PURPOSE OF THE CARDS
The human brain is an imitation machine. We mimic to learn. If it works, we are rewarded with dopamine and our brain says, “do the same thing again.”
Creation, therefore, is rebellion. Invention requires sending an electric signal in your brain where neurons have never been---something our brains are explicitly NOT supposed to do. This is why creation is painful.
To speed up the process, MYTHULU provides the meaningful stimulus needed to escape your comfort zone.
THE CORE DECKS
Elements determine the value, functions, and weaknesses of whatever they form. They are vectors for change and metaphors for emotion.
Habitats are external metaphors for internal states of mind. A habitat’s health reveals imbalance in self vs others, survival vs ambition.
Characters define personal identity and purpose. To move beyond basic archetypes, draw two at a time and look for where the ideas intersect.
Relationships are the foundation of most motives. They constrain personal goals, fill needs, and enable personal weakness.
Traits change how your subject interacts with the world (outward energy). Every trait gives advantage at a cost.
Textures change how the world interacts with your subject (inward energy). Reveal backstory through subtle sensory details that immerse your audience.
CARD ANATOMY 101
Identifies a powerful archetype that commonly appears in stories. The title is just a starting seed for brainstorming. Try to avoid literal interpretations. Use the flavor text to brainstorm other potential uses and meanings.
Defines new ideas, and explains literary value behind classic ones so you can use them intelligently.
When the card isn’t a good literal match (like drawing FUNGUS when you need material for a sword), flavor text helps you identify metaphorical uses. (FUNGUS is a tool for removing festering excess. Perhaps your sword is simply a scalpel. Or maybe it’s a ritual sword that cuts away weakness.)
Modifier (special card):
If prompted, draw another card. Use the second card to modify the first.
Example: PAID + FRENEMY
- A trusted entity hired to hold someone accountable, like an auditor.
- A socialization coach, who uses exposure therapy to help you appreciate the sarcasm, teasing, pranks, and light hazing of normal friendships.
- Someone who only continues pretending to be your friend because you owe them money.
Modifiers are advanced cards. Sometimes the first card is enough, so only draw again if you want to.
Some relationship cards (like Man & Maker) already have 2 roles. Don’t stack modifier cards with these -- just draw again. Modifiers work better with simple ideas.
HOW TO DRAW
Textures change how the world interacts with your monster. When it’s fuzzy, we want to touch and cuddle it. If it’s a junkyard monster made from rust and razor-wire, we stay waaaaay back.
Next, monsters always have a strong relationship with their habitat. So we draw a habitat to find out where they lurk.
Finally, monsters always exist for a purpose. Find your monster’s original role in its ecosystem with a character card. Is a monster starting to emerge? For more detail, draw +1 Element, Trait, or Texture
Interpretation: Origami indicates something sacred or ceremonial. In combination with the Temple, I assume my monster was originally a sacred water animal raised in a temple and pampered there.
After an accident disfigures the sacred animal, the temple abandons it in the wild. Since it doesn’t know how to care for itself, it scavenges to survive. The once-majestic creature is scared, confused, lonely, hungry, half-mad with pain... and slowly turning wild.
WHEN YOU DRAW WEIRD CARDS:
EMBRACE IT - Often cards that “feel weird” are where genuinely new ideas are waiting.
DON'T TAKE CARDS LITERALLY - Gem & Crystal can be interpreted as icicles, chandeliers, windows, fragility... Every card has both literal and abstract interpretations.
LET GO OF REALITY - What you think you know about the world might not be true anyway. Did you know our oceans contain sea sponges that are literally made of glass?
SLOW DOWN - Don’t draw rapid-fire. Let ideas stew. Read the whole card. Study the picture in detail. What do you notice? Does it remind you of anything?
IF IT STILL DOESN'T FIT - That’s okay! Flip it over, but keep it close. You might find a use for it later.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
LOOK BOTH WAYS - Consider both tame and extreme interpretations for everything you draw.
CONNECT THE DOTS - MYTHULU cards don’t work when there’s a right or wrong answer. Don’t be lazy. Prepare by jotting down everything you know first. Only draw to fill out what’s missing.
DRAW WITH FRIENDS - Everyone sees something different!
LOOK FOR PATTERNS - After drawing 6-ish cards, slow down. Instead of drawing more, try to pair things up. Does anything seem connected?
GET VISUAL - Paint a picture in your head.
DRAW MULTIPLE CARDS - If you run with a single card, you might be relying on a stereotype. For more original ideas, draw two and look for where the ideas intersect.
BEFORE YOU REJECT A CARD, ASK:
“Under what circumstances could...?”
“Why might someone...?”
“What would it look like if...”
For example, if you’re drawing to randomize seasonal weather and you draw NECRO and BONE, the first thought that comes to mind is “Every spring it literally rains dead bodies”. That’s weird.
BUT WHAT IF IT DID? What would the impact be on the world? On psychology, trade, religion? What started it? What kinds of bodies? Would you try to stop it? If you couldn’t, how would you adapt?
Maybe this isn’t the story you want to tell, but at least stop and acknowledge a story is possible.
WHEN THE MUSE IS SILENT:
MYTHULU was designed for professionals. Just like a Stradivarius violin, MYTHULU amplifies skill. It doesn’t replace it.
If, after drawing a few times, you’re still not feeling inspired, your problem is probably one of these:
There’s a right or wrong answer - You can’t randomize if something specific belongs there.
You need audience feedback - If you’re working hard but slowing down, show your story to a friend.
Rusty craft - If feedback doesn’t fix the problem, then it’s a matter of skill, not taste. Set the cards aside and study storytelling technique for an hour.
App (Android & iOS) - Exclusive content, savable hands, and extended commentary for every card.
Forum - Are you a social writer? Use our forum to ask for help, swap ideas, or just hang out. Visit Mythulu.com/FORUM
Podcast - Currently in production. To subscribe to updates and preview Season One, visit Mythulu.com/PODCAST
Video Tutorials - Are you a visual learner? Browse our video tutorials library at Mythulu.com/VIDEOS
MYTHULU for VR - Stream Online or collaborate with friends long-distance. Available as a workshop expansion via Tabletop Simulator on Steam.
Private Consultation - Advanced script consulting is available to professionals and teams. For details, visit Mythulu.com/CONSULTING.
Episode In A Series:
Rite of Passage:
Got 10 minutes?
These cards came from researching writer’s block. Not wiring people up to machines---just talking to them.
Now that we’ve kicked writer’s block in the butt, we want to know what else is in your way so we can conquer that, too.
Everything we earn from selling these cards is being poured into new tools for you. (HINT: Not just cards.) But we want to make sure we make the RIGHT stuff. We want to know what YOU need.
So do us a favor. If you have 10 minutes right now, go take this questionnaire: