Monday, 28 May 2012

Lets Read Mythus pt15

Dangerous Journeys: Mythus + opinionated gabshite + alkyhol: mix and stand well back.
You know the drill by now.

A note to the confused: You will see references thought-out this stream-of-consciousness jabbering spree to something called That Damn Table. I include it here again for reference purposes:

To know it is to loathe its ubiquity.

Today we’re going to cover the last batch of Advanced Mythus K/S Areas, then have a brief rant on how I’d have done things differently (and arguably better), before finally talking about the incidental art of this section of the book. It’s gonna be a long one, so charge your glasses.

And we start this week’s final thicket-thrash with:

Described as the reverse of Exorcism, this is the art of inviting spirits to appear for the purpose of wasting everyone's time with table-rapping "Your grandfather sends platitudes but no useful directions to where he buried the gold/hid the title deeds" antics. No compelling of spirits is allowed, and failure/fumble "...could bring a hostile or malicious entity..."

Bored now.

We're offered two paragraphs of rules for séances. Said exercises allow the Partial or Full Physical Manifestation (given their own TLAs as P-/FPM *gluk*) of spirits through ectoplasm (or, as the Victorians knew it, oiled muslin) leeched from the Physique TRAITS of séances participants. The benefits of having a spirit Physically Manifest escape me. I've checked the index, and that either sends you into a "refer to" loop, or to an entirely unrelated appendix. F--ing amateurish. Rules for resisting potential unwelcome ectomonglers? Left in the lap of the GM, presumably as extra credit homework.

Bored and irritated by half-assery now.

Characters with the Mediumship K/S Area also gain access to Medium Castings in accordance with the inevitable reprinting of That Table. According to all the tables relevant to this section Mediumship does generate Heka, but there's no mention of this in the text.

Bored, irritated and wishing this skill description would die in a fire now.

Would I touch Mediumship for an Classic RPG? As written, no. In fact: Hell no! Advanced Mythus Mediumship reads like it belongs in an Arcana Victoriana game like Forgotten Futures 4 and 8 or For Faerie, Queen and Country: it’s gutless, deracinated spirit magic for the bored middle classes in a pre-TV age. I get that it’s also supposed to represent the character invoking ancestor spirits, genius loci, ideolectic gestalts, etc. but the flavour text and rules on offer are far too Derek Acora [no link, the man is vermin] for my tastes.

We’re given the better part of a paragraph of definition of metaphysics before EGG cuts to the chase and explains it in game terms. It turns out that under all the philosophy syllabus waffle this is a non-evil equivalent of Demonology with the option to make "roll to detect celestial influences" checks. So, angelology for a world with stabbable spiritual entities. ("Jeez EGG, that’s all you had to say.")

As well as generating Heka, which is pretty standard issue for an Advanced Mythus Spirit skill, Metaphysics also has a half-baked ‘gain Spiritual strength’ rule. At 41 skill, and at every 10 points gained thereafter, a person may make a "Hard" (x1) difficulty Metaphysics roll to gain a point of SMCap. After gaining two points thus the difficulty of future rolls increases to "Difficult" (0.5). Hey, free stat points. Shame that none of the Physical or Mental skills enjoyed such an advantage.

Metaphysics skill as written is all over the place. It’s academic metaphysics, and stat-enhancing meditation/spiritual exercises, and an detect angelic meddling skill, AND a spotter’s guide to celestial beings too. I’d probably break this into a couple of skills if I were going to make use of it at all.

Multiversal Spheres & Planes
Knowledge of the position and makeup of the multiverse, divided up by plane.

Eleven sub-areas:
  1. Alternate Material Planes
  2. Elemental Planes
  3. Shadow Plane
  4. Negative and Positive Planes
  5. Aethereal Plane
  6. Nether and Pandemonic Planes
  7. Empyrean and Concordelysian Planes
  8. Entropic and Celestial Planes
  9. Temporal and Panprobable Planes
  10. Abyssal Plane
  11. Astral Plane
All that lot fits together in a manner which may look more than slightly familiar to AD&D veterans.

Yes, because the problem with AD&D’s Great Wheel cosmology was that it wasn’t complicated and prescriptive enough.

