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Monday, April 9, 2012

Monomyth: Eli's Story- Mythic Threads

Some of the Threads here have been retrofitted to the structure.

Purpose: Use this template as a skeleton for an RPG story. The questions here can be treated as Mythic threads to be explored, and/or fleshed out into more specific threads. Use this in combination with the Archetype cheat sheet, from which you can add more Threads here or color the questions as you see fit.

The questions and threads can be picked in any order that makes sense. Not all threads or questions need to be answered.


·      Act One

·         Before The Beginning

1.       (Optional) Prologue: visual metaphor, or scene that conjures up Special World of Act 2 . Suggest theme, or alert audience to issues characters will face.

2.       What is the background of hero?

a.       Give a complete biographical account for yourself: Physical description, education, family background, job experiences, romances, dislikes, prejudices, food preferences, clothes preferences, etc

                                                          i.      Eli can draw and is artistic: takes notice of a portrait Eli has created, based on what he's read so far about Willow Morganthe.

                                                        ii.      Eli is offensively weak. Unassertive.

                                                       iii.      Targetted by Bullies.

                                                      iv.      Eli is needy for maternal love.

                                                        v.      Ichard, Eli's father, is a successful exporter of what is colloquially known as "Wisdom Cider." Integrity is one of his strongest qualities.

                                                      vi.      When not drawing, or having his nose buried in a book, Eli likes to sit near his father's desk, and watch Ichard manage the business.


b.      Do a timeline of specifying what the hero was doing and where he was at every stage of life. Find out what was going on in the world at these times. What ideas, events, and people have been the greatest influences on your hero?

c.       Make a list of all the points of backstory and exposition that an audience needs to know to get the story started. How can these be revealed indirectly through visuals, action or conflict?

d.      (All of this may be revealed during the course of the story)


·         Ordinary World

1.       What does the ordinary world look like?

a.       Inform-Messages: The setting is a medieval town where a great library is located. The great library still exists, but it is in bad condition. Cobbled stone streets, etc.

b.      The center for the regional messenger post service does not exist anymore, though the deteriorated and abandoned building still stands in town.

c.       The townies have a strong anti-intellectual streak in them, and are a rather insular lot (thus why they have no use for the messenger post).

d.      This town is located on a relatively remote island (think Nantucket if you’re familiar with Massachusetts).

e.      Part of an Empire that is relatively distant.

f.        The schools in the hometown are not good enough, compared to the Capital of the Empire.

g.       One local warrior from the past, who fought against the Empire, was the woman Willow Morganthe.

h.      The more affluent locals tend to think of other locals as backwards, closed minded, and parochial [Mythic: Abandon-new ideas].

i.         Produces finest “Wisdom Cider” characteristic of its soil.

j.        Young men all over the empire voluntarily join the Imperial Army each year; they are celebrated with tEmpire-wide festivals dedicated to Aphiel, the god of war (except in Hart’s Island).


2.       What is the hero doing when we first see him?

a.       Our hero, Eli, is sitting inside the library; reading up on local history.

3.       How is the hero “relatable” (like us, the audience)?

4.       What are the hero’s universal goals, drives, desires  and needs?

5.       What is the hero lacking, or what has been taken away? (E.g. does the hero lack romance? Has a family member been kidnapped? Is she an orphan? Is something missing from his personality like compassion?)

a.      Mother generally encourages him towards pursuits of the mind. However, compared to the hero’s affectionate father, she was cold and distant in a way.

6.       What are the hero’s tragic flaws? (These humanize the hero) Is the hero wounded in some fashion (psychological or physical)?

a.       Eli is needy for maternal love.

7.       What is the hero’s outer problem? / What is the hero’s inner problem?

a.       Most people in town have assumed that our hero is as much of a snob as his mother, solely because he spends a lot of time in the library, and takes after his mother in terms of his interests.

b.      he has been bullied throughout his young life—though never when he is in the company of his good friend Thor, who is a big boy

c.       Eli is "Offensively Weak".

d.      Teenager Eli is moody, and does not have as much integrity as his dad.


8.       How is the ordinary world different from Special World?

9.       What seeds of challenge, problems and/or conflicts already exist in Ordinary World for the hero?

a.       The hero’s mom has been pushing Dad to send our hero to a school located in the Empire’s capital, far far way. The schools in the hometown are not good enough.

b.      Mythic: Violate-Victory. Brelward and The other bullies

c.       Ageless Creature that stalked and got Eli in trouble with mischief when he was younger. [The first Herald, tinged with Shadow, really.]

d.      Tensions between Eli’s and Brelward’s families due to the bullying, and also business rivalry.

10.   How is the Special World foreshadowed?

11.   How does this Ordinary World raise the dramatic question of the story? What are the hero’s goals? What are the hero’s flaws?  What lessons does the hero need to learn? (add your own as threads)

12.   What is at stake in this adventure? What does the hero stand to gain or lose? What are the consequences of success or failure? What is the threatening condition?

13.   What is this story about? What is its theme?


·         Call To Adventure

1.       What is the hero doing when the Call comes?

a.       Loafing around town. Still pursuing knowledge, and drawing. Sunk in self pity.

2.       How is the hero just ‘getting by’? How is his situation static but unstable? What are the hero’s crutches, addictions or support mechanisms?

a.       Still unable to stand up for himself. Hiding behind Thor.

b.      Still unable to confront his mother, or come to terms with her mothering relationship.

3.       Who or what delivers the Call for change? Is it internal? External?

a.       Ainus of Apos in the form of a painting: The subject is a quite unusual looking man, who somehow manages to also be elegant and graceful; eccentric would be the word. [kookily graceful]. An ancient artist, Magus, world historian and traveller. He is obscure even among those of us interested in history, and those who waste their time in occult circles

4.       Is the call an accident? A blunder? Something planned? Something hoped for? Is the Call anticipated or dreaded?

a.       Painting of him appears almost by accident, but seems planned by Ainus.

