Mythic is a roleplaying game, or a game about taking on the role of a character. The character you play as in Mythic is a creature of legend, from Chinese dragons to Biblical seraphim. You can choose pretty much any kind to play as, and you can make your character's abilities true to historical lore or base them on movie or video game characters.
In order to use your mythical powers, you need to draw on sources of Faith, which can be anything that affirms or is part of your Mythos -- a set of beliefs about how the world works, which all of your powers are based on. A fey creature might commune with a sacred forest, for instance, while a guardian angel draws strength from the prayers of a child. Meanwhile, a woman with "fake" fox ears and a tail might carry a mysterious jewel at all times.
The one thing that all Mythic characters have in common is that they appear to be fully human (or object, or animal). Some of them actually are human, at least some of the time. But whatever you normally look like, through an act of will you can manifest your true nature for a short time, inspiring awe and leaving no doubt as to what you actually are ... at least, to anyone familiar with the stories that make up your mythos. It's up to you what this looks and sounds like, from the infernal heat and damned wailing that heralds a demon's ascent to the shredded clothes and ear-splitting howl of a werewolf's transformation.
While your nature is manifest, you can use your powers without spending faith, and you can draw on an additional reservoir of power to do things no ordinary person can. But the more you draw on it, the worse the consequences are for you and the people around you. You may become a "corrupted" version of yourself, accidentally kill or injure a person you care about, or even break the foundations of reality.
How to Play
Mythic uses the Fate Core System for its rules. Fate is a Creative Commons licensed roleplaying game system, which you can read online for free at fate-srd.com.
You will want to read more eventually, such as the sections on Contests (using your skills to oppose another character) and Conflicts (social and physical fights). But that short introduction to Fate will give you an overview of how the game works, and explain most of its terms.
If you encounter something here in the Mythic playtest rules that throws you for a loop, it's probably already a hyperlink to the part of the Fate rules that explains it, just in case you've forgotten or the basic rules didn't address it.
Help, I don't have any Fate dice!
Fate dice, sometimes called Fudge dice, are a special kind of six-sided dice that have two + signs, two - signs, and two blank sides. When you roll them, you count up how many + and - results you get, and either add or subtract the result from your character's skill rating.
You can turn four normal dice into a set of Fate dice by connecting the dots a certain way with a permanent marker, or you can just interpret their results: 1 or 2 is a minus, 3 or 4 is a blank, and 5 or 6 is a plus. There are also Fate dice roller apps and online dice rollers.
Creating a Creature of Legend
Mythic characters differ from normal Fate characters in three important ways.
First, you have an additional stress track besides your Physical and Mental ones, along with an additional set of three consequences to go with it. What it represents depends on your character; a vampire might be fueled by Blood, for instance, while a magical girl might accrue Grief as the weight of the world wears her down.
Second, your Fate Points are called Faith Points, and your natural refresh rate is zero. You can improve your refresh rate to a maximum of two Faith Points per session, by taking up to two aspects that represent the sources of faith your character draws on. You can acquire more during play, but be careful spreading yourself too thin; the GM can compel your sources of faith, just like any other aspect, to threaten them. Unlike with aspects which are a part of you, if your character doesn't defend her sources of faith they might be damaged or destroyed, and her refresh rate may drop until they're restored or she finds new ones.
Finally, you must choose your other three aspects as follows:
Your Nature, or the kind of mythical creature you are. A kitsune might be a Fox-Woman Temptress, for example, while a day in the life of a magical girl might look something like Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World.
Your Mythos, or the stories and legends your character features in. A Shinto shrine maiden might follow The Way of the Gods, while an angelic warrior preparing for the battle of Armageddon might look for The Signs of the Times, or even the opening of The Seventh Seal.
Your Manifestation, or what others see when your full power is unleashed. A cherub might have The Face of a Beast and a Hundred Eyes, while a Great Old One from the Cthulhu mythos might be a creature of Fathomless Horror, or Innumerable Squamous Tentacles.
