Game Developer Mike Myler on Mists of Akuma and A Touch More Class
Geeks A Gogo recently attended Sheyboygan NonCon, one of our favorite events of the year, where we gather to play some tabletop RPGs—often run by the games’ creators. This year we
had the pleasure of playing part of the upcoming Imperial Matchmaker mega adventure, which is part of the Mists of Akuma setting for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. This is one of the few Asian fantasy settings out the there for 5th edition, and we had a really great time playing it. We interviewed creator Mike Myler about the initial release of the setting a few years back, and since we were at his gaming table, we decided to follow up and hear more about this setting.
Geeks A Gogo: Tell our readers a bit about Mists of Akuma.
Mike Myler: It’s an eastern fantasty noir steampunk setting, but the steampunk is optional. Some people see it as heresy, like witchcraft—a prefecture is either way into technology, terrified of it, or uses it as little as possible. We wanted to put a steampunk element into the setting, but to make it something that could be removed. Most GMs aren’t going to run exactly what you put into the book. They’re going to remove a few things, and we made that easy to do. Since there is a lack of eastern fantasy 5e settings, keeping it accessible to as many tables as possible was important for us as a design goal.
Geeks A Gogo: In terms of game mechanics for 5th edition D&D, what are some things that it offers?
Mike Myler: We offer a bunch of new class archetypes designed around the expectation that WoTC would eventually release their own eastern fantasy material so we made ours different—wu-jen are warlocks and samurai are paladins. There’s an abundance of oni as well, new spells, new items, feats (including martial arts stances) and the roleplaying ability scores (Dignity and Haitoku). The (free) Soburin Primer is a good example of what’s up in Mists of Akuma.
Geeks A Gogo: So, we've just had a great time playing through the first part of your upcoming adventure, Imperial Matchmaker which deals with the emperor arranging marriages between various warring clans. Can you tell us more about it?
Mike Myler: It’s about 80% done right now? And it’s going to be massive—about 300 pages I think. The amount of material on the imperial capital of Sanbaoshi is huge (as of this writing about 60,000 words). It’s a sandbox adventure, and it’s going to have a ton of things to do. I’m planning on having a huge new map of the entire city with over 50 locations, many of which have their own local maps. The story focuses on 10 arranged marriages between feuding martial artistocratic houses, and at this point the toughest part as a designer is figuring out where in the town the weddings will be held (royal wedding venues are drying up!) This adventure book is also going to be converted to the Shadow of the Demon Lord rules as well.
Geeks A Gogo: What other adventures or sourcebooks do you have planned?
Mike Myler: Honorable Wills is coming out in the next few weeks (a 90 page module by a new up-and-coming designer named Andrew Engelbrite). Seven Grains of Rice, based on the Seven Samurai is still in development, and we have a Dark Souls-inspired adventure on the way that’s set in a cursed city within Namida Prefecture. I’m sequencing these adventures out to be at different levels and they’ll be linked together much like the modules in the Trade War adventure path hardcover. After that I’m converting things to W.O.I.N.
Geeks A Gogo: So, you've got more projects than Mists of Akuma. Tell our readers what else you've been working on.
Mike Myler: I’ve been the editor for the EN5ider Patreon for over a year and before that I wrote maybe 15% of their articles because EN World is a great company to work for! I designed half of the 7 classes in A Touch of Class but wasn’t wild about the final results—reviews of it came back that they were a bit weak. I went through and reworked everything in AToC, and the revised version (which by all accounts thus far is very solid!) is becoming first available with the A Touch More Class Kickstarter launching next week. The sequel book has 9 classes with things like the gemini, lodestar, gunslinger, savant (if you want to play something like Sherlock Holmes), or the tinkerer (if you want to play Tony Stark) and more. You can get them both in a combined hardcover, or just one of the books in a softback. There’s more information, a mailing list, and a gigantic not at all doomsday-esque timer to the project launch over here.
Geeks A Gogo: So, you're working on another setting as well, that would be of interest to our fantasy/pulp readers.
Mike Myler: Yes! Vast Kaviya is about 90% done right now! I updated The New Argonauts by Sean K. Reynolds for use with D&D 5E, and it gave me an urge to do something like Conan the Barbarian—which is Vast Kaviya. It’s not a setting so much as a setting generator. You start in an area with a random amount of resources, you collect them as efficiently as possible, and build settlements in a very OSR approach to the game where simply surviving is a very big obstacle. The idea is that every table makes their own unique world and the GM adds warlords to it to make things more interesting, either NPCs they’ve come up with or taken from the 20 included in the back of the book (along with underlings and maps of their headquarters). I also have 2099 Wasteland (kind of like a Fallout setting for 5e) which is its own thing, and the folks that keep asking me to make more warlords for it ought to be satisfied with the bevy of them in Vast Kaviya. There’s a good 9 people that are working on the warlords (only 6 of them are mine) including a trans author who wrote a trans warlord and organization, a weird insect race that physically evolve as they level up, and then there’s the Maw—undead dinosaurs who don’t realize that they’re undead—plus of course some psychic dinosaurs as well, and plant people. There’s a bunch of new races. It’s a big, big, big, big big big place.
It’s also a setting that encourages little spellcasting, mostly focusing on high adventure and combat. The world is massive and primitive, has no formal magic (that means no wizards), and there are no gods only spiritual patrons—anyone familiar with WH40k might liken the ‘gods’ in Vast Kaviya to the chaos gods, at least insofar as how they function. The world is around the Brass Age but its people are not primitive, everything is expensive (more trading of items, less buying with coin), there are lots of dinosaurs, more than 100 moons, and the seasons are long. Maybe the most fun roleplaying part is that Common is not a sophisticated language (more of a Pidgin tongue) so if anyone is speaking to someone with any level of complexity, they need to share another language (or talk like they are 9 years old). I’ve long had a hankering for some simple blood and steel in the sand and dirt, and Vast Kaviya is going to deliver all of that in spades.