Some Thoughts on Troika

I’ve just run a one-shot of the Troika! setting Leafpunk(itch.io link), about a plant-ridden post-apocalypse future. The session went well, but preparing it and running it has got me thinking about the Troika system in general.

The players liked the setting a lot, but were a little colder about the Troika ruleset. I think they were after a somewhat crunchier or more tactical system. I’m fond of Troika myself, but I think it’s a much harder sell for more traditional gamers. In retrospect, I should have emphasized the lighter, more improvisational nature of the game to the players before running it.

The players particularly didn’t care for Troika’s initiative system which uses tokens randomly selected to determine who goes first. I’m playing over Discord these days, so I used an online Troika turn tracker to run the combats. I’m wondering if it’s more effective playing in person, where I’d presumably be pulling tokens out of a bag, instead of just announcing the initiative results. It’d be the same mechanically, but I’m guessing using physical tokens would add a bit more showmanship to the whole thing. Either way, the players were a little uncomfortable with the completely random nature of the Troika! initiative system.

I’ve also found that learning a Troika setting can sometimes be a bit of chore, especially for a GM short on time. The details of the various Troika settings are usually revealed through the colorful descriptions of the various character backgrounds and NPC enemies, so you’ve got to read the whole book cover to cover to get all of the useful bits of lore.

It’s a lot of fun to create a Troika setting, as it’s just pure invention, churning out one new crazy detail after another. That’s why there are so many Troika settings over on itch (I’ve got one myself). However, I’m wondering if that ease of creation doesn’t come at the cost of usability.

In other RPGs, you can usually get all the details (or least the most useful ones) of a setting from one section of the book. Leafpunk did include a glossary, which is helpful, but a lot of the world-building is still spread out among all of the background and enemy descriptions. Not a criticism of Leafpunk – it’s one of the best Troika! settings I’ve seen, it’s just an observation about how Troika! worldbooks are usually designed.

I’ve have more details about the Leafpunk setting, and a custom character sheet in a future post.

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