Welcome to Mysthea: RPG Players!

Welcome! Today we’ll be talking about what RPG fans who haven’t played Legacy before can expect from Mysthea: the RPG.

If you enjoy traditional RPGs…

If you are a veteran of more tactical games, you will be pleased to know that you won’t start the game with an inept Character. That your initial quests will matter and be relevant to your world. That your daring plans are not only encouraged, but required. That you can roleplay deep Characters over the course of a meaningful story arc. That they are free to be and do whatever you want, and that they will still be deeply unique.

But let us give a fair warning: you might want to take a moment to regain your footing. This is not your wargame-inspired grid-based extravaganza. This game draws from the latest trends in narrative games, streamlined and given support to speed up play and simplify the transition. Make no mistake, though, there is still plenty of depth and variety to keep action tense and fluid – just subordinated to the fiction instead of pieces on a board.

If you are an experienced storyteller you will be surely surprised by how we blur the lines with board games, taking from them visual cues and clear, concise rules. Don’t worry, for the fiction is king here, and Mysthea tells deep tales of self-discovery and sacrifice.

You may be surprised by a few vital differences:

You control your Character… and a Guild!

Sure, you can play with the traditional approach and focus on the adventures of one hero per player, but then you would lose half the fun of the game. We focus on the organisation you control and how it changes the world over a long time span – you’re making History here!

You are all shaping the scenario and story together.

There is a GM, but they are not solely responsible for describing every place, person and event. There is also a setting with solid foundations and rich lore, but you will often have the chance to dictate events and flesh out details – not just to advance your Character or Guild’s agenda, but sharing narrative duties and responsibilities with the GM.  After all, you all want the same thing: a memorable campaign!

The rules stem from the fiction.

This is not a system to mirror reality or calculate probabilities. It doesn’t curb creativity with a numerical straight jacket. It aims to push the fiction forward by adding consequences and ramifications. It listens to every word you say, and gives them weight in the story… with or without dice rolls.

If you’re a Powered by the Apocalypse veteran…

Like Legacy before it, Mysthea runs on the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) engine. Here’s a breakdown of what we’re doing differently from other PbtA games:

Each player has two playbooks: Guild and Character.

Most of the time you’ll be zoomed out (using Guild moves) or zoomed in (using Character moves). In a break from Legacy, your Character will belong to another player’s Guild – until they ascend to the Champion role and become a free agent!

Broader scale.

The actions Guilds take can change regions of the world, move armies, and bring entire factions to their knees. Even at the character level, moves focus more on the outcome of your actions than the moment-to-moment back-and-forth.

Disposable characters

When the story is focused on a particular Family, other players can build Quick Characters from that family to act as support for that player’s main character. But they never lack relevance or tools to leave their mark on the world, and in your story!

Advantage, not +1.

Where other PbtA games give situational modifiers in the form of ±1 to the roll modifier, Legacy uses Advantage/Disadvantage – roll 3 dice and take the highest 2/lowest 2. This makes bonus tracking less fiddly, and keeps dice modifiers within the -1 to +3 sweet spot where the system shines.

Episodic Play.

The game is divided into specific periods of history called Seasons. Once you’ve dealt with the current Season’s drama you skip forward a significant chunk of time, with moves giving you a glimpse of what happened in the intervening time. We’ll also provide Season themes, with further challenges and changes, in order to tell the story of the reconstruction of your Borderlands, the war with the Empire, and the rise and fall of Champions and Guilds.

More player resources

Faction sheets, Mission cards, Treaty boards, Battle Mat… the game will provide many visual aids to help players and the GM manage game systems and fictional abstractions. Nothing will be mandatory! But we want to deliver a luxurious game table experience if you feel inclined.

Welcome to Mysthea: Legacy Veterans

Douglas Santana Mota is hard at work making Mysthea: The Roleplaying Game a reality. In this section, he breaks down what’s new for gamers who are already familiar with Legacy.

Welcome back, my dearest friends! You will recognise a lot of Legacy here and feel right at home in Mysthea’s war-torn borderlands. Novelties are there mostly to help those new to the tabletop RPG experience, or to Powered by the Apocalypse, transition smoothly to our style of roleplaying.

What’s new?

We are constantly building upon and testing Legacy’s robust frame, and here we’re incorporating lessons learned from Free From the Yoke, Godsend and Rhapsody of Blood. A few core moves have changed slightly to better suit a fantasy game of intrigue, war, and arcane horror.

Instead of Homeland creation, you build your City together. As the war between the Kingdom and the Empire rumbles on, you have been sent to claim a city a scant few days from the war’s front. But is it intact and simmering with discontent, or an empty ruin? That’s up to you.

Guild Phases and Guild Moves make the transition between Zoom In and Zoom Out more structured and easier for the group to control and track. This will help manage the weight of rules complexity that Legacy players have sometimes reported.


Treaty has been replaced with Influence, Dominion, Conflict, and Alliance. These four mechanics are there to reduce bookkeeping and make Guild creation more intuitive, while enmeshing you in a web of loyalties. Your Guilds are minor branches of the powerful entities that rule the Kingdom’s heart. From these headquarters they receive objectives and orders, but also support. As your city grows and you find fortune on the frontier, can your power and reputation grow to rival theirs? What if you confront their authority?

Characters and Champions. Your character is built to make a big impact on the world. They are conflicted, deep and versatile. To evolve, they must follow a story arc intimately connected to their Guild – which is controlled by another player. And as Seasons have a much shorter duration than Legacy’s Ages, a Character might come back again and again… until they fulfil four Roles and become Champions, bound to no one.

