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Teaser: Mythic Stars

“Man, I have too many projects I want to do.”

I literally did not write that, it’s from an IM with a colleague from today. But I COULD have written it and been 100% accurate and honest.

It’s a common problem for creatives of all types, but for the independent creative it can come with added pressure. I have more ideas than I have time. So I have to guess what the smart projects to undertake are, for my career development, visibility, and, of course, income.

Sometimes, those decisions happen well after a project has begun. You can be thousands of words into something, then higher-priority projects come along, and you put something down “just until you’re caught up.”

And then it stays put down forever.

So, that brings us to today’s post.

This is a teaser of “MYTHIC STARS,” a set of rules I am working on to create Mythic for Starfinder. This is incomplete, and is only a first draft, but it gives some hint of the direction I was taking this. I have a lot of design goals (no numeric bonuses, more compact presentation, hit different themes, and so on), and the project was begin something like two years ago. But it got put down, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to pick it up again.

But, of course, if it turns out the teaser gains a huge response, then maybe I’ll reprioritize. 🙂

Mythic

With abilities seemingly beyond the those of ordinary mortals, a mythic character or mythic creature 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 rank.

Mythic Path

(Often referred to just as a “path.”) The theme of a character’s mythic abilities is determined by her mythic path—eldritch exemplar, eternal, mastermind, phrenic exemplar, vindex. Each path has a number of special abilities associated with it that the character can select as she advances in rank.

Mythic Power

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.

Mythic Rank

(Often referred to just as a “rank.”) Mythic ranks are used to describe the approximate mythic power possessed by a PC or creature. 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.

Attaining a new mythic rank requires completing difficult trials within the campaign’s story rather than accumulating experience points. Characters who achieve 10th rank are at the height of mythic power, and are akin to minor deities.

Mythic Trial

(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 rank. 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.

Non-Mythic

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 or creature without a mythic rank.

Surge

Surge is a basic ability that each mythic character receives. It allows her to reroll any die roll she made (including d20 rolls, damage rolls, and random % rolls made regarding the character or her actions), influencing the outcome after the results are revealed. A mythic character gains one surge per day, plus one for every 2 mythic tiers.

VINDEX

The vindex (plural: vindexin) is the pinnacle of skill in combat. No ordinary soldier could hope to match a vindex’s skill with a laser rifle, grenade, or plasma sword, no typcial vanguard can survive blows a vindex brushes off with ease. The vindex turns aside blows and shatters shields with every movement, all while racing gracefully across the chaotic battlefield. When the screams of fallen foes die down, the vindex stands strong and defiant in blood-spattered armor, hefting a weapon and grimly moving toward the next challenge.

Role: As a vindex, your role is to put down your foes, and withstand their mightiest assaults. Using devastating melee powers, you can crush your enemies before they even have a chance to harm you and your allies. With spectacular ranged attacks you can drop foes from the sky or disrupt their every effort. Few can match your effectiveness in combat or ability to return to the fray again and again.

The vindex abilities allow you to control your foes, move easily around the battlefield, and challenge a large number of foes all at once. The rest of the party can count on you to dominate any pure combat you charge into.

Classes: While members of any class could be vindexen, those who focus on combat— especially solarians, soldiers, and vangaurds, but also more martially-inclined mechanics and operatives—will find the abilities in this path most attractive and useful. However, even biohackers, envoys, and spellcasters could find that the path of the vindex is an excellent way to augment their abilities.

Bonus Hit Points: Whenever you gain a vindex tier, you gain 5 bonus Hit Points.

Table: Vindex 
Tier Path Features
1st Vindex’s strike, path ability
2nd Path ability
3rd Path ability
4th Path ability
5th Path ability
6th Path ability
7th Path ability
8th Path ability
9th Path ability
10th Legendary vindex, path ability

Vindex Features

As you increase in tier, you gain the following abilities.

Vindex’s Strike

Select one of the following abilities. Once chosen, it can’t be changed. You can use this ability no more than once per round.

Distant Barrage (Ex)

At the beginning or end of any other action you take on your turn, you can expend one Myth Point to make a ranged attack at your full attack bonus. This is in addition to any other attacks you make this round. When making this attack, ignore the target’s cover and concealment other than total cover.

Fleet Charge (Ex)

At the beginning or end of any other action you take on your turn, you can expend one Myth Point to move up to your speed. At any point during this movement, you can make a single melee or ranged attack at your highest attack bonus, adding your tier to the attack roll. This is in addition to any other attacks or movement you make this round.

Massive Damage (Ex)

When you damage a foe, you can expend one Myth Point to do maximum damage and bypass all damage reduction, energy resistance, and immunity. If the damaging effect harms more than one target, you must select just one to be affected by the massive damage. All other creatures are damaged normally.

