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TROIKA!'s introduction to RPGs

A topic by zedecksiew created Mar 16, 2019 Views: 2,817 Replies: 14
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The new, numinous edition of TROIKA! -- Daniel Sell's acid-science-fantasy RPG  -- is out.

It has wonderful art, tight and evocative anti-canon writing, and perhaps the best and pithiest introduction to roleplaying games (of the OSR-y / traditional / art-punk-y style?), yet:

I thought it appropriate to kick off these sub-forums with that.


i'm gunna go youtube some fly fishing 

also i'm hella juiced to learn about the OSR community through this forum. i've heard great things. 


I'm just gonna link a bunch of places to check out if you want to deep dive into the OSR wormhole:




Dungeons & Possums's blog post is great if you specifically want to get into D&D retroclones, and the adventure recommendations & GMing advice is pretty well curated from what I can tell.

However it doesn't suggest any non-D&D rulesets that are generally considered OSR. Some suggestions:

  • Maze Rats, a simple 2d6+stat game, the majority of the game and its world is implicit in random tables.
  • Troika!, a game loosely based on the mechanics for Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, with a wild planescape-by-way-of-80s-UK-tabletop-games setting.
  • Knave, designed as a framework for running material written for old-school D&D and its retroclones, generates similar numbers to those games with a lot fewer rules.
  • Into the Odd, a rules-light game about recovering strange magic items beneath an industrial city. Embodies the OSR assumption that combat is generally a bad idea as you *will* get hurt, by skipping any to-hit roll.

One of the things that characterises a lot of OSR material, though, is that the game ruleset takes second place to the conversation at the table and internal logic of the game world. Much like a good game of Dungeon World, a good OSR session will often go quite a long time without a die roll, just using common-sense rulings.


It's so wonderfully OSR in the way that it just gives you the basics and then trusts you to be smart and curious enough to do the rest.


That is a very nice start, for sure! I'm excited to learn more about the OSR and playing some of its games. I own some (Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, Knave, Into the Odd), but I haven't gotten a group together for any yet. The OSR community has always intimidated me a little bit, but I feel very good here on, so I hope to see this part of the community here to grow too!

if you don't mind, could you elaborate on what's intimidated you? How can people in the OSR be more approachable?

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The first time I tried getting into the OSR, I found some very helpful people willing to explain things to me with patience. This was very nice! But I felt rather out of place, because I was the youngest person in the community (by at least a decade), and it was very mono-gendered. It was a decent place for me to learn a little, but not to play in. It also didn't help that it was almost only people from the USA, so timezones didn't line up at all.

The second time I tried getting into the OSR, I decided to read up on things myself first, so that I wouldn't be going in blind. This time, I instead found a few OSR creators to also espouse political views or having done things in their personal lives that I found very objectionable. I know that's not the case for the OSR movement/community as a whole, but in some of the Discord servers that I joined during this time, I saw others voice support for these creators or their views.

More recently, I've begun to try for a third time, but now just consuming OSR-related media more slowly, by following some creators on YouTube and Twitter. That's been a very good experience so far. I know OSR lives a lot in blogs, but I find blogs on personal websites hard to follow, remember to check, and generally reading long stretches of text online/on PC is a problem for me.

A community's first impression counts for a lot in it looking approachable! A statement on general principles they stand for or against helps separate the good from the bad. Code of Conduct type things need to be very clear and well-enforced. Beyond that, for individual people, just generally being welcoming and kind to all, open to other ways of gaming and how people talk about that, willing to answer questions but also willing to listen--that all helps a lot! I never was able to find those first groups of people I interacted with again, but they were an excellent example. I just felt like outside of games I shared no common ground with them, which makes forming friendships harder.

I have come across some OSR fans that seemed rather anti-other styles of gaming, which turned me off communities that had such vocal proponents, but overall the OSR folx I've talked to just love the DIY feel of a lot of the movement and seem to be accepting of other styles of gaming too. And that is very nice to see.

I guess I'm lucky in that I fell into the OSR only recently (a couple of years ago), and some of the earliest sources I started following were people like Sophia Brandt and Michael Prescott who are open to (or prefer) other playstyles. The first few times I stumbled onto blogs that were outright mocking of games like Fate were pretty alienating. I know some people disagree that Fate can be OSR -- generally pointing to the dwindling resources in a dungeoncrawl vs the amassing of fate points for a big showdown -- but I lean more toward believing that the vast majority of good OSR content and principles of play can be applied to almost any system.

And yeah, I *still* don't have a good RSS replacement set up, so my blog consumption tends to be what gets linked to on twitter, and bingeing someone's cool blog before forgetting about it for months.

Thanks for sharing. I hope your engagement continues to be positive this time around (thank heavens for block/mute on twitter).


There's some open tables games you might be able to find your way into, those are a great way to wet your feet!


Oh cool! Here on itch?

Also, to be clear, by "open table", do you mean that anyone can join/leave whenever they like? Or is it more like a D&D-style "west marches" sort of thing? (I've used "open table" to describe some of my own games, so I want to make sure I wasn't using a different definition from you.)

A little bit of both, actually! I have two set-aside times where I have 5 open slots for players. I also provide a list of rumors/jobs (it's organized around a neighborhood in a bronze agey megalopolis) - if 2+ folks want to investigate a rumor or take on a job we play.

Folks can bring whichever characters and play whenever they like. There's no real trouble joining late or leaving early during a session, either.

Does that make sense?

I realize belatedly I failed to answer your first question!

All the games I know I discovered by twitter/discord (or run myself). There's also a fair amount of adhoc gaming in the community, especially if you can get down with FLAILSNAILS style play (jumping between campaign worlds each session as a normal thing).


I really want to play me some Troika! The writing is consistently awesome and hints at a world worth stepping into.