I am currently writing a scenario using Troika! as the engine. It’s set in the 17th century, focusing on England (lots of stuff to play with) and features lots of fun and gruesome shit. To help me, I wanted a chance to really get stuck into the system so I could trial out new rules and generally tinker with the system so I’ve offered up 8 weeks of Troika! at the local MK-RPG club. As a precursor to this I ran a one-off last night to give people a taste of the system and the vibe for the upcoming “campaign”, and because I’m a sadist I used the LotFP scenario Fuck for Satan. Having said that, I pulled quite a few punches and in more than one instance I let good ideas trump scenario restrictions (like some of the locked doors held in place by the levers).
I had the pleasure of running for 5 people, one of which had never played a tabletop RPG before, and another who had never played a Lamentation’s scenario before. I had prepared pregens; although Troika! can result in a character in under 5 minutes, I wanted to trial out a few new Backgrounds I had created.
- Willard, the rat catcher, played by Antony
- Waldo, the burglar, played by Lee (the newbie to LotFP)
- Sir William Marvell, the disgraced noble, played by Scott
- Mags, the old lady who definitely was not a witch, played by Jess (the newbie to tabletop)
- Matthew the Decapitator, the witch hunter, played by Ven
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for Fuck for Satan.
The adventure took place in Nuneaton, England, where the motley crew had heard children were going missing. They arrived at the Copper Horn and proceeded to spend the afternoon drinking while they discussed the issue with the locals and considered trying the mayor’s wife for being a possible witch. They managed to convince a guide to take them as far as the entrance to the haunted hill where they believed the kids were being taken to by an evil cult. Progressing to their destination was uneventful, though Sir William had to be taken on his horse with his friends keeping him upright as he tried to sober up.
True to his word, the guide left them to it while Sir William and Mags rifled through a book they found up on the alter. A note dropped out which was very cordial, with the writer bidding them good tidings but strongly advising they didn’t bother going into the cave as the children weren’t in there. The note went on to say that there was only danger and treasure, but recognised this would likely only entice them in. The note signed off with some very clear tips:
- If you do go in, theres three secret passages inside to find.
- If you find three levers, do not push them all down!
- They would need a good heart to get out.
Naturally they viewed the note with distrust. Mags found out a secret message in the book, leading her to reciting a strange poem about a twinkling star [Jess has since confirmed she will play in the campaign so for those of you familiar with Fuck for Satan you will understand the far-reaching effects of this]. Meanwhile the rest of the group pushed inside and proceeded to bicker about who should light the candle inside the skull of the statue dominating the room. Once it was lit, they found two of the three secret passageways: the first led them to the sarcophagus of a skeleton that had every bone broken (they pilfered a key from its bones but also the rat catcher managed a very good disarming trap roll so I let him nab the crown with no ill consequences), the second led them to three levers which, given the advice in the note, they promptly pushed all three levers down.
The party laughed when I said they all died, then paused when they realised I wasn’t joking. The roof had caved in, crushing the whole party, we had a TPK on our hands an hour in. As this was a one-off, I agreed to let them roll back time a fraction and we carried on – this time all three levers got pushed up, resulting in nothing immediately happening to them. They figured there was nothing to be gained by playing around with the levers, and with the insects biting them they decided to retreat up to the main room.
They found the third passage and proceeded to force the bridge in the new room down to cross a flame-spewing abyss (resulting in only a singed pair of eyebrows). The burglar leafed through a book he found on the altar called Prayers for the Dying, and, noticing little drawings drawn in the margin, flipped the pages to see it animated. This caused the summoning of the Half Realised Poorly Conceived Horror. Combat was a bit slow, as the monster failed to do any real damage and the group in turn failed to land a blow on it. As time was ticking, I let an idea run on a luck test – the rat catcher managed to lure the monster back over the abyss and got it to burn up in the fire.
Relieved that they weren’t about to suffer another TPK, the group explored the rooms ahead. The found the catacombs and spent an hour looting as much silver as they could carry before finding a staircase heading upwards. They climbed the stairs and found a giant stone eye at the end, next to a basin filled with old hearts. Mags used her Second Sight and realised that the stairs now carried on to infinity down the way with no sign of an exit. The group realised that this place was what their note had advised them of – they’d need a good heart to get out.
This was taken to mean good as in “not evil” so it was reasoned that the witch hunter met that criteria who in turn was not to happy about this. Willard immediately started slashing at Matthew, who returned the blows; meanwhile Mags tried to stop them by casting Thunder in the small corridor, which succeeded in deafening Willard and giving Matthew the chance to gain the edge. Sir William and Waldo placed bets on who would win, and in turn Waldo tried to make his bet a sure thing by shooting Matthew with his crossbow. After a few rounds, Matthew fell and his heart was soon carved out and dumped into the basin (and his possessions distributed amongst the group).
This act of PvP set them free from the endless stair trap, and resulted in Ven returning as the orphan child “Li’l J” who met the rest of the group back in the main shrine. Its worth noting that both Mags and Willard had animal companions with perfectly fine hearts that they neglected to try first.
They pushed onwards, stumbling only briefly when they got sucked up against the walls in a magnetic corridor. The following room began to burn them up alive so they pushed to the east, resulting in a few of them contracting some weird illness that resulted in them shitting themselves then watching as the excrement swirled together to form a humanoid faeces monster. After battling it they managed to ‘kill’ it and quickly locked it back in the cell. As we ran out of time, the session ended with them turning their attention to the rooms to the west – to be picked up next week!
Thoughts on using Troika!
The system works well, though obviously it required a few conversions when it came to the enemies. I had to reduce the stamina of some of the enemies on the fly as I had just made them way too powerful for newbie characters despite how many of them there were. Considering the initiative system means that a monster could land a blow on every single player without taking its own turn, theres the potential for some very unhappy players! I think when I redo the Backgrounds, I’m going to ensure that each Background has at least one offensive or defensive Advanced Skill so in combat the players have a clear default move to fall back on.
Overall the players enjoyed the game and I had a blast running it, and a few of them have confirmed they want to play in the upcoming campaign (including Jess the tabletop newbie and Lee the LotFP newbie) so Im counting that as a win.