D&D more Troika

Following on from my previous post on making initiative enjoyable (and arguably more realistic*) I've got the comprehensive and very complicated way you can make D&D fit better.

  1. Use that initiative system
  2. Attack rolls are contested, with the winner dealing damage
  3. AC is replaced by damage reduction

Some armour DR:

Full plate - 8
Half-Plate/Chain/splint/whatever flexible metal bullshit you have going on - 4
Padded/leather/cloth/etc etc - 2

Shields might add 1DR or +1 in combat rolls. Or both? Shields are pretty great.

Feel free to add DR ignoring rules for bludgeoning weapons, and also make it so grappled enemies do not receive the protection of their armour (pin them down and stab them in the eye holes)

Anything that might otherwise increase your AC instead increases DR

* Realism doesn't matter, but have you been in a real brawl? Or some sort of emergency situation? People choke, step up, fall over, and otherwise don't take turns.

Troika! Initiative Rules

This initiative system can replace most I-go-you-go style initiative arrangements in role-playing games without much fuss. You need the following:

  • Two identical cards for each player character
  • One card that signifies the end of the turn
  • An abundance of one card to signify henchmen
  • An abundance of one more card to signify enemies 

When a fight breaks out you gather up the player cards, the end of round token, henchman tokens equal to the number of henchmen present, and a number of enemy tokens equal to the total initiative value of all enemies. Shuffle these.

Draw a card, the owner of the drawn card acts. If the end of round card is drawn you gather up all the tokens and start again.

Player tokens

Each player gets two. You could play with this for spells that speed up or slow down, but generally don’t fiddle with it too much. (delayed actions, aiming)

Enemy tokens

When you draw an enemy token any enemy may act. This means that a single enemy can perform multiple actions in a given round, even above the number of initiative tokens they contribute. Assume this represents the bolstering effect of having leader-sorts around, or lots of their friends. In practise the GM is encouraged to not use this to purely mechanical advantage, but in a way that makes sense and is enjoyable for everyone.


Each henchman contributes one token. When a henchman token is drawn the GM must take an action for any one henchman present. They can take instructions from the players but are not obliged to follow them, henchmen are people too.

End of round card

If the end of round card is drawn then all cards, including the end of round card, are put back in the stack. Resolve any per round or end of round activities such as magic effects, fire, poison or bleeding out, remove any cards belonging to dead or absent participants, then draw another card and carry on.


On your turn you may decide to take aim with your ranged weapon. To do so, declare you are aiming and hold onto your initiative card. When your next initiative card is drawn you shoot, rolling twice and picking the best roll. If the end of round token comes up and you haven’t used your aim action you may decide to hold on to your aim token or abandon your action and put it back in the stack.

Delay an action

You may choose not to act when you hold initiative, in which case you put the token back in the stack. This increases your chances of acting later, but does not guarantee it.

Converting initiative from other games

Enemies contribute to a communal pool of enemy initiative equal to their initiative value, representing the broad press of opposition. Initiative doesn't just represent physical speed, but also confidence of action, bravery and general quick wits. Place your monster on a spectrum, with 1 being a cowardly goblin or a brain dead zombie, 3 being a charismatic captain, 5 being an ancient manticore, and 8 being a dragon who can literally see the future. Place your bad guys in there, trying to stick to 1-3 for the most part, and don’t be afraid to tamper with them if you feel you’ve made a mistake. The system is spongy and forgiving, feel it out until you can confidently throw numbers about.

Converting initiative tampering effects from other games

In general you do not want to tamper with the number of cards anyone uses too much, however sometimes you need to show how fast or slow someone has become. In the caste of a sped up participant, let them use a third (or fourth etc.) card as an additional initiative card for the round (or as many rounds as are required). To slow them, do the opposite. Be strict with round counting, since this might cause them to not see much benefit/hindrance from their alterations before it resolves itself. Violence is capricious.

Alternatively, if you are insistent on being very very fast, allow them to “recycle” their initiative cards for a turn. By which I mean let them put any initiative they draw back in the stack after using it. This could be a finite number of times or only limited by the passing of rounds. For slowness in this case you could force a player to possess two whole initiative cards to act once. Have them hold onto the first one drawn and let them pray another shows.

