Worldbuilding Myths and legends for your Novel or DnD Campaign | World Anvil

Worldbuilding Myths and legends for your Novel or DnD Campaign | World Anvil

Am I live? Am I live? I’M LIVE! Greetings and salutations guys! Hallo everybody! Welcome to our very chillax to Sunday
stream we usually do this one on the fourth week of the month when we’ve
already spent three weeks going through myths and legends
we’re already already well-versed and we just do this one to mop up the last
questions but this what month has been completely crazy because everything is
in a different place! we had an interview the first week instead of our normal
around table next week we’re going to talk to author B. K. Bass about some creators
stuff was very cool about that and talk to him about his topic his view of
myths and legends – he’s published a whole bunch of articles on the topic and I
know that they’ve definitely inspired his writing as well some of the books that he’s
published – very true – so that’s gonna be fun and then on the fourth week which we
usually do on this week… we are going to be talking to
academic Dr. Helen Foxhall-Forbes who is a medieval historian about myths and
legends of the past and how we can get inspired by those and tune in… music is
still running… I’m gonna lower it down a little bit, apparently it’s quite loud. Okay
Dimitri’s gonna do that and I’m gonna assume that you can kind of hear me as I
continue to talk so in week four we will talk with dr. Helen Fox or Forbes about
myths and legends of the medieval period and how we can get inspired by those for
our own well building projects so guys if you guys have questions which is
absolutely the point of today then throw those in the chat the way you do that is
by writing capital letters question and then your question that means that are
an amazing produces secondhand and Ondo will see it they will pick it up and
they will throw that to us so we will be able to answer it, discuss it you know go
on go on with the mythsy legendsy things. A very big cheer for Ondo who is
doing production for us for the first time this time around – he’s a production apprentice – welcome to the team ondo – and also a huge cheer and a very big thank you to our
latest inner sanctum Dhelian! Buddy thank you very very much Julian
clink drink maybe not so close to the microphone
because people will be laying oh the music of the wine so without further ado
so we’re talk myths and legends! but of course we have no guest today
it’s just made retreat and yes in shadows cat food today
she she’s disappeared off to be somewhere else
but Coco is sitting here for now until anyone makes a loud noise and then it’s
gonna be close everywhere yeah so I’m Janet, the cofounder world
anvil – this is Dimitri – the co-founder of World Anvil – Dimitri has a background
in social psychology as well as computing and design and I’m really
really curious to know his take on this and legends from more of a sociological
and psychology point of view and I’m gonna be talking more about myths and
legends of the past, myths and legends um of history and how you can leverage those
in a practical way into your games and into your writing so that you get the
best from them, so that you create a sense of the epic and a sense of sort of
historical forerunners for your for your work whatever you’re writing… I want to say
something before we continue just for your information we are not rehearsing
those and we have no idea we’re going to be talking about no no this is all
completely off the cuff – I only have some questions but I haven’t written any
answers to those so that we haven’t talked about that subject before we sort
of we told each other that the approach that we were going to go from so why are
you why don’t you kick us off a little bit by starting with your favorite myth
or legend I think that’s a nice place to start my favorite mythical or legend
well I don’t think I have a favorite me for legend I think that I hear favorite
style of myths and legends yeah I think that the mythologies that are really
reverberate with me I of those who are meant and designed to inspire people
inspired for greatness or to inspire to effectively change the
way that people understand the world around them I like that
what about you I was always inspired by myths and legends about personal growth
so you see it’s part of the hero’s journey you see the hero unless except
for iconic heroes you see the hero grow as they try and um
deal with the problem whatever it is you see this in the legend of Gilgamesh you
see this in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in fact it is referred as what did I call
it the legend ah so yeah it is an epic you see the legend you sit in the
Odyssey actually Odysseus definitely like grows up and stops being quite such
an a-hole in that thing because you have put into
in the front line to meet some legends which are kind of their own category
like there is the ODC type of myth and legend which everything was created by
the Odyssey yeah and then it is the epic with the idea of Gilgamesh there’s
really the hero’s journey effectively the growth which is very interesting I
have to do this to you I’m sorry what so in English I don’t know but in
Greek and this is something to meet you and I struggle with is that I will say
actually this is the definition of this and well in Greek this is the definition
of this first so epic specifically refers to a long rhyming narrative poem
hmm so when you say epic poem it refers specifically to that do a type of point
exactly yeah so the Homeric poems are epic poems the Odyssey is an epic poem
so he’s the idiot yes exactly yeah freakin Aeneas you know what what I
hate to learn them over I write over high school it took three years for the
one two three years for the other one and it’s a painstaking process that you
have to usually translate them from English from ancient Greek – Greek and
then do etymology and do it early understanding of it and then yes
brutal describe or dog well I have to say that I came out more in love than I
should be so let’s go back to topic actually sorry I digress I wanted to ask
you why do you think that mr. legends came to be in what sense how did we
start and why did we start to shift mr. legends I think myths and legends are
catchy stories that that caught on and I think the reason that they caught on
it’s the human value behind them is is there something in every single method
legend which makes people go huh and that might be somebody overcoming a
monster like for example the legend of the the story of David Goliath from the
Bible that’s a story that everyone remembers because it’s got the ending
you don’t expect it’s the it’s the tiny boy against the big giant and the tiny
boy comes out victorious and that’s the hook for coming the old screamer exactly
there’s something in there that makes you go and I think with all great myths
and legends they have a moment or many moments depending on the length in the
complexity of them which which reach into the human psyche and lodged
themselves so that’s why they get told again and again and again and that’s why
they become myths and legends as we as we perceive them so you think that
effectively the regions they were created was to educate not necessarily
but I think that that link with the human psyche that that sort of link to
the experience of being human which we all share and actually so I meant I’m in
a historical musician which means I spend an awful lot of time reading about
the past and one of the things that you realized as you read these documents
from the past he reads things from ancient Greece you read things from the
Roman era and the medieval era and the Renaissance era all these people are
