LETS PLAY: M-SPACE - D100 MYTHRAS-DERIVED SPACE OPERA
M-Space, written by Clarence Redd and published by FrostByte Books, is pitched as “d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future”. Let’s build a character and solo play a random space encounter to see how it works.
M-Space is a d100 system based on Mythras Imperative from The Design Mechanism. Mythras itself is derived from previous work on RuneQuest and Basic Roleplaying. The base game resolution mechanic is rolling your skill value or less on a d100. Mythras/RuneQuest have a reputation for particularly flavorful and deadly combat but I believe we’ll find M-Space provides some different levels of flavor in terms of how this might work within a fantastical “Space Opera” atmosphere. It is also immediately clear from M-Space’s Table of Contents that this is a “toolkit” RPG book. You’ve got “Alien Creation”, “Starship Design”, and “World Building” to give you a flavor of what we’re getting into.
At their core M-Space characters have characteristics, attributes, and skills.
The are seven core characteristics: Strength, Constitution, Size, Dexterity, Intelligence, Power, and Charisma. M-Space defines several ways to assign your characteristics: Roll and assign in order, Roll and assign the numbers as you see fit, Roll a dice pool and pull the necessary dice together per characteristics to assign values as you see fit, and a Point-based build. Of course, it also notes that a Gamemaster (GM) may derive their own methods for character creation. This seems like an obvious thing to point out, but you’d be amazed on how “rules as written” is treated as dogma by some folks in the roleplaying community whom, I guess, don’t enjoy having fun.
For the purposes of reviewing this product, I’ll just go with “roll and assign in order” as my method. Additionally, let’s give our character a name. Using Donjon’s Space “Terran Male Names” random generator we get: Teve Arner.
Teve’s characteristics after rolling:
- (STR) Strength, 13
- (CON) Constitution, 10
- (SIZ) Size, 15
- (DEX) Dexterity, 12
- (INT) Intelligence, 14
- (POW) Power, 9
- (CHA) Charisma, 14
While there are great explanations of how to use these characteristics in the game, it is not clear what a “good” or “bad” number is. Most stats were rolled with
3d6 so the 10 and 9 stand out as average/below-average skills for sure. I’m not interested in power gaming but I do think the cool thing about randomly rolled stats is that they make up a story about who your character is for you. Teve’s (CON) health/hardiness and (POW) soul/spirit appear to be, meh.
Now we get a bunch of attributes that are generally derived from your characteristics.
- Action Points: 2 (M-Space notes that everyone gets 2 and that this deviates from Mythras)
- Damage Modifier: STR+SIZ gives us a 28, which on the Damage Modifier table (pg. 12) provides us with +1d2
- Experience Modifier: Our CHA score of 14 grants us a +1 experience modifier
- Healing Rate: Our CON of 10 grants us a natural healing rate of 2 hit points recovered per day/week/month depending on the nature of the injuries
- Hit Points: Our CON+SIZ of 25 assigns us a Hit Points per location table on pg. 14. M-Space takes this time to note we can also choose to play without Hit Locations.
- Luck Points: Our POW of 9 grants us 2 luck points that can be spent to reroll the dice, mitigate narrative nastiness or gain an edge. These refresh every game session.
- Power Points: Our POW of 9 can be spent on utilizing psionic powers - this seems unlikely for our character though
- Movement Rate: As we are a standard human, we get a 6 meter movement rate
We are told that there are Standard Skills and Professional Skills. Further, at character creation we are told a novice character gets 100 points to assign to skill pertaining to the Culture they grew up in, 100 points relevant to our Career skills, and an additional 150 points to “round out” our character. We are told that Professional skills must either by obtained at character creation or via a “teacher.”
Skills build upon your characteristics, so Athletics starts with a base of your STR+DEX. Remember, this is a d100 roll under game, so out of the gate Teve can succeed on an Athletics check 25% of the time. The book provides paragraph length descriptions for every skill and clear explanations of how they will typically apply in play. In a few cases there is some guidance that a general skill requires a specialization but the character sheet doesn’t seem to align. Navigate/Navigation stands out as an example.
Now we can use our first batch of 100 skill points to build out Teve’s profile. M-Space says there are three basic cultures: Orbit, Rural, and Urban. We get some notes about what each culture represents and then a list of Standard and Professional skills characters may use their first 100 points on. It is noted that a character should only select three of the Professional skills at this time. Still this gives your character the first real chance to build out their backstory.
Not knowing which culture applies to Teve, I roll a 1d3 (1 Orbit, 2 Rural, 3 Urban) and get a 2, Rural. The rural section notes I can take a relevant combat style from a combat style package but provides very little guidance as to what this might be given that every setting is different. Some examples would’ve been handy but I did find that Clarence had posted a few over on the Basic Roleplaying forum. I don’t mind doing the creative work but I do find not understanding the terminology makes it hard to do so.
