Original SA post
is a game based around killing gods. That’s not tooling around for 20 levels to work up to that point, mind you- you’ll just sit down with your 4 hyped-up friends and smash Odin’s head in over the course of a couple hours. This is high-octane action done… pretty dang well, I’d say.
Some selling points:
- Your character is whatever you want them to be, with extremely little restriction. So long as they’re willing to put up a fight against oppressive deities, anything goes.
- In combat, your actions succeed. How much of an effect you actually cause is up to the dice to some degree, but if you say you shove a spike into Loki’s face, that happens, and he cannot simply block it.
- Description is everything. The combat is surprisingly simple once you figure out the basic mechanics, though there’s enough strategy to hold your average D&D player’s interest, but the real fun is in using your character’s abilities in the most over-the-top ways possible. If you can justify your action with the items on your sheet, the only other requirement is that it’s cool.
- Most importantly to me, you’ll be rolling fistfuls of dice at every opportunity.
Also, the entire book is available for free at http://mythenderrpg.com/
Let’s get right into it.
We start with a bit of fiction- A party of three Mythenders approaches Thor, calling him the "so-called God of Thunder” in disdain. We get a lot of detailed description of the combat, particularly the Mythenders’ unique styles of fighting, such as one Mythender using lava-based magic while another smashes a formation of soldiers with her horse. The narrator, another Mythender in the party, concludes the tale:
The giant Tome of Life and Death hovered before me and flipped open to a blank page. I used my own blood to write “On this day, the Myth of Thor was no more.”
The god of thunder coughed blood and godly bile as he fell from his chariot in the sky. The moment was still. Then he got up and charged us, wielding his legendary hammer.
Let this futile charge come, oh warrior of Norden. When the skalds sing of your Ending, this will only make the song grander, motherfucker.
This sort of tone continues throughout the entire book.
We then get a description of what the game is about. The player characters are Mythenders, who go around the Mythic Worlds killing gods by unmaking them, terrifying mortals with their very presence, and otherwise being kickin’ rad. In the end, many Mythenders are corrupted by the power they wield, and thus they Apotheosize into Mythic gods themselves- a fate they all struggle against.
There’s some flexibility in the focus of the game- either you’ll go whole-hog into the over-the-top action, basically ignoring all that losing-your-humanity nonsense in favor of taking on the biggest opponents you can, or you can have a classic epic of the corruption power brings. The next few pages have a section titled “Playing This Game Wrong” that worried me for a moment, but it boils down to having inconsistent tone- everyone should be on board with either “drama” or “metal.” Fair enough.
The Inspirations section directs your attention to the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings, 300, and “fantastical anime where the Mythic and mortal worlds [are] intertwined.” In case you’re wondering, it does call out the God of War video games as a very direct inspiration for the whole book. It also suggests that, if this would be your first RPG, that you do not
play it immediately- it specifically suggests out trying Fate Accelerated
as an introduction first.
Next time: Setting details, what a Mythender actually is, and how your sword is (possibly) not a weapon.
By the way, this is my first time writing here- after a long time reading, I figured I owed some content instead of just snide remarks. As such, feedback is much appreciated.
The Mythic World and You
Original SA post
Well, I guess I'd better get into the setting before y'all get ahead of me.
Mythender Part 2: The Mythic World and You
The universe of Mythender is encompassed within the Mythic Worlds, primarily Mythic Norden (Norse mythology). Other Mythic Worlds include Mythic Atlantis (Greek myth), Mythic Inca (Mythenders as god-kings), and the Mythic Deep (Lovecraft, but the fish people are throwing off the yoke of the Elder Gods and seek mortality). Importing anything into the present is called the Mythic Now.
In the Mythic Worlds, legend is real, gods and monsters battle, and so on throughout their entire existence. Anything of the supernatural- creatures, forces, gods, monsters, whatever- are called Myths. Myths gain power from the terror and awe that they inspire in mortals, and that power granted them absolute dominion. Some mortals were granted the power of Myth, usually as a reward for service and worship. Some would even apotheosize as Mythic gods themselves. Mortals who would not respect the gods were, by and large, culled. Myths and Fate intertwined to control all of existence.
At some point, relatively recently in terms of weird-ass twisted Myth-time (it’s implied to be Glorantha-like in nature, since “history” is called out as a strange magic that bound the Myths away from the mortal world), a faction of mortals began to seize power directly from the mythic world, rather than such power being granted to them. These mortals used their new power to not just kill, but unmake monsters, then gods themselves. As time went on, entire Mythic worlds were destroyed at the hands of those who came to be known as Mythenders.
Unfortunately for the Mythenders, the Mythic Worlds are alive, in a fashion- and they would not allow more to perish. The World of Mythic Norden plotted to corrupt the Mythic power that Mythenders drew upon. Now, the Mythic Heart beating inside each Mythender slowly causes them to fall and apotheosize, unwillingly replacing the gods they destroy. I will note here that Mythenders cannot die permanently, unless they choose to do so- but with each return from death, they get closer to the edge of becoming a Myth.
So, they kill gods, but who are these guys?
Basically, the end-state of any murderhobo. And it’s pretty great.
At some point in their life, every Mythender hit a catastrophic turning point- loss, triumph, even death. At that point, their mortal heart quit beating, and a Mythic Heart started in its place moments later, burning in their chest with newfound power.
Mythenders, being the murderous bastards they are, have Weapons. These aren’t necessarily armaments, and if they are, they certainly aren’t anything as simple as a blade. Mythenders’ Weapons are of one of three categories- Innate, Relics, and Companions. We’ll get into mechanics later, but for now we can say that one could have weapons like:
Innate: These are things trained, learned, or ingrained into yourself. Examples: Battle tactics mastery, consummate skill with the blade, ability to commune with spirits, or my overwhelming hatred of oppressors
Relic: These can be items of great importance, either to yourself or as part of legend. Examples: My Grandfather’s axe, the crown of a lost kingdom, Odin’s lost eye, the dual blades Excalibur and Caliburn
Companion: Either mortals, whose will is now yours to command absolutely, or lesser Myths bound to your service on pain of Ending. Examples: The last of my brothers, The Praetorian Guard, the muzzled Minotaur, the souls of those I have slain
In short, anything that you can see someone using to blow away a Myth is fair game.
We then get some flavorful descriptions of how life is different as a Mythender. It’s not all great, even aside from the whole “the world itself hates you” bit.
Mythenders can End Myths permanently, slaughter anything else effortlessly, are free from age, heal immediately after any fight, perform miracles, and can (as aforementioned) straight-up say no to death. They also have great power over other mortals, knowing everything about them, including their entire past and thoughts, at a glance. Even the most earnest, friendly Mythender will draw worship from mortals through their awe-inspiring deeds, and the less benevolent Mythenders inspire terror in kind. That worship grants greater power.
In return, the power of a Mythender is always evident. No disguise or concealment will hide a Mythender- Myths and mortals alike can feel their presence. That said, sneak attacks are still an option, but a real ambush is not. Mortals will always, by the pull of Fate, witness Mythic battles and react accordingly, no matter where they might clash. The worship they offer cannot be refused, and the power displayed can easily (and even accidentally) break their wills. Just by existing near people, or even trying to act like a mortal again, Mythenders can turn their former fellows into thralls.
Finally, as a Mythender, you cannot escape that role- the Mythic Heart never stops beating until you are slain and choose to not deny death, or else another Mythender chooses that it is time for their ally to End. Also, suicide is not an option, including assisted- you’ll auto-resurrect immediately. Only another power of Myth may kill you, and it must be in earnest.
The book then concludes the setting section with a quick glossary of terms and a tale from Wil Wheaton about his session in which they Ended Santa Claus in the Mythic North Pole. The only really good part is the line “Santa Claus wasn’t the monster. I
was the monster.”
Next time: The surprisingly large pile of things needed to play, then character creation!
Overview of Play and Character Creation
Original SA post
Mythender Part 3: Overview of Play and Character Creation
The book recommends four to five players- three or four Mythenders and one Mythmaster. Other amounts of Mythenders are not recommended; for two or less, the system requires modifications, for more than four, “you will have a horrible time.” Apparently, according to their playtests, the sheer time between one’s turns completely ruins the high-power feel of the game. I don’t think a group of five would be overly difficult with the right people, but it’s a decent guideline.
There’s a warning that you should probably play in person, as the author views Mythender as a highly “tactile” game, and that there’s a “fair number of moving parts” to the game. This is partially due to the number of token and dice pool counts that each player maintains.
Mythender needs a LOT of dice, all d6, and everyone can easily be rolling 30 or more dice on their turn. As such, the book suggests a maximum size of 12mm dice for most of them, though 8mm dice are also good if you can get them in good quantities. First, each player has Storm Dice. These are a character’s innate power. They are represented by white dice, of which you’ll need around 40. Then there’s Thunder Dice, which show the momentum each character has in battle at a given moment. These are black dice, requiring around 100. Bonus thunder dice can be gained from certain abilities, so you’ll need about 10 of those in a different color. The only other die is the Mythic die, which the book suggests being a larger and heavier die. It represents the Mythic Heart that gives greater power. I’ve got a 16mm metal die that works pretty nicely for the purpose, though an enthusiastic player could ruin a table surface in short order.
There’s also a few counters that show the amount of power a Mythender can use on their current action. Thunder tokens are used to wound Myths and cause other effects. The book suggests 100 tokens, but 10 or so ‘fives’ tokens and 20 ‘ones’ tokens should suffice. Might tokens are instead used to fuel special abilities called Gifts, most requiring 1-3 Might to use. About 70 are required.
That is a fair amount of material. I used acrylic bits (yellow and white for Lightning, red for Might) as tokens and 12mm dice, and the whole set looks something like this:
Moving onward, we then get to see the character sheet in full:
There’s a lot here that the book will explain in more detail later, but it provides a quick overview. You’ve got spots for your dice and tokens at the corners, a wound track on the left, Gifts on the right, space for your character’s weapons, and a track for how corrupted you are with descriptions for each stage. Most of the subsystems have some quick-reference boxes. The reminders on the sheet are good enough that you can set up a character and play with fairly little time looking at the book itself, which I appreciate.
We also get sheets for the Mythender’s backstory, the Bonds between Mythenders, and the opponent Myth’s character sheet, but we’ll get to those when the time comes for them. A lot of this is front-loaded unnecessarily, and the book ends up repeating lot of information several times as a result.
So, let’s get on with creating a Mythender: Pick three weapons and a starting gift from the list. Tell everyone else in the party why you you’re not going to kill them yet.
Well, those are the “quick creation” steps. Weapons are used to make actions, Gifts make them more powerful, and Bonds state what keep this murderous bunch of Mythenders working together. Those aspects are really all that matter mechanically.
The full Mythender creation involves making up a load of flavor text, which is what the game really prides itself in. As a preview, there’s three separate steps to a combat action that are nothing but different parts of the description, so it’s kind of a big deal. The book encourages revision in play- perhaps you come upon a new companion who might make a good Weapon, or the form you take at Godly corruption alters as a reaction to circumstance. To assist with coming up with ideas, the author also suggests using popular culture characters as jumping-off points.
Let’s look at full Mythender creation down the line. First, you’ll pick one of the Mythic Hearts: Warrior, Crusader, Commander, Bearer (of a Relic), Tempest (Magic-user), and Loremaster. This is the way in which one fights, and where the Mythender believes their power is best expressed. For example, for the Heart of the Crusader,
As a Mythender, you understand that your true power to End gods comes from the strength of your unwavering conviction.
Each heart has a few questions. For the Crusader, you should determine what ideal you fight for, what injustice is in the world that must be righted, and what is the inevitable result of your crusade will be. Weapon ideas are also presented, such as “My unshakeable faith (Intrinsic) or the Spear of Longinus (relic). Most importantly, each Heart starts off with one Gift. The Crusader gets Bloodlust, which gives them power when they take wounds.
Next, we pick a Past from the list: Noble, Child, Mourner, Apostate (former Myth-worshipper), Exile, Abomination (part-Myth, like a demigod). These also gives some questions, like that cruelties the Child has endured, or what the Mourner should have done to prevent their loss (that’s a bit… mean, I must say). There’s Weapon ideas, as before, and some example Bonds. An Apostate might be Bonded to another Mythender who “shows me a new way,” or an Abomination might Bond with another who “sees my humanity.”
Then we pick a Fate, which is the type of God you’ll become upon Apotheosis. Examples are Judgement, Death, War, Life, Love, Chaos. This one is pure flavor, used to determine your Personal blight (a sort of Aura you project upon the world and its people), then the Forms you take as corruption progresses, and your miraculous powers. A god of Chaos might cause visions in nearby mortals, turn into a mutated mass as they gain power, and gain the ability to return all things to dust.
Each of these three sections- Heart, Past, and Fate- encourage making new categories. One idea is to scrap the default Hearts and swap them for another theme entirely-
One fun theme could be to make Hearts based on the classic fantasy adventuring roles: the Fighter, the Cleric, the Rogue (or the Thief, if you’re old-school), the Wizard (or the Magic-User, if you’re way-old-school), the Paladin, the Bard, etc.
Yes, yes, we know you’re hip with the classics. Get over yourself. Still, the combination of Heart, Past, and Fate can tell you a lot about who a character is and with what power they struggle. The book gives a few examples of what sorts of characters might embody a Heart-Past combo: Beowulf would be a warrior-noble, Gandalf a tempest-abomination, Batman a loremaster-mourner.
One last thing to point out: The book does encourage collaboration in creating characters, since you can get a lot more creative with some input, but has a really good caveat:
All that said, don’t jump the gun and offer advice before someone else has asked. Some people just take a bit to think or articulate ideas. Slow your roll and gave them that space. Whatever you do, don’t say “You know what would be more awesome…” That sort of language shuts down people by invalidating their ideas—and that’s not awesome.
On the whole, character creation is pretty simple. There’s enough to get you thinking about who your character is, but it won’t get too deep into their head unless you really want it to. They built towards a game that you could start up and run in a convention slot, and it very much supports that aim, but allows more expansion at will.
Next time: How to hit things
Structure of Adventures
Original SA post
Mythender Part 4: Structure of Adventures
After a bit of a hiatus, we’re back to Mythender. Here we get a description of how the game generally flows. Mythender is meant for one-shots, and the expected playtime is about 3 hours- a little more if you’ve got a full set of four player characters and/or you’ve got a lot of newbies. The book specifically notes that it can be tight to fit it into a “standard four-hour convention slot.” It seems a lot of their playtesting and such came from conventions, so I’ll take their word on that standard. Thus, it’s good to keep in mind the expectation for who is playing the game- that is, a batch of con-addled newbies.
We get a note that Mythenders returning from a previous game are identical to any new Mythender, losing any tokens or Corruption gained in prior adventures, save for any Corruption and Fate that was made permanent. These occur when a Mythender gets killed and resurrects, so death will have truly permanent effects. It’s also fine to change Weapons, Fate, Bonds, and other aspects to reflect past experience.
There are two segments of play: The Mythmaster’s Time, when fights occurs, and the Mythenders’ Time, when they have a few moments to interact with the world outside of beating it up.
In the Mythmaster’s Time, play begins with description of the battlefield and the opposing Myth. Since the myth always gets the first action in combat, this will transition directly into their attack. Afterwards, the players make their actions, and so on until the fight is resolved.
The patronizing quote corner posted:
If, for some reason, the Mythenders don’t want to engage in the battle, that’s cool. They can all just choose to die instead. Once the challenge begins, fighting or dying are the only options.
We get this wonderful line instead of something less idiotic, perhaps “it is assumed that all players will want to engage in the fight, y’know, that thing the entire game is built around.”
Anyway, once a fight is done, either another one can immediately begin (never do this unless you want everyone to die a *lot*, since there’s no healing between fights), or we move into the Mythenders’ time.
In their Time, each player character heals fully, discards all tokens except Might, and then each get a Moment. In a Mythender’s Moment, they can perform supernatural feats, terrorize mortals to gain power from worship, or seek their sympathy to de-corrupt. We’ll get to the mechanics for those in a later post, but for now just know that Might can be gained or the Corruption-Fate tracks can move around during this time. At the Mythmaster’s discretion, a Mythender may get extra Moments, but at the cost of the next opponent having time to gather power. After all Moments are done, or if the Mythenders just want to challenge the Myth to battle immediately, the next fight begins.
There’s one other Time, of sorts, but it’s more a break in the action than anything else. We’ll talk about that when we get to Moments.
Again, this is a one-shot centric system, so we get all of the standard narrative sequence in every adventure:
Exposition: The Mythmaster’s Time begins play, usually starting with a battle. There’s a bit of additional description to show off what kind of world the game will take place in, such as surrounding geography being cracked by lightning, settlements about to be demolished, that sort of thing. This fight is usually with a minor Myth, often the servant of a greater Myth.
Rising action: the fight proceeds, is won by the Mythenders, and moves into the Mythenders’ Time. The players flesh out characters a bit during their Moments, then begin their next (and final) battle.
Climax: The pitched fight with the Greater Myth occurs, and either it dies or all the Mythenders do. This is where most of the actual, strategic gameplay occurs; the rest is building towards it.
Denouement: Mythenders either Apotheosize or get some narration about how they go off for their next fight (never retirement- the world will always hunt them), along with some description of how their fight changes the world around them.
Starting in medias res is a good decision, since it helps get the pace going- most of the characterization done so far relates to fighting, after all, so you’re free to start the game without figuring out other motivations. Momentum takes it from there.
Longer adventures are mostly about adding more cycles of rising action, but usually only one Greater Myth is encountered no matter how long it takes. Variations suggested include starting with the Mythenders’ Time to build up the world more, or having multiple sessions where someone who becomes a Myth also becomes the Mythmaster for the next session.
Speaking of those who fall- rather than just sitting out the rest of the adventure, anyone who dies (permanently) before the final fight should create a new character, to be introduced during the next Mythenders’ Time. Often, this is someone who witnessed your deeds and became a Mythender themselves, perhaps a child, spouse, or Companion of yours. The book refers to this as Dynastic play. Usually, such characters have thematic ties to one another.
We get some brief suggestions on how to describe the world, but nothing worth mentioning beyond that battles with Myths should alter the world. For some reason, here we also get some suggested rule changes with Mythender counts other than three or four. I guess they forgot that the optional rule section is at the back of the book.
This was a bit longer than I expected, and the proper combat mechanics writeup is huge, so:
Next time: How to Hit Things (Really, I promise)
Also, I just noticed that this will be right next to My Little Pony whenever it hits the archive. Great.
Original SA post
Mythender Part 5: Combat Mechanics
I’m going to skip their much-vaunted Tutorial Battle for now. Usually it replaces the first fight in the game, and it’s not a bad way to get newbies acquainted, but we’ll laugh at the stupid things it makes you read verbatim once we learn the mechanics ourselves.
So, let me just skip those 35 pages…
Okay, another 10 pages of how to describe things, I’ll throw in that info as it’s needed, thanks…
ALRIGHT here we are:
“Actions in Brief”
So, every character takes one action in each round. The Myth gets a turn first, then the Mythenders take turns in any order they choose. If they can’t choose or bicker about it too much, the round ends, so decisiveness is encouraged. The Mythmaster should help them choose, but otherwise keep things moving along.
Actions go as follows, for both the Mythenders and Mythmaster:
- Form the Action: Figure out what Scale of Action this will be, what Weapons and Blights to use, and what you want to do. This also involves charging or draining the Weapon and Blight.
- Initial description: The player describes what they are doing, which should match the Scale. This should incorporate the Weapon or Blights they are using, what precise manner they are using to attack, and what effects they aim to cause.
- Dice rolls: Gather and roll the dice, as determined by the Scale of the action. These are the Storm, Thunder, and Mythic dice, though only one Scale uses all three.
- Cause Effects: Inflict any effects on the opponent or World that your description would naturally cause, paying any necessary Lightning costs.
- Ending description: The Mythmaster (if no effects were caused or the Myth is acting) or the Mythender (otherwise) describes the outcome of the action.
Some notes on the description: First off, all actions succeed. When you roll, it’s only to gain more power, which might allow you to actually make a dent in the opponent. That’s why description is broken up into two segments- the first sets up what you do, the second follows through with how much it actually hurt. As aforementioned, if you say you shove a spike into Loki’s face, that happens- but he might take it without even flinching. There’s no active defense, either; you might say you parried an attack, but harm is only avoided if your opponent didn’t have the Lightning tokens to cause a wound. Your action has no part in that. Additionally, if you’re attacking, say, a horde of foes, you might kill off a few whether or not you mechanically Wound the enemy, but you can never reduce it to less than a horde before it dies. The “shape” of the foe is maintained.
Now, at long last, we get the full writeup on Actions. Buckle up.
Section 1: Action Scale
In order to talk about what this giant pile of dice is doing, we first need to discuss Scale. Scale describes how powerful, and thus risky, the action is, from Legendary (superhuman), to Mythic (supernatural), to Titanic (world-shattering). Each has different mechanics.
Legendary actions are the only type available to Myths, and are the safest type available to Mythenders. For Mythenders, the description of a Legendary action should befit demigods, but are typically just literal interpretations of what could be done with a given Weapon- “Impressive acts of physical violence, stoic resolve, or vast cunning are right on-target. Minor unreal talents, like small effects of sorcery or willworking, are also within the bounds of a Legendary action.”
When taking a Legendary action, you’ll roll your current Storm and Thunder dice. Any that come up 4, 5, or 6 are successes. A success on a Storm die gets you more one Thunder die for your next action, and a success on a Thunder die gets you one Lightning token immediately.
If you get no successes at all on a Legendary action roll, and thus would get nothing from it, you can reroll it. If the reroll does has same, quit rolling and just take 1 Thunder die or 1 Lightning token, you poor unlucky sod. Again, it’s the safest Scale.
A Legendary Action posted:
Example: Seeing the winged horses of the valkyrie out of reach of his sword, William kicks at a nearby tree (using his Strongest of my Tribe Weapon). It breaks at the base, and he hurls the newly felled tree at his foes.
Mythic actions get into superhero territory- “Leap mountains. Fight in mid-air. Freeze rivers with a word. Cause your weapons to glow with malice.”
Mythic actions are rolled the same as Legendary actions, but you also roll the Mythic die. You get more Thunder dice equal to the Mythic die result for your next action. Since you always get at least that one Thunder die, you don’t have the option to reroll.
Since you’re rolling the Mythic Die, which represents drawing power from your Mythic Heart, Mythic actions Corrupt you. One corruption box gets checked off (“progressed”), which has a number next to it. If your Mythic die result is greater than or equal to that Corruption number, you must also progress your Fate track. You can also choose to progress Fate even if you don’t have to.
A Mythic Action posted:
Erik screams, picks up his war-wolf (his Weapon, My War-Wolf, the Son of Fenrir), and hurls it at the dragon’s head. He and it glow with blood-red energy, and the wolf bursts into holy fire as it strikes.
Titanic Actions are HUGE, but can damage your body and soul. “go bigger than anyone’s done in the adventure so far. This is your nuclear weapon... They literally and figuratively shake the earth.” The Weapon used may be little more than a metaphor for what you’re doing to the world- if you wanted, your army of peasant farmers could spontaneously reform the region into a new, collectivized government whose mere existence strikes at the oppressive power of Myth.
The rolls for Titanic actions are a bit different. Thunder dice and the Mythic die are rolled- Storm dice are ignored. Successes on Thunder dice get 3 Lightning tokens each, but failed Thunder dice are discarded. You also get the Mythic die result in Might tokens. Titanic actions Corrupt just like Mythic actions.
A Titanic Action posted:
Jonah the Worthy spits at the dry earth. From that springs a geyser, flooding the plains around everyone. A hydra made purely of water bursts forth, slaughtering those in its path. Jonah mumbles words of power, controlling his water-spawn with foul magics (using his Power of the Sea Weapon.
Alternatively (and the only reason why I’m using these examples): https://youtu.be/hTc9sLmOR0A
Section 2: Charge and Drain
When forming the action, you also have the chance to Charge and Drain Weapons and Blights. By the way, Blights are scars on the world that can charge up Mythic power, and you can create them as Effects on your action.
Weapons have three pairs of Charge/Drain boxes next to them, Blights have a track of five boxes.
Whenever you use a Weapon, you may check off one Charge box or Drain all currently charged boxes, checking off the paired spiky box. When you drain the Weapon, you get the listed bonus dice (that is, lasting for only this Action) or Might tokens. By default, these are Storm dice, but you can get bonus Thunder dice instead if you’re using a Relic weapon or pay 2 Might tokens. Once a box is drained, it cannot be recharged; the pair stays checked until the end of the fight.
Innate weapons maintain any undrained charges after a fight ends for free, doing this with other weapons costs 1 Might. Relic Weapons, as aforementioned, can get Drained Thunder dice for free. Companion Weapons get a free charge when you are Wounded.
When you charge a Blight, you check off 1 box (or 1 per Mythender if you’re a Myth) and get 1 bonus storm die. Myths still only get 1 die. Draining a Blight erases all checked boxes, and you get 1 bonus Thunder die per drained box. Partial draining is not allowed, but unlike Weapons, you can recharge Blights after Draining. You can also charge a second Blight, but you get no bonus from it. You still cannot Drain more than one Blight.
So, we do a bunch of charging up, yelling about what we’re doing and rolling a shitload of dice, but what does our spirit bomb do?
Section 3: Effects
There’s three effects that are always available:
- Create a Blight: spend 2 Lightning tokens, make a new Blight. These are on separate little paper cards, as shown above. It starts with 1 Charge box checked. It can be used by only one side, so Mythenders can share but cannot use the Myth’s. You can make a Blight identical to that of an enemy, but it basically acts like a new Blight.
- Destroy a Blight: spend 3 Lightning per checked Charge box, or 6 per box if it is Lasting. Lasting Blights come from out-of-combat effects. Any Destroyed blight cannot be recreated, though a copied Blight remains in play until likewise destroyed. The book also implores you to rip up the Blight card.
- Wound Your Foe: Finally. Every Myth and Mythender has a Wound Cost, which you pay in Lightning Tokens to cause Wounds. Mythenders have a cost of 3, Myths vary from 4-6 or so. Anyone who has not yet had an action has their Wound cost tripled, so the first round is mostly for charging up. Myths have a way of causing multiple Wounds at once.
