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Appendix B: Deckless Characters

Prev: Appendix A: Conditions

In some cases it may be beneficial for one or more people to be able to play Triptycho without any cards. You might have one or more players who prefer playing RPGs with pen and paper, eschewing cards entirely. Perhaps you have an unexpected guest joining your group, and you don't want to spend time putting together multiple decks of cards for the temporary new player. Maybe the DM wants an NPC ally to temporary join the group, helping the PCs for awhile.

Or, perhaps you have a group of interested players who don't yet own any cards but want a sample of how the game might play, keeping in mind that the game without cards is vastly simplified, particularly at higher levels. It's not recommended to play Triptycho entirely with deckless characters above the first few levels of play, but groups who prefer fairly rules-light games with a lot of ad-lib may find this preferable.

Regardless of the reason, you can use the rules in this section to run characters that don't have decks of cards to draw from. Characters still need to choose Backgrounds and Roles and equip Gear. Deckless characters use variant Roles; players should check the Analects for them instead of copying text from the standard Role cards. Copy this information onto paper or index cards for play. You may do the same for Background and Gear or use the normal game cards for these. You could also reference the Analects entries when you need them, such as with a mobile device, but be cautious of this slowing down the game if you have to reference too many things.

Once you've learned the rules in this section, check the Analects for lists of deckless roles and Gear. Also, check out the rules for Improvisation, which you'll likely make frequent use of when playing without cards.

Deckless Characters

A deckless character does not have decks of cards to draw from in scenarios. Deckless roles and role variants have stronger abilities and/or more of them, but such characters need more assistance than just this in order to be both fun and competitive. The rules below provide a set of additional bonuses and effects, as well as instructions on how to handle clashes with the game's rules (which generally expect decks of cards to be available).

It is important to note that a character is either deckless or not. A character cannot mix standard roles and deckless roles across different scenarios. The DM might temporarily allow this for a session or two if one player hasn't completed all their decks to keep things from bogging down, but this should only be temporary as deckless characters have an adjusted economy.

Character Bonuses

In addition to stronger role abilities, all deckless characters enjoy the following benefits:

  • +1 accessory slot
  • +1 item slot
  • +5 starting Wealth, with by-level Wealth expectations increased by 5 across the board
  • Deckless characters receive Skill Points (see below)

Skill Points

Deckless characters start each scenario with 1 Skill Point per level. So, a 3rd level deckless character begins every scenario with 3 Skill Points. This starting value is also the character's maximum Skill Point value.

Upon playing an Action or Reaction, the player may choose to spend one Skill Point to increase one entry's dice level by 1 or three Skill Points to increase one entry's dice number by 1. The player may choose to spend as many Skill Points as they wish in this manner (until they run out). For instance, a player could spend 2 Skill Points to boost Hit dice levels by 2 and 4 more Skill Points to boost Damage dice number and level by 1 each, all on the same Action.

In combat scenarios, a deckless character with 2 weapons equipped may spend 3 Skill Points to play an Action from each of them during the Action Phase. This option is strictly limited to 2 weapons; a third Action from yet another weapon can't be played, tools and implements are not viable options, etc.

Effects that require an entity with Skill Points to draw a card instead increases Skill Points by an equal amount (and may go over the maximum value). This includes drawing cards during the Draw Phase and spending a Strategy to draw additional cards. However, Skill Points over the maximum are lost during the discard portion of the Discard Phase. At level 6 or higher, entities with Skill Points gain one additional Skill Point during the Draw Phase and one additional Skill Point when spending a Strategy to gain them.

Effects that require an entity with Skill Points to discard a card instead decreases Skill Points by an equal amount (to a minimum of 0).

Changes to hand limits instead change a deckless character's Skill Point maximum value (though this does not change the entity's starting Skill Points within each scenario). This value cannot be reduced below 1 through such means, but there is no upper limit.

Entities that are Confused cannot spend Skill Points, and entities that are Muddled cannot recover Skill Points.


Deckless characters do not gain Hybrid benefits. Whenever a deckless character would gain any Hybrid, they instead gain +3 to their maximum HP, EP, or WP (matching the role type for the Hybrid entry).

Deckless NPCs

Mini-boss and boss rank adversaries and opponents normally draw cards. If the DM lacks cards or doesn't want to use them, use these rules to boost these NPCs instead.

Turn Sequence

Deckless NPCs do not draw cards in their Draw Phase or discard cards in their Discard Phase. They still have all four turn phases to account for things such as resolving effects. Deckless NPCs cannot spend their Strategy Phase to attempt to draw a card.

Draw & Discard Effects

If a deckless NPC that is not Confused or defeated is subject to an effect that allows it to draw a card, it may instead play an available Strategy, including performing a Block, swapping Gear, attempting to escape while Grabbed, and any other activity that can normally be performed in the Strategy Phase. The Dazed condition still prevents playing Strategy entries, but the other options remain available.

If the effect allows for drawing more than one card, each card after the first can be converted into HP or WP as appropriate. Each card after the first is worth half the NPC's level, rounded up, in recovery. This effect does not apply if the NPC is Confused or defeated.

If a deckless NPC is subject to an effect that requires them to discard a card to either avoid or gain some other effect, it may choose to take damage equal to half its level, rounded up, per card that should be discarded. If there is no effect listed in the case of not discarding, the NPC must take the damage.

Mini-boss Actions

A deckless mini-boss rolls 1d6 at the start of its turn when it would have otherwise drawn a card. If the result is 4 or higher, it can play two Actions from its card (or other available source) on this turn. If the mini-boss has entries that refer to additional Actions played from hand, they instead refer to this bonus Action.

Boss Abilities

Bosses normally come with additional cards that complement their design. These are often integral to their function. The DM should devise new abilities custom to each boss to replace the lost cards. If this is not feasible, it's best to avoid using the boss. Boss entries in the online Analects include suggestions for deckless use.


A deckless mini-boss that is Confused cannot play its bonus second Action on its turn regardless of the dice roll.

A deckless mini-boss that is Muddled rolls 1d4 instead of 1d6 to attempt to play two Actions on its turn (provided it is not also Confused).

A deckless boss that is Confused or Muddled should have unique penalties depending on how the DM has tweaked the boss to function without cards.

player_s_guide_appendix_b.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/21 14:18 by triptycho