No useful information or stealable moving parts in this skill description. It just sits there without even a helpful reference to the Mythus Magick book where the cosmography of Advanced Mythus is actually explained. More and more I begin to fear that this game isn’t actually comprehensible without the Mythus Magick book in close attendance: not quite 400 pages of crippleware, but dangerously close.

Musical Composition
You can make up instrumental music, but not write lyrics (because that’s an entirely different discipline, roight?). The Musical Composition skill generates Heka if you have all three of Spellsongs, Music and Poetry/Lyrics. A character with this skill can also read music with a DR of "Easy". Even someone afflicted by the bane of music dyslexskia (like Skwizgaar Skwigelf "I do nots wish to talks about it") finds this last a bit eyebrowish. Is sight-reading so risibly easy?

Musical Composition has no skill cross-feeds (no, not even to the obvious ones) and no sub-areas. I find that last a bit peculiar, as what constitutes ‘good’ composition in, for example, the classical Chinese musical tradition != ‘good’ in the traditional West Asian or European modes.


Ooh, this sounds like it might be cool. So what kind of mysticism does Advanced Mythus deem worthy of coverage as an entire skill in its own right? Sufi? Buddhist? Taoist? Qabbalist esoterica? Blakean whackdoodlery? Nope, this is 70s Californian mysticism, so we get two pages of rules about crystals and crystal-derived woo-powers.

Ah yes. Those powers. A mystic knows eleven of them, listed A-K:

A. Self-Improvement: meditate 1 hour/day and make an Easy skill check to gain +1 per 4 bonus to AP/General awarded. That means "25% bonus to XP" in standard gamer.
B. Self-Healing, Heart & Mind: meditate 2 hour/day and make Hard skill check to heal 2d6 damage to both Mental and Spirit TRAITS. 1/day.
C. Mental/Spiritual Defence: presenting your crystal as a shield awards Armour vs. magic effects that harm mind or spirit according to the table below:

D. Mental/Spirit Offence: allows the crystal-waver to attack manifested spirits using 50% of their Mysticism or Dweomercraeft skill.
E. Mental Heka Force Amplification: meditate 1 hour + Hard skill check to boost one Heka-using skill by 50% for 5 minutes. 1/week only.
F. Heka Concentration: meditate for up to 2 hours + make Hard skill check to dump 1 Heka/minute in crystal.
G. Visions: using Mysticism to "clue me" is one DR easier than normal when using a crystal as a focus.
H. Self-Healing, Body: as power B, but a Difficult skill check. 1/day.
I. Heal Others, Mind & Heart: as power B, but base difficulty of Hard, +1 DR per additional person healed. 1/day.
J. Heal Others, Body: as power I, but for others. 1/day.
K. Scrying: "Easy" skill check to see invisible presences. Rules on types of crystals required to scry other planes.

Access to the above powers are governed both by state of mind and by the purity of the crystal the mystic has attuned (navel gaze for 7 hours, Easy skill check). The requirement that mystics "...must be sane, sober and not Dazed to use a crystal with any degree of success" which just goes right against the grain of verisimilitude for what we actually know about Californian mysticism.

As well as dictating your ability to use your skill crystal quality also gives modifiers to base DRs ~and~ determines the Heka storage potential of your pet rock. All these factors are determined by crystal price, which makes hearty mock of the outmoded concept of mystics as people who abjure earthly wealth.

A textual note says that high quality rocks can be X2-3 the listed price. I wouldn't have objected to this information as a second footnote to the table.

In addition to the powers above the Mystic gains Mystic Castings according to That Table, generates Heka, and has access to two additional perks:

Dreams & Visions: another "obtain clue" skill, with DR determined by how often in the past month the mystic has bothered the sublime crystalline entities (or whatever) that his little tchotchke(sp?) resonates with. The reading referee is cautioned in special invisible to players italicised text not to dish out too many clues in response to "clue me" skills. EGG sagely reminds us to "...always make the HPs work for most of their information. [...] Thinking is worth a score of successful die rolls."

