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General Forge Forums => Game Development => Topic started by: Johanus on November 24, 2011, 10:02:23 AM

Title: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on November 24, 2011, 10:02:23 AM
I'm at a late stage in the development of this game system, which I've called "Mythic Hero". There has been years of play testing done with groups that I've run, and had it reviewed at CalCon some time ago (need to do that again, but with an actual printed copy available). If you like the fantasy genre, then feel free to check this out! ( ( I'm hoping to have it ready for a first edition print version within the first quarter of 2012. We shall see...

Mythic Hero is a skills-based system where characters choose a career to begin with. It allows a mixing of skills across several areas (why should that bookworm be able to also use a sword?). There has been extensive research into armour, weapons, and fighting; so I've tried to make this as realistic as possible. And I've made a fairly open magic system. I'm a bit of a stickler for realism and have tried to account for that in my rules, hoping that it isn't too cumbersome for those who don't have me there to help them figure it out. Which is why at this stage of game development I am looking for some feedback.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: SaintHax on November 26, 2011, 07:21:27 PM
It has too much math for my liking, but I think you've stuck with your goal for your target audience.  Here's somethings I noticed during a skim.

1. It needs to be edited-- there's some grammar and other errors that makes some parts hard to read.
2. I dislike AElves instead of Elves.  As an English speaking person I have no idea what sound that AE letter makes, nor do I know how to type it for online discussion.
3. You have a match section where you take eight skills and convert them to decimal and add them together.  If my skill is a 40, it's 40.0 when I convert it to decimal.  I'm not sure if you want 4.0 or .40, but that part is unclear.
4. I really dislike "Body Power" as a stat.  You have Constitution, which seems more like Endurance, and then Body Power?  The concept seems to match your goals, but the name is wonky.

Hope that helps.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on November 27, 2011, 08:55:25 AM
Thanks, Saintfax. I'm getting some people to help on the copy editing. Sometimes you look at it so much it just glosses by and you can't see it. I'll think about that ∆lfs thing... I am actually just using the original English spelling. We just happen to no longer use that letter. I'll clear up the 40 vs. 0.4 thing to make it more clear. Endurance vs. Constitution... That might work. Thanks!
(alt-146 = ∆).

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on November 27, 2011, 11:45:04 AM
Hi Johanus,

I've done a fair amount of work myself on a variety of realistic combat systems, and I eventually realized that my different projects had different answers to "Why do realistic combat?"  Here are the main reasons I've tried it:

  • 1) Converting realistic inputs to realistic outputs.  What happens when two large, adept wrestlers in leather armor with a knives attack a little dude in plate mail holding a glaive?

    Playing through what happens in combat in great detail without ever arriving at some moment where the fiction looks stupid -- while at the same time producing outcomes that don't deform the gameworld into some ridiculous place where every smart fighter walks around with two quarterstaves or whatever -- this has, at least in my roleplaying experience, been no small feat!

  • 2) Making earlier character improvement choices matter in a fight.  If I spend my build points on a weapon skill, or a fighting style; if I spend my money on a shield, or a coat of plates; if I kill the monster guarding the master-worked gladius, or the master-worked chain shirt; is this acquisition going to show up and make a difference in a fight?

  • 3) Simulating what the experience of combat is like.  The knowledge that any hit could be your last, the automatic reactions of honed reflexes, the adrenaline, the chaos, the fighting on for a few key seconds after a body shot that may later prove fatal.

  • 4) Making a fight into a fun tactical game, where players get to make meaningful strategic decisions that affect the outcome.

Some combos of these mesh better than others.  And of course there are other reasons to want realistic combat too.

So, what's your reason?

Once I know that, I might be able to offer some useful feedback.


Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on November 29, 2011, 02:26:21 PM
Hi David,

As far as realism goes, I wanted something that seems realistic enough, while still being simple enough to play without a computer, that it would be fun and there wouldn't be any worry about the insanity of hit points and ridiculous weapons being chosen. So, yes it is possible to beat a man with a quarterstaff if you have a longsword. Not as likely; but possible. And there are many situations when a staff weapon is impractical. In reality the spear was the standard weapon of the foot soldier and most knights started by using this or a poleaxe of some sort. That's just how fighting is. George Silver, 16th century English sword master stated that the best weapon in a 1-on-1 fight is a quarter staff (and he listed several weapons advantages and disadvantages). I have no problems with this in a game situation. And I did want to emphasize that these weapons aren't always appropriate. It's pretty tough to use a pole arm indoors where a ceiling is only 7 or 8 feet high. I know, I've tried! Darned near impossible, and a guy with a short sword will run you down and make you into hamburger pretty quickly.But I've also defeated a guy who had a spear and I had only a rondel. Really tough! And I only did that one in about 20 bouts we had.