just just being people and although the world around them changes and the
technology changes and everything else that core of being human the way that
people the way that people react to their
emotions the way that people react to ideas remains the same interesting you
see I was asking you because many people believe that many of the militants
especially from the past and the ones we create nowadays are not meant to be
didactic they are mentally tools for you to move the masses or to define
Authority interesting because if you think about it like you know let’s say
the theoretical Arthur story yeah right I mean it’s a it’s a big myth Excalibur
sword in the stone exactly but the story essentially the person who picks up the
stone books of the store down to the stone he will become a king yep so that
means that effectively the item itself the meat itself is there to provide you
with the authority required for you to be able to lead a people and we see it
again and again in fact with many legends and myths which were crafted and
created to be almost like omens or essentially signs of leaders that kind
of thing for samuel that says the key that will rise in Sallee because he will
have to know the power of a wolf kind of thing so for example he will be born out
of like the meat will be that he was bred by rules for example you know see
Rome kind of thing and the and the meats of that and it is interesting because
when we talk about mister legends we talk about the process of them being
transferred from generation to generation and from time to time but we
don’t talk about the people who created Oh No thank you very much for destroying us I
will say yes I like the music do you guys like the music let us know in the
chat um sure about the advert so as I was saying
we don’t very often think of the fact that somebody wrote it and not so many
people just wake up a day and say you know what I’m gonna create a legend it
doesn’t work like that and that’s why people think as you know
what mister legends yeah maybe but on the other hand ask
great music during the Renaissance probably somebody paid for that one way
or another I mean there’s this there’s a dichotomy there actually there’s two
things you’re talking about because some myths and legends are developed by oral
tradition like The Odyssey for example we’re pretty sure that Homer didn’t
write like wake up one day and write down the odyssey Homer is the one who
did write down the Odyssey but we’re pretty sure that there was an oral
tradition of it before it was written down actually the only see was not
written down this it was written down but not by not by Homer at least if what
I’ve learned at school is right okay Homer told The Odyssey Alma did not
write the Odyssey the Odyssey was written later as it was passed from
generation at some point writing came up and they routed I think you got that
backwards possibly I think it was told many many times and then Homer wrote it
down possibly Homer wrote down a lot of things that other people didn’t think
were worth writing down it was really useful he’s the kind of people that
historians love because people who write down my new show of everyday life are
the people that decades and centuries later all the historians are going this
text is amazing they’re telling us what their underpants were made of this is a
incredible we love this information I think product do the same thing and that
was why the he’s quoted and considered to be the first historian ever because
he goes the guy who is Italy said you know what I’m gonna tag along with
Xerxes and I’m gonna sue how this campaign is going
down right exactly but um there’s some there’s something interesting to what
you say so I was looking up Timmy’s right Homer was not a writer he
recited the poetry congratulations congratulations he was just what I
remember that’s why I was saying that it’s interesting because Homer don’t be
such a big poet he was a poet you know the writer and the things were right and
written later much later and in fact from his time because Homer is I don’t
think that’s writing as we know it at this point existed during the time of
Homer he’s very old like the tradition comes
from very old and that’s where people don’t know if things like The Iliad are
actually Homer’s or is he just coined to have been yeah written it but
interestingly from what you were saying about myths and legends as tools of
propaganda essentially propaganda but it is something we do understand nowadays
so much because we have democracy like our leaders in theory are chosen by the
people Yeah right so in the old times
all right innocently in any time even in feudal time you know we forget to become
a king you have to hear some sort of invested should even in articles coming
from God or was coming from some divine power nevertheless yeah but what I was
trying to tell you was that there’s a really interesting moment in English
history when Henry the eighth was trying to angle the Mary Queen of Scots for the
daughter of Edward the six mhm and Edward the six didn’t actually live so
long so portrayed with the six but it was called the war of rough wooing
because he was really he was not diplomatic that sounds very weird music books and written books published
at this time there’s one called the Scottish complaint with Y which is
sort of in defence of Scotland and why Scotland shouldn’t have to put up with
this crap basically all from the Tudor eras the Scottish complaint is some 1546
I think um yeah and again it’s a it’s got stories it’s got songs all of the
stuff and it’s released as a exactly as a public propaganda tool mm-hmm super
interesting like okay yeah I think we actually talked about this matter a lot
the fact that mr. legends can be used as a way to push ideas out in the public
and that’s the idea because the other thing we don’t think of is like the
writing was not so clear back then like now we wanna read some new grab a book
or you go to Wikipedia and the information is there for you hundreds of
years ago the writing was something was a
privilege of the very rich and very educated probably a matter of religious
caste of some sort effectively the bishops and the monasteries of the time
with medieval times and before even before that in fact not everybody could
write no absolutely although remember that the printing press was invented in
1451 English late Middle Ages yeah but I mean that era I’m talking about it’s
later than languages later they had the printed press in that you do well yeah
but the fact they actually have though this dissemination of press throughout
the people like we want yes it’s all books they sold printed books yeah but
the printed music books as well like you can find them they’re not that rare but
the fuckin book does not mean of the public the big public has access to book
but they did they did okay interesting I’m like the middle classes that was
what the printing press really did it opened up weight classes middle class
with doing about the five percent which was actually people in the cities yeah
okay fair enough yeah this might say yeah well the think about the five
personal population here like throughout Europe okay yeah that’s right
interesting that’s very interesting so yeah I mean that is actually a good
point because in that way written press and written million whore can in fact be
used in that way yeah yeah no I I think so we’ve had some really interesting
questions TJ says does the Legend of Zelda count where does modern media such
as video games or viral theories fall into the world of myths and legends well
either one believes that urban legends are already part of myths and legends
