Military Deeds and Myths - The Art of World Building
Oct 292020

Unless our military group is less than a decade old, there’s a likelihood that some of its members, while on official missions or not, have been part of famous exploits. This can be admirable or not, depending on our goals. Even if we have a group, like knights, that are esteemed, we can still have them be part of an ignoble event, possibly because they made mistakes or failed, not because of nefarious intent that we don’t associate with a knighthood. Such discrepancies can humanize them. Conversely, a group known for bad deeds may have helped stave off a disaster because it might’ve affected them, too, adding dimension.

It bears mentioning that a group considered heroic by some will be despised by others, sometimes even by the people they help. For example, jealousy of knights could lead some to think they’re arrogant, causing disrespect by the people they protect. Esteem is never universal; nor is loathing. When we decide and describe their relationships with others, we can comment on these aspects of them. Create a story with thought given to how both sides view the deed. We can invent a nickname that different participants assign a character, such as “Kier the Valiant” and “Kier the Butcher of Illiandor.”

Lore and Myths

New groups are unlikely to have much myth behind them unless they formed as the result of a momentous occasion or achieved prominence during one. They might have been the elite force that finally killed someone who promoted great evil, for example, possibly during a prolonged war or battle. Such a deed, heard around the world or across the cosmos, can give quick mythology to a group or its members.

Older groups are more likely to have multiple instances of heroism or impact in their past. This is where having invented historical events aids us because we can decide someone from this military unit did something important in one battle or another.

Some military groups also like to create a mythology around them. It typically includes an historical person who does something that embodies a trait the group admires, such as sacrifice or courage. This is an opportunity to create a mythical figure and a deed that our present story’s characters may reference as a hero or role model. We can create a 2-3 sentence blurb on what they did like this:

“At the Battle of Evermore, Kier led a band of knights to rescue the elven high priestess, but found himself surrounded by a dozen ogres. Knowing it was certain death, he ordered his men to carry the elf to safety while he remained behind, fighting to his end while his men escaped unharmed. A statue in his honor stands among others at their compound in Illiandor, and the elves improved their relations with humans in the aftermath, a tradition that continues to this day.” I wrote this in about the time it took you to read it. These are easy and fun to do, while adding depth and history. These stories can be a bit off from the truth, as often happens, but unless we have reason to mention that the narrative is off, it may not warrant inventing it.


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