(Cue the static-filled PA system) “Attention Campers…”
First off, I’d like to thank everyone who messaged me via email or Facebook with kind words about the first article and/or the RPG itself. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the feedback, and I’ll continue to read and respond to each of you.
If you haven’t already read Part 1: Canon Brawl, my name is Chris Lewis Carter: writer, gamer, and the author of Camp Myth, a new YA series that was successfully Kickstarted into existence a few months back. I’ll save you the full-on pitch this time around, but suffice to say that Camp Myth is what happens when Boy/Girl Scouts – meets – Every Mythical Creature, Ever. Imagine if you could visit a summer camp to earn merit badges for Kraken Fishing and Golem Building, and you’re in the right ballpark.
Okay, so let’s talk mythical races.
Oddly enough, selecting which races should be playable within the walls of Camp Myth was tricky business. Because, again, it’s never too early to over-think things (See Article One) Eloy and I wanted the final roster to be a mix of creatures that met several different criteria.
To accomplish this, we subjected every last group to a death-match of mythic proportions, where only the strongest and most ruthless of all combatants were granted a place in the manual!
…Well, okay, not really. But the criteria part is still true. And so, after ultimately deciding to have ten playable races, it was time to get selectin’.
Criteria #1: It probably makes sense to include the three main character races from Phoenix Watching (Book One in the Camp Myth series).
Yeah, so this one was kind of a no-brainer. Felix, Argee, and Moxie form the plucky young trio who earn merit badges in the series, so it went without saying their races would make the cut. Which means we have:
#1 Fae. Obsessed with studying magic in all of its forms, most Fae are self-serious blowhards who are unfamiliar with the concept of fun. Those who decide to shun the mystic arts in favour of other pursuits are considered outcasts among their own people, and avoided like a non-magical plague.
#2 Cyclops. Muscle-bound hulks who live for the thrill of combat, a Cyclops only feels at home on the battlefield. Unfortunately for the other races attending Camp Myth, Cyclopes also have a tendency to turn wherever they currently reside into a make-shift battlefield…
#3 Kitsune. Part human, part fox, these magical shape-shifters are both agile and cunning. For a Kitsune, there is no greater honour than to grow an additional tail, as it symbolizes power and maturity.
Seven to go. Whew, that was easy.
Criteria #2: The races should come from various cultural backgrounds.
Not so easy. Camp Myth is all about diversity, so we wanted the final roster to be composed of mythic creatures based on folklore from across the globe. The biggest hurdle here was trying to limit our use of Greek mythology, as we quickly discovered that nearly all iconic and/or awesome creatures have their roots firmly planted in that particular mythos. Plus, we already had Cyclops locked in, so cuts had to be made. In this case, my personal toughest call was to axe Gorgon (which I still think would be a blast to play). Still, it was clear there were a couple other “expected” Greek races, which meant our half-snake friends were bumped in order to make room for…
#4 Minotaur. Known as both fierce warriors and puzzle-obsessed logic-seekers, young Minotaurs are just as likely to cut you in half as they are to stare at a Jenga tower for hours contemplating the best move. They have a permanent place in Camp lore, and needed to be included.
Criteria #3: The races need to be all-terrain.
Mermaids don’t have legs. Shocking, I know, but it’s true. It’s also the reason why they had to be cut from our roster, as it was a logistical nightmare to rationalize ways for them to earn merit badges (no one wanted to figure out how to make a Mermaid ride a Unicorn more than me, but it just wasn’t meant to be).
Expanding upon that idea, we decided that (at least, for now) the included races should be as humanoid in appearance as possible, in so much as they shouldn’t have a problem travelling through any type of environment. Camp Myth is a diverse place with several kinds of terrain, and no one wants to be a (literal) fish out of water compared to the rest of their party. Still, we wanted to show love to the aquatic side of the mythic community, which lead to the inclusion of….
#5 Kappa. Powerful Mer-men with the ability to walk on land, Kappas are required to carry a container of water with them at all times to help avoid dehydration. After all, staying out of their natural habitat for too long can lead to several… unusual side-effects.
Criteria #4: The races can’t be ultra-obscure, or pop-culture obvious.
Sure, it’s impossible not to concede some of the well-known mythical races, but that doesn’t mean we had to include the latest trends. For better or worse, you won’t be creating a Werewolf or Vampire this time around (side note: is a Vampire even considered a mythical creature? I say no, but more than a few people have been willing to debate be on it, so I’ll turn it over to you guys). Unfortunately, you probably won’t be playing as a Wendigo either (unless there’s a huge ground-swell of Wendigo supporters out there. Some kind of Wendigo-based movement, maybe?)
So, what type of creature would fall into this category? Maybe something like:
#6 Redcap. Malicious little tricksters who inhabit The Warrens, a series of tunnels running underneath the camp, a Redcap is most easily identified by its long, crimson hat. Why are they so attached to their headgear, and why do the hats always appear to be dripping with red liquid? Maybe it’s a secret we’re all better off not knowing the answer to…
So that leaves us with four races remaining. Who are they, you ask? (or don’t, but it’s much easier for me to transition if I assume you’re curious). Three of them will be saved for future articles (and the upcoming Kickstarter campaign), and the other, well, what if I told you that one slot is still up for grabs?
We have prospects, of course, but Eloy and I thought it would be fun to ask which mythical races you guys and gals would like to see wearing the Camp Myth sash. If there’s a clear winner (or even an awesome pick that we haven’t considered) they just might make the team!
Well, that about does it for this week. Make a case for the creature type of your choice in the comments, and I’ll address all of the picks next time. You can also submit an idea for a topic you’d like me to discuss, or any other questions you’d like answered.
From high-school textbooks to award-winning magazines and podcasts, Chris Lewis Carter has been featured in nearly two dozen publications – both online and print – including Nelson Literacy 8, Word Riot, 3AM Magazine, Murky Depths, Niteblade, and Pseudopod. He is a lead writer for Rival Threads: Last Class Heroes, a video game scheduled to be released for iOS, Windows, and Mac in 2012, and the creator of Camp Myth. Find out more at www.chrislewiscarter.com, www.campmyth.com, facebook.com/campmyth, and @campmyth on Twitter!