Detect Spirits and/or Magick: a Mystic, or maybe his crystal, will *ping* in the presence of spirits (detection DR is dependent on magnitude of manifestation) or magic (Base DR "Extreme", one DR easier per 100 Heka expended), or if the Mystic or his friends become the subject of a magical Link. No idea about what this last entails, but I console myself with a delicious soothing beverage. (*gluk*)

The downside to using a pretty stone as a lever to move the world? Anyone else touching your crystal scrambles the attunement (hippies don’t share well); your crystal crumbles to dust if you ever fumble a Mysticism roll; and lastly, you are a pretentious crystal-gazing woo-monger.

As you may have surmised by now this skill contains the makings of a pretty comprehensive patchouli-scented Hippy Crystal Chick class, if that’s something that floats your boat.

Nature Attunement
This is Druidism as skill. Unfortunately it’s not the cool ‘20 years of training, then you get buried alive in a flooded coffin to compose your dissertation in verse’ druidism the Romans wiped out, but instead tediously worthy ‘listen to the land’ crying Indian/GROLIES one. I’m really not kidding:

purity, sense, feel: nice of Gary to highlight the hippy detection keywords for us

Doing any of the things listed above is DR "Hard". Users of this skill can also blend into natural surrounding at a base DR of Easy, modified by terrain and vegetation.

Finally Nature Attunement has five non-standard sub-areas:
  1. Growing Things
  2. Natural Cycles
  3. Personal Relationship
  4. Animal Husbandry
  5. Exotic Places
Instead of actually doing anything useful in their own right all these sub-areas do is provide cross-feed to other skills:

Growing Things gives 10% cross-feed to Agriculture and Herbalism,
Natural Cycles cross-feeds to Ecology and Geology.
Personal Relationship (grossly mis-named) actually benefits your Hunting/Tracking and Survival skills. Go figure.
Animal Relationship cross-feeds to Animal Husbandry, but not at all to Riding or Animal Handling.
Exotic Places cross-feeds to Phaeree Flora and Fauna and Subterranean Aerth knowledge.

The highly developed spiritual and metaphysical connection to the living world granted by Nature Attunement does not generate Heka in any way shape or form.

One of the bad-boy rock star magic skills. I’m sure you don’t even need this defined for you, right? Ha! This is Advanced Mythus, of course it gets defined! Cue one very skippable paragraph of thesaurus abuse (*gluk gluk*) telling you what necromancy is. Of course it generates Heka, and of course you gain access to Necromancer Castings according to That Table.

Most of the word count in this skill description is expended on 3 rather unimpressive abilities you gain by virtue of sending off for your mail order skull ring. I’m almost embarrassed to expose EGG’s nomenclatural shame here, but:
  1. Coldbody - lower body temperature by 1° F per skill point for up to 1 AT (5 minutes) per STEEP. One/day AFAICT.
  2. Darksee - infra- and ultravision by other names. You see in the dark as if it was twilight. Always on.
  3. Shadowskulk - hide in shadows. DR Easy (total darkness) or harder. Lasts 1 BT (30 seconds) per STEEP. One/day.
So sad. You’d expect a fan of Vance, KAS, et al to be better at evoking the terror and majesty of Death Magic (yes, it rates the caps) in his ability names, wouldn’tcha? I mean, I can throw "Chill of the Grave", "See in Darkness" and "Enrobed in Night" down as substitute names with precisely zero thought on the matter.

Anything worth stealing here? Naaaah. Advanced Mythus necromancers can’t even animate zombies from the look of it. You’ve probably written a better necromancer class yourself, or know a guy who has.

Knowledge of the names and hierarchies of ghosts, elementals and similar entities: a handy skill for mediums, conjurers or anyone else determined to get bossy with those bodiless folk in the spirit world. By contrast with the needless wordiness of many Advanced Mythus skill descriptions this one actually feels rather like a précis of a (missing) longer section on spirit magic and Truenames.

Learning about spirits is easy; a simple d% roll determines whether or not you learn the name of a useful entity. On a success skill check the character learns a spirit’s name and then rolls two more d% to determine whether they know it’s supernatural rank and/or leverage-enabling Truename (see table below).

