This is the second set of Troika! backgrounds I have been working on. I think my intent now is to make a full set of 36 and create a setting that unifies them. Perhaps something basic to begin with, a few factions, spheres and a map. Maybe eventually a short adventure that could take place there. The backgrounds have suggested some setting elements so it is partially a case of weaving it together. Undoubtably, once these are done the backgrounds will then need redrafted to try and put some small references to the setting into them. Either that or some might need replaced with missing elements from the setting. So anyway, the setting business may come later. For now, let us commence with more backgrounds.
The Pappillican Spheres are rife with churning magical and divine forces. The inhabitants of these spheres often bear the physical and mental marks of this. Every day new bizarre life and new bizarre gods are born. The Mutantipopes are those who dedicate themselves to the service of unique and bizarre gods. Each Mutantipope is declared a heretic by his peers as he too declares them excommunicated. You are always looking to gain powerful friends among the nobility that will support your claims.
- ‘Gilded’ Tiara, Mitre, skullcap, turban or other symbolic hat. Its colour is deeply significant. (roll d6, on a six it is worth a princely sum, on a 1-5 it is worthless)
- Golden Signet Ring, depicts a religious scene, people really should be kissing it
- Extremely plain or extremely elaborate Religious Garb
- Staff of Office
- Religious Text/s (written by own hand, perhaps with help from your god)
4 Non-sensical Dogma Recitation
3 Climb/Strength/Run (Pick one as a result of your mutant biology)
2 Staff Fighting
A bird without a flock, hound without a pack, bee without a hive or a locust without a swarm. Part of a nomadic people who moved on without you, left you behind, left you alone. Perhaps you were asleep, injured or lazy, perhaps it was a mistake, whatever the reason you are intent on finding them again. Feeling somewhat lost, you keep latching on to people and following them about. This has left you even more lost than when you started your quest. You take great comfort in being a part of a team.
- Map of the Stars (unintelligible to all but the most practised astrologers)
- Distinctive and unusual Clothing
- Peculiar Weapon (functions as a weapon of your choice)
3 Fighting with your Peculiar Weapon
4 Secret Signs – Way signs of your people
2 Spell – Random
Once per day, you can help a friend by giving them +1 to a skill check. You also gain +1 to your next skill check.
#15 Guardian of the Sacred Key
The key has been in your people’s possession for centuries, millennia, perhaps even aeons. No one has any idea what it is for or from whence it came. You were appointed to be its protector. Most treat the key and position as merely ceremonial, not to be taken seriously, a symbol and nothing more. However, when it became your turn, you decided to find out the key’s purpose. You travel the hidden routes between worlds, searching for answers. The key seems to help open the ways.
- The Sacred Key
- Fancy Key Guardian Uniform (counts as Moderate Armour)
- Ceremonial Mace
- Large Ceremonial Lock (As Shield)
3 Mace Fighting
Rather than make them up you can roll a d6 for the shape of the key. You or the GM can also roll for its associated myth and true purpose.
|d6||The Key||Associated Myth||The Key opens…|
|1||Covered in a wide array of strange knobbly bits||Black stone, fire and power await behind the lock||A gate to one of the hells, a real nasty one.|
|2||Completely mundane, bent and cheap looking||Freedom flows from the lock unbound for that which is hidden and that which reveals it||The cell of a prisoner|
|3||Solid gold, covered in jewels and inscriptions||Love’s foundation built from stone||The heart of a stone giant|
|4||You call it a key but it looks like a mouldy old biscuit||What was placed there was not understood. One of all, all of one.||A lost vault filled with a vast odd collection|
|5||Huge and made of unusually light, strong and shimmering metal||When thought is unbridled the mind loosed shall rule||The mind of an idiot god|
|6||So small it is hard to see and to hold||Sparkling greens will flow endless around||A hidden forest locked away to prevent it covering the sky|
#16 Sky Train Conductor
The sky trains whip through the humpback sky on schedules few can fathom. They arrive and depart with shrill blows of conductors’ whistles and blaring announcements echoing from the sky. Distorted voices speak ancient languages understood only by those who work the lines. You missed your shift change and were marooned on a backwater sphere not due another arrival for a millennia. You will be too old for that shit, so you hitched a ride off on a Golden Barge. You need to find a terminus and get back to work. You are periodically overcome with a desire to punch small holes in any paper you find. You keep your uniform clean but wear it haphazardly. It looks like you slept in it because you did.
