Building a Mythender Adventure

One of the things not in the Mythender book is exactly how I go about building an adventure. The structure I use is in the book, but not my thought process. (It’s one of the things that I didn’t realize wasn’t communicated in the book under after the print version was away.) Here’s a step-by-step process:

I always start with the god. When I’m running it for people I know, I ask them what god to End, which recently has included Santa Claus, Area, Hades, and Xenu. When I’m doing it for people I don’t know at a convention, and I’m bored with the Thorberge adventure, I pick whatever god has recently hit my fancy that I think I could play well.

The key to picking a god is that it has to have a face. It has to have some physical form that players can narrate punching or slicing or whatever. Mythender works mechanically if every action is purely metaphysical in nature, but constantly doing that causes creative fatigue, so being able to do a physical action is key to successful play. It also makes metaphysical actions interesting rather than rote.

Once I have a god, I do some really simple research to get a sense of what the god’s like. I rarely do more than read some Wikipedia articles for making a Mythender adventure, because I need mostly need flavor.

Picking the god leads to the setting. Pick Poseidon? The fight should be in the sea, maybe ending with the undersea city of Atlantis. For Hades, the first battle took place on the bank of the River Styx. Santa of course lives in the Mythic North. Xenu’s adventure started in a Mythic Los Angeles, moved into The Volcano, and then went into space.

If I’m choosing the god after they make characters, then I look at those characters. We set Ares on Crete because of one Mythender’s backstory, which diverges from the formula, but not in a way that breaks it. People who pick Apostates and Abominations often drive that choice. (When I run Thorberge at cons, if people choose another god, I’ll often just scratch out Thor’s name and write the other god in, since I’m working off of printouts. Plus, stats-wise Thor’s the “intro” god.)

The setting leads to visuals. Make a few notes about what the sets look like for the initial battle, the mortal village (or wherever you have mortals live during that Mythenders’ Turn), and the final battle.

Then I figure out the lesser Myth. I pick some massive number of servants to said god, their analogue to Einherjar. For Santa, it was all the Misfit Toys. For Xenu, a host of thetans. Hades had the ghosts of all slain warriors. Anything that massive in number sets the right tone.

Finally, the reskin. I generally take all of Thor’s stats — the numbers, the Gifts, and the Gathering rage — and strip away the Weapons. I use what little research I did to come up with four new Weapons for this god. (Sometimes I base the god’s stats off of another one from Norden, and I might tweak here and there, but if you’re reading this for advice, I recommend not tweaking the numbers and stats right away. Thor isn’t just an intro god for players, but also for Mythmasters.)

I do the same for the lesser god, taking the Einherjar stats and applying different Weapons. One of them is always always a self-referential Companion Weapon, just like they have; the only times I don’t do that is when there’s another suitable Companion instead.

Naturally, all of that reskinning means I describe different things in the Tutorial Battle, so I come up with a Blight beforehand I’ll drive toward in the tutorial. (Actually, I personally don’t do this often because I can make up Blights at the drop of a hat, but I recommend it to others.)


I hope this helps you skin your own adventures!

– Ryan


4 Responses to Building a Mythender Adventure

  1. Jeremiah says:

    Oh, man, that’s awesome. The main reason I’ve always stuck with Thor for one-shots is because I figured coming up with anything new would be a lot of work. I hadn’t really considered the approach of just filing off the serial numbers like that. Very slick. I like it.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      If you’re saying that, this I definitely needed to have written this. Thorberge existed both as crib notes for me and as a skeleton. I mention the skeleton of an adventure, but yeah, I didn’t talk about how to best use it. (That’s also about economy of Corruption and Fate, which I don’t spell out either.)

      Maybe a few months down the road, I’ll release a Mythender Companion.

      – Ryan

  2. Casey McKenzie says:

    Very cool. I am working on a con scenario with pre-generated mythenders based on modern game designers out to destroy Gary Gygax. Was listening to a podcast and I think Fred Hicks said that he would wield the weapon of transparency, and Ken Hite would wield “pretty words”. At that moment the image of them slaying the Gygaxina negative public image of gamer’s was born.