Thursday 7 December 2023

Freebie: The Troublesome Trio (Adversaries)

There are antagonists that truly test the mettle of any adventuring party, whose raw might can match them, whose cunning keeps them one step ahead, whose stalwart convictions ensure that no matter what happens, they won't stray from the dark path they have chosen. Adversaries like these can rattle the nerves of even the most stalwart of heroes.

This blog entry is not about them.

Instead, it focuses on the also-rans, the would-be's, the mid-bosses - the quirky sort of rivals who never quite manage to be more dangerous than annoying, but demand the heroes attention anyway. Since these sorts tend to come in sets of three, we'll officially dub them...

The Troublesome Trio 

Rather than one set of values or stats, the Troublesome Trio is an archetype that you may add to a team of three adversaries of your choice. These can be brand new GMC's created with either the character creation rules or adversary generation rules, or a team selected from existing adversaries - in the case of the latter, I suggest making sure they are of similar rank, perhaps modifying the selected adversaries to make sure this is the case.

As a brief aside, these rules are just the tiniest bit more meta than I usual (for adversaries at least) - while this means they won't fit in every BREAK!! game, I did think it was pretty fun for an experiment. 

With that said, Troublesome Trio's have certain sorts of members and a dynamic to keep in mind:

The Leader: While this may or may not be the trio's official leader, they are the ones that generally order the other two around. They have a tendency to be showy and boisterous, often taunting their self proclaimed rivals and giving away their schemes before they happen. They also have a tendency towards loud fashion, favoring Appealing or Authoritative Outfits. 
  • Battle/Murder Princesses or Blaster Mages are good candidates to use for different sorts of leaders, though anyone who can be flashy and try and steal the show could work.

The Brawn: Usually the largest member of the group (though some are comedically smaller than their partners in crime) the brawn is usually the one running around doing the legwork. While this means many are fighting sorts, some are simply strong or sturdy enough to carry around whatever the leader demands they do. They have a tendency to be clueless or a bit dense.
  • Champions or Proudhound Sellswords are both good examples of Brawns. That said, anyone who can lift heavy things or hold their own in a fight do too.

The Brain: While "smart" is a relative term when it comes to Troublesome Trios (in fact, many of them are honestly rather foolish) this member of the team is the one who provides and attends to the magic or tools that allow for all the leader's ill-considered plans. They near universally love sarcastic quips.
  • Factotums and Sages work well as the Brain, but anyone who can create or call upon means for mayhem could perform the role just as well.

Members of a Troublesome Trio have the following special Abilities:

Persistent Pests
For some reason, the party just can't seem to shake these morons.
  • Whenever the GM rolls on a random encounter table in a Saga where a Troublesome Trio is present, any roll of 3 results in an encounter with them, regardless of where the party happens to be.
  • The GM may decide how and why the trio happens to be there or roll on the mood table below for inspiration:
    • 1-7: The Trio has simply been following the party and waiting for the exact moment to strike and get in the way of some important objective. The GM should have the party member with the highest Insight roll to see if they notice them. If the party member fails, the Trio will pop up at the worst or funniest possible moment for an ambush.
    • 8-14: Believe it or not, they were already here. They are likely stranded or lost when the party stumbles on them. They'll probably play this off as intentional but they are obviously lying.
    • 15-20: Unsurprisingly, the trio has already gotten into trouble - another random encounter on the chart is currently scolding or chasing them when they bump into the party. They are not above begging for help.
  • This Ability can be ignored when it is absolutely impossible for the Trio to be where the party is or whenever the Game Master forgets about it.

Refuge in Slapstick
While the trio no doubt wants to defeat and humble the party, they would never go so far as to try and really hurt them. Their inherently comedic nature partially shields them from serious harm thanks to a quirk of Fate.
  • If a party member is ever forced to make a roll on the Injury Table due to the attack or actions of a member of a Troublesome Trio, the roll always counts as a Light Injury. Individuals who do not use the Injury/Damage table (such as friendly GMC's) are simply knocked out cold.
  • Members of a Troublesome Trio don't ever die when reduced to 0 Hearts, instead being incapacitated in a funny way and usually sent flying elsewhere if the means to launch them is present.
    • This aspect of this Ability can ignored if someone really evil is attacking the trio, or if the Players (not the characters) are more annoyed than amused by their antics.


Using A Troublesome Trio

The Troublesome Trio are best used multiple times throughout a Saga, which is reinforced by Refuge in Slapstick which assures they'll stick around for the length of any given campaign.

Probably the most straightforward way to utilize these rules is to have the trio show up for early adventures as a serious challenge, and then have them slowly become more of a joke as the party outpaces them in rank and ability.

Planning scenarios around the trio could be a great way to provide a breather between more serious sessions if you're running a more plot or danger heavy saga. For some ideas: 
  • Big machines! (you could represent these by re-skinning some larger adversaries to have some drone or bio-mechanoid abilities), 
  • Heists! (maybe they are stealing from a patron or ally of the party) 
  • Terrible disguises that somehow work really well! (for some on brand fun, you could let the players in on these even if they fool their characters).
They can add a fun bit of chaos too, as the Persistent Pests ability can be used to make it so that even you can't be sure when they might show up. This of course can be ignored if you don't want to do as much improvising, but I think a big part of the fun would is having these dweebs show up unprompted.

Finally, if the party is ever totally stuck or in grave danger and you want a way to help them, the trio can actually be helpful here and again. This might be because they aren't so bad after all, they want to put the party in their debt, or just because they think the real villain of the saga is a huge jerk.


Example Troublesome Trio: The Shadowed Hearts

Drak Dastard (The Leader)
  • Rank 2 Tenebrate Murder Princess
  • +1 Grit, Aura, -1 Insight (Determined, Dramatic, Dense)
  • Wrath's Blade: Arc Weapon (Sorrow Scythe)
  • Elective Ability: Bulwark of Disdain
Drak is an intense sort who dresses in elaborate attire with an excessive amount of belts (Authoritative Outfit) that claims he will one day ascend to the rank of Overlord. While he does have a lot of ambition and dramatic flair, he's also the sort of person who can't read a room and misses a lot of minor and important details. While he will often talk of his dark past, his patrician parents are actually pretty supportive and send him encouraging missives with money tucked inside them here and again.

Mett Allic (The Brawn)
  • Rank 2 Promethean Champion
  • +2 Might, -1 Deftness (Too strong for her own good)
  • Favored Weapon: Mighty (She likes hammers)
  • Elective Ability:  Brute
In spite of her bubbly nature, Mett loves a good scrap. She's fond of Drak and goes along with his plans as it give her an opportunity to start fights and occasionally even smash things which is her favorite pastime. She did not get the memo about the team name and generally dresses in bright armor and pastels.

Tomato Disaster (The Brain)
  • Rank 2 Rai-Neko Sage
  • +1 Insight (Sharp Wit)
  • Elective Ability: Arcane Artificing 
With their dark cloak and wide brimmed hat, Tomato seems like the mysterious sort until you get them talking about their newest creation, prompting them to go on at length about it in an excitable manner. It's clear they joined the Shadowed Hearts so they could have an outlet for all the strange artifacts they make, though they are also fairly good friends with Drak and Mett as well.


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