Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Meta Game - Round 2

This is something I am creating. I call it the Meta Game. It's goal is to create a shared world for GMs where the backstory is created by a handful of people who play The Gods, and create the World. It starts with the Primordial Age in which the Gods create the Terrains (we are in Round 2 of the Primordial Age now). Then goes on to the Dawn Age where they create Races, Cultures, Dynasties and Seeds of Destiny which are Quests upon which the Elkron (Gods) wager for Kismet (the energy they use to create the World). After the Elkron have used up as much Kismet as they are willing to, the Age of Heroes is played by dropping the Meta Game and each GM goes into their own region of the World to play it as a regular Campaign with other players... the goals of which are to complete the Seeds of Destiny Quests so whichever Elkron created them can gain back a large amount of Kismet, and therefore have a chance of winning the End of Ages ... which is The God War.

Rules will be forthcoming.

Here's some images of the Map as it stands thus far:

The completed Map

Primordial Age - Round 2

Stay Tuned.

#Elthos #MythosMachine #WorldBuilding #Gamemastering #Cartography

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Elthos Meta Game - Proto-Test

A quick report on my most recent (and current) game experiment ...

We played the first Elthos Meta-Game last night. It's a competitive/collaborative World Building game in which GMs play the Gods. It's intended to be a wrapper game around a regular RPG via which the God's actions create the world's terrain, races, cultures and dynasties... forming the back story of the regular campaign.

Here's the starting board, and then the board after the first round of the Primordial Age.

It was totally fun. :)

Elthos Meta Game - Map Images

Below are a few detail shots of the Meta-Game Map thus far. The hexes are 100 miles across, so those mountains are actually mountain ranges. The Celestial Island is about 3600 miles in diameter. The hexes shown are those that our Elkron-Players have already used Kismet to create terrain on. So far so good!

On to the images...

Elthos Meta Game - Map of the Celestial Island

This grid map shows the locations of the 12 Planetary Elkron Thrones.

So far so good.  I'm very pleased with the way things are going.  I have written up 11 pages of rules for the Meta Game (aka God Game), and am working on refining them.  In addition I have a couple of spreadsheets that help do the Kismet Point number crunching for the game. 

If all goes well I will package this up and send it along to the community.

As always, don't be surprised if it takes me a while.  You know what an incredible slow poke I am!  haha.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Ignite Your Imagination

Elthos RPG Mythos Machine helps you create your own RPG Worlds, doing the number crunching so you can focus on the creative aspects of the game.

To try out the Ongoing Open-Beta please check out the Dev-Beta Mythos Machine.  It's free!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Some Thoughts On Player Mapping in RPGs

Some thoughts and observations related to this post by James Raggi, in which he poses the question, "It's not common to make the players make their own map anymore?"

Many points were brought up in the comments. I will tackle a few in this post.

Player Mapping, undoubtedly, was born out of the original D&D modality which was a miniatures game that focused on combat counters being moved around on a table, with ranges carefully measured, and was highly technical. So for that crowd mapping the dungeon as they went made sense. It fit perfectly well with their previous modality of technical combat, accuracy and careful consideration. However, at the same time Arneson was creating a different sort of game, and one that was focused on story rather than tactics. So there was a divergence right at the beginning. Gygax was focused on the Wargamming aspect, and Arneson was focused on the story aspect. Thus, at the down of the hobby there was a schism that has lead eventually to this spot. Some people do not like the tactical game, but love the story game... and vice versa. So for tactical players and GMs mapping makes sense, and is part of the fun of the thing. But for story gamers, not so much.

Philipp Neitzel comments, "If a player says they Take notes of which way they are going or they map the Environment, i usually believe them. If it becomes important we can always roll for it."

I like the idea that for the less-tactical games when they say "We map", you take their word for it, and roll to see if the map was accurate enough at key junctures. If they fail the roll then they head the wrong way, and as you're describing it they will begin to figure out that something is wrong. "Where's the stairs up to Level 392??" "Well, you're not sure. What you see ahead is a T split corridor going left and right. What do you do?" "Damn, we must have screwed the map up!?"

