ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
[personal profile] ecosophia
down the tunnelI'd like to ask for some assistance from those of my readers who are into roleplaying games (RPGs) -- specifically the grand old-fashioned variety that involves a group of players sitting around a table as their imaginary alter egos move cautiously down a tunnel, listening intently for the rattle of six-sided dice that warns of a wandering monster...

A while back there was a certain amount of talk on this journal about the possibility of using the world of my fantasy novel series The Weird of Hali as the setting for a RPG. I'm pleased to be able to say that at this point it's not just talk. I got a polite no thank you from Chaosium, the company that owns the Call of Cthulhu game -- no surprises there, but I thought it was reasonable to talk to them first. Apparently the stars are right, though; maybe a week later, I was contacted by a smaller RPG firm that's interested, and so Weird of Hali: Roleplaying the Other Side of the Cthulhu Mythos is now under development. 

The company in question has a house system -- they're one of several firms that's licensed the Mythras fantasy RPG system, which cognoscenti will know was originally going to be the 6th edition of Runequest. Under the terms of the license, I can't change the rules or mechanics of the basic Mythras Imperative system, but I can add additional rules to my heart's content. I don't mind the restriction, as the rules as given are straightforward and intuitive to use -- you can download a set from this page if you're interested -- but the question of what to add is on my mind, and I figured I'd ask my readers for help here. 

If you've used Mythras, Runequest 6th edition, or any of the burgeoning family of d100 roleplaying games -- or for that matter, if you've done other kinds of roleplaying games and have things you especially love and hate about rulebooks for RPGs -- what would you like to see in a Weird of Hali RPG? The game will be set in the modern world, and characters will start out utterly clueless about the Great Old Ones, the elder races, the real history of the world, and especially about a secret and powerful organization nobody is willing to talk about -- an organization that seeks to impose its bloodstained utopian fantasies on the world once and for all, and will stop at nothing to get its way.

As your characters flee for their lives across the witch-haunted Massachusetts landscape, or venture into a vast and sinister house that one of them has just inherited from a mysterious great-uncle, or head into the swamps of tidewater North Carolina looking for a graveyard where legend has it that a stair leads down to unknown things, or jump down from a helicopter near a research station in Greenland where strange things have been happening...what do you want the rules to do for you? What skills should your characters be able to have, what problems in the  rulebooks need to be patched, what really cool things did a GM you know add to that really memorable Runequest game two years ago? Tentacular minds want to know...

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Date: 2019-01-30 02:59 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] avalterra
So many questions.

But I'll start with the most important. As, I know you know, one of the primary reasons that Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos is so prevalent today is that the Mythos is, essentially, open source - anyone can add to it.

I know you intend your take on the Mythos to be open source (minus original characters), but do you know if the Mythras rules set is open source? If so, people could start writing adventures based on your take of the Mythos and publish them pointing back to your core rules.

That would be awesome sauce.


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From: [personal profile] avalterra - Date: 2019-01-30 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

Hail Hali!

Date: 2019-01-30 03:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't know about the RPG rules I'd like to see. I haven't played any since I was a teen though the family & I have been getting back into table top board games, and some dungeon crawlers among them (RPG lite I guess). I did want to say I purchased the first book in your Hali series and am thoroughly enjoying it.

When I did play RPG's I always liked to read the scenarios & other material. Back then I really liked the "Rolemaster" system. It was adaptable to any style of RPG and the rules were very easy and uncluttered, which made it fun to just get into playing the game. Good luck with this!

Re: Hail Hali!

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2019-01-31 03:31 pm (UTC) - Expand

RPG books

Date: 2019-01-30 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
My first-blush suggestions would be to make sure it gets a good amount of playtesting before launch (if not by you, by someone, and if face-to-face playing won't be feasible, you can always play on an online forum like, and to be sure to include a few playtested sample adventures as part of the rulebook. Did I mention playtesting is important?

-troy jones iii
(my OpenID thing doesn't seem to work any more...)

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Date: 2019-01-30 04:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is really amazing! Congratulations!

