Review: Bird in the Hand – Scenario for Monster Island in Mythras

Bird in Hand is a must have scenario for Monster Island, the most useful sword and sorcery sandbox I have used in the past 40+ years of GM’ing (I have GM’d Monster Island since 2013). Monster Island setting and the scenario itself can be used almost anywhere and in many settings from sword & sorcery to pulp among others. In the Monster Island and in the scenario city people are humans and natives of the island are lizard people but that is easily changed to other kind of jungle dwelling natives. The scenario itself is easy to drop into any ongoing Monster Island campaign – adjusting or adding the hooks and NPCs accordingly. In my campaign it was sword and sorcery based setting, humans from the continent in the port city and headhunting human tribes in interior. We played with characters in mid level skills and long history of roleplaying.

The scenario starts in Grimsand – the only civilized town in Monster Island and the writing brings Grimsand to life. There are multiple interesting NPCs that you can interact with and get in trouble with. The actions your players can have an effect on the NPCs, plotlines on the scenario and also on your future in Grimsand. The first part of the scenario stays in the city and a session or two will be spent there with plenty of opportunities for roleplay, using variety of skills to figure out what is going on and dealing with the increasing number of forces interested in the maguffin. I liked that there were multiple options written out for the various paths players may take. As in great scenarios there are multiple paths thru the first part of the scenario. Eventually the party needs to brace themselves and head into the jungle for most likely a two or three session romp but it could be more. Monster Island interior is deadly so players better be prepared and they will be lost in the jungle if you push into the green interior without the right combination of skills and help. If you are quite lucky and resourceful you may be able to tackle the jungle part with one long session but I would not push it that way. 

Hex crawl rules at the end of the scenario are pure gold – making the island itself an adversary that needs to be tackled. They will be used extensively in my ongoing campaign on Monster Island and would be useful also in other jungle or difficult terrain based campaigns.

This is a scenario that melds with the tone and the spirit of Monster Island. It is a worthy addition to Monster Island, Mythras and a great sword and sorcery scenario – and that is high praise indeed.

Great work, John – highly impressed.

5 stars out of 5

You can find the scenario at least in DriveThruRPG and Amazon

The 300 – Mythras Combat Style Cards for Sword and Sorcery, Monster Island, Fioricetta and Mythic Constantinople

Created combat style cards for all (hopefully) the missing ones from RangerDan’s wonderful collection for a Hyborean campaign. There are now 90+ Combat Style cards for those. They are of course readily usable in most sword and sorcery campaigns.

There are also most if not all of Mythic Constantinople combat styles as cards, 40+ of them.

I added also the Brotherhood of Chromatic Doom as an example of sorcerous combat style in Monster Island.

The format has changed a bit in trying to keep the content in one page.

You can find the description for combat style cards here and the combat style cards themselves are here. Altogether there should now be more than 330 of them. All of the weapons (including firearms from Mythic Constantinople are included in the cards). If you find that something important is missing that has been published, please inform.

Here is the list of new combat styles:

Desert Nomad
Iranistani City Militia
Ghulistan Hillman
Kozaki Freerider 
Kushite Hunter
Kushite Impi Spearman
Kushite Champion
Darfari Cannibal
Pygmy Headshrinker
Kushite Witchdoctor
Hyborian Marine
Guardsman or Bodyguard
Judicial Champion
Peasant or Herder
Patrolman or Outrider
Bailiff or Magistrate
Borderer or Forester 
Beast Hunter
Hyborian Archer
Hyborian Crossbowman
Hyborian Spearman
Hyborian Pikeman
Hyborian Halberdier
Hyborian Knight
Hyborian Siege Arbalister
Bossonian Long Bowman
Gunderland Pikeman 
Kothic Spahi
Hyperborean Gaunt
Hyperborean Knight of Poltain
Nemedian Adventurer
Turanian Soldier
Turanian Imperial Horseman
Mighty Archer of Turan
Turanian Miner
Hyrkanian Horse Archer
Stygian Conscript or Slave Army 
Stygian Skirmisher
Stygian Slinger
Stygian Scout
Stygian Mamluk Spearman
Stygian Mamluk Bowman
Stygian Charioteer
Stygian Mamluk Highborn
Nordheimr or Cimmerian Thrall
Nordheimr or Cimmerian Hunter
Nordheimr or Cimmerian Freeman
Nordheimr or Cimmerian Jarl or Jarlsguard
Vendhyan Kshatriya
Vendhyan Mahout
Vendhyan Rakhsha
Khitan Conscript Infantry
Khitan Archer
Khitan Crossbowman
Khitan Cavalry
Khitan Charioteers
Khitan Martial Artist
Khitan Alchemist-Engineer
Pictish Hunter
Pictish Brave
Pictish Woad Warrior
Hyperborean Assassin
Hyperborean Spy or Agent
Hyperborean Cultist
Brotherhood of the Chromatic Doom
Mercenary Halberdier
Cretan Light Infantry
Tzangratoroi Crossbowmen
Phylakes Crossbowmen
Phylakes civilian watch
Byzantine shipboard combat
Sipahi oglan
Timarli Andolou
Turkish navy
Code Duello
Griffin Hunter
Acephaloi Hunter
Astomatoi Concealable Weapons
Barking Raider

