Well well well, look what the shoggoth dragged in.

The Manse of Mazirian

This is a short adventure I wrote for my group’s first experience of Troika!. Here’s the prompt I gave them:

Your patron has sent you to a distant sphere, inhabited by Mazirian, a mighty magician. None have seen him for centuries, and so he is presumed long-dead.

You are to retrieve a priceless artefact: the lens from the eye of a god, which has the power of focusing on anything in creation, no matter how distant.

But there will be magical booby traps, who-knows-what spells, and possibly even enslaved demons, in your way.

There are two parts to this adventure:

  1. The Gardens

    Once a splendid affair which drew visitors from all across the multiverse, now sadly unkept and overgrown. The magic which held it all together now decaying and wild.

    I used Emmy Allen’s Gardens of Ynn for this. If you don’t have a copy, there is an online generator. Or you can make up your own wacky garden adventure.

    Troika!, while usually considered in the OSR sphere, isn’t based on an old edition of D&D. So there’s some conversion work to do. I didn’t want to convert the entire Ynn book ahead of time, so I made some generic conversion rules. See the next section for these.

  2. The Manse

    After struggling through the gardens, perhaps losing some of their companions on the way, the party finally arrive at the manse. It’s a collection of elegant wooden buildings connected by wooden verandas and bridges, surrounded by a small well-maintained garden, with a little stream running through the middle.

The game starts with the party arriving at the entrance to the gardens along with their hirelings (give them suitably weird names, like “Precious Thimble” and “Skulldeath”).

If the players run out of hirelings and need a new character, they can find a changeling in the gardens, or a sleeping guest (who has been asleep for a very long time) in the manse. See the end of the post for the changeling background.

The Gardens (of Ynn)

The manse is the first location encountered in Depth 5, or whatever works best with the time you have, and can always be seen in the distance rising above the hedges and trees.

At the entrance there is a sign asking you to “please respect the rules” and to “please donate towards the upkeep of the gardens”.

The rules are:

  1. Don’t litter
  2. Don’t pick the plants
  3. Keep off the grass
  4. Beware (this has clearly been painted on later)

The donation box says “5” on it. The PCs have a variety of currencies and denominations in their pockets. If they enter without donating a suitable amount, they hear a disembodied tutting.

Conversion to Troika

Sense of Self

Some Ynnian effects attack the character’s psyche, represented numerically as their Sense of Self stat. The starting value is Charisma + Constitution. If using the “highest 3 of 4d6” approach to stat generation, this is a slightly skewed normal distribution centred on 25.

Troika! does not use the standard D&D six attributes.

Instead, use Skill + Luck + 10. This has a smaller standard deviation, but the right centre. Except for the Zoanthrop, who double their Sense of Self: their stunted mind shields them from memetic attacks.

Saves

Troika! does not use saves.

For ongoing debilitating status effects (drowning, burning, poisoning, etc), use the “Drowning” rules (page 47).

For things which a character could actively try to resist or avoid, use a skill test (page 40).

For things which are just up to chance, use luck (page 40).

Monsters

Convert stats as follows:

  • Skill: attack bonus, min 2 (if unintelligent) or 5 (if intelligent).
  • Stamina: HP, max 25.
  • Initiative: 1 if slow, 3 if really fast, 2 otherwise.
  • Armour: 1 (“as leather”) or 2 (“as chain”) or 3 (“as plate”).
  • Damage type: whatever seems appropriate.
  • Mien: whatever seems appropriate.

The Manse

The manse of Mazirian

  • Grey: open walkways, verandas

    No musty enclosed corridors for this magician, no! Wooden paths, and bridges, running around the outsides of the buildings. A wooden barrier runs along the outside edges to prevent accidents.

    Some evil vines cross the corner next to 6, which will attack anyone who gets too close.

    A pair of wires run between 3 and 9, disappearing into the walls.

  • Yellow: herb gardens

    A bit overgrown through lack of use, but still serviceable. The herbs next to 9 are all known for their magical properties. The herbs next to 6 are more mundane.

  • Blue: running water

    A shallow and babbling brook, running through the middle of the manse. Lily pads and aesthetically pleasing frogs dot the surface.

  • Green: well-kept gardens

    Nice level grass, a healthy green, with carefully-placed flowers to enhance the look. Not at all like the horrible wild magical gardens outside the manse.

