Reading for fun and gaming: Mythago Wood

This begins in a peculiar way – I just found out that Robert Holdstock‘s Lavondyss, the sequel to Mythago Wood, will be reprinted as part of GollanczFantasy Masterworks line.

Holdstock_Mythago_Wood_Geoff_Taylor

And I thought, now, a game based on Mythago Wood would be quite cool…
So, here goes.

Mythago-Wood-MMP-666x1024Robert Holdstock
Mythago Wood
Gollancz fantasy Masterworks1

There are places in the world where reality (for want of a better word) is warped, and space-time is folded on itself. Last remaining patches of the primeval wood that covered the whole of Europe, these woods are the places where the legends dwell. And where myths are born.

Mythago Wood is a true treasure – a learned, literary fantasy that is also a lot of fun.

In a nutshell

. The old house by the wood – the sort of place yoou inherit after …

. The mysterious disappearance of a relative, that leaves behind…

. The mysterious manuscript, describing an alternate reality/not-exactly-paralel universe.

. The mysterious stranger – out of the wood, and uncannily beautyful, and in dire need for help!

. Larger on the inside – the wood is actually warped spacetime – you can fit the whole of Mystara in you back lot!

. You become a legend! – yes, linger in the wood long enough and you might become enmeshed with the mythical forces living there!

. Weird creatures from legend – and some of them are out to get you!

. Your mission, should you decide to accept it: explore the wood! make friends! make enemies!

. … and a side serving of: Celtic myths, Arthurian legends and Campbellian structures.

The most obvious choice for this game would be, in my opinion, White Wolf’s Changeling: the Dreaming – that lifted quite a chunk of ideas from Holdstock.
The characters start from our own world, and then can go explore the wood.

A twisted alternative would be to use Call/Trail/World of Cthulhu, and give the lot a Lovecraftian twist.

Or what about the old Ravenloft setting for AD&D?
We could start with modern characters, and then plunge them into a dark fantasy setting.
Planescape could also provide some interesting options.

A generic system, like GURPS or Savage Worlds, would help because the magic in this setting is subtle, and the effects of the Mythago Wood on the characters as they stay there and progressively change with time would be easily simulated with the mix-and-match approach of a generic system.

More generally, Holdstock’s fantasies are highly recommended for anyone interested in fantasy and imaginary worlds.


  1. this is the most recent reprint – other editions are available. 
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