Most of Triptycho's rules are devoted to playing within scenarios, the mechanical framework the game revolves around. Once you learn the general rules for scenarios, it's fairly easy to play any of the three types. This chapter will give an overview of the scenario structure and details for how to handle each element.
Scenarios comprise the core gameplay of Triptycho. It is here that you make use of your cards, dice, and wits to overcome challenges.
The DM determines when to run a scenario as well as how the scenario's parameters are configured. The scenario might be designed ahead of time as part of a prepared adventure arc, or it could be an ad-hoc scenario enacted as a result of player choices and actions. Combat and interaction scenarios begin with the initiative roll, while exploration scenarios move straight into drawing cards.
The DM will announce that it is time to roll initiative and for which type of scenario; for example, “Roll initiative for combat” or “Roll initiative for interaction.” At this time, collect your deck for the matching scenario type (setting the other two decks aside for now) along with the deck's role card. If the DM requests an initiatve roll for interaction, for instance, and your interaction role is the Magician, then you will collect (and shuffle, if necessary) your Magician deck as well as your Magician role card.
At the bottom of the role card is an Initiative entry. This entry will read in the form of #d#, or XdY. This specifies the number and type of dice to roll, where X is the number of dice and Y is the number of sides on the dice. For example, 1d8 would require that you roll one eight-sided die, while 2d4 would instead require rolling two four-sided dice.
Roll the appropriate dice according to the Initiative entry on your role card and report the result to the DM. Once every player (including the DM) has finished rolling, this phase is complete.
You and each other player draws five cards from their appropriate role deck. These five cards make up your initial hand.
You should have all Gear cards previously collected and arranged in the play area before you begin. Once the scenario has begun (with either rolling initiative or drawing cards), you cannot change your equipped cards without spending your Strategy Phase to do so (more on this later).
After initiative is complete and everyone has drawn cards, everyone can begin taking turns. If initiative was rolled, turns proceed in order according to the initiative rolls. The entity with the highest result goes first. Players win ties for initiative. If multiple players tie, they can decide among them who will go first; if there is disagreement, the DM will decide for them. In exploration scenarios the players go first and in whichever order they choose, followed by the DM's Challenges.
Each entity's turn consists of the following phases, which must be performed in this order:
The Draw Phase consists of a sequence of three steps, which must be performed in this order:
The Strategy Phase is used for taking various tactical activites. Specifically, you can perform any one of the following operations:
Hostile Actions are considered attacks and permit a Reaction play from the target. Reactions include means of defense or countering, often played in an attempt to cause the Action to fail. If the target cannot play a Reaction for whatever reason (such as if they have none available or as a result of conditions), the Action automatically succeeds.
The Discard Phase consists of a sequence of two steps, which must be performed in this order:
Assists and Interrupts are additional types of cards that you can play when it is not your turn. Each of these has a Trigger entry with conditions that must be met in order for you to be able to play the card. Assists trigger off of ally activities while Interrupts trigger off of enemy activities.
You can only play one Assist per turn and one Interrupt per turn. You can play both an Assist and an Interrupt in the same turn, and you can play Assists and Interrupts on subsequent turns within the same round. You cannot play Assists or Interrupts when it is your turn (unless otherwise specified).
You can also play an Assist and/or an Interrupt when it is not any entity's turn if the trigger condition is specified as such (for instance, triggers that fire at the start or end of the round). You can only play one such Assist and/or one such Interrupt before the start of the next entity's turn.
Some Interrupts have the Automatic keyword. Automatic Interrupts fire immediately when the trigger condition is met, even if the entity is unable to play Interrupts for any reason or would prefer not to play the Interrupt. Automatic Interrupts do not count against the one-per-turn limit. Typically, Automatic Interrupts are found on Adversary, Challenge, and Opponent cards. Such Interrupts do not fire once the entity is defeated unless otherwise specified.
Many cards require the rolling of dice to determine the outcome of playing the card. Such an entry will read in the form of #d#, or XdY. This specifies the number and type of dice to roll, where X is the dice number and Y is the number of sides on the dice, or the dice level.
Dice level follows a scaling progression. Some cards may specify increasing or decreasing the dice level of a roll, which changes the type of dice to be rolled. The following list describes the dice levels in order:
Assume you play a card that requires rolling 1d6. A friend plays a card that boosts your roll two dice levels; you would then roll 1d10. Say that the DM then played a card that reduces the roll one dice level; at that point it would drop to 1d8.
Dice levels cannot be reduced below 1d2 (a coin flip) or increased beyond 1d12 unless otherwise specified. A d20 cannot be increased or decreased in levels unless otherwise specified.
For rolls with a dice number greater than one, change the level of all dice rolled. For example, if a card provides a roll of 3d6, and the dice level is increased by 1, then the new roll becomes 3d8.