Danger

The main source of danger in the manse is a protective spell which guards its contents.

If a PC tries to damage something, as they attack whatever has caught their attention they rapidly turn into a pile of rats: first growing a long tail, then whiskers, then finally exploding into a dozen rats. Two cat statues in the waiting hall animate and chase down the hapless PC.

A be-rat-ed PC returns to normal after avoiding harm for 10 rounds, at which point the cats lose interest and turn back into statues.

Rooms

  1. Waiting hall

    A coat and hat rack next to the door, 8 chairs around the edges. In the alcoves two obsidian cat statues with eyes which follow the PCs. One statue is on a plinth engraved “INTEGRITY”, the other “HONESTY”.

    A green imp is dusting.

    If any PCs are turned into rats: the statues animate and pursue.

    If they wait: the PCs will see a blue imp walking past carrying Mazirian’s breakfast. A bowl of some furry-looking blue substance, which smells faintly of cinnamon. The imp won’t object to being followed.

    The imp can also be found by heading out onto the veranda.

    On the rack: 3 silk and fur coats (with matching hats). In the pockets: 38 gold coins, a small ivory key (what that does is up to you), a pipe that lights with a click of the fingers. A pigeon is quietly nesting in one of the hats.

  2. Guest rooms

    They’re nice. A large single bed, an en-suite, a walk-in closet, and a writing desk. The carpet is lime green, and so thick and soft that you sink several inches into it. A chandelier provides light.

    In one room: the carpet is very frayed. It is inhabited by a race of tiny carpet-people, who will take the arrival of a PC as the arrival of the prophesied Great Foot, herald of the end times.

    Several of them can gang up to attack a PC.

    In another room: there is a sweet old lady in a blue shawl sitting on the bed, only visible through a mirror. She is an inhabitant of the Mirror World, and is staying in the manse of Nairizam.

    The layouts of Nairizam’s and Mazirian’s manses are identical, and she knows where all of the rooms are. Sound does not travel through the mirror, but physical markings on it do (and are reversed).

  3. Dining room

    A long wooden table spans the room, surrounded by 9 armchairs. 4 on each long side, 1 at the end. The outer wall is solid glass, and is looking down from above the gardens.

    There is a tea set in the middle of the table.

    There is a cord next to the window. Pulling it changes the view to somewhere else. The window and the cord are connected to the telescope in Mazirian’s workshop: the window shows what it is focused on, and the cord moves it.

  4. Lounge

    4 comfy armchairs and a long sofa. A fireplace in every corner. A large silver bowl hovering in the centre of the room. A few bookcases with light reading.

    The silver bowl comes closer when you snap your fingers or whistle. Always full of strong alcohol and improbable fruits. When drunk roll 1d6: 1–3, feel confident and gain 1 stamina (even above maximum); 4–6: throw up and lose 1 stamina.

    If a PC throws up: a purple imp with a mop and bucket of soapy water rushes in through the door and begins mopping the carpet.

    On the bookcase: books about gardening, plants, animals; a children’s picture book about a Derivative Dwarf trying (and failing) to become a proper Dwarf; a full shelf of slim volumes which consist of every 5-character combination of a collection of symbols.

  5. Kitchen

    Chaos. A dozen imps of various colours dashing to and fro carrying bowls and plates and ingredients and pans, all yelling at each other.

    If questioned: the hubbub is because “honoured guests” are expected. If questioned further about the guests, the imps describe the PCs.

    The imps will eventually serve a meal for the PCs in the dining room. They will run around in a panic trying to find the PCs, to direct them to the meal.

  6. Store room

    Piles of dirty laundry, all imp-sized, brooms, buckets, etc. The back wall is cracked and has vines with large knife-like thorns poking through and growing along the wall. The vines come from the gardens proper, and have invaded across the herb patch. There is half of an imp on the ground next to the vines, and some of the vines are bloody.

    If a PC approaches the vines: they wave around undirectedly but threateningly and quickly.

  7. Toilet

    The walls look grey and smudged. There is an overpowering smell of mint.

  8. Servant’s quarters

    Drab. Peeling wallpaper. Six imp-sized beds crammed into each room.

    In various rooms: imps of assorted colours sleeping. They’re very deep sleepers, and can even be picked up. They talk in their sleep. A determined PC can wake up an imp.

