Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Mythic GME

The Mythic Game Master Emulator (GME) is getting a lot of love on the solo-wargaming online community, and given my current side-interest in solo wargaming I thought I would give the product a look-see.
Basically, Mythic is a pretty free-flowing RPG that has it its rules the option to game without a GM, as long the group is willing to engage in a little creativity, logic, and a handful of random charts.  The concept was popular enough for the publishers to create a separate (and less expensive) book that just had the GME in it.
Here's how the GME works.  Basically there are several components.  The first handles basic questions about the narrative of the game.  For example, the PC's enter a cemetery looking for a monster that has been ravaging the countryside.  A PC asks, "do I hear any noises?"
At this point, the players consult a chart which determines how likely, given the situation, something might occur, anything from very likely to impossible.  There's percentile number given then, which when rolled determines if this is, in fact, the case.  So the chart result might indicate the PC's hear nothing, or that they hear a noise.  The PC can then ask, "does the noise sound like something is approaching?" and the chart would be consulted and so on.  Now the rules specifically say that you have to use some good judgment and a little well-intended creativity here.  A person couldn't then say, "is the noise a person coming to hand me a machine gun?" for example.  Like I said, there's an expectation about common purpose that is implied here.
The second part has to do with plot twists.  Basically, at the beginning of every "scene," and when doubles are rolled for a simple question from the first part, you roll on a second series of tables.  The first part indicates what dimension of the game the twist effects, e.g. a PC, an NPC, a major plot thread, a minor plot thread, etc.  The second part indicates essentially the verb, and the third part the object of the verb that will be the plot twist.  So you could roll an NPC, the verb "forgotten," and the object "clue."  With those three things, you could say (given the above scenario) that a professor the PC's met back at Ginantonic University pulls up to the cemetery is his car to tell the PC's that he had forgotten this notation at a book back in his office that said that the cemetery was the home to the grave of a famous mass murderer from the 18th Century.
The GME can be used for people interested in doing a little bit more of a structure-free RPG session, or a solo RPG session, but as I said it is also getting some play in solo-wargaming.  Basically, you (the living participant) could say, "will my non-existent opponent charge my archers (as opposed to, say, a unit of spearmen) with his cavalry?"  Then you could speculate that the cavalry are more likely to charge the archers because it is more tactically advantageous.  Then you roll on the chart and discover that, despite it being more likely, the NPG (Non-Player General) has decided to charge the spearmen instead, because something real opponents do stupid stuff like that too.  You can also use the GME to develop a campaign model, indicating for example that the room your zombie-hunting miniatures have entered contains the plot twist: "major plot line, lost, and solution," in which case your heroes may discover that the scientist they were hoping to find to produce a zombie vaccine has shot himself in the head, having discovered his family has been lost to flesh-munching undead.  See how it works?
For a little under seven dollars and 54 pages of text you can not go wrong with this thing.  If you're a RPG player, it is a way to add some random twists to the game your running, or you could test drive a game that you haven't talked your friends into playing yet.  If you're a wargamer whose thinking of getting into solo wargaming, it is as good a device as any to simulate another player.  Definitely should be on the must-buy list.

3 comments:

  1. This is the second recent review of Mythic I've seen on blogs lately. It must really be catching on!

    Maybe I need to give it another chance. I have a couple of issues with it. First, I had a hard time seeing how I could apply it to games other than role playing games. Second, I felt it was a little too free-flowing. I had difficulties trying to make judgement calls using the Fate Chart. I came up with a number of possible situations or actions to be resolved with the fate chart, and it seemed like I could go either way with a number of them. But, like I said, maybe I need to give it another chance.

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  2. Chris,

    Do not feel bad - I acquire Mythic about 6 months ago (maybe more0 after hearing a bit about it. It has great mechanisms in it and works just like the reviews say. But, like you, I find it too free flowing and more rpg-ish. It is a story-telling engine, which is why the fate chart produces such open ended results. Not for me. But I can understand how great it would be when applied in the right games.

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  3. I think what is helpful for me is keeping my RPG's from getting to wargaming-ish. Lately my RPG experience has been one pre-written battle encounter after another, and an idea of some kind of random element to the story is a breath of fresh air.

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