In order for the players and the GM to know which alternative rules are included and which are not it is practical to make a list of all these rules and then mark them off as included or not included, for reference. It is even more practical when you can just download such a list from the myfarog.org website and then print it out.
First some music whilst travelling…
One of the things I always found lacking in the RPGs I played was a proper system for travelling. Travel speed never sounded very likely, the random encounters were too random for my liking and not much could be done in relation to travel. Travelling was reduced to a basic math exercise, a boring intermission between adventures, and not really a part of the adventure, or indeed an opportunity for additional adventure. In MYFAROG I try to make travelling an adventure too, or at least an important and exciting part of the adventure.
In MYFAROG there is a fixed travel time that will be influenced by the load carried by the traveler and his speed. E. g. base time for walking 1 mile on a road is 10 minutes, and you can add 1 minute if the character is carrying a medium load or 4 minutes if he is carrying a heavy load. You can subtract a number of minutes equal to his attribute related to speed. The travel time will then (when not travelling on a road) be influenced by the Navigation skill of the traveler (or guide) (and a number of factors, such as weather and time of day). The better a character is at navigating the less time he will spend on detours and ‘taking the wrong turn’, so to say. The larger the party the slower the travel too.
You can walk, jog, sneak, track or both sneak and track when you travel (and ride a horse, sail a ship or row a boat), and of course the mode of travel influences the travel time. However, if you sneak or track (or sneak and track) along a road, in a field, in a bog, in the mountains or a forest doesn’t really matter; you pretty much sneak and/or track in the same tempo no matter the type of terrain. It does however matter if you walk or jog (or rider a horse) in this or that type of terrain.
The Stealth skill (sneaking) can be used whilst travelling to decrease the chance for a random encounter. The Tracking skill can be used to increase the chance for a random encounter.
When travelling in difficult terrain, and especially if jogging, you have to check if your character falls whilst travelling. If he does he can e. g. drown in a bog or injure himself from the fall (and in theory even suffer his death from this). Naturally falling is more dangerous when travelling in the mountains. The dexterity of the character, as well as the load he carries, will influence this.
The travelling speed, the size of the party and the Perception skill of the travelers (and the creatures they might bump into) matters when determining who discovers the other group first. This is very relevant for shy creatures or parties who for some reason may wish to avoid contact with others, and will of course also allow for ambushes or the tracking of others to their lairs.
When travelling in Etunakaimas (Jötunnheimr), an untamed wilderness of Þulê, the risk of bumping into other (often aggressive) creatures is even higher, and travelers can also be exposed to the different Ettin Phenomena present there. Very strange things are happening in Etunakaimas, that transcend logic. The sky is different, trees and other growths are twisted and grotesque, the weather wilder and travelers can come by e. g. an Ettin Earthstar, a Mara, a Netja, a Skîra, Sôtt orVertigo and if really unlucky can even hear the Call of the Kraken. These phenomena can send the characters running in panic, they can make them freeze, burn, be electrocuted in strange webs, lose all hope or even go insane. Nobody knows from whence these phenomena come, nor why they are there – or indeed why they just appear as from nowhere, and then disappears again without any trace. The use of runes can decrease the risk of being exposed to them, and an Ettin Stoneheart carried by someone in the party will do the opposite. Many in Þulê fear the growth of Etunakaimas, and commonly refer to it simply as “The Hunger”.
Þulê is a low-tech world of fantasy, inspired by mythology, history and pre-history, but also by the Lovecraftian mythos and science fiction. Gamers are free to use or not to use any of the aspects in the game. You can also simply have a Game Master who (some times?) says that “After 2 hours of walking through the wilderness you arrive safely in ‘this-or-that’ village”…. MYFAROG however allows for gamers to do it in a different, and I think interesting and exciting way.
There are many different bands, cults, mystery cults and organisations in MYFAROG, like The Liberated (the mystery cult of the bachcantes and meanads), The Order of the (Golden) Dragon (the monastic-like order of the Shield Bearers), The Rangers, The Ansugardaraiþô (the mystery cult of the berserks and valkyrias), The Cult of Meleh Ha-Mashiach (a grotesque foreign cult), The Hashashin (the assassin organisation of The Cult of Meleh Ha-Mashiach), The Sicarii (a group of murderous worshippers of a golden cow), The Antediluvians (a terrible ettin cult), The Gardeners (a group of native bigots), the many Hirðs (the body guard of each and every native king), the many Herliðs (the armies of the  native tribes), the Rîkas Þulêus (a religious group working to create a Þulêan Empire), The Hunters (a group of man-hunters), The Merchants (a secretive merchant guild), many different foreign pirate groups, The Robber King (a group of outlaws with unknown motives and goals), Sub Rosa (a group of sorcerers in some religious societies, working to keep the traditions alive) and 17 different temples (one for each sympathetic deity).
