With apologies to Greg Costikyan
"In elder days, no rags were offset
and Lord Mimeo reigned supreme.
Prozine was then a dirty word;
Urf Durfal... still a pleasant dream.
"Yet abysmal worlds spawned forth a horror!
OFFSET, challenging mimeo's rule.
Clear printing, yes, but what price glory?
Dare we abandon our god-sent tool?
"Arise ye men of mildewed minds!
Destroy yon evil process offset.
There is no god but GREAT GESTETNER,
and Costikyan is his only prophet."
In the first age, the region now called Balazar was part of what everyone called the Elder Wilds. The indigenous people call their traditions the Elder Wilds Tradition, and it dominates the area. The people live by hunting and gathering. The primary female practice is Hearth-Mother. The primary male practice is Foundchild the Hunter, although some woman become hunters and join this practice instead of Hearth-Mother. Your hero is probably a spiritist of the tradition, and so gains the benefit of
Song of the Forests
In the beginning was the One. Boundless and, yet, constrained, it contained the limitless All. All that was, and All that was Not. Being and non-being. This paradox, the Paradox of Self, fragmented the One, and it became Two: Grower and Taker.
The Grower contained within it all potential. This potential took the form of the Seed. This was the beginning of the First Plantings, the Age of the Grower.
From within the One, the fluid parts separated, and thus came th
The World Machine
In the beginning, there was the World Machine. A device of wondrous complexity, It encompassed the entirety of the Universe, somehow becoming something greater than the sum of Its parts. Self-created, it contained all possibilities within itself. It remains beyond the comprehension of lesser beings, but it may be termed Mostal. Three components were of special interest to dwarf lore: Helper, the first tool; Linchpin, the central support; and the Mostali, independent repair an
One of the most potent storytelling techniques in anybody's arsenal is immersion. Without it, your players cannot really appreciate the setting you have laid out for your characters.
Immersion is, in short, a state of mind in which the players are so invested in the unfolding game that they can forget they are in a game at all, and actually live out the adventure in character.
Immersion is the reason why some game settings just take off, and others fall flat on their face.
Tripartite Worship of a Chaos Entity
The Thanatar cult is an oddity in modern Glorantha. An attempt to revere a Chaos entity lost in the Gods War, it is a syncretism of different magical groups. Some blame its resurgence on the sort of magical meddling that backfired on the God Learners; others say the Lunars, Shamans, or Sorcerers are to blame. As the Thanatari are extraordinarily secretive and their works are routinely burned when found, the truth may never be known.
What is clear, how
Most of this week, I have been focusing my attention on "A Race Through Dark Places," my GenCon Online blog set in Fioracitta.
This weekend has been a real test of all those principles I've been using, especially the hypnotic storytelling.
Welcome to Fioracitta
This map is a detail from a region map created by Jim Abbott for Fioracitta, The Heart of Power.
The adventure takes place in Escharro (bottom centre left).
The six player characters are:-
Amares - Adve
And so it's the turn of civilised cultures to come under the spotlight.
The words "civic," "civil," "civilian," "civility," and "civilisation" come from a Latin root, "civitas," city. It can be argued that a civilised nation is one which has reached a sufficient level of sophistication as to require urban developments - the formation of communities into cities, plural.
Throughout history, there have been a good many examples of civilised societies, each of which thought itself the pinn
The Civilised Voice - Alternative ended up being delayed ten hours from its usual go-live time of 12:00 UTC+1. It went live at 22:00 UTC+1.
This was due to my ongoing preparations for running "A Race Through Dark Places" for Fioracitta, at GenCon Online, September 17 and 18.
All future blog posts are going live at 10pm UTC or UTC+1 on Saturday nights, from the 2021-09-11 post onward.
Continuing the exploration of the different Cultures from the Mythras Core Rulebook, this time looking at Nomads.
Nomadic people have coexisted with settled peoples since the dawn of humanity. There has been a dichotomy between settled people and nomadic travellers since the first humans left Olduvai Gorge to fend for themselves when it became too crowded. Some humans settled in new places ... others, kept on going.
Going by the fossil records, hominins evolved bipedal
Continuing my look into the four basic cultural backgrounds from the Mythras Core Rulebook.
What, exactly, is a barbarian anyway?
What distinguishes a Barbarian culture from a Primitive, Nomadic, or Civilised culture? The answer, shockingly, is nothing. "Barbarian" is a political definition - basically, it's "any culture that isn't ours."
