7:34 PM +Loz: I’m Lawrence Whitaker, co-founder of The Design Mechanism, and here to talk about our latest release, Lyonesse, based on the trilogy by Jack Vance
7:34 PM +Loz: done\
7:34 PM ~Dan: Thanks, Loz! The floor is open to questions!
7:35 PM +JamesGillen: What is the game system?
7:35 PM +Loz: It’s a variation of Mythras, Design Mechaniusm’s house system. Percentile based, anc customised for the Lyonesse model
7:36 PM +Loz: (dreadful keyboard I have here).
7:36 PM ~Dan: And Mythras, in turn, is based upon Basic Roleplaying, correct?
7:36 PM +Loz: Correct.
7:36 PM ~Dan: What are some of the key differences?
7:36 PM ~Dan: (Howdy, Adam!)
7:37 PM +Loz: Ifyou’re familiar with Call of Cthulhu or RuneQuest, Lyonesse is similar
7:38 PM +Loz: Biggest difference is magic, which is built specifically for the Lyonesse setting, and reflecting how magic works in the Vance books.
7:38 PM ~Dan: Does that mean “fire and forget” spells?
7:38 PM +Loz: No, that’s not really how Vancian magic works at all.
7:39 PM ~Dan: Really? Shows how much I know… How does it work?
7:39 PM +Loz: There’s a finite number of spells one can know, but they’re not erased as in the D&D model.
7:40 PM ~Dan: I see. What determines the limit? Intelligence and/or Power?
7:40 PM +Loz: There are 2 magic systems: fairy magic (simple cantraps) and Sandestin magic, which is using magical entities to work magic on your behalf.
7:41 PM +Loz: Spells are really just instructions to a sandestin for what it has to do. But very complex, and occupying a lot of mental space
7:41 PM +Loz: Intelligence, and skill in magic.
7:41 PM ~Dan: It sounds a bit like magic in Stormbringer.
7:42 PM +Loz: It has some similarities, yes.
7:42 PM +Loz: But it is very, very different. The game has well over 100 sandestin magical effects, and they can be combined in infinite ways.
7:43 PM ~Dan: How powerful is Sandestin magic? What sorts of things can it accomplish on the high end?
7:44 PM +Loz: It can be very powerful. Turning someone into a piece of interestingly shaped furniture, and installing them on a mounmtian peak to act as a snow catcher is perfectly possible.
7:45 PM ~Dan: Wow… Does Sandestin magic cost Magic Points? If so, about how many would that effect you just mentioned cost?
7:46 PM +Loz: It does cost MP, but the cost is random – so you can never be certain if a spell will exhaust you, or result in potential backlash. The more effects you combine, the more it costs.
7:46 PM ~Dan: That’s certainly different!
7:47 PM ~Dan: What determines backlash?
7:47 PM +Loz: It took a lot of time to work out.
7:47 PM +Loz: Backlash happens whenm you hit negative Magic Points. Effects range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and even instant death…
7:48 PM +Loz: Magic is not for the faint hearted!
7:48 PM ~Dan: Clearly!
7:48 PM +JamesGillen: Sublimely Ridiculous Instant Death
7:49 PM ~Dan: Can anyone use Sandestin magic?
7:49 PM +Loz: That too. It’s very Vancian,
7:49 PM +Loz: No, you have to be trained as a magician, and there’
7:50 PM +Loz: s a strict pecking order, and a code of conduct in place to regulate it: Murgen’s Edict.
7:50 PM ~Dan: What does that involve?
7:51 PM +Loz: If anyone uses magic to meddle in human affairs for personal amusement, or to advance someone else’s agenda, Murgen, the most powerful magician in the Elder Isles, smites you in horribly creative ways.
7:52 PM ~Dan: Heh. 🙂
7:53 PM ~Dan: What is the tech level of the setting? From what I read, I’m guessing it’s medieval, but I know Vance can throw you some curve balls in that regard.
7:54 PM +Loz: It’s meant to be set around the 5th Century, but it’s high medieval in flavour, with knights in armour, chivalry, and a pretty robust civilisation.
7:54 PM ~Dan: Does it bear any relationship to his Dying Earth setting?
7:55 PM +Loz: A little. Sandestin magic appears in both The Dying Earth and Lyonesse, and there are a few other parallels too. It’s easy to see Lyonesse being in the same universe, just many aeons in the Dying Earth’s past.
7:56 PM * ~Dan nods
7:56 PM ~Dan: So you’ve touched on this a bit already, but can you give us a high-level overview of the setting?
7:57 PM +Loz: The elevator pitch is Game of Thrones meets The Princess Bride, meets The Faerie Queen.
7:57 PM ~Dan: That’s quite a mix!
7:58 PM +Loz: Set in a group of islands (now sunk) between France and Britain, King Casmir seeks to unite 10 disparate kingdoms under his sole rule. A prophecy says his son will never ascend to the throne, and this sparks a huge set of circumstances that are both comical and deeply tragic.
7:59 PM +Loz: While this is happening, several magicians are locked in a game of oneupmanship for magic supremacy.
8:00 PM +Loz: And there’s true love, horrible villains, and interdimensional travel.
8:01 PM ~Dan: And fairies, IIRC?
8:01 PM +Loz: Lots and lots of fairies.
8:02 PM ~Dan: What are they like?
8:02 PM +Loz: One of the subplots in the novels concerns a fairy changeing.
8:03 PM +Loz: Very capricious. Very mischievous, and best not to cross them. They’re inherently magical, so always have a whole bunch of fairy cantraps available to do cruel things. Like swpa your nose with your big toe, or cause your eyes to be filled with bees.
8:04 PM ~Dan: Damn. That’s nasty.
8:04 PM ~Dan: What do they look like?
8:05 PM +Loz: They vary hugely. Some are typically small with wings, while others adopt quite bizarre appearances.
8:06 PM ~Dan: Do they fall at all along the lines of classic fey creatures, like redcaps, knockers, brownies, etc.?
8:07 PM +Loz: Yes they do. And ogres, trolls, goblins, merrihews, and so on.
8:07 PM +Loz: The folklore is very rooted in European fairy/fae lore.
8:08 PM ~Dan: Cool… Do the fairies fill most or all of the “monster” niche in the setting?
8:08 PM +Loz: The game has random tables for determining fairy appearance…
8:08 PM +Loz: Yes, although there are some non-fairy creatures too.
8:08 PM ~Dan: Oh? Can you give some examples?
8:09 PM +Loz: Bearded gryphs, unicorns, hulks of the Cam Brakes, and a few others. But its not heavy on dozens and dozens of monsters.
8:10 PM ~Dan: What are the hulks like?
8:10 PM +Loz: It’s easy enough to import more monsters from any of our other games though. They use the same rules.
8:10 PM * ~Dan nods
8:10 PM +Loz: Massive bear like things with round heads bristling with antennae, no facial features, and a curious odour.
8:10 PM ~Dan: That’s… odd.
8:11 PM +Loz: That’s Vance!
8:11 PM ~Dan: Heh. 🙂
8:11 PM ~Dan: I suppose the most obvious question along these lines is: Do there be dragons?
8:12 PM +Loz: Dragons aren’t mentioned in the books. But if you want them, there are plenty of places whjere they’d lurk.
8:13 PM ~Dan: I see. Good to know.
8:13 PM ~Dan: So how likely is the average person to see a fairy creature or other monster?
8:14 PM +Loz: If you wander in the Forest of Tantrevalles, the vast forest in the middle of the main island, then it’s quite likely something will find you. Ooutside of it, it’s pretty humanocentric.
8:15 PM ~Dan: Does the book have a bestiary, and if so, how large?
8:16 PM +Loz: It doesn, but not huge. About 20 creatures or so. But there are leopards.
8:16 PM ~Dan: That’s important!
8:16 PM +Loz: And unicorns.
8:16 PM ~Dan: So is that!
8:16 PM ~Dan: Who are the PCs, and what sorts of adventures do they get up to?
8:18 PM +Loz: The PCs are whatever you want them to be. There’s a wealth of things to do: political intrigue; finding things for magicians; revenge (a big theme in Lyonesse); escaping the Ska invaders…
8:18 PM +Loz: Plus ancient ruins, strange enclaves, weird gods, and grailquests.
8:18 PM ~Dan: (Welcome to #randomworlds, kiwi_22! You can set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan 🙂 )
8:19 PM ~Dan: What are the Ska?
8:19 PM +Loz: Nordic invaders with a massive superiority complex. Kicked out by the Vikings because they were too brutal…
8:20 PM +Loz: But they are human.
8:21 PM ~Dan: Man. That’s pretty harsh. Like Al Queda kicking out Isis. 🙂
8:22 PM ~Dan: You mentioned “weird gods” back there… Can you describe the cosmology of the setting?