Head over to the ongoing Kickstarter if you'd like to see these cards made. Just a slice of money left until we can afford them.

Troika Initiative Cards Kickstarter

We're having a little whip-around to get some cards made for use with Troika! and as an insertable stand-alone chit-pull-style initiative system. They're already drawn and ruled up, so they're definitely a thing that can exist. The Kickstarter is so I can put in a wholesale order and import them from the restrictively local manufacturing centre that DriveThru use for cards. I'd like these to be reasonably available to everyone, not just the US. If the KS fails to raise enough for that then we'll probably sit on them until we can fabricate them elsewhere.

The cards are super simple stuff. Where before we had to recommend people put tokens in a bag or other handy receptacle for initiative, now we can point them to these things which are guaranteed to do the job in handsome purple-ey style. For those already familiar with Troika! they work pretty much as you'd expect but with one small change to how henchmen work (a line of errata will happen).

Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/846377662/troika-initiative-cards?ref=user_menu

Free version of Troika here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/199604/Troika--Free-Artless-Edition

POD Troika here: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/199603/Troika?term=troika&test_epoch=0

Print-run Troika here: http://melsonia.bigcartel.com/product/troika

The best way you can support Troika! is by playing it.

Where's My Ring?

Mangled by a card,
A drawing of honest attitudes.
Where now?

Oh but for the grace of bookshelves,
They hid them from us,
For the better.

Take them down and don't go further,
The crevices hide multitudes of histories,
Sweetly minted notes of sensations.

Others, unacquainted, will say it happens,
For the best,
For the time being.

Background: Kinidymos

Kinidymos, Hunter of the Undivided 

When the inner becomes outer, and the upper becomes lower, when the male and female form the single-backed child who's eyes are replete with eyes and who's image is in place of an image, then you will enter the kingdom. These sidereal psychopomps will lead all matter to the monad and terminal oneness, it is the duty of the kinidymos to ensure this never happens.

Dyadic compass
Disunional sword
One weapon of Choice
Lead manacles

3 Disunial Sword Fighting
2 Weapon Skill of choice
2 Sneak
2 Second Sight
1 Swim OR Climb OR Disguise
1 Tracking

Item: Dyadic Compass
To the uninitiated this is just a broken compass in a small box, but to the kinidymos and those familiar with their ways it is a precision tool. Test your Second Sight while focusing on the needle to have it direct you towards a point of magical conflux within 6 miles. If multiple points exist it will point the the strongest, which will usually be the kinidymos' quarry.

Item: Disunional Sword *#
The sinister and iconic tool of the hunters of the holy hermaphrodites, made of the basest metal to ensure their separation and descent. The lead blade is as long as a typical longsword's, but its girth and long handle make it look stubby. On a Fumble the weapon is bent out of shape and counts as a mace until repaired. 

  1. 2
  2. 4
  3. 4
  4. 6
  5. 8
  6. 18
  7. 24

Background: Proxy Child

Proxy Child

One day you woke up in the arms of a giant, singed and lolling in its arms. You thought of how nice it would be to stretch your legs, and it put you down. You had trouble walking and felt that maybe this was a hasty decision, it put you on its shoulders. And so on and so on until this point in this place. You are still learning and still making mistakes, but your companion is always there for you, to pick you up again.


  • A compression suit

  • A pouch containing interesting things you’ve found since you woke up, most notably a:


  1. stuffed animal, though it’s unclear what that animal is
  2. rubber ball that unerringly returns to the hand that throws it
  3. collection of small bones strung together to make a functional puppet. The strings are long enough to stretch to the floor from the shoulders of your Proxy
  4. small furry mammal which refuses to do as you say no matter how hard you think
  5. rusty pistolet with no energy, useful for pretending to shoot the wild animals your Proxy often defends you against
  6. crown you made from a bit of the scrap you woke up surrounded by. It has markings on it that you can’t read.

