Myth of Blades

Saturday, October 24th, 2020

One of the inspirations oddly missing from Band of Blades is acclaimed 1990’s computer game Myth: the Fallen Lords, a real-time strategy game by Bungie. The game tells the story of a continent over-run by armies of the undead, led by powerful (bickering) sorcerer-generals, who are themselves enslaved and corrupted by an ancient sorcerer-king; against them is arrayed the Legion, an army of men and their allies led by nine powerful sorcerers, who are desperately fighting to hold the line and protect the last bastions of humanity from being overwhelmed.

Sound familiar? Yes, that’s pretty much Band of Blades. Almost certainly because, just like Band of Blades, Myth: The Fallen Lords is also an homage to Glen Cook’s Black Company series of novels, and therefore borrows a number of similar elements. Now I enjoyed the Black Company, a lot, but I love Myth: TFL. Myth is my single favorite game ever of any genre or type of video game. It has been almost thirty years, and I still fire it up on occasion to throw exploding bottles at the shuffling hordes of thrall and hack down myrmidons.

After playing (and re-playing) the video game, I’ve always wanted more, and to be able to experience it at the tabletop. Since Band is so closely intertwined with Myth on a conceptual level, this is my chance to make it happen as a role-playing game using a system supportive of the nature of the fiction.[1]

Some specific and important differences between Band and Myth are that: wizardly magic exists, as do sapient non-human races and magical creatures; personal firearms and similar technology do not exist, even though explosives do; and the gods are not manifest in the world, if those praised by the various religious sects even actually exist.

Obviously, to translate the game to the tabletop as an RPG[2], a significant number of changes will need to be made. In the Myth computer game, all units of a type are of a particular race: all dwarves are explosive specialists, all fir’Bolg are archers, etc. For an RPG, this discrete race-based role-in-the-Legion needs be excised. For Myth of Blades, we will need to separate who the peoples of the Light are from what they do, providing choice and variety for the members of the Legion.

The peoples of the Light consist of Men, Dwarves, fir’Bolg, and Ents, each with different heritages and kingdoms. This means dealing with Band of Blades’ lack of any specific races beyond that of human, and therefore any rules to deal with their inclusion. Luckily, given this is a FitD game, and therefore narrative rather than an attempt at simulation, this is not a difficult problem to solve.

There are four different kingdoms of Men represented in the Province, and two kingdoms of Dwarves. There is one kingdom of fir’Bolg–though there are others beyond the Ermine, they were too distant, or closed their borders and did not participate in the war. The Forest Giants are only known to exist in a single woodland, and had collectively withdrawn from the war a number of years ago. There are other peoples in the world beyond these, but for the purposes of the war, these are the four Myth of Blades will detail. Each will have distinct heritages, creating eight separate heritages to choose from.

The different unit types from the computer game will comprise the playbooks used in FitD games, but I’ll also need to add some additional units to the game, and open them up to all the different heritages. At least one heritage will need a few special rules when interacting with playbooks, however.

The alteration of rules will extend to command staff, campaign resources, and mission design as well. However, I have only started dipping my toes into the changes that will be necessitated here (plus a few tweaks and clarifications I’ve mused over for use in Band of Blades), and a significant amount of playtesting will be needed to ensure they are functional and provide the same feeling as the Myth campaign.

For the moment, I have a document on Google Docs you can take a look at and make suggestions on. Keep in mind this hack is not fully playable yet, and the basic rules and structure of play is not included–the Band of Blades book is required for that–but if you don’t have that book, it’s mostly like BitD.

There are spots in the document with clearly unfinished text, or the use of ‘XXX’ as a placeholder, particularly later in the document in the command roles section. This is stuff I’m still working out. Also: please ignore the badly formatted tables later in the missions sections. I’ll fix those eventually. (The problem arose as Google Docs doesn’t seem to play nice with Word formatting.)

[1] There was an official attempt at turning Myth:TFL into an RPG using the GURPs generic RPG system, but as with most things, GURPs couldn’t really capture the spirit.

[2] Tangent: I also wished for a play-by-mail game along the lines of the widely-acclaimed Hyborian War by RSI, but have neither the skills to code such a game, nor knowledge of the mechanics RSI utilizes.

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