ghost stories crocodiles in the sewers I think they are an integral part of myths
and legends really and hopefully right absolutely right
modern urban legends in fact are very interesting because they show something
you don’t think of when you go around the campfire and you talk about the
ghost story you are trying to make people scared for example okay or
digitally evoke an emotion but what we do understand that these stories were
crafted specifically on top of the fears of a generation they wouldn’t be scary
stories if you go something you’re not scared of yeah so it is variously
because in a hundred years from now these stories will define what was our
fears and what we consider difficulty has to be scary or metaphysical or
whatever this might be and that is the interesting part there because for us
now might be ghosts or for example the weird lady that lives in the woods kind
of thing but 100 years ago might have been a dragon or water you know like
zombie yeah yeah and zombie stories I can use the fear of the future in front
of the fear of the past guy and in a way myths and legends stretch into the
zeitgeist so if you if I say zombie and you know what that means
you could argue that means it’s a myth or a legend in autonomy it is a myth or
a legend it is actually anything exactly it’s something it doesn’t exist but
everybody knows what it is yes like a great idea or a dragon not a Griffin but
yeah definitely a dragon for example but yeah but from the modern era for example
it’s very perfectly perfectly normal vampires for example like vampires like
I mean in Greece we did hit vampires and Columbia’s
and not actually in Greek mythology he means no more Greeks will have Lamas
yeah of course that’s going me fees bar so yeah vampires would not do well in
Greece too much Sun too much Sun well Lamia is great they were living in
the forest but yeah I was a very good point DJ yeah kudos in this year’s golf
stories sorry so I jumped in with an idea Romeo and Juliet is a great example
Romeo and Juliet yeah it is a play it is a story but I would say it has outgrown
unlike most of Shakespeare stories it has outgrown its role as a play and it’s
become like a myth in its own right not to mention that like um Shakespeare
legit nicked it from somebody else most of the story he just went splats
and he just like change the location and Juliet’s age and that was pretty much it
um but yes so that is a story that’s taken on a life of its own well you see
I don’t think of this term user legend because is it doesn’t form the prototype
of the idea of either educating or trying to essentially convey a meaning
to somebody I think it’s a prototype though but I know I have I have a
fundamental disagreement I think with you is that I don’t think myths need to
be didactic and I don’t think they need to be embodying a meaning in any way I I
mean a fables absolutely fables have to that’s part of their like Aesop’s fables
for example where they have morals at the end that is absolutely a form within
myths and legends that um is is recognized and it’s it’s very discrete
if you see what I mean but um I disagree that they have to have a meaning I think
it’s much more about the fact that they key into the human experience and I
think that that’s a difference that we can have of opinion like absolutely like
for some people they they have to have this like didactic content and for other
people it’s much more about the human experience
it is interesting that you say about tell me four legend for example that you
think it’s about the human experience like what is because there isn’t it I
cannot accept the drum injury it is a legend right because it is not something
of people believe it was true in any way I mean I think of this fundamental
before and that actually gets to the core of the difference in for my opinion
between myths and legends so a myth is something that is clearly false it’s got
magic in it it’s got dragons in it it’s got it’s got something that is is
clearly supernatural it’s not true but this is a matter of perspective like for
you somebody who does not believe in magic or does not believe in the
supernatural this is generally utter fake but I would say that for many
people magic and metaphysical it doesn’t again by the way but magic a
metaphysical creatures or anything like that are pretty much part of the reality
it is just the faculty they’re untouchable that the fact that it’s
their mythological because it’s not like you know your bread that you see every
morning or your or your meal kind of thing I’m talking about the the
dictionary definition but if the difference between myths and legends
okay so myth is something that is believed to not be true a legend is
something that is believed to have a core of truth historical truth to it
somehow or so that is the core difference between a myth and elegent
according to the dictionary like that’s the dictionary definition of it don’t
come for me just just because I said that it it’s true sorry it’s not about
what I perceive to be magical it’s a it’s about the that’s the dictionary
definition so that means that the same story may change definition according to
different people mm-hmm according to their beliefs but that is the definition
of the difference between a myth and legend that’s what I got for you let’s
have a look at some more questions we’ve got some great ones here while creating
myths and legends in my world I off use no myths and legends as an
inspiration how can I make them familiar enough but not in a way that they seem
ripped off right question do you want to fold this one I think you should start
with that one I think it’s a tricky question so I think you’ve you’ve done
me and do with that but let’s have a look um first of all you can change the
mechanisms so it’s very common in myth that you have to collect three things
and then and then do a thing at the end of it and those three things will help
you along the way that’s a very very common format within myths and legends
you do some stuff by doing that stuff you grow and by doing that stuff you use
sometimes gain items and then you do a thing at the end so the way that you can
change it from a common myth is that you can change the thing instead of instead
of for example Cinderella having to try on a glass shoe Cinderella has to pass a
job interview or something do you see what I mean you change the nature of the
item that is being attempted so instead of Odysseus hiding underneath a sheep
when he tries to get away from the Cyclops you could use a different
mechanism so you still have the shape you still have this sort of profile of
the myth imagine that you’re using but by changing up those mechanisms on a
fundamental level it’s not going to feel too much the same but it will retain the
flavor and you’ll still get all the bits of the story working together as they’re
supposed to so that would be my advice for that mmm
interesting I won’t disagree completely with you but yeah I would say though
that when we go into the process of transcribing meets effective because
that’s what you are trying to do if you can they try to take a story which is
well known and well written and create something new out of it as you said for
example with funny enough Romeo and Juliet and how it was sixth grade
surfaces and took the story from somebody else in reality that do change
nothing yes very well no one but I think that it is interesting that for many
mention the important part are these mechanics like if you change them a lot
then you start to lose the juice of the Meath like an epic arc
should have specific components in today you should not be touching you might
think them separately like give them a lick of pain that would be changing them
