In my reading I’ve notice a few things about gender and our differences sexually. The first is, they exist. The second being that while they make big differences they don’t make the sort of differences so many us get so upset about. As far as I can see, they make no real difference in a lot of what we can do. You get right down to it, they make no real difference in just how heroic you can be. As an old saying goes; it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
So in the guides using the Dangerous Journeys system I’m setting no limits in who or what a Persona can be. She wants to be a knight, then should her birth and society say she can be a knight, then she can be a knight. And her title would be Sir Janice, for to my way of thinking that is what you call a knight.
Though let’s be honest, women taste chocolate differently than men do. They respond to the chemicals in chocolate differently than men, in some respects most intensely. But I see no reason to say that has any effect on just how good they can be. And the fact women are on the average weaker than men when it comes to strength has nothing on how capable they are. To be honest with you, men cheat. We produce much more testosterone than you do and that makes a huge difference. But it really isn’t the size of the muscles, it’s how you use them.
So in a guide like Mythus I encourage the player to try any role he wishes. If the position in society says knight is available, then try being a knight, Or a Sage, a Mountebank, or even a Sailor. Ærth may be based on Earth, but it isn’t in all ways like Earth. Ærth’s history has it’s difference, it’s societies and sociology is different. Let it be different.
Your Persona is going to be unique, don’t let that stop you from from making him or her even more unique.
And seeing as I’ve product to produce you can think of this as a start at writing a role playing guide. And as this is a sort of series of exerpts on Mythus, that’s what you’re getting.
Are first excerpt in on the role of gender in RPGs and specifically on what is allowed.
When I was older than I am now we were all pretty much convinced that what differences there were between men and women made a huge difference, and those differences could not be over come. No such luck.
In addition what we’re doing is really not such a big thing when you get right down to it. Men can be just as gentle and caring as any woman, and going by my mom women can be tough indeed. So I say why fret? Bob the mechanic wants to play a Arles Wisewoman, then he can play an Arles Wisewoman.
I was supposed to post this post for my last post, but diverted myself. Now I hope to get it right.
According to Gary Gygax joss comes from South Pacific pidgen English and is their word for “Deus”, or God. Using joss involves petitioning a hopefully beneficial spirit to act on your behalf. In Dangerous Journey it functions as a sort of luck point, though not exactly.
Essentially what the player does with his HP’s joss is ask for the JM’s intervention on behalf of the HP. But unlike the luck points in other guides using joss in Mythus is not just a matter of one point at a time. Instead a player needs to use one or more points depending on what he wants to happen and the circumstances surrounding the immediate situation.
Let’s say the HP wants to walk past a guard without being noticed. It’s midday on a busy street, the street is crowded, and the HP looks rather ordinary, acts rather ordinary, and the guard isn’t on the look out for the ordinary. For the player’s appeal to work would cost put one point of joss.
On the other hand let’s say that the street is otherwise empty and the HP is riding a unicycle, juggling five balls while twirling 3 hoops around his left ankle, dressed in motley in neon colors and wearing a cap with jingling bells, and bellowing out advertising slogans. And the guard isn’t supposed to notice him.
In this case most JMs could be expected to give the stunt a cost of 6 joss, though with a good story behind it I would be willing to price it at five.
But Why Does it Happen?
Make up something entertaining that fits in with the setting. Perhaps the guard is intoxicated and convinced that what he is seeing is an hallucination. Or maybe he’s been told to ignore strange men on unicycles dressed as jesters and juggling balls. Or, his boss has been a dick and the guard just wants to screw with him. Anything that could lighten the mood.
Or, invent a rationale that ranks up the tension, makes matters more stress full while giving the players a sort of relief.
Joss was added to Dangerous Journeys so it would better emulate what happens in old adventure stories. Such as Tarzan’s Jad bal Jaa the golden lion showing up at just the right time, or the hero just happening to conk a guard wearing just the right size uniform to fit him. The sort of stuff that makes you say, “Oh come on now!” when you’re an adult, but, “Gosh wow!” when you’re a 10 year old.
Joss is intended to add excitement to play and to encourage initiative and invention in player and JM.
Before I was born—and there was such a time—the author Jack Vance wrote stories. The sort of stories you could expect from Jack, with interesting characters and interesting situations. Indeed, the sort of tale Dangerous Journeys was meant to emulate.
