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Friday, January 15, 2010

Mythic Chartless

I keep mentioning how I don't use Mythic by-the-book and most of my hacks are about adding or removing 10%. So here's an explanation of how I do Mythic rolls.

At first, I used the Fate Chart as provided, but it quickly dawned on me that I was annoyed by needing such a thing just to ask Mythic questions. So far, the good points of the chart I see in the long run are:
  • It gives you the extreme results numbers
  • It uses a curve that makes wide rank differences less potent
But I don't see these as incentive enough to keep using the Chart.

How I do it now:
  • I start at 50% (or a 50/50 rank if you will)
  • I add or remove 10% per rank difference between a skill and the difficulty (or another skill if it's a resisted question), giving a Target Number
  • I roll the d100 and look if I'm below or equal the Target Number (if so, it's a Yes, otherwise No)
  • I quickly check if I'm below 10 or above 90 (easily noticeable) and unless the Target Number was quite far from the average 50%, I consider it an Extreme Yes/No
  • If the TN is like 80 or 90%, it's a matter of adding +2% for each 10% shift from the average to know if I have an Extreme answer or not. It's not instant, but the case rarely comes up for me anyway... and I'm not too sad if I've missed a few Extreme answers here or there. Most of the time I eyeball it anyway.

What I like with this method is that as long as I have a d100, I can ask Mythic questions. Here's an example:

Does the archer shoot the apple in the tree?
We start at 50%
It's a small object and a bit of a distance away. Let's remove 20% because of difficulty. We're at 30%.
Our archer has the Bow skill at rank 3, which is +30%. We're at 60%.
There, we can roll our d100 : 25. Below 60, so it's a Yes, he does hit the apple. Woop!

If I had rolled 6, being obviously below 10, I would have known it was an Extreme Yes. Maybe he shoots three apples with that single arrow. If it had been 95, above 90, it would have been an Extreme No, and our archer would not be able to sit for a few days.
Finally, if he had been right next to the apple, it might have been a chance rating of 90%, in which case I might have been more careful with rolls below 20 and rolls near 100 (eyeballing it, 98 and above would be an Extreme No in that case?)

So there! That's how I do it. I have the nagging feeling I'm missing something cool about the Chart given how everyone seems to love it. If anyone could tell me what it is :)


Sunday, January 3, 2010

GMing with Mythic - Player Emulation

Today I tried something new I've been meaning to try for a while: emulating players with Mythic.

The concept is rather simple. You act as the GM and you host an adventure for X characters whose decisions won't be made by you, but by Mythic. The good thing is that it allows one to use premade modules, which is a nice change from having to imagine everything based on Mythic's answers. The "bad" thing is that it's just as tiring, if not more (for some reason), and it's a bit sad to see your characters escape your control (after all, you still have to create them, yet not control them).


Even worse is that I decided to try yet another system hack. I made a mix of PDQ# and Mythic. PDQ# is great in that a character ends up looking something like this:

Gruff, dwarf
Past: Senior Mechanics of his clan +2
Race: Dwarf +2 (techniques: stone cunning) (note: this is an addition of mine, races as a trait)
Motivation: Become a legendary dwarf +2
Main Forte: Warrior +4 (techniques: warhammer, brutal, charge, shield, thrown axes)
Prosthesis +2

Foibles: Overconfident, Mechanical prosthesis

Bam, that's it, you're done. No need for detailed equipment (obviously this one has a warhammer, a shield, probably some armor and some mechanical tools...), no need for detailed skills or feats or strengths or whatever (dwarves have darkvision, resist poisons and so on? that's all assumed under the "Dwarf +2" forte)
Techniques are (usually) linked to a forte and give a bonus if an action includes them somehow.

I've oversimplified things for my own hack, so it ends up going something like this:
Base chances are always 50%, modified by task difficulty. Any applicable forte gives a bonus rank (+10%). Any applicable technique also gives a bonus rank.

Mythic note: this is another of my hacks to Mythic. I don't use the Fate Chart. I just add or subtract 10% per rank. I'm pretty sure it messes up stuff here or there, but it's still fun.

Say Gruff wants to bash a door with his warhammer with brutal strikes. The door is somewhat strong, so I give a penalty of 2 ranks (-20%). He can use his Warrior forte for a bonus of 2 ranks (+20%) (I know, it says +4 but to fit Mythic I had to divide every PDQ value by 2). Since he's using his warhammer, his technique is valid (+10%). He's also doing it like a madman, so brutal goes too (+10%). He ends up at 50(base)-20+20+10+10 = 70% chances of making good damage to the door. With goblins, who are admittedly less sturdy than a door, it's more like 90%... Yeah, Gruff is a basher :)

What's great is that it's easy to create characters based on a concept... and it's easy to define bonuses to any action. As PDQ does it, you also get easy bonuses as long as you describe things the right way. The brutal technique will almost always give a bonus here, unless Gruff is trying to bash things silently (*chuckles*). It's not for powergamers, for sure :)

The Adventure

I ran a bit of the Dungeon of Akban, found in the free Quickstart for Sword and Wizardry. If you plan to play this adventure, stop reading now...

