Savage Worlds has many sterling qualities, but like most RPGs it is aimed at group play facilitated by a Game Master. As my focus swings back towards solo gaming, I need something to act as the GM for me, and this product is specifically designed for that purpose. So…
In a Nutshell: Supplement for any RPG allowing you to play without a Game Master. 54-page PDF from Word Mill Press.
I’ve reviewed full-fat Mythic (which includes the emulator and a stand-alone RPG based on it) here; this product is roughly one-third the size of that, because it’s intended to be used with another game of your choice.
Mythic adventures are broken up into scenes. How the GM Emulator works is straightforward…
Initial setup: The players either agree how the scenario begins, or roll a random event to determine what’s going on. This includes setting the Chaos Factor, which defaults to "5" and measures how in control of the situation the PCs are – the higher the number, the less control they have. It also includes setting up any initial plot threads and NPCs.
At the beginning of a scene: Agree what the next scene should be about ("Let’s go into the dungeon and see what’s inside,") and roll 1d10 against the Chaos Factor to determine whether the next scene is what’s expected (the most logical outcome, "OK, we’re inside the entrance chamber, now what?"), altered (usually the second most logical outcome, "There’s a group of orcs in the entrance chamber, what do we do?") or interrupted (by a random event, more on those below).
Within a scene:
- If what happens next is not terribly important to the game, it happens and you drive on.
- If it is important, the players ask a question and agree how likely it is that the answer will be "yes", for example: "Are there stairs going down from this room to the next level? Probably."
- One of them makes a percentile dice roll and cross-references the score against the agreed likelihood and the current Chaos Factor. The result might be extreme yes, yes, no, extreme no, or a random event; the players now use logic to interpret the answer – in this case "extreme yes" might mean "yes, and we can see that they spiral down for several levels like the staircase in an apartment block".
- If the dice came up doubles, and the number is less than the Chaos Factor, a random event occurs – more dice rolls determine the event focus, action and meaning, for example "Introduce new NPC – Separate – Prison"; the group then interpret this, perhaps "there aren’t any stairs, but there is a concealed chute – the fighter falls in and slides into an oubliette, where he discovers someone who fell in earlier; the rest of the party don’t know where he is now".
At the end of a scene: A scene is over when the players agree it is over. Somebody updates the adventure records; the new Chaos Factor, NPCs, and plot threads. NPCs may become permanent additions to the game, in which case they’re noted on the relevant character sheet.
The adventure is over when the group thinks it’s over, usually when the central plot thread is resolved.
Character creation, combat, task resolution and so on are handled by whatever RPG you’re using the emulator with, but if you don’t have a specific setting in mind, Mythic can be used to generate one. I’m not likely to do that myself, because I already have more settings than I can ever hope to play, and keep spinning more off, uncontrollably.
The book goes through all this in much more detail, and with extended examples; it closes with quick reference charts and an adventure worksheet. The quick reference charts are much easier to read in the GME than in Mythic proper.
Two-column black on white text, internal black and white line drawings, one full-colour, full-page picture. Colour covers, but no cover pictures, just a blue backdrop.
The text is fine, although pretty much a straight cut and paste from full-fat Mythic; I don’t like the style of the internal artwork, and none of the pieces are relevant to the text around them.
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Upgrade the internal art and make it relevant.
Add a line or two about altered and interrupted scenes to the quick reference chart. Although, they are covered on the adventure sheet, so I suppose if I were to use it the way the author intended, I’d have those notes right in front of me.
I already know that Mythic does what it says on the tin, I’ve used it intermittently for years both for solo and zero-prep games. The GME strips out all the stuff I don’t use anyway, which makes it easier to find and apply the bits I do use; in fact, I’m surprised how much easier it is to understand the GME when the rest of the system is stripped out.
Other alternative GM emulators include Sine Nomine Publishing’s Scarlet Heroes and pretty much anything by Two Hour Wargames; the advantage Mythic has over them is that since it is purpose-built as an add-on to other games, I don’t need to write any sort of conversion rules as an interface to whichever RPG I’m using. THW titles also assume that key encounters will be resolved as a tabletop battle, and I’m really not in the mood for that just now.
I’ll kick the tires and take Mythic out for a run shortly.