I'm a long time Chaosium fan/CoC player. A couple of the things that really stand out for me in CoC roleplaying systems are the sanity mechanics and the tendency to lean away from combat-heavy rules.

Not that you don't need combat; certainly, that stuff is accounted for in the rules. But when compared to something like Dungeons and Dragons, your average CoC character is more concerned with investigation than learning how to cast a fireball. And naturally, in the course of investigating, as you learn more and more and delve deeper and deeper into the true nature of the mythos, your worldview may crumble, taking your sanity with it.

Given your view of the great old ones, it might be fun to have your sanity mechanics work in the opposite direction. As your sanity erodes, you begin seeing things for what they really are. Are you going crazy? Or are you finally going sane in a crazy world? There could be a lot of fun opportunities in something like that.

Please keep us updated on your progress with this. I'm really excited for you!

-Dudley Dawson

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GUMSHOE system

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Building out the CW mechanic

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Date: 2019-01-30 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm not much of an RPGer any more (young kids!) so I'll refrain from commenting on mechanics (not informed enough to have a useful opinion-- I just now heard of this new d100 thing... what'll they think of next?!).

I do have an opinion about points-of-view: clearly, one of the most popular aspects of your Mythos books is (akin, as has been noted several times here, to Ruthanna Emrys' recent books, which are quite good, and I'm sure you'll enjoy them when you get the chance) the turnabout POV.

There are lots and lots of Mythos-ish RPGs out there (Call of Cthulhu being but the most famous and successful). I may be very wrong, but I suspect that what would differentiate this new one from all the others would be that same differently-directed POV.

I don't know how to "bake that in" to a setting that is using pre-existing rules, but obviously you'd want to do something with the scenarios and original adventures (which I imagine you've already taken care of) and perhaps you might do a little something as well with character creation and layering on mechanics. For example, it might be possible (totally just blue-skying here) to play as a follower of the Great Old Ones, and to show what that means in the mechanics by having "Influence" checks take a large penalty against "normie" NPCs but a smaller bonus against people who know what your affiliation means, that sort of thing. In short, to really play up the idea that being on "the right side" means mostly costs and injuries in one's quotidian life and isn't a choice most people would willingly make. That will make the moral satisfaction, the "pseudo-catharsis" of heroism that role playing can give to people who have little optionality or power in their daily lives, all the sweeter.


From: [personal profile] walt_f - Date: 2019-01-31 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand

Cadence and Trust

Date: 2019-01-30 07:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I find cadence and trust to be the most important aspects of a well written adventure. I keep descriptions to two sentences, of simple structure, with a reading length of <12 seconds. During a new encounter I provide two meaningful player action sequences before the threat of harm.

GM: A sinkhole quickly forms in front of you. It is 30ft across, and 15ft deep.
P1: I toss a stone into the pit.
P2: I look for solid ground and ready a rope.
P3: I scan the area for other dangers.
GM: The chitinous head of a bear sized insect emerges from the bottom of the hole. It is making clicking noises as it's mandibles open and close.
P1: I try to emulate the clicking sounds.
P2: I make sure my recording equipment is on.
P3: I backup and pull the pin on a grenade.
GM: The insect submerges as the air in the pit takes on a yellowish tint. P1 & P2, you smell the scent of mustard.

This keeps eye contact between everyone at the table. Instead of people reading, becoming distracted/bored, or being too hesitant to take action.

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(no subject)

Date: 2019-01-30 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

I would like you to consider lethality and attacks from ambush as those are the things in some RPG that can be instant kills for anyone and turn the game into rock-paper-scissor type challenge, both some editions of D&D and Exalted (games I played) suffer from this.

I would suggest to give special play-test attention to investigation system, because it can be both too flat (roll a dice, get an bit of information), pointless (GM keeps all the clues and the rolls and character investment are superficial) or way to complex, which create Netrunner problem (Problem in brief: often the Netrunner was useless outside of hacking. Furthermore, when the hacker was doing their thing, no one else could do anything. So you had the player of the Netrunner sitting on their hands most of the game, except when the hacking came up, then everyone else was bored while they did their thing. If the investigator character gets to be netrunner of the show, you have a way to kill lots of fun.