As usual you can find the list of charts to help Mythras GMs available here.

Mythras Combat Traits Encyclopedia and Combat Style Cards updated – More than 90 traits and 220 Combat Styles

Mythras Combat Traits Encyclopedia has been updated to 2.0 with several more combat traits especially for Hyborean campaign. The sources for combat traits have also been mentioned among the new ones are.

  • Longshot
  • Crossbow Handling
  • Reload Drill

The original encyclopedia article with link is here

Combat style layout has been updated and comments added. Many new combat styles are included. Fioracitta styles and weapons have been added. Saxon styles from Logres are now included. A few additional Monster Island styles have been invented for the weapons that are not in use in any combat style.

Among the new ones are the below. You can find the description for combat style cards here and the combat style cards themselves are here

Fioracitta Brawling
Fioracitta Citizen Levy
Fioracitta Concealable Weapons
Fioracitta Fencing 
Fioracitta Fighting Mystic
Fioracitta Combat Illusionist
Fioracitta Shipboard Combat
Fioracitta Swashbuckling
Underwater Attack
Fioracitta Gentlemen’s Last Resort
Fioracitta Mylady’s Secret
Smilodon’s Teeth
Night’s Touch
Teeth of the Shark
Death Dealers
Brotherhood of Truths To Be Forgotten
Peasant Levy
Civilian Levy
Irregular Ronin
Brotherhood of  Silent Watch
Prize Fighter
Saxon Noble
Saxon Hunter
Saxon Fyrdman
Saxon Berserker

As usual you can find the list of charts to help Mythras GMs available here.

Sword and Sorcery Encounters with Encounter Generator part 1

Sword and sorcery campaign needs bravos, barbarian berserkers, palace guards, corsairs, enforcers, thugs, and pit fighters as NPCs among others. Here is a set of sword and sorcery encounters that could work for sword and sorcery campaign.

They are designed from the RAW culture skillsets like pregenerated characters (see here) but they have their main combat style in the proficient range (60s) instead of novice.

Their combat styles are based on ranger dan material that is also included in my combat style encyclopedia and shown in the combat style cards. Each NPC gets one or sometimes two combat styles from the list, couple of main weapons, sidearm, shield and ranged weapon if defined there and a name. For most of them folk magic is also described but if your campaign does not use folk magic, you can just drop it. You can find them with tag “Swordandsorcery”.

So as individuals or even groups they are ready to use. Here are the links to MeG pages. For most of them – the basic link, link to a combat style card and a link to a strong one, a leader and group of them as a crew if applicable

More material about Encounter Generator can be found here and combat style cards here. The encyclopedia of Combat Styles can be found here. As usual the the useful charts for Mythras can be found here. If you are just beginning with Mythras go to starter resources.

From The Archives – Glorantha Names translation from English to Finnish pre 1989

There was a question on Facebook about Finnish translation of the names. Found an old document where I translated for my own campaign the names available at the time – somewhere mid to late 80’s. They were done in my student days. Nowadays perhaps would change a few when both the Glorantha and my knowledge of English has changed.

Reflecting back on time: when this translation was last saved it was written with Word version prior to Word 6 and it does not open with current versions of word. The only available Glorantha materials were


Cults of Prax


Dragon Pass



Griffin Mountain


RQ Companion

There was no internet for general public. Alarums & Excursions was the closest I knew about general community. Things have changed a bit…

The file as PDF is here

Piranha swarms, Leeches, Jellyfish shoals, Rat swarms, Crab swarms – new versions in Mythras Encounter Generator

From what I hear there are several expeditions in various campaigns that are heading to interior of Monster Island. Built up some new versions and new variations of the shoals, flocks and hordes in the Monster Island.