  • A 7ft tall companion who is moved by your will alone:

Ceramic Proxy
Surgical white (or vividly coloured) plates form the skin of this bipedal behemoth, sliding over each other with the gentle sound of bare feet on sand. Someone made it with an eye to detail, every inch of it is an aesthetic treat. Always has 3 armour

Or an

Organic Proxy
To a casual observer it could be mistaken for a particularly large person, with a barrel chest, cabled arms and a square head. But once they spot those dull eyes it’s clear this is just a puppet. They are capable of speech, though only at your command.

Or a

Mechanical Proxy
An unsubtle conglomeration of articulated metal, its every movement grinds and twangs. This is a functional machine, made without the arrogance of a hominid form. It might be stooped and chicken-like, or a great wheel of arms and legs. Its form is up to you. Always counts as being armed with a weapon of your choice and has 3 skill in its use.


5 Strength
2 Climb
2 Run
2 Heal
2 Swim

2 Second Sight
1 Spell - Random (Table 5)
1 Spell - Random (Table 5)

The Child starts with 2 Skill and 8 Stamina and counts as an oversized item for inventory purposes when carried (they are rather small and feeble). The Proxy is rolled as you would a normal character. They both share a common Luck pool.
The Child may use their own Advanced Skills for any action the Proxy takes, including magic in which case they may also use its Stamina to cast it.
The Proxy ceases to function if it loses all Stamina, is out of sight of the child for more than an hour, or is encased in lead or silver.
The Proxy heals naturally like any other character, regardless of its construction. It can also be Healed (or repaired).
If the Child dies the Proxy ceases to function. If the proxy dies the child is very sad and lonely.

I'm working on Troika! the only way I can. Come watch if you want 


The air is moist. The moisture mixes with your sweat — the heat is relentless. The drone of insects gives you headaches, and the fever from the infected wounds has left you delirious. Your raft is damaged, and there are spirits in the trees.

You’ve only been here for three days.

Fever Swamp is a hex-crawl sandbox adventure compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess and most other Dungeons & Dragons clones.

Fever Swamp was written by Young Master +Luke Gearing , previously famed for his contributions to the world's favourite outsider role-playing 'zine, The Undercroft, and illustrated by +Andrew Walter, who surreptitiously inserted sigil magic into his work on our previous publication, Crypts of Indormancy, to uncertain ends.

On top of this, +Christian Kessler  and +Jarrett Crader have done an outrageously good job on the layout. The PDF is a thing of functional beauty.

Hard copies+PDF direct from us (PDF now, order shipped when the books arrive)

Just the PDF, from RPGNow

Some thoughts on god

Everything is metaphors, everything is reflected from above downwards. By observing the dramas that unfold between the dragonflys and the bees one can ascertain the movements of the stars.

"Hell" is anything sufficiently removed from the acquaintance of god that it looks like a degenerate satire.

Hell is therefore relative according to your position.

"Heaven" as a definitive end point is nothing like what anyone expects. Multiple heavens therefore exist and represent idealised versions of the sphere from which it is viewed. There may be clouds and naked babies, or it might just be less awful.

Definitive, terminal heaven is inconceivable oneness. Impractical though factual.

When planning a campaign be a seer. From tea leaves you see the future: broaden that. Take the interplay of simple things and apply it to larger scales higher up the ladder. The Demon Sea is the Mariana Trench with bigger fish and plans.

Everything is true, even when you're making it up. If you can't fit everything together now that just means hyper-god works in mysterious ways.

Hyper-god does not work. Hyper-god is not the totality of existence. The spheres are a series of reflections of hyper-god of increasing obscurity. He does not move the spheres, the spheres move in response to him.

Spherical reflections are distorting.

Visiting an aeon

Reflections are different but not independent.

Every campaign as a 70s sci-fi novel. The world is a wall; the world is a tree; owls can't die and are sent here to observe us by some unknown party; golden barges are like boats; they're just spaceships; they're, like, a state of mind man; everyone except the players sees an idealised world while the players see filth and muck (who's right?).

Every campaign as a mystery. Have a complicated network of logic between strange people and things and then introduce the players without any context. They have to learn.

Every campaign as a farce of manners. Social traps: does the snake-crab-thing want us to drink the tea or make the tea? Choose wrong and it might snip off your head a lay eggs in your belly. Do it right and it might let you ride on its shell to the nearest barge repairman.