Post Kickstarter thoughts

Slowly recovering from the awesome that was The Road To Hell Kickstarter, and getting back to the more mundane housework and day-to-day stuff I have to catch up with.

One of the things that was Awesome about the KS is that I’ve wanted to play Lamentations of the Flame Princess for a good couple of years (5 or so?) and the playtesting of this scenario (which has had a couple of outings now and has an ongoing playtest at the moment to test last-minute encounter additions) gave that one a good going over on that front. I’ll post more about that later, I’m overdue an appreciation post about LoTFP.

Another thing that was awesome about the KS was the fact that it funded and then some, so I’ll be able to take my original idea, pay the artists, pay myself and deliver it in a short time scale.

And it’s a model I can use for adventure releases in the future as well. I’ve got another two adventures that follow up Road to Hell (which I’m calling the Jacobean Trilogy for reference) but I’m also thinking about doing something for Mythras, which I’ve also wanted to run for like forever.  As I develop the ideas I have for it (in what I call the Fun Phase), I’ll blog about it here. Look out for the tag #makemineMythras.

In the next couple of days, I’ll be finishing off some writing/publishing stuff for Road to Hell to keep it on track for a December/January fulfilment. But I’ll also be getting back into Crypts and Things with the last writing for Under Dark Spires and issue 2 of The Shroud. I’m going to be running The Lost City of the God-Emperor at Grogmeet next Saturday, so nailing that one down is high on the list of priorities 🙂

Mythras in Review

I’m a long-time fan of Mythras. In many ways it’s the Rolls Royce of the D100 gaming world, being clean and dignified, as well as being a robust ruleset. It came from the same branch of the D100 systems tree, Mongoose RuneQuest (MRQ), as my own OpenQuest (OQ) and while I cut down and rationalised the MRQ SRD, Mythras’s authors (Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash) kept the complexity added with MRQ and refined it. I’ve promised myself that I would do a quick review of Mythras and its supplements when it came out two years ago in 2016, and the current Bundle of Holding seems to be an excellent time to do that. So if you are wondering whether Mythras is for you, read on.

A Bit of History and Context

For me, Mythras is the logical inheritor of all the non-Gloranthan RuneQuest (RQ) that got played in the 80s/90s via the Avalon Hill RQ3 ruleset, which us lucky Brits got via much improved Games Workshop hardcover releases. It came via Mongoose Publishing’s efforts when they had the RQ licence in the 2000s. Mythras’ authors Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash were then Mongoose staff writers who were tasked with producing a second edition of the somewhat wobbly first edition. This they did to much acclaim, and when Mongoose lost the RQ license, they put out the version of the MRQ2 that they wanted under their Design Mechanism moniker as RQ6. Mythras is the final link in this chain of releases, highly polished, with its own name and with all the Gloranthan references removed.

Presentation

305 pages of clearly laid out text, with clear black and white line art. Very evocative of the games’ 80s/90s roots.

The Pdf is fully bookmarked, and the contents, index and in page cross-references are all fully functional hyperlinks.

I’ve got the printed version, which is a very robust and cleanly printed hardcover which I can see easily surviving many years of use/abuse.

Characters

What are characters like in Mythras?  Well, they are mythic but based on realism. So you could quickly do the heroes of Homers Iliad/Odyssey with Mythras. They have exceptional abilities, but are fragile and bleed, with even the mightiest hero being at risk of death by a well-placed lucky blow by a minor character.

The character generation system breaks down into three chapters

  • Character
  • Culture & Community
  • Careers

Each of these sections focuses on building the characters’ abilities up while putting them in context of these three areas. For example the Culture and Community chapter, gets the player to decide which culture the character comes from (Primitive, Barbarian, Nomad, Civilised – are the defaults in the core rulebook) and from that they determine what social class they are members of that culture, as well as what ties and bonds (known as Passions) they have to fellow members. The chapter ends with a Background Events table of 100 entries. I’m a big fan of these (after first coming across them in Cyberpunk 2020 in the early 90s) since they stop characters who are numerically the same being identical and give the character an excellent in-built adventure hooks.

