The d20 rules break down at higher levels, as shown by the epic rules and Immortal's Handbook. Mythic tiers are independent of level because most parties generally do not get that far, but fails to address the break down in favor of accelerating it. This is not a bad thing. Even without reaching epic or mythic level characters will become superheroes beyond level six or so. That does not even begin to address idiosyncrasies like the "Christmas tree effect" or the "fighters can't have nice things" mentality. Essays such as "Calibrating Your Expectations" and "Gandalf was Only a Fifth Level Magic-User" explain that levels beyond fifth or so are supernatural compared to the real world and that fictional characters (uninfluenced by D&D) generally are not written with levels in mind. AD&D even had NPCs all stuck at zeroth level to indicate their lack of combat prowess. Pathfinder ignores this reasoning and decides that the cut off point between normal people and player characters is tenth level (cf. NPC Codex), even though nobody on our Earth could be higher than fifth if we operated by d20 rules.

The problem in this case is one of feel. Mythic is advertised as making campaign more like mythology, but the standard campaign is already emulating mythology. The party is saving the world, fighting demon emperors, blowing up death stars, starting galactic wars, exterminating space zombie apocalypses, and so forth without the assistance of the mythic rules. Adding the mythic rules doesn't make anything feel more mythic than before. Aside from things like granting spells to your worshipers, mythic powers are generally unimpressive numerical boosts. Mythic monsters are more powerful versions of monsters that are already mythological. Beyond equating mythic ranks/tiers with divine ranks and thereby stating that mythic characters and monsters are literally gods whereas Joe Shmoe adventurer is merely a mythic hero, I cannot think of a way to make mythic feel inherently mythic or more mythic than usual without switching to a level-less system.

How does a GM make mythic rules feel different from non-mythic rules?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am voting to close as unclear what you're asking, based on the responses to my answer. The Mythic rules are just additional rules to "super power" already powerful characters. If you don't like that they don't seem to provide anything more to your games, I'm not sure what we can do for you in an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Dec 10 '16 at 17:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude: Unclear? Okay, let me try to clarify. If standard campaigns are already in scope, what makes the mythic rules stand out from a fluff perspective? If standard characters are fighting Lucifer in Hell, how would adding mythic ranks make anything feel different? What makes mythic ranks stand out beyond making characters faster killing machines? \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Dec 10 '16 at 19:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unclear is probably the wrong reason to close, in hindsight, however this question still doesn't seem like a good fit for the sight, based on your responses to my answer. Maybe someone else can provide a better answer or maybe there is no good answer. In any case, we can't tell you how to use the rules; we can only provide interpretations of what the rules say. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Dec 10 '16 at 20:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ So the question seems legitimate on its face, but I agree that the responses to the answer are puzzling and seem to indicate the real question is different from the one posed. If you want someone to prove that Mythic rules help make a game more mythic, that's not really answerable. Have you used the mythic rules, or plan to and want help with them, or are you just wanting someone to "sell you on them?" We can do the former here, but not the latter. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - SE stop being evil Dec 10 '16 at 23:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk: I don't know how to phrase it better. Under the standard rules the characters are already superheroes with god-like power. (We're optimizing so we can pull off insanely awesome stunts the designers never foresaw.) Mythic feels redundant because optimization only makes martials faster killing machines and casters become slightly more omnipotent than before. I want to add mythic anyway but I can't figure out how to make mythic characters stand out from non-mythic characters. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Dec 11 '16 at 3:11

From my experience running a very long campaign in Pathfinder, I will say that I think you need to adjust your expectations when playing in a high fantasy setting such as Golarion (the Pathfinder default setting). Sure, level 5 or 10 PCs might be equal to the most powerful and skilled humans in our world, but you're not playing in our world. Adventurers are common in Golarion. High level adventurers aren't seen as gods or mythic beings so much as legendary explorers who have gone to the ends of the earth. Yes, they have clout, and they might be held in very high esteem by the "common folk," but they're still mere mortals. Mortals who happen to have some pretty big accomplishments on their resumes, but still mere mortals.

The Mythic rules aren't for such "ordinary" adventurers. They're for beings of mythic destiny, literally called upon by gods or foretold in ancient prophecies. Mythic adventures should have even more at stake, with even greater risks and rewards.

Unlike normal characters, those with mythic power have greater ties to the world around them and a greater place in legend. A skilled fighter might impact the history of a region, but a mythic champion can change its fate, and his every move is chronicled and recorded.

Ascension to Mythic status is an extraordinary event. This event is much more impactful than what might happen to an "ordinary" adventurer in an "ordinary" day in the life, and should be presented as such. Perhaps a Mythic PC is the child of a god (godling), or they discovered an ancient, indefinitely powerful artifact of legend, or perhaps they witnessed an event so powerful it bestowed upon them the power of myth.

To paraphrase from the Mythic adventures rules further, as I can't possibly word it better than Paizo has already done:

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...

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...

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.

While my PCs adventured across Varisia to stop an ancient evil from returning to life, that story was very "hush-hush" in terms of the world. No one knew what was happening with those PCs except for the townsfolk they were close to. Even though they were level 15 near the end of that adventure, their deeds were still known by only a few thousand.

To make Mythic rules feel that much more mythic than the standard rules, you need to present a Mythic setting and a Mythic adventure. Adventures need to be impactful on a world level. Mythic adventurers are saving the world, the plane, possibly even the universe, and those adventures should be visible to all. Their stories should involve bigger things than evil liches, greedy mayors, or powerful demons. Even with Mythic abilities, it is easy for an adventure to feel mundane if it is not presented in a mythic fashion.

Mythic adventures are grandiose. They involve world-spanning -- and possibly world-shatterring -- events, things that become the stuff of the most well-known legends of the world. They don't involve pirate adventures or clandestine missions to stop an ancient evil; they involve the killing of gods and the destruction of planes. Mythic adventurers dare to go where angels fear, and don't bat an eyelash while doing so.

  • \$\begingroup\$ All of that could be done before Mythic Adventures was released. At high level non-mythic characters are comic book superheroes. How would I differentiate the mythic rules if a standard campaign already has a mythic feel? \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Dec 9 '16 at 22:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anonymous The Mythic Adventures rules provide a framework to make your adventures feel more mythic than a standard adventure. Have you read through the mythic rules? It might help for you specify what exactly you're having trouble with. The mythic rules "super power" already-powerful class features and spells. It's up to you how you use them to make things feel more mythic. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Dec 9 '16 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's the problem. The standard campaign is already emulating myths like the Illiad, the Odyssey, Dante's Inferno, Lord of the Rings, etc. Characters are already fighting Lucifer in Hell, leading armies to overthrow Troy, carrying the One Ring to Mt. Doom, etc all without mythic rules. Adding the "mythic" adjective doesn't make those feel qualitatively different: a mythic Lucifer in mythic Hell, a mythic army conquering mythic Troy, or a mythic One Ring going to mythic Mt. Doom, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Dec 10 '16 at 17:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Anonymous I can't tell you how to run your game in a way that will make it feel more mythic than the already mythic games you're running. If my answer doesn't satisfy the requirements of your question, I'm afraid it isn't clear what you're asking. The Mythic rules are just additional rules. If you don't like them because you already run highly mythic adventures and they don't add anything to your games, that's not something we can solve for you. \$\endgroup\$ – LegendaryDude Dec 10 '16 at 17:25

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