Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Third Playtest “Blues”

Well, okay, not really “blues” in the classic sense, but the title felt nice. Anyway, I did my third playtest of Mythender on Friday night, and we’ve finally hit the big flaws of the system:

* The Convincing System doesn’t work — in that it’s unfun for players & the GM, in that doesn’t fit in the “Heroes are always successful” paradigm, and it doesn’t work for the goal of that sub-system: providing a vehicle for the PCs to uncover and neutralize Monster weaknesses. I am looking both to Agon & In a Wicked Age for thoughts on how to handle this, and may do a cross between the two — roll when you want to make it a Challenge/Obstacle worth rolling against/losing something over, or don’t. That doesn’t solve the issue of handling discovering Monster Weaknesses yet, and for that I think I’m going to chew over GUMSHOE and see if there’s something in that worth muddling over.

* There’s a huge Tyranny of the Victor element here, more than I want. A little dose of it isn’t bad, as that encourages early victory and makes said victory tangibly worthwhile. The three PCs beat the living hell out of my army of Trolls (operating as one unit, so it was effectively 3-on-1). This was effectively a mid-adventure battle, and while the Heroes should walk away like badasses, doing so completely unscathed was disappointing. They got early hits in and kept hammering them.

Good news: the whole “teamwork” concept paid off. They had the PC with the Christian weapon hammer down on the Trolls — currently Christian-blessed weapons deliver a more devastating blow when damage is bought using them, whereas Pagan-enchanted weapons increase the dice you get to use. These uses didn’t cost Mythic Power, and they had way too much of an impact of the game to not put some thought into making the effects cost MP.

Non-good news: I have to seriously think about how to mitigate the numeric advantage the PCs have while still keeping my goals of “unnamed NPC monsters are a single unit” and “the mid-adventure hoard shouldn’t be tougher than the climatic battle with the Single Vicious Beast.” Some folks have asked me if I should have given the group of Trolls some sort of “group” advantage that lets them act longer, but I don’t want that to make the end “boss” weaker because it still only acts once per round. So far, I’m looking at an ablative “extra turns” setup, where you can whittle down how many turns it gets per round. I don’t think I want to couple this with damage, so that interesting choices are made (e.g. I have 10 effect points — do I spend them on damaging the creature or slowing it down?)

* Stats & Mythic Power: After axing the Convincing System, the players found themselves unsure of what to do with at least one trait. We talked about how charging up all four trait is cumbersome, and MP started flowing when I reduced the number to three stats. But, I’m wary of keeping that as an option, partly because it changes the value of Grandstanding and partly because, if I reduce the number of traits to three, it feels a bit less interesting to me — it feels easier to decide three traits rather than four, and feels like a less fleshed-out character. Still, I think I’m going to try it, and I think I’m going to go for a more free-wheeling approach to traits, a la PDQ, rather than a list. (Though, the list was good to get people started, I think)

(Of course, I could just change Grandstanding to double-check one Trait rather than check two. That would effectively allow them to generate more power, but the pacing to cash in said power are the same as if they hadn’t.)

* Best news of the night: The Battle System is what really, really shines — even with its flaws. My players want to keep playing. I still like this game.


January 14, 2008 - Posted by | Mythender


  1. I have to seriously think about how to mitigate the numeric advantage the PCs have while still keeping my goals of “unnamed NPC monsters are a single unit” and “the mid-adventure hoard shouldn’t be tougher than the climatic battle with the Single Vicious Beast.”

    I have no idea if this will help, but in reading through Reign last week I saw a pretty cool way of dealing with this sort of issue.

    Background: In Reign, you’re rolling pools of d10s and looking for sets of the same number. The number of the dice in a set is the Width, the number on the dice in a set is the Height. So if I roll 1, 2, 2, 4, 8, 10, I’ve got a 2×2 set. In Combat, Width determines initiative and damage, Height determines hit location. So I roll 3×2 and you roll 2×10, I hit you in the legs before you can hit me in the head. Whenever you get hit, it drops a die out of one of your sets. So in that example, I’d ruin your 2×10 set, so you’d fail to hit me at all.

    So here’s how the mook rules work: Each mook adds one die to the mook pool, to a max of 15d. Mooks have a Threat level of 1 to 4, which is the minimum Height you need to take them out. (They don’t have hit locations.) You roll the whole pool and divide up sets however you see fit, however, no set can be Wider than three. So if I roll 15d for my fifteen Threat 3 mooks and get 3×9, 3×8, 3×1, and 2×7, the mooks get four actions. If you roll 6d and get 2×7 and 2×6, the mooks will hit you three times before you get to go, ruining both your sets. (Otherwise you would have taken out on the mooks, reducing their pool to 14d for next round.)

    I don’t know how this relates to Mythender’s combat system, but it’s one of better ways of handling mobs I’ve seen, so I thought I’d pass it along.

    Comment by ptevis | January 14, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hmm. I played with ORE back when Godlike came out, but this looks interesting.

    It has occurred to me that while I know how Battle works, and I’ve talked about that with various folks, I haven’t actually written up that system yet. So, that’ll be next on my list of things to do for Mythender. I might start with an example — we’ll see if I can write one up today.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | January 14, 2008 | Reply

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