Mythic Underworld Rewrite:1


i fucking hate writing ...
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+operation unfath

There is an element of The Fantastic in RPGs. But there's also an element of the mundane. It's the juxtaposition between the two that provides moments of tension in the adventure. As the characters transition from the mundane world to that of The Fantastic, but leaving town, etc, the game changes tone and tensions begin to mount. Is it this point, the transition between the mundane the fantastic, that an adventure can communicate clearly in order to prepare the players for what's to come. This is both character preparation (I'm going to be more caution now when opening doors) and in player preparation. This second element is even more important. This transition point prepares the players minds for the excitement to come. They are not primed to accept the more fertile descriptions, and their implications, from the GM.

The world around us is mundane. We get up, go to work, come home, eat our meals, go to bed. The people that make up the RPG world, be it fantasy, SciFi, Horror, or other, also live mundane lives. They farm. They run a shop. The sun rises. The sun sets. It's the same old same old every day. But the dungeon is different. There's a monster in there. It's full of weird stuff like giant glowing mushrooms. The haunted house in a horror game has spirits and demons in it. Planet X-223 has predator life forms on it. HUNGREY predator life forms. In every RPG adventure there is a point where the characters begin to encounter weird things. The characters transition from the mundane world of villagers farming turnips to a place full of giant glowing mushrooms. The world no longer works like you expect. Magic mouths appear on dungeon walls and talk to you. Spirits cause the candelabra to float around the room. And an unknown species turned the hunters in to the hunted. The characters transition from the real world, and the mundanity they expect, to the FANTASTIC. There is a specific term for this: The Transition to the Mythic Underworld.

There's a mountain front of you. A sheer cliff face. You can see an arch. it's dark on the other side. There's a lake in front of it. You row across a placid lake. You reach the arch. You see a set of stairs, going down. Narrow. Long, they run for awhile. The elements here communicate that you are Now Somewhere Different. You have passed from the mundane world to the Mythic Underworld. You should expect things to get weird.

You approach the house. It's old. Vines and dead bushes are overgrown in the yard. The exterior is weathered. Shutters hang from a broken hinge. Glass is broken. You can see cobwebs in the windows. The massive oak door stands open revealing a half-seen room covered in shadows. You may now begin your occult investigation because you KNOW, deep down in your bones, that you are somewhere else.

There's no communication from the colonist outpost down below. The planets atmosphere is barely breathable and there are dust storms as you land. You force the door to the outpost. You see a long hallway without a seeming end, but with it's ceiling and floors tiles in disarray, wires hanging down, and bullet holes everywhere. Something is not right here ...

In each of these situations it is now clear that the party is SOMEWHERE ELSE. And by somewhere else, I mean in the mythic sense. The rules of the real world no longer apply. Physics would be wonky. There could be pit traps in the floor. Something is probably trying to eat you. These things don't happen in the mundane world but they do here. This transition communicates this to the players. It sets the tone. It prepares the group for things to come and sets the stage for all of the evocative descriptions that are to come. They will now interpret what the DM says through this transition lense.

[I thin kall examples leverage horror and fear. It seems academically, that this can happen with other genres/lenses to view the descriptions through, as well. Is that imoprtant, or only academically/left as an exercise of the reader?]
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