5.       Who is behind the Herald’s mask? Is he an ally? Enemy? Neutral?

a.       Ainus of Apos. Seems like a Neutral force; perhaps an enemy.

6.       How does the call manifest? (E.g. temptation, synchronicity, unsettling, disorienting, a lack or need, running out of options, a warning?) How are the hero’s crutches kicked away? How is the hero prompted to action?

a.       He possesses both of Eli’s parents after appearing by supposed accident inside a painting.

7.       What is the Call?

a.       Demands that Eli take what the Gods love the most, as both Eli and Ainus  stand under eternal judgement of the gods. Judgement is coming from the bowels of the earth.

·         Refusal Of The Call

1.       Is the hero afraid of anything? What?

a.       Hero is afraid of putting himself in danger (physical or spiritual)

2.       Which of these fears are real? Which are paranoia? Who or what makes the dangers clear for the audience (you)? (Sometimes a Threshold Guardian appears here to do that: Is the hero truly heroic enough to face and survive the quest?)

a.       Brelward and The Witch: Judgement is coming from the bowels of the earth. What did they see?

b.      Eli’s mind probably fed by years of folklore, and countless library books, flashes images of half beast/half men horned demons, probably and of being chained to burning hot grills, and tortured eternally.

c.       The Cursed Battlefield: This criminal exile community is located in a place where the native denizens sleep by night: vampire land


3.       Does the hero refuse the call? Why? In what ways the hero refuse the call? What are the excuses? (E.g. Let the FBI handle it)

a.       Eli attempts to get rid of the possessing entity by throwing away the painting, because he does not believe Ainus.

4.       What are the consequences of refusal (positive or negative)?

a.       His parents might not be released from Ainus’  power.

b.      He might actually be found by the judgement that the gods supposedly sent.

5.       What would cause the hero to leave home?

a.       Eli realizes that nothing at home can release his parents. Running out of options.


·         Meeting With The Mentor

1.       Does your hero need one?  

2.       Who or what is the mentor? Is it an internal code of ethics or an external entity or force?

a.       Ainus has acted as a sort of Herald/Trickster, but also Mentor when he pointed the way to the next Mentor

b.      Camus the Traveller [ROR: a foot]. Ainus’ insane disciple, who is imprisoned in The Cursed Battlefield.         

3.       How does he change the Hero’s mind? How does he motivate/prepare the hero? How does he impart wisdom? Does he/she bestow any gifts/advice? How does the hero earn these?

4.       Is the mentor what he seems to be (good or dark mentor?)? Is he/she to be trusted? Is there any conflict between hero and mentor?

5.       Is there more than one?

6.       How is the final commitment brought about to push into Crossing The Threshold? Is it an internal event? External?



·         Crossing the First Threshold

1.       What is the threshold?

1.1.    Bedford Bay

2.       What world is being left; what world is being entered?

2.1.    For this first part of the story, Eli is leaving the relative isolation of Hart’s Island for the mainland Empire.

3.       What does the border between the two worlds look like?

3.1.    Bedford Bay is much more colored by the Empire’s customs than Hart’s Island.

4.       How do you know that you’ve crossed from one world to the other?

4.1.    The festival of Aphiel, god of war. Celebration of young men joining the Imperial Army. In Hart’s Island, there would be no such celebration.

5.       How does the energy change?

5.1.    It’s a more disorienting place for Eli. He doesn’t know anyone or the area, and the festival, though read about, was never experienced.

6.       Is it a smooth transition, or rough (like a rough landing)?

6.1.    Not so smooth. He got kicked out of a tavern, accosted by a drunk, and has been attacked by with sorcery by a fortune teller.


7.       Is your hero willing to enter the adventure or not? How does this affect the Threshold Crossing?

7.1.    No. It makes Eli approach this juncture like a sheep to the slaughterhouse.

8.       Are there any Threshold Guardians?

8.1.    Yes. The fortune teller.

9.       What or who is guarding the threshold?

9.1.    The fortune teller/sorcerer.

10.   How do they block the way? How do they make the leap of faith for the Hero more difficult? What obstacles must the hero overcome to truly begin the journey? Limits of home or society? Limits of personality? Limits of perception? Physical limits?

10.1.Won’t let Eli move on unless he gives him the secret of why the gods seek him (or judge him). Thinks this might be of use to him.  

11.   How does the hero deal with the Threshold Guardian?  How does the hero get around, absorb, or push through the guardian? How does the hero cross the threshold?

12.   What does the hero learn by crossing the Threshold?

13.   What options is the hero giving up by crossing the Threshold? How do these unexplored options come back to haunt him?

·      Act Two

·         Test Allies Enemies

1.       How does the Special World contrast to the Ordinary world? How is this contrast increased? Are the differences physical or otherwise?

2.       In what ways is your hero tested? How do these tests prepare him for greater challenges ahead? Are these tests built into the landscape by the Shadow, or in service of the Shadow, or dominated by the Shadow?

3.       What are the new rules of this world?

4.       What are the “watering holes”, or the places where people in this world congregate? Can the hero obtain information/gossip there?

5.       When and how does he make Allies/Enemies/Rivals? Is the mentor still with the Hero at this stage?

6.       If you have a group of heroes, when does the group become a coherent team?

7.       How does your hero react to the Special World?

·         Approach to the Innmost Cave

·         Ordeal

·         Reward

·      Act Three

·         The Road Back

·         Resurrection

·         Return With The Elixir