Let's talk about characters in the Mythos Engine.


The Mythos Engine's goal is to support characters for a wide range of genres, from high fantasy to hard sci-fi to cosmic horror.


Like most RPGs, characters will have attributes. I subscribe to the less-is-more principle when it comes to attributes, so I'm planning to have four.


My idea for the Body attribute is for it to double as physical strength and health. So any typical physical damage will most likely deal damage to a character's Body. Another role of Body is to provide resistance against fatigue, physical poisons, and physical diseases, and such. Body is typically the stat that is used when making physical melee attacks.


I think Agility, or Dexterity as it is called in some RPGs, needs no introduction. In the Mythos Engine, I'm thinking it will double as a character's active defense or dodging. Damage that targets a character's movement capabilities or nimbleness will typically damage Agility. Physical ranged attacks and finesse melee attacks will typically use Agility when making attack rolls.


This is a character's intelligence and represents their logical sense and knowledge of things. Insight might be tied to this stat, so taking Intellect damage might make it riskier to use your insight. One thing I like in Shadow of the Demon Lord is that perception is also tied to the Intellect stat. So I might do that too, but not completely decided yet. Mental and/or magical attacks will typically use Intellect when making attack rolls since it also represents a character's mental strength.


A character's willpower. Used to resist mental and/or magical attacks. It is also what keeps someone going when the going gets tough. Will most likely tie Stress to this stat, making it easier to resist panic attacks, or whatever I decide to call it. Taking Will damage would make one more susceptible to Stress too. Some mental and/or magical attacks might use Will as their attack roll.


While I have tied most of the typical characteristics like health, defense, perception, etc. directly to the above stats, there are a couple of characteristics I think the system needs.


Cthulhu Dark has one of my favorite implementations of supernatural insight tied directly to the horror of knowing too much. Call of Cthulhu has a similar mechanic with their Cthulhu Mythos skill tied to Sanity, but being a d100 system, it rarely has any effect on play as it is almost always very low.

Insight in the Mythos Engine will be a fluctuating characteristic, starting at 0. I am thinking some starting characters can start with 1 or more Insight, depending on their background, but I will cross that bridge when I get there.

The thing I love the most about Cthulhu Dark's Insight system is that the player can choose to add Insight to their roll. With the risk of their character learning too much, which can break their mind.

So I'm thinking that Insight can be added to any roll where a player can argue that their Insight could have an effect. However, rolling a 2-3 on an Insight roll increases their Insight by 1, and a roll of 1 triggers a Stress roll which might result in a panic attack, or worse.


Just like Insight above, the idea here is that a player gets extra dice to their roll equal to their Stress. Here too, a 2-3 on any of the Stress dice would add 1 Stress, while a 1 would trigger a Stress roll.


As mentioned in my earlier post, Bookkeeping in the Mythos Engine, I want to replace keeping track of money with a roll instead. The Wealth characteristic will be the pool of dice you roll whenever you need to spend money. The right amount of successes means you can afford whatever you want to buy, complicated successes or failures require you to "spend" one or more points of Wealth to afford it. Which ultimately is the player's choice of course.


Another thing I love with Shadow of the Demon Lord is the non-reliance on lists upon lists with skills. Instead, it uses professions. As I wrote back in my very first Mythos Engine post, professions give a character both a background to play with and an implied skillset based on it. Now, there's no detailed list of skills or what can be pulled from one's profession, since it's something both the player and GM can play with based on their logical sense and agreements.

And it's just so lean! Instead of a warrior having skill points in intimidation, athletics, survival, warfare, sword, etc., they instead have the soldier profession, or maybe officer, or maybe both! And the player can use their logical sense to say that as a soldier, they have been trained in surviving in the woods, thereby giving them a survival roll, or maybe even a bonus to such a roll. It's just so infinitely better than skills, IMHO!

This is why I will use professions instead of skills in the Mythos Engine.


In many games, the only ancestry you need is a human. But in other games, take for example fantasy or sci-fi, you might need elves, or deep one hybrids, or some sort of alien. So I plan to support ancestries in the Mythos Engine, especially since one of the settings I'm working on draws heavily on the literary universe of H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany, and their literary circles. So deep one hybrids will be a thing, or lizardmen, for example.

Again, Shadow of the Demon Lord does a great job with ancestries. And one of its main strengths is that when you start the game at level 0, you only have your ancestry. Making the stakes higher early on, and gives the players a chance to dive deeper into their characters.

I'm thinking that ancestries will decide on a character's starting stats, might give starting characteristics, and might have special traits attached to them. A deep one hybrid, for example, could have high Body, low Agility, and maybe a trait that says they are doomed to become a Deep One in the future.

I'm also thinking that most games should start like SotDL, where the characters only have an ancestry with professions and such of course.

Background & Personality

I feel like I keep bringing up Shadow of the Demon Lord, but that's just because it is one of the best systems out there today, IMHO. Another thing SotDL does well is the character's life path and personality. There are tables tied to each ancestry that helps the player generate interesting characters, and random generation typically produces more interesting characters than choosing, which often ends up with stereotypical characters for that player. Like me for example, who typically played magic users with a dark and hidden past or similar. After playing SotDL, I have played a huge variety of characters and the generation of their backgrounds and personalities has usually helped determine the character's paths too. So sometimes it was natural to be a magic-user, but other times my character fit better as a warrior or a priest.

Other games that have an awesome background, life-path, and personality generators are Cyberpunk 2020/Red, Witcher RPG, and Mutant Chronicles. I haven't delved too deep into this part of my system yet, but I am sure to draw inspiration from all of these when I do.


As I mentioned earlier, I'm working on this system as part of this year's NaGaDeMon and I must say, having a community to "report" to while working on this has helped immensely in pushing me forward. I highly recommend anyone who's making a game to join something similar, or just become part of a community where you can report your progress. Catching the interest of others is the best motivator there is! And it makes you feel obliged to update frequently to boot.

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