Unraveling Mythologies in Gaming: Reflections from Gen Con 2014 Gloranthan Seminar

By Dan Zappone May 23, 2015 2 Min Read
Jeff Richard, Greg Stafford Gen Con 2014

In the fascinating world of role-playing games, mythology often plays an integral role in shaping narratives and world-building. The Gen Con 2014 Gloranthan Mythology Seminar, featuring esteemed game designers Greg Stafford and Jeff Richard, offered a deep dive into this compelling subject.

A Dynamic Duo: Greg Stafford and Jeff Richard

Greg Stafford, an iconic figure in the gaming landscape, made his design debut in 1975 and has since been a beacon of innovation. His co-presenter, Jeff Richard, though less seasoned than Greg Stafford, boasts an impressive career spanning two decades. Jeff Richard is the primary writer and creative director for all Gloranthan projects today.

The seminar started with a vibrant Q&A session, which opened a platform for an enriching discussion about mythology’s role in gaming.

Interpreting Worlds Through Mythology

Greg Stafford took the audience through the concept of three worlds: the physical, the non-physical, and the spiritual. He explained how mythology helps decipher the abstract spiritual world. Drawing parallels with various global mythologies, he showcased how cultures interpret cosmological events through their myths. These diverse yet interconnected interpretations underline that there’s no wrong way to comprehend a myth – they merely serve to help us navigate our reality.

Infusing Mythology in Role-Playing Games

In his critique, Jeff lamented the dearth of substantial mythology in many role-playing games, arguing that these games often lean too heavily on material simulation. To counter this, he presented ‘Glorantha’, a game they both contributed to, as a shining example of effectively integrating mythology into a game’s theme, setting, and mechanics. They urged players to delve deeper into the symbols and meanings within these games and explore how these mythologies can shape their characters.

Striking a balance between introducing mythology and not overwhelming the players is crucial. Richard suggested implementing adventures that engage with the game’s mythology, thus motivating players to unravel the lore themselves. The speakers also emphasized the game master’s responsibility in handling potential crises or sensitive themes.

The Persistence of Mythology

The presenters debunked the common misconception that mythology is a relic of the past. Greg elucidated how myths continue to steer our behavior and shape our worldview. He criticized the dominating myth of unending progress, warning about the ecological repercussions of our consumption and production habits.

As the seminar neared its conclusion, the discussion veered towards the application of mythology in modern contexts. They commended games exploring contemporary mythologies, with superhero comics and the Old West prime examples of popular myths that guide moral conduct. The speakers concluded by stressing the need for a deeper appreciation of world mythologies to truly grasp the narrative structure of games.