Player's Manual: Characters

posted by Doresh Original 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.

I: Characters

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.

Patron Deities

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.

Character Levels

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: Combat

posted by Doresh Original SA post

Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual

II: Combat

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.

Special Situations

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.

Missile Combat

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

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: Magic

posted by Doresh Original SA post

Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual

III: Magic

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).

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.





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)

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.

Sorcery (Sorcerer spell list)

These are all psychic powers that by their nature do nothing against mindless creatures.

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: Adventuring

posted by Doresh Original SA post

Mazes & Minotaurs - Players Manual

IV: Adventuring

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

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 Guide

posted by Doresh Original 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

Game Mastering

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:

Mythic Items

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 Compendium

posted by Doresh Original 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.






Nothing too fancy here.


Floating Eye : Oh hi, Beholder.




Nothing too out of the ordinary here.



No monster starts with a N.



Pegataur : It's a centaur with wings. Now that would be pretty OP as a playable class.


Rhinotaur : Well, you probably get the idea.



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 Companion

posted by Doresh Original SA post

Mazes & Minotaurs Compendium

The last and shortest book in the line, with all sorts of optional rules for added complexity. It's essentially their version of Unearthed Arcana. In fact the OM&M version of this book was called the Unveiled Addenda.

Character Options

First order of business are the Background Talents for out-of-combat situations (with th exception of the Wrestler talent, which does do something in combat). These describe a PC's education and include stuff like Acrobat, Healer or Tactician. They don't have ranks or anything, and can either grant the PC a 5e-style advantage on related rolls, or just give him extensive knowledge about the subject at hand. Every PC has 2 of these except for Nymphs, who only have the Musician talent (the price they have to pay for being able to go full on guerilla in their home turf).
While nowhere near as detailed as a proper skill system, it gives ever PC his own flavor and allows the GM to gauge who might know what.

Next up are alternate warrior classes:


Nothing too fancy, just a male version of the Alternate Amazon below that can only specialize in bows.


A rare kind of soldier (the Greek weren't really that big into cavalry), these guys' class abilities grant them increased Initiative, Defense Class and Danger Evasion while on horse (the latter bonus being shared by mount and rider). They also start out with an especially good battle horse.
Overall, these guys - along with the Centaur - are probably the most limited warrior class around, as there are just a lot of situations where horses only get in the way, especially when the standard mode of travel is a galley.

Alternate Amazons

Already mentioned when I tackled the core classes, these are the more realistic amazons, trading their chainmail bikini effect for an Initiative bonus and being able to specialize (aka getting a damage bonus) into one of 4 weapons: sword, spear, bow or javelin.
Standard and Alternate Amazons can co-exist in the same game, with the standard ones having Artemis as their patron, while the alternate badass amazons whorship Athena.

Divine Agents

All PCs eventually end up being favored by the pantheon, but some go the extra mile and become a divine agent, a champion of their chosen god. This gives them some extra swag at the cost of becoming their god's servant for life.

To qualify as a divine agent, one must have a score of at least 18 in Luck and another attribute depending on the god in question, which makes it very unlikely to start the game as a divine agent.

Upon becoming a divine agent, the PC gains 3 so called divine boons, and one additional after every level. So the sooner you start, the better.

Divine boons come in 3 flavors:

Aside from granting divine agent status, times of crisis can cause a god to give a character a conditional boon, a single mythic item they can keep as long as they fullfill a certain task or quest. This can even happen to characters who don't qualify as a potential divine agent.

Naturally, these benefits come with a big drawback: Should a divine agent ever anger his god, he'll permanently lose one of his boons. Ifhe has already lost all of them, he'll get kicked out of divine agent status with a divine curse that permanently reduces his Luck score by a whopping 2d6.
After being fired this way, any further provocations will be answered with some divine smiting, dealing the character's level in d6 damage. Ouch.

Combat Options

This includes optional rules for bashing (more like tripping), disarming, knife throwing, staff fighting, mounted archery and net fighting. Of special note is the Double Attack, which allows a warrior to split his melee bonus in half to attack two different opponents in the same round. Also included are finally some wrestling rules for choking people and monsters to death, like Herakles used to do.

