The Trophy Gold Hunt Roll

Ever since we published Trophy Gold (available in Codex - Gold, now on DTRPG!), the question we see the most about the game is “How do the Hunt Rolls work?” It’s a good question, and when we publish the Trophy Gold book next year, we’re going to include a transcript of play that will hopefully clear things up.

Until then, though, I’d like to demystify it a bit here.

This is how the basic gameplay loop of Trophy Gold works (the following assumes some familiarity with Trophy Gold):

  1. As the GM, you tell the players when the characters have entered a new set. You tell them the name of the set and the goal of the set. This is entirely out-of-character information—the players know, but the characters do not. The reason why this out-of-character approach is important is because the Hunt Roll tokens the players will be collecting are an entirely out-of-character currency. The players need to understand the stakes of the set so they know when to cash in their Hunt Roll tokens in order to achieve the goal.

  2. Describe the immediate environment. If there are props available to be described, point those out. If there are obvious dangers, point those out.

  3. Ask the players what their characters do.

  4. The player’s response will almost certainly trigger a Hunt Roll. If they say “I search around the sarcophagus,” that’s a Hunt Roll. If they say “I look around for traps,” that’s a Hunt Roll. If they say, “I’m ignoring this and proceeding carefully down the corridor,” that’s probably a Hunt Roll—it depends on whether they are just lumbering down the corridor or taking their time to scout things out. The only time it’s not a Hunt Roll is if they 1) turn around and go back where they came from, 2) do nothing, or 3) engage in an activity that is better handled by a Risk Roll or Combat Roll.

  5. The result of the Hunt Roll pushes the story forward. This is the key moment in the gameplay loop. If it’s a successful roll, the player gets a token, which they can hold onto for later, or cash in to either find a treasure or satisfy the goal. If it’s an unsuccessful roll, you hit them with a trap—a literal trap or a monster—or you complicate their life in some painful way, such as inflicting a condition or changing the circumstances of the scene to make it more perilous. If it’s a mid-result, both things happen, but the complication should be a little lighter.

  6. The push-your-luck nature of Trophy Gold reveals itself. As the players collect Hunt Roll tokens, they have to make decisions about when to achieve the goal, when to cash in for treasure, when to abandon the mission entirely and return to town. This tension is ever-present, because if they leave the dungeon before finding enough treasure, they might die penniless. If they cash in Hunt Roll tokens to find treasure, they’re no closer to actually finishing the dungeon and, indeed, staying in the dungeon too long can bring all sorts of terrible consequences.

Note: your Trophy Gold incursions will have plenty of props, traps, and treasures to keep this gameplay loop going, but at certain points, you may have to improvise a bit. Every now and then, for example, the players will cash in a Hunt Roll token to get a treasure in a place without any listed treasures. Having some treasure tables handy is a good idea, or be flexible enough to make something up. Whatever it is, it just needs to plausibly be worth 1 Gold (i.e. a small, but significant, amount of money).

I hope this is helpful. If @jesseross or anyone else has thoughts here, I’d love to hear them. I’m also happy to answer questions in the comments.

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And, in case it wasn’t clear, you just keep repeating steps 2-5, interjecting with Risk Rolls and Combat Rolls as needed, until the characters enter the next set. The characters might just physically move into the next set (even without satisfying the previous set’s goal) or the discovery of the new set might be the goal of the previous set, in which case they have to spend Hunt Roll tokens.

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I ran my second session of Trophy Gold today, moving into the second set of Tomb of the Serpent Kings. Definitely having a table of complications and traps on hand comes in handy when there aren’t any immediately obvious ones in the set or the existing fiction. I also highly recommend using a similar question in the Hunt roll as in the Risk roll: “what terrible things might you find here?” Relying on the theme can help as well.

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Alright so I’ve now run three sessions (thanks @jesseross for coming and chatting during the stream). I have run into another question, though: how does the party get treasures worth more than 1 gold?

I’ll try not to be spoilerish here. Tomb of the Serpent Kings has a place where one of the treasures is specifically listed as being worth 6 gold. It’s not in a set where the goal is listed as finding treasures, so it doesn’t seem like they get to spend 3 tokens to find it.

Is there a reason a set couldn’t have multiple goals? “Find the expensive thing” and “Find the way to the next set?”

Or could the set goal be conjoined? “Find the way to the next set AND find the expensive thing?”

The players can always get treasure without having to spend tokens. If they take the action required (like “dredging through the pit” or “taking the throne”), they can just be rewarded with items without having to spend any tokens.

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I appreciate the clarification! I think what’s confusing me on this is the difference in this case between achieving the goal of the set (which, per @jasoncordova above, requires the spending of tokens) and acquiring treasure (which does not, necessarily, require it). Same roll & mechanic but different guidelines. I’ll wrap my head around it! :thinking::smile: