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The Past Two Years of my Life: Mythender

I’ve been working on Mythender since late 2007. People have asked me a lot of questions about it, especially recently as folks are starting to know me from stuff I’m involved with (like Dresden or IPR) but haven’t heard me talk about my pet love over the last couple years.

So, I thought I would share with you the intro text to Mythender. Thank you to the couple dozen people who helped me workshop this, and my editor, Amanda Valentine, for being totally awesome. (I’m sure it’ll continue getting tweaked in further revisions, but not much more so.) Hopefully this gives you a taste of the thing I’ve devoted myself to for some time now. I’m still working on the text, and have a number of people slated to playtest the game from the text alone (in addition to the 70 people that have playtested it at home and cons via me running it).

Maybe tomorrow or later this week I’ll post about my philosophy of game text openers. But for now, I hope you enjoy.

Mythender – Epic Metal Opera

Far north, there is a place of legend, a land of gods and monsters. It is the home of cruelty and oppression, a domain of ice and peril. It takes its strength from the worship its gods demand of mortals, from the terror its monsters inspire in them. With the full force of Eternal Winter, it crushes any who oppose its gods and monsters. To free all people from this fate, these gods must die. This is Mythic Norden, and you are the living weapon that will strike true into the heart of Winter.

Mythender is a game about the handful of mortals who steal power from this land and wage a war against it. This is an epic metal opera, filled with raging battle anthems and reflective power ballads. There will be passion and blood, consequence and tears.

As a Mythender, you are a titan among men—the might of myth, bound within mortal flesh. Your rage boils rivers, sunders mountains, and brings the heavens crashing down upon the earth. The land quakes with each step you take. You rip out the still-beating hearts from the gods and destroy the mythic world. You are the walking incarnation of wrath, of death, of change.

Grand battles will scar the land. Screams will echo like thunder across the world. Rivers will run red with the blood of the fallen. Trolls, giants, witches, warriors long dead, valkyrie, and even Odin and his kin will all taste your blade and your hate. Only the gods themselves are peers to you, and you fill them with an alien sensation: fear.

Even that is not the limit of your power. With each god that you End, you deal another mighty blow against the land of myth itself. You carve away pieces of it and make room for mortals to live without fear of the night and cold. As you choke the life from a god, you rip the power away from Norden to reshape this newly mortal world with your own desires. You can End anything you wish—hunger, despair, illness, peace, love, death—striking it from the world and mortal memory.

Your power rivals that of the gods. But while many would aspire to apotheosis, for you it’s a fate worse than death. The moment you let it go to your head, the moment you give in to hubris, you become those you fight.

Your power—ripped bloody from the beating heart of Myth itself—will make you into the very thing you must destroy. A god. A champion of Norden. A myth.

That is your Fate, Mythender.

The only way to fight against this corruption is to bond with Norden’s people, the innocent victims of this terrifying world. You must struggle to gain their sympathy. But this will be your greatest challenge. You may be able to snap Thor’s neck, but no one will sit at your dinner table. They can no more relate to you than they can to a storm or the sea. As they fear the gods they rarely see, they fear you more. This is the curse of the power you steal from Norden. It is easier to rip away Fenris’ jaw than to put a smile on a child’s face.

But if that is the price of such power, so be it. You will not go quietly into that good night, Fate be damned! You will make Norden pay a dear price before it claims you. And when you fall, you know your comrades will continue ceaselessly with this quest. You trust that, when the time comes, they will End you. For you are the harbingers of destruction, the cleansing fire, the Spring that melts away Winter’s frost. You are a Mythender.

– Ryan

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20 Responses to The Past Two Years of my Life: Mythender

  1. Fabien Badilla says:

    Wow… I really wanna play Mythender, so your intro must have worked!

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Sweet!

      Also, I have been known to give my Robin Laws-style pitch of: “Do you want to stab Thor in the face?”

      I love seeing eyes light up after saying that.

      – Ryan

  2. Tim Jensen says:

    Want. Now.

    When is your projected release date?

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Tim,

      Ah, projected release date…

      I was hoping for this year, but then I got hired to finish out The Dresden Files RPG, which killed a lot of momentum on my own games. I still have to finish the last draft of this text, have it go to editing and to beta testers, commission art for it, layout, etc. I’m *hoping* by second quarter of 2011. But I won’t announce anything official until it’s something that we won’t likely backpedal. Still, I’ll be mouthy about my pet project for the months to come.

      Maybe if I choke one more god, I’ll get the power to make it happen sooner…

      – Ryan

  3. Dave R says:

    I can has godeath please!!!!!!

  4. Guy says:

    Bunch of thoughts:

    1. Operaic metal, Rhapsody of Fire, Wagner, or both?

    2. The paragraph beginning with “a titan amongst men” SO made me think of Kratos (God of War).

    3. The final sentence, it was plural before, so shouldn’t it be “You are Mythenders”?

    More serious thoughts:

    4. Ending all concepts, and becoming what you fight… this made me think of 1984. You will end love and art, and become the new stifling “god”.

    5. This in turn made me think of the Excruciators in Nobilis, who end concepts.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Guy,

      To start with 3: There’s only one point where it becomes plural, “harbingers.” Which is one I’m waffling on. In any case, “You are Mythenders” is not as strong as “You are a Mythender,” so I will bend my text for that. But I stopped fiddling with it and just decided to post it after I had a couple dozen people go over it. Perfect is the enemy of done, and all that. I’ll come back to it in a month.

      1: Rather than answer, mind if I turn the question around to you? What do those mean to you? What do you think I mean? (It’s more useful as a data point for me to ask than to destroy information by answering.)