8:23 PM +Loz: A mix of Christian, and various pagan deities. Druidism mixes with Gaea, Atalante, and some of the Etruscan pantheon. It’s a real hodge-podge. Only Christianity has any real structure to it.
8:24 PM ~Dan: Is any one religion dominant, and are they all equally “true”?
8:25 PM +Loz: Christianty is on the rise, but no one religion dominates, It’s largely secular.
8:25 PM +kiwi_22: interesting. I thought this was full fantasy and not based on real earth. Maybe I should read the novels..
8:26 PM ~Dan: (kiwi_22: Don’t forget that you can set your name with the /nick command. 🙂 )
8:26 PM +Loz: It is high fantasy, although there are plenty of references to historical cultures. It’s delibverately anachronistic, in a similar way to The Once and Future King.
8:27 PM +Loz: And I recommend that everyone read the books.
8:29 PM ~Dan: Aside from the magic, are there any other big tweaks to the system based on the setting?
8:30 PM +kiwi_22: Lyinesse is self contained, yes? Is it as tweakable as the core Mythras, or more hard-locked?
8:31 PM +Loz: The system is largely untouched. We’ve added a couple of new skills, added rules for jousting, creating authentic Vancian villages, taverns, food, and strange places.
8:31 PM +Loz: It is self contained, and while it’s a bit more locked to the setting, it’s still eminently tweakable.
8:32 PM ~Dan: Jousting, you say? Are the knights you mentioned anachronistic “knights in shining armor”?
8:33 PM +Loz: They’re knights in shining armour on barded horses, riding to the tilt.
8:34 PM ~Dan: Nice.
8:34 PM ~Dan: I forget… Does Mythras use Attribute modifiers to Skills?
8:35 PM +Loz: No, two characteristics form the base of a skill, but otherwise the skill is its own thing. You can augment skills with other skills and passions.
8:37 PM ~Dan: Ah, gotcha. That’s kind of what I meant, as opposed to Attributes having no impact on skills at all, as in CoC for example.
8:37 PM ~Dan: How does the augmenting work?
8:40 PM +Loz: Say I have Knightly Combat at 60%, and one of my passions is Hate the Ska 80%… I can use my Hate Ska passion to boost my combat skill if I’m fighting a Ska raider. The bonus is equal to a fifth of the boosting passion – so I’d get +16 to my Knightly Combat skill
8:41 PM +JamesGillen: hm
8:41 PM ~Dan: That’s pretty cool. I just recently started playing RuneQuest Glorantha. That has a similar mechanic for passions, doesn’t it?
8:42 PM +Loz: Yes it does.
8:42 PM +Loz: Passions have been in BRP games for quite a long time, starting with Pendragon.
8:43 PM ~Dan: Is Pendragon considered to be BRP?
8:44 PM +Loz: It is. While it uses a d20, it’s still role under, and there are lots of parallels with ‘core’ BRP.
8:44 PM +Loz: *roll*
8:44 PM * ~Dan nods
8:44 PM ~Dan: Is this the start of a whole game line, and if so, where does it go from here?
8:45 PM +Loz: Yes it is. We have one scenario already available, another on the way, and intend producing expansions covering different areas of the Elder Isles.
8:46 PM ~Dan: That’s good to hear!
8:46 PM ~Dan: What are the two scenarios about?
8:47 PM +Loz: Coddefut’s Stipule investigates why people have been disappearing off the coast of one of the kingdoms, and In High Dudgeon is an investigation into why a village continually loses to it’s neighbour at a yearly contest of games.
8:48 PM ~Dan: Do they lend themselves to any particular sorts of characters?
8:49 PM +Loz: They’re not combat heavy, so more about investigation and deduction, but Lyonesse is so varied, any character type can fit right in.
8:51 PM ~Dan: What in particular would you say are the key selling points of this game as compared to other high fantasy games?
8:53 PM +Loz: First, Jack Vance is simply one of the best fantasy writers out there, and worth exploring. Second, this game has a huge amount of background as part of the book, but not so much as to overwhelm, Third, it emulates Vance’s style of fantasy very well. Fourth, the game system is highly robust. Fifthly, it’s very funny to read. Sixthly, the magic
8:53 PM +Loz: systems are extremely rich.
8:54 PM +kiwi_22: remember to plug your guest appearance GMïng In High Dudgeon for Inwills’ crew, Loz.