I haven't worried a lot about the nuances of battle, and make the emphasis more on realistic weapons damage and use. Too few players truly understand what it's like to actually fight, and most don't really care about that level or reality. They just want it to seem reasonably realistic and have fun! At least that's my experience.

Yes, choices of armour and weapons matter. This is true in reality, so should be in a game system. I've tried to design that into this.

There are a few things that I haven't quite figured out how to emulate properly in a game system, like the fact that a great sword would eat a katana for breakfast, but a katana and a longsword are pretty much the same, it's only fighting styles that really make the difference (and armour, of course). I'm doing some experimenting on how some weapons are against armour, which might help with this. I've done a lot of testing with real weapons and how they cut against different objects, for example, and am trying to figure out how to put that into game mechanics. How do I show that for a lower skilled fighter a katana will cut better through bare flesh or flesh and cloth only than a European style shortsword will, but for the experienced fighter the shortsword might actually be better? Or at least there is no difference in its cutting power when against unarmoured opponents and it is better against armour?

Hmmm... still a few things to think about.


Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: contracycle on November 29, 2011, 05:13:24 PM
Well, one technique you could use is to give weapons a modifier, and then apply  a modifier for skill, and take whichever is higher.  That allows the benefit to switch as skill improves, although I don;t actually see where your resolution system appears so I don't know if that fits.

Unfortunately I loathe the nonsense that constitutes much of the recent WMA "movement", and I think it's arguments should be taken with a bag, not a grain, of salt, so I'm not much sympathetic to the specifics you mention.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on November 29, 2011, 08:07:21 PM
Hi Johanus,

I'm still not clear on what you hope to get out of realistic combat in terms of play enjoyment.  That you also want it to be relatively quick and simple doesn't really help me.

I don't see anything about rewards/advancement, tactics, and character of experience in your account.  So I'll guess for now that you're going for my #1 above: a satisfyingly plausible resolution of what would happen in various situations, based on your knowledge of real combat.

I've been a part of two very different approaches to that aim:

Approach A:

Quantify the most important variables and establish the most important relationships.  These weapons are fast, these weapons are long, these situations give advantage to small weapons, etc.  There are a million systems attempting this, and they distinguish themselves from each other by their choice of what's important to focus on. 

My game Delve focuses very much on trying to control positioning, facing, and movement.  I think it's important, fun, and hasn't been emphasized in too many other games.  I think players will ultimately judge it similarly.  "Does circling or advancing really matter all that much?  Is it fun?  Am I already tired of it from playing other games?"

Approach B:

Players (including GMs) don't need rules to tell them what is realistic.  They already know what seems realistic to them, and they are the ones playing, right?  So what your game needs to do is give the group a fun and efficient process for communicating what everyone thinks is realistic in each case.  No look-up tables, no weapon-vs-armor types, no distance modifiers.  Just a way to say, "Stabbing a guy in chainmail with a dagger?  Seems to me like that should be a one in a hundred chance."  "I was gonna say one in a thousand, but a hundred's fine.  Let's roll those d10s!"

This approach would mean that you would not be able to publish a book that'd wow people with your combat insights.  On the other hand, when you run the game for your buddies, you would be able to get your insights into play as quickly and directly as possible.

What do you think?


Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on November 30, 2011, 12:08:54 PM
Thanks for your feedback, David. I think approach "A" is what I've already started and just need to flesh out a few details.

Contracycle, I've thought about modifiers and aren't sure that they'll work. But I will give it some more thought. I think it might be useful in certain situations.

As for your comment on WMA, perhaps you've only dealt with people who have no idea what they're talking about or are too high on themselves. There are a lot of great groups and excellent practitioners out there, many who have high level achievements in the Eastern arts as well, yet still believe that WMA has its definite advantages. I have been teaching for years and have several students, friends, and colleagues with blackbelts in Eastern styles who openly tell me their opinions of the different arts, good and bad. It gives me a wide perspective that I can appreciate.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on November 30, 2011, 12:31:38 PM
If you're going for a system that models combat realism in a new and interesting way, my suggestion would be to communicate what that new and interesting way is to prospective players.  Depending on how much of the appeal of your game is based on combat, you might even want to have this in a highly prominent spot, like on the back cover.

In my experience, roleplayers looking for realistic combat have already found many games that promise them that, and will want to know how yours goes about it, with at least some specificity, before getting excited about playing.

I guess that's mostly marketing advice, not design feedback.  But the same considerations might apply to your instructional text.  I dunno.  If you want to share the specifics of your combat system and get feedback on that, I'm game!

