Playing Troika! with the Landshut rules: REDUX

SKILL
Skill in Troika! is used for all saves, so it’s a very important number. It’s rolled with 1d3+3, so it has a range between 4 and 6. 4=low skill, 6=high skill. Medium skill is not worth writing down.

STAMINA
Roll 2d6+12. If the sum is 16 or lower, write down “fragile”. If the sum is 22 or more, write down “resilient” or “tough”.

LUCK!
Roll 1d6+6. If the sum is 7, write down “luckless”. If the sum is 13, write down “lucky”. Grant the player rerolls if the character is lucky, or force him to reroll if the character has no luck.

POSSESSIONS
Conveniently enough, Troika! provides a rule for starting gear. Of course, I’m using this, as well: start with 2d6 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.

BACKGROUNDS
Determine your background, using either the book or one of the gazillions of available Troika! classes online.

ADVANCED SKILLS
Just write down the Advanced Skills without the numbers. If you feel better with quantifiers, add descriptions like “very good sleight-of-hands”, or “expert in grappling”.

MAKING ROLLS
When casting spells, making saves, testing your mettle, make opposed 2d6 rolls. Ref grants bonus if the situation warrants it.

Making a Landshut Troika! character:
Skill: I roll a 3 – so my character is “skilled”.

For Stamina, I roll 7, so it’s 19 points in total: average. I don’t write this down.
My Luck is 7: out of luck! 
I start with 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.
I could roll d66 to determine my background, but I’m picking one I discovered last Saturday on Troika! discord: the Man of Arms, written by Lejeune:

So, my character looks like this:

______________________________________________________
Herbert von Mirskofen, a luckless Man-of-Arms
skilled
out of luck

Advanced Skills:
Sleight-of-hands 
Knife-fighting
Grappling 
Holding things
Possessions: 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, rucksack, provisions, fine deck of cards, debt to a warlock, six painted knives, bow tie
______________________________________________________

Landshut Rules: Alternative combat rules, explained as Troika! combat

The 4th edition of my Landshut Rules have been available for free download for a couple of days now. One of the biggest changes were the “alternative combat rules”:

 This is free kriegsspiel in its purest form. Let’s take a closer look:

“Use common sense and do not roll dice to attack.”

For many roleplayers, this is heresy. After all, part of the fun is rolling dice, right? Yes, indeed. But still, playing free kriegsspiel-style is interesting because it forces players to act tactically in combat. All-out attacks are rarely a sensible thing to do, except when you find yourself in a vastly superior position.

“Damage is dealt without rolling against each other”

Now we’re talking. So, we have decided to not roll to hit – but we can, of course (if we want to) roll for damage. This brings back a degree of uncertainty, and I like that.

“(damage) happens simultaneously – the referee judges the players’ narration and interprets it accordingly and fairly.”

Now this is interesting. Instead of rolling initiative or drawing cards, narration decides who hits when, but all damage happens in one “round”. Last man standing.

Of course, if you want to keep initiative rolls, you can always do that.
For Troika! combat, keeping the initiative cards is key!

How do I incorporate this rule in my Troika! games?

Let’s say there is a Troika! Chaos Champion (Skill 6, Stamina 20, 3 Maul Fighting) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage)

Turn 1: I draw Chaos Champion’s card. He hits with damage 1 (rolled a 2 on the damage table, but Man-Beast’s armor reduces it to 1). Man-Beast’s STA is now 10.

Turn 2: It’s Man-Beast’s turn. It rolls a 2 on the damage table: 6. Chaos Champion now has STA 14.

Turn 3: End of Round.

Turn 4: Man-Beast hits with 4 points damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 10. Man-Beast has 10, as well.

Turn 5: End of Round

Turn 6: Chaos Champion hits with 3 damage. Man-Beast is down to STA 7.

Turn 7: Chaos Champion again, with 2 damage. Man-Beast is now at ST 5.

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits with 8 damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 2 left.

Turn 9: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 points damage. Chaos Champion is dead.

What would I do if the involved parties have a huge Skill disparity?

Simple enough. I’d roll the Luck Die, and adjust the rolls according to the skill gap between the combatants. For instance:

An unlucky Thaumaturge (Skill 4, Stamina 20, no fighting skill, with a sword) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage). My ruling would be: there’s a 4 in 6 chance that the Thaumaturge really hits when his initiative card is drawn.

