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Creative Manifesto

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This article attempts to explain the creative process behind Mizahar and its key concepts from the perspective of its founders. We kindly ask that you read this document if you have decided to contribute to the game with development and worldbuilding. We are thankful for any and all contributions and honored that you wish to spend some time adding to our collective world, but we need to ensure all ideas and articles fit the theme, values and concepts we strive to maintain.



Mizahar is a fantasy role-playing game. Unfortunately, this label comes with a lot of preconceived ideas, and what many people call fantasy should more accurately be called "Prof. J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy". Tolkien's powerful stories, drawing from millennia of popular folklore and ancient tales, pretty much shaped the genre for their successors, setting a series of expectations for a fantasy world. The "Dungeons and Dragons" roleplaying system further developed these elements, its worldwide popularity making it synonymous with fantasy roleplaying. These worlds are easy to get into, because they are filled with archetypes people can recognize, just like an audience could recognize them while listening to the Odyssey or the Arthurian cycle. At the same time, though, these worlds have birthed a lot of stereotypes, turning perfectly good ideas into stale repetitions of the same concept.

I think Mizahar as a real project began the day we decided that yes, we could have a fantasy game without elves and dwarves - a game that, while not refusing the tradition of fantasy gaming, would have a very distinct personality. We decided that staying true to that vision would take precedence over giving players the usual fantasy staples they were familiar with. We would have things that filled similar niches, realizing the same archetypes, but they would be unique to our world. You may have noticed that the Isur occupy the spot more or less taken by dwarves in most fantasy; they live underground and are excellent crafters. The Isur, though, do not look, act, think, or talk like dwarves. In fact, they could not be more different from dwarves. They have an identity of their own and their form and habits follow logically from their archetype.

In other cases, we took a trite fantasy stereotype and gave it a new spin. Take the "ancient cataclysm" cliche, which is what Mizahar revolves around. While the cataclysm theme has been done to death, how often is it caused by the pain and rage of a fire god over the murder of his human lover? A love so great that the survival of the world looked irrelevant next to the grief it brought. Emotions shape the world of Mizahar, and consequences follow from their premises. Each actor suffers the consequences of the actions of others, and in turn affects others with their own.


Strive for originality

When you are an indie in your field, it is your duty to be innovative. Use familiar archetypes, but implement them in original ways. We sure have lots of undead, but if you are looking for emo vampires, you have come to the wrong place. Do not rip off other fantasy worlds, but imagine how a certain idea could exist in the world of Mizahar.

Subvert the stereotype

In most fantasy worlds, Humans are the youngest race, looked down on by the elder creations; in Mizahar, Humans are the oldest race. In place of a sun god and a moon goddess, we have a sun goddess and a moon god. Look for the unexpected twist.

Make your contribution memorable

We would rather have 10 memorable monsters that people use all the time, than 100 bland monsters with no identity. It is the quality that matters. Length does not imply quality, quality does not imply length. A memorable contribution is not the "ultimate" creature, concept or magic discipline. A memorable contribution is thought-provoking and add depth to roleplay.

Respect the overarching rules of the world

Mizahar was lucky enough to have its cosmology developed from the start - use it. It is stated that Djed, the basic principle of everything, cannot be created or destroyed, just transformed. You will see this concept enforced everywhere, from the idea of reincarnation to gods breaking into Fragments when slain. Work with the system, do not try to make "the one exception" to it. Internal consistency is crucial to a game world.

A wizard didn't do it

Well, sometimes the wizard did do it, but in general make sure people and entities have believable motives for doing what they do. Do not cop out on explanations and remember that magic is not a party trick in Mizahar - there are serious risks and consequences to using it. The best explanations have multiple readings, and leave you with new questions. Is Lhex good or evil? Is magic a neutral tool?

Do not bend the genre

Check your steam engines, guns, lightsabers and motherships at the door. "But XYZ would think of it" is not a valid argument - it leads to idle discussions and religion wars. Since almost anything can be justified in a fantasy world, it is up to the designers to decide what is acceptable and what is not. These things are not. Medieval technology with fictional clockwork applications is as far as you can go.