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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Neon Knight's Avatar

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    Default Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    Recently, I became aware of the fact that legends in the context of most fictional worlds with large populations of unnatural and impossible creatures become rather odd.

    I'm no expert on myths and legends and how the form, but it seemed to me that mythical constructions like the yeti and the werewolf would not form or would be less likely to form in a world where demons and other such creatures exist. Why invent horrible monsters when you are besieged by actual horrors?

    On a slightly different tangent, certain fantasy worlds employ unique phrases, epithets, or sayings to enhance the feel of a real actual culture. I also felt that most came off as rather cheesy, and was trying to create one of my own without falling to cheese. I was looking into replacing "hoisted by one's own petard." A simple enough phrase to describe being negatively affected by one's own scheme.

    What I came up with was the idea of a famous evil wizard who invented a monster that hid as a cloak. That's right, he invented Cloakers. He used them as spies, assassins, and personal bodyguards, actually wearing them like cloaks. One day, he got tired of the color black and so bred a white cloaker. The resulting celestial cloaker strangled him when he put it on. Thus the phrase, "choked by his own cloak," indicates a plan that backfires. Is that cheesy?

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    I've also found it hard when a character of mine uses a modern day euphamism or curse word. However, I still feel extremely stupid when I say "by the hells!" even if it's in character.

    I like your idea. Choked by his own cloak rolls off of the tounge easy enough.
    Dragonseth says,
    On a related note: Support Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium! Practice random mating!
    GENERATION 15: The first time you see this, copy it into your sig and add 1 to the generation. social experiment.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Collin152's Avatar

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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    Hm. Never thought about legends like that. Who needs a Beast when you almost got stole by a bear holding a shark?
    I mean, it's not like misconceptions happen very often.
    "This beast will make off with your children! He'll come after them in the night! I say we kill the Beast!" "We're not safe until he's dead!" "He'll come stalking us at night!" "Set to sacrifice our children to it's monstrous appetite!" "He'll wreak havok on our village if we let him wander free!" "So it's time to take some action boys, It's time to follow me!"

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    TimeWizard's Avatar

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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    It's easy to boogy-man up the scaries. How many of you have ever seen a tiger or a bear? how many of you have seen a tiger or a bear outside the zoo/circus/place of relative safety? It's easy to have commoners hype up monsters that are rare... What if children worry that a Hook Horror will come from the Underdark to the Underbed? But for expressions- I like the idea of changing current ones to fantasy ones. I submit: "Tell it to the Adventurers" in place of "Tell it to the Marines", which came because the marines were the only ones who had seen crazy unusual things in the 1500/1600's, like flying fish. So if something sounded crazy or odd, tell it to the marines. Seen a two headed dog that can jump over buildings? Tell it to an Adventurer.

    *side note* Underbed could be the best thing I've ever typed. I'm both proud and shamed of that.
    Last edited by TimeWizard; 2007-11-28 at 09:17 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by HerrTenko View Post
    TimeWizard, you've got to do something about all that Clarity you've got. It starts by just ruining jokes, but soon you'll be dreaming of electric sheep and stuff. It can't be good for you.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Mewtarthio's Avatar

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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    Quote Originally Posted by TimeWizard View Post
    It's easy to boogy-man up the scaries. How many of you have ever seen a tiger or a bear? how many of you have seen a tiger or a bear outside the zoo/circus/place of relative safety? It's easy to have commoners hype up monsters that are rare... What if children worry that a Hook Horror will come from the Underdark to the Underbed? But for expressions- I like the idea of changing current ones to fantasy ones. I submit: "Tell it to the Adventurers" in place of "Tell it to the Marines", which came because the marines were the only ones who had seen crazy unusual things in the 1500/1600's, like flying fish. So if something sounded crazy or odd, tell it to the marines. Seen a two headed dog that can jump over buildings? Tell it to an Adventurer.
    Except an Adventurer will actually do something about it, which makes the phrase more apt. I can imagine someone rolling their eyes, muttering, "Sure, why don't you head down to the tavern and alert a group of adventurers?"