Let’s shuffle the cards and go!

Turn 1: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge’s STA is now 12.

Turn 2: Thaumaturge’s card turns up, I roll a 3: yes, he hits! 4 damage. Man-Beast’s STA is down to 7.

Turn 3: Man-Beast hits with 8 again. Thaumaturge’s STA is 4.

Turn 4: End of Round.

Turn 5: Thaumaturge hits (rolled 3) with 6 damage. Man-Beast now has STA 1 left.

Turn 6: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge now has STA 4.

Turn 7: Thaumaturge MISSES (rolled a 5).

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 damage. Thaumaturge is dead.

Minipirates

Oh yes.
After all that philosophizing and meta-plane-drifting, I think it’s time for me to return to something… shall we say, tangible. Or, weirdly tangible. Walter Moers is a fellow countryman of mine, and his Zamonia books have been translated in dozens of languages.

Zamonia is weird, and funny, and interesting, and sometimes, bloodthirsty. Perfect for roleplaying!
And a good fit for GLOG.

…but an even better fit for Troika!.

Thank the mighty gods that TheLawfulNeutral has already posted some really good material for Zamonian roleplaying.

Today, I’d like to introduce the Minipirate race-as-class for my Troika!/Landshut hack.

Moves or Skills? On the freedom of wordspace

Let’s say there is a genre of roleplaying games that characterize player characters by a special set of ‘moves’ (special abilities that are triggered when something occurs in the narration). And let’s also say there’s another family of games out there that have their origin in one game that more or less defined British OSR.

The first genre of games is commonly known as ‘powered by the Apocalypse‘ (pbtA, because the game that started it all is Apocalypse World). The second kind of games is known as ‘using Troika!’ (with the exclamation point) or similar phrases (because Troika! is the game that started it all).

Both games are very much different from each other. One aspect I’d like to focus on today is that of ‘moves’ or ‘player character abilities’. Both pbtA and Troika! have them. But there’s a huge difference in execution.

A typical pbtA move:

Bend Bars, Lift Gates 
When you use pure strength to destroy an inanimate obstacle, roll+Str. ✴ On a 10+, choose 3. ✴ On a 7-9 choose 2. 
– It doesn’t take a very long time 
– Nothing of value is damaged 
– It doesn’t make an inordinate amount of noise 
– You can fix the thing again without a lot of effort

In pbtA, you roll 2d6 and add your Strength bonus. Then, your result determines how many options you can pick from the list.

A typical Troika! Advanced Skill:

1 Strength

In Troika!, you roll 2d6 and compare that number to your (Skill+Advanced Skill). If you’re on or under, you’re successful. There is no list to pick options from.

Basically, both abilities/moves/skills do the same: they tell you if your character’s effort is successful. But while the pbtA ‘move’ makes you choose from a list (thus, keeping your narration in-genre because every character with this move gets the same list), there’s complete freedom of narration in Troika!.

So what would happen if we transported the pbtA move to Troika!?

Let’s see:
The Troika! version would look like this:

1 Bend Bars, Lift Gates

No list to choose from. Just the pure skill.
To contrast that: in a pbtA game, if the character with the Bend Bars, Lift Gates skill/move rolls a 10, the player could narrate: “I try to rip the heavy wooden door off its hinges. I pull hard, and within seconds, it comes loose. It all happens really quietly, and I can even fix the door later.”

In Troika!, a successful roll for Bend Bars, Lift Gates, could look like this:
Player: “I step back a couple feet, and then I throw myself against that door. A crack appears, and I rattle that thing like crazy.
Referee: “You’re not trying to be quiet, aren’t you?”
Player: “Pah, I don’t care! Ooooooooooopen! You sonofadoor, oooooopen! And now I’m really pulling hard!”
Referee: “Seconds later, you have ripped the door out of its frame. And you know what? You rolled so well, nobody in the castle has even heard you.”

The Troika! version offers considerably more freedom for the player. And for the referee, as well. This freedom also means more potential for conflict, or unforeseen consequences.

So now the sixty-four thousand dollar question is: What’s better?

And the only correct answer is: whatever floats your boat. But that is so cliché, it hurts a little to even write it.

Troika! as dice pool system

I simply love tinkering with rule systems. As a result, every now and then, a new ruleset emerges. This is one of them.

