Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Mythica 3: The Necromancer

Posted by Rampant Coyote on January 5, 2016

Mythica3I grew up watching B fantasy films, because I was a D&D geek and that was all that was available in the 1980s, with a few exceptions like Conan the Barbarian, Ladyhawke, and Excaliber. Most of the fantasy films of that era were pretty horrible. And yes, apparently I’m the only RPG geek who didn’t develop an appreciation for Hawk the Slayer. My wife tells me I am completely wrong in this regard.

I enjoyed the first two Mythica films – A Quest for Heroes and The Darkspore – the first a bit more than the second. Mythica: A Quest for Heroes was the film I’d wanted to see as a 14-year old desperate for a movie to capture the D&D flavor and experience. It’s a low-budget fantasy movie that seems right out of somebody’s fantasy RPG campaign. Of course, we’re living in a post-Lord of the Rings world, so the clearly budget sets and special effects don’t hold up against much scrutiny. At best, they don’t draw attention to themselves, and are equal to what you’d see on television these days. At worst, they are at least an improvement over the special effects of those B-movies of the 80s. Hawk the Slayer included. (Hopefully I won’t have to sleep on the couch for that one).

A Quest for Heroes was pretty safe, almost cute. There was a dark side…  freaky necromancy powers, slavery, a casual decapitation, etc. But mostly it was an origin story for what was almost a vanilla set of young adventurers: A wizard with a club foot and a dark power she doesn’t understand; a happy-go-lucky thief with commitment issues; a hard-drinking veteran warrior with a sense of honor, and a priestess of the goddess of light who keeps her party from dying from their injuries. They face CGI monsters and people dressed in the standard Arrowstorm orc costumes, win the day, make 2nd level (I imagine), and party in the tavern. If you consider yourself a role-playing gamer, I recommend the movie, warts and all. Again, it’s low-budget fare, so set expectations appropriately, but it’s fun and entertaining.

In the second film, The Darkspore, things get darker. Marek’s necromancy powers start exceeding her control, there’s party dissension. A shirtless elf joins the party, and they have to fight a scary undead dragon. Marek’s past – and her escaped slave status – comes back to haunt her.

So now we come to the third in the series – Mythica: The Necromancer. I’m just gonna say right now that a group of us saw it together, and unanimously felt that this was the best of the three films. I don’t know if it stands well on its own; much depends on the setup and character development from the previous two movies. But it actually manages to elevate the other two, tying things together.

I am pretty sure the subtitle The Necromancer applies to the villain Szorlok (Matthew Mercer), although it is equally applicable to the principle protagonist Marek (Melanie Stone). After the epic quests of the last movies, this one feels far more down-to-earth, at least at the start, and yet hits more dramatic heights and really brings more out of each of the characters.

The quest this time is a lot more gritty. The head of the thieves’ guild, Peregus (Robert Jayne), captures Thane (Adam Johnson) in order to exact revenge for events in the previous movie. He offers the adventurers a deal – recover some smuggled goods for him across the border, and he’ll release Thane. Of course, the boarder is in the middle of an armed conflict involving enemy soldiers and orcs, the smuggled goods are a drug, and they’ll have Peregus’s creepy, ruthless henchman Betylla with them instead of Thane.

And… and… and… There’s a lot more to it than this. Including some subtleties which are really nice. The characters are given a chance to evolve in this story. Even a thug like Betylla is given a couple of lines and actions to give him an extra dimension, and a spark of humanity.

But most of all, this time, things aren’t safe. It’s not the happy little origin adventure of the first movie, or even the dangerous escalation of the second. In this one, the quest is more intimate, and the stakes – while just as high – are more personal. Some terrible choices have to be made.

I sat down to watch this movie with the expectation of pretty much more of the same. The film plays on that expectation at the beginning, with the group singing drinking songs in the tavern and starting to revel in their evolving role as heroes and adventurers of growing repute and skill. But of course, the simple “milk run” adventure (of course) had far greater consequences than expected, and by the end, everything has changed.

That’s a great place to be for the next two movies. My inner 14-year-old D&D geek is pleased.

I received a Kickstarter backer DVD, but the digital version of the film is available for pre-order now from Arrowstorm.


Filed Under: Movies - Comments: 2 Comments to Read

  • Maklak said,

    Ontopic: Mythica was OK, but I prefer Orc Wars by the same crew.

    Offtopic: I think, I just understood something. I ranted about realism in games several times, but the current trend is to dumb everything down. It may be because I like to learn how things work from games, so I like it when they take things seriously and simulate a lot of things with high realism. But I am weird like that and it is not what games are really about. Games are about invoking feelings in humans and this is why the “theme park” approach with emphasis on “player experience”, “balance” and annoying stuff like that works so well. It is less effective on me because once I’m aware of all the smoke and mirrors, I go “waitaminute, this is all fake and this is all wrong”, but most people don’t have that reaction. Another argument for the “feelings” approach is that successfull books are generally pretty cheesy, economical in their descriptions and full of tropes.

    A minority, like myself, will enjoy complex simulations with emergent gameplay, especially if you can learn from them. For example looking at a front in Hearts of Iron with 1M people on each side and hundreds of divisions trying to outmanavre each other and, while staying supplied gives a better overview of how WW2 worked than reading history books about battles and stuff.

  • Rampant Coyote said,


    Okay, I’ll ride with you along that tangent. 🙂 I totally get & agree with what you are saying here. In fact, in the past I compared the difference to an amusement park raft ride vs. going whitewater rafting. The former is designed to be brief, easy, safe, entertaining. The latter will be long, strenuous, not guaranteed to be safe, and frequently boring. But which one will you really remember and look back on fondly years later?

    Now, I still enjoy the amusement park rides. Nothing’s wrong with that. I only have a very limited amount of time and budget I can devote to experiences like actually whitewater rafting.

    Same thing applies to games. There’s only a few games I can really devote attention to the details, but when I do – when they are worthy of it – it’s often an extremely satisfying, worthwhile experience. That may be why I look fondly on many old PC games from the 90s… that felt like the rule more than the exception. But … we tend to remember the classics that really stand out, not all the chaff that didn’t.