Theory July 2nd: Spiders

I want a game to tell me my parameters. I don't want to push against them, I don't wanna make D&D into something it isn't 'cos that's just sticking a plaster on it and saying it's all good. If what a game is is "gross" "stupid" or worst of all "boring" then that's what it is and I don't want people to get better at hiding how dull they are or else we might arrive at a time where Hasbro tricks me into thinking they're good people and trying to make good art.

Don't fix things, break them and abandon them for better things. Make better things. Let boring and awful things and people be boring and awful. The only thing worse than a massive spider on your wall is a spider that was on your wall until just a minute ago.

The centre from which things are made will be only that which needs to take shape at that point.

Theory July 1st: It's Ok It's Ok

I'm not good at following instructions so I'm just going to write in the state that I am on learning what I should be writing about today. So there.

I design with absolute insincerity. It is not me speaking from my soul or anything like that, it is me creating a space that will force the viewer to enter it in the shape I want without them knowing. This is possible because RPG writing and reading is naive and trusting and I exploit that.

Mindreading is fake but it works. If I tell you mindreading is fake and then do it anyway it creates a different feeling.

When I read a book on psuedoscientific theory or weird anthropology I always take it in good faith and believe them utterly while I'm there. Then I take that belief with me after and hold on to it like a keyring from the giftshop on the way out. I will believe what is most pleasant or interesting to believe.

Gene Wolfe lies to his readers all the time. Good books can lie.

Writing anything is magic. It's a spell. Literally a spell. You write magic words to create an effect. The greater the effect the more powerful the spell you need. If I want to topple the western world I'd have to be a pretty potent magus.

Voice is not natural. If every book sounds the same then what's the point.

If an RPG is just rules on how to play a game then it's only a fraction of a complete game. If an RPG book doesn't make me feel the game with every bit of my body then it's weak magic. I should be able to read a book and then be so overwhelmed with power that I must expel it immediately by making something.

Good writing always makes you over filled with magic that needs emptying.

If you want someone to do something you don't say "do this thing" you make them want to do it themselves without asking. You've created a play cycle, or a mindset.

"It's ok. It's ok." Sometimes you have to break a spell. Say "you do not need this" over and varied. Say "you may do this" and some people will be released from a decades old curse. Often they need stronger magic. It's whacking the radio.

RPG design should also consider the spaces between the games. How will the game exist outside of the play environment. Unlike a novel it is reliant on a social space. If your solution to creating that space is "marketing" then you are weak. Marketing is a vector to deliver your game's power. It's a magic wand, a fetish. If you are weak then you will die when you run out of money.

Ok I'm done for today.

Not Dead, Fungus, and Printing

Firstly the blog ain't dead I'm just busy. Busy with game things, none of this "oh I had a child and real life is taking up my nerd time". Nope, all nerd all the time.

Obviously TROIKA! Numinous Edition is out and doing its thing. If you're reading this you would have done very well to miss that fact. What might not be clear is that all my creative time is getting spent on it, ahead of the Patreon schedule. The Patreon is also quiet, also because we're in serious crunch time. We've got four chapbooks coming soon, all in the illustration stage, and then there are 4 or 5 more I'm writing. These are coming and I'm not doing anything new until that happens.

Troika is gonna get supported with such relentless weird quality until it becomes embarrassing for people to not know what Troika is. Plan.

After the chapbooks I'm gonna finish two long standing Troika projects the Patreons might be familiar with that have been in a state of near completion for far too long. Cursed with having to keep the lights on.


Fungus! Fungi of the Far Realms is on Kickstarter and it's doing... okey? It probably suffers from being too normal for the usual crowd and too weird for everyone else. People ask but what IS it? and I reply it's a fictionaly fully illustrated encyclopedia of fantasy mushrooms. Really, that's it. Mushrooms. Illustrations. On the surface it doesn't look weird but think about it this way:

How many full blown rule books have very little art? Full blown stupidly successful books that we hear about constantly. Little art, or bad art, or both. We've made a list of mushrooms and we've had them all, all 216 of them, full-page traditional watercolour illustrated. And we're going to Smyth-sewn bind them in a hardback book, with buckram covers, and a round spine, and it's going to be excessively pretty. And affordable. All because can. Your wildly successful book can't be nicely bound and illustrated? Our mushrooms can.

See? It is weird. Tell your friends, tell your botany class, tell everyone so we can keep doing these recklessly wonderful things. It's trite to say it, but we literally can't do these things without your support.


Lastly, I'm starting an INITIATIVE. It's very simple and starts here in Kingscairn. If you're an aspiring publisher/designer and you've made a Troika zine with a nice PDF and are selling it or not or whatever, I will help you get to the next step. Too often I see people stall at the printing stage in fear and confusion. I have the infrastructure already in place, I've done this a million times. I can afford to take a (little bit of) risk.

