Legend speaks of the coming of great heroes. As the darkness gathers and the forces of the underworld rise to swallow the land of the living, a few brave souls will hear the call to greatness. Their deeds will become the stories of our time, and their victories will be celebrated for centuries to come. Even now, they walk among us— unaware of the destiny that awaits them. The moment is almost here. Their hour is at hand.
Everyone knows the story of the blacksmith's son who, after taking up arms to defend his village, continues on to become a renowned adventurer. And of the young elf who spends years studying musty tomes and practicing simple spells before she heads out into the world to seek ancient lore. These are the stories of everyday adventurers, risen from the ranks of the common folk to make a name for themselves in places harsh and unforgiving.
But these are not the only stories of heroism. Some adventurers are beyond exemplary—their stories forge the greatest sagas of history, and their every deed births a legend. From the children of gods, blessed with the divine spark, to the lucky heroes born under auspicious stars, these characters are destined to greatness. They are mythic: possessed of unparalleled heroism and capable of astounding acts.
To be mythic means to draw upon a power that few even dare to understand, and even fewer hope to wield. An air of destiny surrounds mythic characters, and each choice they make shapes the world at large. Their story is intertwined with the great events of the day, and their actions are central to the outcomes. Mythic characters are more resilient and powerful than others, and as a result are awe-inspiring in ways their non-mythic counterparts could never match. Other adventurers might balk at taking on a dragon that plagues a village, but mythic heroes would not only take on the dragon, but also clear the entire region of threats. Ultimately, the story of mythic heroes is defined by the challenges they face. The GM has a number of new and awe-inspiring tools with which to confront mythic player characters, ranging from immense and deadly mythic monsters to vile and cunning mythic villains. Mythic monsters are unique creatures or remnants of a bygone age when such terrifying beasts ruled over the land. They now dwell in the lost places of the world, waiting for their time to bring great terror. Mythic villains have many of the powers of mythic characters, but they use their abilities selfishly—to subjugate kingdoms, slaughter the innocent, and bring ruin to the world. Unless heroes rise to stop them, mythic villains can cause destruction and chaos on an unimaginable scale.
Even with such great power, mythic characters are not invulnerable, just more able to deal with the dangers of the world around them. If a mythic character dies, her loss is a great tragedy to the world, as the light of one of its true champions has been extinguished. This is what makes a mythic story exciting: these heroes might fall, just as non-mythic heroes might succumb to lesser threats. And when they do succeed, their victory often comes at a high cost, and usually leaves them scarred.
The rules in this section give players and GMs the tools they need to run mythic adventures. The mythic rules add to the base rules of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, either as part of an adventure in which the PCs attain mythic power for a limited time, or as the backbone of an entire campaign charting the legend of a group of mythic characters.
In a world of might and sorcery, with dragons and elves, what does it mean to be “mythic?” Being mythic means possessing a degree of might unusual even in a fantasy world. Scenes turn more dramatic, the enemies are more lethal, and the consequences of the heroes' actions make a far-ranging impact. Being mythic means invoking a sense of wonder and awe even in those already accustomed to the strange and unusual.
The way this book portrays the mythic narrative isn't solely about stories at 20th level and monsters with high Challenge Ratings—it's about the surprising and unfamiliar regardless of power and scale. Even 1st-level characters could be imbued with mythic power and become forces to be reckoned with. Similarly, lesser monsters such as ogres and skeletons that become mythic transform into terrifying foes with unknown powers, changing the nature of the story you're playing—and startling those accustomed to their non-mythic ilk.
Not only the characters take on unexpected forms in mythic adventures; the setting does as well. The vistas are more dramatic, featuring flying islands and keeps that float in raging volcanoes. The colors are brighter, the sounds are more mysterious, and all of the other stimuli are sharper and more vibrant. Where the non-mythic hero would encounter a crumbling keep filled with familiar monsters, a mythic hero faces a towering citadel that builds itself from the bones of would-be invaders and is inhabited by cruel and malign creatures of nearly god-like power.
Besides the setting, the challenges that face mythic characters are far more harrowing than usual. Enhanced abilities allow mythic characters to take on threats beyond the reach of those without such power. They can face with ease foes both powerful and numerous. The real challenge is when they take on mythic creatures that possess the same resilient nature and abilities similar in potency to those they themselves rely on. When a mythic hero comes face to face with a mythic monster, the battle is truly legendary. Finally, mythic adventures feature difficult choices and far-reaching consequences. As the characters progress through the story, they're tasked with taking on challenges that seem impossible even to them, and might be tempted to wander from their path. As mythic heroes, they're the first to respond to cataclysmic events, just as they're the last bastion to stem the tide of evil and darkness that threatens to wash over the world. Their successes and failures leave marks on the world for centuries to come.
