Lead an eldritch cult of your own in Elder Mythos

An interview with lead designer, Michele Paroli, on this game of tension and world-building, and world-destroying.

Lead an eldritch cult of your own in Elder Mythos

Combining shared worldbuilding and an antagonistic structure, Elder Mythos is a game driven by the Year Zero Engine and inspired by The Quiet Year. Mana Project Studio, an Italian roleplaying game publisher and distributor has been putting out games like Historia and Not the End—work that focuses on the desperation of wartime amongst heroic bloodshed. They also published the official Cowboy Bebop roleplaying game, coinciding with the beloved anime’s 25th anniversary. 

But Elder Mythos is different. With a slightly off-putting approach to gameplay that combines an antagonism between both player characters and the Eldritch Master, Elder Mythos is a game where players have to weigh how far they can push their faction’s ends without losing their own grip on power. It’s a deeply intriguing game design structure—and with a system built on tense resource management, I knew I had to learn more about it. 

The game's bird's-eye viewpoint is constantly interspersed with scenes and framing at the level of the characters moving on the scenario itself. 

Rascal sat down with Michele Paroli, the designer and founder of Mana Project Studio, to talk about eldritch horror, how players can break the game on purpose, and how to balance infighting and collaborative, mythical worldbuilding.

Lin Codega: One thing that stood out to me about this game was that it deliberately encourages PC vs PC roleplay—how did you balance that with an ethos of collaboration at the table?

Michele Paroli: Elder Mythos is a role-playing game designed to tell stories of cosmic horror, so the people at the table collaborate in this task collectively, adhering to a social pact that places the camera on a vast scenario in which many things happen. As much as the framing of scenes may zoom into material situations involving NPCs, the point of view is higher up, bird’s eye. This is not a game designed for personal drama storytelling; it is a game in which we collaboratively narrate a grand event of Lovecraftian cosmic horror—more like an emergent world building game—where the role we play is that of architects of events, be they the Entities that the players go to play or that of the Eldritch Master, who plays the fate. We will get caught up in the events and zoomed-in scenes on the NPCs we control, but we will read the narrative from a higher point of view.