Monday 11 March 2013

Lets Read Mythus pt 25

Mythus spell lists: my face when.

Last section of the Advanced Mythus spell lists sample castings, which so far have been boring enough to make a Chaos Sorcerer throw his hands up and rededicate himself to the service of the lord of the skull throne. Oh well, time to haul on the waders, broach a bottle of something nice and numbing, and once again enter the perverse world of Dangerous Journeys: Mythus.

Previously: Apotropaism and Astrology.
Today: Herbalism, Mysticism, the art of the section.

As before, each grab bag of example castings covers Casting Grades I-V, with 3-5 example castings per level. Casting time is hidden away in the name of the spell, for which see LRM pt 23. Heka costs are as noted in LRM pt 22.

First up we have Herbalism, which is a little different to what we've experienced so far. Don't get too excited though: different != better. The wrinkle of this clump of spells is that some Herbalism Castings are used to create potions, oils and similar. These Castings include a Materia Cost in their entry, which -- AFAICT -- is the cost per potion created.

Herbalist infusions are the Twinky of Mythus arcana, in that they last indefinitely until opened and then have only a 1% cumulative chance/day of going off. This might be a nice variation on the old 'potion roulette' game if it wasn't so damn fiddly. I mean, does your idea of high adventure include tracking "date potion was opened"?

As far as I know Mythus has no potion miscibility rules either. Shame that. It seems that your Heroick Personaeaeae can glug Heka-charged potions down like a dipsomaniac without any of the lolarious side-effects we know and love from the One True DMG. *sadbemusedface*

Herbalism I

Auraread Spell
Scan one target's aura to get a sense of their innate Heka ('none', 'little', 'lots'), general level of health, and whether their aura is "...beneficial, neutral or baleful".
A general purpose detect magic + status + Mythus-ised version of know alignment(?).

Botanomancy Spell
Determine the composition of Mundane or Preturnatural herbal substances. 1 substance may be identified per BT for BT = 1/10th STEEP.
Identify plants, presumably useful in the context of other Herbalism castings.

Detect Poison Charm
Touch ranged, infallibly detects the presence of poison "...or similar toxic substance..." (huh?) in one subject, living or otherwise.
The dull! It burns! In a really tedious way.

Healing Poultice Spell
Magic(k) Elastoplast for your boo-boos.
Enchants a prepared poultice to heal 2d6 Physical damage when applied. Also doubles healing rate for remaining damage. Has no effect on poison or disease.
The first spell with a Materia Cost: 120 BUCs.
Enchant bandage of CWL. Might be handy to put a cost on low-level healing for your old school game. Otherwise dull.

Love Potion Spell
Creates a potion which causes the imbiber to "...become enamoured of, or attached by filial or brotherly love..." to the first living thing they see. Effect is similar to the Magnetism K/S Area and lasts 1 day/STEEP!
Materia Cost: 100 BUCs.
If you said philter of love you're probably not far off. The exploit potential of this for a cunning user is off the charts.

Herbalism II

Detect Disease Spell
You channel the spirit power of Dr Gregory House, but skip straight to the third (correct) diagnosis.
Caster can identify type, cause, contagiousness and strength of an disease, and whether it was Heka-induced. Casting can also uncover "...disease vectors on non-living sort, so that contagion potential from objects or places can be determined."
So a combined diagnosis/forensic epidemiology detect cholera-infested pump spell. Very handy for the grubbier, wermspittled sort of Classic game.

Identify Disorder Spell
Uncovers presence and type of Mundane or Preturnatural mental disease/disorder in one subject. Useless against Supernatural disorders of the mind. I've no idea what the distinction between Preturnatural and Supernatural insanity is and, guess what, no page ref. is offered.
Diagnose madness for those who simply can't be bothered with the patented Mythus madness guessing game. May be useful for your game if you use insanity rules.

