This is Troika! (2018), by Daniel Sell. This is maybe the second lightest set of rules I’ve encountered and  easily the weirdest and most random.

Characters are defined by three stats – Skill (a general stat, which gets added to the value of any specific skills a character may have), Luck and Stamina (HP). Then you roll for a background. This is the point where you will learn you are in store for something very odd. The backgrounds are mostly vague and evocative and not what you expect to play in an RPG. Take, for example, the Befouler of Ponds, a priest of a toad god whose specialty is pissing in ponds and drinking stagnant liquid. Troika features the best dwarves ever, too – they are genderless, eat gems, sweat their excrement, smell terribly and reproduce by carving new dwarves out of stone. There are boring things like burglars, too.

Combat is a bit odd too. It resolves normally, rolling to hit, doing damage, but initiative is determined by a bag. Every player puts two chips in, every opponent gets a chip and they are joined by an End of Round chip. The GM pulls a chip out of the bag to determine who acts next. If it is the end of round chip, that’s it, start over. Removing the certainty that you are going to act in a combat round, I dunno, that seems like a mischievous embrace of chaos if I’ve ever seen one.

The rest of the game follows suit – the spells, the magic items, the included adventure. Simply creating your character gives you lots of implied details about the setting, how it works and how weird and wry it is. I kind of want to compare Troika to the absurdity of Alice in Wonderland, but Wonderland seems rather conservative and orderly in comparison. Artists Jeremy Duncan, @DirkwithaVengeance, Sam Mameli and Andrew Walter all do their part to sell the strange. All told, it is a charming and mesmerizing effort. Check it out.

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