Spirit entities have a crazy number of names, anything from three for the lowliest up to eighteen names for the most powerful. I’ve no idea what use this information actually is; it’s just thrown out there with us left to infer it by reference to other Spirit skill descriptions (Conjuration, Sorcery, etc). Creatures of Major status or above have multi-part Truenames that can’t be wholly learned through Occultism. Don’t ask how you can learn their full Truename though; the text is stonily silent on the matter.

Occultism has no sub-areas or cross-feed to any other skills: an all-or-nowt skill. It does grant Heka = STEEP, but there appear to be no Occultism castings, so for once there’s no Special Guest Appearance from That Table.

Whether you’d ever make use of this skill in your non-Mythus game depends on whether you care for Truenames, or for creatures having a dozen or more situational epithets. Personally I’ve always found that "I am known by many names" mythology shtick a bit pretentious and vaguely absurd. Too many aliases = cheap and shifty in my book.

Painting (Artistic)
Distinct from Painting (House), which seems to be missing (*tsk*). Characters with this skill can make pretty pictures [link], assess the value of artwork (toe-trampling makes Appraisal skill saaaad), and also know art history. Painting as a Spirit skill though: is that right? Let’s just take the snide historian gibe about art history not being a proper intellectual discipline as read and move on, shall we?

Mythology knowledge. In a world with manifest divinities this is probably something more than just a gateway field of study for geeks; knowing which god to make propitiatory obeisance to may actually be useful. The skill grants broad general knowledge about all pantheons in the game world, but the further away a pantheon is from your home culture area, the harder are skill checks required to remember salient information. Proximate pantheons are "Hard", those more distant "Difficult" or "Very Difficult".

Sub-areas can be taken (to no apparent benefit), and there are nineteen of these listed, from Atlantean to Voudoun.

This skill is simultaneously vague and game world specific; a lot of work for the player and GM. Pass.

Phaeree Folk & Culture
Distinct from the Phaeree Flora and Fauna skill this is "...the study of the many intelligent races inhabiting the Aerth’s counter-world": poxy pixie politics.

There are six sub-areas to this skill: three Races of [faction] Nature and three Culture of [faction] Nature sub-areas. You can pick the Seelie, Borderer or Unseelie factions as fields of, for want of a better word, interest. No cross-feeds to other skills, and you’re limited to a ceiling of 35 in your skill until you spend time in fairyland.

This is a boring, unevocative take on faerie lore. All the legwork is left for the GM, or to a later (never published) Mythus Phaeree sourcebook.

(Oh, and that misspelling, like Magick and -craeft, just gets more annoying with time.)

Front and centre: "...philosophy adds 10% of its STEEP to the Influence K/S Area" (you remember that particular mess, right?), which is yoking the ‘philosophy and rhetoric = trufriends4eva’ connection a little too tightly for my tastes. What’s the skill good for in itself? Well, aside from being another "clue me" skill philosophy also makes you "...a sophisticated kind of person...", and one "...not easily misled by sophistries and falsely persuasive arguments."

Pwahahaha!!! Oh my sides! I can only wonder how many philosophers EGG ever met.

Good for writing odes, sonnets, ballads, librettos which don’t grate on the ear (DR "Easy" or harder). The skill also covers critical analysis and history of poetry and music.

Poetry/Lyrics has no sub-areas, but does cross-feeds 10% to Etiquette/Social Graces, which bonus "...applies across all cultures and societies", as we are informed in italics most grave. Poetry/Lyrics also grants Heka to a character provided they have some ability in all three of the Spellsongs, Music and Musical Composition K/S Areas.

Priestcraeft (sic)
This chunky page-long description open with two paragraphs on determining Full or Partial Heka Ability, which is practically a reprint of the similar section in the Dweomercraeft skill description. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: not the right place for this rule.

After this we’re introduced to the requirements to become a full-fledged priest. These are:
  • Full Heka Ability
  • STEEP of 31+ in Religion K/S Area (q.v.)
  • Exclusive devotion to one god of one pantheon
  • Vow of Faith/Pact with Evil (depending on whether your god is white or black hat) to chosen god

In return for all the above you gain both crazy Heka and access to a bunch of special Tutelary Castings specific to your ethos. In return you are at the beck and call of an inscrutable, omnipotent egomaniac (already a familiar experience to many players). Non-priests with the Priestcraeft skill gain somewhat less Heka and have access to non-Priest Castings in accordance with That Table.