They include blood sense and swimmer ability.


Jellyfish shoals

Crab swarms

Mythras Weaponry

Crawling From the Monster Island, the Jungle as an Adversary – Hex Crawl and Jungle GM sheets and a Tool

Lovers of sword and sorcery have a field day now with the long awaited hard cover release of Monster Island by the Design Mechanism and the most appropriate new scenario for it – A Bird in The Hand. Run, don’t walk to Lulu to purchase the hard cover for the sandbox and the new scenario. A Bird in the Hand will give you an excellent induction to Monster Island. You will need a hard cover for the Monster Island as the sandbox will last you a long long time with a lot of gaming. It can easily be slotted into your campaign – in mine I changed the lizard folk to native tribesmen and the high folk to serpent folk with some extra camouflage powers.

A Bird in the Hand scenario contains the wonderful hex crawl rules put together by John Holmes and my group was given a chance to put them to extensive play test and have used them in every scenario ever since. The hex crawl rules makes it a must buy for the scenario itself, for the Monster Island travel and also for other jungle related scenarios. The only thing that is “missing” from the scenario hex crawl rules is a GM sheet for the various hex crawl features. The scenario is perfectly playable without GM sheet and has all the rules.

The Core rules have tucked inside them rules for Survival, Precipitation, Exposure and Wind effects. The combination of Monster Island and the Hex Crawl rules in the scenario makes the terrain and weather of the island itself an adversary worth planning for. Your party better have navigation, survival, endurance and several other skills.

Useful Folk Magic for Hex Crawl

Many folk magic spells would also come in useful. It is of course sad that by default Monster Island does not have folk magic. YMIMV. Cool would help quite a bit during a scene. For drying yourself off “Dry” would help in helping survive the jungle night. Might might help when trying to avoid the encumbrance penalties from Burdened or above conditions. Pathway would help in not losing one’s way so easily within a single scene. Preserve would help in keeping the rations good for longer than the Monster Island week. Tire would be nasty spell against the already fatigued – might even kill a person. Vigour would help avoiding the burdened and above conditions Fatigue rolls and Warmth could help for a bit in the night.

These of course will burn quite a few magic points as they are targeted per person, will last only a short while (scene might not be a day, sounds like too strong for a cantrip like folk magic spell) and magic might not work every time. It is also worth noting that Cool and Warmth requires concentration that might be broken by the denizens and surprises of Monster Island.

GM Sheet for Hex Crawl

I was inspired to create a GM sheet for the Hex Crawl and John was kind enough to provide some feedback to tune it a bit.

You will need Mythras Core Rules, Monster Island and the scenario A Bird in the Hand. GM sheets provide summary information at a glance and refer to the books.

The GM sheets contain

  • The Monster Island (and Jungle) Hex Crawl Travel rolls
  • The Monster Island Hex Crawl Travel Distance
  • Camping in Wilderness V1.3

The GM sheets combine information about Monster Island temperature effects,

Monster Island and Jungle Hex Crawl Travel Rolls

Monster Island and Jungle Hex Crawl Travel Distance

Exposure Modfies if not in shelter

The Monster Island Armour Penalty Fatigue Calculator

The Monster Island Armour Penalty Fatigue Calculator tool calculates the effects of Monster Island Jungle rules for wearing armour. The tool is currently an excel – will likely be added to later on. Mark here your current fatigue level (Fresh, Weary…), your strength, worn Armour ENC and all other ENC than armour. Monster Island is unforgiving if you wear any armour at all so be prepared for that. If you need to calculate the weapon, specific armour set and other equipment ENC use the Encumbrance calculator and mark down what you need here.


Tool results when no armour and weeks rations are carried and nothing else
Tool results when just one ENC (note ENC) armour and weeks rations are carried and nothing else
Added just 15 ENC armour
Added a sword and couple of things raising all other ENC to 16
So here wee have the plate armoured warrior with STR11 and weeks rations.
Here one with 21 ENC with weeks rations and 1 ENC worth of other equipment
Here a more reasonable armour with normal equipment load
Plate armoured warrior – when exhausted at the Fatigue level – he will die and he is not even burdened by equipment

The files are here

…and they will appear also in the Mythras charts page and Starting Resources for GMs

To get the best of these you will need the Mythras Core Rules, Monster Island and the scenario A Bird in the Hand from Design Mechanism , Mythras Encounter Generator will create you encounters.