Re-Reading Classic Fantasy

Even though I have been running the Mystamyr campaign using Mythras Classic Fantasy for a year or more, it’s time to come back and re-read the rulebooks. Today I wanted to reflect on why that’s a good idea, even if you think you know your favourite game inside and out.

My reasons begin with the fact that (shhhssss, don’t tell anyone) we’ve been playtesting some bits over the past few months and so, now that that stuff is largely behind us, we’re reverting to the rules-as-published (plus or minus my own spin as GM). As with any kind of deviation from the core rules-as-written, it can be valuable to review the basics every now and then.

But, more than this, the fact of the matter is that it’s very hard for us (as GMs) to memorise the totality of the rules and confidently adjudicate them without error at the table. I’d go as far as to say it’s impossible, but maybe you have an eidetic memory and have played so long that you’ve internalised it all already.

The best approach is to make sure you understand the core mechanisms of play – in this case, it’s the d100 roll-low adjudication of tests, how skills work, the basics of combat, and how magic functions – and then look up the other stuff as you need it.

One big tip I have picked up is to drop new or infrequently-used rules points into your prep notes for a given encounter. For example, I always forget the poison rules so it’s helpful to put a quick summary of the procedure nearby the relevant source of poisoning in my notes.

Overall, I find that periodically re-reading rules helps me to spot my blindspots. It also allows me to rediscover elements in the rulebook I had forgotten were there.

Sometimes it’s a monster from the bestiary section or a cool item in the treasure chapter that inspires me in a way I hadn’t expected. For me, today, it was noticing the Initiative rule for combat and making a mental note that I really should try rolling that at the end of combats so we don’t lose momentum just when the tension is highest.

Anyway, I’m back to reading one of my favourite roleplaying games and enjoying the trip through the books. You never know, I may even stand a chance of remembering some of the rules by the time we get back to the table.

Game on!

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