User Avatar Image

Legends, Myths, and Fairy Tales- what lore tickles your adventure bone?

posted by Sinaz20 Telltale Alumni on - last edited - Viewed by 3.8K users
Hi everyone. I just wanted to spark a new conversation as some of us swirl visions of Daventry in the backs of our minds (while working on current projects.)

I have been thinking a lot about the source inspiration for the King's Quest games. Roberta Williams developed a rich world of twisted fairytales, classical myth, and fantasy conventions. She pulled from so many sources that by the end of the series, it really felt like she was running out of material. She had begun to dip into more contemporary literature like Lewis Carroll.

I want to know what kind of material interests you. What stories, myth, legend, or fairytales do you feel got left behind or went unexamined?

I'm trying to compile a lot of research material to build a reference library for the eventual team.

I recently finished reading The Once and Future King followed up by Le Morte d'Arthur and have been feeling, "well, now, there's a King's quest!" This has actually spurred me on to more medievalist self-study, as I've begun to read some historical essays concerning the lives and cultures around European medieval cities and castles. I'm also revisiting some of my Norse mythology studies.

I'm going to be reading through the complete works of the Brothers Grimm to freshen up on my fairytales.

Obviously The Lord of the Rings is topical, so I'd like to hear some opinion about the themes and setting of Middle Earth. Appropriate? Relevant? No, no, stay away?

King's Quest has mostly been centered on European folklore, later reaching out to the Arabian Nights tales and nonsense (as in surreal) literature. Are there any other ethnic folklores/literature that I should consider? Would these other folklores feel off brand? I am partial to Chinese and Japanese legend, but that just seems totally out of left field for a King's Quest game. What do you think?
66 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Considering that The Nightengale both the HC Anderson version and the the story collected by Andrew Lang in the Yellow Fairy Book are both set in China and concern a Chinese Emperor it's more about asian culture than European.

    But yes the authors/editor were certainly European themselves!

    BTW nightingales range from Europe to Asia naturally actually.

    Also, I can't think of any classic fairytales concerning nightingales that don't relate to China or the Chinese emperors. It seems to be a common trope. I guess there is Oscar Wilde's The nightingale and the Rose which didn't have a specific setting.

    Still, I don't understand how the Emperor of China and nightingales came to be associated with each other in the fairy tales... But still understanding and knowledge of the original stories is important to picking up on the references in the games! In some cases knowledge of the original tales is the key to solving the puzzles!
  • User Avatar Image
    Sinaz20 Telltale Alumni
    Valiento wrote: »
    Considering that The Nightengale both the HC Anderson version and the the story collected by Andrew Lang in the Yellow Fairy Book are both set in China and concern a Chinese Emperor it's more about asian culture than European.

    But yes the authors/editor were certainly European themselves!
    Ah. Obviously I'm not familiar with this one.

  • No problem!

    I'd certainly recommend reading the Anderson's fairy tales, Icebella and the melting of her heart for example in KQ5 was inspired by Anderson's 'The Snow Queen'.

    Aesop is also a good source for many of the classic fairy tales.

    Another great fairy tale collection is Vikram and the Vampire from India. Basically IIRC the story correctly it's basically like 1001 Nights. Vikram is carried away to be killed by a vampire but tricks the creature into sparing through telling various stories.

    Of course Rudyard Kipling is often credited with having added important works to the world's library of fairy tales as well.

    Washington Irving and some of the American Tall Tales could even be sources of inspiration as well. There are quite a few native American tales that could be good inspiration as well. The 'Fill' bowl in KQ1 for example comes from a classic North American Tall Tall/Folktale called 'Fill, Bowl! Fill!' about a man named Jack.

    Roberta also looked to classic literature and horror such as the appearance of Count Dracula in KQ2, Abdul Alhazred in KQ6, and the Headless Horseman in KQ7 (from an American folktale by Irving).
  • Hans Christian Anderson's Nightengale story may be about a Chinese Emperor, but that doesn't make it a Chinese folktale.

    Anderson (and any Western author from that time period) would have approached the subject of a Far Eastern setting from an Orientalist perspective--meaning he would be using it with the intent of focusing on the exotic qualities of the non-Western culture. Those types of stories were fantastical escapism for Europeans, specifically because of how different the Eastern cultures seemed, and they were oftentimes extremely exaggerated and stereotyped as a result.
  • I never said The Nightengale by HC Anderson was a Chinese folktale. I cant't speak for the other story collected by Andrew Lang however. I don't know where his story originated from or if he wrote it himself. The main point is the nightingales were a reference to those particular stories but reinterpreted and stripped of the 'Asian' motifs.

