 12 Armour 2 Initiative 3 Damage as Hammer.

3 Lion with three legs ten feet long seeks the tower of Nazrad, as the flesh of wizards is a rare delicacy. Will settle for adventurers in a pinch. Stamina 12 Skill 8 Initiative 2 damage as medium beast.

4. Angel in the form of a tree is spying on hell. Will follow adventurers around for a while. The tree looks conspicuously beautiful for Hell.

5. An encounter with Jora

6. Large vulture with 8 swords stuck in its side. Will attack any who approach out of fear, but will be immensely grateful if swords are removed and act as mount. Stamina 18 (10 when first encountered due to wounds) Skill 7 Initiative 1 Damage as medium beast.

Mini-Dungeon: The Glass House of Jora


1. Glass Entrance Chamber
     — Whispering voices encourage you to stand still. If you do, test luck or suffer damage as jolt from flying shards of glass
     — Two Doors on eastern wall. North-most door (leasing to room 2) is blue. South-most door (leading to room 4) is made of unmoving fire (damage as knife if touched directly)

2. Jora’s Chambers
     — Pile of pillows. Jora’s sword buried beneath pillows—it is blood red and made of glass. It can turn about five gallons of blood into potable water per hour if thrust into blood.
     —A black chest. Ornately carved. Deadly venomous snake inside (Stamina 6 Skill 5 Initiative 2 damage as small beast, but test luck or suffer further damage as large beast from the venom). Keys to Jaral’s chains and 4 copper pennies also in chest.
     —3-in-6 chance of encounter with Jora

3. Dining Room
     —A large table
     —The glass walls in this room occasionally flash color

4. The Mouth


     —The mouth, a minor demon that Jora hires to clean the place is the source of the voices heard in room 1. Stamina 10 Skill 11 Initiative 1 Damage as medium beast.
     —Mosaic of star on eastern wall. Touch it to open door to room 5.

5. Jaral’s Prison
     —Jaral imprisoned here. Will tell party of King Nezzo

6. Smoking Lounge
     —Lounge with several leather chairs.
     —Cigar box with 6 rare, valuable earth cigars.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bell Man

Here is what I can remember of a conversation that I had with my son some years ago—he was about four at the time. I was giving him a bath when my wife accidentally bumped into a toy in the other room which made a bell-ringing noise.

Son: Dad, what was that?
Father: It was Bell Man.
Son: Who is Bell Man?
Father: He is the one who rings bells.
Son: Why does he ring bells?
Father: Because he likes to hear their sound.
[A pause as my son contemplates this]
Son: What does Bell Man look like?
Father: Only glimpses of his wild hair and tattered cloak have been seen.
Son: No one has been able to race after him or catch him?
Father: No one
Son: How is this possible?
Father: Bell Man has powerful magic, my son.
Son: Where does Bell Man live?
Father: In a castle called Garrangia
Son: Where is this castle?
Father: On top of a large oak tree.
Son: What is inside the castle?
Father: A large golden hall in which Bell Man keeps his collection.
Son: What does Bell Man collect?
Father: Small odds and ends. Missing things. But, primarily, bells.
Son: what kinds of bells?
Father: All kinds, bells that ring for days, bells that ring with a human voice, bells tiny and large.

Of course I told him the truth later, but, to this day, whenever we hear a bell but don’t know where it came from, we say that we were just visited by Bell Man.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Queensmouth, the City Between Stars



Queensmouth, a City Between Stars
Queensmouth does not exist, it is revealed. Queensmouth is made of the space behind the sooty factories, the candy shops, the vendors of star-whale oil; the space beneath the gutters, the loose cobblestones, the prim mansions; and the space among the rows of identical flats, the light of the pale fire from the humming arclights, the ones called vespers singing the raspy, discordant melody of their disease (footnote 1). The city is like a lump of clay suspended in a glass jar of cloudy gasoline, suggesting a form that can only be inferred.