    In one room: an orange imp peering into a shard of broken mirror, shaving a stubbly beard.

  9. Mazirian’s workshop

    A mess. Books, parchments, gemstones, ink, pens, wands, all sorts of magical paraphernalia scattered across the huge desk and the floor around it. Piles of books have long-since collapsed, scattering their contents about. Making sense of the mess would take years of study.

    On the desk: is a neatly folded pair of white gloves embroidered with a star in gold thread.

    In the corner: a telescope suspended from a circular frame, and held above a circular platform. The whole is made of gold, covered in mystical engravings (one familiar with magic will recognise these as charms against reciprocal observation), and very ornate. The telescope can be moved to point freely within a sphere.

    A pair of wires run from the telescope up along the ceiling and south towards the dining room. If the PCs experiment, they can see that adjusting the telescope adjusts the view through the dining room window, and pulling the cord adjusts the telescope.

    Inside the telescope: is the treasure the PCs have been sent to find. A PC can safely dismantle the telescope if they are wearing the fancy wizard gloves.

  10. Mazirian’s private library

    An elaborate archival-moving-bookcase set-up, with an ornate hand crank to move the shelves around. Dusty academic tomes. A complete set, up to 321 years ago, of the annual Journal of the Academy of Doors.

    If a PC touches the books: they cannot remove them from the shelves and begin to turn into rats. Wearing the fancy wizard gloves allows a PC to interact with the books.

    Amongst the books is Mazirian’s Diary, which describes his wonderful telescope capable of focusing on anything in creation, and also his experiments with immortality and undeath…

  11. Main library

    Mahogany floor. Walnut bookcases. Soft red velvet armchairs. The ceiling has a painting of some god or another giving a glowing stone tablet to a bearded man on a mountain.

    Owls have taken up residence atop the bookcases.

    One of the windows is open. A green imp is standing on the shoulders of a purple imp and waving a stick at the window to try to close it. The owls came through this window.

    If a PC spends time in the library: test Luck. On success they find a book which lets them immediately try to Get Better at any Advanced Skill or Spell they have. On a failure they get absorbed into reading something interesting but ultimately useless, perhaps use the list of fake books from Knock! for inspiration.

  12. Showroom

    An array of dazzling magical treasures, tastefully arranged around the marble-floored room. A skull with diamonds for eyes rests on one of the comfy armchairs. A set of wooden frames holding up The Blue Star Maps of Corda form a miniature maze in the right half of the room. On a large brass book stand is The Anarchical Grimoire of Propylonic Discharges (from Knock!).

    If a PC moves the skull: it asks to be put back, and will bite if able to reach.

    If a PC wanders into the Star Maps: test Astrology. On failure, they are lost within the maps until found by another PC.

    If a PC tries to remove an item from the room, or damages an item: rat magic!

  13. Mazirian’s bedroom (above 9)

    Dark. A large double bed. The shadowy outline of Mazirian himself, seemingly fast asleep. A walk-in closet with a variety of fancy robes.

    Mazirian is dead. So dead, in fact, that he has mummified. Despite that, the imps still loyally serve.

  14. Bathroom (above 9)

    Shining white, a toilet well deserving of the epithet “porcelain throne”, a large sink, a full bath (the base of which is a portal to a natural hot spring), a collection of very red and very soft towels, and a tube of “EXTREME WHITENING TOOTHPASTE, WITH BAKING SODA!”

    If a PC swims through the bath-portal: they emerge in a pool of hot water on Depth d20+10 of the gardens. The manse is faintly visible in the distance.

  15. Mazirian’s storeroom (below 9)

    A very “life”-like anatomical skeleton. A box of empty glassware, of various sizes and shapes. A smudged magic circle drawn in the centre of the floor in chalk. A padded box (closed) with space for 4 Plasmic Cores, 1 remains.

  16. Kitchen storeroom (below 6)

    Entirely consumed by the vines. There are some shears (damage as knife) on the stairs.

Potential enemies

In the Gardens

Listed in the Gardens of Ynn book. See the conversion notes earlier.

In the Manse

Animated Cat Statue

  • Skill: 8
  • Stamina: 12
  • Initiative: 2
  • Damage type: Large Beast
  • Mien: none, they are either inanimate or aggressive.

Fiercely protective of the manse and its contents, but kind of stupid. These automata will chase down any PC who has been turned into a pile of rats, but will lose interest the moment the PC recovers.

