All journeys across the humpbacked sky start where they begun. But nothing truly stays the same...
All named characters and locations are represented across all instances of Troika, with memories appropriately shifted to reflect the nature of the current instance of Troika.
Whenever a visit to Troika in imminent, roll on the following
11 Troika the Smouldering
You emerge amidst an orange-glow carcass, chewed over by Everburning flames visited upon the city centuries ago. A once-rich tradition of appropriated architecture and inspired cultural-fusion is left as so much charred stone, wood and glass. Despite the ruination, it is still the centre of the spheres. Those who perish amongst the flames are endlessly replaced by new wanderers and unfortunates - and so Troika lives on, an ember of itself.
Goods are bought and sold for twice as much in this desperate place. Everyone is grimmer, less trusting and twice as savage. Effects relating to fire are strictly forbidden, as they call to their Everburning cousins. Those able to wield cold or tame fire are treasured, forming churches, gangs and guilds around their skills.
Who released the Everburning Flame?
(1 in 6 Chance this is public knowledge - otherwise it is suppressed/forgotten. Perhaps the home of the flames holds the key to extinguishing them? Doing such is sure to reap benefits...)
- Soldiers of the Chiliarch.
- Screaming half-things from the dead rocks orbiting the Black Suns, slicing through the sky in their knifecraft.
- Poorly Made Dwarves attempting to show their worth, accidentally succeeded.
- A courtier of a self-proclaimed ruler of Troika wanted to give a gift sure to grant favour, and sent adventurers to scour all the spheres.
- A shadow-Troika, forgotten and abandoned to all but the most wretched and miserable, sent their kind regards to their straight-limbed cousin.
- No-one. Just one of those things that happens, innit.
12 Troika the Conquered
Foreign banners fly from every window. Every sigil of the old regime has been or is being destroyed, covered up or covertly hidden by sympathetic agents. A tension in the air is rife, as the variformed denizens of Troika eye up their new overlords. Patrols of soldiers meander, get lost and reappear throughout this multidimensional warren. How to control a place such as Troika? Force exerted here could be dispersed anywhere across the spheres...
Who has conquered Troika? What are their methods?
- Clattering metallic smoke-belching insects glowing red-and-green from their infernal internal engines. They lurk above Troika in some hypothetical pocket dimension, descending on rusted chains to abduct those who speak of the previous regime, or of the agonized wailing that echoes from the palace. Things otherwise continue as normal.
- The Man-Beast legions of the Phoenix Throne in another doomed attempt to hold Troika as the capital of their empire. The Autarch has yet to transfer to their new capital, but the many aristocrats and court hangers-on are eagerly transferring. There is much work to be done, ferreting out resistance and clearing out undesirables. Exotic goods previously unavailable to these aristocrats have skyrocketed in price, and plummeted in availability.
- The Travelling Things Hospitality group, seemingly a band of populist travellers who demand the luxuries of Troika for any wanderer amongst the spheres - in actuality, they are are a conglomerate of all inter-sphere inns, taverns, hotels, travelling lodges and other such forms of temporary accommodation, seeking to corner the ultimate market, the hub in the wheel of travel - Troika. Everything is double the price, but otherwise things tick along smoothly.
- A single, vaguely humanoid figure, seemingly with the ability to appear anywhere and everywhere. It is immobile, a steel mummy, orbited by countless marble limbs. It seemingly knows of all plans to depose of it, and appears there to destroy such conspirators. Beyond destroying those who plot against it, it seems to have no plans.
- The takeover was slow and insidious. They took over those in power slowly, converting them one by one into puppets to their greater scheme, before they struck! Now we live under their yoke...but who is amongst them? And who is safe? How do we know? All allies and contacts will refuse contact until you can prove you're not one of Them. Apart from the acute atmosphere of paranoia, things are relatively normal - for Troika.
- The League of Spheres Divided has conquered Troika with their mongrel armies. They wish to see each sphere left to it's own devices, without the meddling of wanderers, vagabonds and intersphere empires. To achieve this, they plan to destroy Troika, the hub of all such travel. How they plan to achieve this is somewhat less concrete. Soldiers attempt to send people "back to where they came from", but overlapping jurisdictions and primitive bureaucracy make these efforts farcical.
13 Troika the Fortified
Every building bristles in weapon and armour - sweeping arches doubling as guillotines, roof mounted lenses focussing the dire light of Black Suns, crossbow-automata skittering over leaden tiles - truly, the city of infinite access is defended from all angles, and against all comers - as well it should.
Arms and Armour in this Troika are at half-price from their abundance, but movement is restricted and slowed down by the endless fortifications and false-streets ending in dead-ends. Opportunities for ambush abound, and any given location can be observed - if one knows the right place to watch from. Natives of Troika have no such issues moving around.
What is the current paranoia in Troika? What Defences are in vogue as a result?
- Tunnelling horrors from below. Buried plasmic cores with feeler-tendrils stretching out in all directions, ready to explode...
- Magically altered super plagues delivered by bat. Ruthless doctor-automatons collect samples of any novel lifeforms or disease. Huge nets strung over streets to catch bats.
- Golden Dreadnoughts punching through the sky. Knifecraft crewed by feral pirates, kept chained and hopped up on all manner of powdered crystal and slug-secretions, the boats unshackled once the Dreadnoughts come...
- Dragons. Harpoon cannons manned by abducted dragon-slayers from across the spheres. There are never enough dragon-slayers.
- Ceramic tripods piloted by conglomerate-beasts, all tentacles and teeth. Pairs of roof-top runners with rope.
- Orcs. Gatling-fusils.