We’re informed that, unlike many skills, Priestcraeft has ‘insular’ sub-area. Once the pomposity has been hacked away (I kid you not, the word ‘Ethoi’ is used no less than three times in one paragraph!) it turns out this means: "pick the sub-area of Priestcraeft that matches your god, abjure all others; that’s you now."

The five Ethoi of Priestcraeft are:

Balance - disinterested neutralism. Taoists, nature worshippers, etc. Has some overlap with the Elemental School of Magic. Basically this guy:

Gloomy Darkness - black hat maltheism. Combines chaos with tyranny for delicious full-fat double evilburgerness. Has so much in common with the Black School of magic it ain’t even funny.
Moonlight - ‘little from column A, little from column B’ omnivorous ethos. Moon and sea gods.
Shadowy Darkness - grey hat darker-and-edgier antihero ethos. Non-evil gods of death (Osiris, Hades, etc.) hang out here. Has a lot on common with the Grey School of Dweomercraeft.
Sunlight - white hat light and order. Sun gods, lawgivers, etc. Corresponds to White School of Dweomercraeft.

Not much of use here for Classic RPG gamers. Classics players generally already have god-bothering rules to their satisfaction.

Knowledge of the rites and rotes of any one religion and pantheon, which must be chosen when the skill is taken. A STEEP of 31+ in this skill is required to be an ordained Priest of a temple. The skill generates Heka, but appears to have few if any in-game uses.

The art of making sharp, vivid, three dimensional images from physical stuff. A necessary skill for anyone with a yen to shape golems. Sculpture offers no sub-areas, because the skills involved in casting bronze, carving stone or wood, shaping clay, or shaping jade are all same-same. The skill offers no skill cross-feeds, mainly because as written it's just too broad and vague to meaningfully apply to Masonry, Forging/Welding, Carpentry (another mentioned-but-MIA skill), Jewellery, etc. But hey, those are just lowly Physical skills; it’s not like they do actually matter in Mythus-world.

The other bad boy rock star magic skill. This is the one that lets you grow a goatee, dress in full Halfordian mode and generally act like the villain in the film adaptation of a Dennis Wheatley book. Provided you have even a smattering of skill in the Demonology K/S Area, and are prepared to make a Pact with Evil (Vow of Faith by another name) forfeiting your soul, this is the full-on demon magic.

Yeah, almost exactly like that, wicker man and all.

What do you get in return for selling 21 grams of spiritual self?
  • a non-trivial multiplier to the Heka generated by this skill. The text says anything from double to ten-times normal, but I think we all agree that x6.66 is the most thematically appropriate.
  • access to Sorcerer Castings per That Table.
  • the ability to call up infernal entities to do your bidding, Faust-style
Which segues us nicely into the half-page of demon invoking rules. These are largely a copypasta of the Conjuration rules with specific reference to evil-themed paraphernalia. The Heka cost and difficulty of upsetting the MADD element is given in a table coyly named "Called Beings":

But wait! There’s more. A sorcerer also gains five innate ‘in the inverted pentagram club’ minor powers. The names of these last aren’t as groan-inducingly bad as those listed under Necromancy, but they’re still not much to write home about.
  • Delusions - win a contested K/S roll to mentally troll ("Look again. You’re eating maggots.") a person within one chain (66ft), up to 3/day.
  • Flamesdance - control flames. Flames can be made to flicker, dim or expand in size by up to x6(.66) for damage + chance of setting things afire. Usable 1/day.
  • Impsummon - you get a squeaky little infernal minion to order/kick about. Usable 1/week.
  • Kiteseyes - you can see through the eyes of any carrion bird out to a maximum range of 6 leagues. 1/day.
  • Ratseyes - you can see through the eyes of rats. Mean-spirited mice and black squirrels are also "...good candidates for being pawns of this power!" 1/day.