I decide that Teve is going to be Luke Skywalker-esque type kid (without the Force powers.) Teve knows his way around fixing droids and the moisture evaporators around his Uncle’s farm. Teve doesn’t really understand or care about farming though. He’s excited when he gets to pilot his Uncle’s speeder into town for parts or supplies. Since barbarians are common out in the rural parts, Teve knows how to handle a common blaster.
- Standard Skills
- Athletics 10
- Endurance 10
- Drive 10
- Locale 10
- Perception 20
- Ride 10
- Professional Skills
- Combat Style [Blaster] 20
- Mechanics 10
Similar to cultures we are given 100 points to spend on a package of pre-selected skills from a career. The careers are very general and you’ll have to use your imagination to fit them to your setting but there’s plenty of variety to allow you to flavor them to your needs.
Teve seems like he’s a “Colonist” so we’ll continue building out our skills with that in mind:
- Standard Skills
- Perception 20
- Professional Skills
- Commerce 20
- Mechanics 10
- Navigation 10
- Pilot 30
Finally we can apply 150 points to the skills we’ve already picked up. After that, here’s where all of our skills stand (including the ones we chose not to spend any points on):
- Standard Skills
- Athletics 60
- Boating 23
- Brawn 28
- Conceal 21
- Customs 28
- Dance 26
- Deceit 28
- Drive 51
- Endurance 45
- Evade 24
- First Aid 26
- Influence 28
- Insight 23
- Locale 48
- Native Tongue 68
- Perception 63
- Ride 31
- Sing 23
- Stealth 16
- Swim 23
- Willpower 18
- Professional Skills
- Acrobatics 25
- Acting 28
- Art 23
- Astrogation 28
- Bureaucracy 28
- Commerce 43
- Comms 28
- Computers 28
- Courtesy 28
- Craft 26
- Culture 28
- Demolitions 23
- Disguise 28
- Electronics 26
- Engineering 28
- Forgery 26
- Gambling 23
- Knowledge 28
- Language 28
- Lockpicking 24
- Mechanics 76
- Medicine 23
- Musicianship 26
- Navigation 33
- Oratory 23
- Pilot 66
- Politics 28
- Research 23
- Science 28
- Seamanship 24
- Seduction 28
- Sensors 23
- Sleight 26
- Streetwise 23
- Survival 19
- Teach 28
- Track 24
- Combat Styles
- Combat Style [Blaster] 60
Passions are a way to mechanically represent plot hooks for your character. They remind me of “backgrounds”, “cliches”, “aspects” or other similar freeform narrative attribute concepts you’ve seen in other games. Beginning characters may have up to 3 and there’s a descending bonus applied to each + a base score derived from two attributes which you can map your passion’s focus (“person or family”, “concept or ideal”, etc) to. Teve’s passions:
- Desire to leave planet 63 - Teve desperately wants to get off world. He’s seen the starships leaving the big starport in town and daydreams about what it is like to traverse the galaxy
- But, Mom! 53 - I want to fly my landspeeder through the canyon - Much like the kid who’d rather play video games than clean their room, Teve isn’t terribly interested in doing the family farming work.
Like most modern games, M-Space isn’t terribly interested in having you track Equipment all that closely. Still some guidance is given for starting credits, a weapon, career tools, clothing, etc.
- Clothing that generally protects Teve from the harsh heat of the desert planet he lives on
- 5000 Credits
- A Blaster (Damage: 1d8, Range: 10/30/120, Fire rate: 1, Load: 3)
- Droid caller keyed to the farm’s droids
- Macrobinoculars used to survey the moisture farm
- Laser Torch (1d6 damage when used as a weapon but mostly used for repair work)
- Fusion Tools - M-Space’s idea of a general droid/machine repair kit
And with that, we’re done. Teve is ready to grumble about the daily list of farm hand chores. To get this party started I’m going to use Sine Nomine’s Sixteen Stars: Creating Places of Perilous Adventure random adventure generator. Teve’s probably in setting most similar to a “Colonial Outpost”. I roll up some starting details but not too much as I prefer as many “unknown unknowns” as possible.
Teve gripped the controls of his land speeder and kept his eyes on the horizon. While Teve’s onboard sensors occasionally blared a collision alarm he knew Erryne’s Canyon like the back of his hand and there wasn’t much need for electronics to guide his choices.
