Theseus Deeds – A Mythras Adventure in Bronze Age Greece (pt5-pt6) finale

pt5

Cercyon

map

Q: Is the scene as in the Myth? (Likely)
A: No
I will roll 1d8 on TWENE: 8: Remove major element. In the main variation of the myth, Cercyon (Κερκύωνας) was the King of Eleusis (Ελευσίνα). Instead I will go with an alternative variation where Cercyon is not royalty, thus removing a major element.

Theseus reaches a crossroads. On his right, the road leads to Eleusis. He is about to take another step to continue to Athens, when he hears a voice call to him.
“If you want to pass the crossroad, you will have to beat me. You look strong, I Cercyon, challenge you to combat.” A massive muscular man steps out from behind a stone wall.
He takes a good look at Theseus’ armament. Sword, shield and club.
“These won’t be necessary. Men are measured by their strength, not their weapons” He says and puts his hands on his waist.
Theseus recalls once more Pittheus’ advice. This must be Cercyon, a robber that challenges passengers into wrestling combat and kills them with his bare hands by crushing their necks.
Theseus won’t step away from a challenge. Vile as the man is, there is honor to be kept. He removes his armament and places his shield to the side of the wall.
“I, Theseus accept your challenge Cercyon.” He responds and takes position against him.

Initiative:

Theseus: 17
Cercyon: 17
So the combat will happen simultaneously.

Round 1:

Theseus Turn 1:

Theseus will attempt to grapple Cercyon.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 35: Success.
Cercyon: Unarmed (61): 73: Failure.
Since events happened concurrently, I will roll on Cercyon’s attack as well before resolving the results of Theseus’ successful attack.

Cercyon Turn 1:

Cercyon will attempt to grapple Theseus.
Cercyon: Unarmed (61): 59: Success.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 63: Failure.

Turn 1 resolution.

Theseus chooses Trip Opponent. Cercyon opposes with: Brawn (32): 22: Success. Theseus wins the opposed roll. Theseus: Hit Location: Left Leg.
For Cercyon will roll between the 4 possible special effects: 1: Choose Location.
Q: Does he choose the head?
A: Yes
So the first turn leaves both wrestlers grappled. Cercyon has grabbed Theseus’ head enforcing a Hard penalty to Theseus, while Theseus has gotten Cercyon prone to the ground, grabbing his left leg, enforcing a Formidable penalty.

Theseus Turn 2:

Theseus will attempt to break free of the grapple.
Theseus: Unarmed Hard-(40): 19: Success.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 93: Failure.
Theseus manages to break free.

Cercyon Turn 2:

Cercyon will attempt to crush Theseus’ head.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 30: Success.
I will spend one Luck Point to have Cercyon reroll his attack: 21: Success.
Theseus: Unarmed Hard-(40): 73. Failure.
I will spend one Luck Point to switch the roll to 37, thus saving winning the opposed roll.

Theseus Turn 3:

Theseus will attempt to strike Cercyon while he has him pinned down.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 57: Success.
Theseus chooses Choose Location: Head: Damage: 4 HP: Minor Wound.

The two wrestlers have at each other. Theseus grabs Cercyon from below, grasping tightly his leg, while Cercyon uses his strong legs to lock Theseus’ head inside them. The whole situation has Cercyon falling down on the ground while Theseus is on top, in control. Theseus knows that Cercyon may be at a disadvantage, but he can hurt him easily, with his headlock. Despite Cercyon’s strength, Theseus has called upon his ancestors and withstands the sheer pressure of Cercyon’s pincer like lock. He grits his teeth and manages, with an impressive twist, to break free. Free at last he finds this opportunity to lift Cercyon up and smash his head down on the ground. The tough man doesn’t seem to bother.

Round 2:

Theseus Turn 1:

Theseus will attempt to strike Cercyon while he has him pinned down.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 12: Success.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 09: Success. Cercyon suffers no damage.

Cercyon Turn 1:

Cercyon will attempt to break free of Theseus’ grapple.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 98: Failure.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 09: Success.

Theseus Turn 2:

Theseus will attempt to strike Cercyon while he has him pinned down.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 60: Failure.

The wrestlers keep on, but each attempt to gain advantage, is met with an equally successful attempt by the opponent. Cercyon remains on the ground, locked by Theseus, but he’s still unharmed.

Round 3:

Theseus Turn 1:

Theseus will attempt to strike Cercyon while he has him pinned down.
Theseus: Unarmed (59): 41: Success.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 86: Failure.

Cercyon Turn 1:

Cercyon will attempt to break free of Theseus’ grapple.
Cercyon: Unarmed Formidable-(30): 38: Failure.
Turn 1 Resolution: Theseus chooses Choose Location: Head: Damage: 4 HP: Serious Wound.
Cercyon: Endurance (28): 44: Failure. He’s incapacitated.
Theseus kills Cercyon.

As Cercyon tries to break free once more, Theseus feels the center of balance changing. He takes this opportunity to lift Cercyon once more from the ground, and smash his head again down. Cercyon’s head now is bleeding, and the man isn’t responding. Another repetition, and Theseus kills the villain for good.
He buries the villain, and continues on his journey.


Session Background: Stat wise, Cercyon had the upper hand, that’s why I had to use my Luck Points (both) early in the fight.
I got very confused with the grapple rules, and to top it off, I had concurrent initiative!
The special effects were very limited this time.
Since it was a very short session, I could have continued with the last fight, but I decided to pause here and maintain the one-deed-per-session economy that I have established. It’s also done, in order to replenish the used Luck Points which are even more important in solo play.


pt6

Procrustes

Q: Is the scene as in the Myth?
A: No, but, I will roll 1d4 in TWENE.
TWENE: 4: Remove simple element.
A simple element would be the ropes that the villain used. I will remove this from the scene.