Regarding costs, the Mythenders have an advantage. They can share Lightning tokens for any effects, so long as the current player pays at least half of the cost (and the other players are willing, it’s not compulsory).
When you’re Wounded, you check off one Wound box on your track. Here’s a Mythender’s track:
Then, you’ll roll all of your Thunder dice and compare them to the Wound Number in the box you checked off. If you ran out of boxes, the number is six from then onward. Any Thunder dice with results less than that Wound Number are discarded. If you are out of Thunder dice, you die- though, again, Mythenders get to come back.
Wounds can be made more or less serious through a few means: You can double down by paying double the Wound Cost, which increases the opponent’s Wound Number by one for that Wound only. When you are wounded, you can pay your own Wound to reduce the Wound Number by one or double the cost for two, to a minimum of the Wound Number on the track. The Grievous Harm Gift can also increase the Wound Number by up to 2, so the highest Wound Number possible is 9.
Of course, you can’t roll more than 6 on a d6 Thunder die, so there’s an alteration: For each increment above 6, you’ll also discard that many Thunder dice that came up 6, but otherwise treat the Wound Number as 6. So, if you roll against a Wound Number of 8 and get three 6’s, you discard two of those and are left with exactly one Thunder die.
As the game notes, surprisingly soberly for once, regarding causing Wounds with higher numbers than 6:
This tends to cause someone to die.
A quick note before I close this out: Yeah, that's a lot of explanation, but in play it comes down to the following sequence:
A player is chosen to go. They come up with something cool to do with a weapon, check a box or two, then roll the dice. They pick out the successes and grab appropriate tokens, then use their Lightning to maybe make a Blight and probably wound the Myth if they can. The Mythmaster deals with the Wound while people figure out what they're doing next.
In all, an action takes around two minutes in most cases, maybe a couple more if people get flowery with their descriptions or really mull over their tactics later in the fight. You're doing a maximum of 25 actions per fight, for reasons we'll discuss later, so it doesn't end up much longer than most combat-centric RPG scenes. Still, there are a lot of tactical options that can seem overwhelming at the outset.
Next time: Power Corrupts, and Absolute Power… requires a lot of tokens and math
Corruption, Death, and Gifts
Original SA post
Mythender Part 6: Corruption, Death, and Gifts
We discussed the process for Corruption last time, but as a review: When you take a Mythic or Titanic action, your Mythender is corrupted by their Mythic Heart. After each such action, you check off a Corruption box:
Then you check the Mythic Die’s result. If you rolled equal to or higher than the number in the Corruption box, you need to check off a row in the Fate track. Should you have a result less than the number, you can also elect to progress the Fate track regardless. Since the Fate track also acts as your Gift slots, this can be advantageous if you want more special ability options. Note that the first (topmost) row is permanently starred; it holds a Mythender’s starting Gift.
Any open Gift slot can be filled at any time, including immediately before such a gift could be used. For example, an open slot could get filled just after you take a wound- one Gift, Bloodlust, gets more powerful if you just lost a lot of Thunder dice from a wound, so you could immediately take that gift even after rolling the dice. If you run out of rows and would need to fill another, you can still use a single new gift during your action, but it goes away as soon as your turn is over.
Note the numbers on the lower rows. At the end of a fight, and only then, anyone that has a row with a number checked off will roll the Mythic Die. If the result is at least the number in the bottommost checked row, then your Mythender undergoes Apotheosis. This is generally a bad thing.
If you’re out of unchecked Fate boxes, for one, you’re pretty much fucked at the end of this Battle. It’s unlikely you’ll come out of it still mortal.
Yup. That 1 in 6 chance ain’t great.
If a Mythender dies, they can choose to stay dead. They’re out of the fight, and so is their player. Alternatively, as often mentioned previously, they can choose to resurrect themselves. In doing so, they progress their Corruption and Fate tracks by one, then make the first non-permanent box in the track permanent (circled). There is no way to roll the track back beyond that point. You can corrupt yourself and resurrect as many times as you like, even if you’re out of boxes on either track- you don’t die permanently unless you so choose or the Myth’s doom timer comes up after the fifth round- more on that later.
If, at any time, you check both Corruption boxes in the first row, your Form changes from mortal to Paragon. The next two rows do the same for your Supernatural and Godly forms. You fill these in at character creation, and they show off your greater power and determine your starting Thunder die, both at the beginning of a battle and when you come back from death. Those in their Mortal form gets 1 Thunder die, Paragon 2, Supernatural 4, Godly 8. Lesser Myths start with 2-4 Thunder Dice, Greater Myths have 6-8.
There’s a few summaries of combat here, but we’ll effectively get those when we look that their tutorial battle. Instead, let’s look at the Gifts:
There’s only 18 of them, so I suppose I’ll go over them all. If you glaze over at ability lists, suffice it to say that it’s a whole bunch of dice tricks, modifiers, and bonuses to token generation. Some want you to add special description, but really the gifts just there to add a bit of strategic garnish to your pile of numbers.
They’re organized alphabetically, but I’m going to split them up into two sets of my devising: Universal and Specialist. Universal Gifts can be useful to everyone just about anytime, the rest are pretty situational. Most of them have Might token costs, paid each time they are used. Some also have upgrades with dumb names that I will ignore; these upgrades cost another full Gift slot. Some are also locked to either Mythenders-only or Myth-only. Any “Aiding” upgrade allows you to use that Gift for allied Mythenders’ actions. Gifts can only be used as part of an action unless marked with “non-action.”
- Bloodlust (2 might): When you lose Thunder dice due to a wound, take an equal number of Lightning tokens. Upgrade: reduce the cost or get you double Lightning for more than double the cost.
- Building Doom (Myths only, non-action): Increase your Storm die pool by 1 at the beginning of each round. Upgrade: 2 per round.
- Channeled Hatred (Mythenders only, non-action): Get Lighting equal to your current number of Gifts (including this one). Can be taken multiple times, up to once per round.
- Dual Wield: (1 Might) Charge two weapons or charge one and drain another or (3 Might) instead, drain two weapons.
- Fast Strike (1 Might): Charge and drain the same weapon on the same action. May stack with Dual Wield, but only one weapon may be both charged and drained.
- Grievous Harm (2 Might): Before the Thunder Dice are rolled for an opponent’s Wound, increase the opponent’s Wound Number by 1. Upgrades: Aiding (+1 cost); allow a Wound number increase of 2 (double final cost); allow use after the Thunder pool is rolled (+1 cost).
- Harbinger of Storm (non-action): Increase your Storm Rating (base dice pool) by 2. Upgrades: increase this to 4; (2 Might): Gain double Thunder from Storm dice, paid before rolling. (Myths can take the latter upgrade as a gift on its own)
- One More Breath (Myths only): When wounded and you wouldn’t die outright, you may do the following as many times as desired: rotate dice up by one result (2 to 3, 5 to 6, etc. Max is still 6) for 1 Might per rotation. You can do this multiple times on the same die. Additionally, for 5 Might tokens, when a Myth is Ended it can make a Mythender who checks for Apotheosis roll twice and use the higher result.
- Relentless (2 Might): On a Legendary or Mythic action, reroll failed dice in either of your Storm or Thunder dice pools. May pay 2 more Might to use this on Titanic action and/or double the cost to reroll both pools. Upgrades: Aiding; (3 Might): Use this on a Wound roll. It cannot be used after One More Breath, but can be done before.
- Sureness (3 Might): Pay before rolling a Legendary or Mythic action. Storm dice also succeed on a 3. It costs 2 more Might for Titanic actions. Upgrades: Use this after rolling (+1 cost); pay less (-1 cost); Get successes on 2’s (+2 cost).
- Surge of Might (Mythenders only, non-action): gain 5 might. Can be taken multiple times, up to once per round.
- Blaze of Glory (Mythenders Only): When rolling the Mythic Die in Battle or for Apotheosis, roll twice and add the results. The total is treated as the die result for all purposes, including Apotheosis, so you’re pretty much asking to become a god.
- Focused Onslaught: Double Blight charges per action; additionally (2 Might) Get double the bonus Thunder Dice from Draining a Blight, but destroy the Blight afterward.
- Indestructible Nature (2 Might, Myths only): A created Blight cannot be destroyed in battle so long as it has charges.
- Master Tactician (1 Might) On another Mythender’s turn, move up to 5 Lightning tokens from yourself to that Mythender. You can do this multiple times in the same turn. Upgrades: May move any allies’ Lightning around to anyone else at the same cost; pay less (-1 to the total)
- Mighty Presence (Mythenders only): Titanic actions get 4 Lightning per success, not 3.
- Swiftness (8 Might): I’ll cut the half-page description down to “take an extra turn at any time, up to once per round” Upgrades: Aiding (that ally can still only benefit from Swiftness once per round); pay less (-2 cost); move before the Myth, but their Wound cost is tripled as usual for those who haven’t acted (+5 cost)
- Vicious Denial (2 Might, Myth only): When Wounding, pick one of the target’s weapons. They must pay 2 Might when they next use that weapon, or else they cannot use it.
