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Subject: One Shot vs. Campaigns and the game of Myth rss

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David Griffin
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In RPGs, one-shots are designed to be an evening of fun, where campaigns are meant to go on a considerable amount of time (years of real time in fact) with some kind of continuing story. Often they were little more than a series of one-shots with the same characters, though I think it's best to have story arcs weaving through the one-shots, each of which should stand on it's own.

Attempting to extract the combats from RPGs as ends unto themselves have been less than satisfactory to me, the WotC Ravenloft/Ashardalon/Drizzt/Temple of Elemental Evil might be one of the most successful. Ironically the reason for this is that as an RPG, 4th edition Dungeon and Dragons (on which these games are based) were quite UN-successful, spawning whole new games (pathfinder) as a protest.

Myth still eludes me in terms of what it SHOULD be. On the one hand, it's a VERY complex, stylistic, ritualistic combat system that seems to want to be part of a RPG adventure that is not quite in sight. Board games are usually one-shots, but few of Myth's story quests are likely to be done without a fair number of sessions, so it seems to have some element of the campaign, though perhaps not to the level of the new "legacy" trend in board games and any self-respecting RPG game. I keep getting this feeling though of running an RPG game with these characters talking and role-playing with the actual Myth battles dropped in for the encounters. Of course there is no real proviso for this since the characters aren't really set up for anything but combat. Yet the surrounding story, the context, is what gives a battle some stakes worth fighting for, beyond merely winning.

Also, the problem with thinking about this game that way is that in board games, characters die in a way they tend not to in RPGs. Players who invest years of their life in a RPG character, having seen them through the awkward beginning to the point where it's playing at it's peak aren't going to take sudden death due to a bad die roll well (nor should they) and characters tend to have more "script protection" than board game characters. If you were trying to play Myth in a long term legacy form with the same characters, I'm guessing you'd have to be lucky to survive long enough to win through.

I'm going to teach this game to my friend at some point and I'll be darned if I know what I'm going to actually say. I may be able to teach the rules (eventually) but I feel like I will still be missing the essential character.
 
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Rob Davis
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Myth was originally designed as a one-shot game and launched that way on KS. The scope changed during the KS due to backer demand.

Edit - technically I guess it wasn't one-shot, as the time investment for a single Story is 6 hours or more. From the Myth KS:
Quote:
A complete game in Myth is called a Story. Each Story is played over three Acts. Acts can be played sequentially, or can be split up over three different game sessions. Each Act lasts 2 hours.


But in between Stories there wasn't supposed to be any carry over. You'd start the next story back with your basic brown equipment and have to build up again.

Some others who were more active w/the KS may remember the details better than I.
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Josh Derksen
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davro33 wrote:
Myth was originally designed as a one-shot game and launched that way on KS. The scope changed during the KS due to backer demand.

Edit - technically I guess it wasn't one-shot, as the time investment for a single Story is 6 hours or more. From the Myth KS:
Quote:
A complete game in Myth is called a Story. Each Story is played over three Acts. Acts can be played sequentially, or can be split up over three different game sessions. Each Act lasts 2 hours.


But in between Stories there wasn't supposed to be any carry over. You'd start the next story back with your basic brown equipment and have to build up again.

Some others who were more active w/the KS may remember the details better than I.


That's essentially correct; Myth was intended to be a series of one-shots, each of which was either a:

Story Quests, which is a pre-written story with a specific sequence of tiles to encounter. Quest deck requirements for those tiles are ignored because the story has its own mechanics or challenges for each tile. These are probably 6-8 hours of playtime each, and in Myth 2.0 they were expanded and improved as Modules.

or

Adventure, in which players completely decide what tiles they face, and usually draw either a quest or a trap card to encounter on each tile. Any overarching story here is left to the players to improvise. Initially it wasn't possible to fight bosses in this format, but some of the quests in Myth 2.0 change that. Adventuring is great if you just want to play a few tiles with some friends.


The compromise between campaign and one-shot that they settled on in the first KS (and that they're sticking with) is that some things the party does during story quests or adventures rewards the characters with Titles or Deck Modifications.

Titles are permanent special abilities, that also allow the character to keep one piece of gear between quests. Everything else is reset to brown starting gear.

Deck Modifications allow characters to exchange one of their starting deck cards (with a white flame icon) with a Novice level card (green flame), granting them new or better abilities.

When a character has enough Titles and Green deck modifications, they can level up to Journeyman, which is where we are now in the history of Myth.
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David Griffin
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If that was the case, then why are there rules about "what you can keep" between story quests (deck mods, titles, gear, etc)? That implies that there IS supposed to be a continuation.

Yet the game does seem designed as you say. It's a contradiction. Indeed, there is no issue to keeping stuff (no need for ways to keep gear acquisition "under control") if there is no intent to create a sort of simplistic campaign.