Choose names for your core aspects that represent what they mean to you, and what part of the legends your character exemplifies. Each premade Nature, Mythos, and Manifestation comes with suggestions, as well as special rules and powers. You can also create your own, with the GM's help, using the premade ones as examples.
Manifesting Your Mythic Nature
Here are some examples you can use for your character's Nature, Mythos, Manifestation, and sources of faith, along with optional extras you can take in place of stunts. You can choose up to three stunts or extras, but cannot choose to lower your refresh rate in order to take more, the way a normal character could.
Your Character's Nature
Natures work much like Professions in the Fate System Toolkit. Each one comes with suggestions for aspects and skills, along with optional extras that represent the powers this kind of mythic creature has.
You must choose one of the listed aspects (or create your own which describes your character's Nature in your words), and you may take any or all of the listed extras, which count towards your limit of three. Unlike with professions, you do not have to take the suggested skills.
Here is an example of what a premade Nature looks like:
Fox-spirits associated with Inari Okami, the Shinto god of rice, kitsune have been historically portrayed as divine messengers, who wear red scarves and carry Inari's symbols in their muzzles. "Field" kitsune, however, or nogitsune, are often mischievous tricksters, who may or may not have malicious intent but love to humble the haughty ... especially by taking the form of a person they're attracted to.
Messenger of Inari; Many-Tailed Trickster; Feral Yokai; Fox-Woman Temptress (or as appropriate for your character's gender or lack thereof)
Kitsune are most strongly associated with Shinto mythology. It's not uncommon for modern-day Japanese to simultaneously draw on multiple belief systems, though, and many-tailed foxes are a common feature in Japanese cultural exports. A cosmopolitan kitsune could identify (or be identified) with almost any mythos, modern or ancient.
Fox Magic: You can cause small, natural objects, like leaves and twigs, to change into clothes and handheld equipment (but not armour or weapons) until discarded. By spending a Faith Point and placing a leaf or a skull atop your head, you may take the form of any non-mythic human for one scene, including a specific individual. (Create a situation aspect to represent your identity.)
Foxfire: You can produce small flames, which can burn objects like a cigarette lighter or light up your immediate area (the zone you are in). You may hold these flames in your hand or on your tailtips without burning yourself, or release them, either to float within arms' reach or make Shoot attacks with. When you succeed with style on a Shoot attack made using Foxfire, you may spend a Faith Point to create the On Fire! situation aspect on your target and gain a free invocation.
Leaf Me Alone: You may concede a conflict by vanishing, and being replaced with a leaf. By spending a Faith Point, you can negate an attack that has already been rolled against you as though you'd conceded, and instead reappear one zone away with the Vanished boost. No one can attack or create an advantage on you afterwards during that conflict until at least one opponent succeeds at an overcome roll using Notice versus your Stealth, or you invoke this boost. You lose your next action, to represent the time it took to traverse the distance to the zone that you reappeared in, and you must make any overcome roll necessary to do so. If you fail the overcome roll, the attack you negated still fails, but you reappear in the same zone and do not have the Vanished boost. You still lose your next action, and the Faith Point is still spent.
As you can see, the optional extras your Nature grants you have two modes. One is largely cosmetic; for example, Fox Magic and Foxfire let you use your powers in place of normal equipment or weapons, while Leaf Me Alone is simply a foxy way to concede a conflict. The other mode requires spending a Faith Point, and has a more dramatic effect on the game, meant to be equivalent to a stunt. Fox Magic was inspired by the Deceive skill's One Person, Many Faces stunt, for instance, while Foxfire's was inspired by Heavy Hitter and Leaf Me Alone's was inspired by Ninja Vanish.
When describing your own character's nature, don't worry about making a full write-up like this, which is designed so that other players can use it. Just think of what mythic creatures like your character do in stories, and then see if there are any existing Fate stunts or extras which you can use as a template. The Fate System Toolkit has tons of ideas to browse through, while fate-srd.com's Stuntmaker can be a quick source of inspiration.
