Mike Myler is a freelancing RPG goblin (or goblin that freelances for RPGs?) and the editor for the excellent EN5ider Patreon. You can also find his marks in the N.O.W. book for the What's Old Is New RPG and on www.mikemyler.com (which has the neatest collection of free content around).
Today in Mythological Figures we’re circling back to Ancient Greece with one of history’s most famous inventors—Daedalus! I think we’re all familiar with his larger achievements (the hubris myth of Icarus flying too high, the creation of the labyrinth for the minotaur) but did you know he was credited with inventing carpentry and was murderously petty? Daedalus took on his nephew as an apprentice and after the lad invented the saw (and made two compasses) he was pushed off the Acropolis to a plummeting death! Even if you think you know his tale it’s worth brushing up on.
As last week was a great example of a Mythological Figure from the perspective of transference of media between cultures (Aladdin’s unique place via the ancestral “game of telephone”), now we’re going way back to a figure even older than our first entry—GILGAMESH! As you can see from the artwork for today’s entry there’s really not a lot about him in popular culture until relatively recently, so the best depictions of this God-King are thousand and thousands of years old.
What a fantastic subject for Mythological Figures! Aladdin is our first entry from the Middle East and an interesting example of what makes a myth just that—for starters, despite being the most popular character from 1,001 Arabian Nights, he’s a late addition to the book by a Frenchman translator (who heard it from a Syrian storyteller from Aleppo, a Maronite scholar named Youhenna Diab). Incidentally as well despite what we’re all likely to think, the character was originally Chinese. This amalgamation of misconceptions and changes (from storyteller to translator to now) are one of the defining traits of a myth and what makes it a wonderful cultural artifact. Mythology is win.
The popular Mythological Figures series continues with another character for your 5E games! Born to a peasant family (although her father headed the local watch and collected taxes in addition to farming), Joan of Arc was raised inside of a territory loyal to the French but surrounded by pro-Burgundian forces (an alliance between some of the French aristocracy and England). Starting at the age of 13 she began to have visions of the saints beseeching her to drive out the English and see to the coronation of the Dauphin (Charles VII) to Reims as the rightful ruler of France.
Mythological Figures focuses on Fifth Edition builds for persons too big for true history like Achilles and Sir Lancelot, but some individuals absolutely distinguished themselves to an equal status. Perhaps my favorite of these is arguably one of the most skilled people to have ever picked up a sword: Miyamoto Musashi!
Welcome to the second installment of Mythological Figures, a column for introducing icons from history to your Fifth Edition game. Last post featured Achilles but today we’re pushing the clock forward to the Arthurian age to design Camelot’s second greatest—and perhaps most beleaguered—knight: Lancelot du Lac!