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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Scrap Notes: More Tinkering with Mythic

Interesting thread at the Yahoo Group for Mythic:

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/Mythic_Role_Playing/message/4589
The OP asks:
DnD should be the easiest to use Mythic with, right? After all, the game is
already laid out and regulated well enough to be able to play it without a GM at
all. However, there is one thing that I have always wondered especially when
trying my hands on a solo dungeon crawl:

How should I use Spot/Listen and similar checks?

Normally, you would roll these sense checks and then ask your GM "do I hear/see
anything?" With Mythic however, seeing/hearing anything would more likely be
detrimental to the PC's progress and health, since nothing EXISTS before they
look for it and ask the question.
In my view, this again boils down to the fact that the Mythic GME's input is only relevant to the story or game when you consult it. The player has the power of being able to choose WHEN the GME can add any input, which for some players just does not have the same feeling as a live GM.  The GME is not an entity that can interrupt you to say, "Since you didn't make a perception roll, you didn't see the giant spider hiding in the shadows."

As a solo player, you have to wear both the player and the GM hat, with the Mythic GME throwing you a curve ball a percentage of the time that you consult it.  On top of that, you also control HOW the GME can add that input by the way your questions are framed. You also get to set the Odds, though if you have a good handle on the internal logic of your setting, you can be "objective" when deciding the Odds.

Still, that's a lot of power you don't have when you're not the GM, so one needs to be fair with their expectations of Mythic to fully enjoy it.  :)

Nevertheless, some suggestions follow:


Using a Timer

This idea was mentioned by a member (Monele) in the Yahoo Group. I tried to create an outline out of the poster's description:

1)    Set the timer to an unknown interval.
2)     As you play, if you ask a Mythic question:
a.     If there an “Unresolved Mystery” (as defined by this set of rules on step 3.c.ii), and the “Unresolved Mystery Number” appears in either of your d10 die:
                                          i.    Ask Mythic:  "Was there *really* something?":
1.     If “Yes”: Define what you discover with more Mythic questions or random tables.
2.     If “No”:  The "GM" was playing with you and there was nothing to worry about. (Optional: Keep the mystery as unresolved or resolve to regular Random Events)

3)    If the timer goes off:
a.      Mythic is asking you to make a skill roll. Pick a skill that applies to the situation.
b.     Assign the Odds according to how well your rolled in “step a”, and Ask Mythic a yes/no question ( “do I perceive anything?")
                                          i.    If “Yes”: Define what you discover with more Mythic questions or random tables
                                         ii.    If “No”: You don't perceive anything. Roll a d10, write down the number with the note: "unresolved mystery". (I’ll call this the “Unresolved Mystery Number”).
4)    Start again at Step 1.

Hidden Encounters/Treasure

For something like a dungeon crawl, I would probably take a page from dungeon crawl board games. Some of them appear to have sets of "tiles" (sometimes cards) that can be randomized to create a dungeon as you play. In one game I saw, the cards had information on them regarding treasure, terrain, etc, and if I remember correctly some of those would only be activated according to specific attributes the Hero has, etc.

I think something like this could be implemented using index cards that you can shuffle, or maybe random tables. It'd all depend on what method one likes best. I personally would try index cards with information on one both sides, one of which I would keep hidden face down. Before stepping on a particular "tile", I would decide whether to make a "sense roll" or something.

You could even make it more strategical/tactical, by limiting the number of such "sense rolls" that you could make per game. Generally, placing some limits in gameplay can lead to more fun in the way of some challenge.

Edit 1/17/2011: As is often wont to be the case, someone had already thought of something similar. On 7/13/09, a member of the Yahoo Mythic Group, going by the moniker of "shadowxsoul", had already offered the following suggestion to a fellow member:


for terrain i personally use terrain cards that i made myself out of construction paper, take out a bunch at random and throw them down face down, then turn them all right side up and voila! a map. the edges of the map are assumed to be walls, cliffs, or otherwise impassable obstacles. i also have cards that i can draw to detail what's happening in each room. like if its an ambush or a treasure room or a puzzle or a trap etc... you could probably do the same thing with another chart.
Sounds like it'd be fun just sitting down to lovingly create these. =) However, if you don't want to create them yourself, you could download the "Torchlight - Quest for the Orncryst" random dungeon cards. They can be found at http://www.arborell.com/download.html. This came to the Yahoo Mythic Group's attention courtesy of pdwmcdonald on 7/13/2009 (if you haven't joined, you're missing out!).

Edit 1/20/2011: Just liked this paragraph I found at this post: http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=11801&page=1#Item_0 It describes Drangonlance's SAGA system which uses a deck of cards. This is something I could see myself enjoying, and why I bought the "Bright Idea" deck. There is something to the saying that "A picture is worth a thousand words."

