Trophy Discussion Thread

There are plenty of AP videos from Gauntlet games and there are browser plug-ins to convert YouTube videos into mp3s.

Here’s a video of my new incursion from Codex: Glamour 2

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I think a space hulk game I was writing is turning into a Trophy incursion

Space Hulk is a genre that borrows a lot from Alien and Metroid. You search and search and search and there’s dangers everywhere. It started life as a Lasers and Feelings hack, but who knows where it’ll wind up.


I’m so glad to hear your game went well!

This is how I play too. I very rarely use the lists exactly as-is, and I’m always ready to jump on something that ties more directly to what’s happening in that particular session.

Also, thanks for the feedback about PvP. Deciding whether it was worth having a specific mechanic for it was something that I went back and forth on, and obviously ultimately dropped it, leaving just the Ruin 5 rules. I’ll keep it in mind though, and maybe earlier-round PvP will arise in a future iteration of the game…


I really appreciated that episode, it’s so useful to have insight like that when learning to run a new game!


I just read the rules for the first time and have a couple of mechanics questions: 1. If you fail a roll, does that mean the bad thing that the GM or other players articulated before the roll happens? I think that’s implied, but I wanted to check if that was the design intent. 2. If your highest result is a 4-5, and you accepted a devil’s bargain, does that mean you get a regular complication plus the trouble in the Devil’s Bargain? Is there a substantive difference between a 4-5 complication and a Devil’s Bargain? Thanks in advance for any insights people can share!

On the failed roll, it’s still GM’s call (that’s how I play it, anyway). The conversation before the roll is mostly to give the GM ideas. The Devil’s Bargain is something that happens no matter what, regardless of the roll outcome. So, on a mid result, you have the complication plus the Devil’s Bargain.

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I’d like to add that folks should really listen to/read the following resources, which have advanced “Trophy theory” quite a bit:

The Gauntlet Podcast, where I discuss my 9 tips for running Trophy:

The blog post companion to the above:

@DavidMorrison discussing Trophy and “playing beyond the literal” on The Gauntlet Podcast:

My notes for running Ring 1:


I ran Trophy (the Tomb of 10,000 Dreams) last night for my local group - including one person who was roleplaying for the first time! The group seemed to have a really great time, and the newbie is definitely coming back, so that’s mission accomplished.

I did find it a little difficult to run, though, for a couple of reasons:

  • The dice mechanics, including the devil’s bargain mechanic and the relatively low success rate unless you hammer your Ruin, mean that any and all conflicts tend to snowball pretty heavily, which works fine in some rings and less so in others. The early encounters in particular were meant to be “easy” but in practice were extraordinarily hard to shut down.
  • Although I didn’t actually make it to the end b/c of timing out, I was very worried about how it was going to reach a satisfying finish. I didn’t really get how the final ring was supposed to go, and what ending I’m driving towards. Having thought about it a bit, my guess is that I’m meant to hammer them with disturbing events that trigger Ruin Rolls until they either hit 6 or start voluntarily betraying each other to get their Ruin down. But at the point we were about to hit the final ring, they really hadn’t accrued all that much Ruin. I missed a couple of opportunities to demand Ruin Rolls, so it could no doubt have gone higher, but I feel concerned that it would have felt like button-mashing to achieve the desired result (if that is the desired result).

I want to emphasise that the game was fun and the players seemed to have a good time, but I would have welcomed a little more guidance on the above (and perhaps also how frequently I should be triggering non-risk roll-based Ruin Rolls, if the low Ruin levels are a concern).


@Eike GMed an online session of “tomb of 10000 dreams” a few days ago and I was one of the players. We had much fun with the story and enjoyed the mechanics. The devils bargain worked well - players were accepting them willingly for the good drama. Interestingly, we made it only through 2(?) rings (group conflicts escalated and time was up; it was rather coincidental) but it was totally fine and satisfying from a story perspective. The narrative structure and the good job of our GM created a dense, morbid and insane atmosphere. He made good use of the material. And although I knew what was coming it had no impact on my gameplay.

We inadvertedly tweaked the rules a bit:
including a dark die counts in case it is the highest one as automatic risk roll. We decided to take an additional risk roll in that case, which felt better atm during the game. Of course we lowered inadvertedly mechanical pressure, but that was compensated by the dramatic storytelling of our GM and great character play of the group. We played out the mental decay even without having to roll for it.
The median ruin was only 4 but we started cutting each other’s throats because it felt storywise appropriate.

