As a game, Realms of Myth emphasizes the characters’ gradual growth, in large part a “rags to riches” theme, and perhaps even … eventually … fairytale endings. In this way, it is also something of an homage to the “old school” RPG’s of the 70’s and early 80’s, most notably in the players’ approach to the characters themselves.
The characters in more modern RPG’s tend to be amped-up dynamos with portfolios of astounding and dangerous powers and abilities from the get-go, obviously heroes in their own right, head and shoulders above the commoners around them. The characters in more modern games actually start play in a state noticeably above the common people around them. In some cases they are practically godlings by comparison, capable of awesome things. They never walked in fear into ruin, cave or dungeon dank knowing they might never come out alive.
They are just so much more powerful right out of the box than the mainstay of foes in the old games, the kobolds, goblins, orcs and other stock fantasy races of foes, and especially such common-but-deadly (in real life) Real World beasts as lions, tigers and bears (oh, my!!). Those “mundane” beasts are just too weak for many characters in more modern FRPG’s to even bother with. By their reputations alone, such PC’s attract henchmen to deal with those sorts of “trivial” annoyances.
This stands in stark contrast to the characters of the older generation of games played by those of us who grew up with the hobby when it was new. Back then, our characters always started out as little more (very little) than average folk with nothing more than a simple desire to make something of themselves, to eventually leave some sort of mark on the world, for better or worse. We all merely aspired to being heroes, and many of us died along the way, in the attempt, and without the means for obtaining a Ressurection.
Knowing we were starting at the bottom of the heap made our experiences more vivid. Our characters were US, the underdogs, the most popular kind of heroes after we finally succeeded, because we came from the same place as everyone else in the game world around us. Perhaps we gave them hope to carry on.
We recognized that the world was a wide and dangerous place we had to explore and get to know. There is a lot of buzz around the concept of balancing the challenges the PC’s face so they always get a “fair shake” these days. Back then, however, there were often foes far greater than our characters, ones we had to walk carefully around, biding our time until we had earned the skill and power necessary to face them. A touch of humility and a certain measure respect for the challenges and dangers that make up the game world were a basic requirement. We had to stick to the principles learned in the Real World –– life isn’t supposed to be fair, so pay attention and pick your battles!
Our characters had a healthy respect for death and a sense of their own mortality that more recent generation characters (generally) just don’t get – or just barely, in any event. Such things are “inconvenient” or “not fun”. Their characters never came from the ranks of the common folk as we did. They were never just “regular folks”. I believe there was something intrinsically more “human” about the characters in old-school games because of this.
I have striven to preserve that old-school spirit in large part in writing this game. Other than this, the game mechanics are unified and streamlined in a number of ways and in a fashion similar to more modern tabletop RPG’s –– although it is by NO means a “Rules Lite” type of game.