“I’ve got you this time” barked a voice over Teve’s comlink
Starting In Media Res as they say, this seemed like a good time to explore M-Space’s “Extended Conflict” rules. We’ve got ourselves a Driving Chase here and we’ll contest the driving skills of local landspeeder racer Johnne Clezal vs. Teve. Each starts with a conflict pool of either their DEX or the average of their vehicle’s Speed+Handling. I’m doing to assume that similar to US Stock Car Racing that the stats of the vehicles aren’t terribly interesting, it is the driver’s own skill that matters so we’ll build pools from each character’s DEX. Teve gets a pool of 12 and Johnne has a pool of 7. Johnne’s Drive Skill is a 46 while Teve’s is a 51. Teve’s pool is higher and so he has the initiative. As a note, I rolled Johnne’s stats randomly, used M-Space’s opponent rating guidance for his driving skill and did a Mythic Stat Check on that number to derive the final value.
Teve laughs “You always say that!”, the first critical maneuverer comes up as Teve has to bank hard right around a rock pillar.
Teve rolls an 80, a failure while Johnne rolls a 37, a success. Teve takes 1d6  damage to his conflict pool reducing it by half to 6. This triggers the all conflict checks are made at a Hard difficulty rule for Teve. Not looking good! Teve has the option to withdraw at this point but decides to press his luck.
Teve kills the accelerator and slams on the controls to bank around the pillar but his timing is off today and he scrapes the edge of his vehicle against the canyon walls. Johnne pulls ahead and is in the lead.
“Didn’t know we were eating wall for lunch, Teve!” jokes Johnne.
Shaking off the dust, Teve pushes harder on his accelerator and dials a few knobs hoping to eek out just enough additional engine performance to make the difference.
This time Teve rolls a 21+20(hard), while Johnne rolls a 79. Johnne will take 1d6  damage to his conflict pool reducing it to a value of 5 - not halved yet.
Teve’s adjustments pay off and he pulls even with Johnne’s speeder.
“Yeah, yeah, should I save a spot for you at the cliff buffet too, Johnne?”
“Not necessary, Teve” boast Johnne as the two hit a steep drop-off in the canyon that can trip up even the most seasoned of racers.
Teve rolls a 20+20(hard), while Johnne rolls a 98 - nearly a fumble. 1d6  points are taken from Johnne’s conflict pool which reduces it to less than half to 1. Johnne has the option to withdraw so we’ll ask Mythic: Does Johnne withdraw from the conflict? Chaos factor is 4, and the odds are… 50/50, and a Yes would favor Teve. Mythic tells us that Johnne withdraws.
As the two speeders leap over the cliff, Johnne’s spins out wildly. We see Johnne slam his fist against the controls of his speeder as Teve pulls away.
“Yaaaaawhoo! Hey, refreshments are on me Johnne - let’s grab some real food.” says Teve who waits for Johnne to gather himself and make it out of the canyon. The two head over to the local space cafe, The Last Asteroid.
I don’t know what type of place The Last Asteroid is exactly, so we’ll use the Cantina Creation rules in “Wretched Hives of Scum and Villainy” from West End Games to piece together some background. Additionally I roll a 12 on the “Cantina Encounter Table” and get “A Barroom brawl suddenly breaks out”.
Teve and Johnne share a beverage and some food in the dim lights of The Last Asteroid. A crowd has gathered around a set of Holo-Game stations and they are actively cheering on some sort of contest. Suddenly loud shouting and pushing breaks out from within the crowd.
“THAT’S MY CRED STICK CHUMP!” gruffly shouts a Krunni -a native humanoid alien with thin tentacles dangling from its face.
The sound of glass breaking rings out through the bar. Teve stumbles underneath the table he was eating at as Johnne stands tall to try peer into the crowd to assess the harm.
“Yeah?! Are you gonna cheat your way into stealing it from me like you just stole that game?” responds another person that Teve can’t no longer see. Teve places his hand near his blaster.
“Johnne, Johnne! Get down man.” warns Teve.
“Don’t get so jumpy, fights are always breaking out in here.”
Teve looks behind him to remind himself of the distance to the exit. A loud thud snaps Teve’s focus back to in front of him, even he can’t see what’s there. More scuffling sounds and then more glass breaks.
“The only stealing going around on here is what your people take from mine!” the same gruff alien from before retors.
Teve wonders if this is a mining dispute. Ever since the Numa Industrial Corporation had set up a mining operation on Corva, the local Krunnis had taken offense to the encroachment of the mines on what they see as their own land. In the last week several terrorist incidents at the Numa mine have brought this conflict to a head.
“Johnne, we need to get out of here… I’ve got bad feeling about this” as Teve pops his head over his table.
Fate Check: Does Johnne feel the urgency to leave? Chaos 4, Odds 50/50, Yes favors Teve: Yes.
“Alright, let’s get out of here.” Johnne backs up to Teve. The two make their way to the door.
Fate Check: Is the exit clear? Chaos 4, Odds 50/50, Yes favors Teve: No it is not. Adventure Crafter: Action Theme Plotpoint: “Heavily guarded”. Well, then. This oddly enough ties into an antagonist I had rolled up from Sixteen Stars.
