I volunteered to playtest the Tilt Oracle by Alex Yari, the basic premise of which is that you have a Number which determines what type of question is more likely to give a yes or a no answer, and as with other solo oracles you use those to frame your adventure. Unlike other oracles it doesn’t give graded answers, and the base assumption is that you’ll be using the Cut Up method for your word prompts rather than a word list in the style of the GME and other oracles.
The booklet itself is full of examples of play and discussion about how to use the oracle to best effect.
For my short adventure using Tilt, I’m using Troika! a weird fantasy game built on the chassis of the Advanced Fighting Fantasy engine rather than the more usual D&D.
When we get to it, combat was managed with the tool from this site – https://www.technicalgrimoire.com/troikagenerator
With regards to the oracle itself, I generated cut ups using a couple of stories from Time and the Gods by Dunsany.
Characters in Troika! are made by rolling d66 on a background table, rolling up your Skill,Stamina, and Luck, and coming up with a name. In addition, for the Tilt Oracle, you assign a number which skews which types of question are going to give a Yes answer.
You are a student at Troika’s most prestigious wizarding academy (pride of the city, experts in pan-dimensional mobility). You were finally able to penetrate the (2d6)th door. You are no master but few outside your peers can claim to know more about the vagaries of skyward travel than you.
I call him Yale (it is a lock joke), and roll my stats resulting in the following character.
Yale, Sorcerer of the Academy of Doors
Skill: 4 Stamina: 24 Luck: 10
Astrology 3 Second Sight 2
Astral Reach 2 (1) Teleport 1 (10) Web 1 (1) Languages 1 (1) Tongue Twister 1 (2) Fire bolt 1 (1)
Spells are a mix of assigned and random; the first number is Yale’s skill with the spell, the second the amount of stamina it costs to attempt to cast.
8 silver, knife, lantern and flask of oil, rucksack, 6 provisions, small, functional door worn on the forehead (for channeling magic), flashy robes
It’s not enough to list your stuff, you have to decide what order its in in your backpack, which is used to see how quickly you can find it under pressure; closer to the top of the list, the quicker it is to access. I haven’t listed the door in the rucksack as we know where it is. Armor gets listed because it reduces your carrying capacity
1. Knife 2. Lantern 3. Flask of oil 4. 3 provisions
For the Tilt Oracle number, I pick 7; Yale will get more Yes answers when I ask questions about things, than when I do about people or himself.
With all that done, it’s time for scene one.
Yale and the land behind the 10th door
At last! The 10th door unlocked under the focus of Yale’s magic, and the sorcerer stepped through into the world beyond. A plaza shattered by great boulders and landslide. An incongruously intact fountain at its centre
Q: Is the fountain intact? A: Yes.
Above, alien stars shifted uneasily in the firmament, an alien keening filling the air, just below the limits of human hearing.
I used the cutup oracle for initial scene setting. Bolded sections are the bits I actually used.
cliffs shattered them. And again Slid called up out of his deep a
Their faces bending above the sea, only to those hath it been given to
gods cool Their brows sometimes in the guise of men. None may ever hear
“How often have we sent our child the Dawn to play with thy fountain
itself high over Tintaggon’s knees and streamed around his flanks and
“O eldest born of our mountains, when first we devised the earth we
but the song that once had troubled the stars went moaning on awaking
On the whole I didn’t enjoy cutups as an oracle; it’s a lot of effort for not much payback; I used them all the way through this, but generally won’t be posting the full sections that I pull the used words and phrases from.
Yale: Astrology skill roll – success!
Not mere stars these, realises Yale. But parents, mourning the loss of a child. A child trapped here? A mystery to be solved, perhaps the route to the 11th door.
Q: Are there any clues around the fountain? (You)
I did this as a You question rather than an It because from the GM’s chair I’m aware that there’s a missing person.
Having nothing else to go on, Yale heads over to look at the fountain, totally missing the small footprints scorched into the floor of the plaza Tracking fail) and gazes into the still and tepid waters that rest within. He opens the door that he wears upon his forehead, the symbol of the College of Doors and source of his magic. Witch light floods out and settles around the plaza (Second sight skill success).
