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Tabletop Game / Myriad Song

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Myriad Song is a sci-fi tabletop RPG made by Sanguine Games (the same company responsible for Ironclaw). The game draws heavy inspiration from the New Wave of science fiction of the late 1970s and early 1980s, as well as sci-fi comic books and progressive rock.

For an untold number of generations, the universe was ruled by the Syndics - aliens "strange and unknowable", who conquered and enslaved countless worlds. They used the power of Xenharmonics to travel the cosmos, to power their technology, and generally to warp reality to their will. They would genetically engineer the species they conquered, oppress them, assimilate them, or whatever would work best with their intentions.

And then, a hundred years ago, the Syndics suddenly vanished. What happened to them? Who knows?

What is known is that the Syndics' disappearance left a power vacuum; one which their former servants are trying to fill. Many interplanetary factions struggle for power and dominion, from the Solar Creed (which offers free energy at the price of freedom) to the Malmingetti (who just want to conquer everything) to the Concords (in a nutshell, For Science!), and everyone and everything in-between. And then there's the question of what might be lurking in the undiscovered parts of space...

Mechanically, Myriad Song uses the Cardinal System, the same system used in Ironclaw. Naturally, though, there are heavy modifications to allow for the difference in settings, including more in-depth combat rules. There are also far fewer playable species (referred to here as Legacies), but with the exception of humans, each one has their own "gift tree" to improve their innate abilities. Each character can also take gifts to become cyborgs, mutants, or even Conductors - rare people with the ability to harness Xenharmonics.

