Tuesday, September 4, 2018

troika! review

what's good about troika!? it's a fresh retroclone. it has lethal combat, but everyone starts at 14+ hp. the promise of levelling (a somewhat false promise in many retroclones) has been done away with mostly. there is the initiative system that is oft-touted and I really love it for some surprising reasons*. but there's also the fairly ridiculous damage system, which although it seems awkward (you have to cross reference a roll to a table to determine damage, a modifiable roll even), it gives us what we've always wanted; sorta realistic damage values. like, a knife probably doesn't do much but it can fuck you up! it's not just a puny d4.

that being said not having a levelling system hurts my heart a little bit. I mean, there is a system for progression: you improve your skills, which means you do better on rolls, but there's no d&d/WoW classic rpg dripfeed of new cool class abilities... that appeal is near and dear to me, but we must make sacrifices...

...the argument against such a dripfeed is of course, an emphasis on picaresque fantasy "strange people meeting in strange places" which is what troika! says it's about. your characters are not starting from the bottom, they are starting as wanderers, and of the two I think being a fully-formed picaresque wanderer is preferable to an endless series of 1st level eggs.

...finally, troika! encourages planar prep, as at the drop of a hat you must be able to invent or at least remember new spheres for your friend's toons to be whisked off to in the case of a particularly bad whoops! table roll, if not for some other reason. it has that delectable rpg vibe where the rules contain in just a few places campaign-breaking levers. this is something LOTFP does that I always talk about-- that "summon" spell.

also there's a little monster manual in the back of the book bc its so concise; to paraphrase my friend, "they had the room to just squeeze a little monster manual in the back!"

*initiative system being good: the way troika! initiative works is that everyone places initiative chits in a bag along with a end-of-round chit, and chits are drawn randomly; if your chit is drawn, you take an action, if the end of round chit is drawn, all chits are placed back in the bag. this makes chases in particular easy to run; you may simply draw more chits than your opponent does, so you may get away; therefore no tedious comparison of movement speeds in order to draw an equation are necessary. many tedious elements such as these may be folded into the randomness.

....also everyone talks about how good the backgrounds are so it's a well-tread point, but the backgrounds are very good; all of the players love rolling up

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