Technically, "barbarian" just means "foreign," or "outsider," just like "pagan" just means "country bumpkin" and "mundane" means "man of the wor
This week, and for the next few weeks, you're going to take a little side step. You're going to be presented with the voices of the different cultures of Mythras.
I know, you've already got The Primitive Voice, The Nomad Voice, and so on, from the Core Rulebooks. But these Voices are different.
A Connected World
These voices assume two things: one, that fantasy worlds are connected places, where that which affects one person, one place, affects other people, other places; and two,
What makes a player character a great character to play?
All too often, I see people asking the most toxic questions in numerous online venues, along the lines of "What if orcs stumbled across Xenomorphs?" or "What if a sorcerer were assimilated by the Borg?" - and I realised something awful recently. What made those questions toxic was that those questions were about nothing but combat. At least, within the confines of roleplaying games and popular entertainment.
The unspoken question
No character exists in a vacuum. One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of Mythras gaming is connections - Allies, Contacts, even Rivals and Enemies. Much old school gaming tends to focus on player characters being self-contained agents of their lives, yet life doesn't work that way.
Connections are part of every Session Zero. Every character should go through the process of creating a possible family, background events, and their Connections. This might seem like a waste of tim
Intuition is a great guide for players in a scenario. Reason and logic are good, useful, solid tools for unlocking puzzles - but a player's intuition, the ability to induce rather than deduce, allows the characters to unlock understanding of what is going on in a story.
An example: The city of Fioracitta. The Adventurers are sitting around a fountain in Piazza Centimani in Carbo District, carousing with soldiers and civilians, when they hear a loud boom in the distance - specifically, Old T
What rewards are you handing out to your player characters? Have you given a thought that maybe "gold coins, drop treasure, and magic items" might not be enough for your player characters?
Rewards are an incentive for players to continue playing, to see the session, scenario, or campaign through to its end. Games Masters have to balance the quantity of the rewards with their quality, and also their variety and suitability for the players as much as for the characters. Short scenarios can be
Last week's post covered the quest of the Games Master to stay relevant, and the introduction of hypnosis as a tool of Games Mastery; immersion; and the capabilities of the conscious and unconscious minds.
This week, we move on to actual use of hypnosis in storytelling and in gaming, as used by the Games Master.
The ABS Formula
The crucial element of hypnosis is called the ABS Formula. It can be broken into three parts: Engage the Attention; Bypass the Conscious Mind; Stimulate th
After a long break, we've finally gotten back to gaming. The US West Coast has had literally record breaking heat in the last three weeks and where I'm at, we had 3 100 F /38 C days in a row. Now, we've been described as 'the least air conditioned city in the US' [which really isn't fair considering the US also includes Anchorage and Fairbanks 😁], but it is true that the Puget Sound doesn't generally equip homes with A/C routinely. Add into all this a series of birthdays and COVID shot hangovers
In the world of 2021, between the lure of video games and the rise of solo roleplaying where game engines have been developed to emulate the Games Master's role, the role of the Games Master can sometimes feel precarious. A tabletop game dies if the players desert - but even a single player can enjoy a solo game if they have a solo engine / GM-in-a-box book to automate the GM's role.
Games Masters need to up their game, nowadays, more than ever.
This is where the fine art of storytelli
Nochet, The sStuffed Boat Tavern, 1612ST, late Sea season.
Hendrostos and Irillo were watching their friend with concern. Two days ago, at last! They found him in so poor a condition that they did not recognize him immediately. He seemed to be in better condition now, although his too-thin face showed them how hard his time in the streets was.
“I can’t believe what happened.” said Irillo.
“How weird it is! Are you sure you did not miss something?” agreed Hendrostos.
The word "adventure" comes from Middle English: from Old French aventure (noun), aventurer (verb), based on Latin adventurus ‘about to happen’, from advenire ‘arrive’. It concerns things happening. Drama. Conflict. As any great screenwriter, playwright and storyteller will tell you, there are a lot of ways to stage and set a drama - many different sources of conflict.
Let's look at some sources of drama. 90% of all drama and conflict is going to come from persons. The rest is environmental
Let's talk more about the payoff.
What's the payoff? It's the feelings you get from gaming. It's the pleasure, or other feelings, you get once a session's over, and the Experience Rolls and material awards are handed out.
In gaming, as in many activities, there are goals - achievements, and the feelings associated with those achievements. Goals can be divided into true goals (also known as clean goals) and dirty goals. The aim of gaming is to reach a true goal - earning a victory in an