a bit but the more you digress from that youth the more that you lose the beauty
of the myth because they are supposed to be inspiring peace and I think that the
inspiration that comes from written word or or oral tradition comes from the
little sub subliminal messaging hidden between the lines effectively okay so if
for example you had modern devotions Cinderella in which she had to pass a
job interview instead of having to try and slip her or is something similar
yeah what about it I you think that that would ruin the myth no I don’t think it
will ruin the me if I think it I mean you will still give the story I mean and
also okay from the start I don’t believe that changing the shoe for a job
interview is relatable because but it’s not supposed to be relatable
it’s supposed to be transcribed so familiar enough in shape but not in a
way that seems ripped off so it should be familiar but not not ripped off that
was the question if you just reskin it so it’s not a glass slipper it’s a Prada
pump yeah fair enough okay okay I will yield them that I think it
is going to become an argument so I prefer with Hanako those with fisticuffs
I was about to say how do you call this argument between husband and wife
marital and monitor we have a great question from the dust freak what would
be the difference between a myth and an archetype then and we sort of covered
that one already hunt wing sorta yeah so um
their archetype just means kind of the shape off if you see what I mean so you
can have an archetypal myth you can have an archetypal legend
gonna have an archetypal fable it’s it’s sort of the the most I think he’s
talking about story archetypes okay and that’s why I told you in the beginning
that I think there is a difference there so the hero’s journey for example is an
archetype and it’s a very known one and many many legends do use these
archetypes to effectively convey their meanings and in fact I think that many
of the archetypes were based on the way that people created these mister legends
without knowing what the archetypes are because they cannot they cannot define
back then but I really believe that a strong part of a myth is not just the
fact that this following an archetype which is which reverberates with us but
it also it is the way it delivers it like I don’t necessarily is a good story
first of all I don’t think that the pump is it doesn’t give anything but let’s
talk about for example Circe okay any losses okay so he arrives in a magical
Island and he meets a beautiful woman who offers him the world and in return
or he after effectively for her for him to stay here for with here and he
transforms all his fellows into pigs you can’t sit well that’s the whole point
though but the world is defined differently depending on what your
requirements are what you desires her like right so there is a very distinct
and important thing in there that he’s do the human condition as you said
before and as you cannot change the load this story is always about the idea that
the man and at the human his power over a man when she she said using him and
that she’s trying to essentially it’s a good archetypal as logical the whole
point putting about the withering about the society I was about to say exactly
that was very very heckle that patriarchal but yeah I was already
saying me I was obviously male oriented logistics
so anything that’s actually the horrible baking for was a very chauvinistic
society and don’t forget that militants are built for society’s right have to
cook on something so for that society I wanted to portray the human answered
actress as somebody who sang take you take you away from your friends and make
you essentially the Meath I was being a lady I know the myth the myth was trying
to excessively look on those cues psychological cues that everybody will
understand well and that’s what the difference between archetype is an
amazing legend because a myth is using a specific specific specific cultural cues
to define a story that will make it more appealing to the people who is read who
you are reading or listening to it kind of thing interesting it’s worth
mentioning I don’t know how much you guys have read stories from different
cultures that are not Western culture for example and some of you guys may not
be from England or America I’m sure you’re not and will be familiar with
folk tales from lots of different countries I had a crack at reading some
Viking sagas mmm-hmm man the narrative shape is different also I read some
Japanese traditional stories and I read some African traditional stories and
just the entire shape of the narrative is completely different the archetypes
are completely different the whole thing works in a completely different way and
it was super interesting but quite confusing where I would particularly
with the Viking sagas I’d be reading along and it would be like and then nori
built a boat and then nori cap caught so much fish that he got really rich then
nori got a wife and then nori lived normally for five years then Lori cut
small fish then some other things happened and then finally something
actually happens in this story and you just heard about nori that’s fish for
like five pages but because it’s so much about like these are some things that
happened and they don’t have what we consider to be the the archetypal arc
story arc of sort of climax and release at the end so it’s it’s very very
interesting to have a look at this and see how different cultures have
have like written myths and legends and how the story shapes sorry you know I
think that we’re going back to were saying that it’s not a matter of
archetype I mean you’re absolutely right the archetype is different I took a
bottle of archetype it’s about the front of their story is trying to convey
meanings to people that if they are not you right exactly so for it I’m not sure
that’s the case and I’m not I’m no expert in Nordic
myths or legends or or culture at all but if people would consider the
importance of everyday life and consider effectively the importance of a working
man who is able to provide kind of thing art is important you can say that the
beginning of the story is there to explain first of all a man has to work a
man has to be there for his family and myself in his everyday endeavors before
he does everything else in his life and that is the didactic part of the story
be a good man be proper be good at your job and then do everything else and
become here for example in many cultures for example in a in Greek culture it was
almost considered blasphemy to consider that a young man would be able to do
anything that the person of age and wisdom would be able to do so you hardly
ever see young men achieving things like because they can you think of a young
commander conceived anything in this in Greece not he was a king already son of
the king yeah sure especially in the beginning when he went to the monitor
exactly he was a Yank he was a priest but he was a young prince and he was
pretty young he was taken in the ties of the 18 year old children I think wasn’t
he like he was taken in with the ties of the young boys to the King Minos that’s
part of the story really I’m I can’t be wrong and it can’t just be the version
that I read a bit but I thought so yes okay I wasn’t sure but I made sure I’m
that may be an exception rather than the rule really yeah probably
I don’t know honestly that’s the first stop part I hate about this part of the
story but it’s really speaking when you see a big achievement so think about
people who are wise and that was because that was the zeitgeist of the aims and a
goal you have to be quiet exactly you shouldn’t be just strong in
