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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?
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  • I do not feel like it HAS to draw only from European myths and legends. Daventry is certainly based around that, but most of the games involve the player character traveling to some other place that is very different from Daventry. I'm not expert of fairy tales, and can't think of specific examples of anything left out. Drawing from Greek mythology would be neat, which was already done somewhat in KQ6 with the minotaur. Maybe Gulliver's Travels would be a good source of inspiration. I've always loved the Sinbad movies by Ray Harryhausen (and all of his movies) and I feel those could be a good source for inspiration.
  • You might want to take a look at the Smax graphic novel by Alan Moore. Characters journey through a fantasy world that has every myth imaginable incorporated in it, up to and including adventure games. You could glean some inspiration I'm sure.

    Asian myth is an interesting idea - perhaps better saved for a sequel or a single episode though...the main setting of this first new proper KQ game in 17 years should probably be traditional "European" fantasy.

    In another Alan Moore comic series, Promethea, there is a brief cameo from The Pied Piper in which he is a complete badass, yet still completely consistent with the myth (not an American McGee situation). Maybe look for "edgy" angles like that from more traditional characters who are at first glance uninteresting.

    Certainly some things such as trolls from Norse mythology could be cool (they've been done already in some form throughout the series, but there's room to explore there).

    I definitely think you're on the right track with the stuff you're looking into, especially re-reading all of the Grimm stories. As I alluded to with the Pied Piper comment, see if there are versions you could incorporate closer to the "real" versions that might be more interesting than what we're used to.

    Try to watch Pinocchio if you haven't seen it in a while...really great aesthetic in addition to more superficial elements that you could take from that.

    Not a fan of incorporating any major elements from LotR, but that's me. I'd rather you draw from The Black Cauldron series (Chronicles of Prydain).
  • I'm not against branching out into mythology and folklore from other parts of the world, but I think that European stories should definitely take the center stage. Grimms' fairy tales and the Arabian Nights are both large collections of stories, and there are still many that haven't been incorporated into a KQ game.

    Speaking of which, Valiento, ATMachine and I recently discovered that several characters and elements from the original series (i.e., Genesta, Lolotte) actually originated from several obscure fairy tales that were all from a single collection of fairy tales compiled by Andrew Lang. There are eleven other books by the same author. Some of the stories contained in them are very familiar (Rumpelstiltskin, The Three Little Pigs, etc.), while others are completely new to me. I'd be interested in seeing bits of these more obscure stories making an appearance. I'd also be interested to see some lesser-known mythical creatures from European folklore appear, and even something as small as a superstition about the supernatural could play a part in a puzzle (e.g., stepping into a fairy ring during a full moon, four-leaf clovers allow a person carrying it to see fairies and can also break enchantments). I'm sure the Rip Van Winkle story would also fit in fairly well.
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    Sinaz20 Telltale Alumni
    I should point out, that the purpose of this is not to cobble together pieces of other stories, but to expand our pool of literary knowledge and research. King's quest isn't about stapling the various stories together into a Frankentale. I don't want to convey such an idea as a strategy to designing the game.

    More so, I just want to see what kind of themes and styles you'd want to experience in a KQ game.

    So-- yeah, you're not going to riddle Gollum for the Ring, but riddling a creature for something is certainly on brand. There may be thematic elements or perhaps artifacts lifted out of such stories... Mythril anyone? A shattered sword needing to be mended?

    What I like about the Arthurian Legend, in particular, is the sense of building an ideology around virtue and questing for artifacts, also the incestuous nature of villainy and revenge in the stories. There's also the satire of questing for the sake of questing that comes up a lot in The Once and Future King.

    Andrew Lang is a great reference-- gonna have to try to find some collections to purchase.

    Sinbad is part of Arabian legend... well before Harryhausen. But yeah, again-- Arabian legend is a good source that had begun to be tapped by Roberta Williams.
  • As much as I love Lord of the Rings, I think that a Tolkein-inspired take on the standard fantasy creatures is very UN-King's Quest. There are really no instances in the series (aside from a few general character archetypes) that even approach Tolkein-esque material, so I'd stay away from Middle Earth as source material. It's not a direction that any game in the series has taken yet, and personally, I think any Tolkein references, even obscure ones, would feel very out of place. KQ was more the realm of fairy tales and mythology rather than the high fantasy of Tolkein.

