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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mythic - Location Generator

I've been meaning to make posts about what I've added to the Mythic system for my personal use. After some more tests, I think I'm ready to show what I have come up with.

It is by no means final, but my current tests were satisfying. Also, it's nothing big: I'm just reusing what Mythic taught me and presenting a new tool among the Mythic tools. Finally, I can vouch it works for me, but not that it will work for everyone :). This said, I still hope it will be of some use to others, if at least as a springboard to yet other tools for Mythic.

Quick Mythic summary - People in the know, skip to the next paragraph!

Mythic is a system for roleplaying games (primarily) that allows you to determine things out of your control through Yes/No questions and a roll of dice. It offers additional tools tailored to specific situations such as Complex Questions, Scene Management and such... It is very useful to play a tabletop RPG on your own or with an all-player team (no Game Master), and can be used for wargaming too. I find it's an interesting tool for writing inspiration too.

Generating locations

The main system

I use a system initially created to generate dungeon themes (abandoned haunted mine, forest vine labyrinth, ...), now adapted to more generic locations and certainly adaptable to other things.

My problem: while Mythic answers Yes/No and Complex questions, I quickly realized it didn't really work for me when I was trying to come up with places, rooms and dungeons. Say you're walking through a forest. You ask "do I find something peculiar while I walk?" YES. Okay... but what? If you want to be surprised and have that peculiar something be something wholly new, where do you start? What kind of questions can you ask? There are so many possibilities that I found it mind-boggling myself, and I was rather scared I would keep coming up with the same questions, hence getting dull discoveries.

My solution: simplify the process by letting chance choose what to ask about. Then keep using Mythic as usual.

The issue : it uses random tables. If anyone can think of a solution that works similarly but without random tables... please share :)

Location types

I tried to come with things that would define a location quickly, yet leave an open field of possibilities. For this, I use an initial roll on the Location Types table which follows:

Portal
Lone dwelling
Dwellings
Camp
Utility building
Structure
Plane
Water source
Obstacle
Difficult terrain
Particularity

I know I can make this table better, but for now it will do. The main idea is that types are vague enough, yet not *too* vague that there would be a thousand questions left. "Water source" is currently the type I'm less fond of as it's already a bit too precise.

Attributes

Once the type is defined, I roll three times on the Location Attributes table:

Hot/Cold
Surface/Underground
Structured/Chaotic
Light/Dark
Solid/Unstable
Toxic/Pure
Natural/Urban
Clean/Dirty
Damp/Dry
Mechanical/Mystical
Divine/Demonic
New/Old
Visible/Hidden
Easy/Hard to access
Populated/Deserted
Decorated/Sober
Good/Bad shape
Big/Small

This table is also a work in progress and some entries might be left out depending on the setting, or taken at metaphorical value. You will notice each attribute is actually a "something or something" entry. Each entry is meant to be a Mythic question and can get YES, NO but also ABSOLUTELY and NOT AT ALL answers. This gives more variety than the usual tables where you'll see "Populated" and "Deserted" as separate entries.

Function or Fact

Tests showed that even with types and attributes, I was often left wondering about what location I had really encountered. This is where I'll use a single Complex Question and either get the Function of a building or structure, or ask for a Fact about the location (it can be something the location does to people or what people do to the location... it's very context sensitive).

Examples

All the tools lay bare... time to use them!

A)

Context : A lone adventurer explores a cave. Medieval Fantasy.


I roll for Type : Utility building (this is meant to be any building with a function and since we're in a cave, I'd be tempted to say it extends to any sort of "construction")

Populated/Deserted : (98 vs 50) Not at all -> There's not a single soul here, nor has there been for a long time.
Visible/Hidden : (98 vs 50) Not at all -> I'd fathom it's actually invisible!
Lit/Dark : (9 vs 50) Absolument -> And yet it's emitting a large amount of light? I admit this is peculiar.

Given how mysterious this all is, I go on and ask for the function of this strange building :
Oppress / Riches.