People are the blood cells of the city, and the many streets are it’s veins. Pulsating through the streets are waves of people, some flitting from mansion to mansion, some tracing a circuit from home to work and back, but others with no apparent reason at all. Here is one of those people: Jehosophat, veteran of the smoke war (footnote 2) stood on a street corner in a well-pressed suit, and sold all his words to a faerie lawyer for a magic pocket-watch. Whenever he opened it, a newly minted gold coin plopped out. Jehosophat spent the first week dining like an elector-prince and bought himself a fine house. Soon, however, he found it harder and harder to remember where his house is, who he is, what clothes are, etc. without the words to so. Now he stares at the watch, unable to understand the watch’s meaning.

Here is another person. Sara is the respectable wife of the king of a small kingdom (a few miles of city blocks and a factory or two). She has five children, but the third had a face that filled her with loathing. She had a maze filled with mirrors, traps, and stairways built for the third child and locked them inside. The third child was clever, though and made for themselves a wondrous violin. The third child became so excellent at playing the violin that the other four children decided to break into the maze to find the source of the amazing music. The four children were not familiar with the maze, though, and quickly became lost. Sara went in to find them, but was constantly dogged by the music of the third child’s violin. Losing her step, she fell down a stairway and crashed into mirror to her death.

Queensmouth’s planet was untethered from its star long ago. Free from any sun, it relies almost totally on trade for wealth and sustenance. Nightships with sails of gold hammered impossibly thin are propelled by the force of light into the ocean between the spheres. Although the Church of the Holy Hunger (footnote 3) deems such talk heresy, some say that Queensmouth’s planet was untethered deliberately some time long ago towards a destination now forgotten. Indeed, somewhere in the city there is a tower in the old style—needle shaped with elaborately carved spikes radiating from the center—the upper floors of which are now the simple offices of tax attorneys, faerie lawyers, dentists and the like, but in one of basement levels, which go deep in the planet and can only be reached by stairway, there lives an impossibly ancient accountant-wizard. He will gladly show you, laughing at the irony, the documents he himself signed officiating an agreement between two companies, both since dissolved, to loose Queensmouth’s planet from its orbit, sending it on a long journey towards the star known as the Bird Crystal.

Factories and industry dominate the Queensmouth skyline. Any ranking manager, her robes embroidered with the traditional birds and thorns, is fiercely proud of her factory’s productivity. This is natural, as managers may be punished with hanging not productive. This is a right most nobles cherish as the key axis of Queensmouth’s competitive success. For example, 22 women were working in a textile mill when it caught fire. The manager, fearing that her workers would use the fire as an excuse to slacken production, locked the women inside. The factory still burns. Peer inside, and see the burning women weaving cloth of flame.

The government of Queensmouth is ruled by an Emperor, Empress, or Emprey elected by a council of prince-electors known as the “Capitalista.” The most important and most feared of these electors are Him Most Fasted of the Church of the Holy Hunger and the invisible Queen of the Faeries. Here is one story told about the Queen of the Faeries. Old Ruth was sweeping outside her small apartment when she found a small coin. Picking it up, she was surprised to find her own face on the reverse. She took it to her wife, who told Ruth it must be a cursed thing from the Queen and to throw it back on the street. Ruth refused. That night, Ruth’s wife, awakening from strange dreams, strangled Ruth in their bed. Ruth’s wife then silently took the coin to an abandoned church and danced the quadrille in the basement. Old Ruth and the Queen of the Faeries watched from behind the mirror.

Adventuring in Queensmouth
I have been working on a city generator that uses Tarot cards. The idea is hopefully something in between a table with pre-planned content and the more loosely-goosey interpretation of the Tarot cards. It’s not near done yet, but I wanted the city the generator creates to have its own unique identity. This post is an attempt at creating that city—hopefully something that feels like a unique and interesting place to adventure in.

The generator is not done yet, but, in the meantime, here is a table you can use to create a “spark” for an adventure. After generating the spark, you can use the Magic Square to further flesh out the adventure.


Footnotes
(1) Vespasia is a brain degenerating, contagious disease. It is only transmitted by prolonged, skin-to-skin contact, but the disease has spread enough that the larger Queensmouth population still hates and fears the infected, calling them “vespers.” Vespasia affects the brain, causing the infected to make a constant, horribly discordant music. In late stages of the disease, the infected huddle together in the center of the vesper community sing-shouting loudly around the strange blue rent in space their singing has opened.