series you to say new CES and somewhat EEE which means your head your mind has
to be as healthy as your body which is the one about heads and feet it’s my
favorite Greek saying there what the one about the one who doesn’t have a head
has feet oh yeah actually it means saying Greek oh here’s an Olivia which
effectively means that if the idea is that if you forgot to get something from
somewhere and you forgot because you don’t have a good mind you have to go
back and get it now so that’s the idea that you know he
doesn’t even mind his feet because he’ll go grab the stuff that he forgot about
kind of we have a great question when does a legend become a myth what funnily
enough that keys into in my opinion that keys into what we were talking about
before which is that um myths are breakthroughs myths are things that you
consider to be untrue whereas legends are things which you consider to bear a
smidgen of truth mm-hmm so if you look at something about dragons now and
you’re like well that’s clearly not true then it’s it’s a myth if in the medieval
period you look at something about dragons and you believe in dragons
because people in bit in the medieval period wrote a whole by story best
series of crazy animals that they thought were real based on stories based
on really weird misinterpretations of things then you would consider it a
legend or even possibly fact but probably a legend mm-hmm interesting I
would say that based on your assumption about the myths and legends option based
on your knowledge of the difference between myths and legends I would say
that the myth becomes a legend the legend becomes a myth depending on the
beliefs of the people who are reading it yeah
so as you said if something was my illogical and then people believe it to
be a fact then the myth became a legend yes I’ve simple as that so the question
is how deeply ingrained is the culture and how deeply angry ingrained into the
psyche of the people is the myth of the legend yeah let’s go on to a more
practical train now how do you use myths and legends in your campaigns in your
world building and in your stories well I’m sorry I go I think they’re the
best weapons you serve as a storyteller or as a writer in order to create the
sense that the world is real because it is set up if you are going to be putting
a myth or legend in a campaign effectively that means that in one lever
olan or another your players or your readers or your heroes of your adventure
of your book will interact with it yeah but by setting up the scene and say
you know what in a time of ancient kings and legends kind of thing yeah like Xena
they were originally when it’s still my beating heart when you do you create a
contract and you say that is a thing and then you play with the thing and you can
find out that either is real all the other thing is in fact something that is
hiding something even more sinister or that the fact it does not exist but in
fact it was created there in order to hide effectively another truth which was
even more real than that kind of thing yeah so in either way though I think
these are the best ways you can be used to set up and I myself prefer to pepper
my campaigns with stories and legends for they for my characters and for that
for my players to explore and learn about because it is the best way of not
giving information but making them run around the table kind of thing because
they will try to find answers they will try to create assumptions and these
assumptions can either be true because I have Canon or I might say that they’re
not true and make them Canon because they fit me so I think they are a great
tool to build story where no story is point um there’s something in writing
called promises and you can use it in you can use it in campaigns as well in
fact Dimitri did this an amazing way with one of his campaigns which I will
tell you about a minute but essentially when you make promises to your readers
you need to fulfill them and a good way of making promises about what’s coming
on page 300 when your character is still young just starting out they haven’t
heard the call yet whatever that call is is to include a myth or a legend of the
place that you think they might be going if you see what I mean
so you’re already including the epic in the world even though this person lives
in a very mundane place and that’s a great way of keeping this sort of epic
feel and keeping the genre solid whatever that is even though your your
character is still very low level and probably living through rats in the
basement syndrome um now Dimitri did this in an absolutely amazing way and
one of our campaigns we were in a tavern because that’s how you start to campaign
and a frickin dragon fell through the roof a dragon fell through the roof and
then the dragon flew off right because we were level one we couldn’t fight a
dragon Dimitri knew this and all of these like icky things fell off the
dragon I don’t know don’t to this day know if they were like dragon parasites
or something but we fought like the little icky things that were in the
tavern one other dragon fought a storm giant on the back of a giant eagle and
it was absolutely mind-blowing the amazing and it was such a great way to
promise the epic of where we were going we the scene that we could first I
thought was your very first adventure wasn’t it yes that was the introduction
at the coming exactly and it was absolutely phenomenal because it really
it really set the tone for a very epic adventure even though we were level one
characters it wasn’t rats in a basement it was something unique it was something
that made us ask questions immediately this is how you use myths and legends
you don’t have to have them fall through the roof literally
you can use this flavour you can use them as background you can use them as
something that the hero inspires to this is actually something I’ve done in one
of my own books is that you have a hero inspiring aspiring to be this that will
the other um and that shows you where they want to go that shows you how far
they can go but they’re not there yet I would say one thing if you are about to
use missile agents into a campaign don’t make it an exposition dump yes because
that is a big trap and it feels so disingenuous I mean there are so many
beautiful ways of talking about myths and legends from a tapestry inner wall
to written in a donut on a doorway written around affectively them they
ruin itself people do that a lot think of your I mean think of the
stories that are written even in modern cities kind of thing like the modern
purposes of graffitis we might have like if you’ve ever been in a gang and I have
never been in a gang but I used to be affiliated with some friends that were
effectively just running around doing graffiti when the when I was younger
you’d know the villagers secret badass not even close but effectively now when
I’m around my city I can see the signs and I can see for example when people
are talking and on top of the above other people and if I give a thought so
invariably at Turf or if you want to kind of sell yes exactly show don’t tell
laughter the point in that’s graffiti but they can be carved in stone it can
be the matter of the clothes that prevailed in the specific area for
example or the story or the sentence that the mom would say to hear their
child kind of thing they might the mom come to try to say don’t do anything
because the black dragon would it sure nobody exactly explain who the Baba Yaga
is or the black dragon is but you said this is a premise there that there is a
story about the black dragon is very bad and everybody should be afraid of them
even if they don’t know what they are and that is a way to introduce a legend