Of course that only works for tabletop games and would not at all work on a VTT.

Also, it illustrates why the players might want to take mapping into their own hands anyway. I'd rather map myself, and not leave our escape route to a die roll, personally. I think I trust my mapping skills more than I trust the dice to stay on my side. So while it might be waaaaay easier to tell the GM "Yeah, we map as we go"... I don't think I'd take that option.

All in all, for myself, I notice I have two desires that are in competition when it comes to the question of player mapping. And their juxtaposition suggests quite a bit about the dynamics of the question, imo. On the one hand, as a player, I prefer not to map. For one thing it's tedious. For another, it's error prone, and the results of poorly drawn maps, depending on the world, can be, at times, a serious problem. That said, most of the time, it hasn't been, and errors on maps in terms of lengths of corridors and sizes of rooms have not played a significant role in mishaps. So the question of how important it is for player maps to be accurate comes up, and in my experience it's not important at all. In fact, I think we could probably get a way with very rough maps and still have the information we need to enter the dungeon, and find our way out again.  For example, this player sketch map would probably suffice for it's purpose in the game, if that purpose can be defined as "keeping track of the layout of the dungeon so we can get in and out without getting lost".

On the other hand, if the purpose is "to govern the rules of tactical combat" in addition to the above, then the sketch map may or may not suffice.  For example, corridor lengths and the placement of open doorways may play a significant role in the outcome of a technically detailed combat encounter.  In that case a sketch map may not quite do.  And if the GM has a more detailed map, and the player's sketch map is flawed, that could make the difference between life and death of characters in some cases. 

In the end the answer is ... It Depends.   What kind of game are you playing?  Is it a story game where technical combat is breezed over because no one is very much into wargamming in the group, and such combats are seen as tedious and time-wasting?  Then, voila... player maps have no particular purpose.  But if you're playing the wargame style of RPG, then they very well may... but even then, perhaps not.  Again, it depends on the level of detail the GM is enforcing at the table.

In the end, and as always, with a game that has so many variations and levels of potential detail, it's really kind of ridiculous to try to assert that one way or the other is "best".  And as usual, and always... what is "best" is what you enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Elthos RPG - Griswaldia Campaign - Game #2


Three members of the Miller clan, Shnoggle Miller, JB Miller, and Emitt Snow, having rescued Princess Gwyn from the hands of the monstrous Satyr and blue vested dwarf, found themselves whisked out to sea on the magical skiff.  It's beautiful blue black sails unfurled in the wind of their own accord, and as they sailed ever more swiftly out into the Churning Depths, the adventurers watched the Satyr lift his dwarven master onto his shoulder and lope with great speed into the hills south of Bonoville village.  Doubtless the villainous duo decided to flee the King's Knights who were racing on horseback down from Bonovilla to rescue the Princess.

Having decided not to risk jumping into the water to swim the 200 feet to shore, they began to explore the boat while JB read her Book of Lore.  In it she learned that magical boats are often controlled by some magical item, and so they began to explore the boat's cabin to see if they could find such a device as might give them control of the boat.  Inside, they found a bed, with a night table, a  desk with two drawers, one locked, a cabinet, and a locked wooden chest.  The cabin was lit by a single candle glowing with a purple light, and when they looked more carefully saw that the candle was resting on a bed of amethyst crystals.  They tried opening the locked chest and the desk drawer but to no avail.

At this point Princess Gwyn revealed that she had pilfered a small multi-faceted skeleton key from the dwarf while he struggled to get her into the cabin, and with this she was able to open the door.  They tried the key on the chest first. In it they found coins of silver and gold, jeweled necklaces and pearl bracelets.  JB claimed the treasure for herself, and an argument ensued.  Various hard words passed between the heroes over this, but in the end they agreed to share the treasure fairly at the end of the adventure.  The dwarf would doubtlessly been delighted if they fought with each other over the treasure and sank the boat!  Calmer minds prevailed.

