The Random Locations Generator, version 1.0

Here is a tool that might be interesting for some of you. It is intended for the myth master, but can also be used by solo players, to enable them to generate not only random encounters, but also random locations, for their characters. It can be used to fill in the blanks on the Þulê map, and to make travel more interesting.

This is just a draft really, and I have not yet play-tested it or anything. I might develop it further with time. If you have any advice or requests in this context, feel free to comment in one of the MYFAROG YouTube videos, found here.

The Random Locations Generator, version 1.0

New Rules & Suggestions on how to use existing Rules

NB! This post will be used for all new rules and suggestions on how to use existing rules. 

 

#1 Dynamic Combat

Combat in role-playing games are often very static. There are no random events other than (often illogical) fumbling, and the characters don’t move during combat. They just stand there and take turns attacking each other. It really doesn’t make much sense.

In MYFAROG the fumbling is supposed to make more sense, there are optional rules for random movement, for losing your balance during a fight, and both armour, equipment and weapons carried by those involved in combat can be damaged – or even break. Characters can also intentionally try to disarm the enemy or even grab his weapon. I think we can streamline how and when to use these rules a bit, by using something I have called the Dynamic Combat Rule for MYFAROG:

Dynamic Combat

A Myth Master’s Screen

Not all myth masters (i. e. game masters) use screens, but I find them very useful. Perhaps I will make a professionally made MYFAROG myth master’s screen at some point, but for now I just give you this 4-page PDF, with the tables I find most useful when I play. You can print the PDF out for private use.

MYFAROG Myth Master’s Screen

To make your own myth master’s screen using this PDF, just print it out and somehow fasten the sheets to a piece of cardboard.

The tables are colour coded, with blue tables being used for skills, green for combat and rouge for travel.

NB! The MYFAROG rule book will have black and white tables, and the font is larger than here. I made the font smaller here to fit in as much as I could on 4 pages.

When MYFAROG is out, you can e-mail me (fremmedehenvendelser@gmail.com) if you have any suggestions on how to improve this PDF. Maybe remove some tables or add others. I can make the changes you wish, make a new PDF and add that one too here. That way you can chose which one to use, according to your own preferences. Maybe even a 6-page PDF is better for some.

PS. MYFAROG will be published later this year. Probably in December, but possibly even in time for Halloween.

The Map

You will get a free full colour map (size A1 [59.4 cm * 84.1 cm/23.4 * 33.1 inches]), printed on high quality paper, for every copy of the MYFAROG book you buy.

The map will be carefully (i. e. as little as possible) folded before shipped (you can carefully iron it, to even the folds out).

NB! The map in this video is just a smaller test print of the map.

MYFAROG will be available for purchase from here in December 2014!

NB! You will not be able to buy the map separately!

Character Development

The first experience system of MYFAROG was similar to that of RuneQuest, with skill ranks awarded to the skills used successfully. I saw this as the most realistic system, and stuck to it for a long time.

Eventually I realised that this experience system was very complex, hard to keep track of and also didn’t work very well in all contexts. Like how to learn a language? A new script? It just got too clunky. It also took away some of the role-playing aspect of the game, and forced the players to ‘skill grind’ in order to improve this or that skill. I recalled how I locked the W-key on my keyboard in Morrowind, and had my character run into a wall, whilst I did other things, for many hours some times – only to have my character improve his Athletics skill. My character became faster, sure, but what a bore.

An Entrance to the Realm of Death:

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So I did something I never thought I would, and tried a level based system. It worked well, but there are no ‘classes’ or ‘professions’ in MYFAROG (only ‘character roles’, similar to ‘achievements’ in computer games, only the character roles actually matter), and the level system was only ever used to gain new skill and spell ranks, new attribute ranks and new talents. Although it worked well, it also took a lot of freedom away from the players. Instead of developing their characters as they saw fit, it forced them to whenever they leveled up award this or that many skill ranks to skills, gain one talent or one attribute rank, and then wait for the next time the character leveled up before anything could be done in this context again.

The level based system encourages more role-playing than the ‘skill grind’ system does, sure, but it is horribly unrealistic, and it just takes away so much freedom from the player in relation to how his character advances.

So I did what I should have done to start with, and made a system where experience points are used to buy skill ranks, new spells, new spell ranks, new talents and new attribute ranks, similar to that of most modern games, really (but I think I saw it first in GURPS). The player can buy whatever he can afford, and if he can not afford what he wants he can save the experience points until he does. If he wishes to play a character who only develop his skills, then fine, he can. Or a character who just buys new talents all the time. Or a character with very good attributes.

The MYFAROG player can do pretty much whatever he wants to with his character, and as I see it: that is the main attraction with role-playing games in general. Being forced to follow a path others have set up for you is no fun. I want to play however and whatever I like to, and then when I learn to like my character with time, the immersion comes naturally, willfully and with great joy.

