Thálassa: a Greek Myths Cairn hack

With Roamers of the Dream, my first role-playing game, I wanted to pursue two goals: 1) experiment with the GIST! framework; 2) create a setting reminiscent of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands.

The first goal was achieved, though I’m not sure with what degree of success: I’ve only sold 2 copies (PWYW at launch, 4$ now) and received 136 downloads so far. Modest achievement, but satisfying for me, considering that I didn’t advertised it even a bit.

I totally missed the second one, though: due to the tight deadline of the Dreaming Jam last February, the setting was sketched quickly, restricted to the city area and its surroundings. I’m happy with the sketch of the society I painted and the tone of the setting in general, but it’s not a complete job.

Someday I will go back to RofD and completely rewrite it, adding the bestiary and revising the basic system.

Why won’t I insist on “GIST!” anymore? Because it was primary an experiment to fully implement this idea. And I still support it, but “generic” and “minimal” is not for all the palates.

Enter Yochai Gal’s Cairn. It’s a great little ruleset hacking both Into The Odd and Knave into a cohesive fast and functional old-school flavored RPG. I loved it since it came out last year and immediately planned to translate it into Italian, but I was busy with Cepheus Engine then and Stefano (idolofmanyhands) started the translation. I was happy to contribute with the revision, though. Stefano did an amazing job both translating and maintaining Yochai’s original layout, so I have no regrets. I’m publicizing Cairn for a while in the Italian RPG groups even if I have not yet managed to bring as many people as I wanted to.

So (my apologies for the long post), after having taken charge of the translation of Liminal Horror (a beautiful Cairn hack for contemporary cosmic horror games) I realized how easy and funny it is to create new games (even very different from the original) on the Cairn chassis.

And thinking again about the loud absence of a Classic Mythology game, I made a resolution: to make a Cairn hack.

I thought a bit about the title. I wanted it to be evocative, but also meaningful to the game. At first I thought of “Aegean”, but then, not wanting to narrow the world too much, I widened the scope and chose “Thálassa”.

The Ancient Greeks called the Mediterranean simply hē thálassa, “the Sea”. That’s the scope: the ancient, mythic Mediterranean sea with gods, demigods, heroes and legendary creatures. A world in which you could easily retrace the exploits of Jason and the Argonauts, dive into the labyrinth of the Minotaur, or deal with the sirens’ song.

The project is in its infancy. I made an outline on Dynalist to share ideas and progress:

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