Mazes and Minotaurs by Doresh
Player's Manual: CharactersOriginal SA post
And now it's time to go oldschool:
Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual
Mazes & Minotaurs was inspired by a little alternate history musing from Paul Elliott (readable here ) about a RPG industry whose grandaddy was inspired by Greek mythology instead of medieval fantasy. This blog entry would inspire Olivier Legrand to write an oldschool RPG based on this alternate history, which we have right here. The official website treats M&M as the free re-release of one of the classics of the industry, and the various comment boxes throughout the books poke fun at things like wargaming grognards belittling the new roleplaying craze, people complaining about a lack of realism, edition wars and the running gag that is Pyros the Spearman, an early playtest character who fell prey to a manticore because of a dodgy interpretation of the breath weapon rules (he got better).
The game of course takes Inspirations from Dungeons & Dragons, but it does a lot of stuff so different as to be its own rules system instead of a proper retro-clone. For starters, everything's roll high and beat a TN. There's also a bit of a E6 vibe going on, as level 6 is the highest you can get.
Mazes & Mintoaurs comes is available in two editions: the "original" rules from 1972, and the revised rules from 1987. I'll be covering the revised edition (more precisely the revision of the revised edition from 2012), as that one is more fleshed out and better supported.
Like AD&D, RM&M consists of several core books: The Players Manual (core rules), the Maze Masters Manual (GM guide)), the Create Compendium (monster manual) and the M&M Companion (optional stuff). I'll cover the first for now.
Most of the interior M&M art is free clipart, with the occasional original piece of work.
Character creation follows the usual procedures: Pick a class, roll attributes, fill in the blanks. Classes (separated into Warriors, Magicians and Specialists) will be covered shortly, so let's tackle attributes first.
The 6 attributes of M&M are Might , Skill , Wits , Luck , Will and Grace . Most of them are your typical D&D attributes under a different name, with Might being a hybrid of STR and CON to make room for Luck, a new attribute that represents not only ones good fortune, but also ones favor with the gods.
Attributes are determined by rolling 2d6+6 six times. If the total sum is too low, you can try again. You can also swap up to 2 points between two attributes for a bit of customization. When distributing your 6 scores to your attributes, you have to assign the two highest scores to your class' two primary attributes.
Attribute mods have a similar range than 3.X mods, except the range of 9-12 has a +0. The highest you can get is +4 at 19-20. Your primary attributes can reach 21 for a +5.
Almost all derived attributes are the sum of 3 attribute mods, and most are lumped into general groups.
First up are the Combat Scores , which includes your two BABs ( Melee and Missile ), your Initiative, your AC (called Defense Class , or EDC aka Effective Defense Class when you add your armor) and your Hits Total. The latter three don't use the standard 3 attribute sum formula, and Hits Total is interesting in that no die rolls are involved in it.
Saving Rolls come in four: Athletic Prowess (actually more like the athletic skill), Danger Evasion (Reflex Save), Mystic Fortiude (Will Save), Physical Vigor (Fortitude Save).
Lastly, there is Personal Charsima (useful for hirelings and social interaction). Magicians and Specialists have an additional derived attribute depending on their class.
Since having a BBF up in the pantheon can go a long way in Greek mythology, your Luck mod is added to almost every single derived attribute, making it a literal god stat. To balance things out, only 4 classes have Luck as a primary attribute, and attributes actually go up rather fast as you level up.
The Equipment list is pretty small and basic, even moreso considering that almost every weapon deals 1d6, with no additional attribute mod unless your class ability tells otherwise. The main reasons why you would choose one weapon over the other (aside from flavor reasons) is if your class has a Weapon of Choice, which gives you the equivalent of a D&D5e Advantage when attacking with that weapon.
Armor comes in three pieces (helmet, breastplate, shield), each adding a +2 to your EDC.
Class descriptions are very condensed compared to D&D. That's because there are no charts. Everything about your character is derived from his attribute mods, with Hits Total getting a static bonus each level. And unless you're a Magician, you only have 2 class abilities.
Since attributes are so important, they go up with each level. More precisely, you increase your Luck by +1 and add +2 to another attribute whose choice can be limited based on your class. This system somewhat takes the bite out of swingy chargen rolls, as the guy who rolled six 18s will max out pretty quickly, while less fortunate players will sooner or latter catch up to him.
The martial classes. Their base Hits is 12, and they gain another +4 each level. Obviously, everyone has a Weapon of Choice.
Primary Attributes : Skill and Grace
Weapon of Choice : Bow
Their "Deadly Shot" (adds Skill mod to bow damage) ability makes them good archers, while their "Battle Grace" (Grace mod to EDC when not wearing breastplates) adds that certain chainmal bikini flavor. The M&M Companion introduces a more realistic version that trades the chainmail bikini for an initiative bonus and allows the amazon to trade in her bow mastery for a javelin, sword or spear.
Primary Attributes : Might and Will
Weapons of Choice : Barbarian weapons (basically any weapon you have to wield two-handed if your Might is below 13)
These filthy savages are the opposite of the amazon (right down to only allowing males in this class), with their "Battle Fury" working just like "Divine Grace", except they add their Will mod and lose said mod if they're surprised. They also have "Battle Might", which allows them to add their Might mod to barbarian weapons. These guys hit hard .
Primary Attributes : Might and Skill
Weapons of Choice : Bow, javelin, club or spear
Certainly the most monstrous class, they use "Etraordinary Agility" to add their Skill mod against melee attacks, and their "Four-Legged" ability gives them all sorts of abilities related to being part horse, including using ranged weapons while running without penalties and being able to trample opponents.
Primary Attributes : Luck adn either Might or Skill (their "martial attribute")
Weapon of Choice : Sword, spear, bow or javelin
The classic Greek hero (I think everyone except Orpheus is one), they trade more flashy class abilities for flexibility and good all-around attribute coverage. Not only can they put their highest roll into Luck, but their "Heroic Heritage" boosts their martial attribute and one of the other 3 attributes by +2. Other than that, they have "Battle Fortune" (Luck mod to Initiative).