    Just remember not to simply replace words with more "fantasy"-sounding words. "I'm so hungry I could eat a centaur!" just sounds cheesy. "Curiosity killed the androsphinx" is so ridiculously cheesy that you can seriously kill people that way. "An apple a day keeps the cleric away"--You know what, I think I'll just stop now.
    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind View Post
    Mewtarthio, you have scared my brain into hiding, a trembling, broken shadow of a thing, cowering somewhere in the soothing darkness and singing nursery rhymes in the hope of obscuring the Lovecraftian facts you so boldly brought into daylight.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Neon Knight's Avatar

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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    Quote Originally Posted by Mewtarthio View Post
    Except an Adventurer will actually do something about it, which makes the phrase more apt. I can imagine someone rolling their eyes, muttering, "Sure, why don't you head down to the tavern and alert a group of adventurers?"
    Exactly! Myths depend on belief in them without actual proof. The kraken isn't a myth believed only by frightened superstitious sailors if it actually exists; its then an object fact.

    In a world where there is prior precedent for horrible beasts, a rumor of a horrible beast won't remain for long; someone is bound to look into it and confirm or disprove it. People won't make up monsters when they're up to their necks in real ones.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Adding Spice: Legends and Customs in Fantasy Fiction

    Phrases and sayings are a bit difficult. Rather than trying to come up with new ones that just substitute fantasy phrases for mundane, I think it's better to come up with wholly new ones.

    I made up a few:
    "A sin of the Titans" = a thing that everyone does, but we all know is naughty1
    "Work of the [fertility god]" = a physical romantic encounter.
    "Arms like an ogre" = big and strong
    "[doing something] like Tinibius / a Tinibian act" = single-handedly doing / attempting something thought to be impossible2

    That said... I do use "Pardon my orcish" for when a character swears (in place of "Pardon my French" - it's an old-school British thing).
    The problem one gets with trying to come up with realistically appropriate phrases is that they won't necessarily be understood by the other players. In my examples above, if you've never heard of the fertility god, you won't know that someone is euphamistically refering to carnal acts.

    Legends and myths are easier to think up. Think about what really happened, and exaggerate it. Look at the Robin Hood myth/legend, for example - in times of turmoil throughout English history, people have taken to banditry. Some probably supported their local communities and fought the corrupt authorities. An amalgamation of these figures has given us the Robin Hood character and story.
    In a D&D setting, you could decide that a few hundred years ago an adventurer fought and badly injured a dragon, stole an amazing sword and lots of treasure, and went on his way, finally settling down and building a fortress with his friends. Around the fortress a settlement grew up - just a little village of support staff and their families. The wounded dragon recovered and sought vengeance - and when it came to the fight at the fortress, the whole place was levelled. The adventurers had a near TPK, and legged it to raise their dead, and the dragon took up residence nearby.
    Now the legend is the the fabulous city of the adventurer-with-the-magic-sword - streets paved, no doubt, with gold - vanished, and no-one's ever fouind it! A better Bardic knowledge check reveals that it was attacked by a dragon, and the adventurer used magic to hide his citizens - and that if one found it, it's full of wondrous treasures. In fact, it's just a really old ruin with a few monsters living underneath in the old remains of the dungeon, maybe a trap still active or two, and a big old dragon (or offspring) maybe still living nearby.

    Anyway, to sum that up, I've found the key to convincing myths and legends is to think of what really happened, and then how it could be re-told and embelished over the years into a legend.

    I hope that helps a bit.

    Notes:
    1. The back story is that (in my mythos) the Titans' transgression against the gods is what brought knowledge and magic to the demikind races, so we're all tainted with this "original sin".
    2. Tinibius rescued a lost division of knights from certain defeat by fighting through the entire opposing army by himself.

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