I wrote a few Troika! cyberpunk backgrounds yesterday. Then, I thought about Risus. And that led me to ponder the beauty that is the Prince Valiant rpg system. And that resulted in the following system:

You have two stats, Body and Mind. You distribute 7 points between them. Now, choose a Troika! background. When you’re using a Skill, simply add the skill points as d6s to the appropriate stat.

When doing something, roll your dice. Each even result is a success. You have to either beat a certain number of successes (3=moderate, 4=slightly difficult, 5=difficult, etc), or beat the number of successes your opponent rolls. In combat, the difference between the numbers of successes is the number of dice the loser… loses. Weapons and armor simply add more dice to roll.

To illustrate, let’s take the following background:

______________________________

17 HACKER
Those cyberware implants are not harmless- they are killing machines. And you, poor unfortunate, have one of them inside your head. It is diminished, your fleshy body barely able to maintain its most basic functions, but it is there, and you can hear it. It’s supplanted your own Skills with those it desires, seeking a new, more fitting form. Possessions: Laser pistol (1d10 uses per day). Skills: 5 Technology, 1 Laser Pistol Fighting. Special: If you die, the core lives on. It emerges, a metal insect the size of your fist. If placed upon the skull of a helpless or willing humanoid, it burrows in, sealing the entry wound as it goes. They are now your character, losing all Skills but gaining those you had. Stamina, skill and luck values remain as the host.
______________________________

I distribute 3 points on Body, and 4 points on Mind.
When I hack (using my Technology skill), I roll Mind+Techology = 9d6. If I’m in a cyberfight against another hacker, I roll these 9d6 against his dice.
The laser rifle would add 3d6 to my Body dice.

Git y’all’s Troika! ass in ar OD&D

I’ve sung the song of Troika! before, and I’ll continue to sing it. Troika! is the rebel child of British roleplaying, a world away from the American forefathers as you can imagine.

Troika!’s rules feel old, but move fast. And that’s where the original edition of Gary’s game and the much younger sibling from the UK have something in common. OD&D IS old, but moves fast, too. So, naturally, I have to try and play Troika! with the rules of the little brown books. This will be easy, very easy. Let’s see.

All I have to do is to pick or roll a Troika! background and treat the Advanced Skills as rough guidelines for saves. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of role-under stat saves; I like them to be more guesswork-y, if that makes sense. So, roll a Luck Die (d6), gauge the character’s Advanced Skill and tell the player what number to roll on or over.

Let’s try that with Caro’s Owl Detective.
I roll STR, INT, WIS, CON, DEX, CHA:
STR7 INT10 WIS11 CON7 DEX 7, CHA11.

As class template, I’ll use the elf. Like in yesterday’s blog post, an investigator starts out with 1+Level Detective Points. Re-interpret the OD&D spells in a way that applies to investigative work. “Lightning Bolt” could mean getting valuable intel on someone. Starting investigators get 3 detective tricks (ref determines). You can have any Level of spell. When you do your Owl Detective thing, save vs. INT (the higher the spell level, the harder the save). If you roll successfully, the trick works. If not, the trick doesn’t work, and you lose (spell level) Detective Points.

If the Owl Detective wants to Interrogate someone (one of his Advanced Skills), I’d simply say, roll more than 4 to be successful.

So there you have it. Your Brit rebel game in the warm embrace of its American ancestor.

Landshut Troika!

**REVISED RULES**

I’m no fan of adding big numbers in-game. To me, any number above 3 IS big. So, Troika! gets a new set of rules – but nothing on the character sheet changes, and just one more number is added.

Let’s begin.

SKILL
Skill in Troika! is used for all saves, so it’s a very important number. It’s rolled with 1d3+3, so it has a range between 4 and 6. Use Skill to make informed decisions about a character’s competence (positive or negative Dice Modificators). The number itself is NOT used in play.

STAMINA
I mentioned it several times here on the blog: for fantasy games, I want to have hit points. Stamina just so happens to be Troika!’s hit points, so I’m keeping this stat: roll 2d6+12. Also, I’m keeping the Troika! damage tables.

LUCK!
I like the Luck stat, so I’m keeping it: roll 1d6+6.

POSSESSIONS
Conveniently enough, Troika! provides a rule for starting gear. Of course, I’m using this, as well: start with 2d6 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.

