Publisher: Third Eye Games
Writing: Chris Lewis Carter and Eloy Lasanta
Layout: Eloy Lasanta
Cover Art: Tey Bartolome
Year Published: 2013
I mentioned in my review of Mermaid Adventures that this game was successfully funded on Kickstarter and would be out some time in 2013, and here it is.
Camp Myth: the RPG is the latest by Third Eye Games and follows Mermaid Adventures as another kid-friendly game using 3EG’s Pip System. In a world created by author Chris Lewis Carter, players get to take on the role of a mythical creature during their time at summer camp. The camp was designed to help all mythical creatures learn how to get along with one another and cooperate, to avoid the problems that arise when they bicker and fight.
While at summer camp, players will learn new skills such as Archery, Arts and Crafts, Discovery, Sports, and Sparring while earning merrit badges such as Phoenix Watching, Kraken Fishing, Golem Building, and Cockatrice Hunting. Some of these merit badges can be dangerous to collect; campers may be poisoned, burned, or even petrified if they’re not careful. Additionally, they may take too many hits from a raging cyclops and wind up in the infirmary, or they may become too demoralized to continue a day’s work and wind up feeling homesick.
Camp Myth uses a modified version of the Mermaid Adventures Pip System, now dubbed the Mythic Pip System. The same basic die mechanic is used to determine success: players roll a number of White d6s based on their character’s skill and a number of Black d6s based on the challenge rating of the task at hand. If they roll more successes (a 4, 5, or 6 on the die) on the White die than they do on the Black, they complete their task successfully.
There are degrees of success based on how many total hits you get on your roll. For example, if you get a net total of three successes, you may receive a “Yes, and…” result while 0 net successes may still be a success, except you get a “Yes, but…” result. GMs, known as Counselors, are encouraged to really play up the varying degrees of success or failure to help improve the story and move it along.
Of course, there are many game options which can add or subtract from your dice pool or manipulate the way the dice behave. Some special powers, for example, make you reroll dice while others may let you treat all 6s as two successes. There is a lot of flexibility in what seems like a very simple system, and it really helps keep things fresh.
Character creation is pretty simple. Step 1: Choose Mythic Race. Step 2: Choose Skills. Step 3: Choose Comforts from Home.
There are 10 playable races: centaur, cyclops, dryad, fae, harpy, kappa, kitsune, leprechaun, minotaur, and redcap. Each has its own special perks and drawbacks, and they all feel very unique. There’s something for everyone, from the big and hitty cyclops to the tricky leprechauns or even the magical fae. Every play style can be represented by one or two races.
After selecting a mythic race, players choose from 12 skills using 10 free skill points. Skills include archery, arts and crafts, concealment, drama, sports, sparring, friendship, bullying, and more. Though the skill set seems limited at first, the game provides ample examples of how each can be used for a wide variety of purposes. For example, Arts and Crafts can be used for trapmaking while Discovery can be used to spot traps. Archery can be used for shooting bow and arrows or making any other ranged attack. Wilderness Lore can be used for spotting traps in the wild, finding one’s way, or tracking down a creature that is trying to hide.
Finally, characters get to select their Comforts from Home. These comforts can be anything the player chooses, so there isn’t a big list of options. It’s up to you to use your imagination and to work with the Counselor to determine what game effect the comforts have. Usually each trinket grants you a +1W (+1 white dice) when using that item to make a skill check.
Rules of the Game
The chapter on game rules is only 15 pages long–and these are not dense pages. You can guarantee that this will be an easy-to-learn, rules light system. It works very well and could easily be modified to fit a variety of game settings, but it’s particularly suited to do what Camp Myth does best: story-driven gameplay in a mythological setting.
Most of this section covers how to resolve dice rolls, how to select skills to be used, and how to resolve conflicts (whether physical or social). Everything fits into the same dice pool mechanic as outlined above, with the exception that conflicts can be handled by having the defending player roll Black dice instead of the offensive player rolling both White and Black dice.
One thing I particularly like about this system is that it encourages players to use their creativity and narrative skills when engaged in conflict. A fight between two people isn’t necessarily Sparring vs. Sparring skills. If a minotaur is using his Sparring skill to attack a weaker character, for example, that character may choose to roll Concealment to hide, Arts and Crafts to set a trap that the minotaur will trip over, or even Friendship to try to talk him down. An optional rule that prevents a player from using the same skill repeatedly is available to help balance things out, so a particularly stealthy character can’t guarantee victory all of the time by simply hiding until the heat is off.
If the game rule section is short, the bestiary is relatively long. It’s about 23 pages of creative monster statistics. Nearly every iconic creature from your favorite myths and legends is found in this section, from basilisks and cockatrices to wendigo and yeti. There is no shortage of creatures you can encounter and each brings its own unique special abilities to change the way a conflict with that creature might work.
During their stay at Camp Myth, campers will attempt to earn as many merit badges as they can. Not only do these merit badges encourage storytelling–after all, you have to go an an dventure to collect and earn them–they also grant characters little in-game bonuses. For example, Banshee Debating gives you a bonus to resist attacks from loud noises.
Players are given space on their character sheet to doodle and design their own merit badges, giving each one its own fun characteristics and personal touch.
The book is rounded out with a collection of several sample adventures. Beginning with Phoenix Watching, an adventure based on the first book in Chris Lewis carter’s Camp Myth series, players will get to collect a phoenix feather and bring it back as proof to earn a merit badge. Other adventures include The Ballad of Becky Banshee, a ghost story of sorts, and The Talent Show.
Camp Myth is a great game with simple rules suitable for children of most ages. That being said, there are a few concerns in regards to accessibility.
Dice Pool: Dice pools can grow very large and players may be throwing up to a dozen dice at a time, though more likely around 6 or 8. Not only can this be difficult to manage if you have problems with fine manipulation, it can be difficult to spot the results if you have visual issues.
That being said, it isn’t difficult for someone else at the table to lend a hand, and this game is all about building teamwork skills.
Math: Most of the math in Camp Myth is simple: count the number of dice you have, total your number of successes by subtracting Black from White dice. You don’t need strong math skills to determine whether or not you’ve earned a success; most of the time, you simply have to note whether or not your dice is a 4, 5, or 6. This means the game can be boiled down to very basic addition and subtraction, which is great for younger audiences.
PDF Bookmarks: Though the index and table of context are not hyperlinked, the PDF does contain bookmarks. The short book should be easy to navigate on most devices.
PDF Tagging: I had zero difficulty reading the PDF with a screen reader. The book’s layout is simple and clean and didn’t stump my screen reading software at all.
Camp Myth: the RPG is another spectacular product from Third Eye Games. It’s perfectly suited to children but also fun for adults. The book is absolutely dripping with flavor, character, and humor and it is a joy to read through.
If you’re looking for a game to play with your kids but you don’t think Mermaid Adventures will suit their fancy, consider Camp Myth. It’s lighthearted, simple, and offers plenty of character choices for all players.