Alex Greene

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Alex Greene last won the day on December 31 2016

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About Alex Greene

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  • RPG Biography
    Fan of Traveller, White Wolf's World of Darkness and Legend. Author of articles for Traveller and World of Darkness.
  • Current games
    Legend, Traveller
  • Location
    Wrexham, North Wales, UK
  • Blurb
    Freelancer for Hunter: the Vigil, Night Stalkers, World of Darkness: Dogs of War. Freelance author for Mongoose Publishing's Signs & Portents. Now self-publishing articles for Legend, Traveller and, soon enough, my own work. Blogger, philosopher and hypnotist.
  1. So how did the sale go? And I really bought Mythras at the wrong time - this came up after I'd bought the thing.
  2. The Gods, pretty much all of them, were depicted as being very happy with leaving the world alone. It's only Christians who developed the sick idea that the world was fated to end on their watch. None of the deities in the worlds I build have Designs For The Planet because they're happy with their place in the Divine Ecology. The Fates spin mortal lives into being, shape their journeys through life, cut the threads, and the souls go to the Death Place which is filled with the energy of rememberance. Gods claim devotional Magic Points from their worshippers, and Death Gods' devotional Magic Points come from acts of commemoration. All is well, and if some deity pops up swathed in hellfire, looking like Dark Judge Fear from Judge Dredd and spawning millions of zombies, it would never fit in with any functional pantheon. At best, it's a story of Alien Invasion, and at worst it'd feel like warmed-up Tolkien, and believe me when I say that he'd taste rank after all this time interred. In short ... alien gods that look like something from a Seventies Prog Rock album cover just do not belong.
  3. I do like giving Cults an evil reputation - but that's no more than mothers fretting that their kids are going to run away to sea, or join a circus or even the theatre, and when they find out that their kid really has become an actor, they sigh with relief and tell their neighbours "At least she didn't join Madam Leather's House of Ill Repute as one of their working girls. She might traipse around a stage in her underwear, but at least she's got standards."
  4. When I'm working on a setting, I like to give my Evil Cults a reason to be there. Corruption tends to find itself in the upper echelons of the more mundane trade guilds - once they get a sniff of power, they will stop at nothing to seize it, including opening Devotion and Exhort skills to some Evil Entity. But the Evil Entities also have a place in the story: they don't have designs on the whole world. Just one soul at a time. No ancient armies of misshapen Goblorktrolldrow whatever stupid name you give the Scaly Grunting Masses Whose Miniatures Will Need Monster Flesh Tone Number 37 Green To Paint this week. Faustian deals, Star Chamber politics, abductions and mundane legbreakers in dark alleys.
  5. So I'm digging into the whole Cults & Brotherhoods section of the Mythras Core Rulebook, and I'm getting the feeling that this section should really come before the Games Systems, Magic, and Combat sections, in roughly that order. Between character generation and Skills, even. It's got me thinking: how much importance do you, O readers, put on the factions in your games? Games Masters, what about you? How much do you emphasise membership, as compared to the need to go it alone with just one's fellow Adventurers for company in a little micro-Brotherhood, one small party pitted against the world?
  6. If there is one thing I have learned from physics, it's that there is always enough power available from somewhere. If internal Magic Points are not sufficient, there'd still be some other resource that is tappable. Plot works like that, which is why you get stories about powerful characters throwing about insane amounts of power towards the end of their campaigns, hurling lightning bolts that turn entire city blocks to molten glass and arm-wrestling with gods.
  7. Oh, I love the way my brain works. Suppose that the one thing they all have in common is this. The kids are all native to this domain. They were all sent away for their safety, transported away by some influence or power - ancient sorcery, some Theistic Miracle not listed in the book - and each of them found their way into the hands of loving parents who brought them up in the same place - early 2000s America, let's say in Denver, CO. 2017, and they've all had a chance to grow up, and the force which sent them away feels that they are mature enough to bring them back home to the people who gave birth to them. But they're kids of a modern age, and once they have solved the problem which necessitated their being sent away in the first place, they have a choice: to go back to 21st Century America, or to stay with their birth parents. Assuming their birth parents still live. That would work as a scenario.
  8. All this depends on how your Gamesmaster wants to play the setting. If it's about kids from the 21st century surviving a world where people their age, say 17-18, are already either adventuring or committed to their allotted lives as serfs / nobles / whatever, then the game should be about them using their limited knowledge of various Lores like Chemistry, Astronomy, even Folklore, and copious quantities of other skills such as Survival, Deceit, Sleight, Conceal and Stealth, to survive in a hostile world. And they should be given a chance to not only survive, but to determine why they were brought to the world - because someone or something would have wanted these specific kids to come here, meaning that each of them would have something: some knowledge, exposure to an event or common trait: which is essential to the resolution of the task for which they were brought to the world.
