Thinking about Communities in Trophy Gold

I’m thinking about a slight hack of Trophy Gold to change up Burdens. The gist of it all is that I want the adventurers to be trying to “push back darkness” – think hunting monsters, destroying profane summoning circles, etc. They each have their own secrets and aren’t heroes, but the focus is on trying to make things incrementally better for their community, albeit still in a dark fantasy world.

Jaffa, Looking South by David Roberts, 1855

The core rolls in Trophy Gold (Hunt, Risk, Combat) work fine for this purpose. But Gold and Burdens are not the higher-level game loop I’m looking for: the goal is to push back against the darkness, not simply scrabble for treasure. That’s what I need to model. Ultimately what I want is to shape the game so that it’s about seeking redemption, not exploitation. They work desperately to push back against the darkness both within and without.

So how do we make Burdens non-monetary, or even communal, so that the adventurers are “desperate” to help achieve some larger goal like eliminating a menace to their town? This probably turns it into something “Rooted in Trophy,” but based on Gold specifically rather than Dark.

Perhaps the community has features that they can spend Gold (or found objects) to improve: a palisade or armory, grain storage, a chapel, or a trading post. The group can certainly come up with their own as well. These could then provide some sort of benefit: the armory could provide one free piece of Combat Equipment for each incursion, perhaps. The palisade might provide some amount of armor should the town fall under attack. A chapel might provide one free Ritual.

The community itself could have an overall Ruin score that is reduced when the adventurers complete an incursion. I also think the community could have certain Conditions that would be tied to specific incursions (the chapel cannot be consecrated until the foul relic in the catacombs beneath is removed and destroyed).

A wall of skulls
Catacombs of Paris, France. Photo by Travis Grossen on Unsplash

One thing I’m considering is giving the community a Drive: this would define and frame the entire campaign. I don’t know how well this would actually work, though, and would need to have careful thought applied in a specific instance. While Trophy Gold can feel a little like a railroad sometimes, I personally prefer a bit more sandbox play, and so maybe giving the community too much direction might not work well.

Alternatively, create several Fronts / Threats / Arcs for the community to represent what will happen if the adventurers never get involved. Set up a countdown clock for things that get worse while they’re doing something else and force them to make choices. While they’re trying to cleanse the convent, maybe some necromancer and their undead army lays waste to outlying farms. During their expedition to the necromancer’s tower, a warlock curses the town mayor with a debilitating plague.

If you do anything with this, let me know; I intend to write something more concrete over the next week or two in preparation for a new campaign, albeit probably not in Trophy’s default world of Kalduhr.

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