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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mythic GME and the power of questions

I just saw this awesome post by Jerry over at Solosaurus called Solo Gaming Set Up (please read it first and come back here). :) In playing around with the Mythic GME, he noticed something I had also noticed, and mentioned in my "scrap notes" post:

The main GME book talks about cheating and asking silly questions like "Do I find one million gold pieces right now?" But it doesn't address that you can manipulate things without realizing just by phrasing the questions differently or asking under certain conditions.

With the Mythic GME, the questions drive much of the story, and the player has absolute control over those questions. No matter what the Chaos factor is, you can consciously manipulate the story to your advantage or your disadvantage. Like I've said before, that's a lot of control, and Jerry is right that it sort of it can't be helped. :)

I still think that there are ways to lessen this, though. I may have mentioned this before (I can't recall), but one way I can see of lessening the solo player's ability to manipulate the story is by having rules that specify how the player may ask the questions (a structure). Like, "You may only ask questions in a way that create more opposition for your character " (or the opposite of that if you want to have a positive bent). To use Jerry's "Daemon Prince of Khorne" example, in a high chaos situation, you'd ask "Is the main antagonist a Daemon Prince of Khorne?", while in a low chaos situation you'd phrase it as the opposite ("Is the main antagonist NOT a Daemon Prince of Khorne?").

The rule still leaves a lot of openness for manipulation of the story (i.e. you could make all your opposition weak, etc), but it takes away some of your control over the story. Ideally, a set of rules like these would try to structure your questions in such a way that they create the kind of story you find enjoyable. For example, perhaps the rule above would be more like "In low chaos situations, you must always ask questions that increase your opposition. In high chaos situations, they should be structured in ways that are positive to your character."

I think there is some room for innovation in the area of how to structure the solo player's input, whether that input is in the form of questions or interpretation of randomizers.


  1. I don't have a lot of experience with Mythic GME but I prefer to keep consistent. For instance, don't ask negative questions. Chaos will go up and down and there are feedback loops on both directions but there rules made to push it back up and keep it there. One risk is to start a game "cold" and due to a sequence of setup scenes, have chaos drop to 3 or below before the story unfolds. I often start with a random scene (based on a pre-defined context) to catch myself off-guard :)

    As Jerry points out, it's important to ask questions (possibly many of them.) Maybe one important point is to only ask questions that make sense in the current context and scene. So if the characters have reason to worry about someone being the demon prince, ask Mythic. If chaos is low, probably things have been going well and they have evidence that points to it, so it's Very Likely that he's the demon. Anyway, those are my two cents.

  2. Hi Ricardo,

    Thanks for the comment!

    Those are all good points. Consistency, context and being logical all help with directing your questions. For instance, Jerry mentioned that the quality of the Warhammer 40K universe and Pathfinder's Inner Sea made them useful in interpretation. My assumption is that the detail of the settings might have also helped in shaping the questions.

    However, when there are many equally logical possibilities for a given context, you can either consciously decide which one you will ask about first, or you can let a 'system' 'decide' for you. When one makes a conscious decision about what to ask first, one is also consciously setting the direction the story takes. If one devised a set of rules to guide you to that question almost without choice, I think that the solo game would have a different feel.

    I'm almost imagining it as a take on solo wargaming rules that make your opponent move independently based on game conditions.

    Not sure if my flow of thought is making sense!


Please feel free to leave comments, suggestions, ideas.