Thursday, October 3, 2019

I'm still working on my Mythras WoW hobby project... but fell in a deep hole when thinking about Shamans and such. Troll witchdoctors and how each 'race' should feel different.

My brain got partially eaten as I started planning this year's Nanowrimo project... which will be gothic romance. Which got me reading some reference material and wondering how an RPG version would work out... something like Ravenloft where Strahd is less overtly antagonistic maybe?
I think I can justify it as a sideline of the WoW project since it could be turned toward expanding certain classic 'spooky' areas, like Duskwood.
Deadwind Pass and Kerazhan feel like the proper abodes of a powerful vampire...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

(Mythras WoW) Terror of Tinytown

While pondering how I want to go about this Mythras WoW project I've had a lingering doubt about it all.
Reading some of the official 3.X rulebooks failed to inspire... in fact, I think it kind of clouded my enthusiasm. It reminded me of the whole 'character build' aspect of WoW that I never enjoyed.

Then, today, I started looking into another aspect of the MMO that I always found peculiar... the map.
WoW is a video game with a video game's limitations. Cities are tiny, villages consist of a small handful of buildings. There are farms... but only a few... and there are very scary places within spitting distance of happy little inns. The whole thing is too damn small.
But that's something I can probably deal with... other people online have jumped on the problem and offered some useful ideas.

Then there's the issue that the climates of these places don't make any sort of real world sense... Northrend IS cold and it IS in the North... but that's about it. There's otherwise little or no plausible geography going on here... and that's NOT something I'm interested in trying to correct, I might as well make up an entirely new map.

But is that really an issue anyway? Probably not. My idea of running the game is not focused on world-spanning 'epic' adventures. It's not something I'd want to run for years on end either.

So I guess I'm just coming to terms with the sillier aspects of taking this on as a project... checking with myself to see if it's something I want to keep on with... asking myself if I might just rather build my own WoW-inspired setting from scratch.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

(Mythras Warcraft) So THIS is why I never got into third edition!

I bit the bullet last night and read through the official Warcraft 3.X entry on Warlocks... and... WTF?!!
Now, I never did engage with D&D past first edition. By that time I'd moved on to Runequest and Traveller and other stuff. All I knew of 3e was what elements of it were implemented in the Neverwinter Nights games on my computer... and I didn't much care for the mechanical elements of those. I'm not a 'character build' sort of guy.
Yet I'm trying to cram an MMO into Mythras...
Truly, I wasn't that sort of WoW player either. I'd blunder along, picking whatever powers sounded cool. I wanted to level up to see more content, that's all.

Anyway, the 3.X version of Warlocks was not inspiration for me.
Firstly, it's lumped into a general 'Arcanist' class... which covers 3 paths: Mages, Necromancers, and Warlocks (were there necromancers in WoW? Not that I recall). So they're saying that Warlocks are an offshoot of arcane magic... OK, I can live with that... though in WoW lore the first Warlocks were created from Orc Shamans... so that whole spirit angle goes unsung.

Secondly, and this bit did put me off, the description of the Warlock's abilities are just a dense mass of pluses and minuses... with a number of them aimed at the concerns of multi-classing. Why would a Warlock ever want to multiclass? He/She is a fucking Warlock! Best of the best! (I see Warlocks as necessarily arrogant, considering their chosen path).
There's nothing at all about using Soul Shards to fuel their summonings. The whole section is pretty flavorless.

Thirdly, the spell list is a bland collection of vanilla D&D spells that might kindasorta go with Warlocks. Unseen Servant and Summon Monster I-X. There nothing like Curse of Agony or Curse of Weakness. True, there is Soul Stone and Eye of Kilrogg... and there is a Drain Life and Drain Soul spell (why does Drain Soul cost XP to use?)... but AFAICT Soul Shards gained from Drain Soul are just for creating Soul Stones.
Oh, and Death Coil is a spell... but it's for Necromancers...

I'm still digging into the rulebook... seeing what there is to see... but I'm not getting much so far.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Mythras World of Warcraft

This has been my hobby project for the past few weeks. Exploring how I might use Mythras Classic Fantasy to run a game set in the World of Warcraft setting. This came up, partially, because of the new launch of WoW Classic. I enjoyed WoW Classic a lot... and the expansions after Lich King not so much. But the whole time I was playing I was reminded how much better tabletop RPGs were for adventure gaming. I mean, sure, you get the fancy visuals, the music, the fast combat... but you give up so much depth and potential. So many WoW quests are just variations on 'go here and kill this'. You can't bargain with foes, you can't sit in the inn and talk to the other patrons, you can't make friends with a murloc...
There are shedloads of interesting things I'd want to investigate... but no content has been written for them... so they exist as ongoing enigmas.

Anyway, I always thought it would be fun to play a 'real' RPG set there.
I knew there had been a 3.X game based on WoW, but I was never on the bandwagon for that system and it skipped my notice. From what I've read it's a good set of books for the setting lore, but didn't try very hard to recreate the PC classes and their iconic abilities.

So that's where I'm starting with Mythras/Classic Fantasy. Going through the Classic WoW classes and trying to sort out what's unique about each one. I'd played a bit of each of them during Classic WoW, so I wasn't blank slating it.
I started with the Warlock, since that's the class I'd played the most... and quickly ran into a big heaping pile of setting lore I had to suss out in order to understand how the Warlocks work in the setting.

See, the written lore for WoW doesn't necessarily match up with how the game plays.

In the game the Warlock trainers are usually found in hidden places, like the musty basements of taverns. It isn't mentioned so much during the game, but Warlocks are rightly pariahs and best keep their practices under wraps. In-game you can run through the streets of Stormwind with your demon pets out, but in lore-based Stormwind that would NOT end well.
So, early decision, I'm going to favor the lore over how things work in the MMO.

Another thing that I quickly realized is that the map for WoW is severely distorted. Areas are sized for video game capabilities and Player attention spans. But each zone really oughtta be MUCH larger. Stormwind is the size of a large village.
My first inclination there is to just expand the existing map and dot in more stuff... more streets and canals in Stormweind, more farms and mines in Elwynn Forest... but keep the same base layout and features. Places you fly past in the MMO, like Goldshire, should be a major hub of commerce (and have more than 3 buildings).

So, LOTS of work to do... and I'm not sure this will ever get on the table. But on the flip-side, I am learning a lot more about Mythras and Classic Fantasy as I look for matches with WoWs races, classes, and factions. Running Warlocks along the lines of the cults in Mythras seems fitting.
We'll see how it goes. I might lose interest quickly... or I might dig in deeper. Either way, it's not nearly the time sink that re-upping to play Classic WoW would be.

Aarklash B/X follow-up

I thought I'd mention how a season of B/X set in Rackham's Aarklash setting went...

Well... I was playing with kids... 13yr olds mostly... and most of them newbies to D&D... as if that's an excuse. Anyway, they pretty much took any hook I presented as evidence NOT to go looking that direction. Some of them wanted to loot the Keep, which led to a split in the party and those Players going off under another GM (which was good, because 10 Players is just too much).
So the ones that were left poked around the Keep and got embroiled in trying track the bandits who raided it (the other group of PCs).
The girls in the group banded together and wandered out into Tir-Na-Bor territory, avoiding any sign of life the came upon and eventually ending up near the chasm of Mid-Nor... but were taken in by guardian dwarfs and shunted off to one of the main dwarf cities. They tried to buy magic items there to beef themselves up but couldn't afford any. Quests were offered, quests were refused. The girls wandered off to find better shopping opportunities.
It all went on that way for a while... presenting situations that the kids generally would turn away from for safer pastures.
Eventually they ended up on the docks of Cadwallon... but were loathe to enter the city for some reason.
So the gist was, they were looking for magic items, but had no money, and were not willing to do any of the things offered that would have gained them treasure/fame/experience.

During this time, various Players dropped out for various reasons... mostly having to do with school work. One kid got kicked out for calling another kid a name. One boy was picked on mercilessly by the girls and eventually dropped out (yes, I tried to intervene... no, he didn't come back).

Not really a success... though I did feel that Aarklash was a great setting for running an RPG.
I also learned that we really need to break up cliques when D&D club starts... because that became a problem, with some kids not wanting to play with other kids and such.
Oh well, it was the first try. Most everyone seemed to have fun with it... most of the time.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Aarklash Revisited

Years ago I spent a bundle getting into Confrontation, Rackham's defunct skirmish wargame. Most people seem to have gotten into it because of the miniatures (figurines!) Rackham made for the game, but what grabbed me was its setting, the continent of Aarklash.
Rackham was always pretty coy about doling out details about the setting... they scattered bits of it hither and yon between their various endeavors. Regardless of how much info I tracked down it Aarklash never felt as well-covered as something like Traveller's 3rd Imperium, Runequest's Glorantha, Earthdawn's... whatever they called that place. There was a lot of intriguing details, but it still felt wide open to interpretation and exploration.
Because of that I've always wanted to run a campaign set in Aarklash (whereas I've never had such a desire for Glorantha or the 3rd Imperium). And now I am.

Aarklash isn't particularly unique as fantasy settings go. It's got the standard Tolkienesque/Eurofantasy races and a few extra. To me it's always felt like a bit like Warhammer's 'Old World' setting with a coat of Disney over the whole affair (partly because Rackham's art has always been prettier than Warhammer's).
There's an religiously uptight empire, valiant baronies full of knights, elves of high, wood, and dark natures... a lands full of undead, orcs and goblins. Instead of 'Chaos', Aarklash's big threat is Darkness... which is an element of Creation and therefore natural, though creeping out of balance with the other elements.

What feels different, to me, is that the entire setting is much more magical and whimsical compared to Warhammer's. It's cleaner, but weirder... and still chock full of horrors.
For instance, instead of Warhammer's Skaven, Aarklash has a subterranean faction called The Hydra. Composed of members of the surface races that have been captured and transformed... through some process resembling mummification and shrunken heads (and a bit of Dr. Frankenstein). Tiny flesh golems housing the hive mind of an alien/demonic intelligence. The Hydra initially started among the dwarfs, but will clearly make use of any race they can get their hands on. The depictions of them are solidly cute n' creepy... I'd much rather deal with Skaven.

Anyway, my idea here is to write up ideas for my Aarklash campaign as they come to me.
I started the group with B/X D&D's 'The Keep on the Borderlands'... altered to fit it somewhere in Aarklash's Aegis mountains (Dwarf territory) as a minor outpost of the Akkylannie (zealous human allies of the dwarfs). The Caves of Chaos have had a thorough makeover to serve as an enclave of Drune (Darkness aligned nomads), Hydra and a secret lab full of Dirz alchemists (humans who experiment in magical biotech).
So far the PCs have stuck close to the Keep, but I expect they'll soon be heading out to follow one of the many rumors I've been tossing at them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Eat The Gods

I've never been attracted to the idea of playing Clerics in RPGs. The concept of gods giving out categorized magic spells as answers to prayers just doesn't sit well with me... not that a lot of RPG magic appeals to me anyway (in-game most of it seems like a substitute for guns). If nothing else it seems the spell list should be different for every god... forcing polytheism on any character wanting wider versatility. Some system where a player could pray for intervention ('prayer' covering a wide range of potential religious activities including human sacrifice) and have that prayer answered (or not) in an unpredictable way (GM's discretion) might work for me... but it would be hard to write rules for such a thing and I doubt it would appeal to most players. Maybe I just think most fantasy gods should be fickle and unknowable in their personalities... not a dependable resource at all. Propitiate them all you want... there's no guarantee they're gonna show up on the day of battle and even if they do there's no telling which side they'll choose to help. I could also see a system where gods may or may not exist but prayer is simply a form of ritual to put the supplicant into a state of mind where he/she can channel the same energies as used in whatever the setting's version of 'magic' is. So pretty much the same class of characters with different methods. Anyway... I was thinking about a faction in my homebrew setting that I've been writing up and how they relate to their gods... not as benefactors or tyrants but as natural resources. They don't so much worship them as feed and groom them... keep them in good health so that in times of need they can draw power from them... like batteries... like livestock. Their gods are powerful, and quasi-omniscient... but fairly alien in their consciousness... they see, hear and know but don't understand or care. So the priests/prophets of these gods can make use of these powers. They can summon the god, or part of it, into a prepared body and then perform rituals on it to get desired results... ask it questions or have it fight for them. Really I suppose it comes down to various golems they create... using the spark of the divine to power them. They 'worship' the gods to attract them, feed them, make them strong... then milk them. In times of dire consequences they can even slaughter them to draw all their power at once, the most obvious result being some sort of huge magical explosion but hopefully I'll come up with some more interesting ideas... big effects that aren't just replacements for artillery or ICBMs. In the end I suppose it's close to the same effect, in-game... but the fluff is different and draws me in... fires me up... makes me want to play a priest who eats his gods. Most likely these guys will only show up as NPCs... seeing as their tribes are from the dark and savage jungles of the west... but eventually I could see PCs drawn from them if the players want.