kind of thing in case like the room is regenerate but you see Baba Yaga or
The Creeper man the Cooper my exactly what knows what like it’s a creepy name
here whatever it is exactly we’ve had a great
question which is how can myths and legends directly affect the characters /
plot of the story why don’t you take this one first
dear God willing so many thousands of ways well I think we’ll go back to what
we were saying in the beginning the idea that no matter why and what a myth is it
is considered to be aspirational one way or another they are either made to
convey essentially fear or wonder or anything like that and the question is
how you character who interpret that in their personal journey they can be
considered for example like if somebody comes to your character and they say you
are the son of the son of the five stars kind of thing you are supposed to be
great kind of thing let me whatever like you’re supposed to
be the leader of Nations everything prophesies is such a great myth Roger
and also an amazing tool that so many dictators and monarchs in the past he
used in order to establish their basis of I want to drop piece of history on
you now go on you know the whole wooing the rough
woman the woman rough will yes just talking about it was used to support
this the fact that Merlin purportedly said there will be a time when Britain
becomes a single aisle a single kingdom of greatness and England has been using
that ever since to try and get people on his side it’s hilarious and that was
that was one of the prophecies of Merlin that was then used during the Tudor era
to try and persuade the Scottish to join the English boom they know it’s very
true mean factual example but in story it’s nice yeah going back to who we have
to go back to that because that you hit on something very important remind me to
talk about castles belly so um yeah as I was saying the question
is how your hero will effectively aspire connect or accept or deny the
prophecy for example all the myths because if the hero says you know what
I’m not this person I don’t want to be this person they can go in a completely
different spin or in fact to make them deny until they accept and they become
what they’re supposed to be that’s a journey it’s a journey of personal
growth sometimes understand that there is no way out of it you have to
understand it or at least become one with it kind of thing I think that means
before our tool sets and you can use them as a god they they X mark in our
FAQ they all check mark now but well but yes they yeah
ex machina they ich smoking are trying to conjugate but I don’t remember any
Latin anymore anyway so the whole point is that it is a tool
set and you can use them as the god that does not exist but guides the journey of
a hero yeah yeah I mean there are so many ways to do it another way to do it
would be because they knew the legend they could solve the puzzle or because
they knew the legend they knew that it would be that example so that’s another
way that you could do it Indiana Jones absolutely use nails it
nails it every single Indiana Jones plays on a legend legend of the Lost Ark
is about the Lost Ark and where it was and who said it was where and how it was
found and all the all the story behind that the to help me with the other ones
you know doom it’s not called the tomb of doom you think about oh I can think
of annihilation but that’s a DND adventure so the Temple of Doom again it
plays on the story they end up in this Indian forest and then they are told the
story about the magic stone that does the fou-fou things Kali ma got him
freaks them out so yeah Indiana Jones any Indiana Jones movie go and look at
us since of an Indiana Jones movie and
figure out how to do this from that its glory talking about modern intelligence
Dan Brown the man who took every single modern myth and legend and made it a
thing freemasons Illuminati the sangria Mona Lisa Lerner da Vinci all the
crazies in Renaissance essentially PJ what we’re keeping this PG PG everybody
has to poop it’s a myth the myth that heroic women do not poop dad is a miss
kept up by the entire media industry as well because nobody ever been women characters a myth is a way to go to war
against that is the that is a lot of the final point I would like to make on that
it is a plot device if nothing else when it comes the story yes it is it is a
more extended honey call those this item that like yeah they are like extend my
caffeine so effectively change and flip because the trick is that meets give
interpretations and that’s a trick that my graphene is a thing and it’s if the
thing is a thing but the myth is a thing which can be other things depending on
how you see it it’s like a prism do you know the other movie that did this
really well the most recent Tomb Raider that we saw oh yeah that’s true where
there was the I think we’ve passed the international spoiler line on that movie
no it’s on Netflix I think we’ve passed the International it’s on Netflix that
means everyone has seen it so if you have not seen the most recent Tomb
Raider movie please put your fingers in your ears and go laugh for a few minutes
while I talk about that you’ll have been warned
so the whole axis of the plot is that they
trying to find this this magical thing which is the body of a Japanese princess
and that she was this weird so it’s not terribly well unpacked actually because
the movie is much more about action and pretty women and much less about like um
unpacking the myth behind that the story but there’s this this Queen that had a
reign of terror over people but somehow she is the cue to it they’re the key to
eternal life right um and then they get there and
they discover that actually she had this bizarre disease which has never
explained it’s a magical foo-foo disease that is still active and still if you
touch the body it kills you so how it was supposed to bring back the
wife dead wife in the first place no I do but their whole flip on that there
was a there was a twist which was that the the Queen was supposed to be evil
the myth explained how that she was like the rain of death on everyone and then
when they went into the tomb they realized that actually she had she had
gone there peacefully yeah and that in fact the temple was
made to keep people in not people out of it kinda right because when she died she
died with all of her servants and the whole point was that nobody was allowed
to leave because that was her honor was to die with all of these service it was
a has month temple effectively yeah exactly it was it was kind of kind of
strange anyway that was that was an interesting way in which they they
followed the myth in a quite a classic way there’s a strange thing let’s go
find the strange thing and then when they got there that was a little twist
at the end that um that just gave something something slightly unexpected
I thought it was a nice touch in what was a fairly margarine movie yeah it was
okay but I thought that was that was the one thing where I was like nice I think
we’re about to wrap up but before we wrap up and we do any final questions
you might have I wanted to go back well we’re seeing the beginning about the
fact that Mesa legends can be used as tools and to effectively define power
yeah and I want to say that castles Bailey and the idea of birthright
is something that really comes from the legends yeah the fagget many royalty
would say I come from the blood of X like I’m from blood of Hercules all from
the blood of the red dragon of son George kind of thing you know like
with the hair all from the whole royalty that usually they are coming from the
Christian from the family of Christ kind of effectively Anna
