Troubling Travels is a gambling game that is popular among caravan traders. It can have anywhere between 2-5 players, though sometimes people attempt to play with more.
Since its original development it has become the most popular gambling game on the planet. It is often played at parties, and is credited as the reason for a lot of arguments and falling-outs among friends.
The game is played using gold coins as the pieces, dice, and points system. It also has a board to play on, a deck of event cards, and a handful of small cardboard (or marble) tiles that mark the activation status of the boards’ places.
The coins are broken up into three categories:
- Player’s Pieces: Each player uses a gold coin as their playing piece. They will often mark these coins before playing, which means currency used for the game can be quite filthy.
- Movement Coins: These coins are used to roll the amount a player will move each turn. The amount of movement coins varies depending on the number of players, as each contributes 1 coin to the pot.
- Score Pot: The score pot is the prize for the game. Everyone contributes a set amount to the prize pot before the game, and that amount becomes the winning score. When a point is earned in the game, a coin is taken from the score pot and put into the player’s accumulated coins. Once the winning score is collected by a player, the game ends.
The event card decks can either be purchased from a store or made by the players before the game. Event cards are generally things that affect the coin pot, such as “Sold bread, +2 gold” or “Bandits attack! -4 gold.” There are also cards that affect the player’s position or turn such as “strong winds, move back 3 spaces” or “tire broken, lose a turn.”
There are expensive versions of these boards made from wood and boxes, with tiles that spin to mark their activation status and beautifully detailed painted backgrounds, but most people prefer to simply scribble their own playing boards onto loose sheets of parchment before each game.
For cheaper boards that don’t have fancy tiles, people will use marked pieces of paper or cardboard (or, sometimes, more gold coins) to show the activation status of the board spaces.
Setting up the game
The game is relatively easy to set up, especially with pre-made boards. The board is simply laid out in the middle of a table, and the tiles are placed beside the board alongside the score pot, movement coin cup, and the shuffled event card deck.
Before the game starts, players will flip a coin each. Any whose coins land on heads will repeat the coin flip until only one player is left. This player is the first to move on the board, and turn order is then taken in a clockwise direction around the table. Generally, the coins flipped to decide the turn order will become the movement coins.
Once the turn order is decided, the player will put all of the movement coins into the coin cup, shake the cup, and tip the coins onto the table. Counting the number of heads will determine the number of spaces they move along the board. If a 0 is rolled, this counts as if they moved onto the spot they were already on and the tile will have its effect.
Every time a player lands on a space, the space will activate and then change its activation status. Activation statuses are “gain”, “lose”, and “event”, and will change in that order, resetting to gain on the third activation.
Activation effects are as listed:
- Gain: Every time a player lands on a gain space they will take 2 coins from the score pot, and take an activation tile from beside the board, setting it down on the “lose” symbol.
- Lose: When a player lands on the lose symbol, they will return 1 coin to the coin pot. They will then flip the activation tile to the “event” symbol.
- Event: After landing on an event tile, the player will take a card from the event deck and read it’s effect out loud to the group. The card’s event takes effect, then the activation tile is taken from the space, turning it back into a “gain” space.
The first player to collect the winning score gets to keep the money they have collected, the money that is left in the score pot, and the movement coins. The other players get to keep the money they accumulated during the game, so though they are at a loss after the game ends, they do not always lose the entire amount that they contributed to the pile.
Although it is not required, it is considered good sportsmanship in the Rendi to return the movement coins to other players. However, in Eala cultures is it considered rude to do so as it is seen as a form of bragging.