Mythos (collectable card game)
Product Code/SKU: 1300 - 1314+
ISBN: 9781568820736 (Standard Game Set); 9781568820774 (Dreamlands); 9781568820613 (The Art of Playing Mythos)
Year: 1996; 1997
Designer(s): Charlie Krank
Artist(s): Salvatore Abbinanti, Chris Adams, Thomas Garrett Adams, Stephen Barnwell, John Bridges, Dennis Calero, Tim Callender, Echo Chernik, Alan M. Clark, David Day, C. Brent Ferguson, Scott Fischer, David Fooden, Earl Geier, Lee Gibbons, Justin Hampton, Ovi Hondru, Andrew Kalichack, Drashi Khendup, Stephen King, Scott Kirschner, K. C. Lancaster, Todd Lockwood, Meghan McLean, Jeff Menges, Angelo Montanini, Lee Moyer, Michael A. Powell, Roger Raupp, Sam Shirley, R. Wayt Smith, Nick Smith (I), Tom Sullivan, Joseph P. Sutliff, Strephon Taylor, Susan Van Camp, Eric Vogt, Jason Voss
Number of Players: 1 to 10 players (4 required for tournament games; 3 or more recommended)
Estimated Playing Time: 45 minutes
Recommended Ages: Ages 10+
Boosters: "Expeditions of Miskatonic University", "Cthulhu Rising", "Legends of the Necronomicon"
Expansions: "Dreamlands", "New Aeon"
Editions: "Limited Edition", "Standard Game Set"
From the back of the box:
MYTHOS is Chaosium's collectible cardgame of authentic Lovecraftian horror. It features simple rules with complex strategies that allow the players to attempte to formulate a series of adventures before going mad from the growing horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.
The Standard Game Set consists of two 52-card decks. They make a complete game for two players to battle the Mythos in the world of H.P. Lovecraft. Additional decks may be used to play with more than two players.
MYTHOS(R) is a collectable card game based on the extraordinary tales of horror written by Howard Phillips Lovecraft and other authors of the 1920s and 1930s. H.P. Lovecraft was a native of Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote or collaborated on more than 65 tale during the '20s and '30s, using those years as the background for most of his stories. In the Call of Cthulhu(R) roleplaying game, Chaosium has further explored Lovecraft Country (the New England region in which most of Lovecraft's tales are set) and other areas of the world.
In MYTHOS each player portrays an ordinary person living an ordinary life. Your world is safe, sane, and well ordered. During the course of play this ordinary person, called an Investigator, discovers dark secrets about the world. Horrible creatures live int he most remote, inaccessible corners of the earth. They came her millions of years ago, and once they ruled. Humanity rose after their downfall. Now they sleep and dream of the demise of humankind, awaiting the day when they will again rule the earth.
Mythos is an out-of-print collectible card game (CCG) published by Chaosium. It is based on the Cthulhu Mythos stories of the horror author H.P. Lovecraft, as well as on Chaosium's own Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.
In 1996, Chaosium decided to join the ongoing CCG-boom and published Mythos, designed by Charlie Krank. Initially sold well, but later expansions, most notably the non-collectible "Standard Game Set" did much more poorly and forced Chaosium to discontinue Mythos. The production was stopped after the release of the "New Aeon" expansion in 1997, only a year after the game's initial release.
Cards are illustrated by various artists using very various styles, some cards being photo-realistic paintings, some computer-generated and some examples of modern arts.
Mythos was available in boosters and starters, which contained a fixed number of common, uncommon and rare cards distributed randomly. "The Mythos Standard Game Set" deviated from this practice. Sets and expansions were:
- "Mythos Limited Edition" (1996): Divided into starters, which also contained a random investigator, and into 3 different boosters. Each booster contained cards from Limited Edition plus 57 unique cards from the different starters, "Expeditions of Miskatonic University", "Cthulhu Rising", "Legends of the Necronomicon". Limited Edition consists of 10 double-sided investigator cards, 50 rare, 50 uncommon, 99 common, 2 promo, 1 insert cards. Each of the three booster expansion sets consists of 17 rare, 17 uncommon, 33 common cards. The Limited Edition Starter decks contains 60 cards and a random (folded) investigator card. Each booster box contains 36 booster packs and a sealed (unfolded) set of the ten investigator cards. Each booster pack contains 13 cards including two rare cards, one of which is from the expansion and the other either from the expansion or from the limited set.