Sudden Attack (Ex)

At the beginning or end of any other action you take on your turn, you can expend one Myth Point to make a melee attack at your highest attack bonus. This is in addition to any other attacks you make this round. When making a sudden attack, ignore the target’s cover and concealment other than total cover. Damage from this attack bypasses all damage reduction and energy resistance, and ignored immunity.

Path Ability

At 1st tier and every tier thereafter, select one new path ability from the vindex path abilities lists or from the universal path abilities lists. Once you select an ability, it can’t be changed. Unless otherwise noted, each ability can be selected only once. Some abilities have requirements, such as a class ability or minimum mythic tier, that you must meet before you select them.

Legendary Vindex (Ex)

At 10th tier, whenever you make an attack roll against a non-mythic foe, you roll the attack twice and take the better of the two results. Once per round when you roll a natural 20 on an attack roll, you regain one Myth Point.

1st-Tier Vindex Path Abilities

You can select these path abilities at any tier.

Aerial Assault (Su)

You can charge at creatures in the air, or leap across obstacles as part of a charge. When making a charge attack, you can expend one Myth Point to take no penalties to your attack roll or AC, and to charge to any foe that qualifies for a charge within your land speed (even if that target is flying or underwater). At the end of this charge you suffer the normal consequences of your new location (though if you fall a distance no greater than your land speed as a result, you take no falling damage and do not fall prone).

Alternatively, you may replace your melee attack from this charge with a grapple attack. If you successfully grapple a creature that was airborne and you are not flying, you bring it to the ground with you at the end of your jump, and it takes an appropriate amount of falling damage for the height it was at when you grappled it.

Always a Chance (Ex)

You don’t automatically miss when you roll a 1 on an attack roll, and automatically reroll such attacks.

Armor Master (Ex)

You don’t take any armor check penalties or have your speed reduced by armor.

Backlash (Ex)

You strike back at those who penetrate your defenses. Whenever an adjacent enemy scores a critical hit or succeeds at a combat maneuver against you, that enemy also provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you have used all of your reactions for the round, you may expend one Myth Point to make this attack of opportunity anyway.

Blowback (Ex)

When you deal bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage to a foe, without taking an action you can expend one Myth Point to knock the foe directly away from you a distance equal to 10 feet per tier, in addition to the attack’s normal effects. If the foe strikes a solid object before reaching this distance, it takes 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it couldn’t travel. If it strikes another creature, both it and the creature it strikes take half this damage.

Burst Through (Ex)

When you charge, you can move through allies and opponents almost as if they were not there to obstruct your path. You can move through squares containing allies freely, but you must succeed at a melee attack roll against the KAC of each opponent that obstructs your path to the target of your charge. If the attack roll succeeds, you may move through the opponent’s square and continue toward the target without provoking an attack of opportunity from that opponent (though you do not add the effect of any actual attack). If you fail any of these attack rolls, your movement ends in the square before that opponent, but you may resolve the charge attack against the foe that stopped you.

Clean Blade (Ex)

Whenever you score a critical hit, without taking another action you can make a ranged attack with a +8 bonus against the KAC of another opponent within 30 feet to fling the blood and gore at it. If the attack hits, the foe is off-target for a number of rounds equal to your tier. If the attack is a critical hit, the foe is also blinded for the same duration. A blinded foe can spend a full action to remove the gore and end the blindness.

Climbing Master (Ex)

You gain a climb speed equal to your base land speed. If you already have a climb speed, when climbing you treat the surface you are on as “down” unless you choose not to, and stay in place unless forcefully moved. for example, even if you are knocked prone, bull rushed, or fall unconscious, you don’t fall off the surface you are climbing unless pushed beyond it’s edge.

PATREON

Enjoy this brief, incomplete look at the vindex path for Mythic Stars? The best way to send me feedback is at my Patreon!

 

How the Game Changes

I realized today that I don’t think any of the d20-rpg publishers have done a really good job of explaining how the nature of the game (“the game” being every version of D&D/d20 System/Pathfinder and it’s spinoffs) changes as players get to higher levels. The type of plots that work at 1st-8th or so won’t play as well at 9th-1th, and it takes a totally different set of plots to keep things moving and fun at 17+.

This is actually a place where 4th edition D&D *started* to do something really cool, with the three named tiers of play, but I don’t feel they really followed through on the idea.

Not only is such guidance not explicitly laid out in detail, but published adventures tend not to run that high, so even good examples are rare. In many ways, my own ideas about it were heavily influenced by the Against the Giants series morphing into the Drow series of adventures and ending with Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

I have both run in and played some spectacularly high-level long-running campaigns using various editions of this game, from campaigns that used Player Option books to begin at 15th level or so and go from there, to one that ran from 1st to 25th level under the Epic Level rules, to campaigns blending gestalt and mythic rules in the mid-to-high teens.

