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A Look At ... Mythras Adventures


Alex Greene

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Tonight, and for the next couple of months, this blog will be looking into the adventures created for Mythras and satellite games. This includes the Meeros adventures, the Luther Arkwright adventures, and the adventures for Mythic Constantinople and Lyonesse.

We're going to start with Sariniya's Curse, the introductory adventure designed to allow the readers to test out the combat system in a dungeon crawl.

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Behold, the Mark of Sariniya.

Actually, the glyph comes out with a big Y in the centre in the copy of the book I have.

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This is the No Idea Y.

Sariniya's Curse introduces the goddess Sariniya to the Meeros setting. In this adventure, four pregen characters - the one and only Anathaym, her sister Kara, Mju the Thief of Meeros (the Sabu analogue), and lastly a Hollywood version of Zamothis, Weapons Master (the illustration has a cleft Kirk Douglas chin, and I was honestly expecting a Topol beard) - travel to this remote island where monsters surround the temple of Sariniya, and inside the temple they have to ...

... well, they're not exactly there to conduct trade talks or host a slumber party.

It's a dungeon crawl. There's nothing there but monsters to kill. It's a friggin' dungeon crawl.

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This is Zamothis. He's got Anathaym's back. And Kirk Douglas' chin.

The adventure begins with a somewhat worried Tim Stones - sorry, Trimostones -, who asks Zamothis and the gang for a favour. He's 64 ("Will you still need me; will you still feed me ..."). Nobody in his family has lived to see their 65th. It's a hereditary curse, you see. It started with a mad king, Akretes, and some rebels who'd fought to topple his reign, but lost. They fled to Iaxos, where they built the temple that stands there to this day. Long story short - King Cratchety sent people after them, dragged them back to Meeros, slaughtered them all. But Sariniya took Her revenge on the King and his loyal followers.

It's a simple curse. It looks like a blessing. No man descended from Akretes or those loyal to him would ever suffer from old age. They all die, aged 64.

So Tim Stones here, at a youngish 64, is feeling the curse slowly settling in, and he wants to stop it before his son Eurastanos gets it. But at least he has a daughter, Hermestone, who will be unaffected, so she's 29 and all smiles.

Wonder if I couldn't liven up the fun by having the daughter send along a bunch of mercenaries to fight for Sariniya, because she would rather not have Daddy hand over the reins to her incompetent clown of a brother, and she'd been hoping they would both suffer the curse so she could hold on to her money and power ...

So yes, here's where the fun begins. Tim Stones here asks the party to bodyguard him while he takes off on a mission to conduct some trade talks. Actually, he's heading for Iaxos, and he doesn't tell the adventurers what he really wants to do. Or his kids Eurastonos, Hermestones, Gallstones, Kidneystones, Flintstones, Standingstones and Rollingstones.

Basically, he's going there to beg for forgiveness from Sariniya and lift the curse from future descendants of his family line, starting with himself and continuing through his son.

Oh, and any boys his daughter might give birth to. Maybe Hermestone ought to tell her Dad she's a lesbian when he gets back.

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Don't shed a single bloody tear for the Stones family. That ship's powered by slave labour.

So during the voyage, Tim here suddenly tells the crew what's really going on, and has them set sail for the cursed isle of Iaxos.

MUTINY

So, anyway, the men who mutiny are stripped, of their weapons, and held below decks, and forbidden to communicate with anybody. So that's good.

Next, the ship makes it to Iaxos. Tensions are heightened. Relations with the crew are strained. It'd be a good idea to offer the loyal crew a bonus when, not if, they get home. And tell them never to discuss what they're going to do with their bonuses, because all manner of crappy things happen to people discussing the future three days before retirement.

Iaxos is a Mediterranean f*****g Paradise. A glorious crescent beach, some game to hunt, plenty of fish in the sea. Goats roaming the hills.

Apparently, all of the characters except Tim Stones here have to make Boating rolls. If they fumble, the skiff capsizes, and they have to make Swim rolls. Good luck with all that armour and weaponry. Okay, ignore the thing about the Boating rolls. Assume they make it there, despite strong currents, and nurse their chapped palms from all the rowing, and the labour they are unaccustomed to, unlike the galley slaves on board the ship they came in on.

The going is hard work and tiring. You can ignore the need to make Endurance rolls, and the hazards of being scratched half to death by the undergrowth. You can lead them through the narrative equivalent of a montage, with suitable music to set the mood.

In the next scene, while they're settling in the camp, they see that Tim Stones is clearly suffering from the Curse. They must look after him as he sleeps fitfully. But the locals intervene, so the party has something to do other than stare at the stars and philosophise or something.

The locals, and damned if I am giving them the term savages because that is so flaming racist, have been following the tourists since they landed. Now they make their appearance. And the adventure paints it as s combat encounter. But it could easily be a First Contact, with the locals trying to ask the party if they are here to fulfil one of their prophecies - namely, a man of advanced years who comes to break Sariniya's curse.

If that isn't a clue that Sariniya had left a loophole in her curse, I don't know what is.

Anyway, the rest of the encounters are all predicated on hostilities. The locals are painted as "degenerate" and "cannibalistic," way to play to tropes. I assume there must be women, because otherwise how the hell can the original rebels have had descendants? These can't be the original rebels, because Akretes had them all dragged back to Meeros to be executed, and aw hell I've given up on the plot holes now. This one's big enough to pilot Tim's ship through.

So. Assume they have a village somewhere, herding goats, having kids, tending to the land, wearing very little clothing, barefoot in the sunshine, and oh gods this place really is a Greek f*****g Paradise.

So, there's a scene called "Death Trap," and the party sort of walks right into it, and all sorts of shenanigans ensue, and in my playthrough I completely sideswiped this by turning it into a trap straight out of that Ewok scene in the Star Wars movie. They all end up caught in nets, suspended from trees, and they're taken in chains to meet the leader, who then asks them - in perfect English - what they are doing on the island.

Because this isn't f*****g D&D.

So, this is where things deviate from the adventure completely. They are allowed to reach the Fist of Gods. Maybe Hermione Stones sends her mercenaries to stop the party, because she wants to hold on to power. Maybe she's conned her stupid brother to join the soldiers, and damn me if he doesn't look like a young Michael Douglas, wonder why?

Now they can talk their way out of this, or they can fight their way out of it - and it's a Greek tragedy if either Father or Son die. Or they can do something else, like negotiate, or lay down all the cards on the table - the Curse, the short shelf life of all men of the Stones family - and unify the troops and the locals in what turns out to be a pilgrimage.

I had the locals' Queen tell the party that they were not to harm any of their pet guardians as they enter the Temple. Fair warning.

The Temple is inside the Fist of The Gods, a big black basalt bag of knuckles, defiantly projecting up from the ground. You can give it some artistic license and have one long protrusion sticking up further into the air like a big middle finger, if you like.

I'm not going to draw this image.

So.

There are prophecies abounding. Their Queen is the Prophet of Sariniya, and she is the one who does all the miracles. There's something about a stubborn old Elephant God shrine ... hang on, that's Ganesha, why is Ganesha in this story, and why did the Sariniya followers build a whole separate shrine inside the Giant Basalt Knuckle of Defiance?

Now.

The story played through like this.

Oora speaks of the lineage of her profession, going back two hundred years. She speaks of Damotinea, who makes a prophecy that an old man would come along to end Sariniya's curse, but who kind of lied on her deathbed to her successor Remonsthea, who'd given Damotinea the hemlock which killed her predecessor.

Oora then tells of her own prophecy, which is that she would live to see her goddess' temples restored to Meeros within her lifetime. I made up this bit.

The party then realise that this is the perfect time to end the curse, by invoking Sariniya and asking Her to intercede. And why not? There's a crowd. There's the Queen. There's Tim Stones, all ready to do his soliloquy scene.

And so Oora animates the statue with a little bit of the living Sariniya.

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In my playthrough, I read through the Sariniya writeup. Sariniya had exacted her revenge against some Invader Gods (with names such as Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Meta, Google, Exxon, Nike ...) but then when she got home, she became a Goddess of Peace and Non-Materialism and hello, it's a female Buddha, and this is Buddhism we're on about.

There's one final reversal in this story. Enter Hermione Stones, to present herself before Sariniya. She is untouched by the curse. She reveals that Damotinea had been a part of the family lineage, her great great grandmother in fact, and that she's been aware of Damotinea's true prophecy all along. She doesn't want the family to be cursed any more because she's pregnant and she fears for her son. But she doesn't want to just hand over power to Urine Stones on her Daddy's say so.

The party get to speak to a goddess. They each get a chance to say something noble - to vow that the Scarlet Spears would protect the Sariniyans as long as they maintain their kind-of-Buddhist lifestyle and not proselytise. Or maybe, in Mju's case, not to steal too much of their shit.

Tim Stones then does his thing, lying prostate before the Basalt Bitch. She is taken by the sincerity of his grovelling, removes the Curse, and also lifts the burden from his son.

Hopefully now, Michael will live as long as his Dad did, unto the age of a hundred something.

The characters have encountered the Elephant God. Now, the Elephant God comes to life in his statue, and wanders into the main temple. Sounds like there's a party going on. Are there any snacks?

This is the climax of the adventure. Oora and Tim are blessed; Tim wants to stay in Paradise, and asks his son to take over the Empire, and the son turns out not to be such a clown and declines. Hermione thanks her big brother and offers him a lift back home, to that taverna where his boyfriend is waiting, and Daddy stops for a moment and asks how come his daughter, the lesbian, is pregnant, and both his kids shoot back with "Haven't you heard of bisexuals, Dad?"

Oh. The description of the caves makes it sound filthy, as if they've never heard of cleaning staff. Forget that. The place is a spotless, er, pit of pleasure. Like I said, this island is a Greek Paradise.

There's a ... dwarf Cyclops, which sounds like Andre the Giant wearing an eyepatch. Giant Scorpion, okay, sounds like fun. Giant lizards, okay. Maybe they chase the scorpions.

I prefer my ending. The women have more agency than the men; the intercession of the women before a goddess breaks the curse; and the party gets paid money for their endeavours, but also they get to see something new happening back home, with the lifting of the prohibition against Sariniya and the erection of the first tiny shrines to the Goddess of Benevolent Non-Attachment appearing in the city, and on roads leading out of town.

And an invitation to Timosthenes' 65th birthday next summer on Iaxos, where he'll be celebrating with his new wife, Oora, in a Greek f*****g Paradise.

Next Month

Next month, I'll be tearing into another Mythras adventure. Let me know what you'd like me to cast my jaded eye over next, in the comments below.

Edited by Alex Greene

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