"A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. " -Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
This Summer camp is structured around the concept of the hero's journey as put forth by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his book, he put forth that there is a common template that is used in heroic tales that involve a hero who goes on an adventure, and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed. Each week of the camp is based on one of the phases in the hero's journey.
Day 1: Creating the HeroIn the first few days, students will create their character, which is the role which they will play throughout the adventure. The hero exists before the story begins, oblivious of the adventures to come. We learn about the hero's everyday life first because we can learn from his background crucial details about the hero, his true nature, capabilities and outlook on life. In the character creation, students learn about the heroic tradition of there being unusual circumstances around their birth; sometimes in danger or born into royalty. They also paint a background that has seeds which will make his character a hero as the story moves forward. After your students have created their backgrounds, they can pick the abilities, skills and the like from the possibilities in the Renaissance roleplaying game rule book that would most closely match the character they wish to play. (Characters could also be created using other role-playing systems.)
You will need 3 six-sided dice. Roll them five times and assign the totals to the characteristics of Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Power and Charisma as you and your student feels is appropriate. Have your student give justification for his choices. Strength is the character's physical force, which will determine how much he can lift, how much damage he can do in a fight, what weapons he can wield and the like.
Constitution measures the character's health.
Dexterity is your character's agility, coordination and speed of reaction.
Power is a measure of the character's life force and strength of willpower. This is perhaps the most abstract characteristic.
Charisma quantifies the character's attractiveness and leadership qualities.
Next, roll 2 6-sided dice twice and assign the totals to Intelligence and Size.
Intelligence is the character's ability to think through problems, analyze information and memorize instructions.
Size is pretty self-explanatory. It also affects the amount of damage he can deal and how well he can absorb damage.
Hit Points: Add your character's Size and Constitution points together and this score determines the character's general health and physical wellbeing. This determines how much damage he can take before receiving grave wounds or dying.
Now you can determine the character's skills.
Athletics: Dexterity + Strength
Close Combat: Intelligence + Strength
Culture (the Character's own): Intelligence x 2
Dance: Dexterity + Charisma
Dodge: Dexterity x 2
Drive (as in buggy): Dexterity + Intelligence
Evaluate: Intelligence + Charisma
First Aid: Dexterity + Intelligence
Influence: Charisma x 2
Insight: Intelligence + Power
Lore (regional): Intelligence x 2
Perception: Intelligence + Power
Persistence: Power x 2
Ranged Combat: Intelligence + Dexterity
Resilience: Constitution x 2
Ride: Dexterity + Power
Sing: Power + Charisma
Sleight: Dexterity + Charisma
Stealth: Dexterity + Intelligence
Unarmed Combat: Strength + Dexterity
The characters also get 250 additional skill points they can either add to a common skill score or get an advanced skill. No single skill can benefit from more than 30 free skill points for common skills or no more than 20 for advanced skills.
To get an advanced skill, characters must purchase them at a cost of 10 free skill points. The Advanced skill then starts at its basic characteristic-derived score as given below. Once purchased, the character can take from the free skill points, just like the common skill points.:
Alchemy: Intelligence + Power
Art (specify type): Power + Charisma
Artillery: Intelligence + Dexterity
Beliefs (factions): Intelligence x 2
Commerce: Intelligence + Charisma
Courtesy: Intelligence + Charisma
Craft (specify type): Dexterity + Intelligence
Culture (other than your own, specify): Intelligence x 2
Disguise: Intelligence + Charisma
Dual Weapons: Intelligence + Dexterity
Engineering: Intelligence x 2
Gambling: Intelligence + Power
Healing: Intelligence + Power
Language (native or other): Intelligence + Charisma
Lore (specify type): Intelligence x 2
Mechanisms: Dexterity + Intelligence
Oratory: Power + Charisma
Play Instrument (specify type): Dexterity + Charisma
Ship handling: Intelligence + Constitution
Streetwise: Power + Charisma
Survival: Power + Constitution
Teaching: Intelligence + Charisma
Tracking: Intelligence + Constitution
For more information on character generation, refer to the guide, Renaissance, by Cakebread and Watson.
Day 2: Characteristics of Fantasy GenreStudents learn about the genre of Medieval Fantasy and what elements make up this world. This can be applied to all parts of the Medieval Fantasy that they will be creating.
- contains elements that are not realistic, such as mythical beings or supernatural creatures
- set in a Medieval setting with a unique quality to the landscape
- key element is magic, often the hero possesses a very strong magical ability that they don't know they have, or learn to develop.
- conflict is good vs evil
- often there is an element of a love story, especially one that is unattainable
- the villain must be extraordinary and not easily defeated
- an epic battle, in which the hero is nearly defeated but is victorious in the end
- special weapon in its capabilities and also in the reason behind its existence
- often has a unique language
"Heroes often exist in a world that seems normal and uneventful to all others that inhabit it. Usually, the heroes possess some special ability or trait that distinguishes them from ordinary people. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh is the king of Uruk. His people live their everyday lives, their only concern being that their leader is tyrannical. Gilgamesh on the other hand, is simply restless, so he acts domineering to ease his boredom. In addition, as the king, he possesses unique characteristics. He has a perfect body, great strength, and wisdom beyond compare. These attributes set him apart from his subjects in the city." -The Hero's JourneyWe also look at the epic as a genre. The original form of the epic is a long narrative poem. This definition has been stretched to include the novel as well.
- The topic is serious.
- It is often written in a grand or elevated style.
- Centered on a larger-than-life hero.
- Often opens in medias res, or in the middle of the action.
- Tends to have an invocation to the Muse.
- Concerned with the fate of a nation or people.
- Everything is done on a grand scale.
- Includes an Epic Journey, a long arduous which often includes traveling to the underworld.
- The intervention of some sort of supernatural figure.
- Contains Epic Similes (extended similes) and Epithets, or repeated descriptive phrases, such as "wine-colored Sea"
- Long catalogs -lists of some sort of ships, characters, places, etc.
- Epic battles, extensive and important battle scenes, which often include betrayal.
- Takes place when the current culture is falling apart.
We look at each of these characteristics and determine if they are in each of the works we are studying.
Day 3: The Ordinary WorldNow it is time for students to be introduced to the setting. For this I wanted to make a fictional setting within a real place. I also wanted it to be a joint creation between myself and my students.
Day 4: Including Elements of a Medieval Fantasy
Next, the students should turn this area into a Medieval fantasy world. What elements would be in it? Have them sketch in such details, such as changing your house into the castle.
Once they completed this map, I took it and added my own secret elements, also keeping true to the genre.
Now it is time to create a history of this fictional place. Who lives there? Do they all get along? Are their some past conflicts?
Day 5: The History of the Setting
The next assignment for your students is to create a legend from the setting's history. These are to be all blended together forming a teacher-students collaboration. Some elements may conflict, creating a conflict that may add to the evolving story. Sometimes, however, conflicting elements may have to be decided upon, with either the teacher or the entire group deciding to eliminate certain particulars.
At this point, your student may want to create a costume to go along with his character. This is not necessary, but adds fun to the imaginary world they have created and will participate in.
Now they are ready for their call to an adventure.