There is a Carcosa-style suggestion that you can exploit the knowledge provided by this skill to fight evil, so long as you don’t summon demons, make pacts, or cast the naughty Sorcery spells. ("Goat Boy finds that disgusting. Where is the fun in that?")

Is there anything here usable for a Classic D&D game? Not really. AD&D already has a string of mid-to-high-level summoning and binding spells that form a perfectly adequate demon-bullying mini-game in their own right. It is refreshing to see EGG just plain not giving a phuq about possible ‘RPGs are satanic’ clucking though. The sorcery skill has a definite air of "This is the subject matter under discussion and honi soit qui mal y pense".

The ability to fit in and not embarrass yourself among sub-cultural groups within your own culture. Examples sub-cultures listed include urban proletariat, rural peasants, mercenaries, beggars, etc. You know one sub-area of non-standard etiquette per 10 skill points. The skill is also good for identifying those groups traditionally shy of local law enforcement.

"All that fuss. Why not just try acting dear boy?" - Laurence Olivier to Marlon Brando
Includes both ability to act and knowledge of stagecraft. No cross-feed to Disguise, Persuasion or to anything else you might think related. I’m still not sure if this skill doesn’t render the Impersonation superfluous.

Dunno why this is distinct from Sorcery, other than Gary had a Witch class bug up his butt right from the early days of D&D. IIRC it was an example class as far back as OD&D. Whatever the reason we are informed that "...any individual practising Witchcraeft is of vilest malevolence and dedicated to Evil."

Sooooo Evil! Burn immediately.

After a couple of paragraphs of introductory matter which might as well have just read "refer to Sorcery" (*gluk gluk*) we’re treated to a column or so on the all-important administrative requirements of being a witch. We’re told of the benefits of regular attendance at Sabbats and Esbats (basically bonus Heka: so much for turning up; more for being boss hag; even more "...if especially honoured for evil works." I can’t believe that known punster Gary missed the mentioned in Esbatches gag...), and of the swingeing punishments inflicted on witches who fail to keep their covens up to regulation strength: "If ever a coven should have exactly seven members for even as short a time as seven hours, the remaining members are lost, for their Pacts are foreclosed, and each and every one is doomed!"

In return for their dedication to the infernal bureaucracy witches gain their bonus Heka, access to Witch/Warlock Castings per That Tables, and two witchy-themed minor powers:
  • Eyebite - give someone the Evil Eye. This is basically a pre-incarnation of the SRD’s silent/still spell feats.
  • Beastform - the witch can adopt the form of a totemic carnivore (wolf, bear, or big cat) between midnight and dawn on nights when the moon is either full or dark.
Could you use this as the basis for a Classic RPG witch class? Not really. Half the skill is a recycling of the (already half-recycled) Sorcery skill, and the non-spell abilities of Witchcraeft are pretty duff. There’s nothing here to appeal to anyone who wasn’t aroused by the internal politics of the AD&D Druid class (one boss per area, fight to advance, etc.).

Writing, Creative
You can make stuff up and write it down, or polish non-fiction into an entertaining read. I’m surprised there’s no self-pitying authorial plaint on the difficulty of writing here; maybe EGG got that out of his system back in the Difficulty Ratings section of this chapter. Creative Writing cross-feeds 10% to the Influence K/S Area, which I suppose represents speechwriting and such.

Don’t expect a thorough-going examination of the magic(k)al benefits of a 5,000 year old mystic tradition here, Mythus yoga is fakir tricks, pure and simple. The skill description covers the better part of a page, but the core of it is that the skill grants "...resistance to Mental and Spiritual attacks, immunity to normal fires, the ability to heal Mental, Spiritual and Physical wounds, and the ability to slow physical body functions." All these benefits, as well as innate resistance to Insanity-causing effects, are granted per the Yogi Abilities Table (reproduced below):

As well as making you an unkillable pucnic-basket- plundering hobo the Yoga K/S Area also generates Heka, and cross-feeds 10% to Hypnotism, Perception, Acrobatics/Gymnastics, Endurance, Mysticism and Nature Attunement. Yes, all of them.