Lacking context, it's a bit hard, but since I'm thinking of some medieval fantasy setting, with bits of steampunk, I imagine this to be a very well camouflaged building. It's not lit right away, but if you happen to pass in front of it while carrying riches (gold, or maybe anything metalic), it lights up and sounds an alarm.

I admit, I have no idea what this would be doing in a cave... but it's hard without context. As is, this is not my best example to date but I really wanted to do it on the fly... and 'lo! I stumble upon a case where the results are not good. The thing with Mythic and sub-tools though, is that I never know if Mythic is to blame... or my lack of imagination at the time. So, any person out there saw something else in these attributes?

B)

Same context, to see what else we can get... hopefully better.

Type : Difficult Terrain

Natural/Civilized : (17 vs 50) Yes -> Natural, it was not created by anyone.
Mechanical/Mystical : (49 vs 50) Yes -> Mechanical, since it was not created by anyone, it will just mean that it's not magical and is based on simple physics.
Decorated/Sober : (20 vs 50) Yes -> Decorated. Again, since it was not created, I will say that the terrain has some visual appeal.

Fact : Oppose / Pain
(here I picked a fact because a natural occuring is not meant to have a function... it just is)

Admittedly, this one is also very difficult for me but I have come up with something, although a bit far-fetched compared to the results : the adventurer enters a large room filled with stalagtites and stalagmites. It's a very beautiful sight as the natural formations glisten like precious stones. But the room is dangerous! Not only is it difficult to walk through (many pikes on the ground), but any loud sound will shatter the fragile structure, making for a deadly trap to the unwary.

The "fact" is the one giving me the most problems. I pushed it towards "the terrain refuses to be hurt", and that's when I thought "if anyone breaks one of the spikes, the sound makes everything crumble". Now, though, the fact could be something very indirect : the minerals of which the rock formations are made is used in alchemical potions to help ease the pain (oppose pain). Will adventurers be bold enough to pull out tools and carve bits out of it? Tink tink tink CRASH! Risky endeavour.

C)

Now here's one of my early tests. Context : a fairytale-like setting where violent conflicts are reduced to a minimum. It focuses on the employees of a magical shop, one of which, Framboise, gathers ingredients in various locations.

Type : Difficult terrain

Good/Bad shape : (17 vs 50) Yes -> Good shape
Surface/Underground : (33 vs 50) Yes (*double*) -> Surface (since these are Mythic questions, there *can* be random events on a double -- we'll get to it after the attributes)
Solid/Unstable : (28 vs 50) Yes -> Solid/Stable

The random event : PC Positive (there's only Framboise here), Expose/Enemies

Fact : Carelessness / Fear -> The terrain makes you scared to be careless, because of the consequences.

From this, I came up with a stream running through the forest, with a slightly strong current. A large log lays across, allowing passage. According to the attributes, it's good wood, solid and stable: it won't break nor roll out of the way easily. Admittedly, not much of a dangerous terrain. But the random event made this fun:

Here I used FATE to know if Framboise crossed it: yes (it was an easy roll, really, even though Framboise is all but athletic). But there goes the random event : the terrain "exposes an enemy", which is a good thing for Framboise.
Said enemy is visibly clumsy as it falls down the log into the stream, revealing its presence.

Who is it? Why was Framboise followed? Will she help this stalker out of the waters?


Conclusion

Most of my early tests were more positive than A and B. C is where it's at most of the time. That said, there are clearly still issues. I'll work on them, but I'd be glad to hear some opinions in the meantime :)

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2 Comments:

Blogger Fitz-Badger said...

Great start! I like the "generic"-ness of it.

Instead of "water source" how about "water feature"? Could include sources like wells and springs, but also lakes, ponds, streams, waterfalls, canals, moats, oases, etc.

August 6, 2009 at 2:53 AM  
Blogger Moni said...

Thanks for commenting!

Since I intended the entry to actually include all these elements you mentioned, I guess it does beg to be renamed :). One thing to note, though, is that it's all translated from my native language, so there might be slight differences here and there if I retranslate things. That and bad translation :)

August 7, 2009 at 7:14 PM  

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