I don't have enough to propose specific solution, it's one of those things that probably needs lots of experiments and tinkering to gets precisely right.


Ideas for additional rule elements

Date: 2019-01-30 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've been DM'ing since an early age, made my own system in high school, etc..., not actively DMing right now: kids...
So your questions scratch a nice itch!
- players always do the unexpected and you have to be ready to improvise, so tables letting the DM randomly generate improv ideas by picking a combination of possible attribute to come up with names encounters, events, even settings or background descriptions, are very helpful.
- the sanity attribute as a "mind's hit point" in the original Call of Cthulhu game was simplistic and a missed opportunity I think, I always thought it would be much more fun to have specific insanities, for example psychosis with hallucinations, even why not a separate funky combat system to fight what's coming up in the poor adventurer's head, leading to misguided actions in the real-world depending on outcomes, and whatever help is at hand! (cue to: "so you just stepped of that balcony")
- H.P.Lovecraft was undeniably a racist, so your great project of subverting his narrative should exploit his writings on Irish Catholics, German immigrants and African-Americans. These could be playable like eg. gnomes, dark elves and orcs were in classical D&D: having specific attribute modifiers and ambivalent descriptions. Thanks for the curveball? You're welcome!
- Keep any rule addition as simple as possible, the worst that can happen is a rule that gives some players an overly powerful way of achieving their goals. Playtesting is essential.
- I always had a dislike for the "Harry Potter" style of magic rules with "silly formula"=>"flashy physical effect" in role-playing games, it also puts a lot of people off in my experience. Arguably it's the stuff of trash teen movies. So I would drop magic points from the system, and have:
1) a hard-core unexplained or partly explained very-high-tech source for weird effect as part of the sci-fi side of the Cthulhu mythos
2) I've read your encyclopedia of the occult and what struck me most is the down-to-earth description of half con-artist / half-scientist cast of characters in there. so have fun boiling down some ceremonial/meditative part, as you describe well and know 1000x better than me.
- What about the world outside of Lovecraft's USA? I always though Ganesh and all various multiple-armed deities of asian cultures could fit nicely / weirdly. Also maybe south¢ral american sources. Curveball number two? maybe!
All the best!


Date: 2019-01-31 01:32 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Do you want player characters to be able to be of the more-relatable (perhaps primate-descended) elder races, or only H. sapiens sapiens?

RPG Wish List

Date: 2019-01-31 01:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi John.
Thank you for the opportunity to throw my 2d worth in the fountain!
An emphasis on the renewal that follows decline as a thematic element in direct contrast with the usual approach of decline, despair, and doom.
A complete ecosystem of competitors instead of just two legs bad, four tentacles good.
Rules for intrigue, intelligence, and counter-intelligence.
Realistic skills learned and applied in reasonable approximation of reality.
An avoidance of superhero or godlike player characters.
A supplement for the Connecticut Western Reserve (now Northeast Ohio). My ancestors beat feet – or other appendages – out of New England for some reason…
Sanity as an issue – response, recovery, lasting damage, etc. NOT fail your roll and off to the Arkham Asylum with you.
PS – I’d love to be part of a development and play-testing team.

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Expansions on sanity points

Date: 2019-01-31 04:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
What about including relics, artifacts, rings and all sorts of wearable or displayable items that players can go on “hunts” for? The attributes of each item can affect sanity points and/or other of the players attributes. Add a little bit of Indiana Jones treasure hunting to the mix.

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Date: 2019-01-31 05:56 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"a...powerful organization nobody is willing to talk about -- an organization that seeks to impose its bloodstained utopian fantasies on the world once and for all, and will stop at nothing to get its way."