My personal favorite combo for the Myth is using Focused Onslaught, Building Doom, and heavily upgraded Sureness. The Myth can easily be getting dozens of Thunder dice near-guaranteed, plus piles of bonus dice, if the Mythenders don't take down Blights quickly. Takes a shitload of Might to use, though.
There's then a page on building your own Gifts, with suggested costs, but a lot of cautions on what systems are more likely to break the game balance. If you make something that everyone would take immediately, it's probably too useful or cheap. Relentlessness is called out as a good baseline cost, being 2 Might for a reroll of all failures in a pool. Some areas suggested are alternate action Effects, like Viscous Denial. In my first game, I ended up including a Gift called Indomitable Haste that let you pay 2 Might to immediately roll any Thunder dice gained from your Storm dice. This lets you snowball a little more quickly, and the early Lightning stock it provides stacks well with Gifts like Master Tactician that let your allies cause effects more often.
Overall, if you like using the dice manipulation charms in Exalted, Gifts are your playground. And if you're playing this game, that's likely the case.
Next time: Non-combat mechanics, which somehow also include murder (twice)
Non-combat mechanics, which somehow also include murder (twice)
Original SA post
Mythender Part 7: Non-combat mechanics, which somehow also include murder (twice)
After battle concludes and players roll for Apotheosis, the Mythenders rest and get to explore the world a bit. This time is used to flesh out characters' motivations and prepare for their final fight, along with providing some contrast in tone so the action scenes have a point of comparison. Each player gets at least one Moment in which to do so, and certain rules govern any events that relate to one's Mythic nature. If their Moment is something mundane, there’s no particular rules- arguing with a mortal, going to the market to get a quick bite, going fishing, and other tasks are explicitly noted as being outside of the rule system. You’re free to roleplay out as much or as little as you like, but if it stops being interesting, the book wisely notes that you should just cut to the next Moment or battle. Small, mundane moments can lead into bigger Moments, if such a thing is desired- the example given is that a Mythender gone fishing could then ask the Mythmaster for the “King of Fish” to show up, which falls under the Performing a Badass, Epic Feat sub-Moment.
There's two primary Moments, "Terrorizing Mortals for Power" and "Seeking Sympathy and Healing."
If a Mythender is drawing power from their Mythic Heart for any reason, it falls under the Terrorizing Mortals for Power rules. The Mythender may not be “terrorizing” them in the sense of actually threatening mortal lives, but they are doing something that could inspire worship. Even “acts of kindness fueled by Mythic power” can qualify. After roleplaying out the Moment, you check off two Corruption boxes, which will change your form and should be incorporated into your description, and roll the Mythic die. Results of 4-6 result in a double advancement of Fate, else one advancement. Then you gain Might equal to the Fate boxes currently checked. This gives you a pretty large boost to the beginning of the next combat.
If a Mythender instead wants to back off from Corruption and thus must try to show mortals that they are still a person deep down, then it falls under Seeking Sympathy and Healing. If you wish to do so, Fate will provide an opportunity- as in, the Mythmaster will work with you to contrive such a situation. You’ll then roleplay it out up until you ask whether the mortal sees you as a horrible Mythic storm of power, or else a person. At that moment, you consider the following questions:
- Have the Mythenders [as in, the whole party] refrained from terrorizing mortals for power so far?
- Did you try to understand the plight of this mortal?
- Did you make a serious effort to downplay or disregard your Mythic nature?
- Did you share yourself in a way that exposed emotional vulnerability?
Count up the number of “yes” answers, then roll that number of dice (maximum three- which means the first question can’t screw you up entirely if your jerk teammate acted first). If any succeed (result 5 or 6), you’ve restrained your Mythic power sufficiently to seem like a normal person. If none succeed, then the mortal’s mind gets wiped out by your power as usual, their free will fades, and they blindly worship your power in some way. Eternal loyalty, desperate love, spontaneous death, and despairing suicide are called out as possible results. Regardless of the mortal’s fate, you uncheck your furthest two Corruption boxes and give up any number (including zero) of non-permanent Gift slots to roll back your Fate track. Yep, you're still less corrupted, even if you consoled a crying child so hard that their soul fell out. At least you tried?
There’s a few variants of these two primary Moments:
Performing Badass, Epic Feats: If your godlike physical and mental abilities, Weapons, or Fate Powers (like being fated to become a God of Healing) would allow you do something supernatural, you can do so to gain power. As with combat actions, you succeed at performing the Feat, with no roll for that part. You can either embrace your Corruption, in which case the Moment is Terrorizing Mortals for Power, or resist Corruption. If resisting, you make a roll, and have about a 1/3 chance to succeed and thus avoid having to do Terrorize. If you fail, you must Terrorize and it gets you only 1 Might token regardless of the result. You can also pay some Might to create or destroy a Blight. Embracing Corruption allows you to do as much Blight creation or destruction as you can pay for, including the Might you got from Terrorize, while resisting can at most only create one Blight or destroy one Blight.
Helping Mortals: If you’re using your power as a Mythender to help mortals, it’s Terrorizing Mortals for Power, but if you put aside your power and don’t try to show off, it’s either Seeking Sympathy and Healing or just a non-rule Moment.
Slaughtering Mortals: Identical to Terrorizing Mortals for Power. If you say that your Mythender is killing mortals separately from other Moment descriptions, deliberately or accidentally, it’s this. The page is mostly there just to tell you why doing this is even an option, noting that you can kill any mortal at any time, and they know it. If a mortal defies you, they do so knowing that they’re putting their head on the block for it.
There’s one other non-combat mechanic, which exists outside of and overrides almost all other mechanical systems:
Specifically, other Mythenders. Yup, there’s a subsystem for killing your party mates.
At any time, including other’s combat actions and Moments, you can declare that your character is going to End another Mythender. Everyone who gets involved grabs 3 dice. The murderer and the target, plus anyone else who wants to help with the murder or defend the target, look at their Bonds. If anyone on the opposite side broke or otherwise invalidated your Bond to them, narrate the loss of the bond and get more 2 dice. Before rolling, those on the same side can give half of their dice to one another. Then they all roll.
Results of 4-6 are successes. Whoever got the most successes decides who lives and who dies on all sides. Heck, they could still kill themselves off if they want to. The only hard rule here is that at least one Mythender dies. The narration rights go to the victor, though those who die should contribute as well.
If there’s a tie for the most successes, everyone involved dies.
The only thing that Murder cannot interrupt is die roll results. Once an attack is rolled or a Myth is Ended in battle, you have to finish the action effect description or aftermath, respectively. In particular, after an Action kills the Myth, you’re forced to also roll the Apotheosis check before Murder can happen.
This is a really weird aspect of the system, but it’s pretty important to the bits that are trying to be a Greek tragedy. If you’re assured to Apotheosize at the end of a fight, that effectively counterbalances your effort in Ending the god, so getting your Mythender killed is probably a good thing provided your allies can finish the job. Since you cannot die unless Ended in this fashion or killed by a Myth, this is your only way out of Apotheosis that doesn’t rely on your enemy. Heck, if you *really* want to commit to the idea that it would be better to die than Apotheosize, you're free to let the Myth wipe the party at the end of round five.
Which they will do, if it gets that far. You're on a strict time limit in these fights. More on that shortly, because...
Next time: The Things that Try to Kill You
Mythic Norden and Other Opposition
Original SA post
Mythender Part 8: Mythic Norden and Other Opposition
This section is a combination of setting, a bestiary, and the antagonist rules all together.
We begin with the themes, basic geography, and some inhabitants of Mythic Norden. This is 100% just Norse myth filtered through an RPG. Frost covers all of the land, save for small patches where mortal devotees of the gods are granted sufficient warmth to live. The horrors of the unrelenting storm, and monsters from within the dark and deep, keep mortals reliant on worship and obedience. The Mythic World of Norden, as we know from before, was the first to begin Corrupting the Mythenders that rose upon it, and it has built that process up quite well. Some of its current gods are markedly more powerful than their prior incarnations, since a Mythender powerful enough to slay their predecessor becomes a correspondingly more potent god. The World even drives gods into conflict with Mythenders just to expand its power. Its goal is not to kill Mythenders, but to turn them- a goal the Mythmaster shares.
We get a quick note that it’s a probably waste of time to try using historical Scandinavia to portray the Mythic world- the real world’s cultures are much more various and complex, and even if you did try to be so faithful, very few historical people would portray the Realms and gods quite the way the book is meant to present. This is more of a backdrop than a setting, really. I guess this part is meant to give verisimilitude guys a clean exit point.