The different bands, cults and organisations have conflicting interests, and they can be played up against each other by a good GM in a manner that will make Þulê feel very deep and realistic. The adventures in Þulê are made so much more interesting if the world feels alive, and if the players can be properly motivated to have their characters act by the realities of this fantasy world.
MYFAROG aims to be more like Classical Antiquity than the Middle Ages, so weapons such as the javelin, slings, throwing axes, rocks (!) and angons (≈pila) are very common. Self bows and composite bows too are commonly used by the Þulêan warriors, but the (windlass or stirrup) crossbow – although present in the game – is mainly used for hunting and some times sieges. Player characters will be wise to use them though, if hunting for tough monsters; the windlass crossbow is the most powerful missile weapon in the game.
There are two types of javelins: one normal and one light javelin (resembling a very long and heavy arrow) commonly used in combination with a spear sling. The latter is incredibly powerful and can be thrown very far. I have yet to find out exactly why this weapon was abandoned long before the end of Classical Antiquity.
There are also two types of slings: one normal sling and a staff sling, the latter being the weapon with the best range in MYFAROG. There are three different types of bullets for the slings too: clay, stone or lead – all three with different qualities.
There are two types of bows, the self bow and the composite bow, and I have seen how most fantasy RPGs makes a huge difference between these two fine weapons, but after doing some research I have found that there really is very little difference. The only real difference, save the advantage to the composite bow on horseback or in other ‘confined spaces’, is that the really powerful composite bows have a better range than the equally powerful self bows (and the composite bow is also much more expensive). The difference for normal bows is unnoticeable though. What makes a bow good or bad in MYFAROG, in addition to the quality of the bow itself, is how strong the bow is.
Some missile weapons in MYFAROG have special qualities. When the throwing axe misses its intended target and hits the ground, it behaves a bit like a rugby ball and can bounce in just about any direction and hit someone else instead. The angon can get stuck in the enemy’s shield, and if you miss your target altogether and the angon hits the ground the tip bends, making it impossible for the enemy to pick it up and throw it back at you (unless he wants to spend a few minutes to first straighten out the angon).
Another missile weapon in MYFAROG that I find a bit interesting is the lead-weighted darts, that can be thrown normally like tiny spears (for short range), or they can be thrown very far: the thrower holds the end of the dart and then hurls them upwards and forwards, so that they fly towards the target in a ballistic trajectory similar to that of an artillery shell. So they actually come in from above!
There is very little micro-management for the players in MYFAROG-combat, so in practise this means that the range for the lead-weighted darts in MYFAROG are dramatically reduced, and more so than for other missile weapons, when used indoors, underground or e. g. in a forest, where this technique would be impossible to utilize.
Those who wishes to include more advanced rules for missile combat will find e. g. tables with information on how strong wind influences the accuracy of different missile weapons, and this is perhaps where the sling will show it’s great worth; it can be used in any weather and with any wind strength without having it’s (already very poor…) accuracy reduced!
Until the 16th of July this year I was a proud owner of several ancient missile weapons myself, so I have been able to do not only proper theoretical research on these weapons, I have even been able to try them out myself, a lot, and have thus found, I think, pretty accurate data on such weapons for MYFAROG.
I also wish to mention the use of rocks in MYFAROG. In most games throwing a rock is very much underrated, and often ignored altogether, but in reality they commonly threw rocks at each other in the ancient world, and they did because this is in fact very effective. So throwing a rock in MYFAROG is probably a good idea and something you might expect others to do a lot.
Also unlike in other games the thrown dagger/knife is not included in MYFAROG as a separate weapon because there is no historic record of its use (outside modern film studios) or indeed any good reason for anyone to use it. The thrown dagger/knife is very much worthless as a weapon, with only a certain chance you hit with the point first to start with, and even if you do you only inflict a bit of damage (with all the weight and movement making it a dangerous weapon in mêlée missing). You would be much better off picking up a heavy stick (a club) or a rock from the ground and throw this at your enemy rather than bring specialized (and expensive) daggers/knives intended to be thrown away, possibly never to be seen again. The normal dagger/knife is a backup weapon, your security if your other weapons are lost or broken, and throwing it away in battle (possibly arming your enemy as you do) is plain folly. If you want your character to use a fairly light and specialized throwing weapon he can use lead-weighted darts. They – unlike thrown daggers – always hit point first and can be thrown effectively quite long. You can even carry a few of them on the inside of your shield, for easy access.