You’ve seen this skill before in your Classic D&D game. Split the abilities up among a bunch of levels and you’ve pretty much got the Monk (aka Mystic if you speak BECMI). The body control thing? That was right there in OEPT all the way back in 1975.

And, having reached page 200 alive and (relatively) sane, I am glad to report that is the end of the Advanced Mythus K/S Area descriptions section. 64 seemingly endless pages of:

Mythus skills: my face when

Was it worth the swedge? Arguably not: an average of a couple of possibly interesting elements for your game per dozen pages really doesn’t justify the effort expended. I’m just glad I did it so that no one else has to.

How I’d Have Done It Differently

Before we call finis on this gibbering horror for all time I’m just going to indulge myself with a brief retrospective of the Advanced Mythus K/S Areas section, why it sucks, and how it could be made better. Trust me, this is a necessary exorcism for someone who’s just spent six weeks staring into the void.

The number one improvement would come from having a guy like this on the staff:

"Hello. I'm here to edit your text."

Everything else flows from there.

For starters, the universal skill lists on pp100-101 would have been moved to the K/S Area Descriptions section, with *copious* page numbers and textual references in the Vocations section.

Second, each and every skill would have to justify its existence in the book. If you’re going to have a comprehensive skill system, then it has to be comprehensive, not half-done and lopsided.

Duplicate another skill? We have that thanks. Off you trot.
Stupid number of sub-areas? They get purged and/or the skill gets split up into two or more separate skills, which then have to justify their own existences.
Vapid waffle text? Expand skill description to a meaningful degree, or cut: pick one.

Then, and only then, I’d have put the surviving Heka-active skills in a section of their own, maybe called something sensible and obvious like Heka-Active Skills to indicate that they are not quite like their mundane counterparts.

All the skills would be collected into one table with a fat wedge of relevant information all in one place. Thus:

NameTRAITHeka fromCasting Access?Sub-Areas?Other Abilities?
Arglbarglism M Skill+MMFoo Y (Arglbargl) Y (# of) Y/N (see pXXX)
Chodmancy M Skill+PNBar Y (Choddery) N N
Gonkology P Skill only N Y (# of)Y (see pXXX)
Murblnurfism S Skill+Ssblah Y (Murblnurf) N Y (see pXXX)
etc etc etc etc etc etc

There’d be one, and only one, instance of That Damn Table, renamed to something logical like Casting Access for Heka-Active Skills. The newly renamed table would have a header or footnote explaining that all Heka-active skills that gave casting access did so according to this one table; no exceptions.

After that, Heka-active skill descriptions, edited down to the needful information. Got a bunch of setting material and/or worked examples? That’s what the Mythus Magick book is for. The Rulebook is for the rules you need to play the game. The clue is in the name.

There’d also be one clearly marked and logically placed explanation of the process of checking for Full or Partial Heka Ability in characters. This also would be page referenced to within an inch of its life because we have respect for the time, effort and money the reader has expended upon our game.

Bosh! Greater clarity, ease of reference, ~and~ a bunch of pages saved for more actual substantive content. The whole section would actually read like a usable rulebook rather than as a bunch of half-thought-out fob-off skill descriptions interspersed with setting essays, authorial advice, worked examples and over-stuffed uber-skills.

Job done. I am rock!

Art of the Section
Before I finally collapse into a gibbering heap for the rest of the week I’d just like to mention the three b+w pictures which *ahem* grace the Spirit K/S Areas section of the Advanced Mythus rulebook. All three are b+w incidental art, rather than the full page colour spreads we’ve come to know and loathe.
  • p182 - Daniel Gelon pic of a Faerie Prince and his court, complete with robed eminence gris naturally. Odd bits of this picture include the weird black dot doll eyes of the prince and the Bowie homage(?) focus on his groin as the focal point of the entire composition. This piece is WTF Mythus? territory.
  • p195 - Not visibly credited (Mitchell?) pic of an Ogre standing before a Mycenaean-looking tomb. The ogre is characterfully drawn with a slightly pathetic air which gives the impression that beating on this guy would have a slight whiff of 'bullying the local weirdo' about it.
  • p198 - Ellisa Mitchell pic of a generic Conan-style fantasyburg. This architectural style in this picture will be more than slightly reminiscent to anyone who saw the opening reel of the execrable Solomon Kane film.