(2) The smoke war began when Him Most Fasted of the Holy Hunger (see footnote 3–Him Most Fasted is the name shared by all the leaders of the Church of the Holy Hunger, but before ascending to the position, this particular incarnation of Him Most Fasted had been called Leopold) decided to have his brother elected the King of the Faeries, paving the way for that incarnation of Him Most Fasted to become Emperor. The Faeries did not appreciate this usurpation of power and elected their own Queen. The Queen prevailed with the terrible curse of smoke, and a new balance was struck.

(3) The Church of the Holy Hunger was founded by Agatha Faerole, the central tenet being that hunger itself is a god. To be hungry is to be god. Agatha turned against her own church near the end of her life, after receiving a message from an Angel who claimed to be from the Bird Crystal.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Tarot Card Hexcrawl Generator: The Magic Wheel

Back in my first post, I described a method for generating adventures using tarot cards with a layout I call "the Magic Square." The Magic Square layout is something I've used multiple times with good effect—overall it's quite stable and I feel happy with its consistent results.

For a long time I've wanted to do something similar with hexcrawls. The Magic Square layout is great for dungeon locations or contained pointcrawls, but gets stretched a bit too thin when trying to apply it to a hexcrawl every time that I've tried it. Because the layout is designed to churn out interconnected factions, you end up with a bunch of people laying about in hexes. I've tried a lot of different, complicated methods for generating hexcrawls with tarot cards involving dropping dice on the cards, using bits of string, this, that, and the other. Of my experiments, the "Magic Wheel" layout I will describe later is definitely the strongest.

My goal with this layout was to create locations with a strong sense of space. I also tried to design the layout with an eye towards "sandbox" play. Factions are present and they have goals the PCs can choose to interact with, but I don't usually make those goals as "driving" as I would in a dungeon where conflict is necessary to create drama.  By focusing on locations, the layout incentivizes exploration while hopefully luring PCs to become enmeshed in conflict as a natural result of the PCs setting their own goals. A lot of my thinking on hexcrawls was based on ChicagoWiz's three hexes series (definitely recommended—I would be remiss if I didn't mention him!).



The Magic Wheel

This layout has a lot more cards in it than the Magic Square (the Magic Wheel has 22 cards—a significant number in Tarot), but in some ways it is actually simpler.

The Spokes: In the image above, the three sets of red-colored cards are the "spokes" of the Magic Wheel. Each spoke represents one hex. These should be locations such as dungeons, villages, factories, landmarks, or anything else the cards suggest or that would fit into your setting. The central "hub" card is used for all three spokes. If the cards suggest a faction associated with this location, I recommend making this faction "non-mobile." Any faction in a hex should have a reason to mostly stay in that hex. Generally, each of these spokes should be an adventure location in itself.

Connection: The three green-colored cards in the above image are connectors, with each one connecting the two spokes it lies between to each other. They might represent something a faction in one hex wants from another hex, a neutral party with ties to both hexes, a shared event in history, political pressure one hex exerts on another, and so on. These connectors ensure that each spoke has some tie to the other two, allowing your PCs to become enmeshed your world.

The Rim: The purple-colored cards on the outside of the Magic Wheel are the wandering encounters for the hexcrawl. There are six sets of two different types of wandering encounters. Each set has three cards. Hopefully it's not to hard to see from the image above, but because I really love it when a single card fills multiple purposes, some of the cards are used in multiple sets.

The three sets of light purple cards should be connected in some way to the spoke it's directly adjacent to (if possible). They are usually "social" encounters or some kind of interesting situation that is not necessary tied to a single location.

The three sets of dark purple cards don't have to be connected to anything else with the three main hexes. They might be purely combat encounters or encounters that simply serve to make your world a more vibrant place.

**************************
That's it! I hope you find this interesting. I find myself relying on tarot cards more and more as a jumping off point for my own creativity. I love to share these little layouts I have developed and I hope to share more soon.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Monster, Map, and Mini-dungeon #1

This is intended as a campaign starter of sorts when I was trying to think about what would be the minimum needed to start a hex-based sandbox—a monster, a map, and dungeon. Much credit to Chicago Wiz for the three-hex campaign starter structure! I hope that you enjoy this post—I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope to write some more.