Be sure to give each extra an added cosmetic effect, too, so you can roleplay your character's Nature without spending Faith.
Your Character's Mythos
A Mythos works much like a race as described in the Fate System Toolkit (note that the use of the term "race" to mean species in a roleplaying game "is both inaccurate and problematic"). It has a descriptive name, suggestions for evocative aspects to represent it on your character sheet, and a unique skill (with stunts) which those who subscribe to that mythos can take. Note that this includes "normal" human NPCs, and not just mythic characters.
Here is an example mythos, inspired loosely by real-world religion but more directly by Christian bookstore novels about angels and demons battling in the modern world. (See Yamikuronue's deconstruction of This Present Darkness for an example of fiction in this genre.) Please note that this example may be offensive to those who identify with this belief system or enjoy these novels, and/or triggering to those they have harmed. If you are in either group, you may skip over this example or imagine how you personally would change it.
Unlike liberal Christians, with their big city churches and feel-good, popular preachers, you believe that Jesus Christ really is the Son of God, and that he really did die for your sins. You also believe that demons are real, just like it says in the Bible; and that the powers and principalities of this present darkness (Eph. 6:12) really are warring over men's souls, using everyone from those sweet-talking preachers to the boy that your daughter's been dating. Fortunately, you believe angels are real also, and that your prayers help give them strength to watch over your loved ones and keep them from Satan's power.
Use this skill to overcome (spiritual) obstacles and create (spiritual) advantages against demons, as well as the people and places that they've corrupted. (Remember, there were no neutral sides in the War in Heaven, so any spiritual being that isn't God or one of His angels belongs to Satan.) When you take this skill you may choose one of the following styles of warfare, and may take the other as well by choosing it as one of your character's extras:
Sword of the Spirit: You can use Spiritual Warfare to Attack demons or their earthly vessels in social conflict, by driving them out in Jesus' name. You can also use it to Attack false teachings, although doing so inflicts mental damage on the actual people who believe them. This may result in lasting trauma, and/or your not being friends anymore.
The Full Armour of God: You can use Spiritual Warfare to Defend against demons' mental attacks. You can also use it to Defend against Satan's lies in social conflict (meaning anything that goes against what you learned at Church and in Christian homeschool).
Choosing your own beliefs
A mythos is a belief system and a set of shared stories, but it's not necessarily the one that mythic creatures like your character historically feature in. Instead, it's the one that your character imagines theirself to be part of, and the stories they see theirself living out.
For example, imagine a magical girl (or other "superpowered human" mythic character) who has a religious mythos, instead of basing her identity on heroic fiction or manga / comic books. You might end up with a character like Rei Hino from Sailor Moon, who works at a shrine as her day job and whose powers are themed after Shinto mythology.
That's not to say that pop culture or fiction are bad choices for your character's mythos. Books, movies, and video games are essentially modern myths, and it's okay to play characters derived from them, whether you want to play as "a swordsman with spiky hair" or as Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII.
Just remember that your mythos will be challenged inside the game. It's possible to run a Mythic game where only one mythos is "true," but by default there are as many as there are stories and belief systems, and each one grants real power in-game to those who identify with it. If you aren't comfortable with facing characters from other mythoi who are empowered just like you are, you may want to choose a mythos for your character that you don't strongly identify with, so that you will take things less personally in the game.
Creating your own skills
The mechanics of the Spiritual Warfare skill, above, were inspired by the "Elf" skill in the Fate System Toolkit. Another example of a unique skill based on belief, also from the Fate System Toolkit is the Subtle Art of Magic. Both skills are means of praying or casting spells over someone or something, that you want to bless or curse. They're also highly plausible, in the sense that a believer can claim credit for achieving the desired results if they happen, while a non-believer could blame them on something else.
If your particular mythos doesn't require you to spend half an hour in a dark room to cast your spells (or say your prayers), you could limit the "Magic" skill's ability to create advantages in other ways. A Christian Mystic who prays to angels and saints, for instance, might be able to invoke the blessing of one of either for every level they have in the skill Charismata. They might also be able to use the skill only once per scene, or once per session per angel or saint. They could then learn up to three more patrons by taking an extra.
