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About this blog

Discussion about writing game supplements and setting sourcebooks, hypnosis, immersion, ocarina music, and why I write material for Mythras.

Entries in this blog

Hiatus

I regret that, due to a working commitment this week, the next entry in this blog will be delayed one week, until January 22nd. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Alex Greene

Alex Greene in writing

Improv

No matter how well you plan and prepare your adventure or campaign, something will always come along which will throw your plans straight into the trash. Your player characters fight when you plan for them to run away; or they run away from a combat scene. You set them up for their first skirmish with the scenario's Big Bad, and somehow they manage to kill him; or you roll for a wilderness encounter, and a tiny party of kobolds somehow make critical successes and wipe out the party on their very

Alex Greene

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The Ties That Bind

Friendship is important to Mythras. Not only do the Players need to come together - so do their Adventurers. This article explores the nature of team friendship, and what it means to the success, or failure, of a Mythras adventure. Beginning with Session Zero, when the Adventurers are being generated together, the Games Master should bring the characters together, finding what is common to them or creating connections if they do not seem to have anything immediately in common. Bac

Alex Greene

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Calling Time

Sooner or later, it is going to happen. Your Players' favourite Adventurers are going to enter a battle too far, and one of them will receive a critical injury, which turns into a fatal one when they fail their Endurance check and bleed out on the cold, unforgiving ground. And you, as the Games Master, are going to have to tell your tearful Player that their beloved character has died. Character Death There are many ways a character can die. They can suffer a Serious or Major Woun

Alex Greene

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The Hypnotic Art of Combat

Let's play "spot the difference." Intro 1: "You, er, enter a room. There are ten orcs sitting around a table, playing some sort of game of chance. They stop what they are doing and charge. Roll for initiative." Intro 2: "You follow the sounds of arguing to a room behind a closed door. Opening the door, you see a group of orcs in a room. They are arguing amongst themselves. They look like Greykin's orcs, and their armour bears the sigil of that foul wizard, your greatest rival. "Yo

Alex Greene

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The Hypnotic Art of Storytelling

This blog post goes back to the topic of hypnosis, and its use in roleplaying games - and not merely Mythras, but many other roleplaying games. In this post, the focus falls once again on the Games Master, and on the fine art of telling a story, through which they can guide the Adventurers. Engagement The blog has already covered the topic of immersion. This time, the emphasis is on engagement. How can the Games Master draw in the players and make them feel involved in, and engaging in

Alex Greene

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Making Use of "Useless" Skills

Skills are important to a Mythras game. Yet there is an opinion that some skills are less useful than others. Skills such as Acting, Bureaucracy, Customs, Ride, Swim, Seduction, and even Teach are regarded by some as being unnecessary, and only a handful of skills - Athletics, Brawn, Combat Styles, Evade, Endurance, Willpower - are essential for play. Even Unarmed has sometimes been neglected in the rush to make Adventurers as skilled as possible in an exceptionally narrow range of skills, suite

Alex Greene

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Enchantments and Enchanted Items: Magic Items In Play

In my previous post, the creation of magic items was addressed. Various mechanisms were looked at, from the use of the sorcery skill Enchant (Object) through to the creation of religious artefacts and relics, and spirit fetishes. This blog looks at the magic items themselves, and the impact they have in game. Significance No enchanted artefact should ever be insignificant. Every artefact carries with it the power to affect the outcome of an Adventurer's skill checks, if not the st

Alex Greene

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Enchantment and Enchanting Items

With this article, we begin a look at the artefacts of magic, and their influence on the cultures of the settings of Mythras. The Core Rulebook places the emphasis on the player characters, their native wit and their acquired magical powers or connections to the spirits and/or gods, rather than on magic items and enchanted treasures. Enchantments Enchantment is defined as a feeling of great pleasure or delight, as well as the state of being under a spell or magic. This blog could focus

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The Call of Sorcery

[Image is "Summoning," by Joseph Springborg] Here is how Mythras, page 113, defines sorcery:- Sorcery is the manipulation of underlying laws that directly control the very fabric of creation. These formulae are complex equations: a mixture of mathematical, psychological, existential, and supernatural principals [sic] that allow the sorcerer to grasp a portion of reality and bend it to his will. Sorcerers do not need to rely on gods for their powers; nor do they need to engage with spir

Alex Greene

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Animism and The Spirit World

This article is about spirits, and animism, and animists, and about animists in a Mythras game. Here's what the Mythras Core Rulebook has to say about animism. Animism is magic worked through communion with spirits and the spirit world. It is the magic of shamans and spirit walkers. Such practitioners do not treat with gods or learn their abilities from books or tomes; instead their powers come from the myriad spirits that inhabit the spirit realms, and interact occasionally with the m

Alex Greene

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By All That's Holy - Devotion

Of all the rules of Mythras,the chapter on Theism has the potential to provide the greatest contention, because it covers the topic of the player characters' religion. Devotion is one of two non-mundane skills used by theists. The other skill, Exhort, is used to invoke Theistic Miracles. But what exactly is Devotion about, anyway? Holiness Can people really measure someone's holiness by a number? Could a religion's Pontiff really throw down some badass righteous smiting from

Alex Greene

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Living A Passionate Life

This article takes a look at an aspect of each Adventurer's makeup which is rarely used, except in dire circumstances as an "extra save roll" when the resistance skills have failed, and before the player uses up a Luck Point to make the problem go away. This article is about Passions. Core Rulebook Mythras, page 282, has this to say about Passions. Bolded parts highlighted by me. Throughout all kinds of fiction, and especially in fantasy, passion drives the plot. The desire t

Alex Greene

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Kitting Out The Party

[Cover image is from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Atelier_von_Rahmenmachern_und_deren_Werkzeuge_im_18._Jahrhundert.jpg] One of the more overlooked issues about Mythras adventuring is what equipment the Adventurers are carrying while out on a campaign. The basic tool lists on pages 60, 61 of Mythras and page 88 of Fioracitta are good guidelines as to what one could expect to take on an adventure, but there is still a need to plan in advance for the adventure. The

Alex Greene

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Let's Get This Party Started

The Adventurers are the core of all games. As games have developed, adventure modules have been less about pre-packaged mazes full of hazards and more about dramas and conflicts, with the Adventurers at the heart of driving the changes. As adventures have developed from their implausible "mazes full of traps and horrors" to more nuanced scenarios and dramas, so too have Adventurers. Modern Adventuring parties now more closely resemble bands of roaming mercenaries, military units or hunting

Alex Greene

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Slaying Dragons

[Featured image taken from Monster Wiki - https://monster.fandom.com/wiki/Dragon?file=DragonRed.jpg] This post is a hard one to write, and not for the reasons you might think. Dragon slaying, noble questing knights, castles ... they are all such staples of fantasy, it's hard to get away from such tropes. From Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, through to more modern incarnations in popular media such as Kilgarrah (voiced by the late, great John Hurt) in the TV series Merlin, the dr

Alex Greene

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Immersion

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. The Pow

Alex Greene

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GenCon Online 2021, "A Race Through Dark Places"

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

Alex Greene

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The Civilised Voice - Alternative

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

Alex Greene

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The Late Blog

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.

Alex Greene

Alex Greene in writing

The Nomadic Voice - Alternative

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. Epic Scale Going by the fossil records, hominins evolved bipedal

Alex Greene

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The Barbarian Voice - Alternative

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

Alex Greene

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The Primitive Voice - Alternative

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,

Alex Greene

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What Makes A Great Character?

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

Alex Greene

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Connected

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

Alex Greene

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