  9. It seems to me that you would have to rewrite the laws of physics to make them cease to work. Even in magic, there's laws of physics - magic takes its toll in "Magic Points," which is to say that biochemical energy fuels spells, or at least catalyses the spells' effects, which must mean that there has to be some sort of scientific principle at play that is not entirely fully understood by the sorcerers themselves, even. The most profound science fiction authors were all scholars, scientists or otherwise learned men of some sort or another, and they all brought in ideas for what made magic work and what didn't. In effect, even when they were writing fantasy, they were really writing science fiction. So back to the original story - the kids would probably survive, if the world more or less ran the way their world ran - laws of physics the same, laws of economics likewise, familiar enough political situations and motives to be recognisable and so on). Some of their solutions would seem to be the sort of solutions anyone from the fantasy world would come up with - but the Gamesmaster would have to set things up in every adventure, such that at least one of the kids had their chance to provide one solution to a problem in any given adventure which turns out to be something scientific. Something they would have known from school. Assuming any of them paid attention ...
  10. I, er, was into studying lasers at school when everybody else was just getting into mixing salt into water to see it dissolve. So some people can be really nerdy that way. Not good on the social graces, but that was because they probably, like me, found humans to be an irritating source of pointless pain and suffering, particularly those who loved to use their fists. A distraction from the Great Work, best ignored. I might survive in a mythic fantasy world, but my 15 y.o. self would have found a hole and buried himself in it with lab gear.
  11. Magic versus technology ... not an issue. A lot of fantasy writers try the "magic works over there but not in this world" thing as if to explain it away, but if everything was magic, we'd all be dead because we're still humans, still oxygen-breathing homeothermic evolved plains apes who learned to channel kinetic energy, thermal energy, chemical energy and electrical energy to our ends, just as we have tamed muscle energy from domesticated beasts of burden. Gunpowder works even in fantasy worlds. "How can fire undo stone?" - Grima Wormtongue, Lord of The Rings Chemistry, biology, mathematics, the sciences - they all work. Just that the focus has always been on spell slingers because magic just looks more fun. But if some nerd can MacGyver a rocket out of a capped metal tube with flanges welded to the sides, just run with it. Sauron would not have lasted long against a Minas Tirith that was bristling with cannons. And vice versa.
  12. Sounds like the plot of that Eighties cartoon where some kids got into the wrong funfair ride ... And also a recent BBC TV series called Atlantis, which was kind of a flop. They would have to be forced to survive on their wits alone - which, considering modern humans, means that they probably would not last very long. Mythras emphasises a good deal on backgrounds: it is from one's backgrounds that one develops one's skills, connections and so on. So without purchasing any supplements that you can't yet afford, if the students come from a Civilised background, they would have Native Tongue - their own - Literacy - again, their own - and a selection of random skills, depending on their backgrounds in the world they came from. For example, if they'd been brought up in a community on the shore, they may develop Swim, Boating and Seamanship, and fishing could form part of their Survival skill. Bloggers might be out of luck in a world which hasn't even invented hot metal print yet; but politically savvy types with designs on being some sort of student leader in school would know Influence and Insight, because political backstabbers sing the same tune and dance the same dance everywhere. Speaking of singing and dancing, the denizens of the strange new world in which they arrive would be amused by some of the music and dance moves that the kids would bring in; bemused by hip hop, appalled by Lady Gaga, and curious about those strange glass and metal boxes which briefly yielded that odd noise from "Edsheeran" and "Littlemix" before they gave up the ghost. And then you'd have the science nerd, with his encyclopaedic knowledge of science: chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology. He'd probably want to explore everything, and everybody would be holding him back from exploring that dragon's lair armed with nothing more than a notebook. Imagine being given the chance to invent everything, from pencils to plastics. Imagine someone going in with intimate knowledge of what one can do with the correct mixture of sulphur, charcoal and saltpetre, or an understanding of how to extract pretty much every element of the periodic table from the raw ores, including such elements as arsenic, white phosphorus and uranium. Imagine, also, someone with knowledge of biology, particularly a knowledge of organic poisons derived from plants and animals. Oh, and biochemistry, and recreational compounds. I'm sure that if they had decent INT and POW scores, maybe high enough CHA, they would survive long enough to learn local Customs and Locale knowledge, enough to survive a few years at least. Maybe they would even find out why they were brought to the realm in the first place, and by whom, and if the being who brought them there can send them back some day ...
