Travel in Trophy Gold Redux and Pretty

We played our third session of Trophy Gold last night and it is really fun. I thought I’d hate the tokens handed out in Hunt rolls but I’m enjoying the heck out of them. If a player doesn’t like that kind of meta-mechanic they can just use it as Gold but it is a fantastic way to get things moving when someone explores the environment in any meaningful way.

From, “I peak in the tomb to I look behind the tapestry to see if there’s a secret door” to “I look in the tomb to see if there’s any treasure,” I’ve seen Hunt rolls make both of those endeavors more interesting than they otherwise would’ve been.

Looking back on my earlier blog post on travel I can see places where my wording was awkward, especially after playing a few sessions and seeing these mechanics hit the table. Below is a poster I made with the travel rules, which are still slightly tweaked Hunt rolls but I think I have tightened up the wording. I wrote the previous blog post almost 24 days ago, which in 2020 time is about 73 years.

I changed safety from beasts to some protection from beasts because monsters don’t care about your damned walls. Still, some protection is better than none and every advantage you can muster when you are picking up steel against a beast is important.

More house-rules will no doubt emerge. When winter cloaks the land in ice and death and treasure-hunters bundle up in their chapter houses, does one take a dark die when one travels?

inverted-dice-6  Add a dark-colored die if you are willing to risk your mind or body in order to get to where you are going. You must include this die whenever you travel during winter’s reign of ice and death, when days are short, the ground is frozen and the veil between our world and the Quietlands is so perilously thin that some folk slip through the Bone Gate while sleeping in their own warm beds.


Travel Poster


I’ve been futzing with the layout tools in Canva.com and making book covers for campaigns I’m playing in. I am really not good at graphic design and layout but learning a new thing is fun. I’ll start taking lessons on Lynda.com for Affinity Publisher soon.


General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “Van (Arménie).” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1867 – 1870. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e2-7060-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/geek-media-studies

Find this design and more in the Geek Media Studies collection…

Downtime, Side-Jobs and Long Term Projects in Trophy Gold

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I’m thinking that Burden comes due when a 4-part clock is filled in.

Cog 4

A delve into an Incursion is 3 parts and downtime (training, research, personal projects) are 1. So generally, an Incursion and a Downtime means a payment comes up.

A poor roll under certain circumstances might mean the players lose some time. This can be a tick on the clock.

Side-Thought I Set Aside

I was thinking that maybe players could spend 3 Hunt Tokens to erase a tick on the clock but I think the math on that doesn’t work. Spending Tokens that are worth 3 Coin if you cash them to hold that bill off is a good deal. So, for now, there is no way to stop that clock.


Quick Side Job Generator, roll 3d6

Inspired by Planarch Condex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer

If the clock above strikes and a treasure-hunter is short on Coin, they could take a side-job. Side-jobs are quick, bloody work dealing with kinstrife, assassination, bodyguarding and other shield-breaking wolf-work that no one else can or will do.

These jobs are 1 Coin.

I was going to have these jobs pay more but then the game would quickly be about freelancers in the city doing side-jobs (see also, every Planescape game ever) but if that is where the table wants to go, it’d be easy to turn a job into an Incursion.

The Gig

  1. Kill someone who is well guarded
  2. Kill
  3. Kill
  4. Bodyguard for someone dangerous people despise
  5. Steal something locked up and treasured
  6. Train mercenaries (explain what skill you have that is of use to sellswords)

The Money

  1. Local nobles
  2. Nobles
  3. Merchants
  4. Merchants
  5. Holy folk
  6. Wizards

A bit of color

  1. An ancient Kaldhurite artifact
  2. A pocket dimension
  3. Devils
  4. One of the Sisters
  5. Someone from their past
  6. That weird shit from the media you just ingested

Job still available?

  1. No, it got done.
  2. No, it was a total disaster and the faction offering the job is in deep shit.
  3. No, no one took the gig, so the faction went in-house for talent.
  4. Yes, it is available because the intrepid freelancers who tried it failed because it was way more complicated/difficult than it first seemed.
  5. Yes, it is still up for grabs.
  6. Yes, no one is touching it…what is going on?