    In fact if Roberta had utilized 'Asian' themes in her series more than likely she would have been inspired by orientalism herself (as it itself is much part of 19th century fairy tales as some of the other themes she utilized). She is in-fact not Chinese herself! She sort of went that way with the Nepal/Tibetan/Mongolian inspired stuff in KQ8.

    The allusions to Alladin story in the games are also from a fairy tale set in China as well! Which also appeared in one of the Andrew Lang fairy books, originally from 1001 nights.
  • Right. I guess what I meant was that I feel like Orientalized interpretations of Asian subject matter would fit the KQ universe far better than straight-up Jade Empire-esque Asian mythology. :)
  • I'm not entirely sure I'd call Jade Empire strictly 'Chinese' either, sure it's loosely based on elements from the ancient Chinese novel Outlaws in the Marsh and may contains elements from other Chinese legends, it's also very much contains aspects of westernized themes and Asian kung fu movies. Some of it pretty 'Orientalized' as well, and even a bit of steam punk. But I'd agree something like that wouldn't fit KQ.

    On the opposite end I think visting a Chinese inspired land and cultures inspired from a combination of fairy tales and myths from western and from around the world adjusted to fit into that land's back history wouldn't be all that bad. The myths need to be obvious enough that they can be picked out by those who read fairy tales, even if they add a new twists to the theme. I'd say think how The Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, a Japanese film, adapted Shakespeare's Macbeth into the world of the Samurai!

    Think how KQ7 had an area that was more or less inspired by American southwest and northern Mexico, Aztec or Mayan. But adapted in several ideas from other cultural folk tales. The Jackalope for example being from American Urban Legend.

    Or how the Swamp in KQ8 took partial inspiration from a Louisiana bayou, but other more fantastical things were adapted into it.

    There are also quite a few actual Asian fairy tales and folktales that could be fun if adapted into the kQ world in some way. They could easily be adapted to fit whatever land the designers come up with, as they share many of the common themes of fairy tales/folk tales from around the world.

    For example there is one that is similar to Tom Thumb in which a one inch boy leaves his family to become a warrior, carrying only a needle as a sword. He proves his courage to a warlord, defeats a demon by causing the creature to step on his needle hurting it and causing it to flee in pain. Ultimately he marries the warlords beautiful daughter!
  • Personally I feel all the stars are in alignment for a blending of the Mesoamerican mythologies into King's Quest.
  • The essential connection or linchpin could be the idea that the king and the land are one.

    The Mesoamerican civilizations had this idea in common with the Arthurian legends (on which King's Quest draws), though from an angle sufficiently different to challenge Graham's notions (or those of whoever is the protagonist), considering the sacrificial twist. And simply stated, this is also where the series started in the first place, with both Daventry and the old king ailing. It would be an appropriate theme to resume and re-establish the series.

    More on my thinking regarding the Mesoamerican mythologies: The Telltale engine has been shown to be well suited for depicting colourful worlds and characters. The treatment of this theme in the Cryo game Beyond Atlantis was aesthetically amazing and would be something for the designers and artists to definitely look at in terms of seeing how instantly appealing yet intriguingly different this subject can be.

    And whatever our attitude to this, we will clearly be seeing a lot of films and books and games on Mesoamerican (and particularly Mayan) themes in the near future. King's Quest might as well tap into the zeitgeist and make one of the rare contributions that people will want to play long after 2012 has gone. For that, of course, it needs more than a surface understanding and plundering of these myths. Again, Beyond Atlantis is a wonderful example of how to do it right.

    About the other suggestions: I can see a resurgence of interest in Asian mythologies in the next five years, but likely only after the Maya wave has started to pass. I can also see King's Quest one day moving on to explore that area, but not yet. The time is not right - it would be too much of a leap. It would be doable after a Mesoamerican-themed instalment (in fact, I feel this would be a very strong trajectory for the series to follow), but my own feeling is that reversing this order would not work.

    Regarding the Tolkien question, I agree with the consensus here. That wave has already crested and that type of straight fantasy would not have worked for King's Quest, anyway. More generally, King's Quest needs to do something new at this point - something it has not yet done. And much as I love the familiar myths explored in the existing games, it would be mighty disappointing to get a simple rehash of the Greek gods or European fairy tales.
  • User Avatar Image
    Sinaz20 Telltale Alumni
    Personally I feel all the stars are in alignment for a blending of the Mesoamerican mythologies into King's Quest.

    At first, I was like, meh. But then, I thought it's not too far off of including Egyptian and Arabian mythology.

    I'd be interested to see what other people think about this.
Add Comment