First some some appropriate music.
A thing that has always troubled me with fantasy RPGs is the often complete uselessness of shields.
In real life a shield on a medieval or pre-medieval battlefield was a huge asset. Not only did it offer great defensive value, it even offered some offensive value – as warriors bashed each other with their shields, pushed the others out of the way and even hit others with the metal edges of their shields.
An interesting thing to note here is that the quality of shields (and armour and weapons…) in Europe dropped dramatically when Christianity was introduced. The shield went from being an object you carried along through entire campaigns to becoming something you used for one single battle, and then – if it even survived that one battle – threw away because it was then no longer usable. Like with all other things, Christianity meant a decline in quality for weapons, shields and armour too.
In MYFAROG the shields are of high quality, they have a defensive value that is really worthwhile, and also offer an offensive bonus. Further, you can modify shields to hold (up to four) lead-weighted darts on the inside, and you can of course also hold an extra weapon – or a few javelins – in the hand you use to hold your shield.
The shields are meant to offer the defensive value that your mêlée weapons don’t have, and they are incredibly important for defense against missile weapons. They also offer a defensive bonus when used in formations – as they offer not only you, but also the guy next to you some protection.
Although intended to be of high quality, if the players include the alternative rules the shields can be smashed to bits in and pieces (and if damaged they can be repaired), and this is of course particularily true when the shield-bearer is attacked by someone wielding a battle axe. The angon too has special powers against the shield: it can get stuck in the shield and render it useless (for some time anyhow).
The shields can be made of wood, of different metals, of wicker and of plywood, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They all have their advantages and disadvantages to the user.
Some of the shield types available in MYFAROG:
MYFAROG is the first RPG I have seen where the shield has been taken really serious. Make sure you bring one if you ever plan to attack a fire-breathing giant worm (alias dragon)!
MYFAROG is not just a game made out of love for pen & paper fantasy role-playing gaming, but also a game made out of love for Ancient Europe. The idea is to entertain, but also to educate and to inspire gamers to learn more about their own heritage.
Skudian Light Archers
MYFAROG is still a fantasy game, it is not at all historically accurate, although it aims to be believable and based on Ancient European culture, religion, traditions, technology, lore and mythology, so when I wanted different realms in Þulê with native human cultures I (losely) based them on different historical cultures. I also included two cultures that were located outside of Europe, but that were surely (Ancient Egypt) or just very likely (Sumer) European. Some will react to the fact that I suggest the Sarmatian-Skythian tribes were the ancestors of the Slavs and Hungarians, but that is fine; I just assume that they are, and this assumption is used to create a unique culture in my game.
Agadîr is based on Sumer.
Andâlanga is based on Thrakia/Dacia.
Ellinea is based on Ancient Greece and Illyria.
Erulia is based on Ancient South Scandinavia (Denmark/Saxony)
Priþenio is based on Gaul and Ancient Britain (=”Celtic” Britain).
Skanþinawio is based on Ancient North Scandinavia (Norway/Sweden)
Skudia is based on Ancient Baltic cultures and Sarmatia/Skythia (i. e. Slavs & Hungarians).
Tawia is based on Ancient Egypt (the first dynasties) and Minoan Crete.
Troskenia is based on Iberia and Etruria/Ancient Italy.
Tradition- and religous-wise they will all be very similar to each other though; I am suggesting that there is a pan-European Pagan religion after all. The cultural differences are pretty much limited to architectural styles, tribal weapons, tribal armour and some times temple styles. The realms of Þulê are all tribal confederacies, ruled by sorcerer-kings or god-kings (and some times queens).
The European cultures left out as inspiration, like the Finnish and the Basque, are left out simply because I don’t know so much about them, and certainly not enough to even losely base anything on them. However, a Basque could well identify with Troskenia and a Finn maybe with Skudia.
The other realms in Þulê are the highly dangerous Etunakaimas (Jôtunnheimr), the realm of the ettins, and Gemahlewa (Gimlé), the underground realm of the dark elves (alias dwarves).
In addition to these there are four “off-map” realms, Assuwa, Libuê, Khem and Agadê, from whence the other human species in the game come. Those are losely based on Asia, Africa, Ancient Egypt (the last dynasty, when it was no longer European) and Akkadia respectively.