“ATTENTION: THIS IS THE CORVA SECURITY FORCES. SURRENDER YOUR WEAPONS AND STAND DOWN.” blares a Corvian security official from outside.
“Damn, what are we caught up in, Teve?” hisses Johnne who doesn’t look quite as confident as he did moments ago. Teve looks around and trying to asses if there’s another way out. Corva had taken a bit of a no-nonsense policing policy of late in attempt to snuff out any sort of civil conflict over the mines.
Feels like a perception check, Teve rolls a 63… his perception is a 63. Lucky. Not having a detailed map of this place, I roll some story cubes. A set of crates stands out to me and feels equivalent to Teve’s roll… it is something, but it is barely useful.
“Johnne, we can hide in those…” Teve motions to some durasteel crates with some foodstuff sacks lying round them.
Does Johnne want to hide? This could be a Fate Check as Johnne is a GM NPC, but let’s try out M-Space’s opposed roll. This feels like Teve’s Influence (28) vs. Johnne’s Willpower (36). Additionally, we can use M-Space’s Passions to represent how badly Teve doesn’t want to get caught and jeopardize his “Desire to leave planet 63”. 1/5 of that would be 13 (rounded up). This brings’ Teve’s Influence up to 41. Teve rolls a 56 and Johnne a 7. Johnne’s not hiding.
“Teve, we did nothing wrong - let’s just walk out of here with our hands up.”
Teve pauses for a moment. His instincts are to run, to ensure that nothing gets in the way of his chances to get off of this burnt rock. Maybe Johnne’s right, the security folks will rough them up a bit but probably let them be on their way. Teve reluctantly joins Johnne and they begin to make their way to the front door.
Fate Check: Do Johnne and Teve make it to the front door without being caught up in the barroom brawl? No. There are a million ways I could determine who is roping them into this brawl, but I decide to use M-Space’s Alien Creation tables to pull out a few inspirational ideas. I end up getting an alien with a hammer-shaped upper body wearing a coarse woolen cloak who is Fast and prefers to Grapple their opponents with a pair of tentacles tails they have. M-Space combat seems… pretty detailed compared to what I’m used to, so I’ll probably mess up a rule or two here.
Rolling initiative: Teve 23, Alien 22, Johnne 16
Fwhap - a tail slaps against a nearby load-bearing post near Teve. Teve turns to see a fiesty Zorga’s tail whip back towards their body, he readies his blaster and sets it to stun. The Alien tries to outmaneuver their foes.
Outmaneuver is a series of opposed Evade skills. The Alien’s Evade is 60 and rolls a 32, Teve’s Evade is 24 and he miraculously rolls a 14, Johnne’s Evade is a 38 and he rolls a 37. The powers that be are with our heroes.
Johnne charges at the Alien and the Alien counterattacks with his tail.
The Alien rolls a 95 against his Combat Style [Tail Attack] of 60. Johnne rolls Evade (38) and gets a 98. Both are failures. New Turn.
Teve carefully aims his blaster at the Alien while the Alien readies a dagger pulled from his cloak. Johnne having closed the distance between him and the Alien attempts to punch the Alien in the face.
Rolling Combat Style [Fist] 60, Johnne rolls a 17. The Alien rolling Evade (60) rolls an 81. This is 1 level of success difference so I think this means Johnne selects a special effect. He’ll pick “Choose Location” so he can target the Alien’s head (which has 4 hit points). Johnne rolls 1d3+1d2 and the Alien takes 3 points of damage to the head.
The Alien is shaken and Teve choose this moment to rip a blaster shot off at them but before doing so yells to Johnne to duck.
Teve’s rolls a 24 against his Combat Style [Blaster] 60+20 (aiming) and the Alien moves to take cover behind a nearby table. The Alien rolls a 99 against his Evade 60. Earning Teve 2 special effects. Teve will choose Pin Down and Duck Back for his effects. Stun damage works a little differently - CON+SIZ/2 forms a conflict pool rather than using hit location. The Alien’s Stun Pool is 14. Teve rolls an 8 on a 1d8 and reduces the stun pool to 6. Pin Down is resolved as a Willpower skill test. The Alien rolls an 89 against their Willpower of 30 and are now pinned down. Teve meanwhile Ducks Back to the nearby cover of a table.
Fate Check: Does the Alien withdraw from this battle? Yes.
Pinned down, facing two foes and feeling a bit dazed from Johnne’s punch the Alien crawls away. Teve and Johnne make their way for the door and hope the Corvian Security Forces treat them kindly.
This is probably enough of playthrough to get a feel for things. Combat required an extensive amount of page turning to determine what happened. Everything else was rather straightforward. Overall, enjoyable and I think the hiccups with understanding combat would be resolved with regularly experience with the system.