Then we get a page suggested names for people, along with mentioning that everyone will call their land “Midgard,” here also representing that the mortals’ realm is the one stuck right in the center of the Mythic World’s power. Then we get a list of god types, those of Order (Aesir), those of Life (Vanir), and those of Chaos (the Giants, or Jotnar), plus some specific gods that don’t otherwise get written up. If you want to fight Hel, you’re going to have to research and stat her yourself. “Research” here being noted that “Wikipedia… is enough to get you started.” Again, we’re not going for a lot of accuracy here. Also, we get a quick note that the Mythenders basically have put Ragnarok on hold, since they Ending gods prophesied to be there, which kinda throws things off.
After some descriptions of towns and villages, plus mortals of note, and some appropriate battle sets (the seas, the Forest of Woe, a chasm split open by a giant’s axe, the root systems of the World-Tree Yggdrasil), we get on with the beasties.
There’s two big differences between the stats for Mythenders and Myths. The Myths get automatic Might recharge at the beginning of each round, so they get to use a lot more Gifts, far more often. This is the only reason they can keep up with the Mythenders at all.
The second is Gathering Rage. At the end of each round, the Myth gets a special effect. These differ heavily between Lesser and Greater myths.
Also, when Wounding the Mythenders, the Myth can spend one Might per each additional Mythender they want to wound, along with the usual Lightning cost to Wound them. In total, wounding the entire party costs 12 Lightning and 3 Might, which is a pretty significant cost.
First, Lesser Myths get detail. These are the enemies fought first in a game. They get a Storm rating from 3-5, start with 2-4 Thunder dice, 6-8 Might, recharge 2-4 Might per round, and have a wound cost of 4. Their wounds get worse just as fast as Mythenders' do; given that it’s only ever one Myth, mechanically, versus four Mythenders, the cheap Wounds and short wound progression make for a pretty quick fight. They get three Weapons with the same charging track as normal, and one Weapon is usually itself as a Companion Weapon, should the Myth a group of foes as per the standard. For all foes, the only notable change to the function of Weapon types is that intrinsic weapons start with one charge. They get a total of three or four Gifts, including upgrades.
For Lesser Myths, Gathering Rage mostly powers up the Greater Myth, so the Lesser Myth doesn't get much more dangerous as the fight progresses. The Greater Myth can some extra starting dice, or a Weapon charge, and the Lesser Myth may create a Lasting Blight at the end of the battle even if it dies. If the fifth round ends with the Lesser Myth still alive, the fight ends with the Lesser Myth’s escape and the Greater Myth gets another Weapon charge.
Example Lesser Myths in Mythic Norden are the Einherji (spirit-warriors of Valhalla, they’re also the tutorial enemy), Valkyries, Draugr (evil undead, probably closer to Skyrim imports than the old myths), formerly mortal Sorcerers, and the Jotnar. The Jotnar are statted as the higher-tier Lesser Myths. The book also notes that all of these creatures make great Companion weapons for Greater Myths, especially if the Lesser Myth survives.
Then we move on to Greater Myths. These are primarily gods, and they are always the final fight in a game. The book waves its hands and just says their stats “vary greatly,” but from the given statblocks we have some clues: they get a Storm rating from 6-7, start with 6-8 Thunder dice, start with 15-30 Might, recharge 8-15 Might per round, and have a wound cost of 7-8. Their wound track progresses more slowly, often having several boxes in the three and four range. They start with 7-10 Gifts, including upgrades, and two or three open Gift slots. One open slot can be filled per round. They get four Weapons, which are also different, having Drain effects that only give dice (with a +4 rather than +3 in the first box), and having the option to possess Greater Weapons with two Types. The World Serpent’s fangs are both Intrinsic and Relic, for example. Overall, Greater Myths start big and get bigger, and they can take a lot of punishment. Otherwise, though, these stats don’t make them anything more than a beefier Lesser Myth.
The bigger difference comes from Greater Myths’ gathering rage. These also vary a bit, but the general plan is as follows:
Sundering lets a Greater Myth destroy one of their Weapons to get immediate token and dice gains, and more benefits are gained from Sundering Weapons with more undrained charges.
But we don’t care about that, really, since the bigger deal is that time limit. After round five, THE MYTHENDERS DIE, no reviving allowed. Playing to a standstill is just fine for the Myth, since their real power just takes some time to bring to bear. This is the only way in which a Myth can actually, fully kill a Mythender, so the Mythenders are free to use all the power they can get to put down the Myth quickly. Note that this also means that a Lesser Myth cannot kill off a Mythender- though they can get them to Apotheosize. They’d have to be really lucky or a fair bit stronger than average to make that a serious risk, though.
Next up, we get a bunch of Greater Myths, in order from easiest to hardest. Unfortunately, as we don’t get as much as a picture for any of these (or the Lesser Myths, for that matter), unless you count Odin’s head in a few other places. It’s noted elsewhere throughout the book that almost all of the Greater Myths are not the originals- Odin in particular has been “slaughtered countless times-” but some poor one-eyed Mythender gets up to too much order and foresight and soon ends up taking his place. It never gets stated in the book, but since the gods get more powerful with each cycle of Apotheosis and keep getting taken out, the originals probably went down like chumps. That, or the Mythenders get more powerful in kind.
First is Thor. He’s pretty basic, meant to be the first God a newbie group would fight. If you want to fight something else, the book suggests using his stats and just changing the weapon names. Each Greater Myth also gets a half page of their deeds, motivations, temperament, and what they think of Mythenders. In Thor’s case, he enjoys Mythender battles in the usual finally-a-worthy-fight fashion.
Odin is the guy who gets pissy when his carefully-laid plan to dominate the natural order gets stomped on, so he sets off to try to bring Mythenders back into line. It’s fine to battle monsters and giants, but killing off Aesir is just not part of the deal. He’s a straight upgrade from Thor in power, having *every* base gift and a few upgrades. That’s 17 gift slots, so he’s not exactly playing by the rules. As the book loves to note, the Myths are “cheating bastards.” Still, the sheer amount of Might tokens required means he can’t use all of those at once; he’s just got options.
Freyja gets to be the “Goddess of Motherhood and Lust.” Other domains are love, fertility, life, war, and death. Quite a range she has there. She has a lot of bewitched thralls, and her style of fighting is to tempt people into corruption, rather than wounding them physically. Her devotees take care of the bloody parts for her. Freyja’s Gathering Rage gets the addition of progressing Mythender corruption at the end of each round (I think the whole party, but it’s unclear). If the time limit is reached and you’ve got a full Corruption track, you Apotheosize instead of dying.
Loki’s up next, and he gets a fun bit in his description I’ll quote:
Loki is nothing less than Norden’s spirit of all that is wild, and as such is not bound to form or nature. He is the master, and perhaps mother, of all magic in the land. Through his loins he forges many of Norden’s untamable beasts...
I don’t even know where this weird-ass style is coming from.
He also likes to steal other Myths’ artifact weapons just to see how well he can smack around Mythenders with them. He sees Mythenders as kin in their wild nature, being between Myth and mortal, but befouled by their eventual fall one way or another. In combat, he’s got a huge Might recharge of 15, the highest in the default stats, so he’ll be getting suitably tricky with his Gifts. Loki also has a slightly more favorable Wound track than the prior gods, so he’ll keep a bit more of his power for longer.
Jormungandr, the World Serpent, is a bit crazy. It’s got a whole purity complex, refusing to even speak due to the impurity of words or something, and its blood will poison and burn away anything unrighteous. It fights alone, so its Companion weapons are its dominion- the sea, sky, and its own nigh-endless coils. The main complication is, like Freyja, the Gathering Rage track. Twice, it gets to wound the Mythenders for free, and THE MYTHENDERS DIE happens after round *four.* Yeesh.
Finally, Fenrir the Unstoppable Wolf shows up. Noted as one of the first results of Mythender apotheosis, he’s a castle-sized ball of fur and hate. He also Ended Tyr, one of the few half-decent Aesir gods. He hates mortals for their lack of volition, himself for falling in the first place, and Mythenders for going along with the cosmic joke of their Corrupted existence. He “just wishes battle with Mythenders to be over quickly, so he may go back to his revenge.” He doesn’t have much better stats overall than Jormungandr, but he gets to use the Grievous Harm gift (makes wounds hit harder) at base level for free, so you’re much more likely to be fighting with very few resources at hand or blowing a lot of tokens on softening the blow.
After that list, we get some words on making your own Myths. They should be iconic, an individual being or otherwise special- if you’re going to kill a dragon, either establish a named Dragon like Smaug or make it The Dragon, as in the very Platonic conceptual ideal of dragonkind. Media, real-world myths, and *other RPG sourcebooks* are noted as good inspirations. GURPS gets a shout-out. More powerful Myths can be made with more double-type Weapons, extra gifts, or tweaking up the stat numbers. They also suggests adding some bleedover Myths from elsewhere, possibly in refuge from other Worlds that were Ended wholesale- it could be fun to fake out the party by having Hel get beaten down in the first round, only to have Hades tag in.