The System

The skill system is a roll equal or under percentile system. Each character (and monster) has a set of percentile skills that when it’s not clear what is going to happen are tested using two ten-sided dice.  Extra levels of success and failure are brought in with special results. If you succeed in the lower tenth of your success range (for example if your skill is 40%, 1-4%) you Critical, conversely if you fail and roll 99-00%  you fumble.

That’s the basics of it, and there are numerous quick and easy subsystems which elaborate on what happens in certain circumstances.

Combat gets a chapter of its own. Mythras combat is the most complex of all the D100 systems but is well thought out and streamlined. If you don’t want to use all the options, such as combat effects which bring in special effects dependant on weapon type on a critical, the system is modular enough to drop these without breaking it.

Five Magic Systems

D100 fantasy lives and breathes on its magic systems which unlike D&D is flexible and based upon spells costing magic points to cast. Mythras has five magic systems, which all share common features while having their own differences and focus.

Folk Magic the most common but least potent of all the magic systems. It gives characters quickfire utility type magic , such as Bladesharp which offers extra damage points and an improved chance to hit, with low bookkeeping. It’s the type of magic that if your players want a little bit of magic to improve their characters without magic becoming their speciality or focus.

Theism is the magic provided by the gods. It’s much more powerful than folk magic but similar in complexity bookkeeping wise. While you don’t need to spend Magic points to cast spells your character does have a relationship with a deity that you need to maintain to keep on using their magic.

Animism is primitive magic from using bound spirits. It’s flavoursome and powerful but relies on the character having a good relationship with the spirit world, and the player getting their head around the concept of spirits.

Sorcery is the most flexible type of Mythras magic, and while much more straightforward and playable than its RQ 3 roots, still requires the player to want to dedicate time to working out how the Sorcerer’s spells work the best for them. i.e. it’s only really for players who want to play a magic using character.

Mystic covers those characters who use magic as an expression of their physical and mental skills and is quickly set up to do Martial Arts type characters.

Other Bits of the Framework

The book finally has three chapters which fill out the Mythras rules framework.

Cults and Brotherhoods. Cults are the mini-religions that D100 systems classically use to provide magic and skills training to characters, as well as make their lives interesting with all sorts of inter cult politics. Mythras has a good selection of pre-made examples for each of the magic approaches but also includes non-magical Brotherhoods.

Creatures. In D100 games “monsters are people too”, and Mythras continues this approach giving full stats. Skills and magic for its creature descriptions, which are more templates for the GM to create unique individuals for their games. Also where relevant extra information is given if the creature is suitable as a player character race.

Games Mastery. This GM’s advice section rounds out the whole nuggets of advice that pepper the entire rulebook , with a short, robust article which highlights the features of the game and how best to use them.

Overall Mythras is a complete standalone game, but it is missing a starter adventure – but behold there is a free pdf “Games Masters Pack” which has two introductory adventures and lots of follow up adventures/setting books (some of which are included in the Mythras Bundle of Holding).

Why you should look at this

If you are coming from D&D and are looking for an alternative to rigidly enforced class/level system, were characters organically grow through play and their in-game experiences and can try anything they want to.

Mythras is well established and has a wealth of adventures and setting books, some of which go beyond the established mythic fantasy of the core rulebook. The recently released After the Vampire Wars, explores modern day horror, while Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across the Parallels, based upon the Brian Talbot graphic novels of the same name, is weird time-travelling science fiction.

It’s not for you if

You are a diehard storygamer. Mythras while being a cleaned up and up to date D100 ruleset, is still very much a traditional old-school game from the 1980/90s. It has all hallmarks of that gaming style: characteristics that map back to statistics that can be physically quantified, a clearly defined Gamesmaster/player split with well-defined roles and responsibilities, and a system that is literally peppered with modifiers and rules that simulate the gritty reality that characters find themselves in.  Mythras (and other D100 variants) does support a storytelling style of play, because of its freeform character advancement system and skill use system, but you have to engage with it and understand that to get the best out of it. It doesn’t lead you by the nose, hard coding it into lightweight rules systems like story games like Fate or Powered by the Apocalypse games do.

Coming next in Mythras Review: Mythic Rome.

Lyonesse RPG by Design Mechanism

Yesterday Lawrence Whitaker announced a new licensed Lyonnese Roleplaying game, which while being self-contained will use the Mythras system, based on Jack Vance’s novels:

We are delighted to announce the Lyonesse roleplaying game.