so yeah in some cases you know being chosen by God to see that they’re they
carrying the blood of Christ kind of thing right so so really invested you
defectively apart from the divine message that the Pope had essentially
and we see that in every culture and it is the connection to the divine the
connection to the metaphysical kind of thing gives you the reasoning to become
a king or or a leader of people and in many ways also the fact that something
like that exists or a myth exists myth might in fact give you reason to
conquest see the Crusades right like people here the Casas Bailey to
Jerusalem because the Jerusalem it was supposed to be the holy city vast they
had to have it because they were the defenders of faith so yeah so it was it
was the story that was told to make the Crusader
exactly and this essentially me thumped Meath yeah many ways it’s funny with the
Crusades because people still get very touchy about it and my feeling is always
like what too soon yeah it’s only have been a thousand two hundred years in the
first one yes but people will be people alright guys if you have any more
questions make sure you get them in just before we have about five minutes left I would like to talk about using myths and
legends for exposition and foreshadowing what are your thoughts on that I know
you said no exposition with myths do you want to unpack that a little bit more I
did know expedition I said make it carefully
no no exploration is a beautiful way of done but don’t make it by saying like
you know the old human will say oh yes I’m gonna tell you a story about you
know that is not very cool but it would be great too for that sure
but for example if there’s a MacGuffin that you’re you’re may party is going
after you know D and D quest don’t introduce it by somebody saying
somebody’s stolen my MacGuffin introduce it in in a way like you hear a story
about like the legend of bob and the MacGuffin somewhere in the in the tavern
or you see it and that is the most hackneyed way to do it honestly is to
have a bad singer song let me tell you the story of the exposition la la la la
oh but you could see it in a tapestry you could catch sight of it on an
illuminated manuscript that a small child is copying out as practice
unlikely even more when you in forgive snippets and Don Brown makes up very
nicely because I think that this way everything about stories and books but
is but even for RPG campaigns giving snippets allow people to either think or
actually connect the dots and that makes the the discovery of the reality it
makes you somebody who sits beside the hero and make a journey with them yeah
and that is the beauty of it yeah because you’re not being told the story
even hidden from the hero or he don’t have the opportunity to know the story
when the here because there’ll be stupid Bush never found it but by giving them
small snippets throughout the story and allowing them to connect the dots with
the hero like a good whodunit kind of thing yeah these were becomes really
beautiful and really like big that’s always with all writing in fact and it’s
a trick that I myself struggle with cuz I’m always worried maybe the reader
won’t get it so I’ll just tell them again know only ever tell your reader
anything once if they miss it it’s on them tell it in a way that they will
probably stop for a second and think about it or maybe not but only ever tell
them something wants mhm and then let them let them do the work I will believe
you because I have literally zero understanding of writing as a former
it’s the same for RPG campaigns you don’t want to keep hitting home the same
points I think that in RPG campaigns I would not do it unless my
no I would not do it the airplane right because if they miss it they missed it
you can always add other information if that is actually something that is
important if you’re gonna build a campaign that is based on a myth may and
this is your main plot quest effectively the the that goes on the myth right
you’re Mick down before you do anything else if you want a practically thing and
write the components of what makes it myth right also Don and that is also
something that is a I’m sorry I’m just like seeing my praises but that’s
something I discovered us what the good when I was younger right also how the
myth changed because that way you can in fact provide them with fake information
which are not fake because this is just how the mists changed oh these people
hit it wrong they changed the myth and here you go to an ruin and you find the
dream repetition like damn which is exactly what they did
oh yes yeah I’m right here I would like to add that myths should also have
different versions for different cultures because myths get transported
but then they get mangled to suit the culture that they’re in and changed so
you see this all the time that you have different versions of the same kinds of
stories thank you very much the follow as things
are transmitted and change and move on yeah you know if one of them is true
because you’re playing that kind of game or you’re writing that kind of story
then maybe they only hear that version later do you see what yeah like that’s
yeah we have one more question which I’m gonna answer because I think is a
fantastic question it is from kyotonic 98 he says how can you integrate myths
and legends into sci-fi I have a great idea for this but do you wanna go first
actually I would like to hear the answer there are a couple of sci-fi campaigns
that have done this really beautifully ghost in the shell’ I would say is one
mm-hmm there’s you seeing ghosts in the shoulders urban legends about about the
goat the ghost in the shell’ before you see the actuality of it and there was an
anime called what was it called favorite animated one with the crazy
monsters Ergo Proxy huh which was absolutely incredible and it has these a
eyes and there’s this story from the beginning of the of the again
international spoiler line has gone this is a really old anime I do recommend it
and I’m not gonna tell you any massive spoilers or anything but the idea is
that they have all of these AIS and that the AIS are starting to become sort of
sentient and sapient and be able to make their own choices as opposed to just act
for the humans and be human slaves essentially and again it’s a story that
you hear in here you hear it in lots of places as an urban legend within the
setting and then you see it become true and a lot of it a lot of the a lot of
the stories then about this yeah funny enough yeah science fiction chobits uses
exactly the same thing oh yeah right there is a myth and a legend which is in
fact you know I won’t say anything more than that but there is a myth a legend
which is very nice to them I would say in general for science fiction myths and
legends are created due to the fear of the unknown due to powers that want to
become and they build effectively a structure around them and because of
human nature as long as you have humans or a creature that resembles human
psyche you will have myths and legends they might not be about dragons they
might be about the aliens of hide underneath the surface of Mars yeah they
might not be about elves but it might be effectively about strange mutational
happening they might not be about essentially you know the Sun Rell but it
might be about the strain of genetically enhanced humans so or even alien
technology exactly I mean with the gates that you got started
thank you for Stargate is actually it’s a bit afraid it’s a bit of a trick yeah
it’s a fantasy exactly wouldn’t with that but even for
hard science fiction yeah I think it’s still the same people are people and
people who find things that are afraid of the spire of or they would like to be