You might as well just keep whatever you think you want and discard what you don't, using money to keep score. But that doesn't seem to be the intent either. It seems to be implied that you are supposed to play story quest after story quest with the same characters slowly building up titles and gear. Or are you?
 
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Josh Derksen
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carbon_dragon wrote:
If that was the case, then why are there rules about "what you can keep" between story quests (deck mods, titles, gear, etc)? That implies that there IS supposed to be a continuation.

Yet the game does seem designed as you say. It's a contradiction. Indeed, there is no issue to keeping stuff (no need for ways to keep gear acquisition "under control") if there is no intent to create a sort of simplistic campaign.

You might as well just keep whatever you think you want and discard what you don't, using money to keep score. But that doesn't seem to be the intent either. It seems to be implied that you are supposed to play story quest after story quest with the same characters slowly building up titles and gear. Or are you?


I think the Journeyman and Myth 2.0 base game updates really do signal that they've changed their minds and are now releasing more content assuming that players will use the same heroes over many games and level them up.

Since the level-up/keeping gear system has always seemed a little strange, you'll find plenty of alternatives in the Variants forum and Files section.
 
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carbon_dragon wrote:
If that was the case, then why are there rules about "what you can keep" between story quests (deck mods, titles, gear, etc)? That implies that there IS supposed to be a continuation.


Speaking as a KS1 backer, I can tell you that keeping gear with titles was not originally part of the rules; it was added as a response to requests to add more of what you're calling campaign elements to the game. I personally found the adjustment unnecessary and have houseruled it out, as have a few others on this board.

It's my understanding (and you'd need to go on a deep dive through tens of thousands of kickstarter comments / forum posts to find evidence, so I hope you'll forgive if I just go on my admittedly faulty memories) that the original intent was that the game was something of a hybrid with regards to one-shot vs. campaign modes, with several layers of persistence.

The "Myth" of the heroes is broken up into Stories, Acts, and Chapters, and those threads of the Myth of the heroes are not necessarily chronologically tied together. Deep persistence is not necessarily forbidden, but the original theme of heroes telling tales over the hearthfire makes it unnecessary.

The primary persistence of 1.X Myth is the treasure bag. Modifications to the treasure bag persist with the particular game box, in a metagame kind of way - a treasure bag from a group that plays Myth weekly is going to look a lot different than one that gets pulled out only during summer holiday.

Hero decks are less persistent than the treasure bag, since heroes can die and be "reset". MCG published a tracker sheet for hero decks pretty early in the 1.X cycle. Although most of the guys I play with are good sports about resetting when they get killed, it definitely hurts to lose that deck progression. If the whole party wipes (which has happened a couple of times) it tends to put a damper on things. The persistent treasure bag is really helpful in getting up again, though.

While I've been very happy with the emergent storytelling that happens with free-form questing ("Adventure" mode in 2.0), quite a few people wanted more guided storytelling, and posted requests to that effect. Based on that feedback, MCG released the KS Story Quest guide and then created the Modules. Modules are expanded versions of the Story quests, and are self-contained; even changing the treasure bag.
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I started to have the most fun with Myth when I stopped trying to fit it into the mental box I have for boardgames. There's no way to "win" at Myth, we tell a series of stories as we explore adventures together. The game helps tell the stories, sometimes more (Story / Module questing) than others (adventure mode), but the onus is on the people at the table to make a story happen around the little plastic dollies killing each other.

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David Griffin
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zogre wrote:
I started to have the most fun with Myth when I stopped trying to fit it into the mental box I have for boardgames. There's no way to "win" at Myth, we tell a series of stories as we explore adventures together. The game helps tell the stories, sometimes more (Story / Module questing) than others (adventure mode), but the onus is on the people at the table to make a story happen around the little plastic dollies killing each other.



People say that, but the story isn't actually in the game, at least not much of a story. It can be there if you bring it with you, but it's not actually in the box right? I'm not trying to criticize but just understand.
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carbon_dragon wrote:


People say that, but the story isn't actually in the game, at least not much of a story. It can be there if you bring it with you, but it's not actually in the box right? I'm not trying to criticize but just understand.


I don't think Myth's gameplay itself contains much of a narrative - it's not Fiasco. Play cards, roll dice, kill monsters; monsters react, repeat. Even so, setting aside any attempted narrative, I find that gameplay loop to be pretty fun - playing solo, each Hero cycle is a puzzle that you're trying to solve, and what you're trying to solve for can change as the game progresses. Playing in a group, I have found that the asynchronous nature of the gameplay really encourages table talk and cooperation if positive outcomes are desired, somehow also limiting the impact of "alpha" players that often ruin my games of Pandemic...

