I blame Leonard Balsera.

Back in Autumn of 2007, when I was struggling on another design long since abandoned, Lenny said to me, “Dude, take a break and make a game about killing orcs or something.”

“Eh, if I’m going to do that I’d rather start big, like killing dragons,” I replied.

“Whatever, just go cleanse your palette and get back to your other game.”

That conversation led to this, my most ambitious idea to date, and I have Lenny to blame for that. Oh, and I never did get back to that other game. Turns out Paul Tevis did a better version of that game with A Penny For My Thoughts, on which I would later work with him.

Finally, a massive thank-you to my editor, Josh Roby. He pointed out a host of bullshit in the Random Kindness Encounter edition of the book, including organization and numerous language issues. You should hire the fuck out of him. He’s brilliant. (

Debts Owed

Every movie that has had a grand battle scene influenced Mythender. Chief among them: 300, Beowulf, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, The Two Towers, and Return of the King.

This game also owes a debt to the big set-piece role-playing games, namely Dungeons & Dragons. And this game’s high concept wouldn’t have happened without Nobilis by Jenna Moran. Mythenders are a twist on Nobilis’ Excrucians, making them the center of the story.

Some other games that were influential: John Harper’s Agon, Christian Griffen’s Beast Hunters, Fred Hicks’s Don’t Rest Your Head, and White Wolf’s Exalted. I’m certain there are many that subtly influenced me over the years that I’m not listing here, so I hope you’ll indulge a blanket thank-you to the various RPG creative communities out there.

I believe it was Josh Hoade who gave me the tagline “Kick Ass, Erase Names.” That was a focus, a catalyst, for the tone I’ve taken this text and game.

My home playtest squad—Aaron, Jerry, and Mike—built a story with this game that still surprises me. This game would be an empty shell if not for that campaign.

Finally, I personally owe a great debt to all my great playtesters and people who have let me bounce ideas off of them or gave me feedback over the years. And I owe a debt to my comrades in the Evil Hat family for forging me into the game designer and developer I am today. This is not a game I could have made when I started; I only can now because of you all.

Thank you,

—Ryan Macklin

The following people took the first full draft of this book and helped hone it:

Brendan Adkins, Albert Andersen, Giulia Barbano, Tracy Barnett, David Black, Logan Bonner, Brian “Lord Danger” Engard, Will Hindmarch, John LeBoeuf-Little, Kit La Touche, Patrick Ley, Nancy McKeown, Jeremy Morgan, Jeremy Tidwell, Garret Narjes, Josh Roby, Warren Schultz, Chad Underkoffler, Clark Valentine, Eddy Webb, Kevin Weiser


The following people have helped me test the game from its conception up to this point. Names in bold are the brave souls to took it upon themselves to be Mythmasters.