It's not Monsanto, is it? Could be Amazon, too. :-)

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Date: 2019-01-31 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I’m looking forward to it! RPG design and theory is a major hobby of mine and I’ll like to help as much as I can. I've been working with a friend on an investigative Urban Fantasy RPG so I'm hoping I adapt some ideas from that here.

A good place to start is Frank Trollman’s RPG Design Flowchart ( and his followup post using Warhammer 40K cultists dealing with an empire that was to execute them for heresy. Trollman is a very abrasive person, but he’s one of the best RPG writers out there.

I’m not much of a fan of percentile systems. Their greatest virtue is that it’s easy to see your odds of success. Having a roll of 40 means you have a 40% chance of success. However they don’t have a probability curve as they are basically 1d10 systems with a second tie breaker roll that comes up 1 in 10 times. This can cause wild variation in success rates leading to skilled characters being outshown by those who are not. The infamous example is the wizard bending bars that the fighter could not.

This leads to the other major flaw of percentile systems is that in practice they almost always don’t allow characters to be skilled. Most percentile systems have characters often end up with rolls in the 40% range at best in what they’re suppose to be good at which means they fail more often than not.

RPGs often have bonuses for “easy rolls” but I’ve almost never seen or heard a GM actually apply them for a roll that mattered such as pickpocketing a guard’s pocket to get his keys. I’ll try to make sure characters have 70+% (honestly more like 80-90%) in things they are suppose to be good at. That way, scientists will know science things, soldiers can hit the broad sides of barns, con artists can talk their way past bouncers, and thieves can pickpockets at least 3 times in 4. It’s fine that characters outside their field only have 20-40% chance of success which Mythras does seem to do a good job at ensuring. That means they only succeed 1 or 2 times in 5 but that’s fine as that’s not their focus.

One thing I’m going to have to mediate on is how to incorporate diminishing returns into the skill system. Right now, every +1 to a skill is more valuable than the one before it as it decreases the odds of failure by an increasing amount.

To show what I mean, think about a character with a 20% skill. This means they’ll succeed 20% of the time and fail 80%. If we give them a +1% they’ll succeed 21% of the time fail 79%, a small improvement. They now fail about 1.25% less often. However if we do the same thing to a person with a 90% skill, they’ll go to a 91% success 9% fail rate which is a 10% reduction in the chance of failure. This isn’t necessarily bad in of itself, but accelerating returns on investment just doesn't seem right considering many of the themes of your works. Having mechanics that directly go against the themes of the RPG itself is a huge problem in the industry.

A common desire of mine when it comes to RPGs is to make sure the skill list is balanced within itself. Often skills that you know you’re going to roll multiple times per sessions compete with skills that you’ll almost never roll or never need to roll. It makes it easy to invest in the skills that you’ll use and ignore the ones you don’t. One of my friends has written about this issue here:

Lastly, what’s your suggested place to order The Weird of Hali books? They were in my to-read queue already which is backed up at the moment, but I’m planning on moving them to the front.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-01-31 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] walt_f
Well said.

I've always used success tables based on exponential decay functions to avoid the increasing and diminishing return problems you describe. What's actually going on in typical percentile and d20-based systems is that one is combining independent probabilities (such as, the probability that either of two advantageous factors will make the difference between failure and success) by adding them together. That's a basic mathematical error, and the consequences range from insignificant to overwhelming depending on the situation. (A lot of classic RPG rules are designed to keep situations and die rolls away from the realms where the probabilities break down.) Exponential decay resolution tables like the ones described here remove that error.

However, that's not an option while working with the Mythras system. So as you say, classifying specific skills reasonably and handling them correctly at game time is paramount.

Distinguishing in play between opposed, difficult, and routine skill attempts is key. An average professional arm wrestler will, by definition, lose 50% of the time, and might realistically have something like a 5% chance to "fumble" (strain something, or be embarrassingly uncompetitive). An average professional mountain climber has about a 50% chance of summiting Everest in a serious attempt, and about a 5% chance of dying on the mountain. But that doesn't mean an average professional chef should have a 50% chance of serving edible food and a 5% chance of poisoning the guests. (To make it more complicated, an average professional golfer has close to a 0% chance of actually winning a given tournament, but has a much better than 50% chance of winning a significant amount of money. Which of those outcomes should a "success" mean?)

