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Article - 'Mythology and Legends in YOUR game' by Kazeuri

An item about Plots/Characters posted on Aug 8, 2003

Blurb

How mythology and legends can help you create a much better game.

Body

Here is the situation: You are creating what you hope will be the most in-depth and beloved RPG of all time. You spend months, if not YEARS creating a detailed story with elements like no other. When it comes to naming hero’s and places, however, you say “I will not fall victim to cliché with names like ‘Cloud’, ‘Alex’, ‘Crono’, etc.; instead I will create my own unique names like uh… ‘Krunk’, the hero” Then you’re off! What about high quality names though?

Large companies (ala-Blizzard, SquareSoft, etc.) and their professionally trained writers usually get names from actual events. That way, when you are watching the history channel one day, and hear of some famous person creating something, or doing something special, you think “Oh, I heard of that person in (whatever) game”. Same with monsters and enemies, do you really think SquareSoft invented such enemies as Medusa, Mummies, Tiamat, and Kraken? In fact, they all exist in mythology and other ancient things, which are like a gold mine for character names and creation.

Let’s begin by pointing to Faust’s article about Final Fantasy 7, describing the inner-laid story and mythological references. As you probably read/will read; there is much more to Final Fantasy 7 than the naked eye and uneducated player will see. Occurrences like this in an RPG are eerily common, and really help an RPG become what it is.

Let’s start with a company that sells games like hot cakes, and is a leading producer of high-quality games, Blizzard. Blizzard may have, or may not have obtained some of it’s strange item and character names from such “legends” as “The Priority Of Zion” (Link Here) Take a look, do names there like, Ormus, Nexus, Templar, etc. sound a bit familiar? (although, Templar could come from just about anywhere, as with Nexus, Ormus hold original, though). There are a ton of other references, even through other games.

Reading through Greek and Roman mythology probably reveals a large sum of most RPG creatures. Creatures like Tiamat, Kraken, Pegasus, Leviathan, etc., were all “created” by myths. Researching them yourself can help you write “Horse-Men” and such into YOUR games. Not only that, but you can help create items of their weakness, like a mirror to defeat the dreaded Medusa, or a boat to sail the river of Hades.

Adding such names to your RPG gives it a lot more depth. For instance, look at Final Fantasy 7 again, with names from the Tree Of Life (Sephiroth). After reading this , he certainly becomes a bit more menacing / meaningful, as do tons of other characters with stories not quite written into the game.

So, what is better? Mythology is basically universal and you can’t exactly be found in court for using the name “Zeus” in a game, as with “Hermes the messenger ship”. Feel free to also enchant your characters with things not usually mentioned, like Necromancy, discussed in popular folklore, and “arcane” items. Legends and folklore, especially “long lost” tales could provide a lot more originality than the tried and true mythology.

Take such things as Dracula and vampires, who are mostly all based off “Vlad Tepes”. If you had found the legend and created a book to it before anyone else, you could be pretty famous and wealthy. Vampires are seen everywhere today, and most everyone knows about them and their “habits”.

Now, you could always go and create a new legend, like a Chocobo, or a monster such as Chaos, but is that as fun? Naming that three headed dog Cerberus, and following his mythological weaknesses may not seem like the first choice, but it is certainly a worthy one. Everyone will know WHO the dog is, and possibly it’s weakness, making your puzzle simple for the powerfully educated people, and a great teaching experience for those who are not.

I truly hope this article has prepared you to make an in-depth RPG. Simply NAMES could link so much “un-written” history into your games. Go back, research. Find ancient Chinese folklore, Monk tales, Greek Mythology, untapped realms of science fiction and legend. Whatever you can find, use things from it to enhance your RPG to points you never thought possible.

When someone plays your game and recognizes names, tactics, history, places and whatever else in your game, they are SURE to award it extra “brownie points” in a review, or while talking to their friends. Use this article to it’s fullest, and create an RPG to really woe and amaze us with it’s “unwritten history”. Remember originality and twists though, throw an old creature into the fray, with new abilities and items based on your RPG’s own world.

Like nothing else in the world, stories and games can throw everything together. Ancient Egyptian culture, Greek characters, Chinese places, and a Biblical setting into one room and not be hurt by it. You can basically create ANY world you want. Better yet, it will work, because in your world, there are no rules.