How the Mythic Game Master Emulator Can Enhance Your Solo Game
Playing Dungeons and Dragons solo can be difficult.
It’s not like a computer game such as Neverwinter Nights where you can simply create your character and dive right in.
Someone has to wear the hat of a dungeon master and run the adventure for you and if you don’t have a dungeon master, you need to play the role yourself.
But what if there is something that can act as a substitute for the dungeon master?
Introducing Mythic Game Master Emulator
The Mythic Game Master Emulator (which I’ll refer to as ‘Mythic’ for short) is an interesting little eBook that was recommended to me by a couple of readers of this blog (thanks, Arjen and Sergio).
Mythic is designed to replace the dungeon master and allow a player, or a group of players, to begin playing Dungeons and Dragons without a dungeon master.
All you need is a concept for an adventure or even a campaign and you’re set.
If you are a dungeon master, there’s something in here for you too. You can use Mythic as a tool to build an adventure from scratch and on the fly.
The system is designed to help you create an adventure out of nothing, but it can easily be used alongside your favourite adventure module.
You can imagine that Mythic piqued my interest as a solo gamer, but can an eBook of mechanics really replace a dungeon master?
I decided to take Mythic out for a spin, running it alongside my current ‘Hoard of the Dragon Queen’ campaign.
The results are promising.
Here are some examples of what I was able to do with Mythic and how it has helped me shape my Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign…
Note: I have included spoiler boxes that shows you the results of the checks I made for each question I asked and some of the thought processes behind the calculation of the odds for a yes or a no answer, for those of you who are interested.
(Be warned that there may be a few spoilers ahead, so read on with caution…)
Fleshing Out Adventures
Not all dungeon masters run pre-made adventures as written. Some put their own spin on it or make changes to certain parts of the adventure in order to fit the kind of game they would like to run.
Other adventures may have parts that are left vague or are silent on what is possible and what isn’t. Naturally, it is up to the dungeon master to fill in the gaps.
For example, in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, healing is almost a necessity during the cultist raids in Greenest, but there is no mention of the availability of healing at all (other than at the end of the chapter).
That’s not to say changes can’t be made. A dungeon master may choose to be lenient and spare a few potions whenever the characters take a breather, or he might take a more hard-line approach, forcing the players to get by through ingenuity and roleplaying.
If you play the adventure solo, it becomes a little more difficult to judge whether or not healing should be granted to the PCs, and it can be tempting to grant more than is needed.
This is where Mythic can come in and make that decision for you.
Here is an example:
Scene: Resting at the Keep
Scene Setup: The PCs have reached the keep in Greenest and are a little low on health.
Chaos Rank: 1, the PCs manage to save a family and get through the encounters battered, but still in one piece.
After the first few encounters, it is obvious that my characters are unlikely to last the evening unless they receive some form of healing (or decide not to perform any of the missions in order to conserve resources – but that would be boring 🙂 ).
The most logical place to get healing would be the temple, but the temple is some distance away and they need the healing now.
Therefore, the PCs wonder if there is any healing to be had at the keep.
Chaos Rank: 1
Estimated Odds: Very Unlikely (5%)
Result: There is no healing available, because many refugees are critically injured and need it more than the PCs do.
How I Calculated the Odds
- The keep is not normally a place where people go for healing (-1).
- Many of the refugees are injured (some seriously) and need the healing more than the PCs do (-1).
With the number of refugees that have taken shelter inside the keep, however, much of the healing is reserved for those who really need it.
The PCs are on their own.
Note: I figured out that healing can be found just about anywhere – it just depends on how clever you are… but I won’t say any more than that 😉 .
Scene II: The Temple
Scene Setup: The PCs attempt to get inside the besieged temple of Chauntea and rescue the villagers trapped inside.
Chaos Rank: 5, due to losing my warlock and almost losing the druid (the warlock is replaced by another character I generated in my spare time).
Upon reaching the temple, the PCs find it under siege.
They sneak around the back, defeat the guards trying to burn the backdoor down, and slip inside.
Despite the danger that the villagers are in, the PCs are unable to convince the villagers inside to take a risk and leg it back to the keep.
Left with no other option, the characters prepare to make a stand in the temple.
But first, healing…
Chaos Rank: 5
Estimated Odds: 50/50 (50%)
Result: Healing potions are available, and not a moment too soon…
Note: before asking this question, I also asked if the resident priest was able to cast spells – a question that yielded a ‘no’. This could be either because he is not a cleric or he has ran out of spells. I didn’t go into it any further since time was of the essence.
