Elthos RPG World Weaving Strategy Guide
IntroductionWorld Weaving is one of the most fascinating and satisfying things that Gamemasters get to do. This guide is here to provide you with some insights as to how to Build your own Worlds in the context of the Elthos RPG and Mythos Machine. It is geared towards Mythos Machine World Publishers, but most of the advice after the Introduction should be generally useful to any World Weaving GMs, even outside the context of the Mythos Machine. So let's get started.
Some Useful Mythos Machine ConsiderationsTo begin with, as a Publisher, you should think about what kind of World you want to create in terms of Genre. It could be a Fantasy World, or a Wild West World, a Space Opera, or Horror, or anything else. You will create your World around that Genre. You might even want to have more than one Genre. On one continent you could have primeval cavemen, while on another an advanced high tech civilization. How you build your World and what you put in it are entirely up to you.
When you create a Packaged World intended for Publication via the Mythos Machine, remember that once you actually Publish it, you will not be able to edit it again. It will stand as an Edition much like a published book is an edition. You can't withdraw an edition of a book and re-edit it once it has been put on bookshelves, and you should think of your Published Mythos Machine Worlds the same way. We do this to avoid opening a huge can of worms that would come up where some customers have different versions of the same World and wind up complaining to you about that... and to us. So remember - do not Publish your Worlds until they are completely ready!
In addition, you may want to have a series of Campaigns across the same World, but you don't want to Publish them all at the same time. Maybe you want to Publish a Series and you want to work on them as singular Campaigns set within the same World. In this case what you can do is create a Base-Line World, and Clone it for modifications when you want to create an edition with new Campaigns in it. You can do this by Cloning your World once you have the base set of Places and all the Things you want to include in it. The Clone will be an exact duplicate of the World at the time you Clone it. You can keep that as your Base World by naming it something like "The World of Jarak Base-1". You would not publish that version, and you would create the Base-Line World before you add any Campaigns to it. This way when you want to create a new set of Campaigns for the same World you have a Base-Line World to do it from. So what you would do is keep Cloning the Base-Line World for each variant of that World you want to Publish. You can include in the Base-Line World whatever you want, of course, but in most cases you probably want the Base-Line World to only include a core set of Things that pertain to your World's Universe, like Weapons, Armors, Equipment, Races, Classes and so on. All of that said, it is not necessary to have a Base-Line World. I simply wanted to note this possibility for you to get you thinking about the future a bit.
Ok that's enough to know to get started. You're ready to begin creating your World in the Mythos Machine. But where to start? What order should you do things? Well, any order is possible, but what follows are my recommendations based on my own experience with the Mythos Machine, and a little bit of common sense sprinkled in. Ok, let's go.
Step 1 - Build Your Places
Assign Place LevelsThe first thing I recommend doing after you create a new World is go to your new World's Configuration and determine your World's Place Levels. You get to the World Config from the World Screen > Go To > World Config. Setting your Place Levels first will help you to conceptualize the scope of your World and provide a convenient framework into which you can create your World's Places.
You will find 9 Levels. Typically for a Fantasy world you will find them ordered as follows:
Create Some PlacesThe Next thing to do is create a handful of Places that are important for your World's story. You do this by going to the Places screen which you get to from Administration Console > World > Manage Places. The Places are created in a Hierarchical Tree which helps you to stay organized and think through the facts of your World's existence. For example you might want to create a Continent named Murrkesh, on which is the Realm of Karak, which has a city named Madarik, and near which are two ruins named The Major Ruins of Aknire and the Minor Ruins of Aknir. So you create those, giving each Place its Description, Geography, Climate, History, and any GM Notes you want to jot down. Remember, your players may be able to read about your Places if you make them available to the Players to do so (by making the Place 'Public') when they read about your World on the Reports Page. You control which Places they can and cannot read. The GM Notes, however, you alone can read.
Places Hierarchical Tree StructureHere is an example of a Places Hierarchy Tree, to give you an idea what your Places structure might look like.
