Mythic Mortals: The Problem

In lieu of a post for Friday, I released the Public Beta of Mythic Mortals! WOOHOO! Go ahead an grab a copy for yourself, while it’s still free. This is a continuation of my posts on the Development of MM.

I’ve enjoyed working on Mythic Mortals immensely, and I think it does a lot of really neat things with mechanics and setting. However, there are a few things about the design the bug me, and if I can’t fix them, then I’ll probably end up re-building the game from scratch with my new designs in mind.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy MM, and if you think you know a way to fix these problems (or of you think that they aren’t problems) shoot me a message! I’d be glad to get an outside opinion. Here are some of the biggest problems I just can’t seem to fix:

Powers are too Random

In playtesting, my players have had a lot of fun with the game, but they don’t really feel like they are in control of their powers and their characters.

K6FBo4K

The powers are as random as this image!

 

Original plan: Characters draw card randomly, saving some in their hand, and playing others. Players will have to make tough choices like “Do I put down this 2 of clubs now, and potentially fail this round, in the hopes of getting a heart (which I desperately need), or do I just keep it in my hand, and go for higher value cards?”

Current Problem: Players can’t count on getting better cards next round. And since every action switches out cards, then you can’t really plan too far ahead, since you may not have that card you needed when you need it. I can either make the powers gained more solid and persistent, or have players unlock powers as they go, like a skill tree.

But I don’t want to sacrifice the idea that players start out just as strong as they can be, no unlocks or level ups required.

Abilities are Meh

This is a fixable problem, but adds on to the other problems on this list. Since I try to keep modifiers and stats to a minimum, there are not a lot of tweakable mechanics that lend themselves to powers. Saying “+3 damage” isn’t that much fun, nor is it very useful when your damage is constantly fluctuating.

On the other side of the coin, it’s easy for me to simple create fictional abilities that are not reinforced by the mechanics. “You can shoot lasers from your eyes”. But if the lasers do the same amount of damage, why does the player care? That isn’t any more cool or interesting, it’s just a slightly different attack.

sample char sheet

Nova Praxis is a Savage World hack that I’m really excited about trying, and am learning a lot from!

 

So I’m a little stuck on making abilities that are fun an interesting mechanically (without being too complex) and abilities that are boring or useless in some situations.

No Stuntin

This is a problem that didn’t come up until playtesting, and also shows up in Dungeon World games. Most of the actions that players do are boring and simplified in the mechanics.

“As toss the car, it arcs through the air. I draw my bow, igniting it with the fire of Hephaestus, and unleashing my shot. The arrow splits the car, igniting the gas, and the explosion washes over the Nerubian creature!”

is the same, mechanically as:

“I hit him with my axe”

I really really hate that. In most games, you have different equipment, maneuvers, etc etc that can mix up combat. Savage worlds is really good at that, actually, as evidenced by their guide to Combat.

savage cropped

As you can see above, players can do all sorts of things mechanically that will help them overcome obstacles. I’d like to have more of that in my game, otherwise combat gets pretty stale.

Players don’t Feel Badass

Everything listed above contributes to this, but players never feel powerful. Enemies are matched against them, their cool imaginative actions are nerfed by the mechanics. Combat, that core conceit of this game starts to fall into a rut. Although placing the cards can be fun, and deciding which powers you want to focus on is a neat idea, it all kinda falls flat.

It took me a few playtests to discover this, partly because I’m a good GM, but also because I have incredible players. They do a really good job of neat descriptions, getting into the spirit of the game, and could make “paper-rock-scissors” a fun way to pass four hours or so.

I’m kinda stuck

There are a lot of great ideas here, and the game has incredibly potential. I’m not giving up, not by a long shot! But I feel like I’m missing something big, like I’ve been running in the wrong direction this whole time. I want to take a step back, get some feedback from people, see what they like/don’t like.

The next article I write will detail that things that I am adamant about keeping, what I would be willing to change, and what I think would change, as well as some of my ideas for improvement/redesign.

Feel free to let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions! I’m open to anything short of “Why don’t you just play DnD????”.