8:54 PM +Loz: Thanks!
8:55 PM +kiwi_22: np. It was highly enjoyable to watch
8:55 PM ~Dan: All very good points!
8:55 PM +Loz: Yes, there’s two parts of one of the scenarios on YouTube – search for Inwils’ channel. The adventure showcases both the setting and system.
8:55 PM ~Dan: Good to know. 🙂
8:55 PM +Loz: But has huge spoilers for the adventure.
8:56 PM ~Dan: Duly noted!
8:56 PM ~Dan: Will this setting be your company’s focus going forward for the time being, or do you have other irons in the fire?
8:57 PM +Loz: We’re recording part 3 in the next week or so.
8:57 PM +Loz: We have plenty of irons in the fire. Two or three imminent Mythras releases, plus we’re hard at work on Mythic Babylon.
8:59 PM ~Dan: Can you say what those releases are, or is it too soon?
9:00 PM +Loz: Fioracitta is a fantasy version of an Italian city state, and Meeros Doomed is a mini campaign using the example locale from the Mythras rulebook. Both due in the next couple of months.
9:01 PM ~Dan: Do all of your games require the Mythras rulebook, or are they self-contained?
9:02 PM +Loz: Most require Mythras, but we are working on more self contained games. We’re developing a supers game, based on Mythras, called Destined, and that will be a standalone game.
9:03 PM +danhunsaker: Welcome to the final half hour! Normally I’d wait until the final 15 minutes to ask this, but Thursdays I have a campaign to play in, so I’m asking it early. What is your LEAST favorite thing about Lyonesse? Game, novels, or for bonus points both.
9:04 PM +Loz: My least favourite thing about Lyonesse is how unrelenting some of the trials the main characters have to undergo. It can be pretty grim and gruelling at times.
9:06 PM +kiwi_22: do you replicate these grueling trials in the game? Asking for a friend..
9:07 PM +Loz: Not really, because they’re very specific to the story and the characters. But we do have a fair amount of GM advice on how to stage such adversities, because they’re anm important part of Vance’s style.
9:08 PM +Loz: The scenario I mentioned, ‘In High Dudgeon’ actually has quite a terrible moral dilemma at its heart.
9:10 PM ~Dan: How would you characterize the morality of the setting? Is it more black-and-white, or is it (as I’m guessing) more morally gray?
9:10 PM +Loz: Definitely grey.
9:11 PM ~Dan: That said, are there any obvious bad guys to fight? Or is it basically relative all the way around?
9:11 PM +Loz: Even the protagonists do some questionable things.
9:11 PM +Loz: But there are several very well drawn villains, and they are easy to spot.
9:12 PM ~Dan: Do they have any redeeming qualities, or are they just generally vile?
9:13 PM +Loz: They generally have some redeeming qualities. Casmir, the main villain, can be kind and generous. Tamurello, a wizard, is charmingly sly, and Torqual has the louche arrogance of Errol Flynn (but is still a bad guy).
9:15 PM +Loz: Some though, are thoroughly bad to the bone. Faude Carfilhiot and Visbhume, for example.
9:15 PM ~Dan: Cool.
9:16 PM ~Dan: Going back to magic for a moment, can the spell-facilitating entities of Sandestin magic be made manifest like a summoned demon, or do they only function as spell-casting agents?
9:17 PM +Loz: They tend to be the latter, but they do manifest occasionally, and we have some rules for governing how they appear.
9:18 PM +JamesGillen: Errol Flynn was also a bad guy. 😉
9:18 PM ~Dan: Very nice.
9:18 PM ~Dan: In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
9:19 PM +Loz: Only that Lyonesse is available on Drivethru right now, and is the best gaming purchase you’ll make this decade. Probably.
9:20 PM ~Dan: 🙂
9:20 PM ~Dan: Here’s the link for those interested: (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/309521/Lyonesse-Fantasy-Roleplaying-Based-on-the-Novels-by-Jack-Vance)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/309521/Lyonesse-Fantasy-Roleplaying-Based-on-the-Novels-by-Jack-Vance
9:21 PM ~Dan: Usual reminder: If you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee or two, you can do so at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Anything’s appreciated! 🙂
9:21 PM ~Dan: Thanks very much for joining us, Loz!
9:21 PM +Loz: And to you and everyone here. Stay healthy and safe.
9:21 PM ~Dan: If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