Some limitations in MYFAROG:

Max 2 new ranks to each attribute (base = 3 to 18; max = 20)

Max 15 ranks to most skills (max 5 or 10 to some)

Max Int * 3 spells known

Max 15 ranks to each spell

Max 65 (= all) talents

Male characters can not gain the ‘Valkyrja’ or the ‘Maenad’ character roles

Female characters can not gain the ‘Einheri’ or ‘Bacchante’ character roles

Limitations to characters of most all races

Alignment limitations; certain character roles have a pre-requisite in this context

Even if you survive all else, time will eventually kill your character….

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PS. MYFAROG has been completed now, and is due for release before the end of 2014. 

The Player Characters

Many gamers prefer a fast character creation, in order to quickly have a character and be ready to play. Personally I prefer a more thorough character generation, with lots of opportunity for customization. In MYFAROG the basic character generation is however still rather fast and easy, amongst other things because there are no «classes» or «professions» to chose from when you start; instead there are different character roles available for characters who after some time of playing will qualify for at least some of them. So more than in most other games the character generation is an ongoing process that never really ends, and your opportunity to «customize» your character is great. You can gain new talents, new character roles, you might (if your character has the traditional life stance) learn to cast spells, you improve your skill and spell proficiencies, and so forth. You can however also lose character roles, when or if you no longer qualify for such a role. Only Nobles e. g. can gain a Priest or a Warrior-Priest role, so if they lose their status as Nobles they will also lose their Priest or Warrior-Priest role, and all bonuses and abilities linked to the role.

There will be different roles available to the characters depending on their social class, their race, their life stance, their alignment, their gender, their attributes and so forth, and a few of them have certain talents as a pre-requisite as well. Naturally all characters can potentially gain several different roles. There is no good reason why a character cannot become both e. g. a warrior, a scout and a sorcerer.

The role characters begin with is either a hunter-gatherer role, Veiðimaðr (default for characters with a Veiðr [«hunter-gatherer»] background) or a peasant/townsman role, Bûandi (default for those with an Byggjandi [«inhabitant», «house-dweller»] background). This role is a background role, so it cannot be lost.

There is no need to re-invent the wheel in this context either, so the roles characters can gain are pretty much all traditional fantasy RPG roles, such as warrior (fighter), rural scout (stalker), urban scout (agent), berserk/valkyrja (barbarian), ranger, scald (priest/cleric/bard) and sorcerer (wizard/magician), but there is also the Bacchante/Maenad (a different type of berserk, basically). The scalds have their favourite deities and the sorcerers can specialize in the manipulation of a certain type of spirits, so the opportunity for characters to gain and develop very different and unique roles are very much present.

Save the Greek name (Bacchante/Maenad) listed above all the character roles have been given Norse names (such as Strîðsmaðr for Warrior), but an English translation is to be found not only in the rule book, but also on the character sheet itself, so this should not be a problem even for those not at all familiar with Scandinavian languages.

The different character roles open up new opportunities for the players, who will have their characters be able to learn spells, brew potions, ask for more powerful Favours, attract dedicated followers, gain self-confidence, gain new abilities and so forth, all in a concise way and in accordance with the religion and traditions of Þulê and the world of MYFAROG.

There are seven races available for the players to chose from, but by default three of them (the Myrklingar, Skrælingar and the Fjarlingar) are only meant as races available for the GM to be able to generate colourful and credible villains in home made adventures (though you can perfectly well make player characters of these races too if you want to). The remaining four races are the very rare and mystic Þulir, the common Hâlogar, Þulêans with a divine father or mother (the Âssfeðra/Âsynjuborinar, alias Heros), and finally Þulêans born by elven mothers (the Alfaborinar) (Yes, there are elves in MYFAROG, both light elves and dark elves [dwarves]). Compared to the common Þulêan race the other races all have advantages and disadvantages, special abilities and also special limitations. E. g. all men with a divine father must always be religious (i. e. believe in gods), and all men born by elven mothers must always be traditional (i. e. believe in spirits).

MYFAROG is not designed to be «balanced», in the sense that a character who is only a warrior does not necessarily need to be as big an asset to the group as the one being only a sorcerer. Sorcerers are more powerful than warriors (not least because most of them are probably warriors as well). Likewise, some of the races are generally speaking better (more super-human) than the others. E. g. having a divine father (i. e. being a Heros) will necessarily make you a bit more heroic than one with two human parents. This is, I can add, fully in accordance with our mythology, and should not at all be a problem in an RPG like MYFAROG. Whether your characters is a little Þulêan teenage girl or a brutal Heros doesn’t really matter when some villain aims his arrow at you though; it can still potentially kill any character, no matter his race, weight, strength, talents or constitution. You better hide behind that large shield regardless.

The players can also have their characters join different bands, cults and organisations in Þulê if they want them to, and they actually have to as well, if they want to gain some of the available characters roles, and they all are members of a tribe by birth, and if male by default to the army of their tribe too (so they can potentially be summoned to war by their king or queen).

The opportunity for political intrigue, adventure and action, interesting encounters and good role-playing with MYFAROG should be very good. 