Some systems (I haven't checked whether Mythras has this problem, but past general experience tells me it's likely) scale success chances pretty well but have annoyingly persistent fumble rules. So the skilled chef is almost guaranteed to prepare a fine meal even under adverse conditions, but will still poison all the guests the remaining 5% of the time.

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Magical systems

Date: 2019-01-31 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is exciting! I’ve never played RPGs much, mostly for lack of a gaming group but I have enough friends who are fans of yours that we could probably assemble a group once this is out.

I was curious about your plans for the magical system: I know you mentioned you were planning on keeping the magic in the system more realistic than typical RPGs. How much room in the established module would there be to establish other elements that would further simulate the experiences of real magic:

-a daily spell that has to be performed in order to advance in level and recharge voor points.

-spells that are completely useless without meditation on the lore of the system that forms the matrix the spells operate in, which is equally fragmented.

-spellbooks and lore books that contain built in traps, intentionally misleading information, useless fluff, coded messages, and counterfeits (all of which require extensive experience and high perception rolls to catch unless you can find a teacher who knows what they’re doing, meaning you could be casting a spell that did nothing or cast an unforeseen status effect and only the GM would know). That also means you could have players discover typical RPG flamethrower/invisibility/flight spells that just don’t do anything but waste time and voor points.

-spells that start out doing absolutely nothing but build steadily in power and whose effects are calculated by the GM rather than the player (meaning you have no direct way of knowing whether your spell worked or the GM just had a run of bad rolls)

-Spells that start out doing nothing but grow in power through steady repetition.

-some way of incorporating divination that impacts the story that can give players subtle hints about the impact of certain actions or the direction the campaign is going.

-Would a character who was an occultist in the mundane, human world have an edge in learning eldritch magic?

And on an unrelated note: would there be any journeying into the dreamlands in the initial release or would that be a later expansion?

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of this. And to reading the rest of the WOH series.

-Eric S

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Date: 2019-02-01 03:10 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ritaer
Just spotted a meme on Facebook that fits in here: photos of Mark Zuckerberg and HP Lovecraft--remarkable resemblance. Headline: One created an unspeakable abomination that wants to consume as many human souls as it can; and the other is H. P. Lovecraft.

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Re: memes

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Our Old F(r)iend

Date: 2019-02-02 05:18 pm (UTC)
packshaud: Photography of my cat. (Default)
From: [personal profile] packshaud
Perhaps it would be interesting to include in some form my greatest enemy, the Watcher on the Threshold. I had several encounters with this powerful being, he is hindering my progress until this day.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-02 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tsuzua
The 40% professional skill roll is that it’s a symptom I’ve encountered again and again when looking at percentile systems. I’ve seen many a lawyer or bootlegger in Call of Cthulhu, computer hacker or cyborg assassin in Eclipse Phase, or ratcatcher from WH Fantasy with skill levels that low or at best 60% in their professions. From what I can pierce together there are two causes to this.

The first is people tend to make characters that are spread way too thin over too many skills. They only can give 10 or 20 skills points to what they want to be good because there’s also adding 5 to a bunch of other skills as well. The second is more cultural with people thinking that 75+% skill is too high to be reasonable when it means they succeed at least 3 times in 4. My reason to emphasize this observation is to make sure character competency will be baked into the sauce especially it comes to any sample characters made, or any “what does having a certain roll mean?” tables. Many RPG writers treat them as afterthoughts when in fact they are commonly used benchmarks players and GMs use when it comes to characters.

As for the second part, Mountaineering is in fact a good example of the issue. WoH characters can’t nor should be good at everything and thus will have to choose what skills they want to emphasize and which they will have to keep low. From the Mythras Imperative rules, novice characters start with 450 skill points* which means they’ll be able to add 50 or so points to 9 skills. If you assume 11 in all attributes, that puts them at roughly 72% in those 9 skills and 22% to everything else. Using the skill list, there are 23 standard skills and 39 Professional skills for 62 total. This means any given PC can be good at around 15% of available skills. With a party of 4 and no skill overlap, that means at most maybe 60% of the skill list can be covered by someone.

