Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Troika Pamphlet Jam Reviews, Part 3

To get through the remaining 40 or so pamphlets I've had to cut down on word count. Here you'll find 12 reviews, and while the shorter word count means less detail I've tried to maintain the crux of what makes each pamphlet interesting.

Expect another two batches of reviews of similar length, and then a big roundup post with my top 10 (or so, I might fudge the total to include all my favorites) choice adventures, a bunch of arbitrary reward categories, and some thoughts about the jam, Troika, and pamphlet adventures.

Links to the other batches of reviews:
Part 1 (check this out for context if you missed it)
Part 2
Part 4
Part 5

The Warp Spire

The uncontextualized obelisk-dungeon called The Warp Spire hosts 3 abstracted, unmapped regions teeming with vaguely motivated and unspecific creatures. This smorgasbord of ideas weave an incoherent whole, but with a bit of mapping, context, and elbow grease, this could polish up into a tidy little dungeon.

By James Millichamp

Lich, Laugh, Love

The third pamphlet by Lutra Ludos. Of ten. He certainly knows how to write an NPC (and intrigue, and anything) and this entirely social, city-hall-schmoozing adventure plays well to those strengths. So why do you wound me with your d10 tables, Ludos? You know as well as I that Troika is d6 only. 

By Lutra Ludos

Some Rough Beast

Oh dear. The first by Ludos I dislike. Unlike The Birdcage which makes no overtures towards being immediately usable, Beast is caught halfway between an indulgent evocation and an actual adventure. There's just enough stuff here to tease an assault on an unstoppable, city-demolishing monster that I wish it went all in on practical tools.

By Lutra Ludos

The Calamitous Creation of the Guild of Mechanical Artistry

A landship of sorcerous design rampages through the city, and boy am I glad it does. Tables of carnage left in its wake, terrors found inside, and means of halting its advance nourish a savvy GM with precisely the right mix of gumption and fancy.

by Chris Bissette

Why is There a Wizard's Tower in this Dump

I've never been cursed before. At least not that I know of. This pamphlet threatens me, the real human writing this review and potentially (definitely) running the game, with curses too terrible to imagine. I might have to bin my Troika! book, or worse, bring the adventure's terrible wizard into my other games. I love it. It's a negadungeon that never loses sight of the fun. Why is there a blank box on the back page? You'll find out.

by Gordinaak

Finder of the Way

Finder of the Way presents an open ended problem that feels more at home on a hex map than the sole focus of a one-shot. Enraged over a rules dispute while tabletop gaming, an outpost of Dwarves vent their frustrations via gruesome infighting. Without player intervention, the Dwarves will perish and the local town succumb to plague from lack of beer. An intriguing quandary notable for its long term consequences in campaign play.

By Lutra Ludos

Vampire: A Vexatious Tale of Love and Bureaucracy

This miniature definitely-not-Barovia setting overburdens itself with cute bells and whistles, packing light on its best feature: vampiric bureaucracy. Well-crafted pastoral encounters round out the adventure with a breadth of activity, but water down the core bureaucratic theme. If we instead substituted a similarly robust table of encounters inside the tantalizing but underdeveloped "baffling bureaucratic maze", we'd take a great leap towards pamphlet perfection.

By Sealed Library

Welcome to Candy Mountain

The map of Candy Mountain is so good you could almost run a game using nothing else. A supplemental buffet of candy creatures, items, and events pack into dense tables, ready to sprinkle over frosted peaks. While convenient as lists of candy themed things, the ideas written here never quite live up to the fantastical visions conjured by the map and delectably colorful layout.

By Cog 5 Games

7th Annual Conference of Alchemists, Apothecaries, and Accountants

The conference offers things you'd expect from a conference. There's exhibitor booths, scheduled presentations, coupons, a food court. Points awarded for feeling like an in-fiction program brochure, even if it doesn't fully commit to the idea. I want to like this adventure. I adore the idea and the layout made a great first impression, but it far too often goes for gags over practical ideas. It might get a few laughs, but there's just not much to engage with once it runs out of punchlines.

By Aled Lawlor

First Against the Wall

A revolution in progress so on the nose, inclusion of dwarves and elves and magic feels silly. And not in a good way. It vacillates between comic absurdism and harsh political reality in a way that makes me want to drop all pretense and just play a modern day insurgency style game. If you want it, there's plenty of adventure here between the encounters and complications and NPCs and jargon.

By Lutra Ludos

Armistice Unknown: Prelude to Conflict

This PvP scenario cleverly uses 3 pages to provide each team their own pamphlet with an introduction and secret, faction-specific information. The pamphlets predominantly cover set dressing, leaving specifics to player machinations. One team protects their high priest from assassins--the other team. I have a personal aversion to PvP in RPGs from a number of bad experiences, but this seems like a solid scenario should you find a competitive group up for the task.

By Maria Rivera

Let's Kill God

Like some others by Lutra Ludos, this is a prompt more than an adventure. Other than a spectacular table for generating god names, the contents circuitously restate the title. Do your players want to kill god? This pamphlet might convince them, but you'll be left holding the god-shaped bag.

By Lutra Ludos

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