Saturday, 4 March 2017

My Thoughts on mythology + example

Mythology, I believe, is a core part of worldbuilding. If you want to neglect it, and manage to pull that off, congratulations! You're a rebel! Or possibly a revolutionary.

But I think that adding a mythology into your world is important. It adds to immersion. If you really manage to pull it off, your players will know more about your myths than they know a Greek ones. Take that, Homer!

I do want to stress here that religion and mythology, although very similar, are not bound together. You can have a religion with no or little mythology (a modern-day cult sort of thing), or a mythology without a religion (folk tales). So, even if you want no religion undertones in your world, you can still have a mythology.
Mythology is weird. Don't question it.

Most mythologies are formed of these parts:
  • A primal creator, who came before everything else. They are often evil in more famous mythologies, such as the titans in Greek mythology, or the J├Âtunns in Norse mythology.
  • Many smaller beings, often made by the primal creator after the earth was formed. They are 'gods,' and will usually have their own kids and grandkids. A mythology can revolve around them, and usually does, but you can also focus on the creator.
  • An ungodly (pun intended) bunch of issues, mostly caused by gods or humans being idiots, which end up creating the world around us more. A good example of this the the Greek god of death (Hades), falling in love with the goddess of spring, and kidnapping her every year. This explains the seasons.

Mythology is usually told with a fairy-tale sort of writing, and likes to make use of the rule of threes (the underlying principle of the universe that something interesting usually happens the third time you try).

Things won't always make logical sense. This is useful if you are trying to tell the story of how the misadventures of the god of drinking and the god of rivers accidentally created catfish when they invaded the house of the animal god while absolutely shitfaced.

You wouldn't believe the thing's he's seen.
So yeah, mythology is fun. People won't expect you to justify nearly as much, so have fun with it! Be creative! Explain why the goddess of war hates ducks! Mythology is your excuse to do whatever you want. Everyone expects it to be weird, so why not indulge them?
 Example Creation Mythology
Written by yours truly.
“Who am I?” Darkness asked. But it got no answer, for it was the first. Before all, there was Darkness.

Darkness walked for many years, underground and above. It wandered below the largest mountain, and walked down, down, down. There, Darkness found a stream.

“What a happy looking stream. But no one to enjoy it.” Darkness said sadly. So, Darkness took a lump of mud, and several rocks from the stream. It played with them, combining into different shapes, and putting it’s creations down underneath the mountain. Eventually, Darkness was surrounded by hundreds of thousands of statues.

Darkness dropped water onto each one, and they began moving. The underground was soon filled with hundreds of thousands of curious beings, trees, animals, plants, all desperate to explore. But they were confused. They turned to Darkness, and asked it a question.

“Who are we?”

“You are Life.” Darkness answered. “This land is for you.”

And Life was satisfied. They scattered to the edges of the world, curious forever. But they were lost. Although they loved this new world, Darkness was there, and so they could not see.

“Please, Darkness!” They cried, “Let us see!”

Darkness dug deeper into the mountain, and came across a crystal. It glowed with a fiery shimmer, and Darkness was burned. But it would not give up on it’s creations. Darkness took the crystal in it’s hands, and brought the stone to the surface world, where it flew into the sky. Darkness could not stand close to the crystal, but it loved the shining thing all the same.

“Who am I?” The shining thing said.

“You are Light.” Darkness replied, hiding behind a mountain. “You are here to show Life the world.”

Another voice spoke, from in between Darkness and Light. “But who am I?”

Darkness was surprised, but pleased at this new addition to the world. “You are Shadow. You are here to make sure Light never becomes too harmful, and to be an ambassador between him and me.”

And so Light and Shadow were born, and they were satisfied. But, now that they could see, Life grew too large. They buckled under their own weight, and again called to Darkness for help.

And so Darkness took the waters of the stream beneath the mountain, the sharpness of the rocks on it’s bed, and fashioned it into an ethereal being, with a heart as black as it's soul.

“Who am I?” The spirit asked.

“You are Death.” Darkness replied, pleased at it’s own cunning. “You are here to make sure Life never becomes too proud, or too powerful.”

And Death was pleased, setting about her job with glee. But Life was growing diminished, curious as it was, and wanted to make friends with Death. Soon, they were almost gone.

So Darkness took a little bit of itself, and created a figure of great power. He was more dangerous than any Darkness has made before, and it knew that this path was risky. But Darkness was desperate, and needed something to keep Life existing.

“Who am I?” The figure asked, in a voice like the grating of nails down rocks.

“You are Fear.” Darkness said, stepping back. “You are here to be a shield against Death, and a warning to Life.”

Fear grinned a terrible grin, and set to work. Life stayed away from Death as well as they could, and she had to work harder for her prizes.

Darkness was happy, but also sad. The world was good, but it seemed random. Everything was too much about chance for it’s liking, and it wanted to know what was to happen, before it did. So Darkness took fragments of Light, a pinch of Life, and a barest hint of Fear, and created shining stars in the sky. The stars made a pure being, a child, who spoke in the softest voice of any Darkness had created before.

“Who am I?” She said.

“You are Fate.” Darkness said. “You are here to give order to an orderless world.”

But Fate needed something to work on. Life was good, but distracted. Short-sighted. They did not want to work together, or make anything other than their own homes. She wanted something interesting, intelligent, and powerful.

So, Darkness made one last being, composed of Life. Darkness took a pinch of itself, Shadow, and Light, and put them in the being’s heart. Then, it took Fear and Death, and put them in the being’s mind as a caution. Finally, it took Fate, and put it into the being’s soul. Darkness sat back, admiring it’s work.

The being opened their eyes, examining each other. “Who am I?”

Darkness smiled. “You are Man. And you are here for no reason at all.”

And Man nodded, satisfied.

This is exactly how I imagined the creator of the universe.

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