I’d be tempted to roll up or choose 3 or so jobs. The tables are meant to be inspirational, meaning, don’t roll if you’ve got ideas or the fiction demands a certain job is out there.


Caravan Guard

It is a traditional side-gig for adventurers, delvers and treasure-hunters.

I’d have merchant houses have deals with the folks who hold debt over treasure hunters. So, for as long as you are a caravan guard your Burden freezes. The debt-holders agree that in this wolf-age of broken shields, caravan guards are necessary to keep bandits at bay. The guards get their food paid for and can travel without their Burden piling up.

If a guard has more than 6 Burden, their debt-holders might not be patient forever. Though this could be a good way to return a treasure-hunter if they don’t have enough Coin to pay off their Burden.


Long Term Projects

Straight outta Doskvol, inspired by Blades in the Dark. Tell the table what you want to do, everyone discusses it and helps set a clock (or a series of clocks) and it is a modified Hunt roll.

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Take a light color die when you explain to the GM what you want to build, create or learn more about in the world and how you plan to make it happen.

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Take a light color die if you have a skill or piece of equipment that will help.

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Take a dark die if you are willing to risk mind and/or body to get this done.

1 You tick 1 on the clock but have attracted unwanted attention that will cause trouble later (maybe an option to drawn no attention but lose a tick?)

2-3  You tick 1 on the clock.

4-6  Tick 2 on the clock.


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Breaking the Rules

I love in DCCRPG how players can ask to break the rules. When they do so, the GM explains the quest/adventure they’ll have to go on to attempt to do so.

For example if you wanted to make your Charisma score higher, you could break into the God of Beauty’s house and steal from the pool he drinks from every night before going to sleep. It is dangerous and maybe even unlikely but it is possible to get past the Beauty God’s guards, wards and traps to drink from the Beauty Pool gifted to Him from the Sun and Moon in hope that it doesn’t destroy your mortal frame and actually makes you more desirable.

What happens when the players look at their Burden score and say, “How do we stop this shit?” prepared to burn the world down to make it happen?

That’ll be an interesting game.


 

Dice Icons are from Game Icons.net

British Library. Histoire de France. Deuxième édition. British Library Flickr Collection. https://flic.kr/p/hSdx8e

British Library. Streifzüge in den Urwäldern von Mexico und Central-Amerika … Mit 76 Abbildungen, etc. British Library Flickr Collection. https://flic.kr/p/ibB9Ah

Surrendering to Fate in Trophy Gold chargen

When you are done making a character in Trophy you are looking upon a creature at the start of a journey. That journey might lead to the Quietlands, it might lead them to changing into a beast for other adventurers to hunt and kill or it might lead to them changing the world with blood and gold.

Their path will be paved with cunning, gold and fate. May the more merciful Sisters guide you.

If you surrender to the fates and let the Sisters, both merciful and cruel, put your background, skills and gear into place you are allowed to take a Gift from the Sisters.

To be more clear, if you entirely roll your character without choosing anything. That said, maybe this rule is changed. Maybe if you roll your character you can choose from the Fates table but if you choose your character you must roll on the Fates table.

Let me know how it works for your table, please.

There are questions; they need not be answered now. Daydream about them. The answers might come to you in the midst of grand adventures or a grand shower or just a very pleasant hike.

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Choose your gift (or roll 2d6, one at a time, reading them in order if you can’t decide):

Strange Pets

Who (or what odd chance of fate) brought you back such an amazing pet from strange, faraway lands?

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Dragonel, fully grown, size of a hawk said to be what the snake people used instead of hawks

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Mimic, domesticated

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Underpanther cub, adorable right now with its little claws and tentacles

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Spider the size of a barn-cat.

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Wyvern hatchling, size of a puppy, just got done eating its own shell and hungry for more – will get big enough to ride some day

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Rooster, fighting, grateful to you after it was saved from a brutal life in the pits


Wizardless Familiars

Why did they choose you when their wizards passed?