I’ve decided that the footprints have lingering magic, and a question to the Tilt re: the fountain has its water show up as magic too. (An It question).
Yale notices both the footsteps and the arcane waters of the fountain, and having nothing else to go on, throws a coin in.
Q: Is this how the fountain is activated? (It)
Q: What does it do? It shows visions, but visions of what?
A:remember the great fight that surged about | winds was gone, and they limped back to the gods
When their child was stolen, and Yale is convinced that she was stolen, the stars sent a champion down to recover her. The champion failed, though the battle destroyed the city.
The waters of the fountains swirled, and ghostly images materialised in the air above them. A flash of light from the heavens. A warrior in incandescent armour, the force of their arrival shattering the plaza. A demand in a dead language to return the child. The forces of the city arrayed against the warrior. In the end, the city is ruined, the golden warrior drenched in blood sinks to their knees and weeps.
Yale wonders about who could have stolen the star’s child then refused to return her even in light of such wrath. Putting such thoughts aside, Yale starts following the scorched footsteps that his Second Sight had revealed.
Scene two – Into the ruins
We’re not going to ask if the City is dangerous; of course it’s dangerous. What we are going to ask is if there’s an environmental or creature based hazard or obstacle
Q: Does Yale encounter a creature? (You)
A: No. So It must be an environmental hazard that he has to face.
For future reference, are there creatures? (You)
A: No. Not living ones.)
Yale lit his lantern as he descended into the ruins; at first he was wary of attack, but soon realised that there was literally no life here; without the visions he’d seen it would have been easy to imagine that this world was another victim of the Deplorable Word.
The trail led deep under the city, ending at a set of white, slightly luminous doors, covered in warning sigils and blocking spells. Once more Yale opens his mystic door and studies the gates in the ensuing witchlight. (Second sight success).
Q: Have the spells weakened? (It); Fact – these doors withstood the Champion of the Stars
The Tilt oracle allows you to skew the tilt number via the use of known Facts, which can either be discovered in play, or via asking more questions
The doors, and the spells protecting them were perfect; they could have been raised mere minutes ago. Studying the door, Yale realised that his travels had brought him here for a purpose! This had to be a representation of one of the higher grade doors that locked him out of the secrets of power. But not the 11ths, no, he felt no connection to it. He’d have to return here at some point in the future. For now, it was simply in the way.
And it would remain so, as not one, but two attempts at casting Teleport failed, leaving the mage near exhausted.
Teleport costs 10 Stamina an attempt; even with his 24 stamina, that almost wipes out Yale.
Scene three – Going around?
Yes, the front door was barred to him, but time had done a number on the city; there had to be another way around. Yale restored his strength by scoffing down some provisions (Stamina is now 10, back up from 4 after two failed castings of Teleport) and set off again.
I’m assuming that there is another way through; the question is how dangerous is it?
Q: Is the route Dangerous? If the answer is no, it’s Very dangerous.
A: Yes, it’s dangerous.
We’ve already established that there’s no living creatures, but that doesn’t preclude dead or never-living ones.
Q: Is the threat a creature? (I’m going to rephrase this as Does Yale face a creature, changing it from an It or You to a Me question.)
A:No, the threat is not a creature.
Q: Is the threat due to the condition of the city?
A: Yes; the other option would be a deliberate trap.
Feeling the ground start to give way and slide beneath him, Yale leapt back just in time. (A successful test for Luck. A failure would have resulted in damage as from a moderate beast). Yale peered down into the darkness; by his calculations this landslide had occurred behind the enchanted doors. He re-lit his lantern and prepared to descend back into the depth.
(I could ask for a climbing skill check, but Yale is going to test his luck again; it’s another success, and he’s down to 8 Luck)
Yale’s arrival at the bottom of the landslide was heralded by a clatter of pebbles and smaller rocks. He stood now in a buried section of the city, the sigils on the walls declaring it to be a wizard’s vault. In the distance was the silvery-soft glow of starlight. Yale advanced cautiously.
To be continued…