There’s an example Norden adventure with the default Einherjar-Thor duo, set around a warrior fort-village that worships Thor. The inhabitants, terrified at the fallen Valhallan warriors and suffering from whatever Blights the first fight leaves, pretty much think they may as well be dead. They love and praise Thor, so they mostly plead with the Mythenders to just please go away and stop destroying the world as they know it. If Thor eats it, they either get mindwiped to worship the Mythenders if they Terrorized the mortals, or else start to realize they’ve been freed, and are thankful despite their earlier reaction.
Speaking of the default fights,
Next time: The very silly, overlong Tutorial battle (prepare for many quotes)
The Tutorial Battle
Original SA post
Mythender Part 9: The Tutorial Battle
I’m doing this part of the writeup way out of order, or rather, the book is misordered. This tutorial appears earlier in the book than the actual combat rules, which is odd because the page on “how to use this tutorial” states the assumption that at least one person has read those later rules. Bah, no matter.
If there’s even one player who’s new, the book constantly
pushes the tutorial battle. It outlines the processes for Actions, Weapon and Blight charges, how Blights are created and destroyed, how Wounds work, and gaining power and Corruption.
There’s a lot of bits that I’ll skip over, since we’ve already seen the combat rules and it does a pretty comprehensive rules explanation, save for most of the Gifts. For those, there’s a handout with the Gift list that can substitute. There are some other rules with edge cases that it notes as getting passed over, but largely you could learn the combat part of the game just from the tutorial. I wouldn’t recommend it, but you could.
For some reason, we then get a whole page of GM endorsements and advice regarding the tutorial. The author may be getting a bit defensive.
Now we get to the fun bit of this writeup: there’s a good chunk of the tutorial that is given to the Mythmaster to read verbatim, all in italics. I’ll be heavily cherrypicking these, particularly stuff regarding Wounds and Corruption- most of the rules explanation is just fine. The first is a notification that occasional dice-cheating will occur so that rules can be shown adequately, like rotating dice so you get at least one success, and that you should explain what you're up to when cheating needs to occur. Fine.
In the first round, the Myth and the party just make Legendary actions, with the Myth using a Relic weapon so that the charges act more predictably. You’re encouraged to get people to use just one weapon throughout the fight, with each type represented so all of the rules come into play.
Thunder is how you generate more Lightning, but it’s also how you stay alive when some Myth tries to kill you…which we’ll get to as soon as the rules let me.
When you’re delivering lines like “as soon as the rules let me Wound you,” try to do so with a sense of devilish playfulness. Don’t come off like you’re a jerk.
As we shall continue to see, our GM is a bit bloodthirsty. And a bit pompous. Here’s how the Mythender turns start off:
Note that in a normal battle, if you cannot decide who’s turn it is because of arguing or indecision, and you bicker about it, your turns are all over and the next round begins. But don’t worry; I totally trust that you will be awesome and ready for action.
After they take their turns, we get the second Myth action, ending with creation of a Blight this time (stealing extra Lightning tokens if needed). Afterwards, the Mythenders will make actions of the next scale up, Mythic:
We’ve seen how a Legendary action works. Now we’ll do the next scale up, a Mythic action. This means you’ll roll the Mythic die! The Mythic die is pretty awesome, because you get extra stuff for it, all for the low, low price of corrupting your mortal soul! No biggie.
(After the roll and other rules…): So you’ve rolled the Mythic die! Congratulations! You’ve taken one step toward becoming a totally awesome god that your friends will probably End, if they survive this adventure. And for that, you get sweet stuff! But now we have to deal with Mythic Corruption and risking a piece of your mortal nature…
(if they had to progress Fate): Awesome! Not only did you push your Corruption, you’ve lost a piece of your mortality! That’s great!
Bloodthirsty, and REALLY happy to corrupt people. It gets a bit offputting. Then on the third Myth action:
Now we get to explore the fun of getting Wounded! Woo! And this round, we’ll talk about those Gifts you have... Now we’re going to explore the joys of being Wounded!
At least it doesn’t get overly exultant if people die, though if there’s no fatalities than you are supposed to ask for a volunteer. I think you can choose to die to any wound, actually, which can be useful in some cases.
If a player died, they also get in on the silly speeches:
Player: tell the Mythmaster that you’re going to survive this death. Feel free to add whatever wit or profanity you feel is appropriate. It’s not every day you get killed and then get to say “Actually, no I don’t.”
For the third Mythender round, we get at least one Titanic action, Mythic for the rest. For the one doing Titanic, the Mythmaster is directed to try to help them up the ante with the following:
Saying “Oh, is that all?” or similar may help, if the table has a sense of esprit de corps.
What was that you were saying earlier about saying “You know what would be more awesome?” That it invalidates people’s ideas? Take your own advice, game. At least it’s asking for further buildup rather than straight-up saying “that's not good enough,” but it's still disappointing.
If the Myth ends up dead midway through the round, it gets to live and retrieve one Thunder die just to make sure everyone gets to take their actions. If for any reason it ends up alive at the end of the round, the Mythmaster just says “meh, you’d have gotten it next round anyway” and declare it dead. Tutorial over, move along.
So, that was... fun, but it certainly wasn’t the end of the odd tone direction the game wants the Mythmaster to follow. Prepare for even more quotes; I cannot make this shit up.
Next time: Being a
massive weirdo Mythmaster
Original SA post
Mythender Part 10: Mythmastery
With no further ado, let’s get into what sorts of advice this game thinks your GM, or Mythmaster, should hear prior to play.
First off, the author intends for the GM section to not just be suggestions, but rules. They just happen to be “soft” rules that choose when they apply. So… not rules at all. Thanks, game.
We get some tips for first-time Mythmasters: don’t be afraid to reference in the book occasionally, use the tutorial battle (they *keep* pushing this), and:
watch high octane media… like 300, The Avengers, various awesome anime and related stuff like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Even watching some Dragonball Z could help you see how to do a Mythending battle
And the truth comes out.
More tips: There’s no “maybe” or “try,” actions always succeed. Descriptions should reflect this. Then we get to the really weird one:
Grovel & Enjoy It
You’ll see more of this on page 240, but make sure you do bow and grovel at times. Players used to other games won’t expect this from you, and it’s often their first clue that they really are playing epic characters.
Do not skimp on this!
I skimped on it and did just fine, thank you very much. Let’s skip a few pages and see this trashpile:
First and foremost, treat the players like they are Mythenders. This makes the difference between playing a game where you are just told you’re epic heroes and where you feel like epic heroes. The main way to do this is to treat them like they have a higher status than you.
Be Their Narrative Butler
Present choices to them, whether in character creation or during play, with deference and politeness. Pretend that they could just kill you with a glance, and you should be utterly respectful. “Would you like to see the other History options, Lady Mythender?” or “Which Weapon are you using now, Lord Mythender?”
Watch for that smile, as they’re being treated with respect they aren’t normally given in games as players. Revel in that glee. When you have that, you know you have that player hooked... When you present a choice and they decline it, say “I apologize for presuming, Lady Mythender.”
Challenge Them at Times
The flip side of treating players as Mythenders is to treat them with expectation. If they’re playing it safe during battles, push back. “You’re not taking the Mythic Die? Oh, so would you like me to also change your diaper?” Goad them into taking Corruption.
Don’t do this much outside of battle. They should make the choice to act horrific or heal themselves. The only thing that you should push against is inaction. “So, Lord Mythender, with all your power you’re just going to let the Endless Fire burn up the farmlands? That’s cool. How do you feel when your Companions look at you with tears in their eyes because the screams of the people in the fire echoing throughout the land breaks their hearts? Or did you, you know, want to actually do something?”
Non-header bolding mine. I can’t even begin to unpack this idiocy.
Here’s a bit of a gem from the bit I skipped, “On Making Mistakes as a Mythmaster:”
I’m here to say that it’ll be okay. Because, honestly, you cannot fuck up my game more than I have!
Ryan’s talking about a specific example that he then details, but I think we know better. At least he mentions that you should be honest and open about mistakes you make and fix.
Then we get some guidelines on describing the world. In addition to the advice from earlier, players should get descriptions that are filtered through a Mythender’s perceptions
- even if a Myth has been known to show kindness, that aspect should get downplayed in favor of justifying a quest for their End. This perception, once established, can then be disrupted. Backgrounds can play into this, like having an Apostate Mythender encounter her family, who then beg her to give up her quest to End the deity who protects them.
After description on how to act out mortals and Myths, we get more directions on tone. The Mythmaster is charged with maintaining the state of tone, thought it can shift over time, and in a fashion they do acknowledge that groups may not be keen on the way prior material has been presented. The same action might result in very different descriptions:
“You’re all ‘I slice off his ear, right?’ Sweet! SLICE! Blood flows everyone. Odin’s screaming all over the place, causing earthquakes with his thrashing rage. You’re there like a badass, holding his fuckin’ ear in our hand. Hell yeah!”
“Your blade finds the corner where his ear meets his head, and bites into his flesh. He struggles to stop you, but you are too fast, your sword sundering his flesh, blood dripping down from his face. The ear falls into your hand, and Odin backs away, rage in his eyes as the blood on his face literally boils away.”