Primary Attributes : Skill and Will
Weapon of Choice : Spear of course
The iconic Greek soldier, focused on raw defense to hold the lines and keep the enemy at bay ("Defensive Fighting" adds their Skill mod to EDC vs melee attacks, and their "Martial Discipline" ads their Will mod to Initiative). Multiple spearmen (I'd also allow properly trained hirelings) can also form a shield wall for even more defense.
The smallest class group. They have 10 Basic Hits (+2 per level) and have access to an additional derived attribute, which is essentially a skill. They are not restricted in their choice of armor, but their skill is generally only hampered by that kind of additional encumbrance.
Primary Attributes : Skill and Wits
Weapon of Choice : Any missile weapon
Good archers, but not quite as versatile as amazons (their "Deadly Aim" only adds damage versus enemies of the Beast or Monster variety). Their additional derived attribute is "Hunting", used for various wilderness-related rolls.
Primary Attributes : Wits and Luck
Weapon of Choice : Dagger, thrown knife or sling
These guys are good at dodging ("Evasion" adds their Wits mod to their EDC versus melee attacks) and can use "Thievery" for all sorts of shenanigans.
Magicians are unlike anything seen in D&D. Their spells are fueled by Power (aka Mana/Magic Points), and every class only has 6 spells total. Here's also the greatest difference between the two editions of M&M: Classic has them learn the spells as they level up, whereas revised Magicians know everything from the beginning (though they might not be able to cast the strongest ones due to a lack of enough Power). How strong a spell is is determined by a derived attribute that's different for each class, but generally just the sum of their two primary attributes. This attribute also determines their Mystic Strength, which is used as the TN for Saving Rolls to resist spells cast by that Magician.
Naturally, these classes don't have any weapons of choice, and most can't wear armor without gimping their magic abilities. The start with 8 Hits and gain +2 per level.
Primary Attributes : Wits and Will
Derived Attribute : Elemental Mastery
The flashiest and most blaster-ish Magician class. These guys pick between two of the four classical elements to determin their spell list (each element has 3 spells). Naturally, opposing elements can't be chosen, and one of the two is considered the Elementalist's main element, making its spells cheaper and more potent.
Primary Attributes : Grace and Luck
Derived Attribute : Orphic Voice
These guys are basically bards.
Primary Attributes : Grace and Luck
Derived Attribute : Odylic Charm
Attractive spirits using the power of mother nature. They come in 6 different varieties depending on which part of nature they call home (Dryad, Naiad, Nereid, Oread, Helead, Napaea), which determines the exact effect of their spells.
Primary Attributes : Luck and Will
Derived Attribute : Spiritual Aura
Like clerics, if clerics sucked at combat. Each priest associates with one of the Greek gods of the same gender, which again influences their spells' effect.
Primary Attributes : Wits and Will
Derived Attribute : Psychic Gift
The Circe class. Pretty good at mind control and general Jedi Mind Tricks. Obviously, they can't really do anything against mindless creatures.
Each player character should pick a patron deity from the Greek pantheon (PC Barbarians are assumed to have converted to the "true" faith). Actual mechanical effects for this only come into play with the M&M Companion.
As already mentioned, character can get up to level 6, at which point they are considered true heroes of legend.
The weird thing here is that while every class group gains their level after the same amount of points, but said points are different for each group: Warriors have Glory (gained from slaying monsters and fullfilling heroic deeds), Magicians have Wisdom (gained from killing the supernatural), and Specialists have Experience (which Hunters gain Monster-Hunter-style by killing or capturing beasts and monsters, while Thieves gain it from loot like in OD&D).
The additional Hits a character gained are actually explained, in that they aren't a result of the character becoming tougher, but because they have become more "important".
Encumbrance is handled pretty easy. Each items adds 0-3 points to a total, which is used as a TN for all sorts of physical rolls (which is why say Thieves avoid armor). Having more Encumbrance than your Might attribute makes you encumbered, which reduces your movement rate. At more than twice your Might, you are fully encumbered, reducing your movement rate even further and reducing Initiative. More than 3 times your Might score in Encumbrance is right out of the question.
Interestingly, everyone has a base encumbrance of 10 to factor in their own mass, so dumping your Might attribute makes you slow and fat.
The comment section of this chapter summarizes the most important changes between editions, included going from 6 to 12 classes, replacing the Faith attribute with Will, heated arguments over a lack of a Satyr class, and the origin of Pyros the Spearman, who makes an earlier appearance as the example character.
Speaking of example characters, I'll create Urs the Barbarian . Urs is actually a bear form the north, everyone assumes he's just a particularly hairy savage, and he just plays along for now.
The six rolls come out at 16, 16, 13, 13, 12 and 12. Since he's a bear, I'll reduce one of those 12s by 2 and beef up one 16 to 18, which I'll assign to Might. The other 16 has to go to Will, as that's the other primary attribute.
Might 18 (+3)
Skill 13 (+1)
Luck 13 (+1)
Will 16 (+2)
Wits 12 (+0)
Grace 10 (+0)
Melee +5 (Might + Skill + Luck)
Missile +2 (Skill + Wits + Luck)
Initiative 11 (10 + Skill + Wits)
Defense Class 13 (12 + Luck)
Hits Total 15 (12 + 3)
Athletic Prowess +5 (Might + Skill + Luck)
Danger Evasion +2 (Wits + Skill + Luck)
Mystic Fortitude +3 (Will + Wits + Luck)
Physical Vigor +6 (Might + Will + Luck)
(Outside of other modifiers, Athletic Prowess and Danger Evasion are identical to Melee and Missile)
Personal Charisma +3 (Will + Grace + Luck)
Possession : As a Barbarian, Urs starts with a dagger, a barbarian weapon (let's say a big club), a missile weapon (let's pick 3 javelins) and a shield, with 3d6 (15) silver pieces on top, which is sadly not enough for a helmet. Still, with that shield, we're looking at an Effective Defense Class of 15, with a 17 versus melee attacks thanks to his class abilitiy.