In Vance’s tales of the distant future one talent his heroes sometimes had was the ability to memorize certain magicks of a high science sort that had great powers and strange names, Bogglesnack’s aura of the Toads of the Lesser Puissance for example—and I just made that up. However, such were these magicks that the heroes could not memorize more than three or so, and such a strain they were to remember that actually “casting” them meant they would be forgotten and need to be rememorized.
Then Gary Gygax and others enter the picture with their skirmish game Dungeons and Dragons. A fantasy game with magic and spells, which Gary intended to emulate to some degree the magic and spells of Jack Vance. So a Prestidigitator, as they were known, began his adventuring career with but one spell. However Gary forgot to specify that. The game did have a chart for this, but it wasn’t explained.
Spell Points are Born
Now young people are creative, especialy college kids. A number of them took up the early D&D and not knowing just how Prestidigitators etc. were supposed to be limited in their access to magic bothered them. So they invented limitations. One of the most popular was in assigning a cost to use each spell, and how many points the young magic-user had to use with them. With each advancement in ability—a level increase to you—meant more points for the magic-user to use, and so more spells and more powerful spells he could use.
Spell points proved to be popular in some circles, though they proved to be probematic as well, for often they ended up providing more power that a setting could actually handle. And there were disputes that causes a lot of rancor in the new community of the time.
Now D&D already had a mechanism for limiting how much magic a magic-user got, it just wasn’t explained. So in later printings—editions, really—Gygax provided an explanation. But we’re dealing with young adults here; intelligent, creative young adults—we were brats back then, and more than a few of us decided we preferred how we handled things—Believe me, a long time before the Internet we had fan feuds and trolls.
Comes Dangerous Journeys
So we had disagreement and animosity and while all this was going on Gygax got to thinking about what he and his friends had created, and came to the conclusion that it really wasn’t what they had thought it was. In short he came to the conclusion that you didn’t have to do it the way peope thought you had to. While still with the old TSR he started to propose changes that in my opinion would’ve meant a revolution in RPGs and uttlerly changed the hobby. Think of the first Unearthed Arcana and what it presented as an example of this. His Mountebank Player Character Class for D&D was another example of what he was working towards.
But them the Blume Brothers and Lorraine Williams interrupted him—a tale to involved for this essay, so he found himself with a lot of free time, and a lot of ideas.
Again truncating a bit he decided to design and write and present his own thinking on RPGs and on how they were best handled. He also wanted something that could be used to emulate the sort of stories written back in the days of the old pulps such as Thrilling Wonder Stories and Amazing Stories—adolescents and young college kids have always been adolescents and young college kids. In short, your grandparents were like you when they were 22. To sum it up, you’re normal.
From Truly Ancient Times
Now we talk of Classical Rome as being ancient times, but even they had times they called ancient. And the people of those times, the Classical Greeks for example, had their tales of even older civilizations. And they, Uratu and Israel for instance, had their stories of even older cultures and states.
Which brings us back to Pharonic Egypt, and they had stories of the times before. But we’re going to stick with the Old Kingdom, for it is then when they concocted a lot of what we associated with Pharonic Egypt; great heaps of artfully piled up rock, heiroglyphics, and Egyptian magick.
And a term Gygax decided would be useful in Dangerous Journeys, heka.
According to Gygax heka comes from the Egyptian “hekau”, or “words of power”. Now from what I can see and what I know heka is a mash up—a portmanteu—for two Egyptian words; “ka” for one of the Egyptian souls—the core of the person in other words—and “he” which means, I think, “strength of”. So “heka”, strength of the soul. Something tells me that “hekau” was derived from “heka” and not the other way around.
(I think that “baraka” came from “heka” but how and when I do now know.)
Now when designing Dangerous Journeys Gygax decided he was going to use spell points to resrict the use of the magick to be presented in the RPG. But he didn’t want to use the term “spell points” He had a good reason for the originality, which didn’t exactly work out in his favor. But to keep this short he wanted to give DJ and those modules—as he called them—using those rules a distinctive feel. For his purposes calling magic points heka fit the bill.
He also used other terms for magickal energy, baraka for one. But also such as mana, chi, vril, and orgone, though those were for magicks that weren’t as refined or as developed as the Egyptian. Or Ægyptian as Gary preferred.
The big difference between earlier spell point systems and Gary’s was in how they were handled. Thing is, those earlier spell point designers came up with neat sounding mechanics, but by and large they didn’t experiment with them. For the most part what you’d get is a starting mu with a smidgen of points who’d have a semi-trailer full off them by the time he was not really all that advanced—in my point of view.
