Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Battle as Character Generation

So, last night I ran a wicked playtest of Mythender. I had my home group make up characters, and then we dove into a battle because that’s what I wanted to test. The battle ran damned well, and upon thinking about it, I was struck with an idea: after characters are made, they battle a creature. The act of battling together cements them as a party, which I think helps given the idea that these heroes can come from all over Europe for their own reasons.

I think it’ll have the following advantages:

  • Gives a chance to see if your Traits and whatnot work out the way you think
  • Gives you a chance to see how you and the other PCs work together effectively.
  • Start the game off with a bit of a bang

Now, there are effects and benefits to battling monsters, and I don’t want this “initiation” battle to have any of those. So, I had this follow-up idea: the battle is a dream the PCs share. Not only does it allow for characters to change stuff around, not have any permanent effects, etc., but it’ll also I think add a bit of a surreal, mysterious sense with the world of Mythic Norden.

That said, like in Dogs, I want the initiation to give some benefit, so there’ll be a minor boon after an initiation. But that’s in a future post about how I’m looking to do character advancement.

Edit: I have been convinced that my dream idea is poor, and have been given some suitable alternatives which will expand the game as a whole.  I would type more about it, but my time is limited this week.  But I did want to share that there is still good fruit born from bad ideas! 🙂


February 12, 2008 - Posted by | Mythender


  1. Ryan, why not just make this first fight a “real” fight in the fiction, but one which does not result in the kinds of rules changes you’re concerned about? It’s just got a different ruleset for this one fight?

    What also might be cool (and I don’t know if this is right for your game) is to go into the fight with very little done on the character and make character selections during that fight, sorta how NPCs are statted up in Dogs.

    Comment by robertbohl | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  2. Robert,

    Fred Hicks actually suggested something similar. Let me paste what I said to him, and see where that works with you.

    Let me unpack my design goals with the initiation battle:
    * Give a chance to see all the Traits in action, in case they made one or two that they can’t really turn into actions or that are way too broad or narrow
    * Give a taste of what’s going to happen in the game
    * Show, not tell, why Mythic Power is something you want to keep getting
    * Along with that, create a sense of MP starvation, to make folks hunger to get it in play
    * Tie people together through action
    * Not trigger the rewards for ending a myth

    For that, I’ll need a full (if maybe short) battle, in order to create MP bleed-off and show how the system works.

    So, here’s what I’m thinking about for the dream:
    * This is a dream you keep having *before* you set off for Mythic Norden
    * The first time you have this dream, when you wake up, the newly gained Relic from your dream is in your hands/near your bed/whatever
    * This ties people together who didn’t travel to Mythic Norden as a group, but as individuals (even across time)
    * This *could* be a prophetic dream
    * This should underline that Mythic Norden is a freaky fuckin’ place, if it gets into your dreams before you even set foot there

    Given that, do you still think that the dream part is weak?

    For your second comment, I’m not too keen on that idea. However, I am keen on being able to shift around your character afterwards, if you find problems with how your character works. That, and you do get a couple things after the initiation battle, like how you get another Trait after your initiation in Dogs.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | February 13, 2008 | Reply

  3. I guess I’ll have to see it in context to see if my concerns are allayed. Certainly if dreams are a big part of the game, then I should drink a big glass of shut the fuck up. 🙂

    Comment by robertbohl | February 14, 2008 | Reply

  4. Not at all, man. Your comment helped me buy that I was off-base.

    Comment by Ryan Macklin | February 14, 2008 | Reply

  5. Ryan,

    I think that what we are all reacting to is the fact that the dream is a MacGuffin that gets poorly used in a lot of venues, most often a deus ex machina.

    But I really think it’s more of a terminology thing. For some reason when you were writing on your goals and what you hoped to accomplish, I was thinking of the anime series Record of Lodoss War. The first ep of the show is the party fighting a dragon on the way to the first part of their question.

    The second episode the begins at the “beginning of the story.” I think it’s a good plot device and seems to work well with the genre as you have set it up.

    So point one is: good idea.

    Point two, what’s the harm in giving those benefits? Does it upset play?

    Comment by commondialog | February 15, 2008 | Reply

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