Dusk has hit, as Theseus nears towards Athens, walking on the Holy Street (Ιερά Οδός) of Athens.
“Hey stranger. Night is about to fall.” He hears, and turns to see man call out to him.
“I will offer you a bed to sleep at night and a roof over your head, if only you will help me with a menial task.” He continues.
“I am tired from the journey, please lead the way.” Theseus agrees, aware that this might be the last robber his grandfather described.
They enter his house, and on one side is an iron bed.
Theseus realizes that this is the home of Procrustes (Προκρούστης), also known as Polypemon (Πολυπήμων). A blacksmith robber who had his victims lie on an iron bed. He then stretched them to fit, which killed the victims in the process.
“What is that task you want me to help you with?” Theseus asks.
“I want you to lie in this bed, so that I can adapt it to your needs. You see, I am a blacksmith and I am trying to design a bed that is stronger and better than the wooden beds.” Procrustes replies.
“Please, settle yourself. You can set your armament aside. I’ll get to my tools and some soup for the night.” He continues.

Theseus: Insight (49): 75: Failure.
Theseus: Perception (39): 01: Critical
Success. Theseus notices the bloody axe on the side of the bed. He’s certain this man is the robber.
Theseus: Deceit (51): 62: Failure. I will use my first luck point to switch the digits to 26, and a success. I’m a fan of fail forward, and since this isn’t a critical success, I’ll have Theseus have a slight disadvantage.

Theseus notices a bloody axe by the side of the bed. Procrustes doesn’t leave. He seems to linger waiting to see what Theseus will do. Realizing he might fail in his ruse like he did with Sinis, Theseus puts his armament to the side.
Procrustes relieved, turns to his task, not paying attention to Theseus who has picked up the axe.
“I don’t think I’ll be sleeping in this death bed tonight!” He says to Procrustes as he lowers the axe towards him.

Procrustes: Insight (64): 97: Failure.
Procrustes is surprised.

Initiative:

Theseus: 16
Procrustes: 12

Round 1:

Theseus Turn 1:

Theseus attacks Procrustes with his axe.
Theseus: Combat Style (27): 59: Failure: I will spend the last Luck Point and reroll: 15: Success. Theseus gains two special effects.
Theseus chooses: Bleed, Trip Opponent. Hit Location: Right Arm: Damage: 9 HP: Major Wound.
Prokrustes: Endurance (30): 06: Success. He fails against the opposed roll and Bleeds.
Prokrustes: Brawn (41): 36: Success. He wins against the opposed roll and isn’t Tripped.
Prokrustes: Endurance (30): 78: Failure. He’s incapacitated.

Theseus manages to turn the tables on the vile robber who used to plague the outskirts of Athens. With a slash of Procrustes’ battle axe, he chops of his right arm, trying to knock him down to his bed at the same time.
Prokrustes doesn’t fall, but he yells out in pain and grabs his chopped off limb with his other arm. He looks at Theseus in terror before passing out due to blood loss.
Theseus performs a coup de grace on the dismembered villain.
The road to Athens is now clear.


Session Background: This battle was even faster than the one with Cercyon! I had expected this one to last longer considering Prokrustes was the final villain.
I took the risk of using the Luck Points at the beginning, and it paid off. This time, compared to the previous sessions, the dice rolled maximum damage at one hit, chopping off Prokrustes’ arm.
I’ve had Theseus go for Deception once more, but I had him have to use Prokrustes’ battle axe, which he isn’t skilled at, and he fought at his base combat skill, which is considerably lower. In the myth, Theseus also used Prokrustes’ axe to chop off his limbs before mercy killing him.


Campaign Summary

Mythras is known to be a deadly gritty crunchy rpg, and it proved true to it’s reputation.

There is a relevant text in the game describing that combat should be used as a last resort, due to how deadly it is, but Mythras is also known for how interesting the combat system is.
Therefore all the six labors of Theseus were combat oriented. I’ve used his wits whenever possible (except the first encounter) and sometimes this had the added bonus of ending the combat sooner.

MUNE as an Oracle with the modification for prewritten modules worked just right for my needs.
Using the mythology as a basis was a learning experience. In spite of the difficulties involved of using stories as a prewritten adventure module (there are no stats, no difficulty levels, no default behavior) it worked out.

There’s a lesson in reading about mythology for every fantasy rpg adventure designer (solo players and game masters alike).
I mean, out of the 5 bandits, all of them had different ways to kill their victims, and 3 out of 5 had really interesting ways to do it. All this gives character and depth to an otherwise bland encounter.
And that’s just a simple example of a common myth. I imagine if one delves into the mythology of different people, there would be abundant examples to be used.

Overall I really liked Mythras. There where a couple of things that I would have done different. For example the climbing skill does not provide for ample narrative explanations. I’d have to delegate this to the Oracle, something which I wouldn’t want for a crunchy system.
Also Mythras deadliness does not bode well for single character play. Introducing more than one character or foe would complicate combat to the point of sluggish pause. All is not lost though. I believe I can tamper with the Action Point Economy and homebrew some rules to facilitate solo play for a party of characters. This would demand of course to drop the theater of the mind and go for grid battle.
Another topic is the Special Effects of Mythras. There are tens of those and I get really lost trying to find which are suitable. I’ll have to split the main table to several others to make it usable. Right now it’s like going into a programming if…then…else loop to find out which special effects are applicable. This isn’t a problem dedicated to solo play. I imagine a game master would have the same issue when trying to decide what special effects his minions would use. The solo play issue, is what I described in a previous session. Some special effects are preparations for counters to the opponent. This can be done with homebrew or oracle questions but it adds an extra layer of mechanisms over the top an already crunchy system.

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