Gary didn’t want that for DJ, so he came up with a formula that satisfied him. He also decided to not use class levels, but instead to base the amount of heka an Heroic Persona—DJ for Player Character—would get on his statistics; personal stats, skills, and bennies from potencies malign or benign depending on what the player thought he could deal with.
He did decide to use spell levels, but to call them “casting grades” instead. With them he came up with a formula for calculating how much they would cost to cast in heka, though I suspec he also made adjustments in the costs so they wouldn’t look too troublesome. And by the way, the Mages and Priests in Mythus were designed to be magickally powerful, and I suspect he was inspired by the Wizards of Ars Magica. No, I wouldn’t call Dangerous Journeys exactly a balanced game.
So in the long run what had originally been intended to balance what many saw as an unbalanced situation ended up providing for an unbalanced situation, though still intended to help keep the situation in question as being ludicrously unbalanced. At least that’s how I see it.
This took a little while to write, more words and thinking than I thought it would, and it ended up longer than some articles in newspapers and magazine’s other writers get paid for. Now I’m not really set up for charging you to read this, but I thought I’d ask you to pay for it. Entirely voluntary of course, in fact think for this as a pay what you want if you decide it’s worth paying for.
As happens with others I’m lying in bed waiting to nod off when thoughts intrude. In my case those thoughts have to do with the subject of magick, the sort of magick presented in the Dangerous Journeys system, and most especially as presented in the Mythus RPG. Not wanting to lose this thinking, I decided to get up and write this down.
Now I like science, science is fun. Science gives you the tool to understand things, and to learn how to understand things. Given that we are not capable of perfect or even complete understanding we can still learn to understand to respectable degree. As far as I’m concerned science can be applied to magick, as long as you accept magick as something that can be understood; as long as you’re dealing with a phenomenon that does work.
I go into that in more detail elsewhere, in this entry in the series I’m going to be dealing with the subject of patterns.
In our existence I see the following patterns.
Now I don’t see Strings as the base because they appear to be too complex to be the base, so I came up with twine which combine with other Twine to make up String. Then String combine with other String to make up Quarks which by themselves or in combination with other Quarks then give us Leptons, Muons, and Hadrons. With the worlds of Dangerous Journeys along with Twine and String you also have Yarn and Thread. Thread then gives us Sparks, which in turn give us other objects I haven’t decided on a name for yet.
Now in our reality Twine and String are what are allowed. In the Worlds of Dangerous Journeys Yarn and thread are allowed along with Twine and String, though they are different patterns than the other two. And note that in the worlds of Dangerous Journeys such as Folds etc. can and do interact with space-time in different ways. This gives us the various Interactions we know as Gravity etc. With the Dangerous Journeys worlds the Interactions are:
Now beyond Quarks you have Leptons, Muons, and Hadrons. Given that Muons are unstable and short lived it is Leptons and Hadrons that give us such as Atoms, and from Atoms, Molecules. From them we get such as compounds, chemicals, and minerals. In the case of Sparks we get Hekons, and from them we get more complex patterns, which lead to more complex patterns and so on and so forth.
As with the more and more complex physical patterns the Heka patterns give us give us such as self-sustaining patterns, and from the self-sustaining the self-repairing patterns. When they get complicated enough you get magickal patterns that can be called “Alive”. These we call “spirits.”
Then this complication gets complicated.
For as with physical life, with magickal life qualities such as sentience—self awareness—come into play. With sentience you get sapience, or the ability to reason, and the better a life form, physical or magickal, is at reasoning the more intelligent you can see he is.
Now Heka has an affect on reality much as matter does, though the mechanisms do differ. For the most part the effects are too random to actually be noticed, but sometimes you do have noticeable effects. For the most part this happens with the right pattern. In so far as Heka is part of the physical world you can have magickal compounds, chemicals, and minerals. Though they aren’t really necessary.
With physical and spiritual life patterns can develop that give us magickal effects. When life is sentient, whether physical or magickal, that life gets a degree of control over the magick produced.
Though at first the “magick-user”, if you want to call him that, has no real choice in what sort of magick he can produce, though he may be able to have some influence on such matters as range, area of effect, or even how many individuals he can affect with his psycho-genic ability.
With an individual who is truly capable you get those who can improvise the magick they want, and these we call “casters”.
That is as far as we can go in this part of the series, the subject of magick-users whether you’re talking about those with a psycho-genic ability—psychics in other words—or casters—improvised magick—will be dealt with in the next part. See you later.