“Once upon a time, east of the sun and west of the moon, there was a different place, but not too different…”

So begin many of the oldest folktales of Russia. A land of icy winters and fiery passions, where the warrior who was trying to split you in half with his axe an hour ago may be swearing eternal friendship in an hour’s time (a jug or two of vodka might help).

A land just now throwing off Mongol rule and yet still not a country in its own right, in which princes scheme and bicker as they seek to make themselves tsar.

A land torn between the new teachings of Christianity and the old, pagan ways of the wilds and the household spirit.

A land where saints walk the day and mighty spirits of the forest walk the night, where the fish you catch may offer you three wishes for its life and the twinkle of light in the night might be the Firebird himself, leading lost children back home, or a stray moonbeam shining off the iron teeth of Baba Yaga, the man-eating witch.

A land of deep, dark woods, in which humanity has still made few inroads, huddled in towns and around campfires in clearings and along rivers.

A land of legend and folktale, history and myth, of triumph and tragedy.

A land ready for adventure.

Mythic Russia is a game of roleplaying with the HeroQuest game system in the ancient Russia of legend and folktale, a land of glittering onion-domed churches and dark, dangerous forests, home to heroes, fiends — and the flame-feathered firebird.

You can access a preview here and the table of contents here.

The Game

Mythic Russia uses a modified form of the original HeroQuestTM game system (a roleplaying system designed by Robin Laws – already an industry legend for such games as Feng Shui and Dying Earth) to allow epic play in the lands and myths of Old Russia. It is, however, a completely self-contained book: you do not need to own a copy of HeroQuest to play.

How does Mythic Russia build on the core game engine?

Mythic Russia is completely compatible with both HeroQuest and the updated HeroQuest 2. That said, the world of Mythic Russia is a distinctive setting, and the game reflects the particularities of this setting. In some cases, there are elements which, while using the same game engine, are presented in a very different way. For example, while there are shamans who summon the spirits, those who still worship the old gods, and the spreading faith of Christianity, Mythic Russia bases all the magic upon a single, common system, although with details on how their powers are used and acquired giving different magical cultures their own distinctive feel.

In other cases, a distinctive feel is ensured by tweaking the details, even while the rules remain the same. For example, a hero of the Rus’ is a passionate man or women, driven by larger-than-life loves and devotions, enmities and commitments. Thus, an even greater use is made of the game engine’s excellent and innovative treatment of relationships and personality traits as abilities, with several masteries being by no means unusual. Of course, this also risks upsetting the balance of the game, and so this is presented alongside notes for the narrator to ensure that, for example, Vasilsa the Driven cannot simply use his Desperate Never to Fail to augment himself in every challenge, or that if he does try to abuse it, the narrator can turn it into a weakness. Then there are also be optional rules which add to the core game engine, generally to reflect the needs of the setting and also the experience of several years’ play with the game engine.