Step 2 - Create Your World's ThingsYour World is going to be based, most likely, on a Genre, or two, or maybe three. That's up to you. But what you want to do is fill your World with the Genre-related Things that help to define your World, and that your Characters will be encountering and working with during the course of their explorations. Things include:
CulturesCultures will define the who's who of your World's political and social order. Cultures can be things like "The Death Gnobs" who worship the decay of Civilization and are the primary villains of your World. Another might be "The Order of Golden Knights" a religious Order of Paladins and Clerics who share the goal of stopping the Death Gnobs from succeeding in their mission.
RacesOnce you have decided what Cultures are going to be most important to your World, you might then go on to create the primary Races. In the Mythos Machine every creature is a Race, from Humans, to Elves, to Beholders, to Ants. Anything alive is defined as a Race. And every Race has Properties known as Stats. To learn more about Race Stats, and all other Elthos RPG Rules, you should read the Elthos RPG Core Rules Book, but in brief each Race has a Minimum and Maximum Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom Requisite.
For example Humans typically have Min Strength of 1, and Max Strength of 6, while Dwarves might have a Min Strength of 3, and a Max Strength of 6. Hobbits on the other hand, being generally weaker beings than Dwarves and Humans, might have a Min Strength of 1 and a Max Strength of 4. And so on. You define each Race's Stats and it is these Stats that determine what the Characters in your World who are of a given Race may wind up with as their Requisites. You will also define a variety of other aspects of each Race, such as their Habitat, Description and any Notes you want to keep to yourself as GM.
Once you have your World's main Races, both for Player Characters, Non-Player Characters, and Monsters you can move on. You don't need to fill out every Race that will exist in your World. The idea is to get started with the main stuff and then fill in later when new ideas come to mind.
ClassesClasses can be thought of as collections of Skills that are associated to a particular occupation. So you can have Thief as a Class, and Thieves will be looking to Acquire Skills. Classes, it should be noted, can be Race Specific, and you would accomplish this by giving the Class a Race header in the name. So you might have "Dwarven Mage". This way when you create your Skills you can create ones that are Specific to your Dwarven Mage Class. You might also consider that Classes and Cultures tend to go together, so you might want have Classes that relate to specific Cultures as well. For example, you might have "Death Gnob Fighters", "Death Gnob Warlock" and so on among your Classes. You can build out the Classes any way you want. It is, after all, your World.
Weapons & ArmorsNow that you've defined who happens to be running around your World, you should provide the Weapons and Armors they will need to defend themselves and wage war upon others. Notice that you can assign Weapons and Armors to specific Races and Classes. Races will most likely get Body Weapons and Armors, while Classes would get manufactured ones. So to Zombies you might give "Undead Flesh", which you define as a "Body" category of Armor. Dwarves, on the other hand, might get special "Dwarven War Axes" that you created just for them. Whenever you assign a Weapon or Armor to a Race or Class, they will spawn with them when you Auto-Generate Adventure Groups using the Auto-Generation feature of the Mythos Machine. This is tremendously handy, so don't skimp on this feature. It's awesome and there to save you tons of time in Game-Prep. The Weapons and Armors you create for your World should of course coincide with your World's Genre. Wild West? Well, make sure they have Colt Six-Shooters and Rifles, and leather vests. Whatever you think appropriate for your World's Genre(s) is good. Go to town.
EquipmentEquipment covers a lot of ground. It can be anything that can be used by any Race. It might include Vehicles, Furniture, Tools, clothing, bags, candles, leather hats, or magic items. You should focus on those items that coincide with your Genre.
Skills & Skill BooksNow at this point you want to create any Skills that aren't already in the basic default list that you might want in your World. When you create your Skills you can assign each one to one or more Skill Books, and then associate each of these to the Classes you want. For example, if you have a book called "Fighting Skills" which contains all of the combat skills in your World then you can add that to any Fighting class. Or just certain ones if you have a different set of fighting skills for each class. Or if you want a just one Skill Book to be specific to a particular class and has a full mix of different kinds of skills, you can do it that way too. For example you could have "Dwarven Warrior" Skill Book that has a combination of all Skills Dwarves get as Primary such as mining, armory, bartering (etc) and combat Skills, and that becomes the one Skill Book for that particular Class. In other words you have options on how you can organize your Skill Books.
