Sunday, June 29, 2014

Reincarnation and the Man, Myth & Magic Endgame

Sometimes, player characters die.

When I was a kid, I played in a campaign in which – when feasible – deceased player characters were candidates for resurrection.  On one occasion, however, we had different plans for a fallen comrade.  There was a dragon whose continued existence was problematic for us.  So, we came up with a hare-brained scheme to saturate the corpse of the dead character with (ingestive) poison and then get the dragon to devour said corpse.  Don't judge me; we were kids.  The Dungeon Master was disinclined to permit the success of our endeavor, but we appealed to the ultimate authority – dice.  The DM determined it was highly likely – something like a 98% chance – that the dragon would detect the poison and thereby thwart our plot.  In front of us, the DM rolled the dice...and failed!  But the dragon wasn't dead yet; he was still entitled to an easy saving throw.  Again, in front of us, the DM rolled...and again, he failed!  The dragon died; such was the unassailable dictate of the dice.  Unrealistic?  Perhaps, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Alas, we had to concede that resurrection was out of the question for a character who had died violently, been marinated in poison, and masticated and digested by a dragon.

A blogger greater than myself might spend the rest of this post discussing DM fiat versus “unrealistic” random results, perhaps with a digression into draconic psychology.  Yet, for your humble host, this is merely the lead-in for some observations about reincarnation in Man, Myth & Magic.

As mentioned previously, obtaining POWER is the raison d'être of MM&M characters.  Aside from all other benefits of having POWER, once a player character gains two hundred points of POWER, she (or he) is eligible for reincarnation.  This means that when said character dies and rolls for a new 'incarnation', certain considerations apply. 

The dice used to determine the Nationality and Class of a MM&M character incarnation (or reincarnation) are expressly referred to as “The Fates.”  Book II lists ten Nationalities.  Once The Fates determine a Nationality, they are consulted as to the character's Class.  Most Nationalities have four possible Classes; however, there are five Roman Classes but only two Gallic Classes.  When creating one's first (Advanced) MM&M character and the Class that The Fates indicated is unappealing, one may roll The Fates again.  In such a case, the result of the second roll is mandatory.

When using The Fates to determine the Class of a reincarnated character, a player can ignore results for Classes the character has already experienced in prior incarnations.  Optionally, the player can accept a previous Class as long as the Nationality differs from that Nationality the character held in said incarnation.

Other than reincarnation by virtue of death, a character who has gained two hundred POWER points has “the option of reincarnatory of the most spectacular achievements of ADVANCED MM&M.”  What does this mean?
This means that by act of will, at any stage of the current scenario, you may call upon The Fates to transform you instantly into a different Character Class.  [original emphasis]
I believe that “different Nationality” is implied.  According to the example given in the rules, a Greek Warrior can become an Egyptian Sorcerer.

Before we go further, I would like to make some distinctions about what can happen to a character.
  1. A character can die before she (or he) accumulates 200 POWER.  In this situation, the player rolls up a new character.
  2. A character can die after attaining 200 POWER.  In this situation, the player rolls up a new character; however, the character has a 'past life history' and does not need to repeat previously experienced Nationality/Class combinations.
  3. After attaining 200 POWER, a character can choose to engage in reincarnatory metamorphosis.  Presumably, previous Nationality/Class combinations are avoided.
I suspect that a character's current POWER must equal or exceed 200 points for the situations detailed in numbers 2 and 3, but I cannot find a rule that expressly states this.  POWER is not transferred between incarnations; however, for reincarnatory metamorphosis, gold-related POWER is retained because treasure and possessions stay with “the new character.”  Also with regard to reincarnatory metamorphosis, the rules state “you will possibly carry across the reincarnation process all of your characteristics except for that of SKILL, which must be rolled anew.”  SKILL is different for each Class; a warrior's SKILL regards combat, while a sorcerer's SKILL regards magic.

So, in the middle of an adventure, an African Wisewoman can suddenly become a Visigoth Merchant (or vice versa).  This should not be especially jarring to the player since she (or he) instigates the change, although she (or he) has little (or no) control of the result.  It might disconcert the Lore Master (so called in Book II as opposed to 'Game Master' in Book I); the party composition can change completely within a single adventure.

With reincarnatory metamorphosis, there is also the possibility of “Distant Memory.”  For every twenty-five points of POWER – beyond the requisite 200 – that a character has at the time of metamorphosis, there is a 1% chance of regaining the abilities of a prior incarnation.  In effect, the character becomes a multi-Class character with a separate SKILL characteristic for each “Class.”  (Do the rest of the characteristics carry over?  Is the “you will possibly carry” statement a reference to Distant Memory?)  If a character has a chance at Distant Memory, it can be checked “once per segment of a scenario.”

According to page 14 of Book II:
Distant Memory is a very important concept in ADVANCED MM&M.  It is the key to the ultimate character – a skilled, experienced amalgamation of all classes; and the ONLY character entitled to strive toward the final goal of ADVANCED MM&M.
So it seems there is a goal beyond the acquisition of POWER – a goal associated with the accumulation of past life experience.  In the Real World™, it is my understanding that the “goal” of reincarnation is to achieve eventually a blissful non-existence outside the life/death/rebirth cycle.  For a role-playing game, an objective of that sort may not be very enticing.  What, then, would be the “final goal”?  Your guess is as good as mine.

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