  13. I like to think of it as the first stirrings of Sorcery, in the same way as Astronomy comes from Astrology and Chemistry emerges from the ashes of Alchemy. As much as they are seekers after power, sorcerers also quest after knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The sorcerous equivalents of historians and archaeologists look for clues to the origins of their arts in the oldest forms of early magic - and when they dig deeply enough, they find traces of Folk Magic in the arcane words they whisper and the gestures they make. I like to think that when sorcerers cast sorcery at the lowest levels - default values for Range, Duration, targets, no Combined spells, Magnitude 1 and Intensity turned right down to 1, like a Glow spell at its lowest setting - they look uncomfortably like ordinary people casting Folk Magic. And the wisest sorcerers make a point of keeping a few Folk Magic spells on standby, It might give them an edge where everybody's looking for them to do something sorcerous and they need to surprise onlookers; and sometimes, using Folk Magic is a way of honouring the first faltering steps of those who went before.
  14. Just read Folk Magic in the Core Rulebook. Best implementation of the discipline I have ever seen! I love the picture of Anathaym on p. 124. If that isn't taking pride in casting a cherished spell, I don't know what is. I just get a warm feeling from just reading that whole section.
  15. An alternative to the Nomadic Voice from the Core Rulebook. The Land moves. We feel it in the air. We see it in the waters. We see the Sun and the Moon and the wandering bright dots of light that change places every night, and the tides which come and go, as we come and go. The Land moves. We also move, as a tribe. There are towns, and we love their coin; but we don't want the Stay-at-homes trying to tell us that we have to respect them, and then try and take our kids from us to bring them up to be like them, full of lies and secrets. We have our way, and our way is right for us, and that's the order of things. We've got a code. Now, you're new, young one, and you don't know the code; but here it is, and we're only going to tell it to you again if you're in trouble, so pay attention because this is the only time you're going to hear it from any of us when you aren't in trouble. One. Don't get the Stay-at-homes involved. Stay-at-homes are full of secrets and lie to each other. But even the ones with the best intentions can't help but mess us about if they get involved because, to a man, they all think that They Know What's Best For Us , and "What's Best For Us" usually means trying to force us to become like them just because they can't stand the thought that any of us are having more fun than them with their mortgages and their taxes and their affairs. Anyway, you just don't, all right? Two. Mind the horses, and mind the dogs. Bloodstock is our stock-in-trade. We know horses better than they do. We are always showered with gifts when we roll into town, because our horse whisperers can smell the doped-up ones, and we can spot the ringers, and we can rig their games so any horse can win in the order we choose, without them being any the wiser. And dogs are better judges of character than we are, because they can smell a stinker a mile off. But remember that even the ones they trust the most are still Stay-at-Homes, so just take their money, flash them a smile and split. Three. Keep your nose and hands clean. I don't just mean "wash often." We wash more often than the Stay-at-Homes do, which is why you'll often hear us call them "stinkers" when we're not feeling very charitable towards them. I mean stay away from their crimes. We've got a bad enough reputation for being dirty and for being thieves. We know who it is going around stealing the lead from their temple rooves, and it is not us. It's the gangs from the next town along, coming in to stir things up so the locals can twitch their net curtains and blame us in the wrong. We trade fair, and we split. Four. There is a dress code. We dress in loose clothing so we can travel long distances in comfort, and we dress modestly - but our bright colours are all symbols of life. Red means blood, and family; green is the Earth which gives us life; White is the sun, lighting our way in the day; gold and silver, blessings of the Gods; black is the road we must all walk on. Only purple is a bad colour, because purple is for funerals. Five. We keep moving. Okay, a lot of us are settled. But if you look closely, you'll see that a lot of us are always doing something that requires us to up sticks and go wandering, even if we all have a place to call "home" to get back to. And even the Great Caravans, those that are left - there are only three now, as of last Summer, and ours doesn't have more than a decade left, sadly, so enjoy this way of life while you can - they have a wintering patch to go to when it gets cold and the only place we can get food is in the Stay-at-Homes' shops and stores. We have anchors, but we don't plant them in the ground and concrete them in place, know what I mean? Six. Family is everything. We stay together, whether we are rooted in a settlement or mobile. We are family. We look after one another. We leave out the Stay-at-Homes, even when they've proven their worth a thousand times over, because they are not family. They may have their secrets and their lies, but we have our truths, and we have each other's backs, and even if we've had our arguments and we're not talking to one another, we are still closer to one another than we are to the friendliest Stay-at-Homes because we are family. And if you forget all the rest, remember that last one. That's the one that can save your life if you remember it, or send you to Hell if you forget it.