- "Mythos Standard Game Set" (1997): Unlike other Mythos sets, did not have boosters. Instead it came in two pre-constructed, out-of-the-box playable decks packed together. "Mythos Standard Game Set Unlimited, Chaosium Inc.: This collection of unique MYTHOS cards can only be found in the Standard Edition set. They are completely compatible with MYTHOS Limited Edition and other MYTHOS sets. The Standard Game Set consists of two 52-card decks. They make a complete game for two players to battle the Mythos in the world of H.P. Lovecraft."
- "Mythos: The Dreamlands" (1997): introduced the concept of a different dimension, Dreamlands, with all new Investigators, boosters and starters. It had a projected print run of 35 million cards.
- "New Aeon" (1997): A stand-alone expansion distributed in the same way as The Dreamlands. The setting was modern age, with a lighter, popular culture overtone in illustration and card design (notably including references to modern beliefs in UFOs as well as time travel, as well as the presence of military hardware and mention of nuclear radiation). Due to the game's cancellation, New Aeon had a far lower print run than preceding sets (especially The Dreamlands), and sold out quickly after it became known that the game was discontinued.
- The Art of Playing Mythos: A Tome of Arcane Knowledge (1996): by Charlie Krank, Eric Rowe, Lynn Willis, and Scott Aniolowski, with illustrations by Salvatore Abbinanti; ISBN 9781568820613; 160 pages
Mythos was designed to include a high level of player interaction, in the vein of some traditional card games, and borrowed concepts from previous CCG titles while also introducing innovative mechanics. The game is playable by two players, but is really intended to be played by a larger number. Increasing the number of players makes completing adventures more important, and encourages development of other strategies than disrupting your opponent's game. Mythos tournament games are conducted with four players.
Like most collectible card games, a Mythos player constructs a deck from available cards within certain restrictions. A player chooses an investigator card to represent his character. Each investigator has special abilities and numerical attributes, most notably "sanity". Some cards can lower an investigator's sanity score, and when it reaches zero the investigator is eliminated from the game.
The main objective of the game is to collect points by completing "adventures". Adventures are cards that include keywords derived from different card names and types. Once the required cards are in the player's story deck or on the table, the player can play the adventure and receive its points. When a player reaches the number of adventure points previously agreed upon (usually 20), the game ends after the current round and the winner is determined.
EXAMPLE: In the "Come Sail Away" Adventure, the Adventure card reads, in part, "...you saw a LIGHTHOUSE in the distance, and finally landed at a PORT in a DREAMLANDS LOCATION." You must have played three different cards to satisfy this portion of the Adventure: any Lighthouse, any Port, and any Dreamlands Location. Despite the story's phrasing, the Port does not need to be in the Dreamlands. If a hypothetical Adventure required a Port in the Dreamlands, it would read "PORT in the Dreamlands." Finally, the three cards above may be played in any order.
Each player can normally play only one card at a time, after which the turn is passed to the next player. This continues until a certain number of players have passed their turns without playing any cards.
Card types include:
- Investigator: A double-sized card played on the table at the start of the game to represent the player. Examples: Adventurous Dilettante//Proud Prussian Submariner, Obsessed Federal Agent//Obsessed Agent in Mi-Go Braincase. (The first is from the game's original release and is simply two different Investigators printed on the same card; the second is from the final expansion "New Aeon", which contained a few ways of "flipping" the investigator card, enabling you to start as a "human" character and be transformed into a "monster".)