BACKGROUNDS
Determine your background, using either the book or one of the gazillions of available Troika! classes online.

ADVANCED SKILLS
Troika! uses Advanced Skills that range from a +1 to a +3 bonus. We’ll keep that, as well.

MAKING ROLLS
When casting spells, making saves, testing your mettle, roll 2d6+Advanced Skill against the referee’s 2d6. The ref might grant you a bonus on top. Higher roll wins.

Referees, feel free to slap other DMs on player rolls, and on your own rolls. Keep Troika! initiative. T

COMBAT: Fighting Dice
Compare the fighting abilities of the combatants with the following table.

Fighting Ability = SKILL+ADVANCED SKILL.
3-4: d4
5-6: d6
7-8: d8
9-10: d10
11-12: d12
13-14: d12+1
15+: d20

The combatants roll their Fighting Dice against each other. Higher number hits and rolls damage.

Bottom line:
Use Troika! as-is, but use Fighting Dice for Combat4, and 2d6+Bonus against the ref. Use Advanced Skills as modificators for the roll. Add other positive or negative modificators for really simple or really hard tasks.

Making a Landshut Troika! character:
Skill: I roll a 3 – lucky! My skill is 6 (or, in the new format: d6). For Stamina, I roll 7, so it’s 19 points in total. My Luck is 7. I start with 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.

I could roll d66 to determine my background, but I’m picking one I discovered last Saturday on Troika! discord: the Man of Arms, written by Lejeune:

So, my character looks like this:

______________________________________________________
Herbert von Mirskofen, a Man-of-Arms
Skill 6
STA 19 
Luck 7

Advanced Skills:
3 Sleight-of-hands,
3 Knife-fighting (Fighting Die: d10)
2 Grappling (Fighting Die: d8)
2 Holding things
Possessions: 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, rucksack, provisions, fine deck of cards, debt to a warlock, six painted knives, bow tie
______________________________________________________

Initiative has to be crazy

Not only OSR games suffer from the same old, same old problem with initiative rules. Essentially, those rules boil down to two alternatives: the whole group gains initiative and the individual members can determine in which order they act, or the rules determine who acts when.

It works, of course.
(And personally, I like group initiative a lot.)

But I think the single best twist on these age-old rules are Dan Sell’s Troika! initiative rules. You can use them in every roleplaying game. Speaking from a professional standpoint (I’m a certified intructor for reality-based self-defense and instructor-in-training for a Russian martial art), Dan’s initiative rules are realistic. Realistic, as in yes, it really works like that in melee, it’s all a huge fucking mess, and things happen you just don’t want to happen and everything is going in all directions all at once.

So, yes. Do yourself a favor and use Dan’s rules. They’re that good. AND they’re fun.

Troikatober: Into Troika!

Some of you might know that I’m a huge, huge, HUGE fan of Into the Odd. In all honesty, I do think that Troika! and Into the Odd are the best game systems around – this also includes my own rules-lite rpgs. (The GLOG clocks in at third place).

Today, I’d like to show you my ideas on converting Troika! backgrounds (player characters) to Into the Odd – and vice versa. This has been totally NOT playtested, so tread carefully.

Troika! Stamina Into the Odd STR
14 3
15 4
16 5
17 6
18 7
19 7+1d6
20 14
21 15
22 16
23 17
24 18

Troika!
Skill
Into the Odd
DEX
4 D6+3
5 10
6 10+1d8
Troika!
Luck
Into the Odd
hp
7 1
8 2
9 3
10 4
11 5
12 6

Advanced Skills: to use them in Into the Odd, simply make a save against the most appropriate stat and use the Skill number as stat modifier.

When converting from Troika! to Into the Odd, roll 3d6 for CHA/WIL.

An example:
I have a Troika! lansquenet with Skill 4-Sta 22-Luck 10. His Advanced Skills are 2 Greatsword Fighting, 2 Pistolet, 1 Run, 1 Fist Fighting and 1 Astrology.
Let`s convert this character to Into the Odd:
Stamina 22 is STR 16. Skill 4 means I have to roll 1d+3 to determine DEX; I roll a 2, so I have DEX 5. Luck 10 translates to 4 hp. I roll 3d6 for CHA and get a 9. The ItO lansquenet looks like this: STR16-DEX5-CHA9-hp4