This might seem random but please bear with me. Here’s an adventure outline I came up with based on what I know of WoH and CoC:
From one of their contacts or dreams, the PCs find out about a relic made by the Lost City of Z civilization in what is now central Brazil. The relic was left on an altar and by doing the correct ritual, it can be repowered after centuries of neglect. The PCs need to learn how to do the ritual and then locate relic and altar in the Amazon rain forest. Little do the PCs know, a group of Radiance operatives / unpleasant group of cultists are also on the trail of the relic for their own purposes.

After research, the PCs find out that the ritual instructions and rough location of the abandoned settlement are found in the journal of a Portuguese explorer who lived with some of the survivors of the Lost City of Z’s collapse in the 17th century. Handily, these writings are on loan from the National Library of Brazil to nearby Miskatonic University as part of a larger collection though with restricted access. The PCs have to acquire or gain a copy of the pages they need. However during this time, the rival group is also inquiring into these writings and the PCs have to evade or confront them or risk being ambushed in Arkham or later in the adventure. Or depending on how things shake out, the PCs might even have to steal the journal from the operatives!

With the journal notes in hand, the PCs travel to Brazil and try to navigate to the site. They may be able to enlist the help or even up antagonizing the local tribespeople. If the PCs haven’t dealt with the rival group, they might show up here. Braving jungle dangers, the PCs reach the abandoned town only to discover that there’s a Dark Young there. The Dark Young is there for reasons of her own, and the PCs can help her at some cost to themselves, fight her off, trick her, or otherwise convince her to leave before doing the ritual. The PCs then do the ritual and rewarded with an artifact of noteworthy power.

I can think of many different approaches the PCs could perform all these tasks and what skills and abilities would be useful depending on their approaches they choose. Skills that are likely going to be useful again and again are ones that related to gathering information, sneaking / breaking & entering, and social interactions. Combat skills may be needed if the PCs take a more aggressive approach against their rivals, get ambushed, or decide to fight the Dark Young. However how useful is the Mountaineering skill during the adventure? What if the next adventure doesn’t take place in a mountainous region as well?

You could have a sidequest where the PCs go to the Andes to chat with a mi-go to help convince the Dark Young to leave. Even if you do that, does Mountaineering become useful? If you need Mountaineering to reach the mi-go, then it’s likely only one PC will have the skill and the rest only have 1 in 5 chance of succeeding. If they do need to succeed at Mountaineering to reach the mi-go, that means most of the party can’t go which is less than ideal. If those PCs don’t need to roll to chat with a mi-go because they can hire some helpful guides, then the one PC who picked up Mountaineering can do that as well and could have learned something else instead like Evade to be avoid being eaten. There are tricks a GM can do to work around these issues, but generally it’s best to deal with the heart of the matter directly with the skill list.

There’s an interplay and need for balance in skill lists that is often overlooked in this regard. A skill list has to be large enough that different characters bring different options and abilities to the table, but it has to be small enough that the skills listed are balanced with each other in usefulness. Otherwise, GMs are placed in dilemmas where some skills are much more useful than others which can lead to some characters being way more effective and important than others, or everyone looking too similar. You’ll likely will need to grow and prune the skill list as adventures are made and you discover what people tend to roll at the table. Mythras has the advantage here in that you naturally end up tracking what skills are used as part of its advancement mechanic. I strongly suggest asking what skills are used (and if possible how often) as part of playtesting, and if there are times where players wished to do something not covered by an existing skill.

Do you have the option to overhaul the skill list or are there parts to it you can’t change?

(This is the Anonymous user posted eariler in this thread. I just made a Dreamwidth account.)

*- Technically this is 100 Culture, 100 Career and 150 freebie skill points. However if you choose appropriate careers and cultures, you likely can grab whatever skills you want so I’m pooling them all together even if this ultimately means you’re a barbarian librarian or something.