Jack Vance’s high fantasy masterpiece, Lyonesse, is to be brought to life in a new roleplaying game by The Design Mechanism. Licensed and approved by Spatterlight Press, Lyonesse is a standalone game based on the acclaimed Mythras system. The Lyonesse trilogy – Suldrun’s Garden, The Green Pearl, and Madouc – tells the story of the Elder Isles, and the ambitions of King Casmir of Lyonesse to bring its fractious kingdoms under his sole rule. Casmir is opposed by Aillas of Troicinet, the lover of Casmir’s daughter, Suldrun, and father of Dhrun, a child raised among the fairies of Thripsey Shee and destined to sit on the throne Evandig, which King Casmir believes to be his own destiny.

You can read the full press release here [http://thedesignmechanism.com/resources/Press_Releases/Lyonesse RPG Press Release.pdf].

Its early days in development, a 2019/2020 release date has been noted in comments by Lawrence, but the artists have been announced in the full press release, and the following teaser image was released with tannouncementent:

Mythras Sale

Been holding off buying Mythras or some of its supplements? Got a bit of Crimbo money that is burning a hole in your pocket? Or perhaps you just like January Sales? Then run over to the Design Mechanism Site, armed with the code below, and bag yourself a bargain.

Lawrence Whitaker lays it down….

It’s the 2017 Boxing Day Sale!

From 26th December until 2nd January, there’s 30% off print and PDF books at The Design Mechanism’s store. Everything is on sale, with the exception of our December 2017 release title (Mythic Constantinople and The Lonely Lighthouse).

So if you missed out during the year, or want to introduce friends to Mythras, there’s no better time to snag a bargain!

Simply use the code below at checkout to get 30% off your order.

TDMBOXINGDAY17

Www.thedesignmechanism.com/store

And if you like sales, we’re having a big D101 January sale that starts on 1st of Jan and runs until Jan 31st.

Christmas in July UK OSR picks

Here’s my personal list of picks from the UK publishers participating in DriveThruRPG.com’s Christmas in July sale.

Return of the Woodland Warriors by Beyond Belief Games
I loved the first edition of this simplified and tweaked version of Swords & Wizardry that only uses D6s and is suitable for children. The new edition has full-colour art which adds to the magic. Lovely cover by longtime D101 collaborator Peter Frian.

The Cthulhu Hack by Just Crunch Games
Rules light, courtesy of its use of the Black Hack engine, rules for Cthulhu investigative horror. It’s just been upgraded to version 1.5, which refines this already sharp ruleset. Oh and its supplements are also in the sale.

Mythras by Design Mechanism
If you’ve not got this behemoth of D100 goodness by now here’s your chance. As well as the core system, which is a complete thing and good to go running a wide variety of fantasy settings of various genres, all the formidable selection of adventures and setting books are in the sale.

My recommendations: Mythic Rome & Mythic Britain (including Mythic Britain: Logres, the supplement by D101 collaborator Paul Mitchener about the Anglo Saxons), and I’m going to use the sale to catch up with the Monthly Mythras adventures that I’ve woefully fallen behind on.

Crypts of Indormancy by Melsonian Arts Council
A nice self-contained, creepy as fuck adventure for Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Clockwork and Chivalry by Cakebread and Walton
The English Civil War as fought by Alchemical Cavaliers and Clockwork device using Roundheads.  One of my favourite settings of all time, and the D100 Renaissance system (an offspring of OpenQuest) makes me grin even more. Also check out the epic Pirates & Dragons, if you fancy a bit of fantasy Pirates in the vein of Pirates of the Carribean.

The Christmas in July sale is on until the end of the month over at DriveThruRPG.com, and all of D101 Games Books are participating with 25% off all pdfs.

UK OSR Round Up for November 2016

Dragonmeet, the annual games day held in London this year on Saturday Dec 3rd, is nearly upon us. It’s being co-sponsored by Lamentations of the Flame Princess as well as Chaosium and there are many UK OSR publishers attending as well as us:

Among the guests are old school heroes Ian Livingstone & Steve Jackson of Fighting Fantasy/early Games Workshop fame and Joe Dever author/creator of Lone Wolf.