- Ticket Punch
- Baton (damage as Club)
- Hermetically Sealed Uniform (counts as Moderate Armour)
- Shrill Auto-Whistle
- Megaphone (can be used to make voice sound loud, official and barely intelligible)
- Route Maps and Timetables (dusty, dogeared and out of date by several centuries)
3 Language – Sky Train Announcements
2 Baton Fighting
2 Commanding Voice
1 Emergency Procedures
1 Eye for Safety
#17 Party Purgist of the Alzerak Order
The great polity of the Alzerak Order spanned hundreds of stars until factionalism tore it apart. Thousands, perhaps even millions, were stripped of their whips and purged. All that is left of the Great Party are the purgists. They travel the multiverse seeking out traitorous sects, factions and orders. They take their job very seriously but rarely find any, which is a sure sign of their deviousness. The greatest threat to the multiverse must be rooted out and stopped! Only traitors claim the Sect-Detectors are old and broken! To To question why they must be hunted is to doubt the cause!
- Sect-detector (Malfunctioning, supposedly reveals faction members within 2m with an accuracy of 1/3)
- Book of Party Rules
- Playing cards with your sect’s most wanted
- Steel Party Whip (Damage as Club)
2 Whip Fighting
1 Political Machinations
|d6||Your Sect/Hated Enemy||Your Hated Enemy/Your Sect|
|1||Members of the 461 committee||Party Off-Centre|
|2||Nib Bloc||High-numbered Sisters|
|4||St Blundle Coalition||Friends of the First Conference|
|5||Wunkaio Clique||The Villagers|
|6||Anti-Faction Faction||Onbira Actioneers|
#18 Hunter of Rare Game
The Vaults of Tosk brim with treasures collected from all over the Humpback Sky. Your people are hunters and trophy collectors who worship the Vaults and their caretakers. You seek the greatest honour. You will have your finds entered into the Vaults and maybe even get a little plaque underneath with your name on. Unfortunately, many things have already been collected. To gain your hunting badge you need something extremely rare. You have already collected some trophies but perhaps they are already in the Vaults collection. Rejection would be shameful, you must be certain. The hunt continues.
- Net-gun (grapple at range)
- Large ornately carved Fusil
- 1d6+1 Plasmic Cores
- Various cages and jars containing potential live treasures
3 Fusil Fighting
3 Net-gun fighting
Glutting on the multi-varied, unending mutations of culture in the multiverse, the ethnogorgist is full to brimming. Their wardrobe is a wild collection, a bric-à-brac collage of time periods and national dress from near and far. Their speech is a creole amalgam of a hundred tongues. They smoke strange substances, drink weird tea and are absolutely fascinating conversationalists. They are frequently invited to high society parties, to be kept at a distance and gawped at.
- Outlandish Bric-a-brac collage outfit (counts as Light Armour)
- Collection of unique cultural artefacts
- Dueling Sword
2 Fist Fighting
2 Sword Fighting
You may test luck to recall a useful but obscure cultural practice, language or object that would help in your present predicament.
#20 Seeker of the Spell
Not just any spell. The spell. The first word of an incantation and a wiggly hand gesture were discovered aeons ago. Unfortunately, wizards, historicians and mathmologists haven’t made much progress since. Was it just an elaborate hoax by a trickster god or a joke left in marginalia by a mischievous ancient wizard? You don’t think so, you know better, you know there is more out there… somewhere. The circle can be squared and when it is done, they will see how clever you really are. In the meantime, they fear you, your magic is even more maverick and unstable than usual.
- Spellbook filled with wildly scribbled notes
- Spectacles that detect invisible writing
2 Language – your choice
2 Spell – Read Entrails
2 Spell – Find
1 Spell – Random
You may combine your fragmentary notes to try and generate an unpredictable magical effect. A Burroughsian cut-up of arcane words, gestures and effects. Roll a d6, and pick one of the two spells listed. You may cast that spell once before replacing it in a similar fashion. If you fail to cast the spell the other choice is cast and the GM decides the target of the spell. Whatever happens, the sight of the spell will likely be extremely irregular to onlookers.
|1||Lock / Open|
|2||Amity / Befuddle|
|3||Grow / Diminish|
|4||Fear / Darkness|
|5||Jolt / Thunder|
|6||Shatter / Sleep|
#21 Slight, Slighted Slayer
Yours is a tale of injustice, of pain, of abject misery mixed with fury. No more than a Comet Cat’s whisker shorter/weaker/greener than average, you were still mercilessly mocked by your peers at every turn. Over time, inside you grew a light, a fiery hot fusion core of apoplectic photons. You try not to supernova around friends, it takes a while for their eyesight to return. You set out to prove them all wrong, a glorious trail of monsters slain, a valiant death, a long, strong, green legacy for the ages.
