SUPER-Mythology 101: Part 2 DC Comics

SUPER-Mythology 101 Part 2: DC Comics

In my last article I discussed the mythological structure of the Marvel Universe via the origins of The Human Torch, Iron Fist, Ben Reilly, and Kaine. This time I would like to look at the flip side of that coin and post about three heroes from DC Comics because this notion is equally as prevalent in the DC Universe as it is in the Marvel Universe, if not more so.  Also in part one, I chose three somewhat obscure entries, this was a side-effect of my more in depth experience with Marvel Comics, in this entry I am selecting three of the heavier hitters from the DC Comics catalog.

Read More

SUPER-Mythology 101: Part 1 Marvel Comics

Mythology can be described as collections of characters, monsters, and stories used by various civilizations throughout history as a means to explain the world around them, provide examples of heroism and villainy, or use as examples to teach the populous important lessons. In previous entries Dave has provided examples of a diverse sampling of mythologies originating from the distant past, which is often the case but I would argue that humanity is still creating mythoi to this day.

The best example of this is the rise of the super-hero beginning in the 1930’s with the likes of The Shadow, and Mandrake the Magician; which ultimately coalesced into the Marvel Comics and DC Comics universes that formed out of the popularity of the original Human Torch from Marvel Comics #1 and Superman from Action Comics #1 respectively. In this article I will pluck a few examples of interesting super-heroes from the Marvel Universe and explain their origins with an eye on mythical influences, I hope to follow this up with an article about three heroes from the DC Universe.

Wow that was awfully formal huh? I apologize I’m more used to writing report papers than I am blog posts, I will try to be a little more personable from here on out.

SUPER-Mythology 101: Part 1 Marvel Comics


Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 10

In the last episode of Mythology 101 we took a deeper look into the Norse mythology of Thor and Loki in particular. So far we have covered most of the major continents from Europe to Scandinavia, so it’s probably time to dig a little deeper into some of the mythology of Africa. This time let’s focus on the Dark Side of the Dark Continent’s mythology, the dangers and the demons, the nightmares and the stories of warning.

Before we get started, we should look at the mythology of how things got started…

According to the people of Zaire, there was a god named Bumba (aka Mbombo). One day Bumba became very ill with a very sore stomach, it kept getting worse until finally he vomited, he vomited the sun, then the moon and finally the earth. He felt a little better, then he got sick again, this time vomiting nine animals; a leopard, an eagle, a crocodile, a fish, a tortoise, another leopard (this time black), a white heron, a scarab beetle, and a goat. The newly formed animals then also got sick, and they vomited up the rest of the world’s creatures. The Heron threw-up all the flying birds, the crocodile threw-up all the snakes and iguanas, the goat threw-up all the horned animals, the fish threw-up all the other fish, and the scarab threw-up all the insects. Just when things seemed to be looking up, Bumba got sick again, and threw up mankind. Just seems really gross to me.

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 9

Last time we ran through an overview of the previous episodes of Mythology 101, and after a couple week break, I am back. So this time we better bring in the big boys and focus on one of the cultures that is very deep with Mythology. The Northern lands of Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Norway are known as Scandinavia, home to Norse Mythology. Norse Mythology is full of gods, giants and dwarves… truly though, there is one god that stands above them all, Thor.

No, not the Marvel Comics based Thor… the Norse God Thor, son of Odin. Let’s take a deeper look into the myths behind Thor and Loki, and I must warn you, unintentionally, I may be disclosing SPOILERS for future Thor movies without ever knowing.

The Beginning

Odin (Wodan) was the main god in Norse mythology, a god of war and death, with a softer side too, a god of poetry and wisdom. Odin has only one eye, because he traded the other eye for a drink from the well of wisdom to gain great knowledge. He was worshipped throughout Scandinavia and parts of Germany, there were temples throughout the lands for prayer, but the prayer did require human sacrifices.  Odin and the goddess Jord bore a son whom they named Thor.

DID YOU KNOW: When the English calendar was created, Wednesday was named after Odin (Wodan).