Next Time: K/S Areas Use for Economic Gain, in which Ernie Gygax and his old man expend seven pages laying down the law on earning your keep in /Advanced Mythus/.

Pic Source: Dangerous Journeys: Mythus rulebook, Mythus Magick, Action Philosophers, the intarwubz


  1. Let's Read Mythus: the slow-motion train-wreck of Role-Playing Games that NEVER ENDS!!

    I second wondering how many philosophers EGG ever met, on account of having taken a few semesters of philosophy way back in university and being almost completely turned off the subject by the participants... also, based on what I observed, Philosophy should crossfeed to some form of Tavern-based skill, most likely sub-areas such as Hold Forth On A Topic, Denigrate Opponent's Position And Order Drink Simultaneously and Remain Unaffected By Alcohol Whilst Expounding ;)

    1. We're now halfway through the pain. Whether this milestone is cause for rejoicing or seppuku remain to be seen...

      Gary missed a trick by not making philosophy a 'resist magic by rationalising it away' ability aka Mage. That might have been fun (for a given value of 'fun').

  2. I've been having to make Sanity rolls just to read these summaries. What God-like capacity you must have, Chris.

    1. We English take our pleasures sadly. The dour and repressed nature of our kind is such that we only truly feel alive when given the opportunity to grumble about things. Mythus is like one big fat target for griping, and thus (perversely) welcome.

  3. (given their own TLAs as P-/FPM *gluk*)

    If you turned the entirety of Miffus into one long acronym, I wonder if said acronym would reveal some wisdom?

    Is sight-reading so risibly easy?

    Paul McCartney can't read music. I'm not sure what that proves, however.

    a pretty comprehensive patchouli-scented Hippy Crystal Chick class

    I'd be very surprised if such a class didn't turn up in an early issue of White Dwarf.

    "Coldbody", "Darksee" and "Shadowskulk" look like the kind of meaningless gibberish one sees in D&D4 monster descriptions: "Oh noes, it's a Shadowskulk™ Minotaur™!"

    Don’t ask how you can learn their full Truename though; the text is stonily silent on the matter.

    Realms of Chaos had a wonderful d12-by-d12 table for generating daemonic names.

    (Oh, and that misspelling, like Magick and -craeft, just gets more annoying with time.)

    I thought, nay hoped, "Phaeree" was you being snarky.

    Oh my sides! I can only wonder how many philosophers EGG ever met.

    I have a philosophy degree. I can assure you that my STEEP is cross-fed to the maximum possible K/S.

    Job done. I am rock!

    Yes. Yes you are. We salute you, sir.

    1. If you turned the entirety of Miffus into one long acronym, I wonder if said acronym would reveal some wisdom?

      I'm sure this was what actually happened that Arthur C. Clarke story "The Nine Billion Names of God". Of course, the 36 Tzadikim would instantly mobilise to stop such an insane project from ever coming to fruition...

      ...patchouli-scented Hippy Crystal Chick class...
      I'd be very surprised if such a class didn't turn up in an early issue of White Dwarf.

      Dual-statted for RuneQuest and AD&D, of course.
      Four witch classes in Dragon (#4, #20, #43, #114); no mention of any in WD. Bizarre.

      Realms of Chaos had a wonderful d12-by-d12 table for generating daemonic names.

      Is there anything RoC is not useful for? It's like a universal gaming tool that just keep on unpacking fractal juicy goodness like some nineth dimensional hyperfruit. There is much that Mythus (and indeed all other human endeavour) could learn much from RoC.

      I have a philosophy degree. I can assure you that my STEEP is cross-fed to the maximum possible K/S.

      *Cannot unpicture Kelvin in kick-ass propeller beany*

    2. I've upgraded to a propeller fez.

      Much as I'd like Wizards of the Coast to wake up and release all the old stuff as pdf or print-on-demand, I'd happily let it all fade into obscurity if it meant Games Workshop would put Realms of Chaos back into print.

      And Freebooters. Freebooters was brilliant.


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