For all of those, they worked because the KINDS of threats, plots, foes, and goals we faced changed over the course of the campaign. At 1st level, a group of hobgoblin bandits is a serious threat. At 17th level, you can’t just use a group of storm giant bandits… unless the campaign has been set up to explain where these bandits were back when you were 5th level, it doesn’t make any sense – and even if you do, they aren’t a viable long-term challenge to players at that level.

My last long-running home campaign included multiple “background” elements that didn’t matter for anything but flavor when the PCs were 2nd level.
*The Rune Peaks, the largest mountain range in the world filled with enormous glowing runes supposedly crafted by the gods to imprison the things they could not destroy in the First War, before most mortal races existed.
*The War for the Fourfold Throne, where powerful elemental-themed beings vied to claim rulership over one elemental plane or, if they dared to reach for godlike status, all four elemental planes.
*Suerbak Kak Delbaz, the Bridge City which exists in some form in every reality.
*Sutek, the God-Pharoah of Ankhara, the only True God left to walk the world in physical form after the First War, an evil deity worshiped by curse-throwing Tormentors, but tolerated by other deities because he is also guardian of the last things the gods could not destroy after the war.
*The Solstice Courts, fey- and similar-related realities that fight over the four seasons, each with a set of chess-themed positions available (one King, one Queen, two Knights, and so on).
*The Dragon Dream, a growing power encouraging all dragonkind to gather in one place and obey one progenator dragon.

I’m sure there were others. The point is at 1st level if the PCs ran into a goblin warband in the Rune Peaks, it didn’t really matter if the goblins were sent by their tribe’s shaman to drive out local human and dwarf traders so the shaman could search the area for a lost scepter of the Solstice Court. PCs encounter the goblins, deal with them, discover there’s an uppity shaman, deal with him, and become local heroes. A fine 1st-3rd level adventure.

Later, when they go back to the area to recover from some other adventure, they discover thousands of hobgoblins and bugbears moving in, along with some evil fey. The quest for the scepter has spread. Then dragonkin begin to appear in the area, seeking tombs of dragon progenators buried under the Rune Peaks, Is this related, or a new problem?

As the PCs deal with forging alliances and saving specific strongholds in the Rune Peaks, they discover that the powers that can be used to claim one of the Solstice Courts can also be used to make a claim on the Fourfold Throne. They begin to get treasure that may mark them as contestants in one or both struggle, and wonder if the two inter-planar conflicts are really reflections of the same thing.

Answers require the map room of Suerbak Kak Delbaz, launching a plane-hopping adventure. That reveals that, amongst other things, whoever claims the Fourfold Throne might be able to destroy Sutek… but that could release greater evil onto the world.

And so on. Adventures are had, victories won, but as the PCs gain power and reality-warping options, they learn there is a bigger conflict being fought at each tier of power, and they have heard of those events and major movers and shaker, but now they can interact with them – maybe change the campaign world forever. The game goes from killing brigands to forging nations to exploring other planes to wondering if they can challenge a god. If the PCs decide to tackle tasks beneath them that’s fine, they CAN use scrying and teleport to annihilate as many bugbear camps as they want. But just as the PCs gain strongholds that are secure from enemy scrying or teleportation, they learn the foes pushing the bugbears to attack in the first place are similarly protected, and it takes more advanced adventures to attempt to win over them.

It’s a formula of stacked adventures and causes I developed after a few early campaigns broke down at higher levels, when I *did* essentially try to just have bigger dungeons with more dangerous monsters, only to discover the PCs would command earth elementals, charm dragons, and teleport to the last room. I realized the trick is not to just keep upping the stakes, but to change the type of challenge. If you’ve run a siege against goblins, don’t just make the next siege against bugbears. Instead, make the point of the bugbear siege not just to kill more bugbears, but to get two powerful forces that are both being besieged by the bugbears to forge an alliance with one another. Killing bigger badder foes is a crucial part of that, to buy time and earn respect of both sides, but it’s not the *point*, and suddenly new skills and options are needed, even as PCs focused on mayhem maintain a role in the adventure.

If I had more time, I’d try to boil all this down to specific advice applicable to a wider range of styles.

Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats

Horrifically Overpowered Mythic Feats

Coming April 1st. Seriously.
But your shouldn’t buy it… these are too unbalanced to be of any use to you.
Requires both Mythic Adventures and the Genius Guide to Horrifically Overpowered Feats for use. Which is fine, because you shouldn’t use this book anyway.