in Fantasy, Retroclone, Solo Actual Play

Tilt oracle and Troika! – Part 2

This is the conclusion of a brief solo play of Troika!, using Alex Yari’s Tilt Oracle.  There is combat in this chapter, for which I used the Initiative manager from this site –

As before, textual Oracular answers are cutups seeded with Dunsany’s Time and the Gods.

Last chapter saw Yale, Sorcerer of the Academy of Doors arrive through the 10th door into a desolate city under mourning stars.  His investigations showed that a Starchild had been kidnapped by an inhabitant of the city, and the destruction was the result of the attempt to rescue the child.

His travels led him deep underground, to a wizard’s vault lit by starlight.

Scene four – Confrontation?

We’re going to do some scene setting questions/oracle look ups.  The wizard who captured the Star-child is still alive.  Time has been stopped in the bubble of the Star’s light; For the wizard and his undead guardians it is still the day that the city fell. 

Ahead the corridor opened out into a wizard’s throne-cum-summoning room.  In the centre of a seven-circled ward was a glowing child, curled into a ball and sobbing quietly.  Seated on a throne and flanked by a handful of guards was a young man clad in classical robes; he seemed frozen in the act of talking to one of the guards.

There’s no way Yale would be able to sneak the star-child out of there, so he steps forwards into the light.  Immediately the scene came to life; the wizard prince finished his joke, the guard laughed politely.

I rolled a mien of friendly for the wizard.  We’re using Tower Wizard stats for him, and Skeleton stats for the guards.  Our Wizard knows the spells Ember, Find, Wall of Power, Thunder, and Diminish

“What brings you here?  I didn’t summon jesters.”  says the Wizard, having mistaken Yale’s robes for those of an entertainer.

“I am no mere jester!  In fact, I am not a Jester at all; I am an initiate of the College of Doors, master of the 10th door!”

“Hah, very droll, how funny.  But seriously, my good man, why are you here?”

Yale swallows his indignation and starts to lay on the flattery as he sidles towards the binding circles.

Mechanically, I’ve got several options here.  I could ask for a Sneak skill check (Yale doesn’t have a sneaky skill), I could go for opposed Skill rolls as if it were a combat, or I could test Yale’s luck.  The opposed Skill test seems the most appropriate, though Yale isn’t likely to win.  However, fortune smiles on Yale with a roll of 14 vs. the Wizard’s 12.

The flattery seems to be working, the ancient wizard-prince is more than happy to wax eloquent about his deeds

Q: Does he explain what he was trying to achieve here? (You).
A: Yes.

“I fortold a great tragedy about to descend upon the city; my learnings, that would unfathomable to a debased practitioner such as yourself, led me to learn that that I could harness the power, the light of the stars to protect myself from the upcoming calamity!”

Nearing the circles Yale realises that the words of the wizard-prince are sped up, almost comical sounding, but he’s at the edge of the wards.

Q: Are they easy to disrupt? (It)
A: Yes

Looking down he’s grateful to see that they’re marked in chalk, powdered silver, salt, and charcoal.  At the same time as he scuffs the first of the marks, one of the guards flings a spear at Yale; the time dilation renders Yale about as able to dodge as the average barn door, and the spear hits. (I just did a flat skill check for the guard rather than an opposed roll.  8 Stamina, almost killing Yale)

We’re now going into combat proper.

Initiative in Troika is handled by pulling tokens out of a bag; this means that turn order is random, when the end of the round occurs is random, and sometimes people may not get to act at all.  A lot of people don’t like this system.  Monsters all share the same colour token, and the GM decides which monsters act when one of their tokens is pulled.

Whilst there’s a lot of guards we’re limiting the number of Enemy initiative tokens to 4, twice the number that Yale brings to the table. The star-child will count as a Henchman, though she can’t act until the wards are broken.

Round one


The star-child realises that something has changed and stands up, wiping her eyes.

End turn

Oh Troika!

Round two

Gritting his teeth and hoping he’s not bleeding too much over his fancy robes Yale continues forwards and scuffs out the remainder of the binding circle.

