MYTHOS - A WORLD OF EPIC DEEDS
In full disclosure the amazing folks over at Mystical Throne Entertainment gave me access to the PDF at no cost.
“Sing, O muse, of the rage of Achilles, son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans.”
Bottom Line Up Front: If you want epic adventures pitting Demigods against each other, their Progenitors, or Furies-spawned creatures this is the setting for you. Hercules? Xena? Check, Game, Set, and Match.
Layout and Art
The design and actual layout of the book is very well conceived and implemented; a fully detailed index is present. The pages themselves are watermarked by images of actual Ionic or Doric columns and accented with traditional Greek borders along the top and bottom. Each major section of the book begins with several stanzas from a Greek Epic, each of which serves to set the tone of the following chapters. The artwork is a bit of a mixed bag for me, as the color art did not evoke Greek Epic at all, yet the stock art, pulled from literary sources and/or research tomes, fit perfectly well. Also, a hyperlinked index would have been HUGE, but it is not a deal breaker by any means. The use of a pseudo-hellenic font for chapter titles is a fun bonus.
The Setting Itself
After a brief (13 page) introduction to a truncated (by necessity) and slightly divergent (in a good, Sliders way) timeline and overview of Hellas mythology, we get to creating a character. This is pretty standard...or so it seems at first. The concepts/Archetypes are all nicely Greco-fied, but it is when the choice of race comes into play that the setting truly begins to shine. Players may choose either human or Demigod. Demigods are given, of course, many wonderful benefits from their progenitor, though there are some very serious drawbacks as well. Every Demigod has a d10 in one attribute from their patron and have access to a host of new edges which require, at a minimum, Demigod status. Some even require a benny, or Fate Point, to be sacrificed in order to take effect. Demigods are beloved by their Patron and are loyal until the end, however not all is milk and honey upon Hellas for these bright stars; they are also immediately loathed by another god in the pantheon. They will go out of their way to make this displeasure know, though always in the background so as not to anger the other gods. Each Demigod also begins play with two Major Hindrances and four Minor Hindrances (yes, you read that correctly). But wait, there’s more! These are chosen by the GM, whose sole duty is to strike the character in their, well, Achilles’ Heel. And this makes for an outstanding hero, full of potential, cursed from on high, and as laden with foibles as any woman. Or man.
The rest of PC creation discuses which skills are and are not present and how some might work differently, plus a short discussion on literacy. All of the weapons, armor, and miscellaneous gear/needs are addressed appropriate to the setting. Overall, there are so many options and flavor to character creation, you will be hard=pressed to find any fault here.
Bennies, called Fate Points, function a tad differently in Mythos, but those differences, such as spending more than one Fate Point at a time to elicit greater results, are remarkable. Their use also aids in gathering a cult-ish following. When they are utilized during a Divine Edge roll, the effect may actually bind others to them, weaving their Fate together. These folks, called Predestined Ones, take on very specific roles when in proximity to the Demigod. These are classic Masks from mythology and can be great fun at the table as a hero may also not live up to the expectations of the Predestined One…
There are 13 gods to seek out as patrons, and each is very unique. Each possess an overview of their ethos, as well as sins, virtues, and how the cults differ concerning open or at the mystery level. The gods, specifically a patron, must always be appeased in order to curry favor, and Mythos provides a few means of doing so. A hero make create Votives, from a clay idol to a temple, gaining favor (or disfavor if poorly done), which earns them rewards such as more Fate Points, or worse. Remember that Kraken and the Sea-side city? Sacrifice is always a great answer as a means of appropriation, and this takes the form of items, words, and deeds as pertinent to the patron.
The setting is not devoid of magic, not in the least. We are talking Greek Epics, where Zeus crushes cities and doles out magic toys for his beloved. A hero might beseech her patron for one of the infamous divine items, such as Athena’s Helm...but know that there is a Persuasion roll and some items carry hefty penalties.
A hero might also join a Mystery Cult and gain supernatural powers. The Mystery Cults are very well detailed and give a sense of purpose to each adherent. Each carries its own rites (and sometimes sub-rites) and allows for, essentially, the casting of spells. But these are not vanilla, plain vanilla spells. These are epic spells, such as a hero multiplying the number of arms and weapons. And the loss of energy from casting spells has an actual effect on the hero during play. One does not simply extend all of his energy and continue to fight unabated.
The setting book also has a geographic resource, detailing the lands and royal houses of Hellas. These details help set the mood for a discussion on playing an Epic game using Epic Deeds and how all of Fate is tied together in the Heavenly Contest. The last portion of this section concludes with a bestiary, which is an amazing assortment and who’s-who of the Hellas world. Medusa to Pirates to Hydra. They are all well presented and definitely evoke the feeling, no the need to defeat them and bask in the glory of Areas!
The last section of the book contains information on using a deck of cards as an Oracle to put together scenarios. It is very interestingly done, with both the suit and color of a card being vital to the set up. There is a short adventure for Novice PCs included and 12 Epic Tales divided by Rank; these are essentially one-sheets, but there are some very good ideas here for getting ‘Olympus’ right.
Overall, this is a very clever setting with some interesting sub-rules for bennies, gods, and how it all ties together. Even if you do not want to play in a Greek-inspired setting, much of the book will be an major gain to any fantasy campaign.