Tropes found in Myriad Song

  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Apparat of Colligatarch are an army of machines that want to exterminate all life - and since they're not living, they could theoretically get away with doing so. Fortunately for the Myriad, they're a very small faction.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Syndics enslaved most of the sapient species in the known universe.
  • All for Nothing: The comic on the preface pages involves the conflict between various factions for a Conductor that accidentally discovered a note that opens portal to lost worlds. After he and his band run around the city trying not to get killed (or abducted, which would be A Fate Worse Than Death) by these factions, the Conductor gets killed in the crossfire and the members just skulk away.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Subverted with the "Pusher" career, who is mechanically a medic who's good at lying, and whose "medicine" is powerful at its work of healing the patient but has a chance of getting the "patient" addicted.
  • Alternate-History Dinosaur Survival: Inexplicably, there are a lot of dinosaurs that can be encountered in the Myriad (including the playable Troödons), as well as mosasaurs and pterosaurs.
  • Artificial Gravity: Seems to be averted, most ships have no gravity and arcologies tend to be Stanford or O'Neil.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Showcased with the "Bad Medicine" Gift, which enables a character to remove most combat-inflicted status effects with a check and some bonus dice. But if the patient fails a check they can become addicted to the substances used. Naturally, the Pusher career starts with it.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: Elvers have four genders, male, female, midwife (carries fertilized eggs), and neuter. They're born neuter and change sexes at maturity based on the gender ratios of the local Elver community, isolated individuals may spend their whole lives neuter.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Rhax males are non-sentient giant spiders while females look rather humanoid.
  • Blue Blood: The Syndics genetically modified certain human bloodlines with Xenharmonic abilities so they could act as overseers. The four remaining dynasties rule the Remanence.
  • Brain Food: Morphir begin life as ordinary carnivorous plants. But if someone feeds them the brains of sapient beings they become sapient and mobile, as well as produce buds that contain memories from those they ate, often smoked as a drug.
  • Cassette Futurism: It's designed with this aesthetic as a tribute to the classics. In universe it's stated that the Syndics only worked with analog electronics, no digital.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted, the very cheapest passage costs 10 Note (equivalent to a minimum of $200), and getting into orbit also requires either an equally expensive rocket or a very physically stressful mass driver.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: The overkill mechanic returns from Ironclaw, with the addendum that overkilled enemies cannot be looted.
  • Fantastic Drug: Several, many are lethal to species other than the one they're designed for such as the Towser drug Snowblind. And then there's Charas, produced by Morphir that have eaten brains and containing absorbed memories, occasionally smokers come off a trip with new skills.
  • Feudal Future: The Remanence is ruled by an alliance of noble houses who were genetically engineered for Xenharmonic ability by the Syndics.
  • Global Currency: The Remanence's Imperial Reserve Note is accepted almost everywhere.
  • Global Currency Exception: The Concord and Solar Creed are both attempting an Energy Economy, and many Independent worlds issue their own scrip, but their currencies tend to have a 100:1 exchange rate with the Note.
  • Humans Are Average: Mechanically, humans are the only legacy that do not start with access to a legacy-exclusive "gift tree". That said, they don't quite fit this trope in-universe, as they have the best overall eyesight of the Myriad legacies (which is noted to give them an advantage as marksmen).
  • Humans Are Diplomats: Humans get a bonus to several social interaction skills, as well as an innate bonus to rallying. This is because the Syndics used them as overseers for their other slaves.
  • Intangibility: The Phasing Attack gift weaponises this, often by briefly making something or someone intangible and then reversing it while they're inside someone or something else (akin to a Tele-Frag).
    Your attack makes two bits of matter occupy the same space. The results aren’t pretty.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: Towsers look like dogs with crystals in their fur, Troodons resemble the dinosaurs they're named after, Rhax males are basically giant spiders (and not actually intelligent), Ishato look a lot like octopi, while Elvers seem to be some cross between assorted eels and seals.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The majority of ranged weapons are plain old guns, Energy Weapons have overheating issues.
  • Laser Blade: Laser torches, ghibli blades (technically superheated air), and the Lost Technology Xenharmonic blade.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: Towsers can take the "Towser Magnetics" Gift. It allows them to walk on magnetic surfaces and intercept radio signals, as well as allowing their brawling attacks to ignore armor.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Morphir are carnivorous plants that eat the brains of animals. Playable morphir have eaten multiple sapient brains in the past and could do so again.
  • Mile-Long Ship: Cavalcades are starships the size of small cities that serve as the primary means of transportation between planets, both carrying passengers on board and attaching non-Rondo ships to the hull. Many of the crew belong to families that have been on board those ships for generations.
  • Motifs: Music. The science of the Syndics is known as Xenharmonics or the Xen-Harmonic Scale, and they built campaniles (bell towers) to broadcast their signals to the stars. The main currency of the Myriad is the Note. People with special powers are known as Conductors, and they can wield Disjunctions, Leitmotifs or Rondos. (Taking this idea further, the introduction comic deals follows a Conductor fleeing multiple factions who are after a specific chord that opens access to lost worlds.) Finally, the Dissonance is a phenomemon that drives people mad through tuneless singing that hints at greater truths, and those affected by it are the Dissonant.
  • Mystery Cult: The Solar Creed is actually described as this in the rulebook. Only the leaders are allowed to read and interpret the Solar Credo in its entirety, and the common citizens are only told as much as they need to know.
  • Organic Technology: The Metanoic Corps favors tech that is grown rather than made.
  • Plant Aliens: Morphir. Ldum are sapient fungus that exist in symbiosis with non-sapient humanoid hosts called Rabo.
  • Plasma Cannon: Actually deal less damage than rayguns (though still considerable) but sets the target on fire and softens their defenses too. Ghibli blades are kind of a melee version.
  • The Power of Rock: Xenharmonics. Essentially what you get if you take the Force and you make it work on musical theory.
  • Precursor Worship: The Remanence revere the Syndics, naturally.
  • Psychic Starship Pilot: Xenharmonically sensitive "Conductors" who can sense the magh signal produced by the Syndics' beacons are needed for FTL travel. With the proper Gifts they can teleport short distances without a ship.
  • Quack Doctor: Characters with the Bad Medicine gift can remove most detrimental conditions with a successful check, but then the patient has to make a check to avoid getting sick or addicted to whatever questionably legal substances were administered.
  • Raptor Attack: Troödons, despite the name, look very much like the stereotypical raptor. They do bear some notable differences, such as feathers on their heads, prehensile hands, and being warm-blooded.
  • The Remnant: The Remanence attempt to continue the Syndicate.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Notably averted; only a few of the Myriad's species could even be counted as humanoid, and even those have very obvious physiological differences to humans. Though some mutants, such as the blue-skinned Conductor in the intro comic, can look like TV aliens.
  • Sapient Fur Trade: In case you didn't think the Myriad worlds exploited Towsers enough, their silicate fur can be made into armor. It has the best soak dice of any armor in the rulebook too, fortunately every major government bans the stuff.
  • Scavenger World: Derelict planets devastated by the Syndicate or the Averlini Mega Corps. There's an entire category in the equipment chapter for "scrounged" weapons cobbled together by the poor souls stuck on such worlds.
  • Shock and Awe: Elvers may take a Gift that allows them to perceive and produce electricity.
  • Shout-Out: There is a pretty extensive amount of homaging the comic Heavy Metal and designers like Mœbius.
  • Silicon-Based Life: The Towsers. They prefer to eat silicates and can breathe carbon monoxide.
  • Slave Race: In point of fact, just about every species that's playable was enslaved by the Syndic, and has only been free since their disappearance. Ironically, the Syndics' disappearance actually left the Towsers worse off — their new protectors, the Averlini Mercantile Group, got them to sign over their planet and all tangible assets... including themselves, for as long as they're on their homeworld. Thus, any Towser encountered on their home planet is either a worker in the environment-destroying factories — which have No OSHA Compliance, of course — or forced to be the in-universe equivalent of Hollywood Natives, living their lives by a constantly-changing rulebook of "primitive customs".
  • Space People: The Space-Faring upbringing and Tziganes faction, which covers both nomads and inhabitants of space "arcologies".
  • Taken for Granite: What happens to someone overkilled by a Petrifying Attack.
  • Technology Uplift: The Syndics uplifted all of the Myriad races, but treated most of them as slaves. Still, many revere them as "the Patrons".
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Rondo Gifts used by starship navigators (aka Conductors) do this in a variety of ways.
  • Terraform: The Metanoics use terraforming to restore planets pillaged by many of the other factions.