Brendan Adkins, John Aegard, M.T. Ahern, Brandon Amancio, Laura Anderson, Timothy Applegate, Albert Andersen, Nate Anderson, Fabien Badilla, Leonard Balsera, Doug Bartlett, Dane Black, David Black, Mario Bolzoni, Logan Bonner, Paolo Bosi, Jennifer Brozek, Mick Bradley, Raymond Brandle, Jarrod Brenden, Ted Cabeen, Twyla Campbell, Timothy Carroll, Hans Chung-Otterson, Peter Ciccolo, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Jesse Coombs, Keith Dalzell, Michael Daugherty, Buddha Davis, DeWitt Davis, Jen Dixon, Rob Donoghue, Tony Dowler, David Drake, Adam Dray, Morgan Ellis, Aaron Enriquez, Adam Enriquez, Lavinia Fantini, E Foley, Robert Fulkerson, David Gallo, Amy Garcia, Matthew Gandy, Steven Grady, David Green, Christian Griffen, Sonia Grossi, Andrew Hackard, Chris Hanrahan, Alicia Hansen, John Harper, Matt Heller, Shawn Helmueller, Fred Hicks, David Hill, Will Hindmarch, Josh Hoade, Will Huggins, Ben Hutchings, Shane Jackson, Colin Jessup, Jeremy Keller, John Kim, Mike LaFave, Nora Last, Sage LaTorra, Kit LaTouche, J Li, Vernon Lingley, Andrew Linstrom, Jason Lorenzetti, Joe Mcdaldno, Lesley McKeever, Nancy McKeown, Jeff Meaders, David Moore, Flavio Mortarino, Colin Mulkerin, Lukas Myhan, Garret Narjes, Chris Norwood, Scott Nutzmann, Duane O’Brien, Beau Olson, Michael O’Sullivan, Michael Parker, Jeff Pedersen, Chris Perrin, Robert Phelps, Roy Pollock, Josh Rensch, Melissa Rensch, Luca Ricci, James Ritter, Paul Riddle, James Roberts, Will Robot, Josh Roby, Rich Rogers, Rustyn Sa, Lon Sarver, Mickey Schultz, Darin Shepit, Daniel Solis, Justin Smith, Eric Spell, Jill Stapleton, John Stavropoulos, Allan Sugarbaker, Brennan Taylor, Jackson Tegu, Sarah Terman, Paul Tevis, Jeff Tidball, Jeremy Tidwell, Remi Treuer, Gil Trevizio, Matt Troedson, Massimiliano Degli Uberti, Chad Underkoffler, Amanda Valentine, Clark Valentine, Alex Vasquez, Mark Wagner, Jonathan Walton, Angela Webber, Kevin Weiser, Wil Wheaton, Ogre Whiteside, David Worth, Ben Wray, Filamena Young

A Few Memories

I won’t go into many—I can’t, for I haven’t the space—but there are some special moments in playtesting that I want to give personal thanks to:

  • Joe: I will not forget that angelic fiddle, nor will I forget the line “My action is that I die and am reborn. That hurts the Myth, right?” (For the record, that still does.)
  • Jerry: what you do to horses is insane.
  • Shawn: you showed me how awesome dynastic character creation can be.
  • David: the moment where you held the mortal and apologized for existing still moves me today.
  • Andrew: you got away with it once. Don’t push your luck.
  • Brendan: you’re the reason the Child is a playable option.
  • Lillian & Nora: you two made Murder totally rad.
  • Fred: your love for Cthulhu is like a rock, Berserker.
  • John & Sage: your race to apotheosis was…enlightening.
  • Rob: I cannot thank you enough for breaking my game as viciously as you did.
  • E: BEES!
  • Andrew, Angela, Nate, Wil: ho ho ho, motherfuckers.


This game exists and is free because of the wonderful people who donated to the Random Kindness Encounter Bundle in December 2011:

