Behind the Lines: Introduction

The new release from the Design Mechanism for April was a scenario collection called Parallel Lines. Usually, when a new book from the Design Mechanism is released, I do some sort of overview and share my thoughts here, on my YouTube channel, or both. This time is a little different as I have had a small part to play in its creation. As one of the contributing authors, I do not feel comfortable doing a review, so I thought instead I would take a look at the supplement’s contents, features, and intended purpose, to put the book in context for new and established Mythras GMs.

What is it?

Parallel Lines is a 172-page, awesomely indexed book with black and white interiors providing 8 scenarios for the Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across the Parallels setting, suitable for stand-alone use or linked together as the basic framework of a campaign. The scenarios draw heavily from the Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across the Parallels expansion for the Mythras core rules. The book is currently available in PDF from the usual suspects and as a PDF + Print Pre-order package via the Design Mechanism and their UK affiliate, Aeon Games. Once printed, the book will be available in softcover.

What else is it?

One thing that is true about the Luther Arkwright setting is that things can be much, much more than what they seem, and even the things which seem to stay the same can fool you. Bryan Talbot’s two impressive Arkwright series offer up a massive universe for play and the scenarios in this supplement attempt to demonstrate the challenges an agent of Valhalla might face, while also showcasing some of the different tones such challenges might be given. Investigation is unafraid to spend time with a little ultra-violence. Romance and rock ‘n roll hang out with horror and addiction for a little while, and Comedy and tragedy trash your apartment while you are not looking. You could be meditating atop a snowy mountain one day, blowing a man’s face off in a duel the next, and hot-wiring an airship later that afternoon – all in a parallel universe which looks like your own, but isn’t.

More than anything, the scenarios demonstrate different ways to take the Mythras + Arkwright toolkit and then ground the agents in both an ongoing mystery and the unpredictable turns of individual assignments across the parallels.

Mjollnir  

One very-handy element provided by the supplement is the Mjollnir section, a rapid-response team that has the equipment and support personnel to undertake trans-dimensional assignments on a moment’s notice. The write-up demonstrates some technological developments which ease that role, and expands the roster of Valhalla personnel. That roster defines fixed points of reference within the Program, defining its character and outlook a little more, and helping the GM to establish an ongoing continuity of work relationships within Valhalla, and provide whatever arrangement of short-missions and long-term assignments will work for the group.

The Scenarios

In similar fashion, the scenarios provide insight into applying the core and Arkwright rules to craft organizations, civilizations, old and new technology, and then bring them altogether with Disruptor plots, and all the subtle and not-so-subtle pop and underground cultural references a psychic, secret-agent with addresses on multiple planes might want.

Whether it is in a Salem still conducting witch trials, an industrial hell of floating buildings, the Trans-Siberian railway, or one of many Europes on the brink of war, each scenario harnesses aspects of Mythras to spawn horrific creatures, unleash psychic powers, trigger deep-seated addictions and dependencies, launch new technologies and tremendous vehicles, and much more. Throughout, the spectre of violence and betrayal shadows the characters and brings the personal toll of their lives, into sharp relief.

ParallelLines

This series

Future installments in this series of posts will take a look at the scenario I wrote, This Corrosion, and go through how it was put together using Mythras and Arkwright, strategies for running it, and suggestions for expanding on the material should the Agents need to return to that parallel someday… or never leave.

 

 

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