Sunday, April 18, 2021

Resource: Trilemma Adventures

I have been meaning for over a year now to do a two-part feature on Michael Precott's Trilemma Adventures as a way of revisiting the One-Page Dungeons and sharing a favorite online resource at the same time,

For those not familiar with them, The Trilemma Adventures are a series of  adventures built around one of Prescott's gorgeously drawn isometric maps of dungeons, shantytowns, strange wilderness encounters, and extraplanar hubs. Here is an example of the kind of art you can expect from his (relatively) recent adventure "The Sequence of Deel".

"Crevasse Tomb" by Michael Prescott; ©2019 Michael Prescott, CC-BY-NC 4.0

Each map is surrounded on the front side by a title, description of the situation that will likely bring the PCs to the location, and notes on each of the locations in the map, as well as a random encounter table. The back of the page includes details on the dangers, unusual and wonderous effects, important objects, encounters, and puzzles the PCs may run into during the adventure. Usually it includes one or two elegant illustrations as well, All of which is detailed in a way that makes the content system-neutral.

The layout is easy to read, and gives you a solid sense of how the adventure is going to flow. The design is top notch.

"'Sequence of Deel' front and back pages sample" image by Brian Rideout 
Based on the artwork and adventure designed by Michael Prescott
©2021 Brian Rideout, CC-BY-NC 4.0, derived from work ©2019 Michael Prescott, CC-BY-NC 4.0

Prescott takes the idea of System Neutrality to a freeing place: as he is not trying to fit the adventure into any game system, he does not feel compelled to use monsters, treasures, or other conventions from those systems. Instead, nearly every creature, every treasure, and every magical ability he describes is unique to a setting of his own creation.

Each one of the adventures builds on a world where gods are born from belief, and can be murdered by sinister magic, where time can be bent or broken by strange monsters, where powerful enough magics create local bends in reality, and where a cult of powerful magi have left terrifying relics to be discovered and used by beings definitely not prepared for the powers they wield.

The setting of the Trilemma Adventures is not afraid of adding the wondrous and bizarre to the setting: from dire pelicans to goblins that reproduce by turning other people into goblins, to crystallized spells extracted directly from the brains of wizards, to curses that make you unable to see blue.  Trilemma puts the Fantastical back into fantasy. I have borrowed more than a few things from these adventures to delight my players. If you have a low threshold for weirdness, this may not be the resource for you, however. 

Almost all of my Hex crawls have a handful of Trilemma locations scattered about the map, although my players have yet to visit one. (They are uncannily attracted to the nearest dungeon by Harley Stroh at any given time.) And if I were to run a brand new group for an impromptu one-shot Trilemma would be my go-to resource.

My top ten include:

It is worth noting that 48 of these adventures have been bound into a premium coffee-table worthy book: The Trilemma Adventures Compendium, which also adds a lot of detail on the setting world.  I wish I dream of one day reviewing here. Rumor has a volume 2 in the works. 

Michael Prescott also has created a book of statistics for the monsters included for Dungeons & Dragons 5e, Dungeon World, and B/X Dungeons & Dragons.  This would take most of the guesswork out of running these modules. I personally have run these adventures in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and Index Card RPG 2e with minimal fuss using the steps I laid out in "How to Use One-Page Dungeons: Into the Demon Idol." 

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