- Adventure: An Adventure card consists of a short story, in which certain key phrases are highlighted and need to be completed to play the Adventure card. Some Adventures are of general type, some try to recreate famous events from Lovecraft's stories. Examples: The Dunwich Horror, Summon Great Cthulhu.
- Ally: Allies (as well as all other card types) are used to satisfy different Adventure requirements and know languages that make comprehending foreign Tomes possible. They also protect your Investigator from Monsters and other cards. The allies featured in the set are drawn mainly from Lovecraftian fiction, but also include real-life people, mostly authors, as game characters. Examples: Randolph Carter, Edgar Allan Poe, Dr. Carl Jung.
- Artifact: Artifacts are items that can be found at Artifact Locations. They help the Investigator in myriad ways or give bonuses to his or her Allies. Some Artifacts, mostly Weapons, are assigned to a particular Ally, but most are simply kept next to your Investigator card. Examples: Jewelry of the Deep Ones, Tommy Gun.
- Event: Events represent calamities, phobias, weather conditions, day-night cycle, methods of travel, and other surprising things that can happen to one or more investigators or cards. Examples: Eclipse of the Sun, Townsfolk Riot.
- Location: During the game, investigators travel to different locations by walking or by using different methods of transportation (by playing Event cards such as Train). In true Lovecraftian spirit, some Locations are real while others are fictitious. Locations may be in various "regions" (color-coded) or "dimensions" (indicated by a symbol); this complicates the process of playing a new location, as some are difficult or impossible to travel to from others. Examples: Massachusetts State Hospital, R'lyeh
- Monster: Playing a Monster requires certain locations which are marked as a "gate", and can usually only be used once. Monsters are played face down into a "mythos threat", where their strength may be roughly guessed at by the Sanity cost required to play them, but their exact identity is unknown. At the end of the round, they are divided into one or more "directed threats" which each attack a different opponent; two threats directed at each other usually fight, the stronger being reduced and the weaker eliminated, with survivors slaying the defending player's Allies or damaging his Investigator's Sanity. Most are drawn from Cthulhu Mythos and some are Great Old Ones or Outer Gods with powers that affect every Investigator (unlike all other Monsters, these are played face-up, requiring certain cards or gameplay conditions, never engage in combat, and remain in play for two rounds rather than one).
- Spell: Spells can be found in Tomes. Some corrupt allies can also know Spells. Casting spells costs your Investigator sanity, but can help you or hinder your opponent in many ways. Spells are marked with icons defining which tomes they can be found in. Examples: Create Gate, Thirty-five Abominable Adulations of the Bloated One.
- Tome: Arcane literature that contains Spells. Each Tome is written in a language, which your Investigator or an Ally must be listed as speaking before you can play the Tome. Tomes may be played with several Spells in them, an exception to the general rule of playing only one card per turn in most cases.
- CH1300-1 (Limited Ed. Starter)
- CH1300-10 (Limited Ed. Starter Display)
- CA1301 (Expeditions of Miskatonic University Display; ISBN 1-56882-063-1) ($106.20 ca.2000)
- CH1301-1 (Expeditions of Miskatonic University Booster Back; ISBN 1-56882-058-5) ($2.95 ca.2000)
- CH1302 (Cthulhu Rising Display; ISBN 1-56882-064-X) ($106.20 ca.2000)
- CH1302-1 (Cthulhu Rising Booster; ISBN 1-56882-059-3) ($2.95 ca.2000)
- CH1303 (Legends of the Necronomicon Display; ISBN 1-56882-065-8) ($106.20 ca.2000)
- CH1303-1 (Legends of the Necronomicon Booster; ISBN 1-56882-060-7) ($2.95 ca.2000)
- CH1304 (The Art of Playing Mythos; ISBN 1-56882-061-5) ($8.95 ca.2000)
- CH1305 (Mythos Investigator Card Set) ($5.00 ca.2000)
- CH1306 (Mythos Standard Game Set Display; ISBN 1-56882-072-0) ($77.70 ca.2000)
- CH1306-1 (Unlimited Standard Game Set; ISBN 1-56882-073-9) ($12.95 ca.2000)
- CH1307 (Dreamlands Starter Display; ISBN 1-56882-074-7) ($89.50 ca.2000)
- CH1307-1 (Dreamlands Starter; ISBN 1-56882-075-5) ($8.95 ca.2000)
- CH1308 (Dreamlands Booster Display; ISBN 1-56882-076-3) ($106.20 ca.2000)
- CH1308-1 (Dreamlands Booster Pack; ISBN 1-56882-077-1) ($2.95 ca.2000)
- CH1309 ?