The seas became rough beneath the darkening storm clouds.  While they kept a lookout on the cabin roof, and on both sides of the boat, they spied a huge mountain island protruding starkly from the glowering waters.  Lightning flashed in the sky as they spotted a gigantic sea monster engaged in epic combat with another monster of the deep.  The battle of the giant sea monsters swept the skiff into a whirlpool, spinning the boat around many times before it righted itself.  

Inside the cabin, meanwhile, things were as calm as if the boat were sitting in a port on a quiet sunny day.  It was the magic of the vessel that made the cabin feel still and quiet, they realized. Fearing their presence on the deck was attracting the sea monsters, they all descended into the cabin and shut the door.  Eager to see what was transpiring outside, they tore away the tapestries from the walls and discovered the port holes.  Out of these they peered into the ever flashing darkness.  They watched as the towering mountain island passed away in the night along the port side of the ship.  It was a distant silhouette but so steep where the cliffs and stark its appearance they didn't regret not landing there.  And on the storm raged.  

Later they spotted another island head of them, and to this island the ship sailed itself, despite the tempest and the wildly swirling currents.  As they gained on the island they noticed that the lamp began to glow more richly with purple light, and as the ship came to shore, the purple light filled the cabin, and even the candle's flame flickered with a plum colored flame.  The princess sat sadly on the edge of the bed and began to cry.  Schnoggle took pity on her and said some comforting words about how they would most certainly bring her back home as soon as they were able.

"Stop your crying," demanded JB.  "Buck up and make the best of it."  She was trying to get the princess to snap out of her malaise and took that tack believing that if they coddled the princess it would only deepen her gloom and render the girl useless to herself or anyone else.  Alas, the poor princess continued softly sobbing and laid herself down on the bed.

The boat maneuvered itself through barrier reef and the dangerous shoals into a small harbor along the western flank of the island. JB cast her spell and flew into the twilight sky.  The island was about three miles long, and narrow.  As she flew the sun set in such a way as to send rays of red light skimming along the bottom clouds of the storm, illuminating the island in a gorgeous glow.  The entire island was circled by a beach if white sands, and dividing the island in two was a long line of mountainous ridges and cliffs, along the sides of which a vast dark jungle teaming with giant reptiles, enormous birds, giant apes, chattering monkeys and giant insects hung like a vast green drape.  The sounds the wild creatures made became a frightful and wild cacophony.  

At the top of one of the ridges a flash of purple light caught JB's eye.  She flew to it and found that there were a series of table sized amethyst crystals protruding out of the ground gleaming brilliantly in the dying rays of the sun.  JB gave each of them a name.  "George, Harry, Fred, and you're Bob", she said to each in its turn.  And then the sun set, and night began to descend.  JB, not wishing to waste any of her magic power, flew to the northern tip of the island where she found a volcanic crater, spewing smoke and boiling with lava deep within.  There she spotted another ridge of red crystals glowing in the lava's light.  She gave each of those a name as well.  "You are Ted, and Harold, and Tom and Wilber", she proclaimed.  And with that she realized several hours had gone by and it was time to return to the boat.  Though it was very dark, she was able to spot the boat from high up, following its purple glow down to the deck.  She entered, quite pleased with herself, and announced that she had named the Island "Joe-Bob-Bill-Fred-Jake Island", and told them about the giant crystals and the volcano, and claimed all the gems on the island as her own.  "Finder's keepers," she said with great conviction.  No one argued with her about it.

They decided to rest and so JB and the Princess shared the bed, while Schnoggle slept on the cabin floor.  Emitt, assigned to the first watch, was sitting on the deck when he heard the sound of splashing in the water near the boat.  Then another sound of water surging.  A few minutes later he heard more splashing on the other side.   In the next few minutes the boat was surrounded by sounds from the water, and a enormous bellowing crocodile roars filled the air.  Emitt quickly descended into the cabin and shut the door.  They watched through the port holes as giant lizards writhed over the boat, at times covering the round windows with enormous claws, giant snake heads with huge glaring eyes, and slithering skins covered with bejeweled designs.  All that night serpents, lizards, and giant insects swarmed the boat making dreadful sounds.  But inside the cabin, the party felt quite safe, and so they fell asleep after a time and woke up in the morning.