Read More

Mythology 101: a quick recap

Some people believe that as the Head of Game Design, I never get to take a break, that is truly a myth. A sound mind equals a sound body, so now that the Pitch & Play event is over, I am taking a short summer break. Rather than leaving all of you wanting for more Mythology, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a recap of the different areas I have already covered… Just in case you missed something good.

We’ll start with some of the most common mythologies; Greek, Roman, Celtic, and Norse. In later episodes we’ll look into some of the less known areas… African, Native American, Inca, Mayan, Asian and Aboriginal. Why? Well you only have to look at games such as God of War to realize how much Mythology can influence our games, but there’s a lot more stories to be told.

 

EPISODE 1: Roman Mythology

In the first episiode we took a look at Mars and Cupid, some unique stories there, and unknown to me, there was a link between them.

After spending some time looking at different cultures, you will see that there can be a lot of crossover and similarities between their myths. This is especially noticeable between the Roman Mythology and Greek Mythology, so next time we will take a look at a couple more key figures in Greek Mythology.

With a little bit of historical research, you can find some great elements that can become foundations for a game concept, a story, or even a unique mechanic like the spear shake. So the next time you are having writers block or can’t come up with a spark for a new game concept, look back in time, somewhere between the dinosaurs and the Dragons… you never know what you might find.

- See more at: Mythology 101: Episode 1

 

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 8

In Episode 7 I looked at a variety of weapons and objects from Celtic mythology, what kind of powers and uses can the objects of mythology hold, and do those fit my game design, or can I use those to inspire different objects? This week I thought we would go back to Mother Nature, and look at some of the mythology of the Native American and First Nations people. There is a huge variety of tribes, each with their own unique myths, but almost all of them are focused around nature and creation.

The stories, myths, and religions of the First Nations and Native Americans are deeply entrenched in symbolism and spirits. Their stories and mythology provide insight into weather, flora, fauna, and earth & sky. Through dance, songs, and rituals passed down by their ancestors, they share these stories and provide meaning and guidance for each generation.

Before you read any further, I think it is important to state that these are the stories that I have heard, and stories that I have discovered when researching mythology. By re-telling these stories in my own way, I in no way mean to disrespect the heritage of the people who have passed these stories down, and I highly encourage you the reader, to research and discover more about their history and beliefs. It is a fascinating culture, and by learning more about it, perhaps people will treat the Native American and First Nations people with the respect that they deserve. They were here first.

Let’s take a deeper look into some of the mythology from a variety of tribes…

 

Cherokee mythology

- The Cherokee tribe was found in Oklahoma and the southeastern United States.

In Cherokee mythology the earth was simply a suspended island on a giant sea, it was formed when a little water beetle named Dâyuni’sï came from the sky and explored below the water. Having nowhere to rest, he dove down and brought up mud which quickly expanded to become the earth. Buzzard was sent down to make sure the mud was dry, but it wasn’t, as he tired, his wings and feet dragged in the mud and created valleys and mountains. When the mud finally dried the animals came down from the sky, but it was dark and they were cold. The animals took the sun and created a path for it to move east to west, but the sun was too close and many animals burned their skin. Several times they raised it higher to prevent it from being too hot, until they found the distance that was just right.

All the plants and animals were told to stay awake for 7 days to keep watch over their new land, but only the owl and panther could, so they were given night vision. Only the Fir trees, like cedar and pines, stayed awake, so the others were made to lose their leaves when it got cold.

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 7

In Episode 6 I talked about the inclusion of animals in Egyptian mythology, how by looking at Mother Nature we could come up with ideas for characters, their backgrounds, meaning and abilities. This week I wanted to step away from characters and start thinking about the objects and weapons that might be a core part of your game designs. What better to look at for this than the Celtic mythologies, a wide range of myths that included Irish, Scottish, and Welsh stories.