How I Calculated the Odds
- The adventure text does not mention any wounded villagers in the temple. This could mean that they have received magical healing or they managed to get here unscathed (No change).
- Logically, the temple is the place to go if you wanted to buy healing potions or receive magical healing from the priests (+1).
- However, the text does not mention that there are any healing potions kept in the temple (-1).
Chaos Rank: 5
Estimated Odds: Somewhat Likely (65%)
Result: Yes, because in times of need, profit is not on the agenda. A few more yes/no questions are needed to determine how many potions are available.
The dice gods are with me today – there are around 16 potions available. Most of them make up the last remaining stock of potions normally made available for sale.
How I Calculated the Odds
- The PCs are strangers (-1)…
- … but they look as though they are the only ones capable of standing up to the raiders (+1).
- Potions should be paid for like everything else (-1)…
- … but what is more valuable at this stage? Lives of the villagers or profit? (+1)
- What the cultists are doing goes against the doctrine of the church of Chauntea (+1)
The PCs are in luck.
While the priest is unable to cast spells for some reason, he does keep a stock of healing potions that he has yet to sell.
He is willing to donate these potions to the PCs in the hopes that they might be able to drive away the invaders.
Armed with the ability to recover from their ailments, the PCs bar the main entrance with as many benches and impediments as possible and prepare to defend the temple…
One of the most rewarding things about Dungeons and Dragons is the opportunity to develop a character, whether through discovering new abilities upon gaining a new level or helping the character find her place in the campaign world.
Occasionally, each individual character may have their own issues to resolve before they can move on with their lives and continue with the main quest.
It is normally the job of the Dungeon Master to facilitate this process by offering the character the opportunity to go on side quests, either in a normal session or in private.
The character advancement should be a little more straightforward, though there should ideally be a ‘roleplaying reason’ for every skill you acquire (unless you simply want to smash things).
If a ranger had been using a bow as a weapon of choice in all of his battles up to the current point in time, then his new abilities should reflect that.
On the other hand, you may feel you have the right to develop your character however you like, as long as you can justify the logic of it in-game.
Sometimes, it goes far beyond simply picking a spell, fighting style, or class feature. The path you take should reflect what your character has spent the last few weeks, months or years attempting to pursue.
This is why D&D is normally played with a Dungeon Master.
The dungeon master is the one who determines what is possible according to the logic of his campaign world, so any character builds should always be approved by the dungeon master.
If you are playing solo, there is no one who can approve your character builds for you and, in my experience, it’s tempting to go ahead and do your own thing, even if it means throwing all logic out the window.
Mythic can help you with all aspects of character development.
Here’s an example using my character, Peren the paladin.
The Oath of Vengeance was the most logical choice for Peren based on how the story had panned out, but my initial concept was a paladin who took the Oath of the Ancients – a concept that I really wanted to play.
Scene: The Vengeful Paladin
Scene Setup: The party’s resident paladin had prepared himself for the day he would swear the Oath of Ancients, but recent developments threaten to push him down a darker path…
Chaos Rank: 4
Peren is a paladin whose family was killed by cultists in a raid some years back.
Consequently, he harbours a deep hatred for the Cult and he has made it his personal goal to rid the world of its influence.
Thanks to the efforts of his saviour and mentor, however, he was able to let go of his need for revenge to some extent and continue to appreciate the beauty of life, preparing himself for the day he would swear the Oath of Ancients and protect the natural world.
However, his defeat at the hands of Langdedrosa reminded him of how powerless he was to stop the cultists from killing his family and pillaging his hometown.
His grudge with the Cult of the Dragon resurfaced overnight and he decided he would swear vengeance.
Drusilia the ranger was a little worried about the change in Peren’s character and decided to try and set him straight.
By chance, she accidentally eavesdrops on a conversation.
There are rumours going around that one of the younger townsfolk was seen taking part in the raid (partly for revenge against those who bullied them in the past, but mostly due to being swayed – or rather, intimidated – into serving the cult).
The young man’s mother does not know about this, but knows that he was captured by the cultists and is fearing the worst.
Long story short, the PCs eventually find and capture this cultist and bring him back to Greenest.
He is due to be executed the following day, but Drusilia is worried about how his mother might react to the news, so soon after discovering that her son is alive.
Nevertheless, Drusilia decided to break the news to her, because she hoped that any distress shown by the mother on hearing that her son is to be executed would appeal to Peren’s compassion and cause him to soften his stance a little.
The son was wrong to join the cultists, but he was partly influenced by the bullying he suffered from the other townsfolk and a far better solution would have been compassion and redemption.