As the sun shed warming rays over the sea, JB stood on the deck with Emitt and Schnoggle.  There was no sign of the reptilian invaders.  Other than the island, there was no land anywhere as far as the eye could see from horizon to horizon.  

A good night's sleep had restored JB's mystic energies, and so she wished to fly off to see if she could discover any hint of civilization on this lonely and wild island in the midst of the sea.  And as she prepared to go, the others thought to try to unfurl the sail, and see if they could sail the boat.  But this seemed to them to be futile.  The boat was very resistant to these efforts.  When they would try to loosen the ropes from the cleats they found the rope turned stiff.  And when they tried to pull the rigging, it would hardly budge.  It seemed the boat simply had no intention of letting itself be sailed away from the strange, wild, and frightening Joe-Bob-Bill-Fred-Jake Island.  

And that was were we left the adventurers that day.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Elthos RPG - Griswaldia Campaign - Game #1

The Recap:

Three members of the Miller clan, Shnoggle Miller, JB Miller, and Emitt Snow (a cousin of Shnoogle and JB), live by the sea at the old Mill House. Their lives are usually dull, and composed mostly of hard work, chores and helping the old man with the Mill. He's a decent and kindly old man, treats everyone fairly, and has been a good man and hard worker all his life. His name is Joseph Miller. His wife, Sara, is a sweet little old biddy who has many hearth-skills and enjoys a good game of rummy.

On this particular fine summer's day it happened to be the Princess Gwen's 18th birthday. Everyone in the surrounding countryside, a mountainous alpine land called Griswaldia, was excited for the festivities, feasting and contests.

But Millers are all home doing their chores. They chaffed at their work and hoped something, anything, of interest might happen.  The horns of the knights of the King blared in the distance.  Well, that did it.  Asking for leave of their kindly father, they went to take a look.

JB, our young and heroic enchantress, leaped high into the sky with her flying magic to see what the commotion was about while Emitt and Shnoggle grabbed their weapons and armor as quickly as they could and charged up the path to the gate of the Mill House to see what they could make of it.

Off in the woods above the mill house there was a commotion. And what do you think JB saw, but a giant surly Satyr with three horns and sharp black fingernails come barreling down the mountain road, dodging over rocks and boulders as it went.  He was carrying a girl in his gigantic left hand and she was screaming her little heart out, crying for help.

In moments the Satyr was within sight of the Mill House, and the young men made a valiant effort to slay the beast before it could get any further. Being young adventurers without any experience they charged forward and Emitt, courageously meeting the monster head on with his sword, and attempting to put himself between the monster and his cousin Shnoogle, was instantly dashed against a tree by the beast and nearly slain in a single blow!  The lad was, after all, really but a boy facing off against a 20 foot tall giant!

JB had flown away to see if she could get help from the King's Knights, but when this happened she abandoned her goal and swooped down to her cousin and with her mystic power, healed him, thus saving his young life. Meanwhile, Shnoggle launched volley after volley of arrows, all to no avail as every shot was an unlucky miss. At least he was not slain as the monster charged by him with a ill aimed swipe that Shnoggle just managed to dodge!

The giant carried the helpless girl around the side of the Mill House and down to the pier on the sea, where the Millers spied a small boat with a black sail, blue trim, and little flashes of bright brass all around the deck. A handsome boat it was, and on it there was a small cabin at the center.

JB got it in her head that the monster might not be a villain after all. Perhaps, she thought, he was carrying the girl away from the villains, and was himself a good creature. Regrettably all of her efforts to find out if this were true or not were met by the snarling roars of the beast. No, he really was not a good creature after all.