The core book doesn't have any rules for critical hits and fumbles, but the Compendium introuces them under the Homeric Combat rules that largely only apply to PCs. Crits under this system happen everything a PC exceeds his target's Defense Class by at least 10, and Fumbles happen on a natural 1 unless the PC has a Luck of at least 13, which prevents Fumbles from ever happening (aka most PCs won't ever fumble).

The exact effect is determined on one of 4 tables (melee/ranged crit/fumble). The effects largely consist of temporary penalties to attack or defense, with critical hits having a chance to deal aditional dice of damage or killing the target instantly and fumbles having a chance to break the weapon or hurt the fumbler.

Equipment rules are also expaned upon, with Beotian helmets, peltast shields and linothorax offering cheaper and lighter alternatives to the standard helmet, shield and breastplate, albeit with reduced protection (+1 instead of +2). The linothorax has the added advantage of not getting in the way of the Amazon's and Barbarian's chainmail bikini ability. The linothorax' +1 defense doesn't stack with the ability's bonus, it just applies in situations where the ability doesn't, aka missile and surprise attacks.

Another optional rule makes smaller targets more dangerous by having helmets and breastplates not add their defense bonus depending on the size difference. After all, if the enemy only reaches up to your knee, all the breastplates in the world won't really do anything.

Rounding up this chapter are rules to better differentiate spears and javelins, and some chariot rules.

Magic Options

This chapter adds two new magician classes and new spells for the Elementalist:


The animal control half of the D&D Druid. These guys can speak and tame animals. Their spells allow them to sooth, call and command beasts and monsters.


The wildshape half of the D&D Druid. They can take on the appearance of another human or transform into a creature of the Folk or Beast type. Monsters, Spirits or Animates are right out the question because those are a bit unnatural.
Each Shapeshifter has a limited repertoire of up to 5 nonhuman forms they can take. Changing their form grants them any bonuses related to their new size and all of that form's abilities that aren't supernatural or magical in nature.
Their spells allow them to turn back into their original form (important for speedy Power Point recovery), change their human appearance, gender bendering as well as turning into a medium-sized, smaller or larger form from their repertoire.

Light & Darkness

These are alternate elements for the Elementalist class, with the typical 3 spells per element. They are more restricted than the classic elements because they can never be an Elementalist's primary element and require the proper patron deity (Apollo for Light, Hades, Persephone and other "dark" gods for Darkness).

The Light spells are Arcane Lanthorn (illuminates the caster for a nice defense buff), Aura of Helios (illuminates and blinds enemies) and Arrows of Apollo (a ranged attack that deals double damage against insubstantial targets).
The Darkness spells are Cloak of Shadows (super stealth), Eldritch Eclipse (darkens an entire area) and Wandering Shadow (pretty much the Summon Shadow ability of the D&D Shadowdancer).

Religious Options

This gives Priests some additional options to recover Power Points, including teaming up with acolytes and performing ritual sacrifices.

Also featured here are rules for Priests from gods outside the pantheon, including Cybele, Dionysos and Mithras. The druidic faith is also covered.

Miscellaneous Rules

This includes rules for traps and poisons (weird how they weren't in the core book, now that I think about it), as well as rules for influencing NPCs and taming beasts and monsters.

For additional NPC utility, this chapter features rules for Navigators, Physicians, Sages and Philosophers. The latter could come quite in handy if want your heroes to team up with Homer or Aristotle.

Appendix: Warfare Rules

Be it the Trojan Wars or the Battle of Thermopylae, Ancient Greek makes for some epic battles. Now here are some simple rules to run them!

Every army consists of several regiments, which make up the army's total troops. A regiment is composed of any creature from the Creature Compendium, with the exception of Monsters and Spirits. The former have to join regiments as a unique opponent (like a PC or major NPC), while the latter just don't work with armies.