Dice number can be increased or decreased as well, following a much simpler numeric progression. Simply increase or decrease the number of dice as specified. For instance, if dice number of 1d8 is increased by one, the new roll is 2d8. Dice number cannot be decreased below 1 unless otherwise specified.
Opposed rolls are used primarily to resolve Actions and Reactions. Typically, a dice entry on an Action card played by the attacker is opposed by a dice entry on a Reaction card played by the defender. If either the Action or Reaction card lacks an entry for the opposed roll, then there is no opposed roll, and the effects of both the Action and Reaction cards are applied automatically.
In combat, Action cards use Hit dice for the opposed roll, while Reaction cards use Miss dice. So, if an Action has no Hit entry, its effects (and that of the target's Reaction) apply automatically. Likewise, if a Reaction card lacks a Miss entry, both the Action and Reaction cards apply automatically.
In exploration, Action cards use Inflict dice for the opposed roll, while Reaction cards use Endure dice.
In interaction, Action cards use Argue dice for the opposed roll, while Reaction cards use Rebuttal dice.
If both the Action and Reaction cards have opposed roll entries, then the opposed roll takes place. Each player rolls the dice according to the entry on their card; the highest result wins, with ties going in favor of the attacker (the entity playing the Action).
For example, say you attack an enemy using a weapon Gear card. The weapon's Action has a Hit entry of 1d8. Your target plays a Reaction card from their hand with a Miss entry of 1d4. Assuming no modifications to dice number or levels occurs, you roll 1d8 and your target rolls 1d4. Your result is a 5 while your opponent gets a 3, so your attack hits.
Note that some Assist and Interrupt cards specify that a particular entity wins or loses an opposed roll as part of the Trigger. In these cases, an opposed roll must actually occur. If there is no opposed roll because either the Action or Reaction lack an opposed roll entry, then these Triggers are not met.
There exist other opposed rolls in the game beyond that of Actions and Reactions, such as Searching, Lockpicking, and Acrobatics. These will be detailed in future sections, but the mechanism functions the same.
If an Action has a Damage entry, and the attack hits (either because of a successful opposed roll or because there was no opposed roll), then roll the dice specified in the Damage entry. The total is the amount of damage you inflict on your target's points.
Each entity has a certain number of points that determines their ability to continue in the scenario. In combat, these are known as Hit Points (HP); in exploration, they are known as Endurance Points (EP); and in interaction, they are known as Will Points (WP). They work the same in each scenario; you typically begin with your maximum amount of points. When you take damage, you subtract the damage total from the number of points. An entity with 0 points remaining is defeated and can no longer contribute to the scenario; it cannot play cards or be targeted by attacks (though it can still draw and discard as normal). Attacks that would reduce an entity's points to less than 0 instead reduce to 0 unless otherwise specified (negative points is not generally allowed).
A Reaction with a Defense entry can reduce the Damage from an Action that hits. In this case, roll the Defense dice and subtract the result from the Damage roll to generate the new damage total. It is possible for damage to be reduced to 0 in this way, but never less than 0. This is not considered to be an opposed roll.
For example, let's say you play the following Action against a target in combat:
The target then plays the following Reaction:
Because there is no Miss entry on the Reaction, the attack automatically hits. You roll 1d10 for damage and get a 6; the target rolls 1d6 for defense and gets a 2. The new damage total is 6 - 2 = 4, so four damage is dealt to the target. If the target had rolled a 6 for defense, then you would have dealt no damage.
Reactions can also have Damage entries. A Reaction with both Miss (Endure/Rebuttal) and Damage entries can only deal damage if the opposed roll is won (or if there is no opposed roll). A Reaction with a Damage entry and no Miss (Endure/Rebuttal) entry automatically deals the damage back to the attacker.
If both the Action and Reaction have Damage entries, and both apply (either because there was no opposed roll or because of other effects), resolve the Damage simultaneously.
In addition to typical dice number and level adjustments, there exist additional properties that can affect the damage rolls.
A Piercing attack reduces the dice level of any Defense dice by the specified number. For instance, a Piercing 2 attack would reduce any Defense on the Reaction by two dice levels. Defense dice that include a level reduction from Piercing can be reduced below d2; if the dice level is reduced beyond d2, then no Defense dice are rolled.
Some attacks specify a damage type. For instance, a fire spell probably deals Fire damage, while a venomous creature's bite attack may deal Poison damage. Generally this damage works the same as untyped damage. However, if the target possesses Resistance or Weakness to the specified damage type, then the damage can be decreased or increased respectively.
Resistance decreases the dice level of any Damage entry of the matching type by the specified number. For instance, if you have Fire Resistance 2, and an enemy's attack does Fire damage, then that attack would have its Damage dice reduced 2 levels.
Weakness, on the other hand, increases the dice level of any Damage entry of the matching type by the specified number. For instance, if you have Ice Weakness 2, and an enemy's attack does Ice damage, then that attack would have its Damage dice increased 2 levels.