You aren't limited to purely religious mythoi or spiritual / magical skills, either. If your character is a techno-futurist cyborg who believes the Singularity is inevitable, her mythos might grant her the Interface skill, along with the gear (or implants) to use it. Likewise, if your character's based on heroic fiction where superheroes are reporters or freelance photographers in their day job, your mythos might grant you the Media skill.
"Teach me how to have the real power!"
What if your character's mythos grants actual, undeniable power?
Besides changing one of the game's core assumptions (that anything short of a Manifestation can be dismissed as a trick), a skill that has visible effects on the world may require you to pay an additional cost.
For instance: If the GM's okay with it, you could say that your miko character can use her onmyoudo skill in place of Shoot, to attack with thrown (or even exploding) ofuda. If you want to be able to summon yokai as well, you might need to take Yokai Summoner as your mythos aspect, and purchase an extra that would let you use your skill to summon them.
For even more powerful effects, look at the Toolkit's examples of magic systems for inspiration. Both for how they would work in gameplay, and what their costs should be during character creation.
Manifesting your character's true nature unleashes her, and allows her to use the extras you took for her Nature without spending faith. You can do so for the duration of the scene that you manifest in, or until you voluntarily return to normal. You also get a free invoke of your manifestation aspect, like how a werewolf's Ear-Splitting Howl might help her Provoke multiple enemies.
Manifesting is not without its costs, however, as it requires either an act of will or an expenditure of faith.
Forcing yourself to change
You can attempt to manifest once per scene, by rolling Will to overcome an obstacle. The difficulty is set by your GM, and depends on how strong or pervasive the local mythos is and whether it's opposed to yours.
For instance, an angel might have trouble manifesting in front of a vocal atheist, to say nothing of doing so at a meeting of skeptics. She might have less trouble doing so at a church for people of her belief system, though, and may find it trivially easy to manifest in the home of someone who believes in her kind of angels.
If you fail your roll, you cannot attempt to manifest again in that scene. You also receive a Faith Point, however, as denying people's true natures only works for so long. You may only receive Faith this way once per session.
Sometimes, there might be a situation aspect handy that's associated with your mythos, like The Light of the Full Moon for werewolves. If so, you can invoke it for free on your roll to manifest.
Drawing on faith to manifest
If you haven't rolled Will yet to manifest in this scene, you can instead spend a Faith point to manifest without having to roll. You may only do so once per session, so make it count.
If you want, you can take extras for your manifestation instead of (or as well as) the ones for your nature. Here is an example.
Terrifying: Your roll to manifest doubles as an attack which affects multiple targets, and places a situation aspect appropriate to your manifestation on the zone you are in. Non-mythic enemies in the zone must roll an overcome action (normally using Will) against the number of shifts you rolled over the opposition to manifest, or be unable to attack you. If you spent a Faith Point to manifest, they must roll to overcome Fair (+2) opposition.
Sources of Faith
After choosing aspects for your Nature, Mythos, and Manifestation, you are allowed to take up to two additional aspects to represent sources of Faith for your character. Remember, a mythic character's natural refresh rate is 0, so taking at least one source of Faith is the only way to start each new session with any.
What exactly each source of Faith looks like depends on you and your mythos.
It could be a place, like the shrine that a miko works at.
It could be a person, like someone who prayed that God would send an angel into her life.
It could be an epiphany, where you realized the true nature of the universe and what role you play in its story.
It could be a faith community, like the cofounders of a high-tech startup driven to help humanity survive the coming robot apocalypse.
It could even be a relic, like a mysterious puzzle box ... or the long-lost sword Excalibur.
If your character's source of faith gives them some special power besides just granting more Faith Points, the GM may ask you to take an extra representing that, which would then count towards your limit of three. The Fate Core System rules have suggestions for how to represent special equipment. Keep in mind that "one point of refresh" is how Fate Core refers to an extras slot.