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Bat, dramatic

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Cat, sarcastic but affectionate

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Dog, loyal

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Owl, vicious

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Raven, cunning

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Toad, pragmatic


Weapons

Did you find the weapon or was it willed to you be an adventurous elder?

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Sword from the Mage Wars, can knock spells out of the air.

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Dragonfang dagger, if you touch it to gold it heats up without burning wielder.

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Merfolk Trident, relic from when the undersea’s kingdoms laid siege to land-folk; if you put it in a puddle of water it will point towards the nearest ocean.

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The People’s Bow, offers an extra dark die when aiming arrows at those who say they rule over others.

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The End of Knights, a mystical six-shooter from another world with 2d6 bullets.

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The Sun-Killer, a knife made of a dense material none can identify, extinguishes all light within sight when it is taken out of its sheath.


Bound

Did you bind it or has it been bound to your family for generations?

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Devil Tutor, the GM will tell you the 3 skills the Devil tutor can best offer advice on and teach. Once it has taught all of the skills once it is dismissed back to the Hells

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Fire Sprite, a tiny adorable piece of fire that will follow your command. If it starts a fire that goes out of control it will leap into the fire and become an angry Fire Elemental, free from the binding

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Earth Plop, a tiny piece of animate earth that will follow your command. If it begins an avalanche it will embody the avalanche as an angry Earth Elemental, free from the binding

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Water Spritz, a tiny animate piece of water that will follow your commands. If it finds its way to the ocean it is free; it will remember you

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Air Gust, a tiny animate bit of wind that will follow your commands. If it is asked to change the weather, it will take control of that weather as an air elemental and be free of the binding

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Simalcrum, a tiny version of you that communicates in a series of squeaks and grunts


Spells from the Arch-Mage’s Tome

Did you know the Arch-Mage or one of their students?

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Wish, every time you cast it your Ruin goes up by 1. This Ruin increase is special in that it can never be taken away

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Storm the Bone Gates, for when your comrade is dead and you want to venture into the Quietlands to retrieve them

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Dragon’s Breath, allows the caster to breath dragon-fire – any Ruin accrued while this spell is cast can be paid off in gold, 2 gold for 1 Ruin

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Summoner’s Trinity, the Calling, Summoning and Binding that allows any adept who has a True Name in hand to call a Power to them

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Shall Not Pass, stops anyone in front of the wizard from getting past them for as long as they live, only dispelled when the wizard either falls or turns and runs

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Speak to Tome, allows caster and all who hold their robe or staff to talk to a book as if it was a person; personality of tomes are said to come from both the text and the author


Holy Icons

How did you get the attention of one of the Sisters?

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The Five-Headed Matron, made from the holy gems of her five consorts

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The Endless Serpent, ouroboros of ancient serpent-folk make, metals not known to the modern smith

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The Arch-Mage, made of bits of the Arch-Mage’s own scrolls

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The Winter Queen, made of crow’s feathers, owl pellets and snow that never melts

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The Spring Queen, made of corn husks, wildflowers and honeycomb

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The All-Mother, made of spider-silk, volcanic glass and glowing fungus


 

 

Dice Icons are from Game Icons.net

Travel in Trophy Gold

EDIT: I re-did this idea and did it better here.

By the time of the Respite, no magi living knew how to effect that mastery which Preema had enjoined; but anyway the Road was still holding safe three centuries after laying the greatwork, then as now.

from [ancestral eidetic memory] of the magi of the Ashëan Enclave

– Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

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Essentially, it is a slightly tweaked Hunt roll.

There’s a new way to earn an extra die:

dice-six-faces-six Take 1 light colored die for traveling the Olde Kaldhur Roads, built with the well crafted masonry that conduct the powerful energies that charge the arcane wards.

dice-six-faces-sixDon’t forget to earn one for exploring and asking questions and another for having the right skill and/or gear. Prepare for your journey! Ask questions about items on the map and what you’ve heard. Engage. The road is dangerous.

The Olde Kaldhur Roads are broken and were made with cities, dams, rivers, and lakes that are no longer there. Traveling to cities and villages should be difficult and demand travel onto newer and less protected paths and roads.