Identify Poison Cantrip
As Detect Poison Charm + type and strength of poison, how it was administered, and nature of antidote and treatment. Casting can identify Entital (godly?) poisons, but won't reveal cure.
Another instant diagnosis casting. I do worry that the way these are presented may reduce the herbalist to either "Ok, I follow standard practise" or "We drop everything to get the cure, then treat according to standard practise".

Sleep Potion Formula
Creates an odourless, tasteless 1fl.oz. potion of roofies at a cost of 20BUCs.
Imbiber with Physical TRAIT < herbalist's STEEP gets drowsy for 2d6 CT, then drops into a deep sleep for 1hr/10 STEEP + 1 AT/potion's potency - target's M TRAIT.
Multiple potions may be administered to extend duration of effect.
Quite apart from the obvious date rape/kidnap applications this may have medical utility as a general anaesthetic. I'd still feel a bit dirty introducing this to my own game though.

Herbalism III

Adjust Chi Ritual
A 15 minute ritual restores 1d3 damage to each TRAIT and "...balancing a like extent (1d3 from stronger to weaker)". Also lends 3d3 points of the caster's Heka, whatever good that might be.
Duration is 5 minutes/STEEP. Cost is 30 BUCs.
Not sure of the utility of this spell. May be intended to stop people on their last legs from pegging out until more permanent assistance can be rendered.
Would not use as written.

Herbal Poison Formula
30 BUCs of herbs and malicious intent combine to create a colourless, tasteless, odorless poison which can be added to food or drink.
Poison's Str = caster's STEEP. Onset time can be quick (1 AT - CT=caster's STEEP) or slow (up to caster's STEEP in AT), depending on whether or not you want to savour the gagging, choking and throat-clutching fun.
Sly little 'inheritance accelerator' effect, the sort of thing that some consider beyond the pale in a heroic fantasy setting. Gary, by contrast, seemingly agreed with the Ankh-Morpork Assassin's Guild dictum that when a man is tired of checking his every meal for poison he is tired of life.
Would I use IMG? Oh heck no! The bodies would be hip-deep by tea-time.

Resist Poison Formula
Imbiber gains immunity to the effects to one poison (selected at creation) for 1 AT/STEEP of creator. Poison remains in system and may take effect when this effect ends.
Costs 30 BUCs.
Slow poison as a potion. Handy if you have the slightest inkling what's coming...

Resist Disease Formula
Resists the effect of diseases up to Str 50 + 1/extra Heka expended for 1 hour/STEEP.
Although not directly affected anyone under the effect of this infusion may still be a carrier.
Costs 30 BUCS.
Slow disease. Might be useful if away from meaningful medical care.

Herbalism IV

Identify Potion Charm
Identify 1 potion with a successful Herbalism check. DR is "Easy" for mundane potions, "Moderate" for Preturnatural, and "Routine" (x1.5) for Supernatural potions. This is an especially Mythus-ey casting description, combining a bad case of Manglish with a fade out at the end.

Clarity, concision, completeness? Sorry mate. We're all out of those.

Dear, oh dear. (*gluk gluk* on many levels)

Minimize Poison Spell
Creates a potion which minimizes damage caused by a single poison when drunk. Toxins still have to be neutralised after the fact.
  • Staged damage poisons do minimum damage each time they take effect.
  • Fixed Str poisons do 1/10th of their normal damage over a period 10 times as long, but with 10 times as many stages of damage.
Do you care much? Nope. Ne meither.
Costs 40 BUCs.
Far too fiddly for my simplistic tastes. Either you're poisoned, or the poison has been delayed and you're a bit woozey, or it's been neutralised. Anything else is just TL;DR. You seriously want us to track "1/10th the damage 1/10th as often for 10 times longer than normal"? FRO! We have adventures to be getting on with.

