Mythender is a game that wants you to go hard or go home. As soon as you open the book and read both the catchphrase and the opening story you know what you're in for. You're going to be kicking ass and taking names. The book verbally grabs you by the balls and doesn't let go until you've either agreed to play it or have admitted you're too much of a pussy to end Myths. Its use of profanity and violent imagery actually add to the flavor of the game, instead of distracting from how well-written Mythender really is. But when all is said and done. What does Mythender allow you to do?
Mythender lets you play mortal-born heroes ascending to near god-hood, out to slay the gods (or Myths) themselves. However, the game makes it perfectly clear that in order to wield the power to outright destroy these deities, you must corrupt your mortal soul in such ways. You will risk becoming what you hated most. Part of what makes Mythender so good is the fact that you only get to feel how utterly disgusted by yourself you are until it's already too late.
The book itself contains a wide variety of sections describing what it is the game strives to achieve, what you'll need to play it, how to create characters (a whopping 34 pages of it!) and what an average night of ending Myths looks like. It also includes a tutorial battle that explains the general way the game works to both the GM and the players (quite vulgarly eloquent might I add). Next up are the actual game rules on battle, explanations on character development and rules for special moments during game play. To top it all off, Mythender comes with 31 pages of setting material, describing locations, monsters and Myths to end. It also offers plenty of advice for GMs and some extended rules if you really want to spice it all up. It is well-structured, but it's also a massive amount of role playing goodiness.
Although Mythender's rulebook focuses on the world of Norden (or Norse Mythology) in general, its opening chapter does offer alternative ideas of Mythic worlds for players and Mythmasters to play around with. It also gives you a quite literal “here's-what-you-need-to-know” to give you an inkling of what's to come. Trust me, you'll need it. Mythender is quite extensive and it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information.
The material requirements for Mythender are high. A gaming group can need around and about 150 d6's of various colours and close to 200 tokens of some sort. Add in a plethora of printable sheets and cards to mark the various in-game epicness down on and it's quite the requirement you're looking at, but if you invest all that the game does deliver on what it promises. Epic world-shattering, gory battle.
The first step towards ending Myths is creating a Mythender. It is a fairly straightforward process, consisting of picking a number of things, those being a Mythic Heart, Past and Fate. These choices make up the basis of every Mythender and determine how they were as mortals, what makes them a Mythender and what they'll become should they be lured into Apotheosis (descending or ascending to godhood). Furthermore, you'll forge your Weapons (three of them to be exact), add some details to your Fate and establish Bonds (or relationships) with other Mythenders. Character Creation is explained step by step and the Mythender Sheet is fairly self-explanatory. The process isn't hard at all, but does require you to sit down for an hour an a half or so and be creative. If you feel you aren't, there is always the option of skimming the book for Heart, Past and Fate options that have already been filled out for the most part, except for some personal flavour options. Hence the page-count on character selection. They really did think of everything.
The section covering the main rules expands on what the tutorial battle covered. Most of the basics of the game are addressed in the tutorial and anything else is explained showing the reader examples AND telling them the rules. Mythender offers you clear and relatively conscise rules if you keep in mind the size of the game. I at times felt a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things possible, but I came to realise that without most of the rules I wouldn't be able to run something as "wing-able" as Mythender.
One of those rules is the rule regarding Murdering other Mythender. Yep, that's a thing! You would almost feel as if it weren't an important rule at all considering it's seems like something that was stowed away in a cupboard, but it's actually a defining rule for Mythender. It's a brutal rule, stating that Mythenders turning Myth must be ended just like any other Myth. Resolving such deathmatches comes down to a single dice roll. Such is the way of Mythender. Fast, brutal, deadly. I could go on and on about what defines the game, but the truth is that it's a combination of certain things. The brutality and over-the-top awesomeness of battle and the internal struggle about whether or not one should forfeit his or her mortal soul in return for more power. It's a delicate balance. Far more delicate than you'd expect from such an in-yo-face roleplaying game.
Mythender is mostly story driven and as such you need plenty of elaboration on how to run it. Lucky us then, that Ryan Macklin added in a couple tips (spoiler alert: he didn't slack when he did). Anything besides battling Myths is written out in detail, and supported by examples. Not only are players spoiled with page upon page of additional information about the Mythic World of Norden, Mythender has also kindly included a section for MythMasters to scour. Nice little detail? It includes a tidbit on making mistakes and how it's perfectly fine to have to get into the game before unlocking your true potential as a MythMaster. We're dealing with someone who knows what it's like to be the one behind the screen, setting up friends for something greater than every day life. In a way it's inspiring to others who hope to achieve the same.
In conclusion, Mythender is a well-written game, both rule-wise and setting-wise. It's a hefty tome (if that's even a thing in the role playing community), coming in at about 275 pages. That in itself would for some be reason to not even bother reading it, but I would implore you to give it a shot anyway. Mythender offers an experience most role playing games can only dare to dream of and it doesn't need all 275 pages to get you and your gaming group slaying the Myths of yore. It's evocative and innovative. Most games would make success an option, Mythender allows you to do it and see how incredible the result is. There is no anti-climax. Only action. Or Drama.
I would rate Mythender a solid 8/10.
Art 7 (Only because I feel it would have really benefited from having more of it)
Awesome Factor 8
[4 of 5 Stars!]