Creatures in this system are abstracted into a Combat Factor which summarizes its general combat capability. To get a regiment's total Strength, just add up the Combat Factors of all included units plus whatever unique opponents have joined. This is of course easier if the entire regiment is composed of a single type of creature, but these rules make it very easy to mix-and-match your regiments (way easier than most D&D mass combat rules I've seen).

Armies generally have a Moral rating based on the general's Leadership score and some pre-battle modifiers. The exceptions are savage hordes (which don't need a general and don't care about morale) and Animates (who always fight to the death).
The Morale rating can be modified by searching for an omen (which can backfire, resulting in a morae penalty) and holding an Oscar-worthy speech.

Once the battle starts, each round (taking around 1 hour) of mass combat consists of 6 phases:

1. Strategic Phase

This is for calculating the various modifiers for that round, including Superiority (which compares the Strength of the armies, not their numbers in true 300 fashion), Moral difference,Position (like having the high ground or defending a narrow pass) and Fatigue.

Non-Horde armies can keep some of their troops in reserve, which can be handy to avoid fatigue.

2. Tactical Phase

This is where both sides decide how much risk they're willing to take (whether they turtle or charge like crazy people), on a rating from 0 to 3. This Tactical Risk is then added together into the Massacre Factor (MF), which determines how much blood and body parts are going to fly around in the next phase.

3. Resolution Phase

Here each side rolls a d20 and adds its current modifier. The higher result wins, with ties being rerolled. If an army's General as the Tactician background talent, he gets an Advantage, which is pretty handy.

Each side loses a certain percentage of its current Strength. The losing side suffers a loss of [MF x 10%], the winning side half of that aka [MF x 5%].
If the winning side beats the losing side's roll by at least 10, the winning General can either increase the enemy losses to [MF x 15%] (which at max MF can wipe out 90% of the enemy's army. Ouch.) or reduce the own losses to a negligible amount (aka no losses this time). To add insult to injury, such a clear win forces the losing General to make a Danger Evasion roll to avoid getting captured (unless the general is a NP).

The losses are equally distributed between all regmints. It is assumed that 1/2 of the losses are dead, while the other half is just wounded or otherwise incapable of fighting.

4. Heroic Phase

This is where the PCs and other unique opponents take action. First they have to check whether they wounded in battle, which simply involves comparing the enemy's army roll with their Defense Class as if it was an attack roll. A simple hit deals 1d6 damage, while having the Defense Class being beaten by at least 10 deals 2d6 damage.

After this, it's time for the PCs to earn some glory by rolling a melee attack and comparing it to the enemy's army roll. Success grants Glory points based on the enemy's Strength, with a particular good success doubling the rewards and granting a Morale bonus to the own side.

Fighting under normal combat rules is possible and in fact the main way to get rid of other unique opponents.

5. Morale Phase

Morale is checked every phase after the army's Strength is reduced to under 50% of its original value. It involves rolling equal or below the army's current Morale on a 1d10. Armies who lost their general have an effective morale of 1, unless they have a second-in-command to take his place. Failure means a complete rout, which causes a further loss of 20% in casualties, captives or deserters.

Hordes never make a Morale check and continue to fight till they auto-rout at 20% of their original Strength. Animates fight to the last automaton.

6. Retreat Phase

This is where a General can decide to retreat in an orderly manner. This is just like a rout, but the General can avoid the 20% loss with a successful Morale check.

Both sides continue to fight in this fashion until they run out of reserves.


Sieges are a lot slower than a straight up battle, so a round takes a whole day and all losses are divided by 5.
The defender gains additional bonuses based on the fortifications, while the attacker gains bonuses based on their siege engines. Running out of food and water makes the whole army fatigued and causes a cumulative 5% loss each day. Retreating is not an option for the defender, and a rout has them surrender.

Of course this comes with a comment box about wargaming grognards tearing these rules apart. Nevertheless, I quite like these rules. They're fast, furious and relatively easy to port to other systems if you can come up with a formula for the Combat Factor. It's also very easy to zoom into the action, having each regiment attack, suffer losses and take Morale checks separately.

Overall, this book comes with lots of goodies. Even if you're not interested in running M&M, the mass combat rules might be just what you've been looking for.