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on December 07, 2011, 02:29:28 PM
hi David,

You're welcome to download the system ( ( I know that I still have a lot of work before I put it into official publication. I am quite interested in feedback!


Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on December 07, 2011, 05:55:15 PM
Ah, didn't realize it was accessible.  That's cool that you have a thorough downloads ( page. 

For anyone else who's interested, combat is here (, starting on page 45.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on December 07, 2011, 06:14:00 PM
I'm looking forward to your feedback, Dave! I designed this combat system back in 1987. Really should have published this whole game 10 or 15 years ago. It has sat on a shelf for so long...

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on December 07, 2011, 07:09:55 PM
My first thought on the combat system is that there a good number of mechanically significant decisions that a player can make.  Accordingly, I would imagine that playing combats would not just be about celebrating authenticity and uniqueness, but would focus on strategic choice.  I could be wrong -- perhaps my choices for each round are more about color than effectiveness, I can't quickly tell for sure -- but that's my first guess.  Does that sound true to your experience of playing this?

As for unique choices about what's important to focus on, there are two that I like right off the bat:

1) You can take a Hard Swing.  If you miss, you're at a disadvantage the following round.  I like the way the type of disadvantage maps to the type of swing.  Sounds both like a meaningful risk assessment and like an event that's fun to visualize and describe.  Good stuff!

2) Swing types.  Sideways, upward, downward, thrusting, high, low.  I love specifying things like that in combats.  It seems like it should make a difference, and your rules indicate that, in this game, it does.  As for how it does, though -- I'm unclear on that.  The table with the (a) through (f) labels doesn't seem to amount to much consequence.  Downswing does more damage, upswing does less, you can't do high right after low and vice versa...  Is that it?

I read quickly and probably missed something.  I'll hope to come back later and take a more thorough look, but these are my first impressions.

A suggestion on presentation:

Include a demo combat and/or a bullet point list of what players do in combat.  Your combat rules include a lot of full paragraphs.  These are necessary to introduce and explain new concepts, but I think some sort of shorter all-in-one presentation might complement them nicely.

Personally, I'm partial to stuff like this:

Player 1: "Well, I could take a high thrust with my sword with (list relevant advantages), or an uppercut with my mace with (list relevant advantages).  I think that (logic for choosing), so mace it is!"

GM: "Your opponent opts to attempt a parry!  (Logic for why.)"

Player rolls 2d10, gets a 9.  Adding strength bonus of 2, skill bonus of 3, (etc.), that's a 14.

GM rolls X, adds Y and Z, gets a 13.

14 beats 13 by 1, which means (what it means).

But that could just be me.

I think something like this ( helps a lot of folks, though.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on December 08, 2011, 02:36:17 PM
Hi David,
I think you've hit the nail on the head with your initial analysis of my intent.I certainly think that combat, even individual combat, is a game of tactics and decision making. And it also depends a little on one's initial reaction / analysis abilities. That was hard to express in the game, so I decided to use an announcement phase where the character with the lowest reaction speed announces first. And then they are able to react according to what the other character's intent is. Of course this doesn't always work... But it sure gives an advantage! And then the one whose usage speed actually strikes first, which can mean that regardless of intent they may simply be hit first and not able to strike back. You wouldn't believe how many times I've seen that happen in sparring! I even lost a provincial tournament against a Japanese style practitioner last year for being slightly slower, even though I was tactically better (I guess I'm getting old and out of shape and slowing down - ten years ago that wouldn't have happened.). :-(   I got the silver medal and he got the big fancy trophy. But it proved to me that I have the right idea in that within my game system in trying to mimic reality.

Thanks about the hard swing option! That's another thing I've seen inexperienced martial artists make the mistake of doing... And occasionally, but much less frequently, more experienced. Even done it myself a few times. ;-)

Swing types: True, there isn't much consequence to that, as I felt it was getting cumbersome enough. I'm trying to think of a way to make it more significant and may have it solved, but need to think on it some more. I've also recently added the concept of a feign strike, which isn't in the version you have, where a feign will still do 1 or 2 damage if it hits (unlikely, as it has a penalty of 20 points or 1/2 skill, whichever is less), but then makes it such that the other character can commit to blocking it, allowing the fighter who feigned an advantage in the next strike, since the feign will look to the other like a committed blow.

And will CERTAINLY take your suggestion of the example fight and use that! Thank you!