Priþenian Heavy Infantry
A principle idea in sorcery is to “act as if real to make real”, so perhaps, by playing such games, and living in the mind in these realms, we will contribute to reviving them, if nothing else then in the hearts of many Europeans.
Troskenian Heavy Infantry
Ellinean Heavy Infantry
First some appropriate music.
One of the things I wanted with MYFAROG was to have authentic armours in the game; no anachronisms (like e. g. a plate armour from the 16th century would have been in a setting aiming to be similar to Classical Antiquity, and with no armours more modern than those from the Viking Age). This left me with fewer options, but I still managed to include quite a lot of armours.
All the metal armours can be made of either bronze (more expensive, not that good and heavier, but better for enchantments), iron (the most common and the cheapest solution) and aurichalcum (very expensive, but also very good). The dragon scale armour (or armour made from aurichalcum, for that sake) is as you might suspect not very historically correct, but this is a fantasy game…
Mail shirt (the least cumbersome of the metal armours)
Mail shirt with scales (the armour offering the best protection)
Dragon scale armour (the lightest of all armour)
Ivory scale armour
Laminated armour (a fairly cheap yet very good solution)
Laminated leather armour
Leather scale armour
Muscular leather cuirass
Greaves (leather or metal)
Arm guard (leather or metal)
Conical or round (leather, metal or ivory) caps with or without neck-guard, nose-guard, spectacle guard and/or cheek plates; (metal) full helmets (Greek style); and (leather or metal) Sun hats (Boeotian style).
The possible armour combinations in MYFAROG are actually quite many, and more than I have seen in any other fantasy RPG.
Many RPGs try to balance things, so that e. g. an armour becomes more difficult to use the better it is. I have avoided such steps consequently and have instead included the real advantages and disadvantages of the different types of armour. A thing I have not included though is information about how much time would be needed to maintain the armour to keep it in usable condition, and thus the mail comes out a bit less attractive than it really is. In reality the mail needed almost no maintenance and would still be usable for decades, while e. g. a laminated armour would need a lot of maintenance in order not to quickly become useless, and it lasted much shorter too.
Another factor that play an important role in MYFAROG is the quality of the armour (and of weapons and shields too, for that sake). So a “poorer” armour type of superior quality can easily end up being better than a “superior” armour type of poor quality. You can naturally (?) also carve different runes into objects, including armours and weapons and such, to enchant them with special powers.
Strength negates much of the negative effect of wearing heavy armour, and if all the alternative rules are used a physically weak character will soon regret his choice to put on that heavy armour once he starts fighting on rooftops or on the ledge of a steep cliff…
I love Ancient European armour, and had it been socially acceptable I would of course have worn my own lorica hamata (mail shirt) most of the time.
PS. All armours and weapons are illustrated beautifully in MYFAROG by Andrey Nazarov.
First some appropriate music.
One of the things I wanted with MYFAROG was to have authentic weapons in the game; no anachronisms (like e. g. a warhammer from the 14th century would have been in a setting aiming to be similar to Classical Antiquity, and with no weapons more modern than those from the Viking Age). This left me with fewer options, but I still managed to include quite a lot of mêlée weapons:
Angon (a heavy Scandinavian javelin, similar to the Roman pilum).
Battle axe, heavy (like a Dane axe).
Battle axe, light (the same axe, but lighter and for use in one hand).
Battle glove (similar to the Roman cestus).
Club (a heavy wooden stick).
Curved short sword (similar to a one-handed Dacian falx).
Dagger (a large double-edged knife, similar to a Roman pugio).
Flail (a peasant’s tool).
Hammer (a craftsman’s tool).
Hatchet (a craftsman’s tool).
Javelin (a short and light throwing spear).
Knife (similar to a short seax).
Light Javelin (a light throwing spear, with fletching, normally used in combination with a spear sling).
Long sword (similar to the Gallic antenna sword).
Mace (a club with metal knobs or a metal head).
Pick axe (a miner’s tool).
Sax (similar to a long seax).
Short sword (similar to a Roman sword [alias “gladius”]).
Sickle (a curved knife)
Sickle-shaped sword (similar to the Iberian falcata/Greek kopis).
Spear (6 to 8 feet long)
Spear sling (a 2 feet long stick, used mainly to throw light javelins harder and further).
Staff (6 to 8 feet long).
Staff sling (3 feet long stick with a sling attached).
Sword-scythe (similar to a two-handed Dacian falx).
Throwing axe (similar to a Scandinavian Francisca).
