The Elthos Project
The Elthos Project is more than just the Elthos RPG. It's even more than the Mythos Machine. It is a philosophy of Role Playing Games that looks to the future and sees a world of creative people expressing themselves in myriads of adventure games. It embraces a wide and diverse range of objectives, all centered on the idea that people are at their best when they feel free to be creative.
The Elthos RPG
So the Elthos Project started with the Elthos RPG. That project began in 1978. You can read about the history of Elthos, but for now I want to forge ahead and look forward. After creating the first version of Elthos software, called The Gamemaster's Toolbox, I vastly simplified the original Elthos rules and created the "One Die System". I then worked on the Mythos Machine, and that's where the software is today. Don't worry, it's going to go beyond that phase as well. There's five more phases in the project, and continuously advancing and enhancing the software is part of the project plan.
The Professional Gamemaster Society
The next Big Thing was the founding of the Professional Gamemaster Society in 2014. That's also garnered some lively participation among interested Gamemasters, and the group has over 200 members at this point. The idea stemmed from my earlier experiences back in 1996 when I did Professional Gamemastering for our local Community Center in Chappaqua, NY. It was a blast, and the 36 kids I had at those games had a great time. No complaints, though the money was... not that great, to be honest. But still, it was a foray into a concept that has hung with me all these years. Musicians, artists, poets, and writers, film makers, actors, and pretty much every creative art has people who earn a living from their craft. This allows them to really focus on their skills and hone their craft to it's finest possible state. I have always felt that Gamemasters are also artists, and should be able to do the same. The only difference is that Gamemastering is a combination of a number of crafts that sling together to form something really fun - a game that generates stories. It incorporates improvisational theater, writing, art, and depending on the Gamemaster, history, science, sociology, and whatever other disciplines the GM might want to bring to bear in order to create their Worlds. It's amazing. And it takes a lot of work. A LOT. So, the idea that Gamemasters might be able to go Professional and by doing so be able to devote themselves to the craft is something that occurred to me, and when I asked other Gamemasters on Google+ about their thoughts on it, I got amazingly enthusiastic support for the idea. And so the Professional Gamemaster Society Community on Google+ was born. It's a work in progress, but we are making progress and some of our members are already making this work for them.
Academic Gaming is another branch of the Elthos Project, though this one has a completely different orientation than the others. This idea is that Universities can use a variant of the Mythos Machine to create simulated Worlds in which to run a variety of long term sociological experiments, and garner data that may help academics understand aspects of their subjects more effectively. The idea here is that different departments would set up experimental worlds for different purposes. For example, the Sociologists might want to compare how two groups of primitive societies might interact under different conditions. Or Political Theorists might want to run simulations of the interactions between different forms of Governments, say Monarchy vs. Democracy. And so on. I think there is a great deal of potential there, and so I also want to pursue this as well, if possible. I've been kicking around this idea in the background for some time. I really think it has potential. I'll be writing more about this in the coming months and years.
The Elthos Tarot System
This concept is rather far flung, mysterious, and mystical in nature, and therefore fraught with all kinds of improbabilities, but I'll toss it out there just as well. When I was a young Gamemaster I tried to create symbolic underpinnings for my Campaigns. Something like what I felt Tolkien had done, or the ancient Greeks, or the Sumerians. Their stories were infused with symbolism that "made sense" and carried over from story to story. They had in their minds, somehow, a framework of symbols that allowed them to interconnect ideas in ways that both mystified and exited me tremendously. I wanted to be able to do that. But, unfortunately, I had no such framework, and couldn't quite understand theirs. I tried. But my symbols kept getting lost in the shuffle. So to remedy this I decided to come up with a symbolic framework of my own for my world of Elthos. That took seven years of research to complete. I decided to bring this from concept to reality and hired Jason Moser to do the artwork for the deck, and gave him artistic freedom while I simply gave him the elements that needed to be on each card. The result is the Elthos Tarot Deck. I'd like to write a book on the topic, and explain how the system works and how Gamemasters might be able to use it to run games that have an underlying meaning.
The Mythos Machine
The Mythos Machine is a wonder of 21st century technology that fuses your web browser with the Elthos RPG. It is primarily a game prep tool that helps Gamemasters create and maintain their own Worlds by smoothly and efficiently doing all of the number crunching for you, and providing a centralized online location to store your World’s Characters, Places, Adventures, and Story. It also allows your players to generate and maintain their Characters online. Here I want to just say that building the Mythos Machine, including the earlier Visual Basic version, has taken me (1994 - 2017) a good deal of time and effort. It's been absolutely fantastic. You might think it's a little crazy to work on one project for that long. You may be right. But I've enjoyed it immensely, and even if no one in the world ever used it but me, I'd still consider it the best thing since sliced bread, and an achievement worthy of my efforts. I love the thing. It's great and it really totally helps me Gamemaster my beloved World. 🙂
Read more about the Mythos Machine...