I like the game very much and I definitely want more sessions with it - and of course run it myself.
Thanks to @Eike for running and thanks to @jesseross for creating such a nice game.

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Just like Cthulhu Dark, you need to be pushing for Ruin rolls really anytime anything weird or messed up happens. I forgot that when I ran it until halfway through and it made the game a lot longer than it should have been.

I’d definitely recommend the resources @jasoncordova mentions above for suggestions for future play.


Ruin rolls should be happening quite a bit. In Witchwood, for example, you have 2-3 Ruin rolls in the first ring alone because of the succession of disturbing events. I’ll grant that later incursions are a little easier to run than 10,000 Dreams because they are a bit more detailed, though.

In the first ring, consider whether you even need to do risk rolls. In my mind, the first ring is much more thematic, much more about asking questions and seeing how people react. In 10,000 Dreams, whether the group defeats the doppelgängers in Ring 1 is much less important than what we learn about the treasure-hunters through them. Does that make sense?


Also: I made this video available because it’s an excellent example of Trophy play. Definitely worth a watch for people who want to grok the game. It uses The Flocculent Cathedral in case you want to follow along with the incursion text.


As for the 5th ring, in my experience, it’s rarely going to play out as written because, by that time, the group has shaped the story a certain way via failed roll negotiations and Devil’s Bargains. I mostly use the 5th ring text as inspiration for the basic flavor and trappings of the conclusion but otherwise finish in a way that makes sense for the story up to that point.


It makes total sense! I confess I felt that the whole “the ring 1 terrors should be easy to overcome” didn’t make a lot of sense to me in the context of the rules. If it had said “basically don’t use risk rolls in ring 1”, that would seem more logical.

“Ruin rolls happen quite a bit” fits with my guesswork about how the game is meant to flow (the whole premise being that you’re doomed, Ruin seems like the mechanic intended to deliver on that). But my observation is that in the Codex Dark 2 rules (which I’m sensing may not be the full picture regards Trophy), only Rings 4 and 5 seem to have really disturbing material in them. Are you meant to ad lib additional, more disturbing, material?

I definitely felt like I should have been doing more Ruin rolls in Ring 4 than I actually did; in retrospect I’d settled into a rhythm of more-or-less ignoring the Ruin system outside of risk checks. But essentially I felt like in the earlier rings I was mostly following the rules and guidance presented - with one exception where a character got themselves locked into a mausoleum with a bunch of corpses, which should probably have triggered a Ruin roll.

It’s entirely possible some of these questions are answered by all the resources linked above, I haven’t had time to go through them yet.

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I had quite a few Ruin rolls triggered by the Conditions, actually. Because they can be pretty creepy.


Ruin rolls really should be happening anytime the characters experience anything weird or disturbing or traumatic. Voices from home heard in the forest? Ruin roll. The statue that was 50 yards behind is now 50 feet behind? Ruin roll. The smell of burning flesh? Ruin roll. A corpse with its heart cut out? Ruin roll. A chorus of wolves unseen howling from all sides? Ruin roll. If it would scare or unnerve you it’s a Ruin roll.


Yeah, that’s about right. It can be contextual, too. A former soldier might not be as bothered by the sight of a gruesome corpse, for example.


This would make a great T-Shirt. Ruin Roll.


Any tips for pvp? We had one person playing asssassin and got ruined 3rd ring. She was trying to use reduction roll to outright kill other characters. Fiction backing up that her character was good at it. I always put up a risk first and set it as less lethal.

Example: At one point someone used a ritual to shift their spirit to possess the assassins body. Assassin trapped in other characters body tracked them down and wanted to use Hollow to get them out and herself back in. But first she decided to slit the person she currently inhabited’s wrists. She rolled a 5.

Honestly this was a fantastic turn of events but the other character had only 2 ruin.

I felt weird letting this outright kill the character so we decided she slit the character’s wrists, got back into her own body but the bleeding was able to be stopped quick enough to save from imminent death as a complication.

Again, I love some of the scenarios that come from this game. Mechanically struggling when players are trying to not so subtly kill other characters. If this player had gotten an outright 6 on the roll I’m not sure how I would have handled it.