Trident (three-pronged spear).
Unarmed (those good old fists…).
Wand (a sacred bough).
War flail (a transformed flail, with metal knobs or spikes attached).
War scythe (a transformed scythe).
All the weapons have different characteristics, and are more or less likely (when inflicting the same amount of damage) to cause a bleeding wound or to stun or knock you down or knock you out, and some have very special qualities – like throwing axes bouncing off the ground when they miss their intended target, angons getting stuck in the enemy’s shields rendering it useless and shield-crushing battle axes. Everything is well researched and made to be as close to reality as possible, without slowing down play too much.
Some of the weapons in the list above are designed as throwing weapons, but they can naturally also be used in mêlée, so they are included in the list of mêlée weapons too. (A character using his bow or some other missile weapon not at all appropriate for use as a mêlée weapon will be defined as “unarmed” in a mêlée).
I can also add that the the weapons all have realistic weights listed, meaning that you will not find any “40 lbs swords“ or anything like that in MYFAROG. The heaviest mêlée weapon in MYFAROG, the heavy battle axe, weighs around 5 lbs (2.5 kg). Most mêlée weapons weigh around 1.5 lbs. (A knife weighs around 8 ounces.)
Be ready to arm your characters with weapons that make sense, that were actually used in the past and that will make it easier for you to feel as if you are really there, in Þulê…
There are four main deities in Þulé; a Sky god of Winter and Air, an Earth goddess of Spring and Earth, a Sun god of Summer and Fire and a Moon goddess of Autumn and Water. The Þuléan year has thirteen months, and each of the months is connected to a deity too; and these in all seventeen deities (four of the seasons and thirteen of the months) make up the sympathetic deities in Þulé – sympathic in the sense that these are the only deities who listen to the prayers of man. The other deities don’t care about man and his problems.
The deities are harmonic or disharmonic, contemplative or ecstatic, spiritual or materialistic, sympathetic or unsympathetic, and one deity, the deity of Time, is truly neutral; time treats everyone in the same way and favours no one.
From MYFAROG: «The contemplative is intellectual, introvert and likes to meditate, think or pray. The ecstatic on the other hand is more extrovert and likes wild dancing, gorging, is inclined to screaming and shouting or violence and combat, or other excitement.
The harmonic is calm, peace seeking, balanced, he thinks through things before he acts and is conflict solving. The dis-harmonic on the other hand is more hysterical, unbalanced, emotional and conflict seeking.
The spiritual always thinks about his existence in the afterlife. He thinks about the consequences of his actions on a spiritual level and believes in a life or at least some form of existence after death. The materialistic on the other hand only thinks about the consequences he will face in life. He hardly believes in a life after death, and if he does he doesn’t let this influence his life.
The sympathetic is considerate, altruistic, kind and empathic. The unsympathetic is more ruthless, egotistical and merciless.
The different combinations of attitudes are what makes up the alignments in MYFAROG. The alignment says something about the character’s motivation in life, his world view, values and morals, and is a guide for the player playing the character. The alignment is also essential for the development of the character (in relation to achieving new character roles).
The neutral is perhaps the most special of them all. He seeks redemption through patience, caution and mercy. He in many ways stands outside the normal society, but sometimes intervenes to restore balance.»
When developing MYFAROG I drew up a circle to categorize the different deities, and I ended up with this;
The symbols (black and white triangles) are supposed to represent the elements of Air, Earth, Water and Fire (and the black dot in the middle Spirit), but in the game I decided to use the card symbols instead; Spades for Air, Clubs for Earth, Hearts for Water, Diamonds for Fire (and black circle/egg for Spirit).
There are no deity names in this Paint drawing, but those of you who are able to click here will be able to translate this information to deity names; each deity with it’s own alignment.
This drawing shows clearely and quickly how I see our different European deities, and what I think each one of them represents.
Perhaps I am not just making a game in this context, but also accurately categorizing each and every one of us human beings? Don’t we all fit into one of these Alignments? What deity is closest to you? If you were a god or a goddess, who would you be? I think I would have been WôðanaR…
As some of you know I made a short adventure in context with play-testing, and promised to make this adventure available as a free PDF here on myfarog.org when play-testing ended, so here you are; MYFAROG Adventure1 (PDF).
Thank you very much to the the play-testers who gave me feedback; you will all be credited in the game book as play-testers. If you wish you can continue to play the play-test version of MYFAROG until the game is published (whenever that may be), and I will be happy to receive more feedback if you do.