The Mythic rules are organized much like the rest of the site, with a few new additions.
As you make your way through this book, you will see a number of abilities, feats, spells, magic items, and monsters refer to “mythic” versus “non-mythic” creatures and sources. For the purposes of the rules that follow, a creature is mythic if it has a mythic tier or mythic rank. Any mythic creature is considered a mythic source. The term “mythic source” can also apply to an attack, feat, spell, magic item, or other effect that originates from a mythic source.
Creatures are non-mythic if they don't have any mythic ranks or tiers. Any non-mythic creature is a non-mythic source, as is any attack or effect originating from a non-mythic source.
These rules present a system for increasing characters' intrinsic power, making them more like the heroes of ancient myths and epics. Mythic Adventures includes the rules for mythic paths and monsters with the mythic subtype.
Mythic creatures still have a CR (increased by their mythic ranks or tiers), which makes the usable as opponents for characters without mythic abilities. This does mean that some creatures in this book are beyond the capabilities of such characters, since they're built to present an incredible challenge for even the greatest mythic characters. All the locations presented in the book can appear in a non-mythic game as incredible backdrops for adventures of a smaller scope. The magic claimed from the founts of mythic power can be replaced with other rewards for characters who reach them, such as artifacts or even a temporary or limited version of a mythic path ability.
Mythic Adventures uses several new terms, or that previously existed but were rarely used. These terms are worth reviewing before continuing on with the rest of this book.
The moment of ascension is the moment when a normal character becomes a mythic character. This event is usually a critical moment in the story that helps to define the mythic character's origin and the source of her power. Once a character has undergone ascension, she gains her first mythic tier and can select a mythic path.
When a mythic character completes a particularly difficult task, the GM might reward that character with a boon. A boon represents having earned the favor of the source of the character's power. Once acquired, a boon allows the character to draw upon mythic power one additional time that day. A mythic character might be rewarded with a boon several times in a single session, but no more than once per encounter.
A type of damage reduction, DR/epic can be overcome only by a weapon with an enhancement bonus of +6 or greater. Weapons with special abilities also count as epic for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction if the total bonus value of all of their abilities (including the enhancement bonus) is +6 or greater.
With abilities seemingly beyond the those of ordinary mortals, a mythic character or mythic monster becomes part of a story that plays out on a greater scale than ordinary people can understand. An attack, spell, or other effect is considered mythic if it originates from a mythic source, such as a character or creature with a mythic tier or rank. (See sidebar.)
(Often referred to just as a “path.”) The theme of a character's mythic abilities is determined by her mythic path—archmage, champion, guardian, hierophant, marshal, or trickster. Each path has a number of special abilities associated with it that the character can select as she advances in tier.
Each mythic character can call upon this base mythic ability to influence destiny and fuel other abilities. At its most basic, mythic power is needed to use the surge ability, but it can also be called upon to use a number of other mythic abilities.
(Often referred to just as a “rank.”) Similar to tiers, mythic ranks are used to describe the approximate mythic power possessed by a monster. All creatures with a mythic rank are considered mythic for the purposes of feats, spells, magic items, and other abilities. Mythic ranks range from 1 to 10.
(Often referred to just as a “tier.”) Mythic characters advance in power by gaining tiers, each of which grants new abilities. Attaining a new mythic tier requires completing difficult trials within the campaign's story rather than accumulating experience points. Mythic tiers range from 1 to 10. Characters who achieve 10th tier are at the height of mythic power, and are in some respects akin to minor deities.
(Often referred to just as a “trial.”) A trial is a difficult task that awaits mythic heroes. It usually represents the culmination of part of the heroes' story, marking it as an important point in their legend. A mythic character has to complete one or more trials in order to reach a new mythic tier. Trials and mythic path advancement are separate from XP and character level advancement, and are based on grand achievements within the story rather than individual encounters.
Any attack, spell, or effect originating from a character or creature without any mythic abilities is non-mythic. This term can also refer to a character without a mythic tier or a creature without a mythic rank.
Surge is a basic ability that each mythic character receives. It allows her to roll a die and add the result to a d20 roll, influencing the outcome after the results are revealed.