5 Ways to Create Fantastical Beasts and Peoples!: Mythology

English: Stone carvings at St Mary's church (1...
English: Stone carvings at St Mary’s church (16) Two more fantastical creatures, perhaps a dragon and a cat(?) standing on its back legs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Myths are found in every culture from Ancient Greece to Pre-Columbian Cuba. Myths are stories of important events and people from the past. Most times these stories have fantastical elements that can be mined by the savvy writer. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) folklore tends either to be vague about non-humans. Most our knowledge of fantastical creatures comes from the pool of stories about those animals and races. This can be good since it allows more modern people to play. When you look to mythology for inspiration, look for

  • The Uncommon: creatures and characters that are not typically seen in today’s fantasy, paranormal, and poetic worlds; Examples: the Leshii and Meingu

  • The Common: patterns that show up over and over again; Examples: magic, elemental creatures, predators of humans, tricksters

  • The Very Common: universal themes and preoccupations that storytellers could not stop talking about; Examples: love, war, gods, revenge, quests

All can offer ideas for the behavior, appearance, and motives of your creations. Tomorrow we’ll jump forward in time and look at finding inspiration from popular culture.

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