Welcome to Mythic Mortals; a game about combat. But not just fighting and sword swinging. I’m talking about an action movie, big budget, over the top, pumped up badassery. Don’t just deal 10 damage…summon the legendary bow of Diana, kick your foe off the roof of a skyscraper, and pin them to the building across the street. Then, switch up your weapons, leap off the ledge and finish them off with a flying hammer smash!
Combat in Mythic Mortals is Narrative, meaning that the description and flair of combat are more important than the mechanics; nay, the mechanics are meaningless without the descriptions and creativity of the players. Every action should not be merely described, but narrated in detail and unleashed upon the table, rocking the story, monsters, and collective imaginations at the table. (p. 2)
“God” is not dead. The Ancients have merely been playing dead this entire time. And as Nietzche surmised, you will have to become much greater than these Ancients if you wish to survive the attempted murder.
You’re one of the rare individuals who are able to tap into and harness some of that Ancient power within you. However, your control is limited as the energy shifts and mutates constantly. (p. 3)
Author David Schirduan has developed this game from the point of view of fast and furious one-shots with loads of action. The rules are indeed light and are purpose-built for the execution of these one-shots and convention gaming.
Currently, the book is only available in PDF format. The layout is nicely done and the font and pitch are slightly larger than average, making it easy to read. The interior art pieces are very nice and thematically fit the overarching theme of the game.
The game utilizes a standard deck of playing cards and a pair of 6-sided dice for each player to determine attribute ratings, damage, and obstacle resolution. For example, at the beginning of the session, you draw four cards into your hand. You then place one in your accuracy slot on the playmat (see picture). The higher the card the easier it will be for your character to succeed at using his/her accuracy. The suit of the card in the slot also determines the ability available to you when you need to use that attribute.
Ok, I know it sounds confusing, but it is rather simple. Let’s look at it this way, refer to the playmat image. Let’s say I put the 10 of hearts in accuracy. Fair enough, right? Now, I want to attack my enemy, accuracy is the attribute that is used for making attacks. I now roll 2d6 and I need to get a number under 10 to be successful. In addition to rolling, the suit of the card will determine what weapon type I can use (remember this is a game of impossibilities). The heart suit grants me access to the Chaos Axe. The 2d6 roll will determine success or failure; a 12 is a critical failure and 2 is a critical success. As you can imagine awesomeness or a horrible outcome will result. The player and GM will narrate the results of the combat, for better or worse.
The game employs the deck of cards for a variety of other obstacle resolutions and they are rather easy to pick up on the fly. Let’s take a look at how the cards are used to measure life or hit points of the heroes. When a monster scores a hit against one of the heroes, the player must discard a number of cards equal to the damage taken. Run out of cards are your dead! Don’t worry, there are mechanisms in place for you to draw new cards. The rules as a whole are very streamlined and become intuitive rather quickly. Hell, I got the hang of the rather quickly just from reading the book!
So what did I like about Mythic Mortals? That’s a good question; there are interesting things to like. I like the card mechanic to some extent. I think it might be something that will have to grow on me over time. It’s a rather foreign mechanic for me, so take this with a grain of salt.
The book has several adventures or story frameworks for the GM to use at conventions, game club meetings, etc. David also addresses the issue of long-term campaign considerations and how to ramp up the epicness factor; think of these as tips and tricks.
The book itself is very short with the bulk of the rules only taking up first the half dozen or so pages. I think what I like best is that the game is meant to be played fast and furious with the impossible being possible!
There are a few things I think need to be addressed the next time the PDF is updated. First, I am one for a structured format so, I would have loved an index at the front of the book. Not a show stopper, but something that would be nice in future revisions. I think some sidebar examples of play would be useful, again, not a big deal, but something to consider in the future. That’s really about it, just formatting and layout ideas that I would have liked to have seen.
Oh, I do have one other concern. As many of you know I play a large portion of my games online these days and with Mythic Mortals needing a play mat as an integral part of the game, it is not very online friendly. I have considered how one might use either Roll20 or Google Docs, and it seems to be rather problematic. The solution is somewhere in between these two systems. In the end, it is just not online friendly. If you’re not an online gamer, then this will not be an issue for you.
I hope to take this game for a thorough test drive at Storm-Con in June and then I will be better able to assess the game at the mechanical level. I really do, think the mechanics will grow on me, especially since the feel and concepts of the mechanics were easy to digest. What can I say? This something completely different than what I am used to, but it is exciting. Considering it is a Pay What You Want product, you can’t go wrong with the cost. Though I do recommend throwing the author a little something.