14 Troika the Narcotic
Dreams and nightmares drift on the wind, borne as the smoke of unknown herbs harvested from the deepest reverie of opium-prophets and somnorific-poets. The city is hidden and shifts in a drift of psychomimetic visions laced with ecstatic peaks and shattering lows from the _other_ side of sobriety. Nothing may be trusted amongst the aristocracy of the stoned.
Unsurprisingly, all manner of drugs may be found here, with prices kept at about average due to availability meeting demand. Not partaking in whatever a hosts substance of choice may be is considered a major social gaffe. The sober are not to be trusted.
What is the new fad-substance? What does it do?
- Crushed bones of Yellow Well-Swelling Lizards, snorted. Causes both body and mind to flucate in size chaotically, giving a real sense of perspective. Causes some to go entirely bald.
- The parasitic fungus which grows exclusively on the brains of stunted gods. Mixed into syringes and injected into the eyes, allows third, fourth and fifth sight, as well as an intensely powerful aphrodisiac. Can result in budding godhood or violent mutations.
- Beard-hairs trimmed from the Hebetudinous Emperor, who has never shaved (nor indeed moved) in his two-thousand year reign. When smoked, one has visions of terrible apocalypses visited upon the locale of the smoker. The popularity comes from the belief that any such vision can never come true - meaning the more of the beard is smoked, the safer Troika the Narcotic can slumber.
- Crystallised light emitted from a tamed Black Sun. When dissolved on the tongue, allows the imbiber to remake all decisions in their life-to-date in an extended trip, all details and ramifications being entirely accurate. Prized by the Calculators of the Merchant Guilds.
- Boiled void-barnacles scraped from the hull of Golden Barges. When the broth is drunk and the barnacles chewed, the imbiber is able to rend all veils with a mere thought. What this practically means depends entirely on the imbiber's definition of veils.
- Smoked eyes from the Many-Sighted-Polyps which roam the void between the spheres. When eaten, gives a euphoric body-high followed by intense paranoia which always has a grain of truth. Whether it was true prior to consuming the Eyes is a matter of conjecture amongst narcoscholars.
15 Troika the Crumbling
The decrepit city, older than time and showing it. Every stone is worn to a sphere, every street moans and warps under the weight of history. Every building has had names to fill annals rivalling the oldest empires. There is nothing new to this crumbling metropolis. Of course, such a storied city has had plenty of time to forget.
Amongst the ancient streets can be found forgotten artefacts, spells, species, spheres, thought frameworks and philosophies. These can be traded as curios within Troika or exported as relics to younger spheres.
What is the latest archaeo-architectural find?
- An entire army, sent to conquer Troika but instead lost and forgotten amongst the ancient buildings. They have converted themselves into tour-guides of their own failed military campaign, explaining their weapons and uniform with all the right anachronisms.
- A hollow stone statue of an eight-armed fly-headed figure. The back opens up into a negative-space miniature replica of the city itself.
- The First Teapot. The location of the first Teacups remains a mystery, and the Pot is near useless without them.
- Virulent, nihilistic anti-natalism. The view was incredibly popular, especially amongst the nobility of the time. It was forgotten when the adherents unsurprisingly ran out of converts.
- A tremendous lance of crystal, seemingly pinning the city to the firmament. Operations to mine it and sell trinkets have already begun.
- A catacomb of stillborn Troikas, a lightless sub-realm of dead, empty, stunted cities stacked neatly.
16 Troika the Cultivated
From every wall a riotous blooming of impossible frondescence beneath arborescent heights bedecked in fruits beggaring belief. There are no stone buildings - everything is shaped from the living plants themselves. Only outsiders bring metal, stone, fur and meat. Different districts of the city take on different characters as the climates dramatically shift to allow a greater variety of flora. The servitors of the city are all equipped with scissors, watering cans and fertilizer, endlessly tending to the Garden Among the Spheres.
Any novel or heretofore unknown plant samples are richly rewarded in this Troika, as any may climb the social trellis through the formal gifting of such a sample to the city itself.
What Troubles the Garden Among the Spheres?
- Infestation of Xanthous Aphids - they have the potential to utterly destroy the city. Insects are usually easily dispatched by the Servitors - Xanthous Aphids have the annoying ability to burrow into pocket dimensions when threatened.
- Major trade dispute with the Sphere of Incalculable Azure Depths, the exclusively supplier of fresh water to the city. Rumours swirl this is deliberate sabotage by the Prince of Thorns, jealous, gnarled and wooden.
- The Garden of Ineffable Wisdom and Serenity threatens Troika's position as the premier garden-sphere. A legion of agents are being dispatched to resolve this - in both directions. Opportunities abound for work.
- Due to time mismanagement, the Neural Network Fungus has been allowed to achieve sentience again. It plans to use it's burgeoning intelligence (directly correlated with physical mass) in a court case demanding citizenship for all sub-sentient plantlife. There are two main solutions being pursued - delves into the deadly Court Records to find some legal precedent, or taking out the Fungus. Of course, the fungus has a legion of bleeding-heart supporters.
- An over-keen denizen of Troika accidentally gifted the Chameleonic Leaf Warping Orchid, disguised as a chartreuse Fractal-Poppy. These Orchids aggressively parasitise other plant-life, converting it into more of the Orchid. Whilst the patsy has been punished appropriately, the hunt is still on for the unknown natural predator of the Chameleonic Leaf Warping Orchid.
- The mechanical moon system has failed, leaving all of the multiple moons and their arcane system of mirrors locked in the void. Whomever can make the journey out there to identify and rectify the problem is sure to be rewarded by the night-blooming quarters.