Guilds of Mysthea

It’s 11 days until we open up the #MystheaRPG kickstarter! Last week, I talked about the different heroes you might play in this game. This week, I’ll talk about the factions those heroes might come from.

While I’m talking about these, Legacy 2e fans might spot some changes. First, we’ve streamlined: every Guild has a core move that they must take, and offers their Hero one of two character moves. This ensures your Guild always does what they say on the tin.

Second, we’ve expanded the political system, while removing the bean-counting of Treaty. Now there’s four states: Influence, Alliance, Dominion and Conflict. Each Guild has ways of getting Influence, and ways to twist the knife in wartime.

You decide how much you’re in thrall to your parent guild back home, gaining more bonuses as you accept more of their control. If you want self-determination, you’ll lose those bonuses one by one, until the scales tip and you’re in charge.

But enough about politics! Time for Guilds. First up we have Lusma, the Guild of Faith. In a world as weird and screwed-up as Mysthea, why not worship the source of the cataclysm? All the better if that faith lets you protect others.

Next there’s Kaetur, Guild of Soldiers. The Guilds were given power as the conquerer-King Ahatis grew bored of governing, and Kaetur share his verve for battle. They’re intimidating, brutal, and well-equipped, but vulnerable to politics.

Magista is the Guild of Scholars, and the source of the Qoam technology that revitalised Mysthean civilisation in the wake of the cataclysm. They’re obsessive, eccentric and even blasphemous, but their creations are miraculous.

If Kaetur provides security and Magista provides technology, Varorin provides bureacracy. The Guild of Merchants keep the Kingdom’s economy moving, while their artisans, musicians and artists provide the upper classes with beauty.

The last of these Guilds is Volarees, Guild of Nobles. The first true Guild, Volarees formed to maintain the status and fame of the noble houses of Ilvash. These days, they draw on that fame for power, but must take care not to overreach.

So that’s the ancient Guilds of Ilvash. But remember: our story is in the borderlands, far from their shining city. Next time I’ll tell you about the Houses who make their home here, who may not be happy to welcome the Guild’s venture…

Heroes of Mysthea

Hey folks,

There’s three weeks to go until the Mysthea Kickstarter launches! Today, I thought I’d give you a tour of the Heroes: the main characters of your story in Mysthea: Legends of the Borderlands.

About Heroes

Your Hero is your main avatar, and your tool to push the city’s fate in the direction you wish. They’re partly defined by their Guild, and partly their own creature. A Varorin warrior and a Varorin bard both bear the mark of the Guild of Merchants, but one might use their training to find only the greatest weaponry while the other might use their trade as a storyteller to learn interesting rumours. As your hero gains experience, they’ll move between different roles in the Guild. If they survive long enough they may become a Champion, more powerful than any Guild.

Your Hero enters play with strong ties to the other characters. These covenants will bring you together even when your guilds are feuding, and let you achieve heroic deeds and strange Qoam workings together. Each covenant is themed around a particular core: Childhood, Travel, Army, Disaster, etc. When the core of one of your covenants is relevant, you can draw on them for strength. When you betray that bond, you weaken or lose it. A hero with no covenants left is pitiful, unable to take on new roles in their Guild. On the other hand, a hero with strong covenants is tied firmly to that relationship and can predict how others will be affected by their covenant core.

Finally, Heroes can die, or retire, or move on to greater things back in the Kingdom’s heartland. The game is built to let characters leave a final mark on the narrative, triggering a powerful Death Move. Once you’ve fallen, other Heroes may build a memorial to you, and those who pay respects there may use one of your abilities – even years after your death. You’ll make a new character, of course, and can use their different perspective to explore a whole new side of your Guild.

Hero Options

We’re providing nine different Hero types in the book – though you’ll have the chance to put your own ideas forward during the Kickstarter. Here are your options:

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Mysthea: Legends of the Borderlands launches on Kickstarter March 12th!

The Priest Guild in Mysthea: Tales of the Borderlands

We have a big announcement at UFO Press! On March the 12th, we’re bringing Mysthea: Legends of the Borderlands to Kickstarter, with Douglas Santana Mota at the helm. In our adaptation of Legacy to Tabula Games’ setting, you’ll lead your own Guilds and Heroes, explore a unique geomantic fantasy world, and rebuild a city over generations.

Mysthea: Legends from the Borderlands promo image

Why should you be excited?