Best Build OrderIf you want to create a new Race with it's own Skills and Things, here's the best order to do so:
Mystic Powers & BooksMystic Powers work pretty much the same way as Skills, except they require the use of Mystic Energy to Use. As far as organization they are easier than Skills in that there are less options. The way it works is that you can assign Mystic Books Spells and/or Miracles. Cleric based Characters can see books that have Miracles, while Spell Chanter based Characters can see Books that have Spells. Multi-Class Characters who are both Spell Chanters + Clerics can see both. This is a very simplistic system in that it only limits the view of Spell Books by what base class the Character is, with one exception. You can HIDE books from Players. So let's say you have a handful of really neato Spells and/or Miracles that you want to spring on the Characters as a surprise. You can put those in a Hidden Book.
In a future update I will be modifying the Mystic Book System so that you can assign Books in more ways than this. But for now you can take it that Players who are curious can browse through all the Spells (if they are a Spell Chanter Class) and Miracles (if they are a Cleric Class) and know what they do, even if they can't actually acquire the skill to use them. They are, after all, scholars!
However, you may be asking, "How do I keep my Players from selecting inappropriate Mystic Powers from the Books?" ... Fair question. One way to do that is to Hide all Mystic Power Books that you do not want your Player Characters selecting from. You could even make books that are specific to certain Characters and tell them they can only chose from "Book X", even though they could choose from the other Books that you have not hidden. Ultimately, the answer is that you'll have to check their selections and make sure that your Players are staying on track.
I will be updating this system soon to make it easier for GMs to manage which Books Players have access to. Until then, consider this a limited version of the system and work within it's limitations. I'll be updating this shortly.
Stores & Money ExchangeStores are where your Player Characters are going to go to buy stuff... Weapons, Armors, and Equipment are all sold in Stores. You create your stores at a specific Place, and you populate the Store with whatever kinds of Items you want. So you can have a Store named "Bob's Sword Shop" in the city of Glenvarik. You define the Items for sale there by populating the Store with only the things you want sold in it. Stores can also have individual Markup Percents so some stores may be more expensive than others. How you organize this is up to you, but my advice is - keep it simple. Give your Players one or two Stores to choose from between games, and when they get to a new area within your World, give them a new store. But of course you can just have a General Store located at your World level and not bother individualizing the Stores. It's up to you. Experiment and see what works best for you and your Players.
The Money Exchange defines the currencies of your World. A typical Fantasy World might have a Money Exchange like:
At this point having filled out your World with a good solid chunk of the things you need, and defined your World in terms of its Cultures, Classes and Races, you're now ready to go on to create your Campaigns and Adventures, and this is what I would do next.
Step 3 - Create Your Campaigns, Adventures and Events
Main CharactersThe first thing I do when creating a Campaign is work out who the Primary Characters in the Back Story are, and build them out. I might have several Villains competing for Action in the Main Area of my Campaign. I'd establish in advance what their motives and resources are. I'd give them some immediate and long range goals. Lastly I'd give them a set of Characters who either follow their commands, or are associated with them in some way.
To do this, having completed the earlier Steps, actually becomes remarkably easy. You can Auto-Generate entire Adventure Groups defining them by the number of Characters by Class, and their Level. So you can say something like, your Main Antagonist is a lich, and he has a set of obedient slaves such as 5 3rd Level Zombie Warlocks, 2 6th Level Mummies, and a band of 9 4th Level WereRats. You define this Configuration in the Manage Groups > Generate Adventure Groups screen, and click the Generate button. Voila! Within seconds they have all been randomly generated and assigned whatever Race and Class Weapons you've defined for them! Let me repeat that: Within 15 seconds you have fully outfitted and stat'ed up 17 NPC Monsters for your next game session. Yes, that's right.