Overall, M&M characters are a tad bit stronger than your typical level 1 retro-clone character, though character advancement is overall more condensed.
Next time: Combat. Let's hit some stuff!
Player's Manual: CombatOriginal SA post Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual
Combat is overall a simplified version of 3.5 with a hefty dose of oldschool. You've got your individual initiatives, your 6 second rounds, your roll-high attack rolls to beat your opponent's AC aka EDC - but you also have battle rounds divided into 4 phases (Decision, Missile, Movement, Melee), and just about every weapon and every medium-sized enemy deals a flat 1d6 damage (though seeing how levels only go to 6, and your Might modifier is only added once to your Hits Total, M&M characters can't quite take the same kind of punishment as a typical D&D character, even if they might start out stronger).
Melee weapons are categorized into battle weapons (swords, spears and similar "civilized" weapons), daggers, barbarian weapons and enormous weapons.
Battle weapons have no special rules and are identical in performance (outside of class abilities, weapon of choice and situational restrictions that might arise due to their length and such).
Daggers only deal 1d3 (the same as a small opponent) unless you do a sneak attack (which only Thieves and Hunters can really do, and usually only outside/before combat). These do 1d6 like normal weapons and can deal double that if you beat the opponents Defense Class by at least 10, which isn't too hard as sneak attacks give you a +4 attack bonus, and the victim can't use his shield since he's unaware.
Barbarian weapons are your huge swords, axes, clubs and whatnot. They're just like battle weapons, except that you have to wield them two-handed if your Might is below 13.
Enormous weapons are big, two-handed weapons that allow the wielder to dish out the same damage as large-sized creatures (aka 2d6). This comes with a few drawbacks however: You have to have a Might score of at least 19, your Initiative is cut in half, and you can't apply any kind of damage bonus. These weapons are therefore not so useful for Barbarians and more for guys like HErakles who are actually Nobles with Might as their primary attribute.
Damage & Injury
M&M is a bit less lethal than your typical oldschool game. If you hit 0 Hits or less, you have to make a Physical Vigor aka Fortitude roll. A result of less than 10 means your dead, a 10 or more means your stable, but will die if you take another hit, and a 20 or more means you can still act and fight (but will still die if you take another hit and fall unconscious after the fight).
Every time you fall to 0 Hits and survive, you suffer a permanent attribute loss of either Might, Skill or Grace. This can even happen if you're just down to 2 Hits, but at least you get a Physical Vigor roll vs 10 to avoid this.
Speaking of Physical Vigor rolls vs 10, this is also what you have to succeed at on before you can recover your Hits naturally (at 1d6 + your level). This only happens after a week of rest, so I hope you have a healer with you. Either way, weak characters should do everything in their power to not get hit in the first place
Special Melee Tactics
All the fun stuff you can do besides "1 poke him with my spear". Just about all of these require you to have at least a 13 in a certain attribute whose modifier is involved, since 13 is where the modifier starts being positive.
Charge into Battle : Your typical D&D charge, though it works a bit differently in that it adds your Might mod to Initiative and your Melee attack roll.
Hold Back & Weapon Parry : Essentially Full Defense. You add your Skill modifier to your EDC against all front or flank attacks. The only difference between these two is that Hold Back is used with spears, and Spearman use it all the time without having to use up their action (explaining their class ability).
Shield Wall : Two or more Spearman stand side-by-side to gain a +2 to their EDC. Can also be combined with a charge.
Subterfuge : A sort of "aiming", you observe your opponent for one round and gain your Wits modifier to your next attack roll against him.
Two Weapons : Instead of gaining a second attack, you instead get a bonus to your Melee bonus. The bonus is either +1 or +2, depending on whether your off-hand weapon is a dagger (requiring Skill 13+) or proper battle weapon (requiring Skill and Might 13+). Yes, this means you can dual-wield spears like something out of Final Fantasy 5.
Other special circumstances that can crop up. Also includes sneak attacks, but I've explained them already.
Close Quarters : These not only prevent the above melee tactics, but half your initiative if you're wielding a spear or barbarian weapon.
Mounted Combat : Mounted combat grants you a +2 to attack against medium creatures, nothing against bigger foes, and a malus against smaller targets. Charging is especially powerful while mounted, giving you an additional +2 bonus to initiative and damage, and allowing you to use a free trample attack against targets of at most medium sizem which is an additional 1d6 damage that hits automatically, but can be avoided with a Danger Evasion aka Reflex roll vs 15.
Nothing too fancy here. You just have a bunch of modifiers based on range, movement and visibility. Also, shields only help the opponent if he is actually aware of the attack.
Unarmed combat always happens at the end of the melee phase (aka weapon and claw users go first) and comes in two flavors: pugilism and wrestling.
Pugilism is punching and whatnot, dealing 1d3 + your Might modifier in subdual aka stun damage, which causes the opponent to get knocked out if gets higher than his current Hits total, at which point further unarmed attacks will cause normal damage. Note that this only works against other humans, not beasts or monsters.
Wrestling can be used against anything that isn't Gigantic (the biggest size category in the game). It's your typical grapple, meant to immobilize the target to make it easier to hit (+4 to attacks against it). The grappler can't attack himself though, so now lion strangling in the core rules. This is covered in the M&M Companion, along with critical hits and fumbles.
Overall, it's pretty nice. Very streamlined and quick, with combat not being "Hit 0 and you're dead" kind of lethal, but still nasty enough to make PCs cautious. It certainly helps that they start of with more Hits at level 1, but the overall Hit growth is a bit on the slow side, making low-level dangers still threatening.
The notes and comments for this chapter include wargaming grognards making fun at the game, people houseruling the weapon damage rules for more "realism", the overuse of the Shield Wall and the endless debate of "Why does armor make you harder to hit?"
Next Time : Magic! Can you have caster supremacy with just 6 spells?
Player's Manual: MagicOriginal SA post
Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual
So while combat in M&M is pretty similar to OD&D with a few tweaks and stuff borrowed from 3.5, magic is an entirely different beast. Instead of Vancian magic with its slots and laundry list of spells that will make you more versatile and powerful with each level and splat, you only get the 6 spells you start with and have to spend Power Points to use them.
