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MYRIAD SONG is a game of adventure set in the far stars of the interstellar empire known as the Myriad Syndicate. Its masters, the Syndics, ruled unquestioned over their subjects, standing above and beyond the comprehension of creatures of a mere three dimensions. Their power was great, and their xenharmonic technology recondite and surreal, but they were not so far beyond us that it was not worth their time to enslave us.
We 3-d creatures were no match for them. They outflanked us from right angles to everything, twisting in tesseracts, their thoughts as heavy and cutting as guillotines. Resistance was futile, but we resisted, though they crushed that resistance again and again. We do not know how many rebellions they quashed. History was theirs to write, and no records survive save their party line.
We needed them. Their technology beggared understanding. Their campanile towers loomed like monoliths over the cities, supplying limitless power from an unknown source, and singing the Myriad Song that called the starships to the warmth of the sun-lit worlds. Without the campaniles and their song, the jump drives on our space ships would be as useless as radios tune to static.
They used us. Whole worlds labored in endless factory lines to construct inexplicable mechanisms for them, entire ecosystems harvested for rare life forms, whole societies bent to the millstone, whole planets crushed by kinetic bombardments. We were chattel to them, and if we died, they let us die, though they could have ended disease and banished death if they chose to. They made their profit off of us.
But they're gone.
They've been gone for a hundred years. Their aristocrat overseers, their house slaves with their old dynasties and their xenharmonic navigator genes, they keep saying the Syndics will be back. They've been sayin' it for a hundred years and the Syndics, they haven't come back.
Did they go because we chased them off? Did they go because they done with us? With our world? If they come back, will we be ready?
If you ask the Remanence, they'll say that there's no getting ready, that your rebellion is a one-way ticket to the chopping block when the Syndics come back. As long as we need the Syndic campaniles and Rondo drives for FTL, there's nothin' in these Myriad Worlds that'll stop the Syndics when they come back. And they will come back. So keep your head down, pay your taxes, and don't make waves, son.
If you ask the Concord, those old rebel scholars, they'll tell you we'll only be ready if we explore all the science the Syndics denied us on pain of death. Soft-ware, programmable computers, digital networking, to make us wise. Von neumann probes, immortality medicines, cybernetic grafts, to make us strong. Reverse-engineered campanile towers, to sing a Myriad Song of our own.
If you ask the Solar Creed, they'll tell you, the Syndics, they ain't coming back. They chased the Syndics off but good, and don't you forget it. The Creed plans to be here when the stars are getting old. They'll make a good world, with a place for everyone, and all you gotta do is fit yourself in to that place and stay there like their Heliotrope soldiers say you should. You don't need to go to the stars; they'll bring the sun's light to you, direct to rectenna by microwave.
If you ask the Malmignatti and the Spider Queen of All That Is perched upon her silk throne with her thousand husbands, they'll tell you that what made the Syndics strong wasn't their tech. It was their biology, their four+-dimensional flesh, that perspective. The Spider Queen of the stars is familiar with their manifolds and their geometry - it's all another web to her, and with her eugenic program she'll weave a web to match any the Syndics could spin.
If you ask Averlini Mercantile? They'll just laugh. As long as the world spins, there's gonna be money, it's gonna flow from star to star, and they're gonna be the ones riding that river. You got a problem with that, you go ahead and put it in the suggestion box, and be sure to sign your name, so their strike-breakers can break you straight away.
If you ask the Dissonance, that echoing signal piping in at the border worlds of the Myriad-
-sizzling on every receiver
-hissing in your dreams at night
-calling you like a parasite in your brain
-then all you'll get is static. But if you listen, really listen, maybe it'll tell you something no one else can, a siren's whisper in the sea-foam.
These worlds, these islands in the black sea, call to you with the Myriad Song. Will you tune in?
Myriad Song uses a derivative of the system used in the low-fantasy Ironclaw: Squaring the Circle and in the 1900s-era fantasy Noggle Stones. This system, Cardinal, uses dice pools with varying sizes of dice, where each die that beats the target number (usually 3) is a successful die, and the quality of your success depends on how many of your dice succeed.
It is an attribute-and-skill system, like Exalted, but attributes (called 'traits') and skills (called 'skills') don't improve by adding more dice. Instead, they become larger (d12s as opposed to d6's, for example) and thus more reliable. Additionally, characters can have more specialized and unusual abilities, called Gifts, which work much like Exalted Charms or DnD Feats.
The attributes of Myriad Song are Body, Will, Speed, Mind, Career, and Legacy.
Body covers your strength and health and vigor. Will covers your psychological strength and resilience and charisma. Speed covers your fine motor skill and ability to quickly react. Mind covers your intellect, working memory, and other mental virtues. Career covers your skill are your chosen profession. Each career is associated with three specific Skills, but can be used outside of those skills at appropriate times as the GM sees fit. Legacy covers the abilities and skills associated with your unique alien species. Each Legacy is associated with three specific Skills, but can be used outside of those skills at appropriate times as the GM sees fit.
The list of skills is kept short by making the skills sufficiently broad:
Academics, covering all matter of academic pursuits, including medical science and medical care. Athletics, covering all matter of athletic endeavor, including climbing, leaping, lifting, swimming, zero-g acrobatics, and riding animals. Crafts, covering any situation in which you fix, upgrade, sabotage, or assemble some device, be it a glass knife you knapped out of stolen plate glass or a cyclotron rifle. Deceit, covering disguise, sleight of hand, and bald-faced lies. Endurance, saving your bacon whenever you're pushing your stamina to the limit. Evasion, used to both evade attacks and evade detection. Fighting, useful for pummeling, impaling, slashing, or any other sort of hand to hand unkindness. Negotiation, useful for getting other people to do what you want in exchange for doing a little bit of what they want. Observation, useful for detecting ambush, seeing clues, or otherwise having your wits about you. Presence, useful for inspiring other people to adore you, hate you, or fear you, as well as for rocking out on your sweet electric guitar. Psyche, useful for mastering bizarre higher-dimensional powers to incinerate or relocate relocate your foes, as well as comprehending the inexplicable Syndic technologies. Questioning, useful for getting answers to your questions out of both people and the environment. Shooting, useful for putting bullets, lasers, arrows, rockets, and railgun slugs in to the other guy. Tactics, useful for getting your friends back in the fight, backstabbing some poor bastard you've got out numbered, or planning a military action. Transport, useful for driving anything from a go-kart to a jump-capable starship.
By rolling dice from your Traits, dice from your Skills, and bonus dice from your Gifts, your allies assistance, and your tools, you can deal with even the most arduous tasks.
Does anyone else have the rulebook yet? What do you think?