- CH1310 (Mythos Classic Collection Display; ISBN 9781568821122) ($90.00 ca.2000) "Contains one limited Starter, two dreamlands starters, one Standard Game Set, three Expeditions of the Miskatonic University, six Cthulhu Rising boosters, six Legends of the Necronomicon boosters, eight Dreamlands boosters, and one Mythos card signed by the artist. That's nearly 600 cards! This set is a great way for beginners to jump into Mythos and for experienced players to pick up some of long out of print cards."
- CH1311 (New Aeon Starter Display; ISBN 1-56882-108-5) ($89.50 ca.2000)
- CH1311-1 (New Aeon Starter Pack; ISBN 1-56882-109-3) ($8.95 ca.2000)
- CH1312-05 (Dreamlands Booster Box; ISBN ?)
- CH1312-12 (New Aeon Booster Box; ISBN ?)
- CH1313 (Lovecraft Theme Pack; ISBN ?) ($49.95 ca.2000) "This set contains one Legends of the Necronomicon display and one Cthulhu Rising display, 72 booster packs total, as well as 2 Mythos Standard Game Sets. Over a thousand cards total...."
- CH1314 (Dreamlands Theme Pack; ISBN ?) ($49.95 ca.2000) "This set contains a display of Dreamlands starters (10 decks), a display of Dreamlands boosters (36 packs), and 2 Mythos Standard Game Sets. Over a thousand cards total...."
- WA0031 (Pewter Skull Counters) ($5.95 ca.2000) "Who wouldn't want a bag full of little skulls? Handy for keeping track of your sanity and more while playing your favorite card games. Each Skull is a small pewter bead that you can keep together with the string provided. Makes a nice necklace too!"
- WA0033 (Mythos Standard Game Set Poster; ISBN ?) ($5.00 ca.2000) "Starring Cthulhu himself, rising up out of the ocean and ready for action. Features the stunning artwork of Texas artist Nick Smith. This print also appeared on the cover of Fearful Passages. Sent Folded."
- BD0035 (Bag O' Brains; ISBN ?) ($11.95 ca.2000) "Marble-Sized Pewter Brains - From new licensee Bad Dog Designs comes a bag of 20 cool brains to keep track of Sanity in your Mythos game. These hefty brains are very charming."
Comments / Trivia
- It received critical acclaim, winning the 1996 Best Card Game award at Origins.
- In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Mythos as one of The Millennium's Best Card Games. Editor Scott Haring said "Mythos was a very deserving game, with great art and gameplay that involved more than just monsters fighting each other.
- John D. Rateliff in Hobby Games: The 100 Best commented that Mythos "remains the high water mark for capturing roleplaying sensibilities within a trading card game, and also stands as the best translation of a RPG into a card game, conveying the flavor of the original roleplaying game while also succeeding as a card game in its own right."
- This game virtually bankrupted Chaosium when the collectible card game market over-saturated and its bubble burst; Chaosium would subsist on reprints of their back catalogue and selling off their intellectual properties for the next decade, until it recovered enough to attempt an over-ambitious 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu RPG "Kickstarter" crowd-funding campaign which ultimately toppled the company, forcing Charlie Krank from the leadership and the company into sale to new ownership.