Sunday, September 7, 2014

Character Classes in Man, Myth & Magic (part IV)

Art by Angus McBride

Some of the character Classes in Man, Myth & Magic have 'negative abilities' in an attempt to balance (I suppose) the powers and talents that the Classes supply.  We have seen a few examples in prior posts; a Hebrew Warrior may “feel compelled to offer food to an opponent” and Leprechauns can disappear from play for a segment at a time.  Here are a few other examples:
  • Visigoth Barbarian:  Once per segment, if given any order by friend or foe, there is an 11% chance the character will obey it “without question.”
  • Philistine Warrior:  “Will attack immediately if his family or heritage is insulted.”
  • Oriental Shaman:  There is a 6% chance per segment that the Shaman will be “unable to fight or use magic or any special ability for two segments” as a result of “mushroom poisoning.”
  • Egyptian Physician:  May never start combat and “will always be hit in the first round of a Combat.”
  • Egyptian Priest:  Once per week, must engage in self-laceration (at least 25 Life Points worth of damage) and fasting.
  • Egyptian Sorcerer:  Upon entering a tomb, there is a 2% chance that the character will refuse to leave voluntarily.

For the Alchemist classes, the prime ability is “Science.”  Alchemists don't believe in magic, so they can't use magic; I suppose, however, they can be affected by magic.  An Egyptian Alchemist can do the same things as an Egyptian Apothecary, except at three times the POWER cost.  This is interesting because the Egyptian Apothecary can craft amulets, charms, talismans, and artifacts – all of which have magical effects.  The description of the Egyptian Alchemist class acknowledges that the character's creations may be magical, but the character may not use them.  Items that an Egyptian Apothecary (and Alchemist) may create include:
  • Seal of Solomon:  The user can command any one demon for the remainder of the segment.  (Yes, Egyptians create the Seal of Solomon.)
  • Rope:  “Is uncuttable and unbreakable.”
  • Hammer:  “Will drive in or pull out nails without an operator.”
  • Box:  A six inch cube that can nonetheless contain a volume of six cubic feet.
  • Negative Sand:  Damage from “magical injury” is reduced by ten points per use.

Egyptian Alchemists can also analyze potions and can attempt to “transmute” one pound of metal to one ounce of another metal (because that's science).  By contrast, Babylonian Alchemists have a 50% chance of identifying compounds and can spend two months to add one point to either SKILL or INTELLIGENCE.  Regardless of nationality, Alchemist characters can do the following things.
  • Identify Non-Magical Machines/Artifacts:  An Alchemist can also “determine how to operate” such devices.
  • Make Corrosive Acid:  Each “dose” costs five points of POWER and consists of water, mercury, and ten Life Points of the Alchemist's blood.
  • Make Fire Bombs:  These bombs consist of “oil, sulphur and salt.”  They “burn with three times the intensity and effect of burning oil” but must be used within six hours of being made.
  • Intensify Poison:  Distilling a batch of poison doubles its effectiveness and increases the duration of its potency by three times.
  • Repair Metal:  An Alchemist can attempt to repair a metal item “using a combination of iron, sulphur, and 10 Life Points of his own blood.”

In the 1375 BC Man, Myth & Magic setting, Charioteer is a 'Special Class' that may be selected in conjunction with a character's 'normal' class.  If the Prime Ability of the 'normal' class is Combat, then it may be assumed that the character is already trained.  For non-combat classes, there is a training cost of 500 - 5,000 Gold Pieces (the 1375 BC setting uses pieces/ounces instead of libra).  However, trained non-combat characters have less ability than combat class Charioteers.

Man, Myth & Magic offers two “special categories,” which are Class “aspects” associated more with the player than the character.  The Sage category is for “know it all” players – the MM&M equivalent of “rules lawyers.”  The Orator is for players who are comfortable making extemporaneous speeches.

With regard to Sages, we are told by Book II:
[T]he Sage is obliged to sell information to to fellow players.  Note that this is an obligation.  Information may no longer be volunteered by a Sage, but only offered for sale...
The cost of information is 25 gold libra per item; however, if the Sage provides the wrong answer, he or she must pay 50 gold libra to the player(s) who asked.
Good Sages are very valuable to a party.  Know-all Sages are a pain.  Either way, the MM&M Sage system keeps them under control.
Lore Masters do not determine who is a Sage; a player must decide if and when to become a Sage.  So, “under control” may not be entirely accurate.  The description of the Sage category implies that they provide answers to rule-based questions.  As a player, I would not be inclined to pay gold for information the Lore Master should provide.  I would be more amenable to the notion of the Sage supplying in-game knowledge to which the players had been exposed previously.  Even then, I think that non-gold POWER would be a more appropriate currency.

By delivering “a spoken two-minute (real time) speech on the prevailing situation,” an Orator “...will so fascinate any number of opponents that the Orator's colleagues may always attack first, irrespective of First Strike Capabilities.”  The result of 1d100 determines the “number of opponents affected.”  (I would have imposed a cost of one POWER per incapacitated opponent.)  The Lore Master must be given “advance notice” of any of such an oration.  To become an Orator, a player must pass an examination in which he or she must “speak fluently, amusingly and without a break for three minutes (real time)” on a topic of the Lore Master's choice.

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