Your pool of Power Points is equal to your level times 4, plus the modifier of one of your primary attributes (as noted in the class description). The Power Point cost of a spell is its Magnitude (which is roughly equal to spell level, except it only goes to 6; everyone but Elementalists have one spell per magnitude).
Recovering Power Points is different for each class: Priests have to do a ceremony, Lyrists just have to chill out with music and poetry and stuff, Sorcerers and Elementalists sleep like your typical D&D spellcaster, and Nymphs have to meld with their natural element (more on that later).
Instead of a caster level, a spell's power and saving roll is determined by your Magical Talent, which is the sum of your two primary attributes and has a different name for each class. I'll just call it Magical Talent to keep it less confusing.
Unless otherwise noted, every spell takes the caster's entire turn and goes off at the end of the round and has a range of 10 times his Magical Talent in feet.
Divine Prodigies (Priest spell list)
A lot of these have a slightly different effect depending on which of the 12 main Greek gods you serve (Apollo, Artemis, Zeus, Athena, Ares, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Poseidon, Demeter, Hephaestus, Aphrodite; no Hades because he does not live on Olympus and generally doesn't want to deal in mortal affairs; M&Ms default setting also has him as a lesser deity).
Magnitude 1: Divine Blessing
: A general +2 bonus to one of the target's derived attributes, chosen among the 3-4 attributes listed under your deity. It lasts your Magical Talent in hours and sorta stacks with itself (you have to pick a different derived attribute to buff, though). Doesn't work on monsters and animals as they don't really have a concept of faith. Pretty nifty nontheless, as a high-level Priest can keep the whole party buffed up the whazoo for quite a while (if he is willing to spend that much Power).
Magnitude 2: Divine Vision
: Allows a priest to play oracle and ask his deity for a vision. Said vision is always correct, but often confusing hard to interpret because Greek goods love messing with people.
Magnitude 3: Divine Vitality
: Your bread-and-butter healing spell, healing 1d6 + Magical Talent. Very handy if the party can't afford weeks of recovery between adventures.
Magnitude 4: Divine Gift
: A much more powerful buff depending on the deity, lasting only the Priest's Magical Talent in rounds. These include handy stuff like Apollo's and Artemis' Accuracy (+4 to Missile attack rolls, +2 to missile damage rolls) or Demeter's and Hestia's Endurance (auto-success on Physical Vigor rolls, regenerates 2 Hits per round). You can't have more than one of these gifts on you at once.
Magnitude 5: Divine Wrath
: An energy bolt that deals 1d6 + Magical Talent in damage. It hits automaticaly, but the target can negate the damage with a Mystic Fortitude roll.
Magnitude 6: Divine Intervention
: Has the priest call his god for help. Pretty helpful to get out of any kind of situations as gods are kinda omnipotent, but also quite risky. The spell only has a success chance of [Priest's level x2]% (aka between 2-12%), and trying to summon your immortal boss for petty reasons can get you zapped instead. Though while it is overall far less useful for high-level Priests than say a Wish or Miracle spell, it's still worth a try if things look dire.
Elemental Magic (Elementalist spell list)
Elemental Magic is a bit different from the rest: All the four classic elements have their own spell list with three spells (Magnitude 1-3), and an Elementalist picks his spell list by choosing to specialize in two elements. Opposite elements can't be chosen, and one of the elements is considered to be the Elementalist's primary element, whose spell effects will by more powerful (usually doubling the duration or number of targets).
The M&M Companion also offers the elements light and darkness.
Because Elemental Magic is quite flashy and blast-heavy, it is also quite taxing. Every spell costs double its Magnitude (I thought the primary element is cheaper, but that's me and my hazy memory).
Since these spells are all very physical in nature, they are resisted with Danger Evasion instead of Mystical Fortitude.
Magnitude 1: Swirling Winds
: Protects several targets (up to your Magical Talent, double that if Air is your primary element) from ranged attacks, granting them a +4 EDC bonus against missile attacks. The target can't do Missile attacks himself, making it both annoying for friendly archers (though you don't have to target them in the first place) and very handy against any enemy with ranged attacks, though those get a saving roll to avoid this.
Magnitude 2: Talons of the Wind
: Same as the above, only this time the targets are kept busy with small whirlwinds for several rounds, making them lose their action if they fail at a Danger Evasion roll. Said roll is modified depending on the target's size, with Tiny creatures (the smallest) auto-failing and Gigantic creatures (the biggest) being immune to it.
Magnitude 3: Gale Fury
: Creates a nice, big whirlwind for several rounds that throws everyone within distance around, pushing them into a random direction and dealing 1d6 damage if they fail at a Danger Evasion roll. Has the same size modifiers are Talons of the Wind, so Gigantic creatures won't really feel this one.
Magnitude 1: Hands of Stone
: Immobilizes multiple targets for several rounds, reducing their EDC and attack rolls, as well as making the fail any Danger Evasion roll (making it very useful to follow with other Elementalist debuffs).
Magnitude 2: Skin of Bronze
: A warrior's favorite, as it grants +4 EDC and +2 to melee damage rolls. Like a lot of other spells, it lasts the caster's Magical Talent in rounds (double that if Earth is his primary element).
Magnitude 3: Animate Statue
: Turns a Large stone statue into a Stone Titan (a pretty tanky mid-level creature that has a mean charge attack) for several minutes, which is pretty handy for heated battles and covering your retreat.
Magnitude 1: Dart of Fire
: Deals 1d6 damage (hits automatically, a Danger Evasion negates the damage). Primary fire Elementalists have double the normal range.
Magnitude 2: Blazing Sphere
: A non-exploding fireball that can be moved mentally (requiring the Elementalists full concentration) and deals juicy 2d6 damage to anything within 5 feet that fails at a Danger Evasion roll.