A lot of the mythology from that time period may have been lost due to the Romans destruction of  most of the Celtic writings, but there was still a lot of very interesting stories that survived in secret forms hidden from the Romans, or handed down generation to generation. When people are asked about myths and magical objects, the first things that come to mind are King Arthur’s Sword in the stone, the Stone of Scone (aka Stone of Destiny) from Scotland, and the infamous and lipstick covered Blarney stone in Ireland… but there is a lot more to Celtic mythology than a bunch of rocks.

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 6

In Episode 5 I took a deeper look at Dragons, the various types of dragons, the interesting stories and backgrounds of dragons, and ultimately just how embedded dragons are in so many different cultures. The purpose of this deeper look, was to think about how we can take one element of mythology and find many different ways of presenting it or altering it to best suit our game designs. In last weeks article I made reference to an Egyptian god by the name of Ra, let’s go back into a specific culture and examine some of the other gods of the Egyptians and see how that might help us to create interesting stories or characters.

When talking to people about Egyptian history, I always find it interesting  that they have heard of the pyramids, but beyond Cleopatra and King Tut they really aren’t familiar with some of the most common Egyptian mythological characters. Let’s take a deeper look into some of those other gods and goddesses, and in particular look at the influence that animals had in Egyptian mythology.

Cats

It is widely known that the Egyptians treated cats as gods, just ask any cat owner and they will tell you that. The cat was a sacred animal in Egypt, appearing many times in hieroglyphs, and shown as a human-cat hybrid for the goddess Bastet. Early studies of Egyptian mythology showed her to be a lioness, and later a cat, that was both a fierce hunter and protector, a goddess of warfare, however later studies have deemed her to be a goddess of perfume… perfume needs a god?

Another of the cat gods is Sekhmet, she was the lion headed goddess of retribution, vengeance, and conquest. Her responsibilities included doling out punishment to those that were enemies of Ra (see below). As part of Egyptian beliefs, there was even  a Sekhmet cult centre, and when one of the Pharaoh’s moved the capital, he moved the cult center too, believing she would protect him.

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 5

Last week in Episode 4 we talked about the creatures of Chinese mythology, the focus was on the multitude of creatures that weren’t dragons. By looking at the wide variety of different beasts, we could use them to inspire better characters and enemies, or find one that fits inside of our games. This time I wanted to be very specific, let’s look at one type of creature, and see that by doing some research there is actually a ton of options of back story, abilities, and variations that you can bring to your games. The dragon… kind of limiting right?

The most common image that comes to mind when you think of Chinese Mythology is the dragon. It has influenced many cultures to a point where it is almost considered history instead of mythology. In movies such as Dragonheart, Eragon, and Reign of Fire, in TV shows such as H.R. Pufnstuf and Game of Thrones, dragons have become common place. Of course games have also had their share of dragons; from Spyro the Dragon, the Dragon Age series, Panzer Dragoon, Dragon Up and even Dragon’s Lair. Of course we can’t forget the Fantasy role playing games, starting with Dungeons & Dragons and more recently World of Warcraft which feature dragons.

If there is one thing that we can learn from this wide array of movies, games, and myths, it is that there is a lot of variation in the stories of dragons, and what those dragons are… if you are really interested in seeing how someone has used that variety effectively, just watch DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon.

Read More

Mythology 101: Episode 4

Last week in Episode 3 we talked about the Australian Aboriginal mythology. The core of that episode was how their myths are focused around creation and how things came to be, if you think about the origins of your game world, that might help build your story. In Episode 4 I want to go in a different direction again, let’s take a look at Chinese mythology, and see how that might help your designs.

The most common image that comes to mind when you think of Chinese Mythology is the dragon. I’m going to save the dragons for next episode, and instead focus on the other creatures of Chinese Mythology.  Let’s look outside the common place and discover the types of creatures that we might be able to use to influence our characters and enemies. What craziness exists in the myths that date back to 2000 BC, and inside of those myths can I find some creatures that could make my game better or different?

An A to Z of Chinese Characters

Ao-Kuang

Ao-Kuang is the most powerful of the ocean dragon kings, I said I wouldn’t talk about dragons, but they are the only ones that start with the letter A.
Read More