The Literary Role Playing Game Society
In 2006 I was curious about how to improve my Gamemastering through the introduction of Literary elements into my game. I had been doing that for some time, being an avid reader of classical and medieval literature, but I wanted to discuss this concept with others, and brainstorm on techniques to bring about better stories. To this end I founded the Literary Role Playing Game Society here in New York. We had a lot of people involved and bi-weekly meetings, took tremendous notes, created a wonderful set of databases, and compiled a lot of useful information... out on Yahoo Groups. *sigh*. Yahoo for some reason decided that it was a good idea to ruin their interfaces and destroy themselves, and it left our groups records in a state of chaos when they did that. Oh well. I have local copies here, so I will put that back together in a new format at some point. But we moved off of Yahoo Groups and migrated over to Google+, where we have a reasonably lively existence. The Google+ community is also a bit flawed in that it's not really designed for the compiling of information, but instead is more oriented towards stream of consciousness conversations. I use that group to post an ongoing stream of images, and comments, and blog links, that may inspire Gamemasters with ideas for their Worlds. It's completely RPG System neutral, and it serves its purpose well enough. But still, I want to augment this community with better tools. We'll be working toward that goal as the Elthos Project moves forward.
Improvisational Game Theater
Improvisational Game Theater is another aspect of the Elthos Project that is related to both the Literary Role Playing Game Society and the Professional Gamemaster Society. This concept got kicked off in a blog post of mine back in 2006. I wanted to discuss the idea of having a Professional quality improvisational theater group actually run a game live on stage for an audience. Years later we can see on twitch and youtube a number of efforts starting to percolate up in that direction. Those efforts look pretty cool. I've seen some that I really enjoy. But still, to date, no one has put together exactly what I have in mind, and so it's still on my list of Elthos Project initiatives. I'm going to be working towards that goal as the project moves forward. I really look forward to that.
Live Virtual Reality Gamemastering
Another branch of the Elthos Project Tree is to work through the Professional Gamemaster Society towards the more futuristic goal of having Live Virtual Reality Gamemastering. That would be a tall order as it will require specialized software to be created for this purpose, but the two pieces that are most important already exist. There is the amazing CGI capabilities that are presently available for visualizing Worlds. If we can fuse that with a modified and enhanced version of the Mythos Machine to allow Gamemasters to create Histories, Campaigns, Main Characters and so on, and then Gamemaster them live for large player audiences, then we have something very interesting. I see The Void as a hint of where I believe things will be heading. I definitely want to work on developing this concept as well. I think this is, ultimately, where the future or RPGs is heading. I'd love to be instrumental and helping to bring this concept to fruition.
|Ready for this, Player One?||
Coming Soon... Premium Tier
The Basic Gamemaster Tier will allow each Gamemaster to create one World. They can create as many things in that World as they wish, but only one World can be created at a time. If the Gamemaster wishes to create a new World they can do so, but first they must delete the old one. With the Premium Gamemaster Tier multiple Worlds will become possible, and the Gamemaster will be allowed to create as many of these as they wish.
Gamemasters will be able to create new Worlds and then offer other Gamemasters slots that they control within the World. This way a group of Gamemasters can develop Worlds together and in cooperations with one another.
Mythos Machine Worlds Marketplace
The Mythos Machine Worlds Marketplace is system by which Gamemasters will be able to create their own complete Worlds, and then package them for sale to other Gamemasters on the system. They will be able to set their own price, and the Elthos company will get a small commission on each sale. While we have not decided the exact pricing model yet, it is likely that the Worlds Marketplace will be part of the Premium Tier and cost a bit more than the Basic GM tier.
Ok, I know what you're thinking. That sounds like a lot. Yup. It is a lot. And the frustrating part for me is that I'm getting off to a bit of a slow start, I'm afraid. After all, I started this project in 1978. I'm a slow poke, I know. But still, nothing truly beautiful has ever been crafted by anyone who was rushing to get it done fast, rather than well. So don't rush me, please. I'm trying to build for the long run. Quality, not speed, is my top concern.
However, that said, I want you to know that I will be working on all of this. And a couple of other things that I don't even want to mention right now because they're a little bit far fetched. Haha. 🙂 Anyway, so yeah, I'm off to a bit of a slow start, I admit. But I'm very determined to make this a big success. That part should be obvious. And I'm very passionate about the Elthos Project, and I hear that goes a long way toward creating good stuff, too. So it's not as hopeless as it looks. I'm sure I can do this thing. And I will absolutely give it my best shot!
But I need your help. I can't do it alone. And so I'm asking you to do me a solid here. Please hop on over to the Shop and buy the Rules Books, or some cool and snazzy Elthos Swag. Or, if you don't see anything you want to buy, then please consider making a Contribution. That would be cool, too. Or if you can't swing that, that's ok. Why not join the project as a Beta Tester and send some feedback? Tell me what you think of it, and how it can be improved. That would be extremely cool, too! You can send your feedback directly from the Mythos Machine, or you can email me at Mark@Elthos.com. I'm here. I'm all ears.
Anyway, thanks! If you've read this far, you're totally awesome! Thank you!