Individual people, as well as groups from your faith community, may be able to accompany you on adventures as sidekicks or allies. They might have a truncated stress track and a handful of low-level skills. However, if they take any consequences you may have to help them recover, and if they get taken out you can't draw on them as a source of faith until (and unless) they get better.
If your source of faith lets you draw on resources or allies at will, without being diminished -- like an epiphany that there are infinite planes, and you can summon creatures into yours -- you'll need to spend one of your three extras slots to be able to call on such temporary allies, and you may need to spend Faith Points as well.
Part of what makes you a legend is that you can draw on a well of strength that other creatures cannot. If you draw on it too much or too often, though, there's a price to be paid ... whether by you or the people around you.
What is this additional well of strength? What are the consequences for misusing it? Those are for you to decide, with the help of your GM and playgroup. In the meantime, though, here are some guidelines.
You start with two stress boxes on an additional track specific to your character, as well as mild, moderate, and severe consequences which are separate from your normal ones. You gain extra stress boxes and consequences for taking the skill associated with your mythos, just like you gain extra physical and mental stress boxes and consequences for training Physique and Will.
You can use this additional stress track, and these extra consequences, in place of your normal stress tracks and consequences. For example, instead of marking off your 2-shift physical stress box to avoid being taken out in a conflict, you can mark off the 2-shift box on your extra stress track. Exactly what this looks like is up to you, and depends on your nature and mythos. It may not look undeniably magical though, unless your true nature is manifest.
While your true nature is manifest, you can check off a box on your additional stress track or take a consequence associated with it, to add a bonus to any roll equal to the value of that stress box or consequence. Otherwise, you can only do this to add a bonus to your roll to manifest.
Whatever you check off your additional stress boxes for, you do not uncheck them all at the end of a conflict, the way you do your physical and mental stress boxes. Instead, at the end of each scene you may uncheck the additional stress box farthest to the left (meaning the one with the lowest value). Only uncheck them all at the end of a session of play.
Despite being on your character sheet, the consequences for your additional stress track don't necessarily apply to you. One of them can, but the other two must apply to either one of your sources of faith, or the setting itself.
Whenever you take a consequence on this stress track, you must decide which one it applies to. You cannot choose to apply it to one of the three possible targets (yourself, the setting, or your sources of faith) that you already have a consequence written down for. The only exception is if it's the additional mild consequence slot that you get for having a Superb (+5) rating in your mythos skill, in which case you can apply it to something that already has one.
If all of your additional stress boxes and consequences are filled up, you have one last resort: You can choose to take your character's Extreme (+8) consequence and apply its bonus to a die roll, as if it were one of the additional consequences you got for being mythic. You may only do so if you haven't already taken it, or if at least one major milestone has passed since you have.
This new consequence can replace any of your aspects, including your nature or one of your sources of faith. It can also replace one of the setting aspects, if it's cataclysmic enough.
Work with your GM, preferably ahead of time, to decide which one it's most likely to replace and which of the three targets it is most likely to affect. Your transhumanist cyborg's body might permanently reject her implants, for instance, while an angel might fall from grace and become demonic ... or a demon's fury might open a portal to Hell, and change the whole face of the landscape.
Now go tell some stories!
Either that, or let us know what you think of this early alpha playtest document. >_>b And if you come up with any of your own Natures, Mythoi, or extras, feel free to share! If you're okay with licensing them under a Creative Commons Attribution license, we may decide to include them in the official rules.
Speaking of licenses
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
It is based on the Fate Core System and Fate System Toolkit, products of Evil Hat Productions, LLC, which were developed, authored, and edited by Leonard Balsera, Brian Engard, Jeremy Keller, Ryan Macklin, Mike Olson, Clark Valentine, Amanda Valentine, Fred Hicks, and Rob Donoghue, and licensed for our use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Fate™ is a trademark of Evil Hat Productions, LLC. Jewelfox is not affiliated with them.