Sunday, April 12, 2015

RETROSPECTIVE - Mythic Roleplaying Game

I have been remiss in posting lately but I have a couple more Retrospectives left.

As you may be able to tell from some of my prior Retrospectives (such as this) I was once an avid participant in role-playing games. Although I don’t regularly play anymore, I still am a fan of the games. Occasionally, I get the itch to play in an RPG but I didn’t want to join a group of strangers. One day I was musing that it would be great if there were a way to play solo RPGs. I knew about Choose Your Adventure books (and played them when I was younger) but these seemed so limiting. Well, I poked around on the internet a bit and found Mythic.

Mythic claims that it can be run without a GM and without any preparation. It does this with its very clever GM Emulator. Essentially, the player asks a Yes/No question about the world or adventure, estimates the odds, and then rolls on a table to determine the answer. For example, my character could be moving through a dungeon and comes to a door. He opens the door. Question: Are there any monsters in the room? I decide that the odds are likely and I roll against the table. The result comes up as yes. I know that I stumbled into trouble. I can use more questions to decide exactly what I’m up against (or I could just make it up on the spot).

Another cool feature is that the some rolls can result in exceptional successes or failures. For example, my character, Hiero the Humongous is trying to pick a locked door. I roll and get an exceptional no. The exact result is up to the player’s imagination. In this case, I may decide that not only did Hiero fail to get into the room but he also made some noise that alerted a guard in a nearby room!

Furthermore, Mythic has mechanisms to create random events and it has a lengthy random event table. These events could crop up while you are in the middle of some task or could occur between scenes and could alter the story in some way. Let me backtrack a bit to explain. Mythic games are organized into scenes. A player will use his or her imagination to set the scene but then roll to see if a random event occurs. The event could modify the scene in some way or it could cause an entirely new scene. Players will have to use imagination to fill in the blanks (of course, they can use the Yes/No table to help them out). As another example, let’s say that Hiero’s love interest has been kidnapped by the nefarious Lothario. For the next scene, I decide that Hiero will ride to his love’s rescue. I roll for a random event and get an interrupt scene. That means that a different scene will occur. Off the top of my head I think of an ambush, which makes sense. So the next scene involves Lothario’s minions ambushing Hiero! This mechanic can introduce some unexpected plot twists to the game.

You can use the GM Emulator along with another RPG system (such as running combat using D&D). Mythic does include a complete RPG system. Characters are made using descriptive terms (Hiero may have above average strength). The Yes/No table takes these descriptions into account. Thus, taking actions are resolved using the table. The character creation system reminds me a lot of FUDGE.

Does it work? I’ve tried it a couple of times and can say unequivocally that it does, sometimes too well. It certainly generates interesting plot twists. Occasionally, though, it created too many twists for my tastes and I found the story bogged down with excessive side stories. I also found that I was writing down every random thing that occurred, which bogged down the game. Finally, I decided that I did not like Mythic as written because it uses percentile dice, which I hate! Because of these concerns I stopped playing the game.

Nevertheless, I am still using ideas from Mythic. I use the random events table (I found a version that uses 3D6 – all hail the mighty and wonderful six-sided die!). If I get stuck during a game, I’ll use a yes/no question like the Mythic GM Emulator to come up with a response although I simplified a bit. I’ll probably just roll a D6 with 6 being a good result and 1 being bad. Essentially, my solo RPG sessions are Mythic-like in approach even if I do not use the exact system. Thanks to Mythic, I realized that solo RPGing is not only possible it is also quite fun!

Note: If you are interested in the GM Emulator but not the whole game, Word Mill Games does sell it separately.


  1. I've used Mythic to run superhero adventures (using Supercrew) and once for a semi-steampunk ACW spy adventure (using Risus). In the latter I created a sketchy background, a character, put her on a train travellig to Memphis and then let the system generate the whole of the rest of the story. It was great fun. Write-ups are buried deep in the Actual Play archives of

  2. Aha! Found them. First, a short adventure featuring Victoria superhero The Black Bat:

    And then an adventure for Confederate agent extraordinaire, Miss Scarlett:

  3. Excellent reports; they really show how the GME works. Thanks for sharing!