    Concerning mythology, I think it's important to stick to the mythology of Western civilization. Classical myth has already been done to death in KQ games, but Norse mythology could fit, if done right. KQ6 had a touch of an Arabian Nights feel, but it was pretty much confined to character archetypes (genie/vizier) and Moorish architectural style. The game never delved into the realm of actual Arabian mythology, and the visual aesthetic and character archetypes were incorporated into a decidedly western setting. Anything that was more richly Arabian would probably feel out of place, and would be in danger of feeling like a retread of Quest For Glory II.
  • I wouldn't go near any of Tokein's works for King's Quest. King's Quest has always been built around well known general fairy tales and legends rather than from any specific literary work. I just pointed out Gulliver's travels as a source of inspiration for weird creatures and situations he finds himself in.
  • I'm against Tolkien lore as well. Tolkien lore is another level of fantasy that I don't believe King's Quest can really approach given that its own lore is now set and its own feel presented.

    I like the idea of incorporating elements of Norse mythology, though, as Lamb mentioned, if done correctly could be neat.
  • I also agree that drawing much inspiration from Tolkien would be bad for KQ. The Lord of the Rings has a very "high," melancholy tone in which the imminent passing of the heroic age, the time of elves and demigods, is always keenly felt. I'm not sure KQ should ever be so elegiac (although, admittedly, Roberta wanted to do something Tolkienesque with Mask of Eternity).

    In fact, King's Quest is an embodiment of much that JRR Tolkien hated about the fantasy of his era--e.g., there are diminutive, mischievous elves and winged fairy godmothers, the sort of simple characters and deus ex machinas the Victorians loved putting in children's tales and which Tolkien despised. In KQ the powers of good also invariably win out over evil, whereas Tolkien preferred to emphasize that even the biggest victories over the forces of darkness come only at a great price.

    That doesn't mean there can't be some more "adult" things done with the lore, though. For example, the KQ Companion and the KQ novels all make clear that fairies and elves can be evil, or at least chillingly indifferent to human sensibilities. Although good elves and fairies do exist, humans should approach any such encounter with great caution.

    Two good 20th century book series to look at, in terms of the proper background for KQ, would be CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, both of which were important inspirations to Roberta Williams.
  • ATMachine wrote: »
    Two good 20th century book series to look at, in terms of the proper background for KQ, would be CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain, both of which were important inspirations to Roberta Williams.

    I've mentioned the Chronicles of Prydain time and time again, so I'll go ahead and second this recommendation one more time. ;) Seriously, those books are great, and personally, I've never read any literature that reminded me more of a King's Quest game.
  • I really like the idea of incorporating elements of Arthurian legend into King's Quest. I'm actually really surprised that there weren't more obvious Arthurian references in the old King's Quest games, because, as you said, it seems like such a perfect fit for the series.

    The Brothers Grimm stories were obviously a huge part of the King's Quest world. And incorporating Norse mythology makes a lot of sense to me, since it's an extension of that same family of ancient Germanic religion and folklore.

    Greek mythology has always been a big part of the King's Quest world too. It's interesting to note, though, that most of the Greek influences in the earlier King's Quest games come from the Perseus myth in particular: KQ3 has Medusa, whose severed head Perseus needed in order to defeat the sea-monster Ceto and save Andromeda (who was being sacrificed to said monster just as Rosella was being sacrificed to the dragon); KQ2 has Pegasus, who was born from Medusa's dripping blood; and the single-eye-sharing witches in KQ4 are clearly inspired by the single-eye-sharing Graeae, whose eye Perseus held ransom in order to learn Medusa's location. And I think it's pretty clear that Roberta Williams was a big fan of the original Clash of the Titans movie, as her portrayals of these characters seem more influenced by that film's version of the Perseus story than, say, Ovid's. And I think Cedric was pretty clearly inspired by the robotic owl sidekick thing in that movie too. Obviously KQ6 incorporated other Greek myths as well -- the labyrinth and the minotaur from the Theseus and Minos stories, the very Greek-inspired Underword sequence, complete with Charon and the River Styx, etc. -- and so I'm not saying that all of your Greek mythology influences need to come from the Perseus story or from Clash of Titans, I'm just pointing things out.
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