Eras of Play

From Douglas Santana Mota

Let’s talk about running Legacy campaigns.

In two years on intense playtesting, Vitoria’s Cutthroats have played at least 8 campaigns with more than 5 sessions (of average 4 hours), with a total roster of 10 players and two GMs. Of course, the core group is much smaller, 4 players who played only 3 campaigns that exceeded 10 sessions. Our current one has been the longest so far with 16 sessions, 5 Wonder and 7 Ages altogether.

Obviously, some patterns became clear in the development and flow of these campaigns. And I would like to share them with you and contrast them with your own experiences. I hope this discussion helps novice players to find their rhythm and GMs to at least know a bit what to expect. So, just going an extra mile to keep it clear: this is NOT an instruction or a how-to-play article, just a collection of OUR observations on OUR campaigns.

The first Era is obvious and very cemented in our perception: The Era of Troubles, where everyone must deal with Threats generated by History and Backstory. It may take more than one Age and see a couple of Character generations go by until things fall into place. And not every Threat will be neutralized – some will simply be integrated into the Homeland, becoming Factions, environmental conditions and the like. Cooperation tends to be intense in this period as Families simply must struggle to survive, but small betrayals or hard deals might pop up and set the mood for the coming ages. Families must work hard either to win more Surpluses or erase their Needs.

The next step tends to be The Era of Wonders, where Families apply their Surpluses either to solve the remaining Threats once and for all, improve the Homeland as a whole, or simply impose their view on the Fiction. If a GM focuses heavily on Character development, this Era might happen further down the road. It may also be delayed if players are Resource starved – be it because they lacked the drive to search for them or because the GM might have not rewarded them enough with Finding a Surplus. GMs beware! You also don’t want to drown them in Surpluses or else you will suffer a Wonder rush, which will accelerate Fiction too much. In any case, by now players most likely will take the reins of the Fiction and the GM will have plenty of story seeds from the Turn of Ages and Wonders to deal with, which takes us to…

The Era of Heroes. It is ushered by a combination of Families exhausting their Surpluses on their Wonder building efforts and plot hooks generated by the Turns of Ages and Wonders demanding extra attention. In any case, fiction slows down and focuses on Character development as they deal with powerful Factions and new Threats over a much changed and colourful Homeland. Also, with the tools provided by the Wonders and evolved Families, they can now affect change on a deeper level, to the point that the impact of Role fulfilment elevates them to historical (almost mythical, in fact) relevance. Families perform their duties toward the Homeland, deal with their allies and vie for influence at all levels. Wonders are still built, sure, but the Fiction’s focus clearly changes to the Characters’ level.

But what happens when the Homeland matures to the point where the regular person in the Homeland’s streets is not any longer under the direct and obvious strain of the Fall? Surely, your chronicles might never reach this point as your players devastate the Homeland and everything everyone tries to rebuild. But odds are in favour of civic Wonders, such as The Capital or Energy Revolution (and the upcoming Engine of Life’s Transportation Hub and Green Defiance) changing the scenario forever… and for the better! At some point, your group might end up turning the Homeland into a nation, with its own particular shared culture, economy and heroes.

Then what? Is it even within Legacy’s scope?

Definitely! This is The Age of Nations. The Homeland is not enough anymore and it’s time to open up the map and find what now lies beyond the Wastelands. The Age of Discovery is tailor-made to jumpstart this Era, but it just scratches the surface. There is much more out there than just savages and Hostile Grounds! What other civilizations managed to crawl their way up from the Fall? How did they organize themselves? How will you all deal with the shock of finding out these answers? They may seem monolithic in their alien ways, but be sure they are probably a patchwork of different factions glued together by necessity, pretty much like your own Families. From the tension of first contact diplomacy to the despair of all-out wars, every Character can and should play a vital role, counting with their Families’ full support.

(Coming to think of it The Walking Dead TV series has been following along very similar lines, don’t you think?)

The GM now should shape the Fiction to remind the group of the harsh realities and elements of a post-apocalyptic scenario and its threats. But everything should be bigger and the stakes should be much higher: more people, more weapons, more resources, more pollution… graver consequences. And it is still very much Legacy: Life Among the Ruins!

From here on we honestly don’t know, but we suppose the setting should march towards an Endgame. At some point, the Families might have balanced their world towards civilization. Or it is time to face off the utmost reasons behind the Fall on a final showdown where everything hangs on the scales – as our newest supplement, End Game, evokes and implies. A third option is The Race to the Stars, a Wonder from the upcoming book End Game. It’s a great tool to extend the chronicle’s length, by repeating the cycle from Age of Wonders on to a grander scale.

I tend to end chronicles with a strong focus on closing Characters’ arcs, mirroring the developments of the Homeland and their Families – but that is just my personal style. A new and harsher Fall, the surpassing of the glories of Before,  the challenges to achieve and maintain the Next World – it all should be felt by a closer look and focus on the Characters. Let them witness and feel they embody the best and worst of their people and times. But go ahead and give them closure. Take responsibility like never before as the Narrator, find out the meaning and an underlying theme from all your stories and conclude it all focusing on these fundamental dilemmas or challenges.

But now, it’s hard not to remember my favourite quote from Frank Herbert’s Dune:

“Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: ‘Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here’”.

Have fun and tells us about your group’s experiences!