And yet neither of these is any better. Anyway, the book then goes into how to talk about tone- simply asking players what tone they want probably isn’t going to be fruitful “unless you’re around a bunch of screenwriters or improve players,” so they suggest comparison over than direct questioning- their example is “are you more Superman or Batman?” Similarly, the scale of actions should be kept consistent.
Pacing gets some notes, but the structure of the game is rigid enough that it’s not normally an issue, even out of combat. The book does suggest giving people more free reign when they’re using their powers for themselves than when trying to regain humanity, to give that sense that they’re forcibly taking center stage and directing the action. Otherwise, if there’s a lull, either a mortal or Mythic situation should immediately get introduced- Mythenders don’t get breaks.
At long last, we get to my favorite bit: Hacking Mythender
into little pieces
. The Author outright encourages hacking the system into other settings. In the author’s eyes, Mythender’s system can work with any setting that supports big fights and power with a cost worse than death. I’d assert that the last bit isn’t quite necessary- a cost that can put you permanently out of the fight is sufficient. No need to get grimdark.
Some elements can require changes in certain settings. Intrinsic Weapons could be explicitly about inborn magical abilities in a fantasy setting, or characters might get specific Weapons to fit a class system. The connection of Corruption and Forms might be nonsensical as it is presented in Norden, so one might instead use a more Exalted-like change in the vien of the Anima marks, or perhaps a WoD-styled game’s werewolf would show no visible change until the maximum form is reached. Personal blights and Fate powers are likely worth cutting entirely, unless your setting’s heroes also have a power that passively warps the world. Finally, your relationship with normal people will likely be far different- if you’re in an X-Men game, showing your humanity to reduce corruption would be used to incite societal change in perception rather than as a means of self-control.
To be frank, I’ve never personally seen Mythender run in Norden; one of my friends ended up fighting Cthulu, and another ran it as Witchender in the Madoka Magicka universe (a rather inspired idea, in my estimation). In the latter case, he renamed the Mythic Die as the “Heart die,” along with some other terms. Something as simple as changing "Might" to "Mana" gives a very different feel for what Gifts are. I ran Fate:Mythender, as in the Type-Moon property, with Servants who wanted to remain on Earth indefinitely and had to battle the forces of the heavens just to stay. All of my RPG friends at the time were massive weebs, so each of those games went pretty well. The tone differed greatly, but we left the mechanics as they were and it was a great time.
From that, we have learned something important: Even if you find that Mythender is a good system for your group, and it can be so long as you have fun when rolling fistfuls of dice and improvising cool combat descriptions, but actually playing with the book’s tone and setting won’t be nearly as good as what a group can come up with on their own. The entire thing is built as a platform for your group to build upon, so limiting yourself to their setting really doesn’t do you any favors.
Next time: Optional rules- Cheating your Stats, Triple Techs, and Hacking (apart) the Planet
Original SA post
Mythender Part 11: Optional rules
There’s a few systems that are only included in Mythender at the Mythmaster’s discretion. The first is the existence of Greater Weapons. Normally, only Greater Myths can use Weapons with more than one type, but this privilege can be given to Mythenders as well as a small boost in power. Usually, a Greater Weapon is gained by looting it from a defeated Greater Myth, to be used in a later game. Taking a Greater Weapon requires making one Corruption box and 1 Fate box permanent, and the Weapon cannot be removed or changed (actually, the book says “charged,” so I guess by rules as written, Greater Weapons get you less benefit than normal ones. Nice editing). In addition to having two standard Weapon type abilities, each combination of Weapon types gets extra effects:
- Intrinsic/relic: Can appear and disappear at will; immune to the Viscous Denial gift (the one that makes a weapon unusable with a Might cost to unlock it)
- Intrinsic/Companion: Summonable at will, number of companions can change at any time. Also immune to Vicious Denial
- Relic/Companion: The Weapon is intelligent and can sense the world around it.
I don’t know why the last combo doesn’t get any extra mechanical effects.
Next is Mythic Wrath. Rather than each Mythender just getting one Moment (personal non-combat event), instead, you get to have as many as you want, but too many will give the Myth time to build up power. After each Moment, the Mythmaster secretly rolls a d6, using the result to describe the Mythic World’s responses to events. It’s implied that the Mythmaster should hint at how high the roll was using the severity of the response. For the first two Moments, subtract 3 and 2 from the result respectively, also adding 1 for a particularly long Moment. Starting with 0, add any positive result to a secret total. If the total reaches a threshold (10 for 1-3 Mythenders, 13 for 4 Mythenders), then the Myth attacks immediately. Even if the threshold isn’t hit, it gets some extra Might tokens and Thunder dice, both depending on the final Wrath total. Overall, using this rule is more than likely to give the Myth a better start to the fight, and I'd argue that the first set of non-combat actions should have a cost at all, especially since whoever would go last could just get screwed out of their turn.
Mythenders usually only get to act as a team by sharing Lightning tokens around, so their attacks usually don’t directly interact. If you want to use combo attacks, Mythender offers the Chained Action mechanic. After an ally attacks, incorporating their action’s description or effects into your own will get you one bonus Storm die. A Gift is introduced here that increases this to 2 dice for both you and anyone who Chains off of your actions. This AMAZING power (read: not a big bonus at all), your Mythmaster (who is really overestimating this) might give the Myth a free +1 to its own Storm rating, since it can’t Chain off of anyone. All of this is such a minor tweak that it’s not worth bothering with.
Then we get to the fun optional rules: Culling Reality and Ending the Mythic World. Given that Mythenders have done this in the past, according to fluff, I suppose it’s only fair to let the player characters do the same.
Culling Reality is technically the more minor of the two, but has more visible ramifications. After Ending a Greater Myth at the finale of an adventure, each surviving Mythender can decide on one concept that they want to Cull from reality, such as hunger, death, grief, lust, fear, tyranny, language, color, and so on. Mythic concepts are invulnerable to Culling, such as ”the existence of Loki,” and so are the absences of concepts- you cannot create by Culling. Apart from those, go wild- you might seriously screw over the world, but you’re the one with the power. All memory and records of the concept fade from reality, though the effects of its existence remain- Culling the concept of conception won’t *immediately* depopulate the Mythic World, but no new pregnancies will occur (good job, idiot). It also goes by the letter of what you want to Cull, not intent- culling "hunger" won't necessarily remove the need to eat. When anyone wants to Cull a concept, everyone weighs in: they may either agree, disagree, or try to Murder someone. Normal Murder rules apply. After any peaceful discussion (inevitably followed by murders), everyone who wants to Cull a concept gathers dice:
You get 1 die for getting the killing blow on the Greater Myth, 1 die if you had a total of 20 lightning tokens (counting each 2 remaining Thunder dice as 1 lightning), 1 die for each god your character has ended in play (including this Greater Myth and those from previous games), 1 die for each of your failed attempts to Cull this concept.
Anyone attempting to Cull the same concept pools their dice together. Count the 6’s. You succeed with two 6’s if the concept relates directly to the Greater Myth you Ended, else four 6’s.
On a successful Culling, as it fades from reality, and each Mythender immediately becomes aware of the long-term consequences. Only Mythic beings, like yourselves, ever remember its existence.
If concepts aren’t enough for you, you might have the option to End the entire Mythic World! How? Just kill everything. It’s that easy!
Mythender is about adventures against individual gods with a Mythic World. It’s an episodic game, meant to be played not as a long campaign but as something fun to do here and there. So the Mythic World is implied to be full of gods and Greater Myths that are just waiting to be Ended next time you play.
Yet, the premise is that Mythenders want to End all the Myths. So, fuck it, let’s take this sucker off the chain and get really crazy. The rule is simple: when you End Mythic World’s last god, and none of the Mythenders Fall in that battle, the Mythic World itself is forever Ended.
By default, the game considers each Mythic World to have 6 “main” gods that need to be Ended. Any Mythender who Apotheosizes becomes a new one. If a Mythic World ever has 12 main gods or more, it is considered to have won forever, its power insurmountable without embracing Corruption yourself. If it has 0 (*after* checking for Apotheosis), the World is Ended. In a sense, this is the only long-term campaign that Mythender supports, though repeated appearances of individual Mythenders aren’t mandatory. It’s a pretty shallow mechanical system, being no more than a score, but it does provide a goal.
There’s several paths from there. Usually, the land which the World controlled becomes fully mortal, rather than being destroyed itself. Perhaps the Mythenders’ curse remains, always at the risk of falling and thus resurrecting the Mythic World, or perhaps they become mortals themselves. Perhaps Ending it forced you- or gave you the choice- to move on to the next Mythic world. Non-main Myths left alive might also survive to move on to another World. These issues and more are up to the players to decide- it might even vary by who's doing the Ending, or perhaps which World is being Ended.
After that, the author just lists thanks and acknowledgements- we have successfully Ended this book!
…Shit, that’s over my number. I guess I’m the next RPG writer.