Gang of Carpet People

  • Skill: 1
  • Stamina: 1
  • Initiative: 3
  • Damage type: Small Beast / 2
  • Mien: intelligent.

A collection of tiny humanoids who dwell within the carpet of one of Mazirian’s guest rooms. The imps tolerate them because they eat dust. They will regard the arrival of a PC as the arrival of the prophesied Great Foot, herald of the end times.

Imp

  • Skill: 5
  • Stamina: 3
  • Initiative: 2
  • Damage type: Small Beast
  • Mien: intelligent

Utterly servile, obsessed with cleanliness (except in their private spaces), and still following the last commands Mazirian gave to them before his death. They don’t have a very good grasp of time, so they haven’t yet noticed that their master hasn’t left his bed in a while.

Owl

  • Skill: 4
  • Stamina: 4
  • Initiative: 3
  • Damage type: Small Beast
  • Mien: animal

Just a regular owl who, much to the annoyance of the imps, has decided that the library is a fine place to nest.

Talking Skull

  • Skill: 5
  • Stamina: 20
  • Initiative: 1
  • Damage type: Axe
  • Mien: intelligent

Whose skull is it? Why is it here? These and other questions will have to remain unanswered, as you can’t have memories without brains, and the skull is sadly lacking in that department.

Vines

  • Skill: 1
  • Stamina: 10
  • Initiative: 4
  • Damage type: Knife
  • Mien: none, the vines are either dormant or aggressive.

Strangely aggressive thorny vines which have invaded from the magical gardens. They have no eyes, detectable ones at least, but they react violently to nearby motion.

Miens

Rather than write a mien table for everything, I made three templates.

Intelligent

  1. Sleeping
  2. Playful
  3. Hungry
  4. Quizzical
  5. Paranoid
  6. Aggressive (or cautious)

Animal

  1. Lazy
  2. Eating
  3. Hungry
  4. Territorial
  5. Crafty
  6. Aggressive (or cautious)

Other

  1. Dormant
  2. Stationary
  3. Unstable
  4. Probing
  5. Ignoring the PCs and doing its own thing
  6. Aggressive (or cautious)

Changeling background

From Troika! - Mucking about in the Gardens of Ynn:

You’ve been marooned in the Gardens for quite some time. Perhaps you were a foolhardy adventurer or inquisitive gardener. Perhaps you wandered here as a child and have known nothing else. Trapped here in the Garden for so long, you’ve adapted to your new home a little too well and aren’t entirely human anymore. On the bright side you’re aren’t entirely a strange vampiric fey yet! It’s just that your tongue is forked and your skin is a tad pale (or is it mint green?). Your ears are a little more pointed, your limbs too long, and your hair is now a brilliant colour. Your voice even seems to have an undertone of birdsong. And who knows how alien your physiology has truly become on the inside.

Possessions:

  • Hooked Nails & Numerous Needle Teeth (damage as Knife).
  • Book of gardening techniques, poetic ramblings and strange doodles in the margins.
  • Garden Tools and a Rusty Rake (damage as Staff).
  • Worn Clothes, covered with growths of vines and flowers. +2 to Sneak rolls in vegetation.
  • Butterfly Wings (+1 Fly) or Strange Eyes (+4 Second Sight).

Skills :

  • 4 Language - Birdsong
  • 3 Gardening
  • 2 Claw Fighting
  • 2 Sneak
  • 2 Forage
  • 1 Climb
  • 1 Staff Fighting

Special:

You don’t recover Stamina by eating a Provision—instead you may consume a mouthful of blood (1d6 Stamina from any willing or unwilling volunteers) at most 3 times per day to recover an equivalent amount of Stamina.

You cannot recover Stamina in sunlight but recover twice as effectively in darkness and are severely allergic to iron and holy objects. You take double damage from such sources and take damage while touching or carrying such objects. Don’t even try to go on holy ground.

If you are reduced to negative Stamina, instead of dying you are transformed into a patch of flowers or mushrooms growing where your body falls. Regain 1 Stamina twice per day (sunrise and sunset) until you are fully healed. You return to flesh when your Stamina is fully recovered or blood soaks into the ground you’re growing in. A stake in the heart prevents this and freezes you at 0 Stamina until it is removed. Churning up the soil you’re growing in destroys you forever.