- Charred and bleached white slayer garb
- 2 Throwing Axes
- Muscle oil (3 pints)
3 Sword Fighting
2 White Hot Burning Rage
When you lose stamina as a result of an attack you may test Luck. If successful, you cast the spell Flash without losing any stamina (you should still roll to see if a roll on the OOPS! table is necessary).
#22 Unclear Physicist
One morning, while sipping tea, your mind joined up disparate fields of mathmology. For a brief moment, you glimpsed the rarest knowledge in all the heavens. Was it the secret to eternal life? Godhood? Limitless arcane energy? You’re not quite sure yet… Unfortunately, your research papers are impossible to understand and your peers have refused to help. The Academy of Gears and Stars has labelled you a crank and your work ‘fringe nonsense’. Some sinister cephalopods from the Null Nebula were interested in it though. Unfortunately, their large research ‘loan’ only produced useless melted equipment. You decided to flee rather than inquire about a probably fatal repayment plan.
- 1d6 Salvaged Experimental Devices
- 1d6 Plasmic Cores
3 Arcanological Device Operation
2 Pistolet Fighting
1 Obscure Arcane ‘Sciences’
You use an Experimental Device to add 1 to a skill check. Afterwards, the device becomes useless. You may test luck once per day to create one new Device.
#23 Differently Dimensioned Diver
Some move between dimensional levels for exploration and study, others do it just for fun. 2D cutouts and shapes experience depth or 4D travellers live thrillingly unexpected moment by moment. All dimensional divers know the risks of such pursuits. Instead of surfacing back in their home reality, some get trapped by the dimensional bends. They are marooned in this bizarre 3D world and can’t go home. As long as they stay in their D-Dive suits they and our reality should remain intact. It doesn’t help with the perpetual queasiness they feel though.
- D-Dive Suit (allows switching of forms, fully charged)
- Paradimensional Surveyance Gear
- Harpoon Gun
- 1 Plasmic Core
4 Sneak (2D)
3 Longsword Fighting (1D)
3 Clairvoyance (4D)
If your D-Dive Suit is removed or destroyed, a reality rupture forms. This causes you and a considerable number of things nearby to cease to exist. It’s not all bad though, it can be used to change your dimensions. One plasmic core charges the suit enough for 4 transformations. You options are below.
|1D||Point to point, a length, equal to your longest spatial dimension. You are a monofilament cheese wire scything through reality. Your ability to interact with things is extremely limited except to bisect them. You count as a Long Sword, which you can wield.|
|2D||You are a portrait of yourself, lacking depth but incredibly dangerous side on. As long as you stay side on, you are very good at sneaking, hiding and sliding underneath doors.|
|3D||A normal form for this reality. No unusual effects.|
|4D||You are a mishmash of all the stages of your life simultaneously. An old wizened head on a baby’s body with skeletal feet. Parts of your body flicker, turning into their constituent atoms before reforming, ageing and returning to dust.|
#24 Half-Dream of an Idle God
An unfinished though of a god. A creative act not fully realised. Stuck in becoming, never truly resolving. You are the only one of you. You are incomplete, your angles seem off, you are in a constant state of flux. Your skin changes colour regularly, you have no eyes then three eyes, then one eye, then you see through scent. Your hands become hooves, become pincers, become flames, always becoming something, never standing still. You don’t know what you are or what you will be only that you definitely are. You have some control over this shifting but not much. You search for a final form. Clothes are difficult to find that fit your shifting shape.
- Tailor’s Kit, including various fabrics (for adapting your outfit each day)
- Journal filled with sketches of your various forms
Roll d6 on the table below to ascertain the vague purpose of the thought that made you. You can use this as a guide to your general form. You may re-roll your vague purpose once per day if you wish gaining or losing abilities were appropriate.
|1||War / Power / Conquest||2 Strength, 2 in a Fighting Skill of your choice, Natural Armour (Counts as Medium Armour)|
|2||Beauty / Vanity||2 Evaluate, 2 Gaudy Art Crafting|
|3||Servitude / Entertainment||2 Strength, 2 Acrobatics|
|4||Efficiency||2 Astrology, 2 Mathmology|
|5||Politics||2 Etiquette, 2 Negotiate|
|6||Free Association||Pick any two skills from the above.|
That’s the second instalment of backgrounds done. I hope you’re enjoying them or you see one you would like to play. Let me know in the comments or if you have any suggestions. Keep tuned for the first drafts of setting related materials. Probably a little fleshing out of some of the factions mentioned in the backgrounds. Hopefully, I will chip away at some interesting places to take some of the above misfits. At some point there will be a third and final instalment of backgrounds too but for now: Oh Reservoir!