      2: God of War is one of the many inspirations for Mythender. I should stat up Kratos as a Mythender at some point. Same with Leonidas as seen in 300 — which I jokingly call “Mythender: The Movie.” (Less powered, but there aren’t a lot of movies about challenging the gods/insane odds where the challenger *isn’t* the underdog. Audiences love underdogs.)

      4: It’s been forever since I’ve read 1984. I may just put that on my reading list (though I have a large list).

      5: YES. A THOUSAND TIMES YES. Mythenders are Excrucians, hands down — just given a motivation that isn’t so utterly black-and-white villainous. I started off making a game that I thought was my about my thoughts on Exalted (my heartbreaker, if you will), and it turned into one on Nobilis. Awesome that you caught that.

      – Ryan

    • Guy says:

      1. I think Rhapsody call themselves “Hollywood Metal” or “Operaic Metal”, they basically sing stuff that sounds and has lyrics that fit Lord of the Rings, and there are some bits where the metal does get that “larger” tone. I guess Wagner is an opera, where we know there was a lot of metal and hard-core stuff based on. There’s also that video-game with the metal band and hell and stuff?
      Dunno, it’s opera, but it fits the end of myths and such vibe that is going on here.

      2. Then you’ll also need Rambo and such ;) Half of those action flicks are all about “Against everything” and the only way it really works is by superhuman DnD HP being burnt on not being noticed, killing them before they kill you, etc.

      4. Equilibrium, Farenheit 451, etc… but in all of those, the previous Mythender became the new oppression. Perfect too, Joe’s RPG.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Rambo went up with dudes. He didn’t take on a god-king or an actual god.

      That’s the problem with trying to explain Mythender to people, and why I labored so long on this piece. “You boil rivers” is not a figurative statement.

      – Ryan

    • Guy says:

      Right.

      God-killer; literally as well, not the figurative way in which all bosses are “gods”, especially compared to all the extras.

    • Guy says:

      I sometimes want to talk and write philosophy about the Excrucians, and talk of concepts using them as a mental exercise, and what it could tell us of “Concepts”, or what concepts are in a world they are real, or something like them (Or just the concept, when a concept is “born”, it always existed, in a way, from the time it had existed).

      But Mythenders probably do not erase the memory of the concept, sounds like it’d defeat the whole purpose. They are “-Enders” as opposed to “-annulers/obliviators”. Though that may be why 1984, Farenheit 451 and Equilibrium are so interesting… the new gods killed the old gods, and are now trying to erase all traces of their existence, to outlaw their memories, so to speak.

      The reason I am so drawn to “You are Mythenders” is because somehow I feel the “a” article waters it down from its direct impact, and “Mythender, you are” sounds so weird…
      I am becoming partial in my mind you “This is you (, or .) Mythender.” but I’m just voicing my own gut-feeling here.

  5. Jonathan "Buddha" Davis says:

    Ryan,

    Our group here in Northern VA. talk about Mythender all the time! A few of us have played it with you, and it just keeps popping up as an example of an awesome play experience! So, as I’m sure you know, there’s a lot of love for it out there, man. Looking forward to the game! (Though no pressure from us, we’re happy that you’re working and doing what you love, get it out on your own time and we’ll be here ready to play it!)

    Buddha

  6. Hey Ryan,
    This is so pleasingly similar to an idea I had way back in ’06 (Deus: the Gods Have Lost Their Way), but that I never got any real momentum going on. I am soooo glad you are doing your own riff, and I can’t wait to play in your world. It’s gonna be awesommme!

    Q

  7. This game’s concept sounds amazing. Exactly up my street.

    If you ever need more playtesters, I’d be glad to help. ;)

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Micah,

      I’m always happy to have more people try Mythender! I’ll be posting updates on my blog.

      – Ryan

  8. Working on generating a character now, and had a question. I assume that the Myth I may want to end may be different than another’s, but is it up to the GM to figure out how to resolve that?

    For example, if someone decides to kill the Norns, do I need to pick the Norns as well? The info thus far doesn’t say anything like that, but it would certainly make things easier. I guess I’m wondering how the party dynamics would work. I suppose I need to attend a con and see, but it’d be nice to have some idea without needing to.

    In case it needs to be said, I’m not calling your baby ugly. I’m actually really intrigued by the concept. Let us see more as soon as you get the chance.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Jeremy,

      Interesting question.

      What doesn’t sound like it’s clear is: Mythender’s want to end every Myth. There’s just usually a Myth that sparks this off in the first place. So, if you want to end Thor and I want to end the Norns and Bill wants to end Loki, then the GM has at least three adventures from that. If everyone wants to end Thor, then we know what we’re doing for the first adventure, and in playing that one we’ll figure out what’s next for our Mythenders.

      For me, that’s a weird question to ask at character creation, but I can see how it would help other people. Feedback noted.

      – Ryan

    • I guess I play the long game a bit. Glad to help. Your response actually answers the question I had about whether the entire Norse pantheon is up for grabs. All myths – be they monster, man, or god – are up for grabs according to this, right? This concept just got cooler.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Jeremy,

      Yup! As far as what Mythenders are gunning for, there’s a focus on the gods and the greater myths — the Norns, Fenris, etc. The “lesser myths” are barely peers to a Mythender. And mortals…well, there’s a future post where Mythenders, being partly Mythic themselves, can do what Myths do: terrorize mortals for power. But yeah, Thor is totally going to die in that first adventure, be in a con game or playing it out over two or three evenings at home. An individual adventure focusing on ending an individual god/greater myth.

      (Or, you know, not, and try to remain human so you aren’t the next Myth you’r friends end.)

      – Ryan