D101 Games is in attendance and I’ll have a big pile of Crypts and Things with me, as well as OpenQuest and River of Heaven among the pile of D101 goodness

The Design Mechanism  continues to surge ahead on the Mythras release front.

First off is the return of Mythic Rome by Pete Nash, originally released as an BRP version which won a Silver Ennies, in a time when the Ennies were dominated by D&D product, updated for Mythras with brand new art as a lovely hardback.  It covers Rome from its foundation to the end of the Republic. If you want to run games inspired by Steven Saylor’s Sub Rosa series or HBO Rome this is the book to get.

mythic-rome

And because Pete and Loz love you and want you to try out Mythras for the next couple of months they are going to putting out standalone adventures compatible with both Mythras and the free Mythras Imperative. The first one is a Sci-Fi (they’ve already taken Mythras in that direction with their Luther Arkwright book and check out M-Space by Frostbyte Books) called A Gift From Shamash ( in pdf via drivethrurpg.com and in print from Lulu ).

gift-from-shamash

Crypts of Indormancy for Lamentations of the Flame Princess and other OSR games funded recently and everything is on track for November release  according the latest backers report.  Keep an eye out for its release, it will be a good ‘un 😉

Grogmeet happened in my home city of Manchester….and I completely missed it. My excuse being a I was already signed heavy weekend of family fun, but hoping that this becomes a regular thing 🙂  Here’s a quick highlights movie they made.

Finally not strictly OSR (because its for 5Th Ed) but Cubicle 7’s Adventures in Middle Earth hit the shops this week, and I bagsied a copy. I must confess I usually by C7’s Tolkien stuff for the gorgeous art, and this book keeps up that tradition using the same smooth colourful layout with lashings of fantastic colour illustrations, but from a quick skim its a seamless version of 5ed blended with Tolkien flavour and the unique rules that made the One Ring so special ported over.  Looking forward to picking up the companion Loremaster’s Guide when it comes out. This one has a special place in many UK Grognards heart’s because Tolkien was very much part of growing up in the UK, for example many people read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as part of their English education at school, and even though there wasn’t an official D&D adaptation many people played the game with a strong Tolkien flavour. So 30 years on its very heartwarming to finally see an licensed adaptation for D&D and see it get so right.

Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7, I has it my precious!!!!

Adventures in Middle Earth by Cubicle 7, I has it my precious!!!!

What D101 is up to?
I’m currently busy getting the adventures for the Crypts and Things Kickstarter together. Tombs of the Necromancer is getting some clean up work done, some extra bits by author Paul Mitchener, and Life and Death Zarth Edition is getting new art and layout. Its neck and neck which one will get released first. Blood of the Dragon/The Dark Path (new) and Fort Boneguard (new) are all getting put together along with a new scenario, The Lost City of the God Emperor, into one book called Under Dark Spires. Tournaments of Madness and Death is quietly trundling along.

I've got me nose in a good book :)

I’ve got me nose in a good book 🙂

David M.Wright who did the art for the main rule book is signed up to do the art for the adventures. David recently got his rulebook and was dead chuffed with it 🙂

“C&T encapsulates pretty much everything I love about classic 80’s RPG fantasy (which was all around when I was growing up as a lad), but with all the naff stuff removed!  It’s a 100% pure Sword & Sorcery game.  There are Barbarians, Warriors, Sorcerers and Thieves, all pitted against an ever expanding assortment of monsters, amorphous Hell-Spawed demonic crypt dwelling conglomerations, and the like (none of your wishy-washy elves, gnomes, and sappy fairies here!). There is Blood, there is Fire, there is Magic, Muscle, Mist, and Steel!  : )”

Oh and to keep us going until the adventures land I’m putting a C&T fanzine together called “From the Shroud”, a little A5 affair that currently has a couple of articles by me and a small introductory scenario called “The Secret of Skull Hill”, that I’m hoping will be on sale at Dragonmeet. If you are interested in contributing get in touch via newt@d101games.com. The deadline for submissions is tight however, this coming Sunday 20th November.

I’m also starting the playtest of Beyond Dread Portals (the new name of Paul Mitchener’s Empire of Ys ) this week, which will run into early next year with an aim of getting out in the first half of next year.