The point of the Mythos Machine is that once you've configured your World, it does all kinds of magic to save you prep time going forward. And you can always change your World, adding new things or modify existing ones. And from now on you won't be losing your ideas in notebooks that you forgot in your mom's attic or forgot in someone's car (both of those happened to me).
CampaignsThink of Campaigns as Strategic Objectives for your World's Main Characters. Ultimately Campaigns are collections of Adventures. You create your Campaigns at a designated Place anywhere in the hierarchy of your World's Places. Let's say, for example, you have a World Spanning Campaign called "Save the Whole Damn World!" and it's about saving the World from the Zombie Apocalypse. You'd put that Campaign at the top of your World's Places Tree. That way the Campaign covers your entire World. Or let's say you have a more local Campaign idea, like "Rescue Lord Zodak from the Gorilla King's Jungle Prison". This Campaign might be put at the level of a local Place, like The Jungle of Tambaria. So where you locate the Campaign is reflective of its scope in your World.
To get started, don't go overboard - just create one Campaign someplace to get the ball rolling. You define it's Genre, Theme, Objectives, Background, and whatever GM Notes you want to add.
AdventuresEach Campaign can be thought of as a set of one or more Adventures. The Adventures represent tactical objectives. For example, for the "Rescue Lord Zodak from the Gorilla King's Jungle Prison" Campaign you might have several Adventures in mind. They might be something like "Find the Gorilla King's Lair", "Infiltrate the Prison", and "Free Zadok and Escape Alive". Each of these might take place on a separate game night, or across many game nights, depending on how your Players handle things. Or your Players might change the course of the Campaign by coming up with completely unexpected ideas!
For this reason I keep my Adventures pretty loosely defined. I don't try to force the Players to act on a given Adventure plan as that would be Railroading, and that's not my style of play. So what I do is I write up several Adventure ideas that I think may come into play, and I keep their definitions pretty light. This way if the Players do something unexpected and change course, I haven't lost a lot of time, and I also avoid railroading them with some sort of Pre-Planned Adventure Track.
In fact, quite often I will write up the Adventures completely after the fact... I might have players who decided instead of "Infiltrating the Prison" to do something else like "Kidnap the Gorilla King's Daughter" and then attempt a trade. A totally different solution to the one I thought they might do. So we play the game and afterwards I write up what they did as the Adventure. I do this to keep track of what has transpired in my World. Later on, I thank myself for putting in the effort as questions about what happened a few years back always have a way of coming back up! The Mythos Machine is an awesome record keeping vault - if you have the discipline to keep records of your games this utility is fantastic long term. It even has an amazingly handy Search feature which lets you search all the things in your world by keyword. It's amazingly handy when you need it!
EventsEvents are the specific things that happen during the course of an Adventure. They might be things like "The Scouts Hunt for the Gorilla King's Daughter", "Attack of the Lion Men", "The Ambush in the Flower Glade", and "Battle of the Daughter". Each Event is a chronological record of what happened during the Games you've played. You use these to keep a record of your World's Adventures.
Experience GainsAt the bottom level of detail are Experience Gains for your Player Characters. These are added to the system in the Experience Gains form which is located, as logically would make sense given this structure: Campaigns > Adventures > Events > Experience Gains. You add Experience Gains for any Skills use and Combats. There are even two Experience Gains Calculators to help you do the math. Best of all, when you add the Experience Gains the system does all the number crunching and will keep track of all of your Character's Levels, but Player Characters and, in case you're interested, your NPCs and Monsters.
With all of this you are now completely versed on the strategic use of the Mythos Machine. There are a bunch of additional features that you will run across, such as the Random Encounters Generator, and so on, but the one's listed in this Guide are the main set that will get you up and running with your new World as quick as you can say "Let me at it!" That's the story! Now you are ready to give your World a go! Best wishes and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in our Elthos RPG Discord Channel!