We’ve adapted Legacy to a number of different settings over the years. What’s cool about this one? Well…

Rebuild your city over months and years

Each campaign of Mysthea: Legends From the Borderlands starts with your Guilds sent as a joint venture to a city recently devastated by the war between your Kingdom and the Empire. As a group, you’ll decide which regions were ruined by the war, which were claimed by local factions, where your Guild can find solace, and where dangers lurk.

As you play, you’ll rebuild the ruined neighbourhoods, forge uneasy alliances with the Empire’s remnants, and shore up defences against the arcane storms and monsters that ravage the lands. Through grand Guild Wonders and character-driven Quests you’ll change the city, and the city will change you. And once generations have passed as your metropolis is thriving, how will you deal with your parent guilds back home? Will you present the city gift-wrapped for their pleasure? Withdraw and declare your independence? Or use the city’s resources to steal their might and authority for your own?

We’ve rewrote Legacy’s political systems from the ground up to support this goal. Think of something like Dragon Age II, except that you are guiding the actions of the mages or Templars as well as the hero of Kirkwall!

A world bejewelled with arcana…

With Legends From the Borderlands, we’re inviting players to dive deep into a world still reeling from a meteoric impact that shrouded the world in endless storms and studded the landscape with shards of crystal. Rising above the endless storms are islands and continents, buoyed by shifting tides of gravity: this is the land of Mysthea.

The planet of Icaion has seen better days.

As you might be able to guess, crystals are a big thing in this setting. The strange shards of crystal dotting the landscape – named Qoam – react strangely to gravity, energy and most importantly thought. Each resident of Mysthea has the ability to exert telekinetic control over Qoam, though individuals vary in the strength they can exert and the kinds of crystal the best resonate with. The subtle arts of Qoam manipulation are core to your society – Qoam crystals line warrior’s armour, and resonators communicate across great distances. Qoam prosthetics enable amputees to walk with the power of their will, and labourers build structures by exerting their collective will on blocks of crystal-studded stone. The most delicate artisans can even spark life in the crystal, creating servants made of stone and gleaming Qoam facets.

Finally, there’s the inhabitants of this world. None of them have escaped unchanged by the great crystal’s impact. The humanoid folk that make up the bulk of its population have changed the least, growing grey-skinned and pale under the gloom of the endless mists. The automata are rare, often labouring under cryptic ethical codes put in place by long-dead civilisations. And then there’s the monsters, who cannot control Qoam and instead struggle to avoid frenzies when bombarded with its unrefined energy. These ‘monsters’ greatly value cities, where the controlled Qoam allows them coexist peacefully with others.

Negotiations at the market.

We’re very excited by the prospects of this setting. There’s a lot to explore here, and Tabula Games have given us a lot of support in bringing it to your tables.

…with beautiful art

The world of Mysthea was brought to vivid life by artist Travis Anderson. With this game, we’re using his art to full effect to make a beautiful book. We’ll be bringing our normal flair for visual design and layout, with an eye still to legibility and ease of reference in play. Check out these example spreads (layout and text still WIP, subject to changes):

And that’s not all; we’ll also be producing a kickstarter-exclusive deluxe version of the book, presented in a printed slipcase with its own cover.

Mockup of the Deluxe edition of the book.

Mockup of the Deluxe edition of the book.

Taking inspiration from board gaming

Legacy has always had a bit of a board game flavour to it – the exchange of surpluses and needs, the Family layer over everything, and the many mechanical widgets. In Mysthea: Legends From the Borderlands, we’re taking inspiration from board games to streamline that. Guild Actions are rationed, to guide the balance of character time and downtime. Play aids are being designed to easily track resources and political ties. A battle map won’t track the precise position of each party in an engagement, but instead help you remember who’s in a position to strike and who’s in danger. Most excitingly, we’re taking cues from the solo play movement in board games to build rules for a single player and no GM, drawing inspiration from Ironsworn but putting our own spin on things.

Socially conscious RPG development

This one’s less flashy: we’ve committed to paying everyone on this project a living wage. With the game dealing with the scars left by war and the rebuilding that happens afterwards, sensitivity consultants will be on board from the start, not a stretch goal afterthought. Finally, we want to keep real-life conflicts in mind. To that end, 50% of the extra funds generated by people upgrading to the deluxe edition of the game will go to NGOs working in refugee support worldwide: Medecins Sans Frontieres, Refugees International, charity: water, and Child Empowerment International.

 

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.