Troika! is a true treasure and a great system for world building and running exciting adventures. The science-fantasy RPG includes old, decadent crystal Spheres; worlds hung across a hump-backed sky and reachable by golden-sailed barge, labyrinths of non-Euclidean geometry, and eldritch portals. The player characters are odd, inscrutable, and dangerous with murky backgrounds and possibly mysterious histories. In the next few months I’m going to dive deeply into this setting to build it into worlds to explore and strange weird people to meet.
Troika! is built as if D&D’s Appendix N was based on British New Wave Science Fiction instead of American Pulp. It is why Troika! is the world’s second most popular roleplaying game. The New Wave focuses on experimentation with the form and content of stories, adding in fiction other than sci-fi, and exploring the psychological and social rather than the physical. Think postmodernism, surrealism, dystopia, and the drug subculture. PC try to survive a decadent and decaying ancient society of weird science and dangerous magic.
Troika! products can be found for sale on Melsonia and on Exalted Funeral. There is also a monster-filled Patreon. I have also done A Played It Review on EN World and An Interview with Daniel Sell on EN World.
I’m going to start this month zoomed out all the way to the various books that provide not just rules but also setting details for Troika!. I’m going to go over most of the Melsonia books and for third party focus on the books most relevant to building a coherent and cohesive setting. These RPG books are what I’m going to initially pull from to zoom all the way into the setting level and start detailing Spheres, planets, cities, and even locations like hotels.
Weird and Wonderful RPG Books
Troika! and Academies of the Arcane are the core rulebook and a supplement of new character options, gear, and spells connected to schools of magic. It is easy enough to locate schools of magic in the city of Troika itself and both books work seamlessly together.
Fronds of Benevolence includes a duke who is a plant, golden barge stats, and the Wall location. This adventure is one of my favorites and contains both world lore and additional rules to add to the world building.
A bit off the beaten path with references to Mars and nuns, Slow Sleigh to Plankton Downs
is nevertheless an excellent haunted boat adventure. A few small tweaks moves it away from a more familiar setting and closer to the exotic that most Spheres offer. And the main monster is amazing.
The Ruinous Palace of the Metegorgos is an amazing adventure full of body horror. It isn’t something my current group would enjoy so this one is tabled for this campaign.
Very Pretty Paleozoic Pals Permian Nations and Acid Death Fantasy are unique settings. While their Spheres are likely somewhere in the greater Melsonian universe, they are different enough not to include in a newly launching Troika campaign.
A detective adventure set in the big city of Troika, The Big Squirm is filled with clues, NPCs, and mystery. And worms. So many worms. Possibility a great place to kick off a campaign.
Aliens in rabbit costumes sell orange fruit with magical and mystical effects in the Wengle Instrumentality.
PCs investigate the twinned and twisted wizard towers of Slate & Chalcedony, uncover the secrets hidden in the almost 70 weird and worrisome rooms, and just maybe save the world from a slow and choking death. A classic dungeon crawl with lots of interesting twists and turns.
The interdimensional warehouse of the cruel wizard, Whalgravaak, towers over the bad part of Troika. Abandoned long ago, rumors hint of vast store rooms full of wonders, but still watched over by dangerous creatures. Whalgravaak s Warehouse is a traditional dungeoncrawl with interconnected levels, nonlinear exploration, and resource management. Inside are over a dozen new enemies and numerous surreal encounters.
Complete with cardboard hexes for various Spheres, The Icy City, Troika Edition, has rules for sailing the hump backed sky.
Hexdrive Volume 1 covers golden barges including weapons. Includes a list of golden barges to choose from.
For longer campaigns, Triune covers gear lists with prices as well as patrons.
Astonishing and Dangerous Places and People
The setting is introduced through snippets in character creation, in the creatures section, scattered through the core rulebook, and added in additional rulebooks..
Powerful rulers of Troika and other Spheres. They have various lesser nobles and servants under them and are known to masters of divine alchemy and body harvesting and shaping.
Planet of Melsonia
The main Sphere where the city of Troika can be found is not directly named anywhere I can find. A third party book coined the term Melsonia and I decided to apply that name to the main Sphere.
City of Troika on Melsonia
Home to numerous adventures and interesting locations like the Academy of the Arcane and the Blancmange & Thistle Hotel.
Academy of the Arcane in Troika
Spells cost Stamina to cast and a fumble requires a roll on the Oops! table. There are two
The Blancmange & Thistle Hotel in Troika
Stairways and elevator full of interesting people and strange events.
These doorways connect different Spheres. The Astrology skill is used to provides hints as to the exit point of a portal. The Blue Star Maps of Corda can pin down the exact location with a successful use of Astrology.
A Sphere the giants of Corda search for. They seek out eldritch portals and either check them with a Blue Star Maps of Corda or simply boldly step through to see what Sphere awaits them on the other side.
There are minimal rules for golden barges in the core rulebook although it notes that most, like The Curious Puffin, have golden sails. However, Fronds of Benevolence, The Big Squirm, and Hexdrive Volume 1 provide statistics and rules for golden barges.
Goblins tunnel beneath every Sphere, from the most ancient to the newly arrived. Their sprawling underground tunnels connect all the Spheres, although finding one’s way through is extremely difficult or even impossible if construction in the Sphere above cuts off or collapses connecting tunnels. At least some of the labyrinth is hinted to be non-Euclidean in nature, meaning getting through without a goblin guide would be nearly impossible.
Any adventurer traveling the labyrinth, Euclidean or otherwise, would do well to have a goblin along as a guide.
Hinted at in the background, for the monkeymonger, the Wall is detailed in Fronds of Benevolence. The Wall is immense and so tall that clouds form at the top. It teems with the activity of the specks of humanity that live upon its surface. Going up and down could be done very cheaply via monkeyswarm or extortionately expensive with a fancy levitating glass with options in cost ranging in between
Bringing It All Together
A GM can start in the city of Troika with plenty of adventure options. If travel is desired, various adventures may offer the PCs passage by golden barge, eldritch portal, or the labyrinth to another Sphere containing more adventures. The PCs may want to get access to a golden barge of their own or they might open a bar. Anything might happen. A lot will hinge on the backgrounds of the PCs, their starting location, and any patrons the GM wants to introduce. More on kicking off a campaign coming soon.
Picture credit: Pixabay
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