@ATerribleIdea, Adam Dray, Adam Jury, Adam Rajski, Amy Sutedja, Andrew Shockney, Bex Bradley, Black Diamond Games, Brandon Metcalf, Brendan Adkins, Brent P. Newhall, Brian Engard, Bruce Harlick, Bryant Durrell, Bully Pulpit Games, C. W. Marshall, Cam Banks, Carl Rigney, Chad Underkoffler, Chuck Cooley, Colin Booth, Colin Jessup, Craig Maloney, Daniel M. Perez, Dave Chalker, David Gallo, Dean Gilbert, Deen-Lester family, Destiny, Don Schlaich, Don Schlaich, Douglas Milo Bartlett, Edward Lynch, Eric Jogesh Z, Eric Lytle, Eric Neustadter (e), Ernie Sawyer, Evil Hat Productions, Fealoro, Francois Suter, Garret Narjes, Geoff Dash, Giulia Barbano, Grace La Torra, H. M. ‘Dain’ Lybarger, HammerCon, Ivan Vaghi, James Dawsey of Vigilance Press, James Newman, Jamie Fristrom, Jason Pitre, Jason Ramboz, Jennifer Brozek, Jeremiah Frye, Jeremy Kostiew, Jeremy Morgan, Jérôme Larré, Jess Hartley, Jesse Raen-Saunders, Jim Sweeney, Joe Manning, John Anderson, John Harper, John Hoyland, John LeBoeuf-Little, John Mehrholz, John Taber, Jonathan “Buddha” Davis, Joshua (Lolthien) Sims, June and Mike Garcia, Justin D. Jacobson, Justin Koopmans, Kassil and Khirsah Roshah, Kenneth Hite, Kirin Robinson, Kit La Touche, Larry Hollis, Lars M. Nielsen, Laura Bishop, Lester Ward, Lukas Myhan, Manojalpa, Marc Majcher, Mark Featherston, Matt S, Matt Troedson, Matt Widmann, Matthew SB, Mia K Sherman, Michael Brewer, Mick Bradley, Mike Sugarbaker, Minerva Zimmerman, Mischa Wolfinger, Morgan Davie, Morgan Ellis, Neal Dalton, Neil Ford, Nick Finck, Oliver Nøøglebæk, Paul Edson, Paul Tevis, Piers Newman, Rae Madigan, Renato Ramonda, Rick Neal, Riggah, Robyn and David Miessler-Kubanek, Sam Anderson, Samuel Dillon, Scott Macmillan, Sean Nittner, Sebastian Dietz, Steve Collington, Steve Dempsey, Steve Johnson, Tim L. White, Tim Rodriguez, Tom Ladegard, Tucker McKinnon, Tyler Nafe, Ultima Thule, Vernon Lingley, Vivian Paul, Wayne “The Cap’n” Coburn, Wayne Zombie, Will Hindmarch, and over 400 other donors.

You raised over $15,000 in four days to help a good friend battle cancer. For that, I thank you. Now go forth and End the shit out of whatever hurdles and troubles lie in your path.


First of all, if you want to know more about stuff I do, I write about the process of making games and being a creative professional in general at

I’ve worked on a bunch of other games. Maybe you would like to check one out?

Fate Core System (design, writing, editing) — Evil Hat Productions, 2013

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Mythic Adventures (development, editing, additional writing) — Paizo Publishing, 2013

Cortex Plus Action (design, writing), part of Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide — Margaret Weis Productions, 2013

Convention Book: N.W.O., Convention Book: Progenitors*, Convention Book: Syndicate*, and Convention Book: Void Engineers* (development, writing) for Mage: the Ascension Revised — Onyx Path Publishing, 2012 & 2013.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign (development, editing, writing) — Paizo Publishing, 2013

The Vicious Crucible of the Verdigris Valley*, The Vicious Crucible of the Eburnean Tower*, and The Vicious Crucible of Villa Argentate* — Josh Roby, 2012 & 2013

Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple (editing, additional writing) — Smart Play Games/Evil Hat Productions, 2011

Void Vultures* & supplements (editing) — Josh Roby, 2011

The Leverage Roleplaying Game (design, writing) — Margaret Weis Productions, 2010

The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game (design, development, editing, writing) — Evil Hat Productions, 2010

A Penny For My Thoughts (development, editing, additional writing) — Paul Tevis/Evil Hat Productions, 2009

Don’t Lose Your Mind (editing) — Evil Hat Productions, 2008

…and various other books.

I also have one of the oldest podcasts about RPG design, Master Plan, at

If you like stories, maybe you would like some of the fiction anthologies I’ve written for.

Dangers Untold, “The Beacon” — Alliteration Ink, 2012

Don’t Read This Book*, “Don’t Lose Your Son” — Evil Hat Productions, 2012

Space Tramps: Full Throttle Space Tales #5, “What a Mother Will Do” — Flying Pen Press, 2011

Human Tales, “Cracks in Marble” — Dark Quest Books, 2011

Works with asterisks (*) also involved Josh Roby, some of which are also released for free and under a Creative Commons licence. You should check out his other stuff. He’s one talented…(shut your mouth!) Just talkin’ about Josh. (We can dig it.) He occasionally writes stuff on his blog at