In non-fantasy-land I’m putting wrapping up the last bits of writing on the River of Heaven Companion, so that should be out early 2017 🙂

Remember my reporting on this UK OSR Update is only as good as my attention span on G+, so if I’ve missed anything just point it out in the comments below.

 

UK OSR Update June 2016

Well I go away on a family holiday, followed by UK Games Expo and all sorts of nonsense gets released or pops up on G+ in the UK OSR scene. So here’s a quick catch up of recent stuff I’m aware of. If I’ve missed anything mention it in the comments below and I’ll stick it in my next update.

At UK Games Expo my mate Paul Baldowski (Just Crunch Games) was peddling printed and boxset copies of his The Cthulhu Hack  which is still going strong and has spawned a supplement From Unformed Realms.  Based off the Black Hack this standalone game takes the same stripped down OSR/D20 approach as the Black Hack itself but adds quick rules based for Investigation.

the-cthulhu-hack

Also John Davis has released The Jack Hack which brings alternate rules, encounter tables and five new classes for the Black Hack so you can play adventures in the grim and gritty Victorian London at the time of Jack the Ripper.

the-jack-hack

Stellar Adventures Kickstarter – I was thinking that Graham Bottley of Arion Games had gone all quiet on the Advanced Fighting Fantasy front then this Kickstarter for a standalone Science Fiction version of the game pops up from nowhere. Suffice to say I’m going to be backing this one 🙂

stellar-adventures

Also the Advanced Fighting Fantasy and the Advanced Fighting Fantasy Companion are now available as pdf from Drivethrurpg.com.

Romance of the Perilous Land by Scott Malthouse is a game based on British Folklore in-development and play-testing. From a comment made by Scott on G+ its a “it’s OGL, inspired by Swords & Wizardry, Black Hack, T&T, and 5e. But also its own system “. Here’s the current cover.  This is one I’m following with great interest.

ROMANCE OF PERILOUS LAND COVER

England Upturn’d by UK Author Barry Blatt has been released by Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Set in the English Civil War in the Lincolnshire fens, its a fantastic adventure blending the weird history of the time and Barry’s psychedelic sensibilities into one awesome package. I picked a copy up at UK Games Expo and I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

Ian Sturlock Interview Over at UK Roleplayers Ian Sturlock, who runs Serpent King Games and is custodian of the Dragon Warriors RPG is being being Interviewed.

Mythras Imperative. This is UK Exiles Lawrence Whitaker & Pete Nash’s 32 page free taster of their rebranded RQ6 system. They may have lost the name, but damn this feels like RQ of old, since some of the complexity of the full system has been lost in this cut down system. The only downside is there’s no magic system, but seeing as they want this to be a base for third party publishers to use to base products off they’ve chucked in rules for firearms. Anyway that aside, check it out its free!

mythras-imperative-cover

It seems like everyone is hacking these days and Simon Washbourne has just released his OSR version of Barbarians of Lemuria, the BOL Hack. A stripped down version of Barbarians of Lemuria with all the fluff removed and just a simple OD&D inspired ruleset left behind.

D101 OSR News

Work continues on Crypts and Things and were on for a July release of the pdf to backers, and opening of pre-orders then if you missed the kickstarter. The latest Kickstarter update has news of this and preview page layouts.

I’ve had a bit of a review of the prices of OpenQuest and River of Heaven and their respective supplements, and I’ve lowered the prices of the print versions on Drivethru and Lulu. For example a hardcover of OpenQuest Deluxe used to be $40 its now $30. So if you were considering getting a print version now is the time to do it 🙂

Also Lulu are doing a 35% off code at the moment LULU35

 

 

Mythas Imperiative released

Amythras-imperative-covers previously reported Mythras is the new re-branded name of RuneQuest 6 (seeing the trademarked name reverts back to owners Chaosium in July).  Its publishers The Design Mechanism aren’t hanging about and have released a concise/compact 32 version named Mythras Imperative, as a free pdf.

An introduction to the full Mythras rules system, and d100 gaming in general, Mythras Imperative gives you everything you need, in one slim-line volume, for worlds of  adventure!Mythras Imperative is a generic roleplaying game system covering ancient, modern and futuristic eras. It includes rules for character creation, skills, spot rules, combat and sample creatures to get you started.

I’m printing it off for a quick read tonight, but you can go grab it for free and check it out here: