Dark to Gold (feat. BEES!)

Jesse Ross’ art for A Warm and Pleasant Hum, featured in Trophy Dark

Have you ever wanted to convert a Trophy Dark incursion to something you could use as part of a Trophy Gold campaign? Maybe give your players a chance to survive all the horrible things a Dark incursion has waiting for them?

I’ll be using my own Dark incursion “A Warm and Pleasant Hum” to show how I would adapt an incursion (p. 72 in Trophy Dark, 76 in the PDF, if you want to read along.) There’s no “one true way” when adapting, but this should help highlight some of the structural differences and ways to address them.

Let’s start with an overview of the major structural differences:

Trophy Dark incursions are composed of 5 rings, encountered in order. Trophy Gold incursions have no numerical limit and are frequently designed so players can take alternate routes.

A “ring” in Dark consists of Terrors and Temptations while a Gold “set” is made up of Traps and Treasures. Trophy Dark monsters can’t be fought and as such, need only be described. For Gold, they need stats and details.

You can see just from this overview how the structures are analogous. Let’s see how they match up in practice!

Rings to Sets: Set Goals

First step: let’s look at the Rings and convert them to Sets. In order to be Sets, the Rings can be positioned relative to each other (to provide alternate pathing) and will need Set Goals. (They also need actual names.)

Ring 1 – The treasure-hunters fight some other NPC treasure-hunters who have lost their pack animal. Let’s call this one The Forest’s Edge. For a Set Goal… one of the things the treasure seekers could find in the Dark story was a map of possible locations of a bee hive: the scenario’s ultimate destination. How about Identify possible routes to the hive. Now the players can get the map, or talk to the NPCs, or just trade in Hunt tokens and declare “Okay, now we know the way.

Ring 2 – Traversal of a dangerous flood plain, so… The Flood Plain. Players struggle with plants and pollen before seeing a majestic moose. In Dark, the goal is just “keep going,” but that’s not very exciting for Gold. How about: Summon the Antlered Guardian. Instead of just seeing the moose, now the players have to do something to make it appear. Once it appears with honey on its antlers, it provides a trail that can be followed to the hive.

Ring 3 – The players have to survive the attention of a guard bee, one of them gets a bee halo, and they camp for the night. Let’s turn this into a set called The Glade. In Dark, it ends with them resting, looking at constellations. But that bee halo is a really nice moment, so maybe we make that the set goal: Earn a crown of bees.

Ring 4 – The treasure-hunters find a fallen human who has become a living hive and must dodge increasingly frequent bee patrols. Let’s call this set The Fallen after our poor hive and as a Set Goal: Craft effective camouflage.

Ring 5 – Entering the hive, meeting their doom. This one’s easy: The Six-Form Heart is the set’s name and the goal is Claim the power of the hive.

Rings to Sets: Navigation

Now that the sets have names, how might we connect them up? Maybe like this?

It would be equally valid to move any of those middle three around, or declare that some of them can only be exited in one direction.

And that’s most of it, right? We now have a map the players can move through and we could use the Dark text as-is when it comes to describing what’s there, allowing players to use Hunt rolls on whatever sounds interesting.

I wouldn’t bother to write down every little “trap” or “treasure.” A trap in Gold is just a fictional construct that has some interactivity and some danger. A GM can make sure anything the players are interested in has those two features.

Let’s take The Fallen for example. The living hive could be approached with a Hunt roll and any “you encounter something terrible” complication could activate of the bees within the body as a threat, leading to Risk rolls as those bees are evaded. For treasure, the meat-honey itself could be collected and sold. So could the knowledge that bees are making hives inside people.

Ready to Fight?

And finally we have monsters. In Dark, fighting a creature means instant death, but in Gold we need some details. So what are the creatures who appear in the incursion and how do we flesh them out?

We have swarms of bees, treasure-hunters, undescribed creatures in the flood plain, a giant moose, guard bees the size of dogs and the Queen.

To my mind, you can’t fight a swarm of bees. They’re too small! I would just use Risk rolls instead of combat

For the undescribed creature in the flood plain— “What creature rustles among the flower stalks, navigating with ease while the travelers founder?”— let the players invent the monster and then give it a mid-tier difficulty. Somewhere between 6 and 8, why not.

A single guard bee? Maybe a 6? Many guard bees at once? Endurance 8, or maybe 10?

I never intended anyone to fight the moose, so I’d make it really tough. This things an apex creature. 11 or 12. I also never described the Queen. Is she big and tough? Or are your players already exhausted? Maybe she’s small and the fight is with a bunch of guard bees.

Each creature should have some Conditions they can apply when someone’s Weak Point is hit. A venomous sting can apply Painful Swelling, or Paralysis. Or it could Enrage someone.

And each creature should have at least one Weakness. Bees use pheromones so “Perfume” could be an option. They have exoskeletons so maybe they’re weak to blunt force weapons?

But the key is: just make it fun. Your players aren’t going to be hung up on the “right” Endurance number. When applying Conditions, be creative. Let the table make suggestions. You may be surprised at how inventive players can be when inflicting horrible consequences on their own characters.

I hope this has been useful. If you want to talk about conversions to Gold, the best place to be is in the Trophy Discord where you’ll find a supportive, responsive community of enthusiastic creators who’ll be happy to help out.