This article was written for Obsidian Portal‘s weekly tips and tricks column.  Not only do I love Obsidian Portal, but their tips and tricks by guest bloggers are a wonderful way to find good suggestions by other members of the gaming community.  Head on over, create an account, play around with their wonderful site.  While you’re there, browse through some other campaigns and see what other gamers are doing.

Part of what makes any campaign world into a compelling, epic story is its depth.  It’s the little things, like real consequences and a living, breathing world that make a campaign world really click for both players and GMs.  They’re not hard to come up with, but adding them to a campaign without making them feel contrived is a challenge for any GM or worldbuilder.
When creating a world or trying to build in stories it is tempting to create a mythology for each place and culture.  Pretty soon you end up with a volume the size of the OED that you can’t even remember and the players will never read.  Not to say that volume of ideas is bad, but there’s no need to detail every hero and villain in all the land.
One easy way to integrate myths and legends into your game is by keeping a mythopedia.  Grab a few sheets of notebook paper or even a whole notebook and just scribble down a few basic ideas.  All you need to begin with are a dozen or so.  Later you can add more as the game evolves and inspiration strikes you.  Make sure you leave enough space to expand on these ideas later and make campaign notes.
Keep your mythopedia handy during game sessions.  Whenever the players spend a night at the inn or visit a fair, whip out the mythopedia and mention that a bard is telling the stirring tale of Sir Talvor the Brave and his battle against the evil wyrm Brandiss, or that the bar they are in was made out of Admiral Yorin’s Sunblaster cruiser..  Make a note in the mythopedia of where the characters heard the story, just in case it becomes important later.  And remember, repetition is not a bad thing!  It makes a world feel realistic when there’s a version of the same story told in every tavern in the kingdom about how the monarchy came to power.
You can also work your legend ideas into your adventures.  Many legends involve unique items that might appear as treasure in your campaign.  When the players have their loot appraised they might be intrigued to discover that the +1 holy longsword they found is a relic of the Holy Wars between vampires, werewolves, and the Knights Templar.  On the other hand, not all myths are good.  Characters scoping out an adventuring location might learn of the oft-told horror story of a previous group that went insane and murdered one another.
Keep in mind that people love to talk, especially about themselves or their home.  NPCs are great ways to introduce some local color.  Suppose Jorvar the farmer tells the characters about his Aunt Fannie and her skill with androids.  The next time they visit the town, make sure they hear something about Aunt Fannie again.
Remember that the most important part of working myths and legends into your campaign is to make them seem like living stories.  Characters might hear the same legend in two different towns, or even just on two different nights in the same bar, but they should never hear it told the same way.  And don’t be afraid to let the characters, if famous enough, become central figures in a story or two.  Maybe, if they ascend to godhood or something similar, they’ll even have a whole mythology develop around their exploits.

Part of what makes any campaign world into a compelling, epic story is its depth.  It’s the little things, like real consequences and a living, breathing world that make a campaign world really click for both players and GMs.  They’re not hard to come up with, but adding them to a campaign without making them feel contrived is a challenge for any GM or worldbuilder.

When creating a world or trying to build in stories it is tempting to create a mythology for each place and culture.  Pretty soon you end up with a volume the size of the OED that you can’t even remember and the players will never read.  Not to say that volume of ideas is bad, but there’s no need to detail every hero and villain in all the land.

One easy way to integrate myths and legends into your game is by keeping a mythopedia.  Grab a few sheets of notebook paper or even a whole notebook and just scribble down a few basic ideas.  All you need to begin with are a dozen or so.  Later you can add more as the game evolves and inspiration strikes you.  Make sure you leave enough space to expand on these ideas later and make campaign notes.

Keep your mythopedia handy during game sessions.  Whenever the players spend a night at the inn or visit a fair, whip out the mythopedia and mention that a bard is telling the stirring tale of Sir Talvor the Brave and his battle against the evil wyrm Brandiss, or that the bar they are in was made out of Admiral Yorin’s Sunblaster cruiser..  Make a note in the mythopedia of where the characters heard the story, just in case it becomes important later.  And remember, repetition is not a bad thing!  It makes a world feel realistic when there’s a version of the same story told in every tavern in the kingdom about how the monarchy came to power.

You can also work your legend ideas into your adventures.  Many legends involve unique items that might appear as treasure in your campaign.  When the players have their loot appraised they might be intrigued to discover that the +1 holy longsword they found is a relic of the Holy Wars between vampires, werewolves, and the Knights Templar.  On the other hand, not all myths are good.  Characters scoping out an adventuring location might learn of the oft-told horror story of a previous group that went insane and murdered one another.

Keep in mind that people love to talk, especially about themselves or their home.  NPCs are great ways to introduce some local color.  Suppose Jorvar the farmer tells the characters about his Aunt Fannie and her skill with androids.  The next time they visit the town, make sure they hear something about Aunt Fannie again.

Remember that the most important part of working myths and legends into your campaign is to make them seem like living stories.  Characters might hear the same legend in two different towns, or even just on two different nights in the same bar, but they should never hear it told the same way.  And don’t be afraid to let the characters, if famous enough, become central figures in a story or two.  Maybe, if they ascend to godhood or something similar, they’ll even have a whole mythology develop around their exploits.

Thanks to the fine folks at Obsidian Portal for giving me a chance to contribute!  Check back in a week for my next item, 5 Tips for New GMs.
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