[Italics added by me for emphasis]
Game play I haven't gotten too far through. No combat yet. I really do like the Fate Deck though. There's a fair amount of information on the cards, so if I want something to be randomly decided, I flip over a card and interpret it. For example 1-3 are white, 4-6 are red, 7-9 are black, for good, neutral and evil. I wanted to see what the weather would be like, flipped it over and got a 10 (the odd exception, still black), and decided it was one of the worst storms ever. Ask a question, flip card, interpret. It's like having random tables to roll on, but without having to check the tables. It certainly makes it inherrently much easier to GM. The advice for Narrators is also quite good, I haven't gotten around to doing a designed adventure, or using one of the published ones (doesn't entirely suit the characters we have going), but I like what I see. Definitely something I wish I'd seen in the DMG.


Edit 1/24/2011: More thoughts on using cards, though this thread is not specific to solo gaming: http://story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=267&page=1#Item_0

Hidden Die Rolls

Not that different from the idea of index cards with the hidden facing down. It could possibly be a bit more dynamic. The idea would be to have an extra set of die that you can use to make a secret roll (by somehow hiding it from yourself)The secret roll should map to some sort of table. Perhaps the Random Event table, or the Action/Subject tables in Mythic, or some other custom table. You would choose how often a secret roll happens during a game session (the beginning of every scene or turn? Every other scene/turn? etc).

Once you have a secret roll at the beginning of the scene, you can either randomly select the requirements (what type of roll, the difficulty/Odds), or set yourself based on subjective criteria. If the roll is successful, then you can look at the Secret Roll and determine that your character caught on to what was in there. If it's unsuccessful, then you decide: do you back out of there, or continue and take your chances? If you choose to continue, then find out what the Secret Roll had in store for you. It may be nothing, or it may be an encounter your character is now unprepared for.

There are many ways you can play with a scenario like this too. Perhaps you treat success at a more granular level: you may be somewhat successful and only get a small bonus to determine if your character is surprised once you reveal the Secret Roll, based on some 'hint' that you found (Mythic can provide the detail). The 'hint' itself can add color to your interpretation of the Secret Roll (if you're using something like the Mythic Action/Subject tables).

Default Assumptions & Dice Rolls To Change Fortune
I don't quite know what to name this idea, but I heard that the old Tunnels & Trolls solo adventures used to handle combat damage to the PC this way: The PC rolls to hit the monster. If the roll fails, he takes an automatic hit from the monster. What if you could extrapolate this idea to create default encounters in each "tile" or dungeon section?

What I mean is, what if at every interval X, the "tile" or section of dungeon that you are has an encounter with Y creature type (e.g.1d10 kobolds every 3 tiles/sections)? Now, assumming that kobolds were the easiest encounter (say level 1), let's say you had a random table like this:

1) 1d6Goblins (level 2)
2) 1d4 Zombies (level 3)
3) 1d10 Gold Pieces (treasure)
4) Nothing

You now have a choice. Go with the default encounter, or take a chance rolling against that table. Now, I would probably get sick of the default encounter very quick, so I know I would take chances. If I felt lucky, I might also roll on an empty tile to see if I luck out with some free treasure.

This doesn't lend itself to the same surprise feeling that a deck of upside down cards could have, because it's more like gambling, but that can be fun in its own way.

Treating Encounters as Resources

Edit: I had to rewrite this section as it got cut off when I added other suggestions above.

I was thinking of this independently, but it looks like the author of
World Vs Hero thought of something similar, as evident on some published playtests of that system. That system has the 'GM' front load a number of "Locations", which have a list of encounters built into them. The game uses a standard card deck to adjudicate when those encounters can be used. Pretty nifty, from what I can tell.

I was also thinking of pre-compiling lists, except that they might not necessarily be specific encounters. A list could contain, for example, a set of Mythic GME Fate Chart questions to guide a user's interpretation. Perhaps a set of questions in an entry might look like:

  • Is the creature type Goblins? If no, then assume they are Kobolds. Are they a group of 1d4? If not, assume it's a solitary creature. Do they live here, or are they invading?
Your answers might be: A hermit Goblin that lives in here. A group of  Kobolds that are invading. Etc.

The questions could demand more interpretation by being vague:
  • Will this be a Level 1 encounter?
Your answers might be that you have to roll on an encounter table to determine what the Level 1 encounter is.  Or decide if it's a Level 2 encounter, or something else. The more things left unanswered, the more things are at your discretion to decide or interpret.

The should probably be customized in ways that are interesting to you. I like eerie atmosphere, so I would try to build it into my choices like this:
  • You see a light. Is it coming from above? If no, it comes from ahead. Is it white? If no, it's orange. Is it sentient?  
My answers to this might range from someone or something carrying a torch, to a sentient statue that glows, to an elemental spirit, to just a lamp hanging somewhere.

Finally, you could set these up as random "Madlibs" (if you're familiar with that kid's game):

  • You see a _(adjective)_ light.
The answer here could be anything from: "You see a crazy light" to "You see a blinding light" to "You see a talking light." It doesn't have to be an adjective either. You could omit a noun, a verb, any part of the sentence that makes sense to you. If you so felt like, you could even randomly determine which part of the sentence to leave out.

If you could imagine combining a number of the suggestions above into something wholly satisfying to you, what do you think it would look like?  The possibilities are great!

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