Painkiller Formula
Imbiber gains 4d3 Physique and feels no pain from Physique Damage, but suffers a 25% penalty to their Mental Reasoning and Mental Mnemonic Categories for 1 hour/10 STEEP.
Formula created is listed as 12 oz. in volume. Is that an American beer measure or sommat? *chuckle*
Cost 40 BUCs to create.
Bah! Would not use. Simpler, superior 'rageahol' rules are available which use proper Imperial measures (pints, ya pansies!), and they didn't waste a perfectly good Judas Priest title.

Semi-related: While we're on the subject of energy-restoring, SAN-blasting beverages, do you want to see something even crazier and more perversely masochistic than the geek show that is LRM? Here! Here's a link to a man blogging the experience of drinking an expired can of Brawndo of his own free will. Why? For (post-apocalyptic) SCIENCE!

Herbalism V

Flying Potion Formula
Creates a potion that confers flight for 1d10 ATs + 1 AT/10 STEEP. Duration is always variable, so the subject will never be certain how much flying time they have left.
No speed or type of flight (birdlike? perfectly controlled? hovering possible?) listed. Shabby.
Costs 500 BUCs.
Random flight duration? Yeah, enjoy your screaming Icarus impersonations. Pass.

Healing Infusion Formula
Creates a potion which cures 5d6 Physical damage.
Costs 250 BUCs.
Potion of CSW. Pass on, nothing of interest here.

Hekaberry Spell
Create magic grapes of matjgickqkalness.
Infuses no.# of berries = STEEP with 1 Heka each. Eat them to gain the Heka.
Casting costs nothing and berries are good for 1 day/10 STEEP.
Goodberry, the mana years. Dull.

So Herbalism Castings -- at least as far as presented here in the DJ:M rulebook -- are pretty much the 'palliative care + potion creation' school: low octane healing with a side order of dull and obvious. I'm not sure if things get more interesting at higher levels, but thus far: no'mpressed.


Herbalism dispatched we move onto Mysticism Castings. As you may recall from way bck when in our skills K/S Areas overview mysticism in Mythus = Californian mysticism (yoga+crystals). So brace for earnestness, self-satisfaction, and elongated vowels.

Mysticism I

Clairaudience Formula
Hear what goes on in a 1 rod radius at a range of up to 1 chain/STEEP. Effective range is reduced by wood, brick or metal walls, and completely negated by lead, gold or Heka barriers.

Clairvoyance Formula
The classic remote perving spell.
See what goes on far away. 1 chain radius at a range of 1 furlong/STEEP. Barriers reduce range as Clairaudience.

Crystalomancy Spell
Overclock your mystic hippy crystal.
You can treat it as a crystal of +1 quality (see the Mysticism K/S Area description) for 1 hour + 1 AT/10 STEEP.
Pretty boring buff to your pet rock. Would not steal.

Faith Healing Ritual
Cure 2d10+2 damage to one TRAIT in one target. Amount of healing is limited by the tagret's faith in the mystic, so max healing = their Spiritual Psychic Capacity. Half the damage healed vanishes when the casting duration (1 day/10 STEEP) expires.
Sort of interesting. CLW with a couple of minors twists.

Fakir Cantrip
Confers temporary ability in Endurance or Yoga K/S Areas for 1 AT/10 STEEP. Skill conferred = 1 point/Heka spent, max = caster's Mysticism. Stacks with existing skill.
A fiddly-er version of the control body spell from EPT. Stick with the original.

Mysticism II

Discern Presences Spell
Grants the ability to *ping* normally invisible incorporeal spirits at up to 1 chain/10 STEEP away. What constitutes an incorporeal spirit?

Note that spirits sniffed out by this casting are colour-coded for your convenience.
Might be useful for a game where ethereal creepers and ghosts are a big thing.

Hemisphere of Yang Cantrip
Caster radiates pure masculinity and UV in a 1 rod radius/10 STEEP. I am not making this up:

The caster is so yangtastic his mere presence causes 2d3 Physical damage to light-sensitive creatures. He also casts at 90% of normal Heka cost, with any ranges measured from the edge of his aura of manliness. This zone of bulging vascularity lasts 1 AT/10 STEEP.
Muscle Wizard approves.