The World of Þulê

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Rather than build a world from ground and up I have used and build upon an existing area in Northern Norway (Lofoten, Vesterålen og Lofoten) as the geographical location of Þulê (“the land of the sages”). Naturally I have exaggerated some of the features, added new features (like proper forests) and also changed the scale, but other than that the land of Þulê is pretty much identical to this real world area in Northern Norway. I have also kept the real world roads as either cart tracks or pathways (and the real paths could well be animal trails), the settlements of Þulê are to be found where there is real settlement today and names have been translated into English (like «Tjukkeskogen» is in MYFAROG named «Densewood». This will make the world very logical and realistic, and thus believable, and I think that is very important for an RPG focusing on atmosphere.

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This area in Northern Norway is historically an old Viking Kingdom with age old roots, but the main reason why I have used this area is that even during the Ice Ages this area was believed to be ice-free and actually inhabitable, because of the Gulf Stream and the warm winds from the south along the coast of Norway. So in theory anyone could have survived there for tens of thousands of years, while the rest of Northern Europe was submerged under thick glaciers. In MYFAROG what we would identify as mainland Norway is submerged under glaciers (and populated by ettins), but the Ice Age has long been ending so the climate is very much temperate (although located in the Arctic). This area, Northern Norway, is in real life known as Hålogaland (translated as «the holy land»), so I took this information and combined it with our myths about a lost continent, and I created this sacred «continent» up there in the North, where the deities in secret created the Þulêan race of men (i. e. the Europeans). However, Þulê has been discovered by other races of men, and even worse, by the ettins, and naturally they all have arrived in Þulê, and in their wake comes all sorts of troubles, challenges – and great opportunities for adventure!

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There are all sorts of creatures in Þulê, all of them based on real world creatures or mythological creatures, and I have also included some now extinct animals that used to live in Europe alongside man, like the cave hyena, the cave lion, the giant hyena, etc. Animals in Þulê are assumed to behave like real animals would though (i. e. usually run as fast as they can by the mere scent of humans [unless they are e. g. polar bears, of course…]), but there are other types of creatures to fear too, like trolls, spirits and not least ettins – and the possibly most dangerous of all creatures; human beings…

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Now, as I might have expressed a few times already, my perception of mythology and the ancient world is not like the common one. I don’t base anything on Christian misinterpretations of old European «ideas», «creatures» or «spirits», so there are no goblins, hobgoblins, orcs or other creatures based on the perverse Christian demonisation of the Pagan ancestral cult. There are no ogres or trolls either, for the same reason. Well, there are trolls, but just not trolls like we usually think of when we hear the word troll. A troll was originally a name for malevolent spirits; the word itself means «song» (as seen in no. tralle), originally «spell» or «sorcerous song», as these spirits were assumed to have been summoned by a (failed?) spell. So in MYFAROG a troll is a malevolent spirit, and they take many forms, some corporeal and some incorporeal. Most of you will identify the MYFAROG trolls as simply different types of undead creatures; sea wraiths, wraiths, wights, ghosts, náir (sg. nár), spectres, shadows et cetera.

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The modern troll is really just a stone ettin, and naturally there are stone ettins in Þulê, and a wide variety of other ettins too, in different shapes and sizes. None of them particularly pleasant; different types of water ettins, stone ettins, fire ettins and of course worms (≈wingless dragons). All these terrible creatures have an ettin stone heart, that can be used by craftsmen for sorcerous purposes.

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The Land of Þulê chapter provides the GM with random encounter tables, random events tables, weather and wind tables (if he cares to use such things), a brief description of the 9 different native realms of Þulê (each one with a cultural expression most similar to the one of a real ancient European people), all the native tribes are named and their seats are listed, units of measurement, trade and rules regarding travel, dehydration, justice (i. e. laws, outlawing, duels and such), hunger and so forth, naturally all available for the GM to use as he sees fit, if at all. The creatures themselves, both those mentioned here and others too, will be described in The Creatures & Phenomena of Þulê chapter, as will the ettin phenomena.

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The ettin phenomena are strange phenomena that occur in Etunakaimas (“the world of the ettins”), and are inspired both by science fiction, not least the Cthulu Mythos, and European mythology. Etunakaimas is made up of the parts of the world dominated by the ettin powers; the deepest forests, largest bogs, the not inhabitable places of the Earth and the tallest mountains, where man has very little influence. Everything is different in Etunakaimas, the trees are twisted and grotesque, some animals grow larger and both animals and men more aggressive, the temperature is lower, the wind stronger, the clouds darker, the sky blacker and then you have these phenomena to deal with as well. It is a highly dangerous place, and naturally this place is said to be growing and consuming the rest of the world, threatening the human settlements. What or even who is responsible for this? I let the GM decide.

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The land of Þulê is of course heavily influenced by the natives’ sense of honour, and the natives are very religious or traditional as well, so much care is given by them to the high festivals and temples, customs and traditions. But – alas! (or for gamers: rejoice!) – it is also torn by conflict, as new human races arrive from distant lands, as refugees fleeing the growing ettin power, as invaders or as merchants.

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When I manage to produce a map of MYFAROG’s Þulê I will publish it here on this blog, naturally as a free and downloadable PDF.