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: contracycle on December 08, 2011, 03:47:46 PM
I find it quite odd that RPG as a whoile has quite a lot of people with martial arts experience of one sort or another but we still only see two system types - abstract rounds ala D&D and concrete individual blows like the above, and others.  I'm guilt of this myself but I hope one day we'll break out of this duopoly, becuase both of them are seriously flawed and neither really feel anything like doing actually doing it.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on December 08, 2011, 04:23:15 PM
I don't know that it's odd that RPG players are involved in martial arts, as they role playing could spark a curiosity about it. And people with similar interests do tend to congregate together. That being said, I have found that the interest in martial arts is only slightly higher than the general population. Most of the role players I know are not involved in martial arts in any manner.

And as for the reality based systems, it's nearly impossible to simulate it exactly. We do what we can, but the only true experience is to actually fight. Even such simulations as tournaments, sparring, even paintball, etc. are not the same but only a rough simulation. On several occasions I have lost tournament boughts for using practical self defense style martial arts, then afterwards had several instructors and often the guy I was fighting against ask me to show them the moves that I did, because they knew that in a "real" fight they would have been creamed. I always spar at the black belt level (kind of have to).

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: contracycle on December 08, 2011, 04:57:37 PM
I'm not saying that it's odd that the overlap exists, but that the overlap hasn't produced any particularly useful abstraction of physical combat.  I mean the state-of-the-art hasn't progressed much since, say, the early 80's at best, despite the fact that a lot of thought has been applied to it.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on December 08, 2011, 05:14:02 PM
True. It hasn't developed much. I think it's because of how cumbersome such a system would be. I have an idea on how to do it; however, it would take a computer to do it with, which defeats part of the concept of table top role playing. Although it could be a lot of fun! I just need a programmer to work with... Not this year. Maybe later in 2012. :-)  It'd certainly be a fun experiment!

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on December 09, 2011, 12:02:59 AM
I took a stab at simulating the combat experience here (  No success, but some interesting ideas.  I think the accounting of "what you'd have to model in order to produce an authentic combat experience" is rather good.

A few thoughts on your last response, Johanus:

1) Focusing on initial reaction/analysis would be very cool, but I don't think announcement order accomplishes that by itself.  I think it falls a bit short on choice, drama, and relevance. 

Relevance: if we're fighting, and you have to announce first, so now I know what you're going to do, how can I take advantage of that knowledge?  If this was in your rules, I missed it. 

Choice: if I can take advantage of knowing your move, do I have multiple options to choose between in response, with no single obvious right answer? 

Drama: if I know your move and can use the move that counters it (or whatever), then the initial reaction/analysis is simply reducible to our character stats, with no suspense and uncertainty.  "Who will suss out their opponent first, misdirect, catch off balance, or otherwise choose the right moment to strike?"  That's what I'd want to be asking, and building up anticipation to resolve the answer!  (And, once resolved, I'd want the answer to be a big deal in terms of determining the fight's outcome.)

2) If you want to add/resolve/produce more details without adding more mechanical operations (e.g. series of die rolls), you could try employing a single resolution method that can be mined for multiple types of info.  For example, if you roll 6d6, you can look for highest die, largest matching set (4 2s or whatever), number of pairs, highest pair, highest or lowest non-paired die, longest sequence (2,3,4,etc.), and more, and assign a different relevance to each of those measures.  So, you could cover hit/miss, location, damage, position, armor soak, and more with fewer rolls and look-up tables than otherwise.

3) Another example of how you can handle multiple variables: Burning Wheel combat uses a grid (, showing how each of the 7 or so moves matches up against every other move.  Combatants pick moves in secret and then simultaneously reveal.  If I chose "feint" and you chose "push", we look up the result and see what happens to both of us.  The chart factors in attempts like evasion, tackling, disarms, and various things that might play to a given character's skill set.

4) I like feints.  If you can work them in, sweet.

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: Johanus on January 18, 2012, 02:51:23 PM
Hi David,

I've read your combat simulation discussion. It was certainly intriguing! A lot of good points. One thing I've done as a GM is to note the players' respective armour and how much damage they can take and keep notes on it myself, without telling them the actual numbers. With some groups I've even gone so far as to roll the damage myself for their attacks (that's a sticky one that the players may or may not complain about) so that they don't know exactly the numbers. It makes the simulation of combat more realistic for them and I have gotten some really good reviews on this. Of course it's all a matter of what kind of players you have, too. Some people just can't handle that!

Title: Re: Mythic Hero - Fantasy RPG
Post by: David Berg on January 18, 2012, 06:48:36 PM
On that point:

Most of my players have been happy to pass the bulk of the calculations onto the GM as long as it's demonstrated to them what the inputs are.  So if I as GM calculate that your armor takes the hit, then:

Bad: "You take no damage!"

Good: "You take no damage, because your padded leathers are particularly effective against your opponent's bludgeoning warhammer!"

As for the other points above, I'm still game to discuss any of those if you want!