It was pretty difficult at first to switch from player to GM while still using Mythic. I had to think of what I would describe to these virtual players/characters... or in other words, what the characters themselves would see. Admittedly, this is only difficult because I've never GMed any D&D :).
Then, instead of deciding what the characters would do, I had to see what actions they might do and weight them for a question. I used 50/50, 33/33/33 and 25/25/25/25 when there were multiple possibilities. Sometimes, I had 50/40/10 because some options seemed much more logical than others (adventurers explore the room they're in before running to the new doors, right?)

The group of four (the dwarven warrior, a human pirate-adventurer, a gnomish alchemist and an elven swamp witch) started by exploring the first room. They happened upon a strange statue with magical flames. Here again, I had to ask if they were intrigued by the statue or not... They were. Were they intrigued by the flames? No... So they looked for some secrets hidden by the statue... and found none (I rolled the dice for them, as a GM would probably ask for rolls to keep some mystery as to wether there *is* something there or not... assuming clearly failed rolls would mean they were none the wiser).
At times, I had no idea what they might do, so I used Complex Questions (using a dictionary). It gave me some contradictory actions at times... They seemed uninterested by the flames... and a complex question just led them back to them... oh well! So they examined the flames some more... tried a stick in them... which burned... and then they got bored with it and tried the doors.

The door was chosen randomly, of course... Further directions too. They ended up in a room with giant ants which had digged tunnels from below. That's where Mythic did interesting things. As player, coming face to face with three giant ants, I might have not insisted much... or just attacked with simple tactics.
I asked if the group fleed, waited or attacked. They waited. They saw the ants didn't seem to mind them from where they were, but they had been clearly spotted. I asked if they fleed or attacked and, despite a low chance, they decided to attack. But next, the group closed the door (one of these contradictory Complex Questions). I asked if they now went back or had an attack plan instead, since they *were* about to attack... They had a plan indeed. But what?
I supposed they were going to boost themselves before the attack (among other things)... and asked which of the alchemist or the witch would do something. The alchemist apparently had an idea. Since I didn't describe any equipment linked to her skill (I went for a very freeform game àla FATE v3) she could come up with anything from acids to sleepy pills. Another Complex Question later, I had the answer: she would try to recreate the chemical scents used by ants to recognize each other, danger zones and such... Wow!

I assume most GMs, especially in a regular D&D game would just say "no way!". But hey, it seemed fun. I made the roll difficult but it succeeded anyway... and our gnome ended up with a vial of ant scent which everyone promptly spread on their bodies. I decided, as the GM, that it would only make the ants neutral.
The group went back in, searched the room without being bothered by the ants and ended up with gold pieces and a magic scroll (generated by my newly acquired D&D DM Guide :D). Lucky! I asked what they did then. I assumed players would usually be intrigued by the tunnels, so I included this in the possibilities. They were indeed... but thankfully not too much (I might have rigged that :P... didn't want to stray too far from the module... eh, railroading virtual players).

But what happened next was yet another surprise: apparently, they were not finished with chemicals. The gnome wanted to perfect her scent to make the ants friendly! I made it way more difficult but she still succeeded (really lucky roll...) so... she ended up with two friendly giant ant workers as bodyguards. I limited it by saying it was only for her, and would only last 6 minutes (1d10 mins). But wow...

The adventure went on with the discovery of a room full of goblins, their easy dispatching by the dwarf and the human pirate (no ants were used because of a very narrow corridor). Admittedly, it was 1) too easy, 2) rather boring because of this, 3) I had issues with my hack and went back to something closer to Mythic for the combat... which made this part quite frustrating. I was also getting quite tired by that point, which didn't help...


It was an interesting experience. I don't know if I really want to resume it later or if I will go back to what I did for Hollow's Last Hope. I mean, it's *really* fun to come up with strange plans thanks to Mythic inspiration, and it does feel like you have players with crazy ideas, but it's definitely not as fun as being in there and discovering things as you go or, at least, reacting to some rare Mythic surprises when playing through a premade module.

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RP with Parents - UP, Part 2

Contrary to my belief, we did end up playing the second session. Sadly, my mom was actually pretty tired and she had trouble focusing. She was also trying to think up a follow-up to the story bit she made up during the first session and, I think, lost a lot of energy/concentration on this. Once I knew, I told her she didn't *have* to... Mythic would help us build upon her seed. She just felt obliged to finish what she had started alone :|

Note: I haven't given details on what has actually happened in the story so far (nor even who the characters are), to avoid spoiling the movie "UP". I'll continue this way for now, but I might make a summary of the whole adventure in a clearly spoiler-marked post.

After some random obstacle from Mythic, the heroes actually reached their destination! And yet, things didn't seem finished. A bit of thinking revealed a new goal for my mom's character... but my dad's was pretty much done with his adventure and I was scared he would have nothing to do for the rest of the session.
Thankfully, that's when Mythic threw us a bone to gnaw at: a new character! It ended up being mine, meaning I would finally leave my GM seat for a player seat, leaving the obstacles fully to Mythic. My character gave an opportunity for my mom's to reach his goal... but they would have to stick together first. We used the occasion to bring my dad's character back in, too, and the adventure went on.

Not that much happened after that and we didn't have much time left. Obviously, we wouldn't be able to finish the new goals in a single session, so we just stopped at a quiet point. I seriously doubt we will ever finish this adventure either (it's hard to resume months after...) but it was quite fun while it lasted.

I also notice it's near impossible to describe anything interesting without giving details, so... I'll make a spoilery post later where I explain exactly what happened during the adventure.

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