 If you finish a Troika thing I will print and sell 100 hard copies for you. You'll get 50% of the gross money made, I'll eat all the costs. I will not put any trade dress on. The book is yours, you published it, I'm just selling it.

It almost goes without saying that I am more than willing to help in regards to general advice and indeed don't care if it's me or you who ends up printing your work. Just print it!

 Email me or find me on discord

Vaulted Animarium

Vaulted Animarium 

Julius Coldbridge 5/10/2
 Hamm Coldbridge 3/20/1

 Spell: Befuddle

 Small shop full of small animals. Some move freely. The animals are so loud as to make it impossible to be heard from anywhere other than mouth to ear contact. Julius runs the shop with his adopted son Hamm, a shambling mound of a man who rarely tries to talk and is mostly deaf. Hamm has two rabbits living in his pockets. Ruby Lorgnettes in a drawer by the counter. Cabinet full of luminous larvae and singing beetles. Choir rats, various common city-owls, a nesting pig, 17 ogre fleas, a pair of sympathy serpents (not on speaking terms) are among the selection.

 Rumour: A famous hunter has caught a live alzabo and is exhibiting it in his apartments to selected guests.

Group of Seventeen

Group of Seventeen 

 Cyriaca verGrin 11/17/4
 Spell: Invisibility
 Android 7/26/2 (1)

 8ft tall and perilously thin. A bathouse mistress. Single large bath with multiple secluded areas. Remains proudly ignorant of customers' business. Staff are Thinking Engines, 9 of them left, who can pass as entirely organic. Open all hours, staff rarely seen abroad, Cyriaca more so and only while accompanied by staff. 1 in 6 chance of a herbal bath day 1- Green, red berries, restores all Stamina 2- Blue with silver streaks, ensures a restful night's sleep 3-Red and twigs, smells like dirt, tightens skin drastically, so no one recognises you for a day 4-Green with green berries, relaxing, -5 Skill for the day 5-Hot mud, -2 Stamina +1 Skill for the day 6-Pink, smells like cake, calm & happy for the rest of the week, immune to fear and panic.

 RUMOUR: A giant is convinced that Troika is in fact Lost Corda and has blocked Owl Street with his ecstatic crying and celebrating. Danger of terminal hugging.

Court of the Summer King

Court of the Summer King 

Open, the Summer King 9/18/5
 Spell: Assume Shape, Hurricane, Teleport, Zed

 Reception hall for the divine Summer King. Front door and halls guarded by Feathered Folk wielding brass blowpipes-staves decorated with and firing peridots. Petitioners are mostly foreigners and cacogen, with the occasional hyrodules and their silver suited guards. None speak to the King, only touch his hands, drop a guilder in the chrome vase, and leave. The petitioners spend a long time talking in meaningless metaphors to one another. Non-comprehension will be met with disdain. 

RUMOUR: The feathered-swine have captured radiant thought and hold it in disgust

 Big map:

Alcalde Station Juniper

Alcalde Station Juniper
Boris Saypurple 8/16/5
 Spell: Darkness, Darksee

 The local justice, Boris, is a short joyless man. Quick to anger, quick to forgive, violent and emotional. Four junior alcalde (7/14/2) are under his command and help keep the peace, mainly by spying and gathering harmful gossip. He is unsure who exactly pays his wages or what his jurisdiction is, which frustrates him greatly. The station occupies a large old home with Boris' private chambers, rooms full of papers, and a basement jail. Boris' rooms are full of cats, the jail is clinically clean and well lit. Loft full of unusual lost things.

 RUMOUR: Recent random killings are due to a new cult of Cage The Dead-Maker operating out of the goblin labyrinth. They relocate nightly.

Some Ways of Killing D&D People

We live in a world without hitpoints. Death is not a certain countdown.

  1. Smash Bros HP. Play D&D as normal but add your damage up. When your damage passes a threshold, save or die. Roll d100 and roll over your damage total or die. Do this every subsequent instance of getting hurt.

    Maybe use the old HD as the threshold. Like, wizards start testing at over 4 damage. Or alternatively save every time they take damage, screw the bookkeeping.
  2. I'M THE FUCKING DADDY system. Standard HP, except they are now how you hit things. Gamble your HP as dice. Each HP spent lets you roll a die, but keep the same number as you usually would. Rolling to hit, spend 3 HP, roll 3d20 and pick the best one. Spend 8, roll 8, keep 1 and so on. All violent action takes energy.At 0 HP you are at the whims of the enemy. They can automatically kill you, or the DM can have them do something else, like kidnap you or chop your arms off.

    Damage works like normal, but use HP to roll the dice.

    Probably wanna increase HP pools a bit.
  3. DAMAGE DICE EXPLODE. The d4 knife is now interesting

Unsure death is fun. Having a sense of impending doom is fun. Knowing you can take a couple of shots is too comfortable. Turning your life resource into currency is exciting.