and I would also say for example Han Solo making of whichever run it was in
30 plus X which is mistake weather which is completely mistake because I’ve
mangled that but you know what I mean that thing for the next generation that
could be a legend but the you story the sorry they’re gonna be what do you think
it’s over the international spoilers line is that your question yes it has
been two years since they’re moving it’s fine one year no I won’t do a spoiler
all I was say I would say that the or it’s a trilogy yeah if they talked about
these others as a myth he was a he goes oh she’s legend yeah it happened that he
was the legend but he go skis later like he actually did this amazing thing and
vein the latest movie we see the legend unfold yeah exactly it was his own
personal legend but you can use this in a broader way so for example if you have
if you’re doing a hard sci-fi and you’re doing hard military sci-fi you can have
the legend of that guy that did the thing remember that is and that’s that
that’s the legend that he they tell the new recruits on the first night there
was the guy that did the thing whatever the thing was it’s usually something
heroic and unbelievable and surprising like the thing he run in 30 parsecs
which I can’t remember any of the specifics of that right now
but this these are these are not based on fears these are based on again
aspirations I’ll give an example yeah and I will go to science fiction as
well yeah so bear with me we should be wrapping up the world so um
consider this the Arthurian legend was a legend that was used by many monarchs
during the medieval times at the 800 about the the King Arthur
which was in fact somebody who existed way before that okay I mean sample said
it was Roman sample sales respectively from North I’m not the specialist on
this to give you an answer but the whole point is that they took a person who
probably existed made them important via his legend and then he used him as an
excuse in a paradigm for their actions so consider in a science fiction setting
how would people talk about Napoleon yeah like he’s a great general or
Alexander I mean he’s very far away I could try to be closer exactly to become
so imagine in 300 years from now the legend of Napoleon the great general and
Emperor might be something of people who take mold and chainsaw it for them to
become effectively amazed sure the myth of this legend are eternal that took
over all known earth kind of thing Oh the myth of Rasputin which is really
just wrong exactly before all the myths surrounding Rasputin and the fact that
he didn’t die and they you know all of this stuff we’re not to talk about
Bigfoot and things like that necie effectively there are so many
legends about those things right I think well you can legend suffer the same
transformation a lot of details I think we answered at the right I mean I think
yes emergency huge amounts of transformation as they pass by word of
mouth as people tell the ghost story again and again the ghost is different
like first it has spoons and then it has knives and then it has it is the Chinese
whisper of oral legend oral tradition it will happen for sure because human
nature alright you beautiful beans I think we
have talked to you enough thank you so much for joining us today
we are absolutely to do these we have loads of fun and
we’re really really glad that you guys come join us – thank you very much for
the amazing questions today you have really good questions and you

5 thoughts on “Worldbuilding Myths and legends for your Novel or DnD Campaign | World Anvil

  1. There's an excellent line in the introduction of Peter Jackson's take on Fellowship of the Ring – I think it's actually from Tolkien's writings somewhere, but that's where I know how to find it:
    “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.”

    The middle part is the key point in this debate about myth vs legend. In a world where histories have been lost (such as, for example, after the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria), the history fades to legend – people have heard the histories, but now they lack the historical documentation that actually proves it. Whether it becomes a legend as soon as the proof is destroyed, or fades over time as people forget it depends on how strictly you define history, but either way, real stuff can fade into legend. And a legend can become a myth – take that example from that round table stream about the Aztecs being the least believable civilization in history. If we somehow lost all of the documentation about their existence, how many generations do you think it would be before people just started assuming that some grimdark alt-history author came up with this society that was so obsessed with human sacrifice – I'd guess 3-4, maybe?

    Greek Mythology certainly wasn't mythology to the people who worshiped Zeus and the other Olympians – it was religion. Fact, as far as they were concerned – every bit as much as Noah's Ark is to a Christian or Jew. But pretty much everyone agrees that the Greek religion is mythology, whereas most people today either actually believe Noah's Ark or are polite enough to not call it a myth openly because there's a lot of people who would take offense at that.

  2. To understand what you can change in a story without it changing you need to know what makes it what it is. Cinderella is rags to riches based on underappreciated potential using a temporary look into said potential and a McGuffin to connect the dots to allow said potential to be explored. If you change the basis you've created something different.

    Why a job interview changes Cinderella is because an interview is based on the opinion of the interviewer evaluating an interviewee. A specific interview question that referenced the past reveal of hidden potential could work, but not an interview. A glass slipper is an objective reference point to an event where the hidden potential was revealed that changes whoever fits it into whoever you're wanting to show the exposed potential of. Cinderella is (unbelievably) the only person the shoe fits, and that proves she was the hidden worthy princess. One way to change the flavor without changing the idea would be the reunion between a hidden badass and their weapon. Without it they're an slightly better fighter than most (scullery maid), but when they get it back they're an absolute badass (princess material). You can change the hints or means of exposure, but there needs to be a reveal of hidden potential for the McGuffin to connect to your Cinderella. The person was the same before and after, but what they're capable of or their impact on the story changes in refence to a past event that showed they could have greater impact.

  3. Instead of a strict separation of myth and legend I'd put them on a line with history. The line of history would be prose which was/is/could be told as true. The distinguishing factor would be the belief of the judge. A myth is understood to have never happened though it was believed at one point (eg all other religions for the religious). A legend has a core of truth but it has been warped into something else (eg Gilgamesh or Arthurian stories based on ?real people). History is believed to be an accurate description of past events. Harry Potter wouldn't be any of these, for instance. All are forms of prose/storytelling but Harry Potter is read as fiction while myths and legends are/were told as fact.

  4. One or the other of you two needs to solo host Or, find some one new. Your chemistry is awful. It's like a nerdy morning Joe. Just constant aggressive passive aggressiveness.

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