Part 1: Monster: Sonia the Worm-Thing


Sonia, constantly coughing into blood-soaked handkerchiefs, made the long trip to her father's mausoleum in the old town in the forest. She lifted the lid of the stone sarcophagus and allowed the worms inside to consume her in exchange for eternal life. She was nineteen years old at the time.

Sonia's elytra are made from the stone of the mausoleum and her wings are spider silk. Her body is a mass of wriggling worm flesh. The remains of her face glow with a frighteningly beautiful rot.

If you ask her (something I wouldn't recommend) what she wants is quite plain--the total destruction of the Veyos Trading Company that she and her father built together, that her brother, Lucio, stole by theft and lies.

Skill: 11
Stamina: 7
Initiative: 3
Armour: 1
Damage as Modest Beast
Spells: Poison, Posthumous Vitality

Special: Sonia can fly short distances. If reduced to 0 Stamina, Sonia's worms will attempt to pull themselves together, restoring 1 Stamina every night.

Part 2: Map



1. The City of Veyos Behind Veyos's thin, prim houses rimmed with elegantly sparse rows of tulips, in bathtubs, ponds, or illegal pool-houses, you might find one or more Wainoe addicts rapturously floating like languid flowers in the water. The highly addictive Wainoe allows its users to extend their consciousness through water and was originally marketed by the Veyos Trading Company as an herbal therapy.

The waters of one of the older pool-houses in Veyos are so infused with consciousness of Wainoe users that they say there is another city down under the water, a city made of dreams and memories.

Lucio, the majority shareholder of the Veyos Trading company, lives in a large gold palace adorned with minarets on the top of the hill. His immense wealth gives him no pleasure. Those who know him would call him "shrewd" politely, but "heartless" honestly.



2. Wainoe Swamp Wainoe is a product of the flower of a particular lily-like plant that grows in this swamp. The plantation is run by Sonia and Lucio's uncle, Henri, who hasn't been seen in weeks. Increasingly, the workers have grown more restless. Some now openly worship Old Joe, the ancient god of the swamp whose religion had previously been strictly banned by Henri.

Old Joe is a naturally mummified bog body, sacrificed long ago to himself.

3. The Old Town Not much is left of the old town, a broken old inn run by a sweet older couple (who will try to cheat anyone who stays there), broken old buildings reclaimed by the forest, a handful of woodspeople, and of course the family mausoleum that hides Sonia.

With Sonia slowing eating him from inside that labyrinthine tomb, who can say how long Henri will live?

4. The Temple of the Sphynx Lizzette the Sphynx lives here. Her temple is carved out of the side of the mountain. It's not uncommon for thieves to try to break in to the temple to steal the treasures within, but less common for them to return.

She is Lucio's former lover, but she is not vindictive. In fact, she is the one who taught Lucio how to extract Wainoe from the swamp-lilies. She could tell you why he is so heartless—she keeps his heart in a jar in her bedchambers. Lucio's competitors would of course pay anything to own and control Lucio's heart.

Part 3: Lizzette's Temple



Random Encounters:
1. Lizzette
2. Fire-breathing Salamanders
3. 2d6 vicious housecats
4. Skeletal Trumpeter
5. Lost wisp
6. The smoking man—he wears a fez, a pipe, and a smoking jacket. He is instantly offended by anything said to him.

Room Key:
1. Entrance. Soft Pillows, Ornamental rugs, and a case of very nice wine.

2. Smoking Room. Large glass hookah. A wooden chest filled with nice tobacco.

3. Bird Room. A golden bird sits on a jeweled egg. Attacks any who disturb her or the piles of birdseed amassed in this room.

4. Pool. Lizzette grows her experimental water flowers here. Water pours into the pool from an ornamental statue head. The fountain head always lies, but is kind. The koi fish in the pool always tells the truch, but is cruel. The water in the pool is extremely poisonous.

5. Lizzette's Chambers. Silk mat on which Lizzette usually rests. Lucio's heart is usually on the night stand.

6. Chessboard. This room has a chessboard pattern on it. In the room is a single large knight made of stone. The knight only attacks those who do not jump across the room in a knight's-move pattern. Stepping on the golden square at H8 opens the secret door.

7. Dining Room. Large table. Rusted swords decorate the wall. A fancy sword at the head of a table has an exquisitely decorated hilt bearing a screaming face.

8. Empty room containing an oddly aggressive peacock.

9. Old dressing room. Full of tattered clothing. Secret door behind box of clothes.

10. Empty Room. Interesting tile mosaic on the floor.

11. Table with a model of Veyos. Tip the minaret of Lucio's palace to open the secret door.

12. Treasure Room. Gold, statues, you name it. Lizzette's  most treasured price is an rare orchid. Eat the flower to teleport to any location in any sphere. The flower does not rot.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Six Unique Swords for Troika



Six Unique Swords for Troika

One of the many unique mechanisms for Troika! is its method for resolving damage. After hitting an enemy, you roll on the 1d6 table for your weapon to determine how much damage you deal. The advantage of this method is that it gives each weapon a unique damage curve. The end result is that each weapon is very flavorful—it’s a great mechanism.

This is definitely not what the damage table was meant for, but I thought it would be fun to make some magical weapons that take advantage of this mechanism, putting some special events that could take place when you roll on the damage table. It's also a good excuse to make some terrible art in Paint.


1.The Thorn of the Rose-Dragon

Although this blade appears wooden, it is the deadly sharp blade made from the hip of a Rose-Dragon and fashioned into a sword with intricate organic carving and scrolling. The Rose-Dragon itself does this work, usually shrivelling up and dying when the sword is complete as part of its reproductive cycle.







2.Wainoe Scant’s Seven-Fold Sword

Wainoe Scant, beloved father of the field of mathmology, once received a vision in which it was revealed to him that the true name of eternity had been encoded in the book “93 Gross-out Jokes You Can Tell Your Friends.” Most of Wainoe’s life’s work was devoted to interpretation of that text, with the extremely important Field of Intersphere Topology being one result of this work. The rest was mostly hogwash.

This sword was only theoretical in Wainoe’s time, but one of Wainoe’s followers was able to make a real version later. Its blade is made of the prismatic ether in which the spheres float and exists in seven places at once. Its hilt is inlaid with silver and solid Einsteinium in an intricate mathematical pattern. Etched on the side of the blade is joke number 43 of the sacred book “Q: What do you call it when your parents yell at you so hard that they vomit? A: A puke rebuke!”


3. The Hammered Flute

When the legendary flutist Ferdinand Semberger wrote a melody criticizing King Oswald of the House of Oswald, King Oswald had the flutist hung and had his flute hammered into uselessness. A band of Semberger’s followers retrieved the hammered flute and had it fashioned into a fine sword with holes that echo the sound of a flute when swung.



4. The Sword of Prophecy

Looking at it, you could hardly believe that this dull, rusted sword, barely able to cut a blade of grass, is one of the most powerful swords in existence. The less said about its turbulent history, the better—since, who knows, if you say her name, she may come back. The sword was passed from owner to owner through the winding path of history, until the sword found itself in the umbrella rack of an unremarkable bookseller.

The sword grants its wielder the ability to cast True Seeing. Some say that, with the appropriate sacrifice, this sword can cast Zed...



5. Furred Foil

Dog breeding is the fashion amongst the nobles of the old city, accelerated by the mad techniques of Aloya Grace. Dogs with three heads, dogs with coats bred to look like the night sky, dogs with mouths full of curled teeth. One such breed is the furred foil, a dog with a long, wickedly sharp snout. While this animal does need to be fed and cared for, it is an excellent tracker.




6. Bartleby

Like all swords from Chromious III, Bartleby is installed with artificial intelligence so that it can track its target, maximize damage, access Wikipedia, etc. After long centuries, this sword's AI has gone quite mad. If given a request, such as “attack that guy,” Bartleby usually responds "I would prefer not to."