 A mystic goes about his business, yesterday.

Penetrate Disguise Formula
"That's not a real nose. Look, it comes right off!"
Negates mundane disguises automagically and can penetrate magickal ones with a DR "Hard" roll vs. Spiritual TRAIT. Able to detect were-creatures (given as "Therianthropes" in the text *gluk gluk*)
Negates the utility of a couple of K/S Areas, because muggles can suck it. Do not want.

Sending Ritual
Sends a mental message up to 1 mile/STEEP + 1 mile/Heka spent.
Must be in a language the recipient understands.
Similar to the Influence of Gemini Astrology casting, but half the price. Mystics probably run the Aerth Telegraph Service.

Mysticism III

Mystic Skill Bonus Formula
Grants +1 point/10 STEEP in any K/S Area. This lasts for an hour/10 STEEP. Caster cannot use on himself. Multiple castings do not stack.
Big whoop. +bullshit bonus in a (wonky variation on a-) percentile based system. Pass.

Mystic Visions Spell
Another "clue me" spell. 5 minutes going "Ooooom. Ooooom." grants a vision of some event "...that is destined to occur." A Special Success on the casting roll grants the effect of a Divination Casting called Prevision, a casting which isn't even in this book! *gluk*
Bonus effect: restores 1d3 to each TRAIT. Because meditation.
Care much? Nope.

Power of Wood Charm
An odd little casting which grants a smattering of wood-themed benefits for 5 minutes/STEEP.
  • grants +1 bonus/10 STEEP of caster when using a wooden tool or instrument.
  • gain "renewing Heka armour" (¿Que?) = 1/10th STEEP against attacks with wooden weapons.
  • target rendered immune to attack vegetable spells for the duration.

*sigh* Shall we just take as read the extended rant about whether adding more petty situational bonuses to something useless makes it worthwhile, or if doing so just complicates things pointlessly?

True Sight
Allows the caster to penetrate Preturnatural disguises, illusions and shadows, as well as detecting the alteration of "...material, object, creature, being, or aura...". Does not render the invisible or hidden visible.
What the balls? This casting description just raises more questions than it answers:
  1. Why bother when you already have Penetrate Disguise for less Heka?
  2. What's all that tosh about "...maskings...affected by illusions or shadows..." vs. plain old hiding?
  3. How does this casting interact with the existing (if demented) Perception rules.
  4. Gary: Y U hate non-caster characters?
Another exemplary "How Not To...", courtesy of Batdance Sniffus.

Mysticism IV

Heka Sight Spell
Caster can see Heka flow in a 1 rod/10 STEEP radius. Useful for typing Heka (Pretur-, Super-, Pos, Neg, charm, strange, etc); detecting magickal items; uncovering concealed Heka landmines. Allows a rough numerical estimate of the Heka in the area.
Another bleedin' detect magic? Pass.

Mass Hypnosis Spell
Radiate Jobsian reality alteration field.
Causes 1 target/point in caster's SP Category in a radius of 1 foot/STEEP to stand and gawp at the caster if they fail a DR "Extreme" (x0.1) Spiritual Psychic Category test. This lasts for as many Battle Turns (30 second intervals) as the amount by which the targets failed their test. So all you have to do is keep track of how long anything up to 20 creatures are affected.
Got that? Good.
And here, in a nutshell, is why Advanced Mythus is not good, and why those responsible should be ashamed of themselves. No one looked at this and bothered to ask "Are you serious Gary?"

Mystic Bullets Charm
You can blast out MIND BULLETS!!! which cause 4d3 Spirit damage to [Team Evil]. Hit unerringly out to 1 yard/10 STEEP. You get 1 missile and can expend Heka for extras (up to +1 per 20 STEEP).
Seventy-five Heka for an average of 8 Spirit Damage. Seems legit, and not at all a waste of words.