Magnitude 3: Volcanic Destruction
: Creates a volcano that can damages anything in range for several turns that fails at a Danger Evasion roll. The damage is 2d6 (1d6 with successful Danger Evasion) on the first round and 1d6 every following round. As the caster creates this pretty close to himself, he will always suffer the full 2d6 damage on the first round.
Magnitude 1: Torrent of Water
: Pushes several targets 2d6 feet (1d6 for Large creatures, Gigantic creatures are as always immune) away and knocks them down. Very fun to use on bridges and cliffs.
: Covers an area in water that forces a Danger Evasion roll whose failure causes a -4 penalty to Initiative, Attack and Danger Evasion.
Magnitude 3: Fist of the Sea
: Summons a giant, watery fist from a sufficiently large body of water to smash people (the smaller they are, the more the fist can hit at once), dealing 1d6 damage and stunning them for that amount of rounds on a failed Danger Evasion roll. Hits ships and fortifications automatically.
Nature's Gift (Nymph spell list)
The exact effect of these can vary depending on what kind of Nymph is casting. There are Dryads (wood nymphs), Naiads (river nymphs), Nereids (sea nymphs), Oreads (mountain nymphs), Helead (swamp nymphs) and Napaea (valley nymphs)
Magnitude 1: Nature's Seduction
: Charms several mortals, animals or monsters, making them unable to harm the Nymph on a failed Mystic Fortitude roll. Being attacked by anything breaks the spell's effect.
Magnitude 2: Nature's Guises
: Allows the Nymph to change her appearance and voice, allowing her to imitate another humanoid female. Lasts as long as the Nymph wants.
Magnitude 3: Nature's Comfort
: A healing spell identical to the Priest's Divine Vitality.
Magnitude 4: Nature's Favor
: Kisses the target to attune him to the Nymph's element for several hours. Naiads and Nereids grant
(allowing the target to breathe and speak underwater), while the other Nymphs grant
(improved concealment in the Nymph's natural environment).
Magnitude 5: Nature's Curse
: Curses the target with a kiss. Can be avoided with a Mystic Fortitude roll. If said roll fails however, the curse can only be broken by Divine Intervention or the Nymph herself. Dryads and Oreads cause
(turns you into a tree or rock, respectively), Nereids and Naiads cause
Curse of the Drowned
(makes you fail all swimming rolls and Physical Vigor rolls to avoid drowning), and Heleads and Napaeas cause
(1d6 loss of Grace, Might, Will or Wits).
Magnitude 6: Nature's Command
: This one does something different for almost every Nymph. Dyrads and Oreads have
(animates a tree or huge rock into a Wood or Stone Titan, respectively), Nereids have
(Controls the weather at sea), Naiads can use
to do just that, Napaeas have
Kiss of Life
(brings back to life a recently deceased, unless he died of natural causes), and Heleads have
(a save-or-die kiss).
Poetic Magic (Lyrist spell list)
As the bard class of the game, Lyrists have to sing and play a musical instrument to use these spells. All of them have a range of Magical Talent times 10 in feet, and can affect as many targets as the Lyrist's Magical Talent. Lyrists are immune against Poetic Magic, which has the drawback of them not being able to buff themselves. Naturally, mindless creatures are not impressed by their performance.
If a Lyrists finds himself without an instrument, he can go a capella, causing the spell to double its cost and half its range.
Magnitude 1: Song of Inspiration
: A multi-hour +2 buff to either Melee, Missile or a Saving Roll. Requires a minute of playing, so it's best used outside of combat.
Magnitude 2: Song of Freedom
: Another 1 minute song, this one helps victims enslaved by sorcery or psychic powers, granting them a saving roll with a bonus to break free.
Magnitude 3: Song of Soothing
: This song takes effect immediately and calms down mortals, animals or monsters similar to Nature's Seduction. Lasts 1 minute, after which it has to be renewed.
Magnitude 4: Song of Comfort
: Another 1 minute song that heals all targets for 1d6 hits, making it handy to chill out after a tough fight.
Magnitude 5: Song of Wrath
: This one starts immediately and lasts for up to Magical Talent in rounds, after which it has to be renewed. Targets who fail at a Mystic Fortitude roll will take 1 Hit of damage while being unable to do any kind of hostile action against the Lyrist. The Lyrist hurts them with pure rage and anger, and there's nothing they can do about it. All in all a nifty damage spell. Doesn't deal much damage, but keeps the Lyrist safe and sound.
Magnitude 6: Song of Prophecy
: Puts the Lyrist in a trance to gain a hazy vision. In game terms, this allows the player to ask the GM three yes/no questions throughout the adventure. The GM has to answer truthfully, but he can refuse to answer a question that would spoil the fun, explaining it with the shrouded nature of fate and stuff. This however does not cost the player a question, so everything's fine.
Sorcery (Sorcerer spell list)
These are all psychic powers that by their nature do nothing against mindless creatures.
Magnitude 1: Confusion
: Stuns and causes a -4 penalty to Danger Evasion and Mystic Fortitude to a group of targets.
Magnitude 2: Illusions
: Exactly what is says. The only limitation is that the illusions can't look or feel solid. Animals or creatures with sharp sense or a sixth sense are immune against illusions.
Magnitude 3: Cloak
: A sort of mental invisiblity that makes others unable to perceive the caster, unless he attacks (in which case the spell ends immediately) or they are already suspecting something (in which case they get a Saving Roll). The Sorcerer can cloak multiple targets, though like Illusions, animals and creatures with good senses are not affected.
Magnitude 4: Compelling
: Jedi Mind Tricks that only work on a single target. Has the usually stuff about not being able to compell the victim to do anything suicidal. Ordered to hurt friends grants the victim another saving roll.
Magnitude 5: Psychic Attack
: A mind bullet. Deals 1d6 + Magic Talent in damage if the target fails on Mystic Fortitude roll. And like the other spells, this does nothing on mindless creatures.
Magnitude 6: Enslavement
: A Jedi Mind Trick that lasts until the Sorcerer dies or breaks the spell by his own will (or a Lyrist helps out). This one does allow for suicidal actions. A Sorcerer can have as many slaves as his Magical Talent. Characters with class levels, giant monsters or monsters with multiple heads count as several people for this limit. A bit questionable for PCs to use this on other people, but why would you ever bother with people if you can have a 100% loyal pet hydra?
The notes and comments of this chapter mention the most important change between editions (OM&M casters could only cast spells with a Magnitude equal to or lower than their level, instead of having everything available from the start), a bit of drama involving Nymph jokes, the rise of the Lyrist and Elementalist to core classes, and the usualy heated debate about how balanced casters actually are.
Overall, it's a good change of pace from your typical "godlike swiss army knife" d20 caster. These guys just become better at what they're already doing, like the other classes.
Next Time : Adventuring - including ships, out-of-combat tests and followers.
Player's Manual: AdventuringOriginal SA post Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual
This last chapter of the Players Manual starts with some short rules about travelling time and distances (which surprisingly doesn't require a long table) before moving to the ship rules.
Ships & Sailing
The Greeks were pretty big in sailing, so it's not unusualy for the PCs to travel in their own ship to loot islands instead of dungeons. The Maze Masters Guide even has rules for random island generation.
This chapter has a short, but nice section about the quirks and limitation of Ancient Greek sailing. In short, they avoided sailing outside the spring and summer season, and they made sure to always keep the coast in sight as they had no compasses and weren't particularly big into star navigation.
The two main types of ship in the game are round ships used for trading and the typical war galleys of that era. If the PCs need something smaller, they can opt for a boat or raft.
Ships only have two stats: its Strength (which is also its hit points aka structure points) and Fortune , a modifier to various rolls, showing how cursed or blessed a ship is (Greeks were a bit superstitious; the iconic eyes painted on their galleys were meant to bring luck).
The main danger ships can face during travels is bad weather, which has its own rules along with a table to determine the current weather condition.
Feats & Perils
These are M&M's skill rules, except there aren't skills. Swimming, climbing and whatnot is handled with a Danger Evasion roll, with the default target number being 15. The odd man out are the rules for Feats of Strength , heroic displays of badassery like bending iron bars or lifting a huge boulder. They're performed by rolling a d10 and trying to get equal or under the character's Might modifier. A failed Feat of Strength can be attempted again as long as the character succeeds at a Physical Vigor roll.
While every character can attempt all the feats described in this chapter (except for Feats of Strength if your Might mod is not positive), some classes are naturally better a them. Nymphs generally rule in their home turf (Nereids breathe underwater and never have to make swimming rolls, Oreads climb mountains as easy as a goat, and Dryads can go all Rambo on your ass in a forest), and Hunters and Thieves can add their special derived attribute to a lot of rolls and can pull off exclusive stuff with certain feats (like tracking a monster or pick some pockets, respectively).
Falling rules are the usual "1d6 damage per 10 feet" affair, with the little addition that suffering more than ones Luck score in falling damage causes instant death. I'd say that's a good addition to avoid those silly moments were high-level characters can just casually survive absurdly long falls.
Dealing with NPCs
First reactions from a NPC can be determined on a reaction table, using a 2d10 roll modified by the PC's Personal Charsima. This rule is optional, however.
The reaction rules get a bit more depth with Reputation . A PC can add his level to the reaction roll if the NPCs in question fall into a certain group depending on their class. Nobles for example can use their "Aristocratic Authority" when dealing with people from their own city-state/kingdom, while Sorcerers and Elementalists use their "Eerie Mystique" to impress minor NPCs.
Oldschool games had a thing for giving the PCs an entourage of weak NPCs, and M&M is no exception. They come in to flavors: Retainers follow the PC out of pure admiration and loyalty, and are limited in two ways: A PC can't have more retainers than his Leadership score (aka Level + Will mod + Grace mod + Luck mod, with a maximum possible sum of 20), and the retainers have to come from the same group the PC's Reputation affects (so a Noble can only get retainers from his home, while Elementalists have to deal with easily-impressed dudes).
If a PC needs more manpower, he can go for mercernaries . These aren't nearly as loyal, but you can have as many as you can afford (even more than that if you agree to share the plunder or treasure with them). As this isn't a game were you can just buy/create magical items, I can see a good chunk of PC wealth going into buying a personal army.
Statswise, Retainers are handled as creatures, with their own entries in the Creature Compendium (which I will probably tackle in some form, if only to point out the silliest monsters).
If the PCs face off against a fearsome creature, or if half of the retainers of a PC are killed or incapacitated, the PC has to roll 1d10 equal to or under his Leadership to avoid having the surviving half flee.
Character Advancement is an interesting thing in M&M, as each general group of classes gains a different sort of XP in a slightly different way.
Warriors earn Glory by killing, capturing or otherwise defeating a creature or major NPC. It's just like normal (newish) D&D XP. They also gain Glory for heroic deeds, aka saving the city or stopping the bad guy.
Magicians can gain Wisdom , a different sort of XP for supernatural creatures denoting just how plentiful and/or powerful their supernatural powers are. As this number is generally much lower than Glory, all Magicians in the group get the full value instead of having to share it. They also get Wisdom from exploring unknown lands/islands and magical sites.
The two Specialist classes (Hunter and Thief) gain Experience , both having different rules for how to get it.
Hunters gain Experience for killing or capturing Beasts and Monsters. Their Experience is twice what a Warrior would gain in Glory (aka they split the Glory with the Warriors and then double their share). If the creature is not a Beast or Monster (like a human or spirit), they gain nothing. They also gain a small amount of Experience from making important Hunting rolls.
Thieves are like OD&D characters in that their Experience is equal to the earned loot in gold pieces. Another source for Experience are important Thievery rolls.
All in all, every class becomes more powerful by doing what they're supposed to be doing.
The notes & comments section of this chapter talks about criticism regarding the unrealistic rules and the "mockery of naval simulation" that are the sailing rules (with the never-released Triremes & Tritons supplement becoming a running joke).
