Jul 24, 2017

Language and Lore Skills House Rules for Mythras

I've played a lot of  Mythras and Runequest 6 over the years (and Mongoose Runequest 2 and Legend - it's all the same game under different labels, and I've been playing it off and on since 2010). In the current version of the rules, it's difficult for characters to either have a lot of lore skills or to know a lot of languages. It's even more difficult to play a character who both knows a lot of languages and has a lot of scholarly knowledge because of the way character creation works, where you end up having limited slots for professional skills.

As someone who likes to play scholars in settings with lots of languages, I wanted to make this a bit less demanding on the fairly limited pool of skill points starting characters have. So I use the following rules for each skill:

There's no longer separate Lore:Whatever or Language: Whatever skills, except for Native Tongue. Instead, there's just Lore, Native Tongue, and Language. Lore and Language are both professional skills, and swap in during character creation whenever the originals do. Characters pick a number of specialties equal to 1/20th of their skill rating in the relevant skill (round down). For Lore these are areas of study and knowledge, for Language they're languages you know (other than your native language, where in Mythras you receive an automatic 40% bonus to make its role as a skill-capping skill that sets a limit for other skills easier to bear). For the purposes of skill rolls and caps, you use the single rating of the skill whenever you're dealing with an area of specialty.

e.g You have a Lore of 60% so you choose three areas of specialty. For your badass Kadiz gnostic, these are Dreams, Geomancy and Spirits. Whenever you need to make a Lore role involving those subjects, or use your Lore skill as an augment, you base it off the 60%.

This means starting characters will typically have 0 to 3 specialties in each skill, depending on their level of specialisation. A character made using the stock rules could have a similar range, but would have to spend three times the skill points to get this level, and would probably have to choose either language or lore skills instead of being able to do both. The net effect of this will be to make multicultural parties easier, and to allow characters to be knowledgeable without sacrificing all of their skills points to be so.

On a related note, Mythras and Runequest 6 don't actually explain what to do when someone attempts to test a professional skill they lack (if it does do so, it's not mentioned in the index under the entry for "Professional Skills", and it's not in either the skills chapter or the character creation section. The training rules imply you can't test without having opened access the skill, since it costs 3 experience rolls to "get a basic grounding" which I interpret as being able to get access at the level of the sum of the two relevant stats (i.e. it costs 3 experience rolls to develop Literacy at Int x 2 if you don't start with it as a skill).

With that in mind, I tend to favour not allowing rolls relevant to professional skills a character lacks. Even if one did allow them at severe penalties (i.e. one adapted the rules in the Combat section for using weapons outside those allowed by the Combat Styles you're trained in so as to apply to other skills), since you're only using a low base to begin with, you're almost never going to succeed.

On a second related note, I've debated making a similar change as I did for Language and Lore for combat styles, but I think this is a more radical change and needs to be tested and played around with before I implement it, since access to combat styles is much more strictly controlled than access to lore and language skills (starting characters still typically start with 1-3 combat styles, as this system would also be likely to produce).

I'm going to be running the Dawnlands at LozCon this summer (April 12-April 14, 2017) and these will be the rules I'm using for it. I just generated eight pregen characters in a row for a one-shot scenario I'll be running, one that involves a multicultural party, so I think it'll be a good test.