However, the situations that you set up around play, either on your own ("we're fighting crawlers to save the merchant on this tile, we're caravan guards tonight" or "the rat-men have come to take vengeance on our brigand for keeping his tail, we must protect him") or from quest instructions (chapter, act, story) give you a framework from which a narrative can emerge, if you want such a thing. If you don't want such a thing, see my comment above about the entertaining core gameplay loop and play some cards, chuck some dice.

Are you instead asking if the stories in the box can be linked together to form a single, clear overarching narrative? Unless the narrative you're relating is an endless, perhaps futile struggle against the Darkness, my answer would be "Not that I can tell".

However, while you can argue about the existence of a complete game narrative, I think it's clear that there are stories in the box. If you have a printout of the 1.X rulebook, look at the "story quests" in there; if you don't, download the unofficial rewrite from the files section: (https://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/105131/unofficial-manual-...) and use it to review the Story quests. In addition to their (somewhat dubious) narrative value you may find them to be an efficient way to gain titles and deck manipulations, but your mileage may vary.

The Act quest cards have small snippets of stories for you to build on, and there are also chains of Chapter quests that have narrative flow. "Rescue my daughter", for example; enough of a story there that they continued it into a module for Journeyman.

In the end though, if you're expecting Myth to tell you a story, you're probably going to be disappointed without Module content to lean on. I think what Myth really does best on the narrative side is enable you as a storyteller. Set up some initial conditions, let the gameplay happen, and then talk about how what happened on that tile is influencing how you set up the next. We do this with tabletop RPGs all the time - even the grand-old-man D&D was originally started by wargamers, right?

Cheers
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Brian Torrens
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If you want to see an example of what a module will look like, you can download the "Rise of the Revenant" module for free from MCGs website. It is a full undead themed module with all the necessary extra cards to play.

I did hear that many of the modules are very "story heavy" meaning there is a lot of intro and story breaks between the action. However, it is certainly not a full fledged rpg experience. I recently backed two Kickstarter games, Middara and Folklore, both of which add in a choose-your-own-adventure rpg experience to the combat missions.

I actually enjoy the build your own adventure experience that Myth provides. You can use a full module to have it all spelled out for you, but a lot of times I enjoy using the quest cards and coming up with my own tale. I'm really anxious to receive the extra quest cards to expand that part of the game.
 
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David Griffin
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Myth is definitely a game that twists the current game genres in a way that is not too easy to grok. I'm all for unique takes on modern gaming and I think Myth is definitely that. The hard part if figuring out what our role is as players, right?

As a LONG time DM, I'm up for the job of creating a narrative. But there is no real "structure" for role-playing around the "encounters," nor is there a real character advancement system. This isn't a criticism, just an observation.

On the other hand, I play tactical games all the time including Star Trek Attack Wing where myself and my usual opponent spin a story to explain why the combat is happening and who the players are. This story is above and beyond the game itself. This story makes the game more fun, raising the stakes by imagining that there is something more at stake than an ordinary tactical contest.

So how does such a narrative work in Myth? Well, the first thing the story quests do is to string a set of acts together, each of which has a role in the "story." Then within the acts, it strings a series of tiles together, mandating SOME of the population of the tiles while leaving other population up to the players. Third it provides rewards and consequences to some extent (though I think this could be done better). It's also hard to reward players if they can't take those rewards with them (and this feeds back to the lack of a real character advancement system).

There is no real intent to "play those same characters" later on. Based what people have said, the intent of the titles is to merely reward players by allowing them to start out with a few better perks or abilities but all the "advancement" is meant to occur within each separate story.

So each new play of a story quest you start from scratch, maybe with some upgrades of equipment from titles and with the treasure bag's updates being the most important. Thus every story quest should assume the characters will be "weak" early in the quest and more powerful as they gain equipment through the acts. There are no "higher level" story quests which start with more powerful heroes (though perhaps the journeymen KS will introduce these).

So the "pattern" of doing a good narrative "adventure" in Myth (e.g. A Story Quest unless the Adventures are supposed to be different?) is a one shot 3 act story, each with 3-5 tiles which support the narrative and specify what population of the tiles needs to be there to support the story (possibly what monsters), starting out fairly easy, and gradually getting harder as the players accumulate at least lots of green items. There should be merchant opportunities periodically to spend money on things. There should also be some opportunity to accumulate some serendipity to allow the characters to get over any unintentionally overpowered stretches. The adventure should allow some treasure bag modification, along with a title.

To add to that, maybe in your narrative description, you name the characters (at least the NPCs) and encourage the PCs be named. Maybe you place a particular item somewhere in the adventure and have it be a "persistent" item that the player may keep and use when playing characters which can use it. In effect we're rewarding the player, not the character.

Am I on track?
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