Apr 26, 2019

The Big Dawnlands Reference Documents

I'm sure after a decade of me talking about the Dawnlands in bits and pieces, people are eager to actually get a true overview of the setting. As part of my new Dawnlands campaign, I wrote up a 25-page reference document for my players. I also wrote this 8-page campaign pitch for my new PCs which specifically focuses on one sept of the Kadiz.

The idea wasn't that they would read the either document in full in one sitting, but rather that they could refer to them as needed, and dip into them to gin up ideas for their characters.  It also helped my organize my thoughts and present a "conceptually dense" version of the setting that was laid out as something other than a series of vignettes, disorganised reflections, and occasional partial introductions.

I cranked these out in about four days of writing after my workday, so it's not my finest and most evocative work (rereading them, I notice the usual mishmash of sub-typos present in that sort of work), but I hope people find it interesting.

Apr 23, 2019

Learning New Combat Style Traits

More Mythras-posting is coming as I refresh my memory of the rules and prep for the upcoming Dawnlands campaign. This time around, I was reflecting on this post I made at the end of January talking about combat style traits.

I think its reasoning is still solid, but now that I'm looking at teaching three new players the Mythras system, I want something a bit simpler. I want to pace the accumulation of exceptional situations to the players' growing familiarity with the system. I also want them to be able to look rules up in the book independently of me, which should reduce the amount of time I spend explaining, rationalising, and recording house rules, and empower them to answer rules questions themselves.

Therefore, I think the easiest rules change that resolves my frustrations with the limited number of combat style traits without loading on complexity for the PCs is to allow them to spend Experience Rolls to add new traits onto their existing styles. I'm going to set the cost to acquire a new combat style trait as Five (5) Experience Rolls.

This makes acquiring a new combat style trait as difficult and time-consuming as learning a new spell or talent in the advanced magical traditions, which I think is about right. It should also keep the number of combat style traits people acquire more limited than the other obvious option, which would be for them to cost 2 Experience Rolls (the same as opening a new Professional Skill or learning a Folk Magic spell).

So, to summarise:

New Trait for Existing Combat Style = 5 Experience Rolls

Apr 22, 2019

Mounted Combat Damage in Mythras

"A mounted warrior may, when charging with a braced weapon, substitute his own Damage Modifier for that of his mount." (Page 104 of Mythras)

Superficially, this seems to say that you can use your own Damage Modifier instead of your mount's when you charge while mounted. I think this is confusingly worded, but actually means you can substitute your mount's Damage Modifier for your own. Even if it's not what this passage means, it is what should be the rule.

My reasoning:

The average human has a Damage Modifier of +0 and when charging, this goes up to +1d2.

The average horse has a Damage Modifier of +1d12, and this goes up to +(1d8+1d6) when charging.

These are not aberrations in the rules, but rather almost all mounts are stronger than their possible riders, and because of the doubled bonus to Damage Modifier increases that quadrupeds receive when charging, they will almost always have a higher Damage Modifier than their riders.

The mounted warrior normally makes the attack when the combined unit charges, not the mount.

I can see no situation in which someone charging would want to substitute their Damage Modifier for their mount's, and for the situation to even make sense, the mount itself would have to be making the attack on the charge, which is a nonstandard situation itself.

Therefore, it seems sensible to assume that the preposition "for" is being used in a slightly odd way here, and what the rule is asserting is that a rider can use their mount's Damage Modifier when they charge (which makes charges that hit super powerful).

As a further piece of evidence, I ran a one-shot for Lawrence Whitaker once, and someone got charged by a mounted foe, and we used the interpretation of the rule that I'm elaborating here at that time without complaint.

I'm doing a big review of Mythras combat in preparation for a Dawnlands campaign I'm starting up with my D&D 3.5 crew come mid-May. I'm spreading the good word, getting some experienced roleplayers but newcomers to Mythras to try it out and see how they like it compared to D&D 3.5.

This line struck me because I thought I knew Mythras combat reasonably well, and yet suddenly I thought that I had misunderstood a situation that I've adjudicated many times. I'm posting this at least partly so that no one else undergoes the confusion I did.

(Also, happy Easter)

Apr 2, 2019

Flipping the Core Mechanic of Mythras

I'm prepping for another Dawnlands campaign, and one aspect I'm debating is flipping Mythras' core mechanic around and simplifying it.

Mythras is a typical BRP game in that all skills have a percentile rating which one attempts to roll under on 1d100 to succeed. Critical successes occur when one rolls less than 1/10 of the skill's percentile rating (rounded up). Regardless of skill level, a roll of 01-05 is always a success, and a roll of 96-00 is always a failure. Fumbles occur when the roll is a 99 or 00. When two characters make opposed rolls, the one with the higher result within the same band of success (regular or critical) succeeds.

This isn't hard, but it's more complex than it needs to be. As Delta has pointed out in designing the Target20 system for OD&D, based on a commonplace amongst math educators, addition is the least demanding and most accurately performed mental calculation. Because of some of the fine details, logjams tend to occur in a couple of places in the current Mythras skill algorithm.

The first place is understanding that bonuses and penalties change the percentile rating you're rolling under, not the roll itself. This takes people a bit to wrap their head around.

The second is that you're trying to roll under a skill rating, but as high as possible within that band. This is sometimes called a "blackjack" method - you're trying to get as close as possible to the rating without exceeding it.

The third is determining which band of success you're in for certain low rolls. It's very easy to confuse a high critical success roll with an extremely low standard success roll, especially when you start adding on difficulty grades, augmenting skills with other skills, and all the other stuff.

To resolve many of these issues, I'd like to offer my simplified Mythras skill resolution system, which I am tentatively calling Target101.

1d100 + skill value + difficulty value + augmenting skill with a result greater than or equal to a value of 101 is a success. If two rolls are opposed to one another, then the higher result wins.
Successful rolls (not total sums) ending in 5 are critical successes. 

A roll of 01 or 02 is a fumble.
A roll of 00 counts as 100.

NB: I'm electing to go for the static difficulty values per the "Simplified Diffcult Grades" table on page 38 of Mythras.

The advantages of this system are that it involves a sequence of simple 2-digit additions that sum to a single score. It reduces or maintains the range of possible exceptional rolls (fumbles, automatic successes). And it allows a simple one-digit recognition operation to determine whether a roll is a critical success or not. The chances of success are mostly mathematically identical to stock Mythras, with only the range of automatic failures and successes reduced.

I haven't play-tested this yet, but I'm hoping to in the upcoming Mythras campaign.