Elthos RPG & Mythos Machine
IntroductionWorld Weaving is one of the more fascinating and wonderful 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.
Where to Start: Your World's GenreTo 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 advancedhigh tech civilization. How you build your World and what you put in it are entirely up to you. Once you've settled on your Genre then you can follow the Steps below as a guideline to help you think about how to fill out your World, and in what order. Read the sections starting at Step 1, and that should help a lot.
Your PitchYour Pitch is how you will describe your World to your prospective Players. Think of it like a Movie Promo. It should be brief, but give your Players an impression of what kind of World you've got cooking here. Give some examples of the sorts of things that go on in your World. Keep it short. Make it jazzy. Catch the Player's attention and make them want to play a Character - because your world sounds awesome!
About Packaged Worlds for PublicationWhen 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 standas 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 So remember - do not Publish your Worlds until they are completely ready!
Also consider that you may want to have a Series of Campaigns across the same World, but you might not want to Publish them all at the same time. Maybe you want to work on them as singular Campaigns set within the same World, but offered one at a time. 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.
Step 1 - Craft the Things in your WorldYour World is going to be based, most likely, on a Genre. 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:
CulturesYour Cultures define the who's who of your World's political and social order, what various groups of people / creatures believe in, and how they behave. By creating contrasting Cultures you will be establishing the foundation of the story of your World. Interesting Cultures are the basis of great Worlds!
RacesOnce you have decided what Cultures are going to be most important to your World, you might then go on to create your Primary Races. Everything alive can be defined as a Race. Each Race has three Requisites Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom which are limited in terms of the Minimum and Maximum possible values. You'll also add information about each Race such as its general description, habitat, GM Notes and other related information. The Mythos Machine provides a convenient structure for this information to help stay organized.
For example Humans typically have minimum Strength of 1, and maximum Strength of 6, while Dwarves might have a Min Strength of 3, and a Max Strength of 6. Hobbits on the other hand might have a minimum Strength of 1 and a maximum Strength of 4. And so on.
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. You can get started with a few things that are playable and then fill in later when new ideas come to mind.
ClassesClasses can be thought of as occupations that have a collections of required Skills. In Elthos there are four base classes: Thief, Fighter, Spell Chanters, and Clerics. You can combine these to create Multi-Class Characters that incorporate skills of one or more Classes. They can also have special advantages and disadvantages.
Classes can be Race specific. So you might have "Dwarven Mage" that, for example, might have a special set of Mystic Powers. In this case when you create your Skills you would create some that are Specific to your Dwarven Mage Class.
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 your Dwarven Mages adhere to a specific Culture among the Dwarves, with their own beliefs, morals, and institutions.
So once you have your foundations of Culture, Races and Classes you are ready to build your World's story. But to play the game with your Players you will probably want to create the following detail Things for your World.
Weapons, Armors & EquipmentWeapons and Armors have mechanics related properties associated to them. For example, Weapons have an Attack Level Modifier, reflecting its bulkiness. So a heavy two handed sword has a higher Attack Level Modifier than a dagger. Armors also have properites which define its effectiveness. You should read the Elthos Rules book to get a proper idea of what the properties are and how the mechanics work before you start creating your own.
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.
Your Races will likely have natural or manufactured weapons and armors. 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 this feature of the Mythos Machine.
Equipment 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, Mystic Powers & BooksYou can create any Skills you may want if you don't find them already in the basic default list that you get by default in your World. When you create your Skills you can assign them 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, and assign that Book to every Fighting Class in your World. When your Players who play Fighters select their Skills from the "Fighting Skills" book, those Skills are Primary Skills for the Character. Any skills they learn which are not found in a Skill Book assocated to their Class are taken as Elective Skills. Primary Skills have advantages over Elective Skills, but Elective Skills are always available to Characters so that the Players can create the kind of Character they want.
If you want a Skill Book to be specific to a particular Race or Class with a special set 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.
From a World building perspective Mystic Powers work just like Skills. You can assign them to Books, and assign those Books to specific Mystic Classes.
Recommended Best Things Build OrderIf you want to create a new Race with it's own Skills and Things, here's the best order to do so:
Step 2 - Build Some Places in your World
Assign Place LevelsOk now you're ready to create the Places and Adentures of your World. I recommend starting by World's Configuration and setting 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 can scale your World's Places up to nine levels which will form your World's hierarchical tree of Places. So you can use this to define how "big" your world is. It can scale from Galaxies, down to nano scale if you want. Typically, a World Levels structure looks like this:
You will find 9 Levels. Typically for a Fantasy world you will find them ordered as follows:
You can change the Place Levels of your World to reflect how big or small your world is. Here's an example from a Space Opera I'm working on.
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.
You give each Place in your World a Description, Geography, Climate, History, and any GM Notes you want to jot down. Your players can read about your Places through the Mythos Machine, and you can control which Places they can and cannot read. Here is an example of a Places Hierarchy Tree, to give you an idea what your Places structure might look like.