Mysticism V

Baraka Ritual
Create secret Heka well of secrecy.
Caster has to find a remarkable natural feature, then cast this rite once a week for five weeks in succession. This creates a reservoir with starting Heka = 1/10th caster's Mysticism STEEP and a max = Mysticism STEEP. This well generates 1 Heka/day and increases its capacity 1/month, up to a maximum for its type:

Draining a Heka reservoir completely destroys it.
You can have 1 Heka well/10 STEEP and they are rated "remarkably uninteresting, probably background noise" by most Heka-detection castings.
Very gygaxian naturalistic, a nice change from some of the contextless WTF-ery in this section. This might actually be a useful steal for Birthright or Dark Sun influenced games. (*gluk gluk*)

Mystic Missile Charm
Another magical projectile spell. Does 5d6+5 damage to 1 member of [Team Evil] up to 1 chain/10 STEEP away. If you said that this hits unerringly and ignores Physical armour you'd be right.
Another "pew pew" spell? Really? Say it with me Gary: "scaling by level".

Power of Aerth Charm
Another multiple minor enhancements casting, like Power of Wood above. Dirt, clay, sand and all things formed from them ("...brick, ceramic, glass, pottery, porcelain, etc...") count as earth for the purposes of this casting, no mention of stone though. Target is able to:
  • Move overland at 2x normal movement speed
  • Walk through earth at normal movement speed.
  • Breathe while immured in dirt.
  • Immunity to earth-based effects from castings (damage, restriction of movement, etc).
  • Identify the general nature of anything stored in an earth-derived container.
These effects lasts 5 minutes/STEEP, which means at least 4 hours at Casting Grade V.
Irritatingly the spelling "Aerth", rather than the plain English word 'earth', is used throughout the casting description.
Less futile than Power of Wood. Would steal.

So Mysticism. I'd sum it up as "all over the shop like a pissed-up unicyclist". A couple of stealables vastly outnumbered by the tosh.

Art of the Section

There are only a couple of b+w flavour pieces in this chapter, both by Daniel Gelon.

P287 - Creepy merchant - Gelon
Seemingly posed for a portrait before his cupboard of arcane paraphenalia. Visually interesting, excellent use of hatching and shading, if subject matter is taken as wizard rather than merchant it even makes sense in context with the text. I really like this piece; it has a really characterful 'Jimmy Saville as skeevy Renaissance gentleman' vibe.

I see that and think WFRP or maybe Russ-illustrated Fighting Fantasy. Believe me, that is high praise.

P291 - I dunno monolith - Gelon
Robed wizard/druid type activating a mystic triathlon. Presumably a rendition of the Baraka Ritual.
Specimen sample of good use of hatching and shading.

This chapter has been kind of a disappointment really. Given the word count expended on Heka-capable K/S Areas -- and the implied *Unf! Unf! Unf!* Phuq da muggles! Casters are lord! that went with that -- I was expecting the sample Advanced Mythus castings to be more impressive than they are. This was the designers' chance to showcase their originality and give me reasons why "I must have this other book!" was the appropriate response to Mythus Magick (sold separately). What do we get instead? A bunch of 'seen if before', a bucket of boring, and a couple of semi-good ideas. Very disappointing.

Next Time: We examine the deep arcana of Chapter 14: The Campaign and Gamemastering. Expect the gygaxisms to be strong with this one.

Pic Source: the Dangerous Journeys: Mythus rulebook, Russ f-ing Nicholson, teh intawubz


  1. Note that until a successful dweomer is laid upon the subject Potion, the type and Heka utilized in the liquid....

    In centuries to come, scholars will ponder those words.

    Hemisphere of Yang is brilliant. That and Summon Solar System almost redeem Miffus. Almost.

  2. Poke, poke. Where's part 26?!!

  3. This blog is even more boring than Mythus.


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