Some effects specify that an entity gains a Resistance or Weakness. Such entries are specified in the following manner: “gains (Type) Resistance/Weakness #”, for example “gains Fire Resistance 2.” The largest value always takes precedence for Resistances and Weaknesses. So if an entity already had Fire Resistance 1 and then gains Fire Resistance 2, the Resistance 2 is the one that takes effect.
Other effects may specify an increase to Resistance or Weakness. Such entries read as follows: “gains +# (Type) Resistance/Weakness”, for example “gains +1 Fire Weakness.” In this case, the highest applicable Resistance or Weakness is increased by the specified amount for the provided duration. If the entity has no existing Resistance or Weakness to the described type, the entity is assumed to have a value of 0. So, an entity without Fire Weakness that receives +1 Fire Weakness until the end of its next turn would then have Fire Weakness 1 (0+1=1) until the end of its next turn.
If an entity has both Resistance and Weakness to the same type of damage, use whichever is larger but subtract the difference between them. So, an entity with Fire Resistance 3 and Fire Weakness 1 would have Fire Resistance, but the value would be reduced to 2 (3-1). An entity with the same value for both Resistance and Weakness would thus have them cancel out and be treated as if it had neither.
Some effects, such as enchantments, provide enhancement dice to entries. These additional dice, specified as +XdY, are added to the base roll. Effects that modify dice number or damage directly do not modify the dice number or level of enhancement dice. The Piercing attribute does reduce dice level for Defense enhancement dice, however.
Enhancement dice on Damage entries have their own damage type separately from that of the base entry. If no type is listed, the enhancement damage is untyped even if the base damage is typed.
Effects that fire based on things such as the minimum or maximum roll result apply only to the base entry before any enhancement dice are applied. For example, when considering the Special text of the Cudgel's Action entry, any enhancement dice are ignored when determining if the maximum Damage roll was achieved.
Enhancement dice have no effect if there is no base entry. If a Defense entry is eliminated due to the presence of Piercing effects, enhancement dice to Defense can still apply. However, they are also subjected to the Piercing effect.
Many Actions and Reactions have a Special entry below the Damage entry. As with Damage, these entries apply only if the opposed roll is won, if there was no opposed roll, or if the Special entry otherwise specifies conditions that are met.
Special entries are essentially their own rules; follow the instructions provided to resolve them. Unless otherwise specified, Special entries are resolved after Damage entries. In cases where both the Action and Reaction's Special entries apply and order matters, resolve the Action's Special entry first, then the Reaction's Special entry.
Some card entries specify recovering lost points (HP, EP, or WP). When recovering lost points, note that you can never go over your maximum value. Defeated targets (those with no points remaining) are valid targets for recovery and always heal from 0; do not track negative points.
When dice are rolled for recovery, the entity that is recovering points rolls the dice (rather than the entity that caused the recovery).
Note that after scenarios complete, points are always restored to their current maximum value, taking into account any injuries suffered and other modifiers.
After a scenario is resolved, it's time for cleanup. Decks should be put back together, with remaining cards, discard piles, and hands combined and reshuffled. Item cards may be flipped back over for reuse in future scenarios, and unless the game is immediately starting another scenario, players are generally free to swap any equipped Gear. HP/EP/WP are restored to their maximum, though there is no automatic recovery of Karma.
If the scenario ended in victory, PCs may receive a reward. This can be in the form of Wealth, Gear, Karma, or story consequenes. The DM will detail any such reward received.
On the other hand, scenarios ending in defeat may result in negative consequences. The PCs may simply miss out on a reward or have negative story consequences. In life-or-death scenarios, the consequence of failure means the end of the game as the characters are killed. A common consequence of failure is acquisition of injuries.
When an entity obtains an injury, the entity's maximum HP, EP, and WP are reduced by 2 + one-half the entity's level, rounded down. Or in other words, 2 at level 1, then increase by 1 every even-numbered level thereafter. So, a level 3 character would lose 3 maximum points per injury, while a level 10 character would lose 7 maximum points per injury.
If an entity ever obtains enough injuries to reduce their base HP, EP, or WP to 0 or less, the entity dies. Base values refers to the raw numbers on a PC's role card or an NPC's card, prior to any modifiers such as from Gear.
PCs may recover from injuries by spending 1 Wealth within a properly-equipped town or city to heal. The cost is the same regardless of the number of injuries suffered. The cost and time required may change depending on narrative circumstances as determined by the DM. Recovery from injuries may also be offered as an occasional reward or bonus effect, either within a scenario or upon attaining victory.
While injuries can sometimes be obtained within a scenario, they're commonly acquired as a consequence of failing a scenario. For instance, PCs may be wounded while fleeing a losing battle. Injuries are also frequently obtained in exploration scenarios, detailed further in chapter 5.
Next: Chapter 4: Combat