At the boat, there was a little man in a blue shirt with a black cape. A stout little fellow only three feet tall. He had a burly look with a big bulbous nose and wide rugged cheeks, and at his side was a small war axe of cunning design. The little man, we can call him a dwarf, you know, called for the beast to quickly come and bring him the girl.  This the beast did, despite Shnoogle's arrows whizzing past, and into a cabin she was shoved. The poor thing had fallen unconscious by then, having been so badly jostled in the running battle. Snoggle continued to attack the monster, but to no avail as JB flew around trying her best to question the abductors. She clung to her belief that they were good people until the very end, because, as she said, she's a good person who believes the best about people.

In the Mill House, meanwhile, Emitt had broken into Sara Miller's locked cabinet and taken a jar of magical healing ointment. He promised to repay her when he could, though of course she didn't hear him make that promise. Yet, perhaps the promise was enough, as the healing ointment did wonders for his wound. Feeling almost entirely restored he dashed out to help his kin rescue the girl. As fast as his feet could carry him around the Mill House he dashed.

While Emitt was doing this, Shnoggle heroically threw his useless bow down and lept onto the boat with his sword drawn. He tried to subdue the beastly little man, but as it happened the fellow was far stronger than he looked, and the two got locked into a standing wrestling match on the deck. JB, from above, deciding she couldn't get into the cabin to rescue the girl without breaking her flying spell, chose to fling darts at the little man instead. This was a wonderful choice and with two flicks of her wrist the darts plunged into their target and the dwarf squealed as he fell over the side into the sea. Once this happened Shnoggle grabbed a pole from the deck and began pushing at the struggling dwarf with it to prevent him from gaining a hold on the boat. This in turn lead to a debate as to what to do between JB and Shnoggle, and as often is the case with siblings, the debate turned into a quarrel.  And at this moment Emitt made it to the shore and with a leap landed on the deck.

"Korogus! Korogus! Help me!", he yelled, and the monster, who had seemingly lost all interest in battle after handing over the girl (and had instead been pilfering chickens from the hen house), turned, snarled and ran to aid his master. But it was too late. The magical boat had caught a wind in her sails, and began to sail out to sea. The three kinfolk, somewhat frightened by the prospect of being carried off by the magical boat to who knows where, tried hacking at the ropes and sail and deck with their swords, but it was useless. The boat was far too magical to be damaged by such weapons.

JB, realizing there was nothing else to do, landed on the deck and took out a book of lore from her satchel. She began to flick through the pages hoping to find knowledge of enchanted boats.

The little dwarf was absolutely furious beyond belief, stamping his feet and cursing up a storm, as the magical little boat caught the wind and began to sail away all on it's own. The sales trimmed themselves when need be, and the till turned it's own way by itself. Even if they tried, they could not change the course the boat had taken.

The dwarf stood on the shore in an absolute fury with the giant standing next to him eyeing the chicken coop hopefully. A string of such dreadful curses bellowed from the dwarf's mouth I couldn't possibly repeat them.

As the little black and blue boat whisked out to sea on the great gust of wind that had risen up so suddenly, the girl emerged from the cabin with a startled and fearful expression.

"Who are you!?" she asked tearfully. The young adventurers told her all that had happened and she thanked them heartily and explained that she was the King's daughter, Princess Gwen, and that they would surely be richly rewarded for rescuing her... if they could ever find a way to return home again.

"Where ever are we going?" fell from her lips hopelessly, as the shore receded ever further into the distance.


  • All Characters started at 1st Level.
  • Flying spell costs 3 Mystic Points to cast. Healing costs 1 Mystic Point. JB only has 5 MP to use at 1st level.
  • Flying spell stops when the caster lands. One can not cast spells while flying, but can cast miracles (such as healing).
  • Shnoggle shot his bow 4 times and missed every time. He had a 33% chance to hit the monster, but ... luck was not with him.
  • Emitt learned the hard way that death can come swiftly at 1st Level, so it behooves one to be careful. Yet, as always, having a healer nearby has it's benefits!