1 Hunt Token = 1 safe night in a place where the players can rest and get either access to water or safety from the elements or safety from wandering beasts

3 Hunt Tokens= either 1 safe night with access to water, safety from both elements and beasts or you find a well trod path or a landmark that will lead you to a village or city if you are lost.

Roll the dice. If your highest die is a:

1. Lose one token and encounter something terrible, it has the jump on you


2. ⬇️

3.Encounter something terrible but it hasn’t detected you yet


4. ⬇️

5. Take 1 token and encounter something terrible but you can choose the ground where the meeting will take place


6. Take 1 token, the road is clear and birds are singing


When you draw a map for travel leave plenty of white space. The map is not a finished product. It is a work in progress. Add some awesome stuff because you think it sounds cool without an idea of what it means just yet. Rivers, roads, mountains, big bodies of water and dangerous wastelands offer restraints to movement and are valuable.

If you draw in some Olde Kaldhur Roads, they shouldn’t make sense to today’s geography and should be as broken as the ancient Kaldhur Empire.

Untested Vague Idea: Don’t give your map to the players. Describe it to them and ask them to draw their own. Cartographers can be wrong. If they get lost it is more adventure-fuel.

Keep your map and flesh it out as you daydream and fill in some of the white spaces during prep. Don’t feel like you have to fill in all of the white spaces.

Dice Icons are from Game Icons.net

Death in Trophy Gold

If a character reached 6 Ruin because of physical limitations of mortal flesh, an incarnation of Death will come to take their soul to the Quietlands beyond the Bone Gates.


Quietlands Guide, Lesser

Description: Quietlands guides often change their look based on the culture of the deceased. Sometimes they are a ghoul riding a rotting polar bear, an angel with a thousand eyes and 8 wings or even an old fashioned skeleton in black robes and a scythe.

Endurance: 6

Habits:

  1. Cleave a soul with a magical weapon.
  2. Cut a magical tether that no mortal weapon can touch.
  3. Cut a deal for more time as long as it means more souls for the Guide.
  4. Raise the recent dead to cover their retreat into the Quietlands with the soul.
  5. Offer the soul one last good-bye to someone important from their life.
  6. Tell mortals a detail about their eventual deaths.

Defenses: No mortal weapon can harm them.

Weakness: Summoning circles can entrap them if you can trick them into it.

Holy relics have strong effects on them.


What if the characters drive away death?

The Quietlands will come for them. It is only a matter of time.

The dead character’s Ruin is still 6. Their souls are in their bodies and they can move around but the clock is ticking. If they are called upon to make any Ruin rolls they either fall to dust, their soul evaporating into the universe like water into a stormcloud or they will become a vicious undead monster, losing control of their character as they become a NPC.

If the character can find the right lore, they can fashion themselves into a sentient undead character, setting their Ruin to 1. How do they do this?

Lich-Rites

Maybe they perform the Lich-Rites. Now their Ruin is bound up in their ability to devour spells. When they need to lower their Ruin, the only way is to devour spells. Each spell they remove from a living or dead skull or ripping them off the written page. These spells are stored in their decaying bones, able to be cast by them for a price. When they cast them, their Ruin will increase.

If they reach 6 Ruin again their bodies will turn to dust and only a jeweled skull will remain as they turn into a villainous Demi-Lich, bringing horror to some tomb.


Other Rites

Blood Rites, Ghoul Rites, and many others haunt the shelves of dusty libraries across the loom of the world and new rites are born every so often.

Sometimes a character hell-bent on vengeance will not attach to any rites, turning into a spite-filled Revenant, turning to the Quietlands after bloody justice is wrought.


Quietlands Storm

Description: A stormcloud in the shape of a  roaring skull.

Endurance: 9

Habits:

  1. Ghosts slip into the living world to offer dire warnings.
  2. Rain cold hell down on the countryside
  3. Lightning strikes anything built by the dead character since they perished.
  4. Wind rips the soul from the character’s rotting shell
  5. The dead rise to bring the lost soul into the Quietlands
  6. Cause spells to act in odd and unexpected ways

Defenses: No mortal weapon can harm them.