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From: [personal profile] tsuzua - Date: 2019-02-06 02:12 am (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2019-02-04 08:03 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] walt_f
Here are a few areas I've been thinking about that might need (or benefit from) special attention for this game.

1. Healing. The most popular settings for role playing games are ones where some form of accelerated healing is commonly available. In a quasi-realistic modern world you're kind of in a bind there.

Unlike some systems where you can sort of pretend most of the vague hit point "damage" acquired in the previous fight scene actually represents bruises and exhaustion, Mythras is one of those that tell you your right arm is unusable, or you can't walk, until that stab wound heals in four weeks. Something like that once in a while can add an interesting twist ("I'm off to Mordor. On crutches. Wish me well.") or just verisimilitude, but such hit-location systems tend to make it happen constantly. It gets old pretty quickly. (Leading to things like the GM saying: "The next morning, amazingly, you’ve completely recovered from your concussion, broken arm, and collapsed lung…")

Some adventures can be structured to take place on time scales where a month or two of bed rest between fights doesn't really get in the way, but not if the Radiance is pursuing you or racing you to a goal.

From the point of view of setting and atmosphere, you probably want to make accelerated healing something rare and special, if it exists at all. But game play considerations might force a compromise on that.

2. Pursuit, with and without vehicles. This is something that's usually handled by opposed skill checks such as track versus evasion, which is adequate but meager. That is to say, it follows from players' real-world expectations about what should happen, rather than leading or enriching them. I've never seen a pursuit system that actively helps GMs and players run interesting pursuit and chase "set pieces." There could be an opportunity there. But even if you keep it standard, a compact set of pursuit rules and skills, without turning into Car Wars, would be useful.

3. Present-Day Stuff (and the Radiance). It's the 21st Century; it's the U.S.A. The heroes need an ancient language read, a sea voyage navigated, a genealogy traced, a gourmet meal cooked, a broken down car started, and a broken bone set. Unfortunately, they don't happen to have any of those skills. What to do? Well, how about looking for a linguist, a navigator, a genealogist, GrubHub, a mechanic, and a hospital?

Well, okay, they might not be available if you're in a remote place; there might not be time; the characters might not be able to afford them; they might be incompetent or untrustworthy or tied in (knowingly or not) with the Radiance. Given the setting, though, it would be nice if there were a way of deciding such things, apart from GM whim. In any case, finding, evaluating, hiring, and "knowing a guy" should be part of at least one skill category.

The 1e AD&D rules and results tables for hiring henchmen all but guaranteed it wouldn't be worth the trouble. That's because hired muscle only rarely fits the fantasy adventure genre so the design team only wanted to discourage it. In the genre of present-day investigation, protagonists seek expert help in specialized fields all the time. (And often enough find out later that their expert advisor has been working for the other side all along, which suggests that that concern, which builds plots, should be the main drawback to interacting with them, rather than problems with e.g. price or availability, which just obstruct.)

4. Don't overlook the Passions subsystem. Passions are given a cursory treatment in MI, but they represent a powerful role playing technique and should be emphasized and customized for WoH. Old online discussions of the "Spiritual Attributes" mechanics in the indie RPG The Riddle of Steel (which I believe was the prototype for such rules) could be a useful resource.

The bigger picture?

Date: 2019-02-06 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hey… since this game is a guerrilla war against the Radiance, should we give some thought to guerrilla campaigns, as well as PC led operations – including humanitarian ones – and psychological operations? Defections are a big deal for both sides, as are evacuations, medical and public health care, and basic needs support. For instance, what if Owen were persuaded to throw in with the Radiance, or Shelby wanted out? Eldritch minds want to know. I’m not sure if most players would be very interested in doing humanitarian work; although I’ve played those sorts scenarios in both Traveller (aid after a comet hit a planet) and in The Morrow Project (nation building including stringing telegraph wires and setting up schools). Rusty


ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)John Michael Greer

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