Next Time : I'll summarize each of the other 3 main books, with special attention being paid to the rather nifty creature creation rules in the Maze Masters Guide and the silliest creatures from the Creature Compendium.
Maze Masters GuideOriginal SA post
Mazes & Minotaurs - Maze Masters Guide
This book as everything you expect from a Dungeon Masters Guide: Tips on how to be GM, random tables, magical items, and how NPCs and creatures work and how they are build.
Also included are about a dozen pages of Mythika , the official setting of M&M. It's basically a fantasy version of the Mediterranean, with a wide open passage to the Black Sea and without Italy. The center of the setting is made up of The Land of the Three Cities aka Not-Greece: Thena (Athens), Heraklia (Sparta) and Argos (actually called Argos). The north of mainland Not-Europe is ruled by amazons, centaurs and various barbarian tribes (including the lands of Hyperborea). The east is taken up by the Land of the Sun, which has a weird monotheistic religion. The south aka Not-Africa is comprised of savage jungles, Not-Egypt and the Stygian Empire of necromancers. West of Not-Portugal lies Atlantis, which in this setting is a bunch of slavemongering jerks. Big kingdoms and empires are a bit rare, with a lot of city-states and plenty of wilderness in between.
The setting part (including a short history and Greek pantheon lesson) only takes up 14 pages, but the official M&M magazine (the Minotaur) dedicates quite a bit of space on fleshing out the individual parts of the setting.
Creatures in M&M fall into one of 5 categories: Folks (humanoids), Beasts (animals), Monsters (hydras, manticores, the fun stuff), Spirits (ghosts and other outsiders) and Animates (golems and undead).
Creature creation is pretty darn nifty in M&M. As the game doesn't have Hit Dice, a creature's core abilities is described with four characteristics: Size , Ferocity , Cunning and Mystique .
Size (of which there are 5, from Tiny to Gigantic) is the most important category, as it greatly influences the creatures Hits, Movement base attack bonus and damage output (Tiny 1, Small 1d3, Medium 1d6, Large 2d6, Gigantic 3d6).
Size has a big impact on combat (though it's odd how this is here and not in the combat chapter). Aside from the size difference being a ranged attack modifier, you can actually do multiple attacks per round as long as your targets are smaller than you. Each step of size difference doubles the amount of targets, so the typical Medium hero could attack 2 Small or 4 Tiny creatures (or 1 Small and 2 Tiny). So not only does a Gigantic monster dish out 3d6 damage, but he can also keep the entire party busy.
Ferocity, Cunning and Mystique describe how dangerous, smart and supernatural the creature is. Thy all have 4 different "levels", each with a descriptive adjective (so you can have an Aggressive creature that is quite Clever and a bit Weird ) and a modifier (0 to +3). These modifiers as well as Size are used to calculate the creature's derived attributes.
This also allows the GM to quickly come up with stats for variant creatures, like elite or archer minotaurs.
After calculating these base values, one can further add Special Abilities . These either improve the statblock (like Natural Armor increasing the Defense Class), add new ways to attack (like Breath Weapon and Charge Into Battle) or just make the monster generally nasty (like Multiple Heads, which grants extra attacks that are thankfully not multiplied against smaller targets). You can also create a caster creature by giving it Psychic Powers (which essentially makes it a Sorcerer). These all add to the creature's Glory and Wisdom rewards.
Folks can also beef up their Defense Class with armor like a PC, which also increases their Glory. They are automatically assumed to have a melee weapon (ranged weapons require the Missile Weapons Special Ability).
NPCs are either Major NPCs (which are build just like PCs) and Minor NPCs (which are creature of the Folk variety unless they're a non-combatant, in which case they are just a useless bag of 4 hit points).
Overall, these rules are pretty fast and neat. They're much more descriptive than Hit Dice, and you don't run into crazy
Some general guidelines as to what your typical Greek-ish heroes are supposed to be doing. You know, hunting artifacts and/or monsters, fighting in epic wars, exploring mysterious islands, or venturing into the Underworld. This being inspired by Greek mythology, the stereotypical stranger hiring the PCs in a random tavern might very well be Zeus himself.
Rounding up this chapter are various random temples for fleshing out islands, city-states and temples. Again, this being inspired by Greek mythology, you so don't want to loot the latter. We're talking about permanent Luck loss (aka "You've now become worse at everything ").
The note and comment section of this chapter is probably my favorite, because it takes a jab at the "D&D is satanic propaganda" craze, including a Chick Tract parody:
Your typical D&D-style magic items, about half of which follow the "[Items] of [(demi-)god from Greek mythology]" formula. The Aegis shield, the Bag of Winds and Lightning Bolts are of course included, but no Bag of Holding equivalent. Mythical weapons should be especially popular because these are the only way for most classes to get a bonus to their damage roll.
The interesting part about the high-level weapons and armor pieces like the Bow of Apollo or Helmet of Athena is that their obligatory +x bonus to at least one kind of roll is not a fixed bonus, but actually a specific attribute modifier of the wearer. The above mentioned Bow of Apollo for example allows the wearer to add his Skill modifier to damage, while the Helmet of Athena adds his Will bonus to Initiative and EDC (on top of the +2 for wearing a helmet). So a lot of these mythical items aren't good because they have a +4 or +5, but because they allow a hero to unleash his full potential. This also means that they grow with the wearer, which is always handy.
These wouldn't be D&D-style magic items without some artifacts, so here they are:
The Chess Pieces of the Gods
Formerly used by Zeus and Hera to play destiny games that could affect the mortal world - until Hera became so pissed off after losing that she threw the pieces out the window. Zeus just ordered new pieces from Hephaestus, but the original pieces are still scattered in the world and allow their finder to turn them into a loyal Animate.
The Golden Fleece
Of course this one would turn up here. It doesn't really do anything itself, but the one to find this treasure will immediately gain 1,000 Glory or Wisdowm and have their Luck raised by 1d6 points.
The Head of Orpheus
This morbid artifact is the metallized head of Orpheus, which acts as a portable Lyrist, oracle and mythic item identifier bonus (because of course there are rules for identifying magic items). Now that's a good deal.