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. You define the Items for sale in each Store by populating it with the Things you want sold in it. Think of Stores as a way to classify sets of items which you want to make available to your Players. So for example, you could have a Weapons Shop that sells Broadswords, Long Swords, Maces and Morning Stars, and make that available to your Players. How you organize your Stores is entirely a matter of you deciding what you want your Players to have access to in your World. You can always change what is in your Stores. You can have one General Store, or many, as you wish. Also there is one Store in your World for "Body Things", and in this you would put all your Body Weapons and Armors, such as Horns, Fur Skin, Poison Fangs, etc.
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 and AdventuresAt this point you have the foundations of your world well established with a set of Cultures, Races and Classes, and the Things they use, and where they live. Now it's time to start buillding your World's Campaigns and Adventures!
The Back StoryThe Back Story of your World involves all of your non-Player Characters, their histories, and the history of your World. This information is used by the GM to run the Campaigns, as from this information the GM can ascertain the motivations behind the Main Characters actions.
Main CharactersThe first place to start when creating a Campaign is work out who the Main Characters in the Back Story are, and build them out. Starting with several Villains competing for glory, wealth and power is often a good starting point. Establish in advance what their motives and resources are. Give them some immediate, intermediate, and long range goals. Lastly give them a set of followers, Characters who either follow their commands, or are associated with them in some way. With this information in hand the GM can gain some insight as to what may to transpire as the story progresses. Remember that the NPCs are likely the antagonists in the story that will get played out, and that the Player Characters are likely to be the heroes. In the end, if their adventures go well, they will defeat your World's antagonists and save the day.
If you are using the Mythos Machine, and have completed the prepatory work of creating your foundational Things, you can Auto-Generate entire AdventureGroups defining them by the number of Characters by Class, and their Level.
For Example, you can say something like, your Main Antagonist is a lich, and he has a set of 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. Of course, you will probably want to go in and adjust details, giving these characters proper names, personalities, and so on. But all the base mechanical gruntwork has been done for you at that point. 15 seconds.
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).
CampaignsCampaigns are collections of Adventures that are part of the same story arc. Campaigns establish the Strategic Objectives of your World's Main Characters. 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.
Create one Campaign someplace in your World to get the ball rolling. You define it's Theme, Objectives, Background, and whatever GM Notes you want to add. Once you have the concept of the Campaign, you can move to building Adventures for it.
AdventuresThe Adventures represent Tactical Objectives related to the Campaign. For example, for the "Rescue Lord Zodak from the Gorilla King's Jungle Prison" Campaign you might have several Adventures in mind, like "Find the Gorilla King's Lair", "Infiltrate the Prison", and "Free Zadok and Escape Alive". Each of these might be located at a different place in your World, within the Scope of your Campaign's Places. So if your Campaign is local to the Jungle of Tambaria, the the Adventures might be located in Places within the Jungle, like "The Waterfalls", "The Jungle King's Cave" and so on. Each of these might be played 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!
Events (optional)Events are the detailed actions taken by the Characters during the course of an Adventure. For example, in the Adventure "Free Zadok and Escape Alive", the first Event might be "Scout the Prison Camp". The second might be "Infiltrate with the Food Shipment". And so on.
Events are a little tricky to understand because you can use them in two distinct ways. First, you can create Events prior to the Game that act as a Adventure Guideline for the GM as to how the Characters might proceed to accomplish the Adventure. Or you could lay out what actions the Non-Player Characters will attempt to perform duing the Adventure. So the Events, if you create them prior to the game, act as your Guideline to, perhaps, remind the GM of "what comes next", or provide them with ideas as to what the NPCs might do.
Conversely, the second way GMs can use Events is to record the game after it's finished, and so they act as the Historical Record of what transpired during the course of their games. Later on, when they want to look back and recall exactly what happened in previous games, they can easily do so using the Mythos Machine's Events system.
As a World Author, you may want to include a rough outline of the Events as they may occur during the course of your Adventures as a Guideline for the GMs. Or you may want to skip it and let them record the Events after the game as their historical record. Whatever you think works best for your audience, those GMs who will purchase your Worlds, is fine.
Experience GainsFinally, you have Experience Gains for your Player Characters. You add Experience Gains for any Skills use and Combats. There are even two Experience Gains Calculators to help you do the math. In the Mythos Machine you add Experience Gains by going to Campaigns > Adventures > Events > Experience Gains.
When you add the Experience Gains in the Mythos Machine, the computer does all the number crunching and will automatically adjust the Character's Levels, Life and Mystic Points, Skill Levels and so on. It does this for both the Player Characters as well as the Monsters and NPCs if you choose to track their Experience Gains as well. Note, hower, that the u can always adjust Character Levels directly on the Character Page at any time, and for any reason you want as the GM. So you don't have to add Experience Gains to the System individually, unless you want to run your game accurately and have the Mythos Machine keep exact records for you on everything that happened. For long term Campaigns that can be a real help, but for shorter term Campaigns and One Shots, it's not really necessary.
ConclusionYou are now completely versed on the strategic use of the Mythos Machine for World Building. 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 primary features that will get you up and running with your new World."
That's it! Now you are ready to give your World a go and play your first game with your Players! Best wishes and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in our Elthos RPG Discord Channel!