Round three

Any enemy
“You fool! You charlatan! You’ve doomed us all!” screams the wizard prince as he casts Wall of power, enclosing Yale and the Star-child in a dome of force. As an afterthought he decides to allow spears and the Ember spell to bypass the wall.

Any enemy
“Kill him!” orders the prince and one of his guards moves to obey, flinging a spear at the hapless Sorcerer of doors, who manages, somehow to catch the thrown spear and fling it back at the guard.

The roll was even, which would normally mean a draw, however in this instance, I had Yale test his luck for a +2, meaning he wins the clash. In this specific instance, Yale using his enemies weapon against him works

Out of Stamina for spells, Yale begs the Star-child, “Please, do something!” he calls out to the stars high above, “I’ve freed her, now save us!”  (Another test for luck, which Yale passes. Something hears him and reacts.)

Q: Is it the champion?

A: yes

There’s the sound of distant thunder; ancient masonry collapsing as its disturbed.


Q: Can the Star’s Champion get here now? (Fact: They’re a fair distance away, and weakened by centuries of despair)

A: Yes (this is a you question, and I rolled a one, so despite the adverse facts, this happens)

The far wall breaks under the force of an Earthquake Spell, and standing in resplendent if slightly dusty armor is the Cosmic Champion that Yale saw in the fountain vision. Despite the distance between them they punch towards the wizard. A column cracks under the force of the blow, but the wizard is unharmed. (Callous Strike, a spell that allows you to use your melee attack at range; the spell worked, but didn’t beat the wizard’s roll)

Round four

We’re adding another Henchling token to the pool.

One of the guards attacks the Cosmic Champion and is slapped down for his troubles


Q: Can the star-child get them out of here?

A: No.

Let’s go to the cutups.

Their cloaks wrapped about their faces. Therefore no city shall ever
Then the gods turned to do the work of the gods, answering the prayers
drive it away from the gods.
gods became.

To me, this implies that the Star-child can get them out of the immediate situation, but not all the way out of the underground.

There’s a flash of light and an explosion that shatters the wall of power. The ceiling above starts to crack, massive blocks of stone hanging frozen in the air in the light of the Star-child. The wizard and his guards are likewise stopped in time.

The Cosmic Champion strides forwards, picks up the Star-child and walks back towards the hole in the wall that they came in by.

The wizard-prince and his guards are unable to do anything apart from fume silently as their world literally collapses around them.

Scene five – Escape

Yale scurries after the two cosmic beings, who, for their part pay him no heed. “So, thanks for the save there. I know a way back to the surface.”

The Cosmic Champion turns their radiant gaze upon Yale and replies, “Lead on then, mortal.”

Q: Is the path that Yale used to come in still safe? Fact: the place is collapsing thanks to the Star-Child’s power.

A: Yes

Yale leads them back the way he came, until they end up back at the collapsed section of the city.

Above them the stars glow warmly, then suddenly, abruptly grow cold as if shunning all that remains on the ground below.

Q: Can the star child and champion return home?

A: No
Q: Is the Starchild angry?

A: No

Q: Does the Champion accept this?

A: No

The starchild stares numbly up at the sky, whilst the champion, their voice cold with fury swears an oath to return the Starchild and claim the heavens for them.

Yale stares nervously at the door he entered by, which seems to be flickering. “Well, er… I’ll just be off them. Nice meeting you both.”

“Not yet, Mortal. We will follow you to your realm, and you will act as a guide.”

And the three of them step through the gate to the city of Troika.

Thoughts on the Tilt oracle

It is fast, and I’m happy with the results I got; you can skew the probability of getting a positive answer by thinking about how you phrase the question, but reading through the explanatory notes and examples in the book, that feels as if it’s working as intended.

It’s a good, light oracle, but I feel it’s a bit too controlled; even with a few facts skewing results away from the Number, the results are predictable (unless you set your number to 10).   I  also prefer the way that Mythic has a ‘memory’, in that your plot threads and NPCs are built into the oracle results, which can add structure to the adventure.

On the whole though I’d say that the Tilt oracle is a success because it achieves its stated design goals.