Weakness: Powerful holy sites can slow the storm down for a time.

There is a black diamond in the eye of the storm. Plucking it from the skull will cause the storm to abate but the storm will attempt to possess any who hold the diamond.


The Quiet One

If the Quietlands Storm is somehow defeated, the Quiet One will venture forth before the year is over. You’ll know when it happens. Words will cease to be heard, holy statues will cry blood, temple and church roofs will fall on the heads of the faithful and a generation of children will be born as hungry ghouls.


How do Undead Exist if the Quiet One is coming?

I’m glad you asked.

In the Quietlands everyone’s tomb is waiting, prepared and silent. Yours is there. In order to stop death from seeking a lost soul, you must venture into the Quietlands, find your tomb and leave a living soul in its depths. There are few guides qualified to lead adventurers to their own tomb and fewer maps but for every lich-queen or vampire lord is someone who knows how to get this fell task done.

Setting up camp – Altars and Shrines

The rituals from my childhood D&D games fascinate me. Setting up camp was one of them.

  • Was this going to be a place where we made a last stand?
  • Was this going to be a place we abandoned because of an attack we couldn’t defend?
  • Would we be meeting and welcoming a new friend, patron, enemy or deity by the fire?

The structure was familiar and comforting, even though the world all around our characters was dangerous and unknown.

The Travel Shrine

The travel shrine or travel altar can be a tree stump or an actual stone shrine, a folding table or just a clean bit of carpet with holy inscriptions laid out over dry ground. When you make camp for the night, before setting up watches, lighting the fire or eating, you set up your shrine. Everyone contributes something.

One could contribute an icon depicting a deity or saint. They might contribute a piece of vellum with a prayer or holy phrase or even a whole book or scroll. If they have lost someone important recently they might put one of their belongings on the shrine or an item commemorating an elder or ancestor.

The travel altar offers an aegis of protection. If a fellow traveler should offer their own icon on the altar should violate the trust of anyone else who has put down an icon it inspires the ire of every power invested. Being god-cursed is a terrible fate, though some bandits and thieves have been known to do their best to survive with a fell mark against them. Even refusing to sit and robbing those who have contributed to a travel shrine is known to bring about the anger and retribution of the icons represented.

Every character says something short about what that piece means to them. Over the course of the night one might talk about how two pieces on the shrine might interact or ask questions about an icon, remembrance or text. Discussions occur about how the different ideas interact. In this way, travel shrines and altars help mythologies become woven into one another as travelers talk under its aegis and make sense of one another’s ideas and traditions.

Of course this gets complicated. When larger retinues or even armies meet on the road. When larger groups meet before a traveling shrine there will often be a spiritual leader who represents each group. In these cases, sometimes this leader might put down several icons to represent the factions within their group or put down more remembrances if they have lost comrades on the road or in battles. Sometimes armies will put icons down for units who took heavy casualties or an icon for the unit or army’s patron saint. Sometimes an army that has been routed or a group of adventurers who have been decimated put down an icon for an incarnation of death.

Among smaller groups it is often a less complicated endeavor. Travelers have been known to use discussions around the shrines and altars to celebrate their comrade’s heroism or to take a moment to remember those who have fallen. It can be used to remember where they are going and why or what they learned from where they are coming from.

Around the shrines and altars powers have been known to offer visions and dreams; sometimes there is even a disguised or direct visitation.

Things to do at the Travel Altar:

  • Ask each other questions about your homes, backgrounds, families and cultures
  • Relate a story about the powers on the altar and how they relate to one another
  • Seek forgiveness from a comrade
  • Air a grievance before higher powers and your fellow travelers
  • Seek guidance from those around you and from higher powers
  • Remember a dead comrade

Icons

There are many different types of icons for the various deities, saints, elemental lords, devils, demons, angels, and more alien powers worshipped in these lands and beyond. If someone’s icons are lost, often they will search for material to make a new one, often taking the material they first find as a kind of calling towards that power.