In an unexpected twist, the mother did not react as expected and responded by saying that it does not excuse the fact that her son killed for revenge, which equates to murder.
His past does not give him excuse to take lives that likely meant a lot to other people and so an example must be set, regardless of the grief she will likely suffer in losing her son again.
This only confirmed to Peren that the path he was contemplating was the right one for him. From that point forth, he renounced the Oath of the Ancients and swore the Oath of Vengeance instead.
Unfortunately, I do not have any notes showing the results of any checks made as a result of asking Mythic questions.
Just know that the dice gods conspired to deny me what I wanted and forced me to take the Oath of Vengeance.
Adding Side Quests
If you’ve ever played Baldur’s Gate II, I’m sure you will recall the many interesting and varied side quests that are optional, but are, in some ways, more interesting than the main story arcs themselves.
Using the same idea, it can be possible to expand on an adventure and introduce side quests of your own.
In the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, there is a crevice on the wall of a cave that could potentially lead to a troglodyte lair, for example.
The dungeon master running the game is advised to either ignore the crevice or create more adventures using the crevice as a starting point.
Without a dungeon master, Mythic is the ideal solution to make this happen for a solo player.
You can also use Mythic to make something up based on what you have discovered or encountered in your adventure so far.
Here is an example of a side quest that I added into my Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign:
Scene: Dragon Eggs
Scene Setup: The PCs have managed to clear out the dragon hatchery of all enemies and are debating what to do with the dragon eggs. Finally, a couple of them suggest finding someone capable of raising the dragons in the ways of good rather than evil…
Chaos Rank: 4
The PCs have now captured the dragon’s eggs and all that is left is to either take them to Leosin or Ontharr.
Or destroy them.
However, the more compassionate members of the party feel it is wrong to destroy the eggs, in effect killing harmless creatures that could not defend themselves.
One of them suggests finding a good-aligned breeder who is capable of raising a dragon to the standards of good.
Despite the absurdity of it all, the more cynical members of the party decide to go along with it.
The first thing was to see if there are any known dragon breeders around – preferably one that is not affiliated with the Cult of the Dragon.
Chaos Rank: 4
Estimated Odds: No Way (10%)
Result: Exceptional no. You simply cannot raise a chromatic dragon to be good – if it can even be raised by non-dragons at all…
How I Calculated the Odds
- The druid PC that died previously was an avid student of all things draconic. He wrote many articles on the subject of dragons which he kept in his home (+1).
Before he died, my druid PC mentioned that he wrote many articles based on his study of dragons in his spare time and the notes are kept in a strongbox under his bed.
The PCs knew where the druid lived and his home was not too far away from Greenest, so they only needed a day or two to travel there and back.
When they reach his home, they enter and rummage through the druid’s notes.
Unfortunately, one article explicitly states that it is impossible to rear a chromatic dragon (or any dragon), simply because evil is so ingrained within a chromatic dragon’s mindset.
Even if one is somehow successful in raising the dragon, its growth in power, coupled with its inherent pride and massive ego, will eventually cause a dragon to revert to its natural tendencies.
So that was the end of that.
Plan B: Let’s make an omelette.
Rewriting Adventures on the Fly
It’s difficult to avoid reading the information in a pre-made adventure, but doing so would spoil the story for yourself to the point it degenerates into nothing more than a rollplaying exercise where you are simply reading what happens in the adventure, exploring secret areas you wouldn’t have thought to look for had you not known about them and possibly taking the most beneficial options.
Mythic can be used to change things around completely, so that you are still left guessing as to where that +2 Greatsword is hidden, for example.
Even if you decide that the odds of finding the sword is a nailed on certainty, there’s still a small chance you won’t find it, particularly if things have been going extremely well in your adventure up to this point.
A roll that yields a ‘no’ will mean that you don’t find the sword and an ‘exceptional no’ may mean that the sword does not exist at all.
If the sword was wielded by an enemy, perhaps the weapon’s abilities are a result of a god-granted power, rather than the weapon itself.
More important than the discovery of trinkets, however, is maintaining the sense of unpredictability in the main arc of an adventure by rearranging things or even rewriting some parts of the adventure.
Initial impressions of the book are very good and it looks like I ought to get a lot of value out of Mythic as a solo D&D player for some time to come.
Look out for the complete review of the Mythic Game Master Emulator, where I will give you a summary on how it all works and my overall verdict.
If you would like to check the book out yourself before my review is released, you can buy the book from RPG Now.
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