All in all a pretty solid book with some neat creature generation rules and an interesting spin on magic items.
Next Time : Let's see what the bestiary has to offer.
Creature CompendiumOriginal SA post Mazes & Minotaurs - Creature Compendium
M&M's Bestiary analogue is a fun little thing. You've got your Greek monsters (except for Scylla, Charybdis and Echidna), a crapload of animal/man hybrids, normal animals, stronger magic/hyperborean version of said normal animals and several renamed classic D&D monsters. Let's tackle the more interesting/silly ones (so no classic Greek critter aside from variants) one letter at a time!
Scattered throughout the book are various "fan letters", which mostly consist of people either complaining about monster designs and names or questioning why a monster isn't playable.
Also introduced with some monsters are new special abilities, like Multiple Arms or being able to cast Elemental spells from a certain element. A bit weird how this wasn't added in the Maze Masters Guide for convenience.
: Hey, it's a Yeti.
Argusoid : Giants whose entire body is covered in eyes. Heavily based on Argus Panoptes aka Argos.
Arimaspian : Imagine if the huns or dothraki had only one eye.
Atlantean Noble : Skilled combat sorcerers and huge assholes, because...
Atlantean War Slave : ... their workforce and soldiers consist of prisoners turned into mindless slaves.
: Hey, it's a super-sized Creature of the Black Lagoon.
Black Stalker : A sneaky humanoid creature that just so happens to have rock-hard skin.
Boarman : OD&D-style orcs.
Bucentaur : Basically a bulltaur.
: A floating, fluffy fungus with teeth. Thankfully incapable of attacking anything on ground level.
Centaurs : Aside from the vanilla centaur, we get several variants, including brutaurs (cannibals), centaurides (the pacifist females), Chironian centaurs (bardic sages), sagittarian (elite warrior caste) and sataurs (insane satyr hybrids).
Charont : Gaunt, owl-headed wraiths carrying the Hammer of Hades, which allows these insubstantial creatures to hurt corporeal opponents.
Crawling Aberration : A "giant polypus being vaguely looking like a cross between a murena and a medusa". It's a generic Lovecraftian nightmare.
Cyclops : These come in two sizes (Gigantic and Lesser), with the former one having a Horned variety that has the exact same stats, but is more Harryhausen-flavored.
: Derros in D&D are crazy mad scientists, using stuff like flamethrowers and giant mechanical spiders.
Derros Warcraft : The above-mentioned giant mechanical spider.
Dichotomian : Bald dudes with one completely black and one completely white half (like those two aliens from that Star Trek TOS episode). They have a split personality, with the peaceful white half being active at day and the murderous black half rocking the night.
Dragon : We don't get the whole laundry list of Mettalic/Chromiatic/whatever dragons here, but the game does hint at the various age groups, as this is the only creature whose stat block lists attribute ranges
Nothing too fancy here.
Floating Eye : Oh hi, Beholder.
: Apparently, the gods are so powerful that their shadows sometimes gain sentience and roam the lands of the mortals. They are insubstantial, but can fry people with energy bolts.
Grotesk : A giant head with arms.
: A pissed-off, armored elephant that can shoot fire from its trunk.
Hooded Horror : Psychic critters with a big eye where their head should be.
Hyenakin : Hey, it's a gnoll.
Nothing too out of the ordinary here.
: Hey, it's Bigfoot.
Minotaur : This being called Mazes & Minotaurs, there are obviously a crapload of minotaur variants. You've got bigger minotaurs, faster minotaurs, stronger minotaurs, psychic minotaurs, fire-breathing minotaurs, two-headed minotaurs and that bronze statue from that one Harryhausen flick. The strangest minotaur variants are the Gorgotaur (a Large minotaur with hooves for hands) and the Impostaur (just a dude with a mask)
No monster starts with a N.
: I'm dissappinted this one doesn't have a new name.
Onocentaur : Aka konkeytaur aka asstaur.
Orkoi : A more contemporary orc than the boarman.
Orcycter : Aardvarkmen, a formerly proud warrior race now living as scavengers *nudge nudge*
Pegataur : It's a centaur with wings. Now that would be pretty OP as a playable class.
Rhinotaur : Well, you probably get the idea.
: Just like with the ogre, this D&D fellow keeps is normal name.
: Notable variants include Calibans (oh hi, Calibos) and Silene (old hippies)
Selenite : Silver-skinned moon exiles who dream of overthrowing the Lunar Oligarchy, which is a bit hard to accomplish as they loathe sunlight.
Serpent Man : Another D&D critter.
Seven-Mawed Thing : I think this is supposed to be a Graboid.
Son of Cecropos : A rare male lamia (aka a dude with a snake body instead of legs)
Son of Dagon : Your sahuagin expy.
Stygian Lord : Badass necromancers with vampiric and psychic powers. They always keep some skeletons and Stygian Hounds (aka skeleton dogs) around.
Sylvan : Why are there elves in my Ancient Greek epic?
Swamp Horror : Oh hi, Swamp Thing.
Tragic Floating Head
: OMG it's Zardoz! Then again, this creature supposedly made its first appearance one year before the movie, so your guess is as good as mine. But always remember that the spear is good.
Triclope : You get the idea.
Troglodyte : Well, I guess that name didn't need changing.
Trolith : A troll.
And that's all the interesting ones. Seems to have a much higher amount of humanoid creatures compared to D&D, but that's fine too. Converting to D&D is not straightforward, but certainly doable.
Next Time : Optional rules!
Mazes & Minotaurs CompanionOriginal SA post
: Adds +2 to one of the attributes favored by the god, which can push already maxed attributes to 21, in addition to the one attribute a PC can push that high on his own. Naturally, these don't stack, so every favored attribute can only be boosted once.
: This one grants you one guaranteed Divine Intervention (like the Priest spell of the same name). This can even be used by unconscious or dying characters, making this pretty handy to keep around.
: If there's one non-artifact item you really, really want, you can ask your patron god to give it to you (if the item in question is associated with the god, that is).