The Spring Maiden (also known as the Spring Queen in some areas)
Made of corn husks and fresh grass.

The Winter Matron (also known as the Winter Queen or even the Death Queen in some areas)
Made of pine needles, oak roots, raven feathers and winter roses.

The Empress with Five Crowns (part of the dragon pantheon, you know Her name)
Made of five different minerals of varied local meaning.

The Platinum Emperor (you get the idea)
Made of copper, brass, silver, gold or even platinum – sometimes a cheaper mineral that seems like any of these colors.

The Arch-Mage
Made of intricately folded vellum into an origami wizard with arcane theories written all over it.

Patron Saint of Apprentices and Squires (often given a common name to that village or area)
Made of a scrap piece of leather or a carved dagger.

The Imperial Emperor (a Hobgoblin icon)
Made of melted down Hobgoblin coins.

The Eight Legged Empress
Made of spider silk and dried mushrooms.

The Devil-God
Made of a slim piece of black basalt with a crown on top.

Froghemoth
Made of a slimy frog-shaped rock.

Notes

I wanted an in-game reason for characters to set time aside to palaver, discuss their deities and saints, celebrate each other’s heroism and toast the sacrifice of the dead. Inspired by the hero quests in Glorantha. What if myths changed in a more mundane way? What if myths were altered by people sitting around a fire in dangerous places talking about how their deities might interact.

Please let me know if it is helpful at your table.


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If you liked this blog post you might like the pdf linked below about the Raven Queen warring with the Ghoul King.

Trophy Gold: Debt holders

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Debt is a tangible mechanical part of Trophy Gold. I thought it’d be worthwhile to have options for the table when someone comes to collect.

Who is holding the debt?


1. Bulla Shrines

Said to have invented credit, debt and banking, the demi-god, Bulla is a faceless deity whose accountant-priests are known to have necromantic powers. Some say they use these powers to demand a spirit continue paying for the living’s debt, even after death.

Some whisper that Bulla’s displeasure with its government was one of the many forces bringing about the the Fall of Olde Kalduhr.

If you fall behind on payments, revenant-collectors will be sent to bring you to the nearest shrine.


2. Some Ducal Asshole

Some dukes and duchesses love being patrons to adventurers, hearing their daring stories and taking the pick of their treasures.

If you fall behind on your payments the duchy’s thug-knights and their retinue will most likely be the ones dragging you back to the ducal seat but sometimes a noble will get off their throne and pursue an adventurer themselves, often with highly paid bounty hunters in their company.


3. The Dark and Gold Guild

Some adventures live to see their dreams realized. Those in the Dark and Gold Guild are adventurers who earned a fortune and used that fortune to capitalize on others’ desire to delve and raid tombs.

Not wanting to ever don armor again, if you fall behind in your payments it will likely be adventurers coming after you, becoming more and more seasoned as the debt grows.


4. Starless Matron

The dark and deep parts of the world, where the starless elves build glittering cities and the cave-bear-folk tend to their shroombeast herds are the Starless Matrons, powerful fae matriarchs who pay homage to the All-Mother, (may her holy webs and eight legs be blessed).

If you fall behind in your payments, Starless Elf Freeriders, riding giant spiders or lizard-raptors will begin trying to collect your bounty. If that fails, they will turn to the altars of their spider-pantheon and begin summoning.


5. Death

Surely you were not so foolish as to put a lien on your own living soul for some trifling gear to go delving. Surely not.

If you were to fall behind on your payments, Death would begin collecting from those all around you until you found a shrine and paid that debt in full and then some.


6. Farmer Cooperative

They had a good harvest last year and wanted to invest in a hero so that their children could know wealth and live the dream. They pooled their money and put their trust in you and your daring, equipping you for a series of delves.

If you were to fall behind on your payments, the farmers would send their best trackers and veterans of war after you to reclaim payment or bring you back to the village for a trial.


The Trophy Kickstarter is in its last days, within bow’s shot of its last stretch goal in which myself and an amazing group of table-top role-playing game designers will get to design incursions that will be a mega-dungeon. Please check it out.